This Restorative Justice Life

Is It Okay to Lie For "Protection"? (The Last of Us Episode 9) [Restorative Justice Reflections]

March 14, 2023 David Ryan Castro-Harris
This Restorative Justice Life
Is It Okay to Lie For "Protection"? (The Last of Us Episode 9) [Restorative Justice Reflections]
Show Notes Transcript

This week on Restorative Justice Reflections Kala Mendoza and David wrap up Season 1 of HBO's post-apocalyptic drama "The Last of Us" (Episode 9). Thank you to everyone who watched the series and reflected with us! Stay safe ya'll.

Join David and Kala on Sunday March 19, 9am Pacific/12pm Eastern for a LIVE workshop on Freedom Dreaming a Thriving Community (even under apocalyptic circumstances)

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David: Hello everyone. Welcome to Restorative Justice Reflections, the show where we take time to analyze what's happening in news media, pop culture, and ask restorative questions to help us make sense of it all. I'm David Castro Harris and I'm here with Colo Mendoza to dive into the themes of the whole show.

And you know, the finale that aired this weekend of hbos, the Last of us, this last episode episode nine. Look for the Light. As always, the thoughts reflected here are not a critique of the story or production choices. The creators, but we hope to make connections between the themes present in the story, to think about how we can co-create a world where people and communities have what they need to survive and thrive.

As always, if you wanna learn more about doing restorative justice and mutual protection work, ways to get connected with both Kala's work and my work are in the show notes. But let's get into this. We are at the end of season one. , everything from season one is on the table. As far as spoilers go, we might do a little bit of light projection into what season two could possibly be at the end, but we will definitely let you know if there are more spoilers coming.

So, Kala, we are at the end of season one of the show also lines up with the end of the game, the last of us. How did last night's episode land for you? ? 

Kala: I needed to see those giraffes and I think like, For, you know, all of us that played the game for for the viewers, having that moment of respite right.

Was beautiful. I mean, like, it kind of like ties into what we saw in the beginning with Ellie's mom right around life and death and sacrifice and. . Yeah. So I had like all the feelings and then some How about for you? Yeah, 

David: I was also like really looking forward to the G draft scene. Like earlier I had forgot where it landed in the game cause I thought like it was like aligned with like the monkey scene.

I was like, oh, they missed it. But then like remembering, oh no, it's coming. And this seemed like it was a really, really cool moment. You know, it's always just a reminder that like, nature comes back, nature survives. Nature finds a way, life finds a way if you wanna be Jurassic Park about it. But you know, even like if we think about, you know, Aven Avengers end game where Steve Rogers, captain America saying like, oh look, you know, I saw like a Pot of Wales, like.

Going through the Hudson Bay, like even in like apocalyptic times for humans, right? Life finds a way, nature finds a way to like survive and, and even thrive. And like having that moment in the middle of this episode was really fun to see like a reminder that there is still good, there's still joy in the world amid.

all the chaos and pain and hard choices that are happening all around us every day. And especially in this episode, which begins with, you know, something that we didn't see in the game. Ellie's birth right. Anna, who is played by Ashley. Oh man, Ashley Johnson who actually voices Ellie in the game is Ellie's mom.

And we, the show opens with her running away from an infected. We see this pregnant woman trying to survive. She holds up in this house but is bitten before she can give birth and magically . She has the quickest like, transition from, you know you know, in her, in her struggle to kill the infected her baby just pops out.

As somebody who has witnessed birth doesn. Typically happen like that. I guess in my experience, and I think for most medical professionals, again, not a critique of story choices, but she's bitten in that process and before she completely turns, she cuts the umbilical cord. So it's limiting Ellie's exposure to cor ceps.

But we know Ellie does have some exposure to cor deceptions, and that's why she is immune. Anna is a part of this group of people who have been surviving in this house. And when they come back we discovered that Marlene had been Anna's best friend. And, you know, the hard choices made that we've seen time and again throughout this game with Riley or this show with Riley, with Tess.

Somebody who is infected. Making the choice to, you know, give up their life or ask to be killed in order to, you know, save. The rest of their group. Right? And so she, she asks Marlene to take care of the baby and end her life, which, you know, wasn't something that we knew in the game, but it does give us a little bit of background knowing that like Marlene has cared for Ellie, at least at hands length, right?

She gave her off to Fedra so she could be. Safe, which, you know, her mom wanted to, but, you know, what did this new insight into Ellie's backstory and Marlene's backstory bring up for you? 

Kala: For me, this was, this was part of kind of like what the cycle of life, death and passing on the struggle for survival looked like.

