This Restorative Justice Life

Fulfilling the "Guardian" Role (The Last of Us Episode 6) [Restorative Justice Reflections]

February 21, 2023 David Ryan Castro-Harris
This Restorative Justice Life
Fulfilling the "Guardian" Role (The Last of Us Episode 6) [Restorative Justice Reflections]
Show Notes Transcript

Hey everyone, this is an episode about restoratively reflecting on HBO's apocalyptic drama "The Last of Us" Episode 6 w/ Kala Mendoza.

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David [00:00:00] Welcome to Restorative Justice Reflection, the show where we reflect on things that are happening in media news, pop culture and ask restorative, reflective questions that help us make sense of it all. I'm David Castro HARRIS and I'm here with Kala Mendoza to take a deep dive into the themes of HBO's The Last of US Episode six. Ken. Of course, as always, the thoughts here are not to critique the story or production choices of the creators, but we hope to make connections between themes present in the story and how we co-create a world where people and communities can survive and thrive in post-apocalyptic times. And now, as always, if you want to learn more about how to connect with us, links to get attached to our work is in the show notes. But let's get to it. I guess one more thing. Spoiler alert. For the first part of our conversation, everything that's happened in the HBO show through Episode six is Fair Game. You've been warned. And at the end of the episode, we'll let those who know the Last of US lore everything going on in the universe. That's fair game. But of course, we'll give you a heads up before that. So episode six of The Last of US Can Color. How'd this episode land for you? 


Kala [00:01:13] Oh, it landed in all the ways it was. So I mean, when I look at the last of us from a prepper and mutual protection lens, I'm always trying to pull out, you know, what are the themes and what are the learnings. This was really I felt that Ken was asking us about who are our kinship ties? Who are those that we consider chosen by our chosen family? It was I know we'll get into it, but like opening up with Graham GREENE and Aileen Miles, almost like stating that indigenous people are still here in the apocalypse. Like, yeah, that was that was like a beautiful start to what was a very gentle, I felt episode, which showed us kind of like the differences between communism versus fascism and what cooperation versus control looks like. If we're seeing Joel on one end and his brother on the other. So yeah, yeah. 


David [00:02:17] Rather gentle episode, but it had a really violent start, really violent end, right? Because the first thing that we see is, ah, recap a flashback to Henry and Sam from the last episode, Henry shooting Sam and then taking his own life. And then we cut to it three months later, right? And in that three months, we know that Joel and Lee have been making their way from Kansas City to somewhere in Wyoming, where they encounter the indigenous the indigenous elders. And, you know, that beautiful parallel of like, you know, we can survive on our own. Similar to what Bill and Frank had been doing in episode three was a really cool reminder and foreshadowing to things to come like, maybe like Future Future and the Last of US universe that like there are lots of people who are doing it, surviving in ways that make sense for them. Of course, life is not the way that it was in 2003 23 when the outbreak first happened. But, you know, relying on indigenous knowledge systems are ways of knowing the land, taking care of the land to carve out a life for yourself was modeled really well. 


Kala [00:03:37] We definitely agreed. And it's yeah by gentle I meant it's Jeff filling in the larger scope. Right. I'm curious and I'm wondering if any readers were thinking this for Marlin and Florence that to indigenous elders, do you think they knew about Jackson? And that's why they kind of, you know, they knew about them already and that's why they're kind of. Not warning, but telling Joel and Ellie that that's how his death. Just. Yeah. Yeah. 


David [00:04:12] I don't. I think they were warning them about something else that both you and I know is coming. But I will like another community, perhaps. 


Kala [00:04:22] Oh, well. 


David [00:04:26] See, like, I don't know, like. 


Kala [00:04:28] Oh. 


David [00:04:28] Like, that's what I'm imagining that they're talking about, but they might not have known. Right. When you carve out that kind of space for yourself and, like, set boundaries straight, something like this is as far as I will go for the safety of myself and my family. You might not know what's on the other side, you know, no specifics, but you know, there is more trouble on the horizon for Angela. And I guess I'll say like this isn't a spoiler per se. I think many viewers can infer from this being having the show, having three more episodes left, like Joel isn't dead. Right. Joel is like very, very hurt. And Ellie having to deal with that and make choices around how to survive while having to take care of someone else is something that, you know, we're going to see but is really important to it. And I think, you know, we talk about how like when they depart from the space, like Ellie is in many ways already stepping into that role of protecting Joel there, even though, like Joel is reluctant to share that burden of protecting their little family, their little unit, their traveling party, she's stepping up and like, well, we haven't seen what's happened across the last three months. We see that she has picked up a lot from Joel and is able to take care in ways that he might not be giving her credit for. 


