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David: Welcome to Restorative Justice Reflections, the show where we take time to reflect on the things that are happening in media. I'm David Castro Harris. I'm here with Kalaya'an Mendoza to do a deep dive into the themes of hbos the last of us episode five. Endure and Survive. the thoughts reflected here are not to critique the story of production choices of the creators, but we hope to bring connections between the themes present and the story to the ways that we can co-create a world where people and communities have what they need to survive and thrive.
Of course, as always, if you wanna learn more about how we do this, you can get in touch with our communities. and the resources that we have at the links that are in the show notes or description. But let's get into it. As always, again, spoiler alert for the first part of this conversation, everything that's happened in the H B O show, the last of us through episode five is fair game.
You've been warned. And at the end of the episode, everything we know about the last of us universe is on the table, but you will get a heads up before that. So, episode five, endure and Survive. Hit so many right in the feels. Kala, how did this episode land for you?
Kala: Oh, very similarly, and I think for a lot of folks it was, I mean it was a view of what the apocalypse could look like.
It, you know a group that rebelled and reclaimed and liberated themselves could look like in a very violent way. It carried the story of Henry and Sam, which I know were gonna be going more into, and it just had. I mean, the end, which, oh, . I legit yelled while I was watching it. So
David: even though you knew it was coming.
Kala: Yeah, even though I, I mean like all of the clickers coming out and the loader did not, you know, did not realize it was gonna be that intense. And also what happened with Sam and Henry, I naively thought that the writers are gonna go in a different direction. So
David: Yeah, I know if you don't follow color on social media, you know, you share it on Friday, like right after this episode aired that like, you really wish that, like they made a different story choice.
you know, we can like imagine what that could have looked like later moving on. But I think, you know, for like the purposes of like pushing Joel and Ellie forward, it's a really difficult like, story choice to make, but there's so many parallels and themes to pull out from the Sam and Henry piece.
Before we get to talking about Kathleen, but like, let's start with Sam and Henry. So at the beginning of episode, we see them in hiding on the run. We don't quite know why yet. They meet up with Edelstein, the doctor who we saw executed in episode four by Kathleen. so they meet up with him. They're hiding out for, what is it, 10, 11 days.
But at the end of that, they're out of food. They've gotta decide to make a move. And now we see like a flashback to the previous episode where Joel and Ellie crash in. And Henry's character sees Joel killing a couple of Kathleen's crew, the revolutionaries. Right. . And so he decides, this is our ticket out, this is how we're going to move through.
This is how we're gonna escape. So they track them down and brings us to the end of the previous episode. So like with all that backstory so far, like already like what were the things that were like, oh my gosh, like I'm so connected to these characters already. .
Kala: Yeah. I mean, as both a game player and someone that's watched, you know, watching it with everyone else, Just wanting to everyone to survive.
is has been something that has gotten me to be so invested in the characters, the way they really start to flesh them out. I won't talk too much about the game, but I'm really glad that we have a little bit more backstory about Henry and Sam, even though it's a little bit different from the game.
But it's this very interesting parallel with Joel and Ellie.
David: Yeah, it's really interesting too, like, you know, we learn from Henry that the backstory from the game is different, right? But we learned from Henry that, you know, he's not somebody who has been out there surviving on his own for very long, right?
He's not somebody who's comfortable with violence. And to know that, like, I need somebody who can be violent to escape, is like, . It's a revelation that a lot of us have to work with. There's this Indian comedian, Vierra dos, and he's making fun of America and like our atrocious gun laws, right? But he is like, but I don't want guns.
I'm opposed to guns, but I really want a friend who like has all of the guns just in case, right? And like that energy is prevalent and you know, we're not quite to prep a corner, right? But when we think about the ways that like we need to survive, the ways that we need to protect ourselves, protect our communities, who are the people that we can go to in times of crisis for that type of protection?
For that kind of defense for that kind of, you know, in this case, in some ways, offense, right? In order to be safe. Those are, you know, like really strategic choices that like people have to make in times of crisis, even though you have to bluff your way through it with like an unloaded gun. .
Kala: Yeah, that was well, I think some some viewers saw that in Sam's gun there was actually four in the clip, but that's neither here nor there.
But hearing from Henry I believe the line was like, this is the closest I've been to being violent. just goes to show, right, like how the qz can be both safety and security for folks, but is it really safe when, you know, the people who've been entrusted with your safety are now hunting you down?
David: Yeah. Right. Can you break down the difference between safety and security as you. Sure.
Kala: I mean, the way I see it is safety's cultivated securities, enforce safety is building relationships with your community. So you know, when what is going on in the community, you know if there is any particular needs.
I'll just give a quick example, in the 1989 Loma Preta Earthquake, we had our, you know, our, our neighborhood had our gas and electricity shut down for like three days. And safety was about the families coming together sharing food, making sure that there was childcare making sure that folks had what they needed in order.