It was very clear. You know, Ellie and Marlene had a long standing friendship. And what does it look like to be able to care for those in a apocalyptic or disaster situation? Right. I think Marlene was very resistant towards caring for Ellie because I think probably the first thing that came up is like, this is a vulnerability.

Looking beyond just surviving Ellie also represented the, the feature of humanity and which we later found out would be the potential savior of humanity. Yeah. How about you? 

David: Yeah, I think, you know, we'll talk about this later, but like, I'm really curious about Marlene's choice to hand her off to Fedra as a place that was safe.

You. or safe ish, right? It ended up working out in some way, shape, or form. But you know, I don't know that the fireflies were an organization yet at that point, but Marlene, as this, you know, revolutionary leader didn't feel, I imagine she didn't feel that she had the capacity to, to raise a child or like that, the revolution isn't a place to raise a child like that.

And so, Making a calculated choice about how to you know, honor her friend's wishes was really interesting. I'm curious, like logistically how she got the baby to Fedra, because like, wouldn't Fedra have tested the baby to see if they were infected and like, Ellie was infected from the start. And like, how did Fedra never test her?

For, for Cortis and like, I think like there's like un unanswered questioned in the plot, but hey, you know, we are where we are. We, we've talked over and over about like, you know, capacity that people have and like Marlene made a choice of like, I don't have the capacity for this and so I'm gonna put her in this place.

And like, we're not judging that particular choice, right? But that was the choice that she made and it ended up with the potential down the line for Ellie to be the savior of humanity. I'm also cur curious with Marlene about the calculation of taking the baby when she knew that. , Ellie's mom, Anna had been bitten, right?

Mm-hmm. And Ellie's mom lied saying that she had cut the cord before she had been bitten. Like that. That wasn't true. And so like Marlene might not have known that Ellie had some kind of, some part of the infection, but like, that was just a curious point for me. And I think, you know, we see in multiple instances in this episode where characters lie to each other and.

Others accept it as truth or like don't question it and like move forward with that knowledge. And we'll talk about, you know, what Ellie does with Joel a bit later, but we come back to, you know, quote unquote present day in the show where Ellie is still reeling from the trauma of what happened with David.

This is. days, months, weeks later it's no longer snowy . Right. And we see Ellie and Joel still on their way to Salt Lake City on their way to the hospital. Ellie is a lot more withdrawn than she has typically been. And you know, we, at the end of last week's episode, we talked about how Joel had.

Provided some emotional, like comfort in the moment, but comfort and like deescalation doesn't equal healing. And we see Joel trying to be that supportive person. Not necessarily having the right words. We also know that healing is not linear and it takes time, but as we. Found Ellie and Joel again.

What were you, what was going through your mind as you saw their interactions with Ellie being Sulan and Joel, like trying his paternal best to be there for her? 

Kala: It was so cute. I mean, Pedro Pascal did a phenomenal job of simultaneously trying to. Support Ellie while also, you know, as we see throughout the show, showing vulnerability and really letting Ellie in because like there was that you know, moment in the previous episode when he called her baby girl, right?

Mm-hmm. . And I think He was trying to do his darnedest to figure out, you know having that I think Boggle, it was like the board game. Oh yeah. Uhhuh having Chef Boyer d which, you know, Ellie loved in I think episode four. So it was it was such a, Sincere demonstration of care with what little capacity or what, you know, little means he understood how to provide 

David: that care.

Yeah. I'm not at the parenting age where, you know, I try my best in like, my efforts being met with. Oh, cool. Yeah. Right. My my kid is like non-verbal, not even being a year old yet. Right. But I. I like, but I can't empathize with, you know, trying to do your best to meet somebody's needs. But like, you know, those efforts fall flat and, you know, he's not overbearing in these moments where like, you know, talk to me.

You need to feel better. Like, I'm doing all this for you. Like, I think it, you know, one of the good choices. That he makes is, you know, just like acting out of his capacity. Acting about out of like what he knows of like what she's interested in trying to make these connection points but not pushing too hard.

And, you know, people continue to progress through these feelings, progress through trauma at their own rate. And like, you know, the best that you can be is present for them and attentive and responsive to whatever needs are arising. We see. You know, continue their journey into Salt Lake City. It's really funny, Ellie knowing like exactly the move that they're gonna make, we're gonna go through this building, we're gonna go to try to find like a high lookout place and try to make our way through there.

And, you know, we can see that they've gotten more and more familiar where Joel makes a joke, like, actually, I found some dynamite. We're gonna blast through this. And she was like, for real? And it. No, we're gonna do exactly what you said, right? We can see the bond that they have, even through really tough circumstances.