Kala [00:05:56] Yeah. I mean, like the the opening scene where Joel said that he would be staying up to watch, stay on watch. And then Allie being the one to, ah, to basically protect him is like a. It's essentially what we talk about in our work around Everyone in the community has the capacity and ability to protect each other. We all have different strengths and it's important for us not to fall into a very, you know, white supremacist, patriarchal settler way of thinking about protection, where it's like power over actually sharing that responsibility of protecting each other. So that was that was a very poignant moment. And I was like, Oh, I hope Joel's going to be learning about this. And Bill, he will have to come very, very soon. Yeah, Yeah. 


David [00:06:57] By the end of this episode, like, he doesn't have a choice at all. And I think, you know, speaking to like, the savior ism, this paternalism that like, is constantly showing up in the world of Last of US, specifically between Joel and Elly. And we can see it in other spaces too, right? I think he is softening. He is learning, gradually learning, right? He has started to trust in some ways and we'll see that play out a little bit more as we get into the episode a little bit later. But, you know, I think part of the ability to. Trust someone to protect you and protect themselves is being able to let go of things that have happened in the past. Right. And Joel, as somebody who has experienced a lot of trauma, who has been let down by a lot of people, and so, like he's had to he, in his mind, has developed patterns of thinking about like, I'm the only one who can do this. I'm the only one who's like, really going to look out for me, look, take care of myself, who's really going to have my back, Right. Even in this search for Tommy, right. He thinks that he's going out to save Tommy, but like, when he encounters the Calvary, this watch party that comes out and, you know, surrounds him in Ellie as they're marching through the plains, you know, which is actually Alberta, but, you know, pretend Wyoming and then brought back to their settlement. He sees that Tommy doesn't need saving. Tommy is good. Tommy has in many ways moved on and is living a thriving life with a community of people who he's taking care of and are taking care of him. 


Kala [00:08:38] Yeah, that the thriving part. It feels like I don't want to make binaries, but Joel is very much about surviving. And like, we saw that with what he was doing for 20 years at the Kisi in Boston. Whereas Tommy, Tommy's always been drawn to cooperation and supporting others. I mean, that's what one of the showrunners in the podcast said that, you know, a military recruiter probably told Tommy that he'd be spreading democracy or whatever. Right, Right. And like, being able to find a space for folks who are more on the cooperative side that wants to do good with others is really kind of like the place that Tommy inhabits. And it's just interesting to see those two frameworks clash in this and in very real and visceral ways. Yeah. 


David [00:09:34] Yeah. I mean, and the manifestation of that on an individual level versus like on a communal level, looks like very different ideologies, right? It's not necessarily like just like libertarian, everyone out for themselves and like die hard, like socialism, communism, but like everybody on our individual journeys and the individual way that we navigate the world under capitalism. I imagine if you're listening to this podcast, that's the system that you're living under. But you know, the way that we decide to do that systemically or cooperatively, maybe not like on a national level, but within the communities that we participate in can look very different, right? We've seen violence be the the tip of the spear and, you know, kind of the way of life in many communities that we've encountered across the last of us so far. Right. Ruling by fear and it seems in this community of Jaxon while there definitely are measures to protect right protect against infected protect against raiders within the community. It's a lot more built on trust, mutuality. And I'd be so much more curious to learn like, you know, spinoff show about like the origins of Jackson, right. What it took to like get to a democratically elected council and how do we build a multi-faith worship house of worship, Right? How do we decide that like we have a jail but we don't really use it? Right. What were those decision making processes? I know, like we might get more allusions into that into season two where, you know, we revisit Jackson. I guess that's a spoiler. Damn. I'm sorry. We revisit Jackson at some point. I won't say in what circumstances, but they're characters that we care about in Jackson. One of the things that they encounter in Jackson is this corral that has a bunch of sheep and like it's calling back to Joel and Liz conversation around a campfire before about, you know, like, what would you do when this is all over? Right? It's framed as like, what are we going to do? And like, Luke's about to just like, oh, are we are we okay? I guess, like, fine, what are you going to do? And Joel talks about, you know, finding land and raising sheep because they're quiet. Ellie dreams of going to space, which, you know, is is a beautiful dream. And like, hey, maybe together they'll, like, raise sheep in space on the moon or something like that. But I'm curious for you, you know, we're not living in the mushrooms zombie apocalypse, but what do you dream of as the after this work. 