Still feel a sense of normalcy, security is more enforced. These are the things that we need to put into place once our safeguards have been breached. Whether that's a offense, whether that is some kind of barrier, whether that for some people is a gun.
That's how I see safety and security.
David: Yeah. Yeah, for sure. And so, like in the case of our revolutionaries, our revolutionary, our cu sympathizers are fedra sympathizers collaborators, right? Like in the case of the apocalypse, like we're all making choices that, we feel like the most comfortable with, given the conditions that we live in. And Right. While we're not living in those post-apocalyptic times, like we are constantly navigating our reliance on community safety versus state sanctioned state enforced security or, and you know, and some people call that safety and like, I'm not here, we're not here to like, make judgements on like how you feel safe, right?
What makes you feel safe, but like in the ethic of trying to build communities of care, right? That people have the ability to navigate conflict and harm with their own schools skills and tools. Not outsourcing that to people with like badges and guns, right? Like that's probably more aligned to where we want to go, but it's, but it's hard, like within the context of obviously the zombie apocalypse, but you know, where we, where we live now, definitely more encouragement to.
Get to know your neighbors, build those relationships, but let's keep going with the stories, right? We, we, they have this standoff where, you know, they come to an agreement that like, Hey, we need you. You need us. We have the knowledge about how to move through this city. You can protect us. Let's do this.
They find this underground bunker where a community had survived for, for a while. A community of kids had survived and thrived for a while. And, you know, we have a little bit more knowledge about that community from the game.
And, that probably that community probably, fell apart when someone didn't follow the rules to keep people safe. Whether it was to not open the door for someone they didn't know or something. Right. But in that underground bunker, they did find like a moment of respite solace where, you know, more relationships were built, Ellie, and Sam were able to connect on another level.
Henry w and Joel were able to connect on another level. Right. There are so many parallels between the, the two pairs. I'm curious, what were the things that you were like, again, the feels so much connection.
Kala: I mean, it was beautiful watching them play soccer, right? Just watching the kids be kids and like the dads like, for lack of a better term, be dads and just be talk, you know, almost if in another reality you could see them talking at a park.
Right. I think it's in these moments of quiet and respite that at least my, my nervous system was. Both vigilant, hypervigilant so what might happen, but also it showed how important it was to be able to allow kids to be kids in a time of crisis. And what do we need to build in order to ensure that level of emotional safety?
Cuz as we I know we'll talk about Kathleen in a bit, but her line about, you know, kids die every day. That's a person that's lost hope, that's a person that has lost any sense of the future because, you know, I believe that children are our future. in the underground bunker, you could see that it was decorated by kids.
built four kids. and it just, gave us that moment that at least we as viewers needed to be able to be ready for the, the horror that would be coming up momentarily. So yeah, as a ca as a parent, how was this resonating with you? Because like I c Yeah. I can't even imagine.
David: Yeah, yeah. Well, I mean, as a parent of a kid who like just took their first steps, like this weekend, right?
Oh, wow, right? Like I'm making different calculations about like what my kid needs for protection. Yeah. I, I think and like how, like hard they need to be to like, face the world, right? Like, you don't need to be hard at all. You just need to like grow up in your little like safe space that we've created here at our house, at your grandparents' house, you know, when we're out with your friends at like a mochi pounding festival.
A little insight into what I did this last weekend, right? But Like they're really different calculations. You know, for those that didn't play the game, there wasn't exactly this kind of scene. But there is this moment where they're in a similar situation and Sam finds a toy that he wants to take with him that was left over from the previous inhabitants of said Bunker, said Safe space.
And Henry's like, no. Right. Put that back. We only take what we can carry, right? Or we only take what we need. And it's like, , there is survival in that. There is there's wisdom in that. Like, you don't wanna be way down, but like, you know, where's the space for, for kids to be kids? Right. I think we as adults have a lot more space to be kids than we realize.
And how quickly are we trying to like, take that away from, from young people? When we could use more of that ourselves is is an important question to be asking, especially when we're not dealing with like life and death stakes of, you know infected clickers and blo coming at us and armed people.
I imagine for most of us listening to this call, hunting us down every day there, there is so much more room to. Take time to relax, be slow play like I'm even curious, right? Like what would've happened if they just spent a night down there? Yeah. Right. You know, we talk about what would've happened to Ellie and Joel if they had actually decided to spend a night or some time at Bill's place, right?
Like nothing would've happened, right? Yeah. Like the world would not have fallen apart. Taking those moments to be slow for kids, to be kids, but like even for us as adults to like be kids or to like lean into play, lean into rest not be so hypervigilant all the time is important. From this bunker, they're gonna go out into the other side where they come out safely, start walking down the street and get pinned down, which is gonna intersect with the Kathleen storyline.