And you know, we have the latter moment where, you know, if you've played the game, you over and over have to like, you know, boost somebody up to, you know, navigate buildings like this. And similar to the game, this is almost played beat for beat. Ellie takes off running in wonder. Seeing these giraffes and, you know, I think we've already talked about it a little bit, but you know, I think this moment was Joel recognizing that like, oh, there's still a light, there's still joy, like it's deep down within Ellie, but when he goes and, you know, picks some leaves and hands them to Ellie for her to feed the giraffe like that is also another.

Aw, cute parent moment. What was there for you as we were seeing that moment? I know we already talked about it a little bit, but Yeah. 

Kala: Yeah. I think it's the really being able to find moments of awe and wonder amidst a nightmare. I think this is a, a both a strategy and tactic that I've seen a lot of folks employ in the pandemic we are currently in mm-hmm.

When everything seems to be so, Pale and horrible and just finding moments of just like looking up at the stars seeing the the giraffe. And that was a real giraffe. I didn't know that. I thought it was c g I I was like, this is a real good c 

David: I was, I thought it was c g I too. Yeah. 

Kala: and it, it, once again, it reinforced to me that there is a place for humanity within nature when we don't see ourselves as a part of it.

And the healing power of nature. The need for us to be in where there is green, where there is generative life. . It it was, I, it was the first time I've seen, well, I've seen Ellie laugh a few times, but this is like, this was like such a pure moment, a pure and wholesome moment that Ellie and Joel shared.

And yeah, like I said, I remember in the game I was like, oh my God, I needed this so bad. I needed this moment. And yeah, it was just it was just purely be. 

David: Yeah. You know, at the, towards the end of the scene, there are a couple of lines that really stood out like at the very end, right? You know, Joel saying like, you know, how you doing?

You know, Ellie saying like, there's ups and there's downs, but you can't deny the view, right? Mm-hmm. , that's so much of like what we experience of the day-to-day, even in moments where we might not. Overlooking post-apocalyptic Salt Lake City with wild giraffes running through it. Right? There are moments that stop and be present and wonder at either our journey and the things that we've done and the communities that we're a part of that have brought us to this point, or, you know, the things that are around us that we can really take time and be appreciative for.

But the other thing that Ellie says at the end of this interaction is in response to Joel, where Joel is really appreciating this moment and out of fear and concern about what might come next. He tells Ellie, you know, we don't have to do this. We can go back to Tommy's. And Ellie's reaction is similar to my, what my reaction might have been.

She says like, you know, after all we've been. After everything I've done. Like it can't be for nothing. This can't be for nothing, right. They've traversed more than half of the country they've been. Running. They've been in danger. They have both killed. And you know, Ellie is so determined to be the cure, right for the Sams of the world, for the Tess of the world, for all the people that for the Riley's of the world, for all the people that she's cared about, she needs her life to mean something.

And as much as I think she understands Joel saying that, you know, hey, I really value my life with you after, especially after Joel tells her you know, about all the meaning that she's brought back to his life after, you know, being suicidal after Sarah's death. She still wants her life to mean something.

And, you know, we see that that isn't necessarily honored. But in, in this interaction when, you know, we. Ellie clearly expressing I want my life to mean something. And Joel expressing, you mean so much to me. What? Oh, what was ? I keep laughing at myself because I say, keep saying like, what's present for you, what came up for you?

But , yeah. What was there? 

Kala: It was, I mean, it was. Ellie demonstrating and outwardly communicating her agency and autonomy and her need to be part of something larger, to have purpose in life. And Joel, understandably, I guess like. No, no, understandably Joel was very much like, no, you don't have to do none of this, and how much of it is centering his need for healing versus her need to contribute to the collective.

Right. So it once again, was that that binary between the collectivistic approach of like, How we move through the world versus one that's very individualistic. Like, I need this right now. Yeah. 

David: I mean, and you said understandably, right? Like we see. , we understand why Joel is making the choices that he's making.

We understand the fears that Joel has. We understand that as a person who has experienced so much trauma, right, and has overcome so many adverse circumstances, he's, and now that he's found something that he. Finds like meaning in protecting Ellie. You know, just like Bill said at the end of episode three in that letter to Joel, like, you know, that is our role in the world.

Of course, bill thought Joel was protecting Tess, but you know, Joel has taken on that protector role for Ellie and He finds like so much meaning in that, not so much in his own life, right? But like, if my role in life is to protect Ellie and nothing else like going down this path, like, this is risky.

This is risky. Like, let's go back to Tommy's so I can go teach you to play guitar. Right? I think you would really like it. You know, we've seen like Joel grow so much from like, Hey, you're just cargo. He hasn't explicitly said like you're my surrogate adoptive daughter, but they're, they're family now. Yeah.

