During a recent episode of “The Last of Us Podcast,” showrunners Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann sat down with host Troy Baker, who provided the voice for Joel in the original video game series, to talk about how the harrowing end of episode 5 inspired the progress of episode 6.
“A lot of our conversations about this episode were like, ‘What is the impact on Joel from the experience of Henry and Sam?’ And you get to see some of that as they exit the cabin, and he seizes his chest,” Craig Mazin said. The chest pain is the result of Joel experiencing a panic attack, a terrifying ailment that he’s unfamiliar with feeling. “Panic attacks feel very much like heart attacks. It’s your body telling you, ‘You’re in terrible danger,’ but you don’t understand yet, why,” Mazin said. Joel has endured unfathomable tragedies, like the loss of his daughter Sarah in the first episode, but after watching what happened with Henry and Sam, it appears that Joel has finally hit his limit.
“And so much of what this episode is about, is Joel coming to terms with how terrified he is, suddenly, that [Ellie is] going to die, and it’s going to be his fault,” said Mazin. “And if you’ve been paying attention along the way, what you will see is, for as many times as Joel has helped her, he’s also failed her. And those are the things that he dwells on.”