But there was one other thing that you wanted to mention about, right? The the dynamics between Sam and Henry, right? .
Kala: Yeah. It's always fascinating for me as a heart of hearing person to see how deaf and hard of hearing and other disabled folks are are written in in these post-apocalyptic dramas.
Like we had Lauren Ridloff from the Walking Dead who played Connie, which Connie was like the, a badass survivor. We had the quiet place where, you know, we got, we got to see what it, what needed to happen in order to communicate when you had to be quiet right from the aliens.
Speaking of aliens what is going, sorry, I just is kind of aside. What is going on? Are, I'm like, are, are these UFOs right now? Like, is this like some some cover for the government or, anyways, this is all to say it's really important to pull the lessons that you need from from these dramas and one of the lessons for me, Was, it's important for writers who are writing about, you know a deaf hard of hearing or any disabled person to not to write them in the only, from the point of view of how hearing or abled folks look at us, because one of the things that happened was I believe Henry was talking to Dr.
Edel Edelstein, and Sam said, what did he say? And I think that happened a couple times in the in the show.
David: Yeah. In a conversation with Joel and Ellie too, for,
Kala: you know, any death or hard of hearing person. How many times have we been left out of a conversation, especially when it has well in this in this format when it has such high stakes to have that information.
We need to make sure that we're not replicating either. You know saviorism there was one, commenter that had said this was almost like a form of inspiration porn, which I could totally see mm-hmm. . And I really wish they built out Sam's story more from their perspective because to know what, how, what to, what it means to survive as a deaf person in a post-apocalyptic world for me, would've been a much more not gratifying, but much more enthralling storyline than the one where this poor kid I need to protect him.
So, I think the, the writers could have done a better job of showing us what did Sam have to do as a survivor of leukemia as someone who, you know, is deaf and like navigating this world. I'm, I'm glad that there's some representation. I think there could be more, and I'm hoping that there's more disabled writers and other folks that are crafting these narratives and these shows to be able to give us that perspective.
David: yeah, I was doing some behind the scenes looking in. It was really cool to see how Kevon Woodard was like so willing to teach everybody on set.
And I think they had a director of ASL as well. On, on set teaching everyone. And so like not only the actors, right, but also like the crew members learning to communicate right with people made it such you know, I, I hear the inspiration porn. critique, but for folks who are uninitiated, unfamiliar, right?
Like, these are really good opportunities for people to become aware of the ways to engage with people as like full people, not just as like, functions of their disability. You, you know, the other thing that like, this had me thinking of similar to like, we're so screwed without Google maps, right? Like, what are the like low tech things that will save us in, in the apocalypse?
Like, you know, that, like that magic eraser board, like, so helpful, right? Like, so you don't have to keep tracking down like paper pencil. I know like in your your go bag, right? You have a pen and a pad, right? Maybe you should think about like adding one of those boards just in case, right? Just in case you run out of paper.
But we'll get to Prepper Corner in a moment because you know, some of those things are gonna come up, especially when we're intersecting storylines. But, You know, the other thing that we didn't talk about with the same character is that he has leukemia. And that was really the key to setting off this whole chain of events, right?
Henry Betrayed the leader of the Revolution. I believe his name was Michael, to Fedra in exchange for drugs. And that's why Kathleen, who is Michael's sister was so dead set on finding him and bringing him to her version of justice, which I will substitute punishment. Right. The opening of this episode is her interrogating well, one, the revolutionary is taking down Fedra, but then her interrogating not Fedra soldiers, but collaborators with Fedra, people who made everyday people in the living under the Qz who were collaborating with Fedra in order for their safety or security.
Trying to extract information about Henry's whereabouts from them. Knowing that she was gonna kill them anyway, right? But doing what she could to get the information that she needed for revenge. From there, she puts all other priorities aside, even after, you know, she's questioned by Perry, her second in command and says, you know, like, find them right.
This is our priority. And as they're continuing that search she takes a moment to reflect in her, in the house that she grew up in and thinking about, you know, the words of her brother Michael that she was able to visit before he was executed by f Fred. And, you know, having this understanding of why Henry did what he did, but still not being able to get over that, situation.
And even at the urging of her brother to be able to forgive, she's like, no, there's no justice in that for me. How do we move forward? I've got so much to say. As someone who like says, So much about the word justice and what we mean when we say that, but I'm curious what, like, you know, this prioritization of revenge over everything else has brought up for you so far.
Kala: I mean, I'll just be short. Like, revenge is another form of love, right? It's, it is the, the, the wrathful form of it. And we're just gonna see it cyclical in in the story I, when they were when they were showing both the, the opening with Kathleen and the collaborators and then that her childhood home scene, I was like, I wish I knew what David was thinking right now because this.
Yeah. What were your thoughts?