And as they're walking through the Salt Lake City army Medical encampment and, you know, they're, They're continuing to have these conversations, Ellie's telling him jokes. We really see them connecting. They are ambushed by the fireflies, of course. The fireflies don't know who they are.

Joel is knocked out and Ellie is taken. And the next thing that we see is Joel waking up in a bed with Marlene at his, at his side, and. His only concern, the first thing he says is like, where's Ellie? Right? Is she okay? And you know, Marlene shares with him, you know, Hey, we didn't knock her out or anything.

It was just you, the, my guys didn't know who you were. Sorry about that. Ellie's in surgery. Right. And Joel's like, what for what? Why? And Marlene explains that, you know, the doctor that they have thinks that because Ellie has been exposed to Corti SEPs all her life the infection doesn't spread because she thinks she already is corti SEPs.

And in order to get samples of what they need they need brain matter from Elliot the surgery. Marlene doesn't explicitly say it will end Ellie's life. She comforts Joel saying that Joel was at that. Ellie didn't have fear because they didn't tell her. But this sets Joel off and I think this is a moment where I think, Hey, maybe Marlene is the real villain in this story because one, she didn't give Ellie choice either, right?

Ellie showed up and she's like, Hey, We're gonna do this thing to try to find the cortis cure, and we're gonna put you to sleep. And Ellie's like, all right, cool. This is how I wanted to . This is what I wanted to do without knowing that it's ending her life. But she also made this miscalculation about Joel, right?

She says that, I, you're the last person who I wanted to owe any favors. How did you make it across? Thank you. She still views Joel in the way that she knew him in Boston as this cold, detached person. But she doesn't realize initially that Joel has such a bond, an emotional bond with Ellie. And that miscalculation sets off the next chain of events where we see Joel go.

A killing spree, killing all the people who were guarding him, killing the doctor who was doing the surgery. Killing people who were standing in his way, getting out of this space. And when he finally gets Ellie out of the operating room and down to the parking lot, he kills Marlene too, right? And takes Ellie back before we get to, you know, the rest of what happens in the episode.

You know, what was going on in your mind when all of this was happening? 

Kala: I wa I guess I, I'm kind of flip flopping, but. This was a hypothesis, right? Like there was no, there was no proof and I'm, I can only imagine that soul was going through Joel's head, right? Being a very pragmatic person and being like, wait, you're gonna cut, open her head to to try to, you know, come up with something.

And like it's been said over and over again, around the disbelief, around any. Vaccine or cure, right. From from Joel and Tess. And it's so, yeah. For me, I was like, you know what it, yes. Marlene may have been doing what Ellie wanted, but how much did Ellie actually gets consent and like, , there was really no information Ellie was given beforehand, aside from propaganda about this.

Right. So 

David: yeah, so I was like, you 

Kala: know what? , Joel, do what you gotta do. Not saying that, you know, within kind of like the context, it made sense. And I was like, holy crap. Joel went like full into the scary version that he, it was referenced, you know, throughout the show, so, 

David: yeah. Yeah. Like Maria had talked about before when Tommy had told stories, when she was warning Ellie about.

You know who you trust. Yeah. And you know, I, we, we've talked about it time and again where people are making decisions on Ellie's behalf. Mostly we've been talking about Joel like, Hey, how come we didn't stop and explain to Ellie when you went to Jackson that like Tommy might be the best person to take you through.

Instead of like this thing where I'm abandoning you, like, Hey, I'm tired. I had all of this anxiety. Why don't we like take the next couple of days to like rest, debrief. Like the same thing with Marlene in these circumstances, right? Why do we have to rush Ellie into surgery, right? Yeah. Why couldn't we have stopped and taken a day or taken like whatever, a couple hours to like give informed consent about, you know, what's happening in these circumstances?

And like we all believe that Ellie would've gone through with. Right. Even with the risks, right? Ellie, we've heard Ellie wanted her life to mean something. She knew the risks. Marlene was. Making that choice, assuming what she knew Ellie would want. Right. But didn't actually give her the choice. She was making those decisions as a detached military leader, right, who all the time sends people into precarious situations where they do die.

But those are adults who have signed up to be as a part of the fireflies, right, to signed up to follow orders. Ellie's a kid who, you know, was entrusted to Marlene at birth to like, take care and be safe, but you. How does Marlene go back on that? Now? I don't know that there are actually any, like capital V villains or capital B bad guys in the story, right?

Everyone who we've encountered from David to Kathleen, to to Henry, to Joel, like they're all making choices that are, you know, self-interested. And are understandable given the circumstances. You and I might not agree with all of those things, but as we're doing this analysis through a restorative lens, we wanna give people choice and autonomy and you know, I can think of countless situations where, , there are people who are like trying to do good in the world.