Kala [00:12:23] In the dystopia that we're in right now or the one. Yeah, I mean. 


David [00:12:28] That's where I think now is like. A more practical question to ask. What is it that you're working towards? Right. 


Kala [00:12:34] Yeah, I think for me and I ask a lot of folks that have been doing this work for decades, like where do we go from here? I think for me, I want to I want to run a science camp where folks of all ages come in to learn about the local ecology, most especially from an indigenous perspective, and to really learn from indigenous folks, like how do we actually become stewards of the land? I think that I want to one day move away from the protection work because it's it is I connect with Joel so much because I was like, Yeah, I'm tired too. I am exhausted. I want to do something that is gentle, that's generative, that brings joy, and that's something that, you know, folks can learn from one another and from the earth. 


David [00:13:27] Yeah, it's hard for me to define for myself. Like what after this means. Right. Because I've just embarked on a parenting journey. And like, what is required in that is, you know, the protection and guidance and safety and, you know, all the things that come with being a parent for for this little one. And so part of doing that is like finding ways to be in community or contribute to community in a way that, like you'll be able to monetize that. And, you know, in so many ways, like the work of Amplify, RJ is actually doing that. I think, you know, so much of amplify our days where currently is supported by work that I do with organizations. And I think that's that's helpful. I appreciate so much more of the work that I get to do directly with community members who are trying to learn these ways and figuring out a way to do that. And in a minute that's sustainable, both time wise, energy wise and monetarily, is what I'd love to move to. I've been really happy over the last couple of weeks to like, be able to make this time with you, to talk about things that are going on in the world and help people make connections. And I've been really tickled. My heart has been warmed with all the feedback that we've been getting from people who like are really being served by these conversations. I met up with a couple of friends this last weekend who were like, Yeah, like I really love this. And like if I feel like my brain can make contributions to help people think about these ways of being that, that's, that's what feels good for me. And that can look like a number of different things. I guess at the end of the day, it's all teaching, but it can look like a number of different things. But in the zombie apocalypse, who knows what that looks like? I would definitely want to be more part of the Jackson community than a federal user or, you know, a revolutionary Kansas City party. But, you know, it remains to be it remains to be seen what what else will manifest. So while Joel and Tommy are, like touring this community, Ellie is making connections with Mariah, who is Tommy's? We learn wife, pregnant wife at that. And, you know, through that connection, we we learn a couple of things. One, we learn about Tommy and Maria's history. We both learned that, you know, they've been, like, pretty well-adjusted to their community. They haven't been shy with each other about their community members, about the loss that they felt inside of their house. Tommy and Maria both have a memorial to the children that they've lost. While Sarah Joel's daughter wasn't Tommy's biological daughter. Right. Like, they have a memorial for her and Maria has a memorial for her son, Kevin, who was who is lost. And when Ellie sees this, that's when she makes the realization that Joel has a daughter who is who died around her age. And she was like, oh, that makes so much sense in that conversation with Maria. And you know what that's a reminder to me of is, you know, everyone who we're encountering on the Daily has stuff in their past that they're not telling us. And the manifestation of their behaviors due to what's in their past like might not make sense to us. But that's because, like, we just don't know those things. And it's really a reminder to be generous and gentle with people as we encounter them. I think there's always the need for healthy skepticism, for protection, but there's always this reminder for me that, like we're all good at our core and we've had things happened to us that have caused us to like try to meet needs sometimes in rather unhealthy ways. When you're when you're watching this scene of realization between Sara and Maria, what was coming up for you. 