David: Yeah, yeah, yeah. This is like, this is the zone for me, right? And so I guess like, if we go back to the collaborators piece, the first thing that I thought, and once you brought up trials, right? There are a couple of different ways that this could go, right? Like for people who have collaborated with, or people who have been a part of like oppressive regimes that have been overthrown in so many instances, they are executed, which, you know, definitely happened in this case.
Sometimes they're put on trial and then jailed. Sometimes there are truth and reconciliation processes that happen, right? Where we think about like, hi there, hi, new leadership. There's been a regime change. The power is different now, but we wanna move forward together in a good way, and we want you to be a part of our community moving forward in order to do that.
You've gotta fess up to the dirt that you did. And maybe there's some kind of punishment, maybe there's some kind of amends to be made, but like, instead of killing you and eliminating part of our potential, let's be functional about it, workforce. What are the ways that we can continue to move forward together in a good way?
Again, not absolving people of the harm that they've done, but if we're thinking about the good of our community moving forward, you probably have experience and knowledge and skills and tools that will be helpful for us building this community. Right. We saw that Kathleen is not really at all interested in that when she shot a doctor in the face Point blank.
In last week's episode, even though, you know in the apocalypse, doctors are really valuable, right? There are lots of skills that the people. Who were locked up as fedra collaborators, probably how that could have contributed to them rebuilding Kansas City to be a safe or safer community for people to thrive in.
But she chose not to do that. She chose punishment. Right? And we've seen lots of different examples of that play out in the quote unquote real world, right? The, the world that we live in right now when it comes to regime change after armed conflict. But it doesn't always have to be this way. I invite people to go back and listen to the episode that I did with Carl Stauffer in the, this Restorative Justice Life feed.
And we've talked about some of the ways that he's helped navigate regime change and peace talks in those instances where there's definitely been harm. But, you know, we move forward together. by not, not by killing each other, right? Not by punishing the people who have done harm. Because like, what all that's doing is creating, like recreating cycles of violence.
Like you are becoming your oppressor by continuing to perpetuate that type of harm. And so once you're so set on revenge, you're deprioritizing the wellbeing of your people moving forward. Right? she questions her lieutenant, why this isn't his first priority and like the logical answer is, well, Fedra was doing a couple of things, right?
Right. They were suppressing the infected, they were making sure that they weren't roaming around the city. Maybe we should make sure that like those efforts like are in place, those safeguards are in place so we don't all get overrun by, by infected at the end of the episode. Which, you know, you know, we said spoilers like that happens and everybody dies.
So like why is that not priority number one? Henry and Sam like actually didn't get anywhere for 11 days. So they probably could have like prioritized some of those other things first for the wellbeing of their community, even if they wanted to like continue doing that. So like when you're thinking about how you're navigating the world, I'm thinking about conflict and harm that's happening in your communities.
I like to invite people to not just think about like, what is the thing that I can do to like stop this person or stop the harm here. It's an important question to ask, but like to zoom out and think about like what the needs of your community are. What are the needs of people in your community? And it may or may not be punishment or revenge or like directly dealing with that problem first.
It might look like something else, right? It might look like something else for your people to have a sense of safety, right? Sam and Henry in this case are a teenager and an eight year old, right? Who are not a threat like that to you? How, like in, in the previous episode, right? She said like, well, maybe, the killing that happened by Joel are mercenaries that Henry recruited, like Henry didn't have those resources.
Yeah, right. Like when you're so single track mind set on revenge, like you can give into like paranoid delusions of like what could be happening while not attending to the things that are present in your community. We'll talk about like the justice, forgiveness, revenge thing in a little bit. But you know, I just said a lot.
I want to give you some air time .
Kala: No, no, no. I yield my time because like the whole time I was like, what would David, you know, putting once like that prompt I asked like, if you were part of this group or one of the survivors and like a trusted advisor, how would you possibly be able to move Kathleen away from vengeance towards justice?
Right. Yeah, I know, I know. It's, it's more of a thought experiment, but like I I, I leave wanting to know how restorative justice practitioners continue to play a role, not just in the everyday, but like in the future, right? Because like, we are going to need these frameworks in order to dismantle the systems of violence that we live under.
David: Yeah. I think it so much would've looked something similar to Truth and Reconciliation, right? Knowing that, hey, Fedra was an oppressive force and you all made your choices because you are trying to survive. We understand that Fedras not here anymore. We want to build a community that is safe where we can trust each other.
So what is the thing that we need from you? Right? We need you to like tell us the thing that you did, share all the information that you can in exchange, right? We will continue to provide security because I think like we're not building like a utopic world. Like they're operating under like security terms, right?
The way that you framed it, like, we'll continue to provide security to you in this place, like, This case, like I imagine Kathleen and her collaborators, her revolutionaries like, might have like created some kind of like caste system. Like people who are federal collaborators are like subjugated to like serve.