People who are well-intentioned but are paternalistic, are istic in the way that they go about doing their work. And while we might get some benefit from that, right, we might have gotten a cure for cordyceps, right? Like. The way that you go about that matters. The relationship, the impact on relationships matter.

And that's not something that was given attention to here in this circumstance. 

Kala: Definitely if we are practicing the same oppressive actions or approaches that we decry, then we are doomed to repeat those. They could have just paused. They could have just 

David: paused . 

Kala: Yeah. So. No I'm very much like the more information that we can share with our communities, the better informed that we can be in terms of like, how do we move forward, whether it is in a disaster scenario, whether it's an post-apocalyptic scenario.

The more we can empower our folks to be able to come up with the choices that, that they need in order to keep safe is I mean it's really the. We can counter kind of like the colonial approach to protectionism, right? Yeah. And there really needs to be something mutually understood and beneficial.

It doesn't matter, right? Like, it doesn't matter what the intentions are, if the impact is so much gonna be so much more negative, 

David: In the long run. . Yeah. I think a lot about, and I've said before on this on this podcast in our conversations, that there are very, very few circumstances where something is actually life and death in the moment where you have to make a life or death decision, and that pause the conversation can be so helpful and so I.

right? It's easy for us to, in our day-to-day lives, whether it's in work situations with family, or all these things, rush through decisions just because of the convenience of it. And sometimes we do make the right decision and do have positive outcomes, especially when we have those relationships and have had conversations about what people want in those processes.

But without that we can. Bring so much more harm bring much resentment from people who feel like we're making choices for them. And so if you take anything away from our conversations during the last dose, I think it really is that, you know, pause and talk through things with people. Like see people as full humans capable of making choices for themselves, right?

Both, you know, Joel, Marlene. We think about Sam and Henry, right? Henry made the same choice that Joel did. Henry betrayed the people that he thought he was more aligned with. And in, in efforts to save Sam's life by getting medicine right. It's not the same exact choice that Joel made. Right? But he did make that choice without consulting Sam, about what Sam wanted to do.

And like, how might that have been different? There are lots of characters who have taken like revenge arcs without consulting or like going through with the wishes of the people who they are trying to aven. Right. I was having this conversation with my wife after we watched this episode and it was like, so you're in this situation with our 11 month old son.

Like, would you go on the killing spree to save his life? And our son is, you know, not even a year old, so he couldn't articulate any choice, but like knowing that like, no, like my kid wouldn't want me to do that. right is, is something, and it's not in line with my values, is a choice that like we can live with.

And I think one of the things. That brings up is like, you know, how much you or I value life or how we think about death. I am somebody who grew up within the Christian tradition, even though that's not something that I ascribe to anymore. And so like ideas of heaven and hell were something that I grew up with, but now I'm in this place where like, I just don't know.

But I do know that wherever you go after is probably the same place that everyone else has gone. And like death is not the end. , right? Like we're in this cycle of life, like you were saying. And I know human life in and of itself is not the highest like value like a human life. A singular human life is not the highest thing that we value.

Even if it's somebody that like you are most attached to like a child. And I know that that, and I have not been faced with this decision in real life. And so it is difficult for. It might be difficult for people to hear me saying this, but like, I can't justify Joel's choices. I understand them, but I can't justify them, especially in the way that I think about death.

And I think Joel's choice was made so much more out of like preserving the love that he felt rather than preserving Ellie's life for the sake of Ellie's life. When you think about death and you know, the value of a single human life, like how do you view this decision that Joel and Marlene made? I, if I 

Kala: were Marlene, I would.

That, that's exactly a decision I would've made something for to do something that would be best for the collective. The needs of the many out needs. The needs of the one. And once again, understanding Joel, but I think I'm more on I guess on the Marlene side, especially if we've known this is what Ellie's wanted to do even though it wasn't expressly talked about Joel's approach seems very western.

in terms of like, these are my feelings and my feelings need to be preserved versus the potential for keeping the human race alive. 

David: Yeah. Yeah. Even if Marlene didn't take the, Hey, we're gonna stop and pause and have this conversation, like, she could have approached the situation differently where, you know, Hey, let's keep Juul detained.

for a while. Yeah. And like, Talk him through like, Hey, this is what happened, and then like, how can we be there to emotionally support you through this loss that you've experienced? Right? The fireflies might not have had that infrastructure for grief counseling and all that, but like, it, it doesn't make tactical sense to be like, all right.