Kala [00:17:40] In that moment where there was that connection that at least saw Sarah's name and Maria, who was serving, for lack of a better term, as a maternal figure? Similar has for me, what was coming up was someone that was invested in not just the physical safety, but also the emotional safety of Ellie and was doing what they could to kind of foster that in real time, like how we saw with Maria getting that eggplant colored jacket, doing the thing, the things that John may not have been able to do to to show that character kind of build that. So, yeah, for me it was. Maria just being very, very emotionally intelligent and being able to identify what the what Ellie's needs were in that moment. 


David [00:18:38] Yeah, both like physical needs, like, you know, warmth, menstrual hygiene. Shout out to diva cups. But like, when we're speaking to emotional safety and I think like physical safety as well, when Ellie is hesitant to share about her background and what's been going on with her, I think this leads to the exchange of the episode where Maria identifies that like there's a whole lot that you're not telling me and like, good for you. That's the point. Be careful who you put your faith in, because only the people who can betray us are the ones that we trust. Right? And, you know, that's both like physical and emotional betrayal, physical and emotional safety so important when you are navigating a world with raiders and its infected right. People who will watch out for you when you sleep, watch out for you when you're traversing open territory, watch out for you while you're encountering people who you're unfamiliar with, but also holding space for you. When you're dealing with trauma like Joel does in the ways that he can hold space for Ellie's fear and sadness and rage in events that we've seen so far around Henry and Sam dying around having to shoot someone else. Brian earlier. But the key is not fully at that place where he can do that. But we see that Ellie has appreciated it so much and is really defensive of any critique of Joel because he's the person who has been present for her. He's a person who has continued to show up. 


Kala [00:20:12] Yeah, and I'm not to jump ahead too much, but like when Ellie, when there was a point where Ellie overheard Joel and Tommy discussing what, you know, what the plan was and felt that betrayal and felt that. I can't remember the exact line, but it was. I may be safer with Tommy, but I'll still be scared, right? 


David [00:20:39] Oh, yeah. The exact line is don't tell me I'd be safer with someone else. Because the truth is, I would just be more scared. 


Kala [00:20:46] Yeah. So it's, you know, it is about that trust. It's about something that we talk about. An ongoing piece is a classic safety and security in order to be able to meet the needs of folks when it comes to feeling safe. You have to have aspects of the physical, psychosocial, spiritual, etc.. And I think because of the trust Ellie's built with Joel up to this point breaking, that would really have been detrimental. 


David [00:21:16] I think we can like jump back to the conversations between Joel and Tommy in a second, But this exchange where Ellie and Joel are going back and forth about, you know, you'd be Tommy is going to take, you know, like, I want to go with you. I feel safer with you. I would only be more scared with Tommy, Right. I question that a lot. There's so much about this show where I'm like, Oh, you actually could have spent, like, a couple of days. You could have broken this to her a little bit more gently. Obviously, she overheard this, but like, we can have a more fleshed out conversation. Hey, I'm feeling that like, I can't protect you because of my anxiety around keeping you safe. Like I failed to keep test safe. I've failed to keep Sara safe. My brother knows this place so much better than I do. He knows the fireflies. He would be the best person to guide you on this journey. Let's give you an opportunity to get to know him. Right. Might have assuaged Ellie's fears of you, Right? Everybody in my life abandons me because of the incident with Sam and Henry. Ellie is now more than ever committed to being the cure. She has so much purpose. And if Joel has a conversation with her about Tommy is your best shot at finding the Firefly so you can be the cure for humanity who can save us all like she might have been more willing to go along with that plan. We'll talk more about that in spoiler section. But they rush through all of these choices and these conversations. But I learned a really important lesson around urgency emergency emergencies a long time ago. You know, we're on the heels of another earthquake in Turkey, in Syria, where tens of thousands I think we're approaching 50,000 people have died. And I did work in Haiti post the 2010 earthquake. And one of the things that I learned that from the people who was working with is like they're very, very, very, very, very few things that are actual life and death emergencies that need to be attended to right now in this moment. You know, that's why triage is a practice within emergency medicine. But we often have more time than we think to make choices. Right. And as urgently as they want to get to the fireflies. So Ellie can you know, so Ellie's blood can be studied. It's already taken them, you know, three plus months. What's a couple more days to again, like, have these conversations restock, refuel, rest. Right. They haven't eaten very well. They haven't slept very well. Having these conversations about strategy, about how to go about this and like actually thinking about how Tommy is really the best person. You will be safer with Tommy than you would be with me. You might not feel it, but let's get you to the point where you feel safe with Tommy or safe enough with Tommy so you can go and do this thing. Might serve them really, really well. 