And like, that might have been the thing that like, you could have pushed her towards that. Like, hey, at least they're surviving. I know there are representations of like enslavement later on in the last of us. And you know, maybe that's might what it have looked like. I would, of course I would've advocated for something more along the lines of, Hey, we all did things that we're not proud of.
Let's move forward together equals, but you know, in efforts to preserve human life, like all of those steps are, like all of that is on a continuum of like terrible when you're executing them to you know, equity, peace, harmony love and all of those things. And it's not easy and I think. I, I'm thinking back to a conversation that I had with a group that I was facilitating for last week.
Holla at your boy if you need restorative justice consultation link in the show notes. But we were having this conversation about like, do we need punishment in order to get justice right? And that's the conversation that she was having when she was in her childhood home, like my brother urged me to forgive.
And I don't think forgiveness and justice are like correlated at all. Right? Forgiveness is something that you do for yourself so you can move forward, right? Sometimes that feels good as a person who is caused harm to hear another person say that, I forgive you, but forgiveness has nothing to do with meeting each other's needs, right?
When we're talking about Michael the visionary leader of this revolution, he was envisioning a world without fedra being an oppressive force and having a community thriving. , how, what are the needs of that community? So safety from infected, right? Food, water, hygiene in some ways, shape or form medicine, right?
None of that, none of those needs are met by like going and murdering a teenager and his eight year old his eight year old brother, right? So like, let that go. Forgive not for their sake. Forgive for your sake. Get justice for your people. Take care of your people. And if you're not able to do that, you know, everyone's gonna die in, in the way that they did.
And, but we think about that in lots of different situations. Of course, in this case, Kathleen is someone who is very deeply hurt by her brother being murdered, and she identifies Henry as a cause of that. But if we zoom out, right, like Henry didn't kill her brother. Yes. Fedra did, right? Henry was someone who was operating.
Under, under presentism and made a choice that was self-interested because he was trying to protect his brother. You know, you talked about saviorism paternalism and like we can critique Henry's choice in that moment, but he was not, the reason that, Michael is dead, Fedra is like whatever system that Fedra or what whoever was like at the point of the spear of fedra like that carried out on execution is why Michael is dead.
Right. And so you already took care of Fedra, right? You, you took care of. And I don't think that they necessarily do it in a way that I would have, but like, we're not arguing that point. What are the ways that you and your community can move forward? Justice is about getting your needs met, right?
There's not a human need. And like I say, need instead of desire or want for punishment, right? I know that that can feel good in a moment, right? But after Henry's dead like that did, that's not what happened at the conclusion of this episode by Kathleen's hands anyway. But after Henry's dead, what then?
Right? You're not gonna have peace, right? You're always gonna be looking for that next threat of somebody who cared about Henry who's gonna come back and get you. Right? The logical conclusion of that is like, you know, kill everybody who's against us, right? Or kill everyone who's not with us. And like, that's why we have these communities built up the way that they are within the world of the last of us.
But, you know, for us as people who experience harm, At the hands of others on, on a day-to-day basis, right? Forgiveness. Let, I'll say two things. One, like forgiveness is for yourself, right? I'm not someone who particularly follows Daoism, but there's the story of a master and servant and master and disciple rather who and the master teaches about forgiveness By having his disciple carry around a sack and fill it up every time somebody wrongs him fill it up with one potato.
And so as he goes throughout the week, the month, he's constantly putting potatoes in a sack. And at the end of the month, his back is really sore. He's weighed down and the master says, like, you know, what have you learned about all this? And the disciple says, you know, carrying all of the weight of this is only hurting me.
It's not hurting the other people who have harmed me. Like, I have to release this and let go. And there's another layer to that story. But for the purposes of now, I'm, I'm, I just really want to drive home, right? Like forgiveness is for yourself, right? So you can move forward in a good way. And when you think about justice, justice is about meeting the needs of yourself and your community.
And punishment causing more harm to somebody else just isn't a need.
Kala: I'm glad that you named what Justice looks like and how this could possibly look like as folks are thinking through, how would they survive through the apocalypse? One thing I've learned from water protectors at Standing Rock, is to be thinking seven generations ahead. Mm, mm-hmm. . And I know that that's very difficult in a white, southern colonial state where urgency is, you know, we have to do what, what is right now.
And I think part of why I. You know, appreciate the work that you do and appreciate the work that folks who are invested in building true community safeties. Like we're, we need to be able to reimagine ourselves a better world or else we're gonna replicate the same cycle of harm and violence that the systems that we are being oppressed by continue to, enact upon us.
David: so with Kathleen like still driving full steam ahead, Set on revenge and with Joel, Ellie, Sam Henry being pinned down by the sniper on the street. Right. The two groups to meet. I think it's really interesting, and we've mentioned it before, you know, Joel in this world is a lot less willing to kill than he is in the video game.