Let me, let's kick you out of this community yeah. And hope that you don't come back and like, try to exact revenge. Right. And th that's another, like, miscalculation on her part about like, you know, what Joel needed. in those moments. Like, I think part of her was just seeing Joel as this person who was like, for all intents and purposes on mercenary and like, you know, he might be feeling these things, but like, you know, let's get her out.

Yeah, let's get him out of here so he doesn't cause trouble. Is another way that like, hey, even if like this is a hard decision that has to be made that Joel doesn't agree with, like we can still support him through his process. That like a more ReSTOR. Approach might have been taken, right? Because like in this circumstance, there is no compromise, right?

It's going to be Ellie gives her life in efforts to find this cure or not, right? And most of the characters that we've encountered want her to do that, right? Ellie, Marlene, the fireflies a picture, and Joel's the one who's like, No saver life, right? And so when we're forced into decisions where there is no like in between compromise, like what are the things that we can do to support our community members who don't don't agree, right?

We're not kicking them out of our community, but like we're helping them process. The things that are, are difficult. . And so, you know, there's just another way that we can think about what we can do moving forward when it comes to making decisions that not everyone agrees with. Hmm. Quite so when.

Joel escapes the Salt Lake City hospital is driving back to Jackson. Ellie wakes up and is questioning what happened? Why am I in a hospital gown? And Joel tells not so convincing lie about what happened. I think he did a much better job of explaining what happened in the show than he did in the game.

In the sh in the game. It was like pretty bare bones and awful. . And you know, he tells Ellie that, you know, hey, we were attacked. There were lots of people like you, and the Kira didn't work. There's no hope. And so we're going back to Tommy's and Ellie accepts that. Right. And you know, again, as they're walking back towards Jackson, Ellie confronts him one more time saying, like, swear to me that everything you said about the fireflies is true.

And Joel lies again saying, you know, it's true. I swear. And Ellie accepts that, and the show ends for now, right? End of season one. End of game one. But we see this look of doubt on Ellie's face and, you know, repercussions of that play out in the second game. And you know, we'll talk super spoilers at the end, at the end of this, but when you're confronted with.

Being caught in your lies, Joel doubles down. And again, understandably, maybe not justifiably at the end of this show, at the end of this game of if you're Ellie, how are you receiving that? And you know, as a viewer what was coming up for 

Kala: you? I mean as a viewer, knowing what we know, it was understandable once again.

But also like. We lied to those that we love sometimes, right? And we lied to protect people and to protect ourselves in that situation. It was a very human and real reaction, but like we said, there will be repercussions down the line. So Joel made that decision in the, in the short term, to do what he thought would protect Elliott to She stays safe, but we see that it causes more harm than.


David: Yeah. And it, it brings me back to, you know, what Ellie said, like, after all we've been through, after everything I've done, like it can't be for nothing. Like she is like deeply questioning like her life now, right? Like if what you said is true and my life is meaningless, right? Like my, this journey that we went on, me being captured nearly sexually assaulted, having to murder and Joel, right?

Doing all the things that he's had to do to protect them. , what is my life now like? It's really hard to reckon with this idea that like all of this was actually for nothing. Right? And so like how much did that lie protect her? Right? Like Joel was lying to protect himself. He wasn't lying to protect Ellie, right?

He lied to like not have her keep questioning what was going on. He wasn't lying to say like, Hey, The like, I understand like you had all of your hopes here. But this isn't reality. Like let's talk and process this through. And again, repercussions of that. We'll see in hopefully season two. They definitely play out in the second game.

But a as Ellie, like I, even if I decided to believe him, like I wouldn't be satisfied with, with that answer. And again, we'll see how that plays out in, in the second game. But it does bring into question, right, who benefits from the lies that we tell in our day-to-day, right? Like even within. Like the context of our conversations, right?

Like last week you asked me we, we were just checking in and I kind of gave this like very vague answer, which wasn't like an outright lie, but like, I'm not giving the answer that you're looking for for my benefit because like, I don't want to go there emotionally right now, , right? Not because like I don't think you can handle it.

Right. Not for your benefit of like not knowing like who I am and what's going on with me, but like I'm lying. For me, right? And like, what are the moments when that is appropriate and justifiable and what is not like, are not like clear and hard and fast things that are prescribable. But it is really important to think about, you know, that who benefits and who is protected?

Who does this lie serve? Who do our actions serve? Are they self-interested? Or are they things that. Are actually going to benefit the collective. So here we are at the end of a wonderful season of television. Can't wait for season two. As we look back at, you know, the whole story, everything that we know from the last of us, part one, the game and this first season of the show what are you taking away other than.

This has been like a really great, fun thing to do on Sundays. For the last two months, the 

Kala: showrunners and both of us have talked about love being the central th both the generative and beautiful aspects of it, but also the pale and wrathful side of what that looks like. This wasn't a story about zombies.