Kala [00:24:18] Yeah, I agree. I mean, like, that's the difference between folks who. Between people that subscribe to the more paternalistic form of protection where you feel like you are, that you are charged with having to make all of the decisions instead of actually reinforcing someone's autonomy, reinforcing someone's agency, and like sharing that responsibility and strategizing out. It's a white settler myth of of scarcity, right? Where there just isn't enough time. Everything is an emergency. If we actually took the time to move through with folks what the what a plan or what the strategy is, what the plan is, we not only get more buy in, but we also have more perspective on what are the things that we need to change. So I hope this is like a teaching moment, you know, really comparing. Joel And this is not to fault Joel or anyone that subscribes to this, but we need to grow beyond that and move toward something that's much more cooperative, one that's much more grounded in shared and mutual responsibility for each other's safety. Yeah. 


David [00:25:34] It's like, I think even like semantically, biologically, like when you have that pressure on yourself, like your cortisol levels are help are asking you to make like these fights like freeze fine decisions, right. That aren't rooted in seeing the whole picture. Right. And even, you know, sometimes it's worth it to like, pause and like, do things cooperatively. But even in moments when you're by yourself, like, pausing right in work I've done with resume mannequins, so much of what he says is just pause, Right? Pause. Like what's happening? Like, where are you feeling it? Why acknowledge that and pause a little bit more and then like, move forward to make more informed decision. That's not rooted it I'm stressed out right now is really helpful. And so like I can't recommend to my grandmother's hands enough or any of the somatic abolitionist work that resume and others are doing. But that's on the side of I do want to revisit the conversation between Joel and Tommy, right where Joel finally admits to Tommy like the real reason why they're there, like after this exchange about, Hey, we have done so much harm and Tommy, the way that Tommy is reckoned with, that by trying to contribute to building something and Joel is still stuck in this survivor or survivor mode. Tommy, Tommy's trying to build a life for this family that Joel feels like he has no opportunity to regain. And, like, you know, subconsciously thinks about Ellie as that family. But, you know, when we were having when they were having this exchange, what was present for you? 


Kala [00:27:23] I was putting myself in Joel's shoes and feeling like a sense of betrayal of like, not betrayal, but more. I don't I don't think. And this the right word, but just like a feeling of like, this is so unfair. You know, I knew Sara. I give up my humanity to protect. Like in his the narrative in his mind is like he did everything he like, murdered innocent people to protect Tommy. And here's Tommy now saying that, you know, the reasons that he couldn't reach out to Joel is because the the protocols in Jackson and Joel automatically went right to like, oh, is Maria controlling you? Which is interesting because I was like, Joel, that's what you've been doing. So it's to me, what arose was Joel operating from a state of, of trauma, state of not being able to move outside of the murder of Sarah. And I just I was like, I wish. Don't they have, like, a therapist there? They must at some point, you know, like, yeah, it's good to like, I just wish also going back to what you're saying, there was like a pause, but you know, so to hear that this is more learning for us, right? Like is this moment the best time to bring to bring this up? Is there a way that we can pause so that way the conversation is more generative and is honors people's trauma and experience, but also finds a path forward? 