And then, you know, for lots of reasons, a video game is a video game, . But you know, even his reluctance to take down the sniper this old man who's like not a very good shot, not really a threat, as long as he gives up the gun, like is, is a difference. And I think we are, we're seeing a lot of Joel reckoning with all the violence and harm that he's caused over the years.
And, you know, we got a sneak peek into him having the conversation with Tommy that's coming next week. And so we'll save that conversation for then. But I just wanted to highlight like, you know, violence does take a toll on people in this world. We've seen how much of a toll it's taken on Kathleen, where she.
at whatever cost is gonna go after killing Henry. And, you know, there's nothing that was stopping her from pulling the trigger, then turning around to go and face what was going on when the truck sank into the ground and like, let all the infected up. Glad she didn't. But you know, we come to this point where Kathleen has pinned them all down gives her speech about, you know, you should have just let Sam your brother die of leukemia instead of betraying us.
Now you and him are gonna die as retribution, revenge and in the middle of that monologue, right her and her crew are overtaken by a swarm of infected, including the big badass bloater. And Sam, Ellie and Joel get to escape, not unscathed, Sam is bitten. and you know, overnight he turns attacks.
Ellie. Henry shoots him to protect Ellie and then shoots himself in despair for a, as he gave up. And were left with Joel and Ellie bearing the two and carrying on their journey. But deeply drastically changed by the previous nights and that morning's events. A really devastating way to end the episode.
Like I was so looking forward to seeing Sam and Henry because I love them in the game. You know, you, we talked about like we had hope that things might have been different, but, seeing these characters, arcs and the way that they ended what are the, what are the things that are coming up for you?
Kala: Just anger and like sadness and I mean, Kevon Woodard and Lamar Johnson were phenomenal actors, but Kevon,
David: they're still alive. They are still phenomenal actors. .
Kala: Yeah. No, no, no. I know, but like in the, in the, in the story of the gay or in the story of the show, like it's, I mean, yeah, I was really angry because I was like, well, bill and Frank got to have that storyline, and I think it's okay to diverge from the story.
I know folks will feel a whole bunch of different ways. I just wish we had a little bit more, I wish we got to know more of their story and like what it was they could have used, the writers could have used this as a, as a means to do more world building, you know? And, and I know like, yeah, I'll, I'll just say that.
I had to let. You know, friends and folks I cared about know both personally and like on social, to just be aware that there's going to be this very brutal scene with these two amazing black characters who, you know, died violently. I think that it was, there was so many points of hope that I was like holding onto, like when Ellie put her her her blood onto mm-hmm.
mm-hmm. Sam's wound. I was like, oh, maybe, maybe, maybe something will happen. just a trajectory of this, I could, I, I really wish it went a different way. yeah, I just have a lot, I mean, I have a lot of feelings. , I have a lot of feelings. I just want. , black folks, indigenous folks, people of color to not always have to be the ones that die.
it's, yeah, I mean, like, there's so few times that we see ourselves referenced in these post-apocalyptic dramas. Like when a spoiler alert for folks, I haven't watched Walking Dead when Glen died or was killed, I was like, yeah, I'm done. I'm not gonna watch this anymore. So yeah, I had a lot of feelings.
How about you ?
David: Yeah. I, the moment when Ellie tried to heal him by like saying like, oh, my blood is magic. Like knowing that like she has some kind of immunity. Like, I was wondering if that would've been like even more confirmation. Like, oh yeah, like this can happen. Like, I'm even more committed to my mission of like being the cure for the world.
And, you know, when that wasn't the case, like, I think that was like another level of like devastation for her. And like, here I am, like centering the white girl in this conversation, right. . But like, you know, that's the character that like, I have grown attached to like, from like Neil Bruckman's like story perspective.
Right. And, you know, the framework of like restorative justice reflections is not so much like a critique of the storytelling choices. And like, we do wish things were different. Right. when we think about black people thriving, when we think about marginalized people thriving in the world of apo, the apocalypse It's impossible to separate the things that existed before the apocalypse, right? White supremacy, capitalism in some ways, right? Like we haven't like seen the ins and outs of the way that Fedra and the revolutionary groups operate, but Right.
Like those things are still present, like the resource hoarding and all of that. and I think it's actually like
both a justifiable and an important story choice to show the way that people of the global majority, like are treated in these spaces. Right? Like would Kathleen's feelings towards them have been different if they were white. Probably not , right? Kathleen was pretty dead set on getting revenge for her brother, whoever it was, at least from my perception.
But, you know, how would others have treated them in this world? I know that there have been efforts at more inclusive casting from even the original storyline, right? We're gonna see like, like we have definitely seen more black characters. We've seen more queer representation. We've seen more dis disabled representation across all this.
but I think what was most affecting to me, both in the game and in the story is Henry deciding to end his own life in that moment, right? When you've put all of your purpose into protecting the life of one being and you fail at that I'm not saying that it's not horribly sad, I'm not saying that it's not horribly traumatic to have to end the life of the person that you care so deeply about.