Mm-hmm. , initially it was a story about human relationships and how do we survive and thrive. . So for me it was how can love be so a force of of good, a force of building and not one that is detrimental to those that we love and to ourselves. How about you? 

David: Yeah, I'm thinking so much about this question about who our decisions serve and, you know, what are we actually trying to do in the world, right?

I think in so many ways, because Joel was directionless he ended up making choices that might not have been aligned with a value set that he had. Right. And I think. Ways that we move should be intentional in the world. And so we, we can compare our choices up against the values that we have, the things that we wanna manifest, right?

As a person who is reeling from the trauma of having his daughter shot in his hands, right? Like, that's not something that like, is easily you can easily recover from, but because of being directionless where he doesn't really care if he lives or dies, right? He's like protecting Tommy. Protects Tess.

He's protecting Ellie, but he doesn't care about himself and like the things that he wants to be in the world. You can fall down a rabbit hole of like making choices that maybe just self-serving and not thinking about the collective. And you know, as we've shared many of us who are listening to this, right, most of us who are listening to this live in a western context, in a racial capital.

Racial capitalistic society. And so when we are working within these conditions that, you know, aren't the mushroom zombie apocalypse, we are making choices every day that are serving something, serving someone, or serving a particular interest. Sometimes those interests are our own, right. Our families, the people that we are providing for are protecting.

Sometimes those interests align with capitalism and white supremacy and people who are benefiting structurally from, from these structures and the way they're set up. And sometimes they're for liberation and we have to make those calculations. Every day. We have to build community really intentionally in.

Certain ways in order to build this liberated future that we're talking about. Again, this is a subtle or maybe not so subtle plug for the workshop that we're gonna do next Sunday for imagining or, or freedom dreaming, imagining liberated communities, communities that are built on thriving and meeting people's needs.

Where we can take care of each other. But being really intentional about how our who, our actions and words and behaviors are serving, I think is a thing that like I want to take away from all of this. Before we wrap up, we have one last call, practical prepper corner. So what do you have for us today on our last episode of this?


Kala: So I don't know about anyone else, but whenever Joel and Ellie have gone into buildings, gone into dilapidated areas, I always like feel the sense of claustrophobia and dread. One of the things that we train folks on is identifying your exit points, your primary, secondary, and tertiary.

Points back in 2015 when the club sh q shooting happened in Orlando. And before that, when there have been many attacks on our communities within enclosed spaces, people always ask like, what do I do? And I always like advise. , you always want to know where your exits are. The second you go into any location.

Your primary exit point is where you can easily get out. There are no obstructions. You know exactly what your orientation's gonna be as soon as you leave in that direction. We utilize this on the ground up protests to know kind of like where they're where we won't get kettled in where we won't get blocked in.

So there's their. Your secondary is an exit point that may have like some some obstacles, but you can still get back to your runda view point or you can still get home safely. And your tertiary is a last resort exit point, which can be a parking structure or somewhere that you can hide out in until you are able to be clear of tear, gas, pepper spray, or anything else to be able to hit your rug view point.

So always know your X points. , whenever you go into a new location, make sure to clock where the exits are and to know how you need to get out of a place. 

David: if and when you do. Yeah. Like finding these ways, knowing where to get off, where to escape, where, how to be safe. It is so important and for those of you who are looking for like a season two game, two spoiler free experience, this might be your exit point as.

Sign off and say thank you so much for rocking with us over these last couple months. I don't know the future of restorative justice reflections yet. I know we will be back this week on Thursday with another episode of someone living this restorative justice life. But thank you so much for being with us.

If you don't want to hear anything about season two this is your opportun, this is your exit point. To jump off. Any last words to folks who are. Exiting at this point. 

Kala: Please be safe out there and join us on Sunday for re-imagining our communities 

David: together. Beautiful. Alright. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.

If you're still listening, spoilers for season two . We don't know when this is coming. We don't know how they're going to tell the story but the fact that Joel killed the doctor is the genesis. Well, the doctor and all the fireflies is the genesis for like, everything that's going to happen in season two.

And I think like, , you know, when we look at Joel's choices to go on this killing spree throughout the, through the hospital, like we understand what he's trying to do, but like, I'm curious if there are like other ways, like he could have gone about like achieving his goals. That doesn't end up in like this whole cycle of revenge arc that is coming in in season two, right?

Like the only people he really spares are, are the two. But like he shoots somebody it, he shoots lots of people to the point of incapacitation, but kills anyway. And maybe at that point he was out of control, had dehumanized those people. And so they were just obstacles and was trying to like, eliminate all threats.