David [00:28:57] Ray You know, we've gone I think it's like seven years since they've seen each other, right? And of course, like there's this immediate like, Oh my goodness, you're alive. I'm so happy that you're alive. But then like, Hey, where have you been? I've been trying to get a hold of you. I didn't know if you were okay. That's a paternal instinct. And I think, like, not one that we should criticize, right? Like, we want to be in relationship with people and part of being a. Relationship is like being in communication. It's always like in reciprocal relationship. And that was broken. And so what are the ways that we can repair that relationship between the two of them? They don't take the time to stop and repair. They do come to a consensus about like, Hey, this is what needs to be done for the good of humanity. And like, you know, we're going to squash what has happened in the past for now. Right. And, you know, you always have a like Tommy says that like you always have a place back here in in Jackson when when all this is over. But, you know, they haven't like gotten to that place of repair. And sometimes, you know, as much as like we're critiquing their rashness sometimes like that is all we can do in any given moment. Like we're working under imperfect conditions where we don't always have the time, we don't always have the resources to like, have long drawn out discussions to get back fully in right relationship. And we need to do it and we need to make decisions about community safety, community protection, or within the context of work, right. Decisions about work before everybody is fully onboard because of circumstances outside of our control. But, you know, it's a reminder that like taking those pauses, always being able to revisit conversations with people, always being able to revisit relationships with people is so, so important. This episode also brought out, you know, the deep, deep bond that, like Ellie has for Joel and you know that Joel has for Elliot, by the time they depart, Jackson, like you see them connected more than they have ever before. Of, of course, some of this revolves around like learning to shoot, learning to protect yourself, learning to hide in these times. But like Joel is a lot more open with Ellie about some of the things that about his past, about some of the things that he dreams of for the future. Ellie still cracking jokes and there's so much more connection and and hope between them once they've made this choice about like, no, we're going to do this together. And then tragedy strikes. Any reflection on like, their growth of their relationship before we get to the violence of it all? 


Kala [00:31:45] No, I mean, like I think it's important to note, like, for me, this is the first time I notice Joel smiling. Right. And there being like that moment of levity. And there can be something shared once you decide to share the responsibility and you can show care and protection by extending out what that looks like for everyone, that's a part of it. 


David [00:32:12] So yeah, yeah. Sharing so much of yourself strengthens bonds and I think as even people who are playing protector paternal guardian roles, right, sharing who you are with the people who are in your care is an important way to build trust, right? People don't just trust you because of the role that you inhabit. People trust you because they know you and they won't know you unless you share some of those things. Joel and Ellie, you know, bonding over football or like explaining football come across this this college town where the fireflies used to be, but realize that the fireflies are no longer there. They've migrated to Salt Lake City, and as they are on their way out, they're attacked. This plays out a little bit differently in the game, but the end result is the same with Joel. Seriously? Seriously hurt in the game. Joel falls off a balcony and is impaled by some rebar, and Ellie has to get him up onto the horse and escape in this circumstance. Joyce stabbed with the shank of a baseball bat. And I think, like before we move on to the rest of the story, this is a good time for Karla's practical prep story corner. And I'll start by saying, if you're ever impaled or if someone's ever impaled, don't pull it out. But what else do you got worth? 


Kala [00:33:37] Yeah. So welcome to my favorite corner. So as we saw in this episode, we saw a Diva Cup in episode three, we saw the pro tampons. One thing I always tell folks to bring in their everyday carry or in make sure you have tampons and menstrual products in your first aid kit. One You want to make sure you're an ally to folks that menstruate. But there are three ways that you can utilize this in a in an emergency scenario. Firstly, using it for its intended purpose, which is to, you know, if Ellie had those tampons, what I would have told them is like, take it out, put it onto the, put it onto the wound and apply. Pressure. Do not take out the baseball bat. But utilizing this to stanch up any any wounds is one use. Secondly, using it to filter water. Once you take it out, you can use it as a part of a filtration, as a physical filtration system. There's more information on that, I'm sure, as you can find. But basically, if you were to find water or to filter water to make it drinkable, you want to make sure that your first taking out any of the physical sediment or anything else before you boil it. So you can use this as a part of that chip in infiltration, using a water bottle that you might find are stacking that up with sand. Charcoal. Anything else that'll take out any of the particulate matter? And lastly, using it as a source of fire, as a fire starter. One of the things that I've experienced in the past when backpacking is not having one of these ready and trying to start up a fire with a wet or moist wood, as as folks know, it's really difficult. And by the end of the day, the last thing that you want is a nice warm fire. So everyone should carry tampons with them on your everyday carry or in your first aid kit. 


David [00:35:43] There you go. And that concludes Carlos prepper corner. Back to where we are, where we end this episode with Ellie distraught, needing to take care of Joel having escaped. Now, in that protector role. You and I know some things that are coming in before we get to the part where we start getting into spoilers. What were your thoughts as we left this episode? 