And there's still some ways forward, right? As somebody who has experienced like, at least suicidal ideation, right? There are always things that you can decide to, to live for, to continue on for, right? Henry would've been like, if we continue the story, like Henry would be a valuable contributing member of both Ellie and Joel's traveling party, right?
Or whatever community Ellie and Joel encounter in the future. There, there are lots of ways that he could have continued forward and, Sam was gonna either die or turn. Like there's no, there's nothing to reclaim from that, right? The vaccine didn't work at Ellie's. Magic Blood didn't work.
But what were the possibilities for Henry that didn't get to be explored? Could have been a whole nother spinoff series. H B O missed out, missed out.
Kala: So the, the, the new trope of disabled folks in a post-apocalyptic world is one that has been explored by by many shows and writers. I think it's important to look at. You know, real life examples of what that looks like in the here and now.
I know you've had Mia Mingus on in the past, Mia Mingus, who had co-created pod the pod mapping framework with the Bay Area Transformative Justice Collective. And Alice Wong, who has continued to prepare us for a disaster. Alice was you know, part of the response responding to the California wildfires in 2019 getting folks educated on the use of the proper use of masks at the be beginning of the pandemic.
I wish, and I hope that. , new writers, especially disabled writers of color that are gonna be creating new narratives. I want to invite you to really think about how we as disabled people not only survive the apocalypse, but are able to thrive and build a world that is truly safe and just, and has all of our brilliance and skills incorporated.
I gave a little bit of a critique, but I think it's now more of an invitation for what are the new stories that we're gonna be creating together.
David: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Both. And, and I think, again,
I'm someone who is, has been like, critical of like representation matters, period. Because representation does matter, right? Representation. Invites imagination to what could be. And while we need to follow up on that, what could be giving people that vision is so important, and so to those who are in the business of creating stories or thinking about doing all of that your work is so needed, your perspectives are so needed.
and if you have thoughts about what that could look like or what that could look like in this world you know, links to get in touch with us are always in the show notes. before we get into spoiler territory, I want to give you the spotlight one more time for Kala's practical Prepper Corner.
So what you got for us this week?
Kala: Yeah. So this week just kind of connecting to what I shared earlier, when we look at those who are most. Directly affected by violence. We can learn so much from their leadership. Right? One thing I've, that I've learned, being an immigrant raised in the Bay Area in earthquake country is slowly building up my preps, and I think a lot of folks do this who, folks that come from countries that were affected by genocide and colonization, folks that have had to leave their ancestral homes.
A lot of people are asking right now, like, what can I do to prep? And some folks want to just go to r e I and buy everything out. I was like, you don't have to do that. The one thing that you can do this week, which is part of what you do every week, I think for some folks is when you're buying your groceries, spend 10% of what you're purchasing on on getting either canned food or.
Very shelf stable food that you already use. It's important that you're getting what you're already using. For instance, I eat a lot of spams, so obviously I'm gonna buy a spam. It's really about incorporating preparation in your day-to-day where it's not like a mad dash like we saw at the beginning of the pandemic where everyone is buying tons of toilet paper.
You don't have to hoard in order to prep. And in fact you can prep for your community which a lot of people did. Whatever extras people had were shared in my community. So the the prepper corner tip of the day is to prep slowly and prep with the things that you're already going to use.
David: Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. So that brings us to the end of Kala's Prepper Corner and the non spoiler version of our conversation. So we'll be for those of you who need to sign off because you don't want things in the future. Spoiled. We'll be back next week with another restorative justice reflection, breaking down episode six of the last of us.
There will be another episode in this restorative Justice Life feed this week featuring a conversation with someone who's living these restorative values. But this is your big spoiler warning. If you have not signed off by this point, that's on you, . Okay. So, you know, there is so much foreshadowing in this episode for what has happened between.
Both Sam and Henry and Kathleen and what's going to happen with Joel and Elliot? What, what stood out to me the most was this line that Kathleen said when she was confronting Henry about, you know, kids die, Henry, they die all the time. You think the whole world revolves around him, right? With the inference rate, Henry did this.
Henry betrayed Michael in order to get leukemia medicine for Sam. And you know, we have Joel on this path to clear everything out of the way to get Ellie to the place where she needs to be, to be the cure for humanity. We know that in the end he does all the work to get her there. And then because of his great love for her kills the doctors because they were gonna have to kill her in order to get what they needed in order to like advance the research, develop the vaccine.
Joel made the same choice that Kathleen did. Joel made the same choice that Henry did. And, you know, we have this big critique of paternalism, saviorism not allowing people to have their agency. Right? Like, at the end of this episode, Ellie is more determined than ever to be the cure. So like she can prevent the death of, others like Sam.