But can you imagine another way that Joel could have handled the situation that could have ended up in Ellie still. Oh yeah. 

Kala: I mean, like, I think most folks are like, why didn't you shoot 'em at the knees? Or like, get them in another room, especially since they weren't armed. Mm-hmm. . But then I think about like, the look on Joel's face when they realize what was gonna be happening to Ellie.

And it goes back to that the pale side of love where mm-hmm. we're so infused with rage that you'll do anything to protect them. Yeah. I mean, like he, he could have easily had them all. , you know, lay down face away and then got el out of there, locked them in the room. But I think, you know, that just wasn't Joel in that moment.


David: And I, I even think like, you know, the doctor saying like, I won't let you take her, like holding a scalpel, right? Like the scalpel is not the same as a gun. Right. Yeah. And you know, we think about the way that police have like used violence against people who have been like unarmed or less armed, right?

Joel was acting like a police person in that moment, right? Neutralized. The threat, but like what could have happened, right? When we think about restorative justice or when I think about restorative justice processes, I think about like stopping the harm so we can have a conversation, right? It's important that the harm stops.

It's important that we don't kill Ellie, but like, yo, let's like talk this through. Yeah. Instead of like making this choice for her. Could have. Like a really important beat that like, again, maybe a couple of Firefly soldiers would've been dead at that point, but like, why isn't Joel just advocating for like, Hey, let's have a conversation about this with Marlene.

Right. And again, you know, The, the father-daughter dynamic is gonna come back to bite Joel in the ass or in the head rather in season two, game two. But, you know, there are so many other ways that we can creatively think about how we deal with cycles of violence or opportunities that like violence might happen.

And I. , you know, we're limited by our imaginations. And if we don't take times like this to imagine what could be different or how we could differently navigate situations when we need to stop harm or conflict it can result in this kind of catastrophic harm. Where, you know, we are about to start, you know, a whole cycle of violence that is gonna cause a lot more death.

and I 

Kala: think that's why your work is so important in the world because I can't, excuse me, in the post nine 11 world that Joel and the rest of the world came out of and into the apocalypse. I don't know how much of these approaches and frameworks. Our, you know, communities have been afforded access to, right?

Like, to be able to just like pause and be like, Hey, we need to talk . I mean like even in my example, I was like, yeah, you could have just done this rather than actually pausing. We're just, I am so socialized into reacting rather than responding that it's important for us to be able to build that responsive muscle.

David: Yeah. And I think so much about, right? These, these ideas aren't new. Yeah. Right. It's just like, not what is popularized, it's not what we're taught culturally or, you know, intentionally from. Systems that are interested in using power over to maintain control. Mm-hmm. . And, you know, I'm also guilty of like, not being as imaginative as it could be about like, meeting people's needs and like do rely on systems of control, oppression, domination to get things done that I want to get done.

But taking time to think things through, being in community with people who will think these things through with you is really important. And so, you know, again, calling back to the invitation that I have for people to like, think about moving intentionally, thinking about your values and how you want to be in the world.

Like, it's also an invitation to like, think through these strategies. And I already know we've mentioned you, knowmia, inguez, and pod mapping. Like having all these like proactive conversations with people about like what we're gonna do when things go wrong, when we're in crisis, who are the people that we can rely on to meet our needs, who are the people that we're gonna be there for to meet their needs is, is such an important thing that will help us try to avoid.

Th circumstances like this happening again in the future, right? Like I, I've even thinking about like, you know, what if Tommy accompanied Joel ? Yeah. And Ellie, right? Like, Hey, Ellie doesn't feel safe going just with Tommy. Joel doesn't feel confident in being able to move forward by himself. Like what if Tommy had come with him?

Right? Like, they're like lots of different ways that like this story could have been differently. And again, you know, this story was created and we're really grateful for the choices that they had characters make because it's generated all this conversation. But it is interesting to think about, you know, how things could have been different if choices might have been made slightly differently.

Mm-hmm. . But that's what, that's the beauty of art. It's the beauty of these conversations. And I'm really glad to have gone on this journey with you Callis, specifically for the last two months. 

Kala: Yeah. Thank you so much for the chance and the opportunity and just to kind of like re-envision and also just to nerd out on something that we would've watched anyways.

But this was such a, this. This really was a beautiful journey and I feel like we've gone through a lot in terms of understanding ways to infuse the work that we do into practices that are tied to popular culture. So thank 

David: you, David. Received and, you know, thank you for being a part of this journey.

Thank you to those of you who are still listening for rocking with us. We don't know the future of restorative justice reflections just yet. But thank you so much for being with us. And you know, stay safe. Take care. Hope to see you on the 19th and live restoratively. Yes, y'all, please be well.