Kala [00:36:11] My thoughts were how necessary it was for us to see Jackson, right? For folks who are, you know, the trope in a lot of possible apocalyptic media is everyone just turns into chaos. And to be able to see a community that has disabled folks, children, electricity, food. I mean, I think it's very telling that Kansas City, we didn't see many children in February. Children were being trained as child soldiers. But here in Jackson was a ideal community that was brought together in order to actually rebuild and have hope for a better world. And that's what that's what I kind of carried with me, those like last shots and then all of this with Joel. And now I'm like, what the heck? But what a powerful way to end the episode. 


David [00:37:11] Yeah, the roles are reversed, right? Ellie is now the protector, and we're going to see the things that she does to take care of Joel in the future. So this concludes the non spoilers section in this feed on Thursday. We've got another This Restorative Justice Life episode will be back either next Tuesday or Wednesday, depending on our scheduling, to give our reflections on episode seven of The Last of US. But this is the time for you to sign off if you have not, or if you do not want spoilers for the rest of the Last of US or anything moving forward. So five, four, three, two, one. Your fault if you're still listening. Okay, So you know, you and I had this conversation about like, oh, how are they going to pace this out? So what's coming in episode seven isn't something that was in the first game, but is from the Last of us Left behind. Like that was in between games one into where we get a lot more knowledge about Ellie's backstory and some of the things that she's going to have to do. And as much as like we're looking forward to that, we also like. Dreading what's going to come with. The things that Ellie has to do in order to protect her and Joel. And, you know, so much of what we've seen, Joel and Ellie, Joel do is to protect Ellie from having to do these things. And I'm just I'm curious how it's going to be represented in the game. But like we beyond shooting that one person, Ellie, hasn't had to physically protect Joel before or protect herself in these ways before. And like, I wish for Joel that he had, like, extended more trust. Right. In so many ways. So she would be better prepared for this situation. We know that she's going to do things that help them survive and, you know, move forward. But I, I so, so, so wish that he had extended more trust that she would be more prepared for this when it happens. 


Kala [00:39:15] Agreed. Dealing with David and Mike, the his crew and these are the folks that we saw, or at least in the game. These are the folks that were at at the university, right? Yeah. This was like the scouting party for viewers who haven't played the game. Get ready. It's going to get really intense as we move forward with this new storyline of Ellie taking care of Joel and what Ellie has to do and kind of like, for lack of a better term, US side quests Ellie has to embark on in order to. Keep Joel alive. So, yes. 


David [00:40:00] This again calls back for me. Like what? He would have been safer with Tommy. Right. We know that in the end, right? Joel makes a decision against Ellie's wishes. And even though, like, he gave her a choice, like, who do you want to go with? Like Tommy or, like, and before he even finishes, like it's you. Let's go. Is her response, right? Going with Tommy Lee. Tommy, I wonder, like, if Tommy would have given Lee one, if Tommy would have been more able to protect Ellie and himself in that situation, and to, like, even further down the line, if Tommy would have given Ellie the agency to, Hey, you are going to be the cure, and this is what's going to happen, and I'm going to deal with the consequences of that. You know, it might it might have made things more difficult between him and Joel moving forward, right, with Ellie giving her life for the cause. But that's that's what I couldn't help but think in in these circumstances. Right? Like in the game, we see Tommy become a lot more like a Joel, a lot more survival anger driven for for reasons that, you know, if you know the game you know why and we don't need to spoil season two for people who don't know yet but it was interesting that Joel gave her that small choice. 


Kala [00:41:30] That that. 


David [00:41:31] That not that small choice. It was interesting to me that Joel gave her that choice about who to go with, but didn't give her the ultimate choice about, you know, what she's going to do with her life when it comes down to it. 


Kala [00:41:43] Yeah. Because his like, paternalistic protector ism came in, right? So Joel falls back on being a paternalistic protector at the at the end of the game. And rather than giving Ellie that that choice point and just decides for Ellie what to do and in essence screws with the fate of humanity. So curious to see if it goes a different way in the show. But what we've already seen in that in the game is Joel's a tough nut to crack when it comes to breaking out of those similar cycles of being paternalistic and being a parent, seeing themselves just as a controlling protector. 