But, you know, how did all of like the, the layers of like, this is what's gonna happen, these are the things that are coming land with you.
Kala: Oh. Part of me was like, oh, I wish Joel heard that. You know, like it it was an interesting nod to the, the audience around the little, you know, drizzle, foreshadowing.
And it, I think it'll consistently be a a question that comes up around like the good of the. Right? Mm-hmm. , how do we balance the love that we have for our, you know, our chosen or, or our immediate, the folks that we consider family or cargo .
David: I think they're beyond that at this point, but yeah.
Kala: how do we how do you balance a love for a family to the love of community and how we not see that inextricably, you know, connected, right. they had to make the choices that they did in the game in order for this theme of revenge, of vengeance, of the more paler side of love to kind of like, show.
I feel that as for many game players we know what's coming down what's coming down the road, right? But I wonder if Joel had more of these interactions with folks asking about, thinking about the greater good, would that change his decision down the line? And would that, disrupt the cycle of violence that has been happening, will continue to happen in less of us too.
David: Yeah. Well, I, yeah, I also think about like, you know, Henry made the same choice though, right? Henry made a choice to save or at least get medicine for Sam, and it ended up in the death of like the visionary revolutionary leader, Michael.
Arguably without the death of Michael, the revolutionaries wouldn't have taken over the Fedra QC in the way that they did. But, you know, if you're in Henry's shoes, like what is the choice that you're making? Right? Betray the cause that you believe in to save your brother. That's not a rhetorical question.
I am. But you, you see the love that he actually has for Michael, right? He's like, you know, a man that you would follow, that everyone admires. And when it came down to it, he is like, I'm gonna turn him in to try to save my brother, right? Yeah. That's not like, as a parent, right? Like, I think that hits like deep for me.
Like, what would I do like to save my kid? What would I do to save my partner when I believe in this cause? And like, you it's an impossible question to actually answer. So it was like really mean of me to like, turn that back on you and like force you to, well, like, try to try to point you and paint you into a corner.
But I think, you know, the way that you navigate things like that is giving people agency, right? Like talking to Sam about like, Hey, this is what it's gonna take to get you some medicine. Like, we don't like fedra, we don't like the things that they do to our community. And if I do this to help Fedra, we can get you some medicine.
Or, you know, I could not, and we could like work for this and maybe on the other side we would have access to that medicine for you, right? Same with Ellie, right? Joel never gives Ellie the opportunity to like be the cure, like sacrifice your life to be the cure. He's just like, Nope. Yeah, you aren't gonna do that.
I love you too much , right? Yeah. If he had like, had that consultation, right? Both like Henry and Joel, if they had both done that consultation, maybe these still have made the same choice. Maybe El and Sam would've both said, no, save me. Do everything that you can. Can't just save me. And you know, the repercussions would still be similar to what we have now.
But it remains an open question. Knowing that, like, given that framing, I'm gonna turn it back to you again. Like, what would you have done in Henry's shoes? ?
Kala: I mean, it's exactly what you're saying. It's like how do you build informed consent mm-hmm. for folks to be able to feel full stewardship over their agency and autonomy to be able to make those choices.
Right. Because once we have our choices taken away from us, that is the utter lack of freedom that is the dehumanization of. That's a start of dehumanization, right? I think for me, I mean, this is easy. Like, I'm single, I don't have kids. I, I'm like, I don't care. I'm Buddhist. We're gonna come back in the next lifetime anyways.
But I think for me it would be having that conversation, but it's not easy, right? These conversations around like, here are the risks involved in what we are about to do. How do you feel about that? Right? We do this a lot in protest safety work. It's like we know that the police are gonna be using, you know pepper spray or bear spray tear gas and other munitions.
Are you willing to deal with the consequences of that? And for folks to be able to say, no, I can't and I need to sit this one out. We make sure that that's okay, but it's all about having that choice and not being put into the position of where you feel like you could have done something and yet you didn't, because that only causes more.
You know, emotional violence. Right. So yeah, I mean, like I said, it's, it's easy for me to think about cause I'm, you know, I'm like, whatever. But yeah, it, it, it, having had to have these conversations in real life with folks where we've gone into situations that could have been life or death these are not easy conversations, but they're necessary.
David: Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. Whew. So much more to come. I'm really curious to see how they continue to reckon with like all the viol, Joel specifically, and like Ellie tangentially, like reckon with like the violence that they have caused and at least bore witness to episodes to come. I really appreciate the way that like, they have not shied away from, like, violence takes a toll on people, like causing violence, witnessing violence takes a toll on people within this show.
So those are things that we don't know. Those are things that we don't know and are excited to see. Next Sunday, I know we have like much more of our break because this episode aired earlier. But excited to come back and talk about this with you in a week. For everyone else, take care, stay safe and we'll talk to you soon.
Kala: Take care y'all.