David [00:42:30] Yeah, for sure. The other thing that I wanted to bring up in spoilers is like the differences between Jackson as it was represented here and is represented in what we imagine is going to be students who are like the second part of the Last of US, the game, right? In this version, we see Jackson as it is in the second game, right in the first game, Jackson isn't developed yet. They're just trying to get the electricity started. But the community that Jackson becomes, I don't think is like as fully like democratic and communal as it's represented here. You know, this comes back to the conversations that we were having about representation before where if you think about where Jackson, Wyoming is and the demographics of a community like that, it was really interesting character choice to make Maria a black woman. It was a really interesting character choice or story choice to show disabled people being represented. It was also a really interesting story choice to decide that, you know, we are multi-faith, we are more pluralistic, We are all like one happy family when like we know that it's not fully. And, you know, I so want to get into the the backstory of like the formation of that community, because doing community in that way is really, really difficult. Right? There are really hard choices that you have to make around what you tolerate and what you don't what you're going to, who you're going to include and who you're not. Because that's not a community that welcomes everybody in. Right? They came to Joel, an alley with guns drawn, right? Not just because they were potentially infected, but because they've killed other people who haven't had their communities best interests in mind. And like, how do you determine who is us and who is them in those circumstances? You know, big foreshadow to game to right is a really nuanced and heavy discussion that like we didn't fully get to see. 


Kala [00:44:46] Yeah, agreed. I mean, I really do hope the showrunners hear your your invitation to kind of branch out and show us like the the prequel to The Last of US. But to your point about the messiness of building community, that's part of I think, why some folks are might be averse to not even organizing, but like community building, we don't necessarily have to have the same. I'll just say this in coalition building, which is different than community building, but in coalition building you have a central goal and you mean your values may not be completely aligned, but if your goal is shared, your strategies, regardless of what the ideology behind them are, is your strategies are going to help you meet that goal. So the way I see it in these in post-apocalyptic scenarios, we need to be able to find our our center or like, what is it that we're trying to accomplish, right? How can we strategically build together? I think in. Okay. 


David [00:46:02] Can I jump in? Oh, sorry. Like when you're saying, like how we build together. Like how we build what together? A thriving community. Who defines thriving? Thriving for who? Who do we include? Those are. Those are all the things. And, you know, when we say the who part, what comes up in the Last of US is like, there are people in our community who have harmed other people before. Right. And when we say everyone thrives, do we say, like, you can be a part of our community as long as you forget all the dirt that somebody has done for you and like, don't take revenge. Like, that might be an invitation, but then somebody else's value of like, no loyalty to like who I previously considered to be my people means that, like, I have to get blood or I have there has to be punishment. There has to be some kind of retribution for the things that happened to me and my people before I can like be in good relationship with you is a I mean, that's the myth of redemptive violence that the second game is almost entirely about. But yeah, like we all want to thrive. Like we all want like humans to thrive. Like as a general statement. But how we go about getting that and like, the boundaries between who are us and who are them and whose needs or desires are more important in any given moment. Like, that's the hard. 


Kala [00:47:22] Part. Yeah, I agree. I agree. And I think that what I've seen, how I've seen this work in different indigenous communities is like having a set of protocols. And the way that folks show up building towards or working towards decolonization is by no means an easy feat. Right? But how what are the things that we need to set in place for folks to be able to hear? To be able to hear each other's perspectives and to be able to craft a way forward into what you were saying earlier. Like what? Yeah. What are the what aren't? There are many limitations, but like, what do we do with community members who have caused harm or continue to cause harm? What are the things in place that we need to be able to be practicing? And I think that's a that's an invitation to listeners now. And I think that's why folks are listening now is like, how do we incorporate our restorative justice practices into our work? Because like the mutual protection and prepping only goes so far if we don't have the the heart of being able to address conflict as it arises and to be able to build a better world with folks, what does that look like? And it's going to be messy. So what are the skills we need now? 


David [00:48:47] Yeah, I think, you know, we'll see something that we'll have more details about later. But if you're still listening, you know, part of us doing this work is inviting you all into visioning with us. And so sometime probably in April of 2023, if you're listening to this as it's being released, we'll be convening a gathering for people to, you know, freedom dream about what building a communities of safety communities built to help people thrive look like. But until then, until next week, when we hope to have more details, we hope that you all take care. Stay safe, watch the last of us on Sundays and take care of each other. 


Kala [00:49:31] Be safe.