Did The Last of Us make a major change to the story?

The Last of Us episode 6 spoilers follow.

The Last of Us' latest episode pretty much suckerpunched audiences with its ending but not before, once again, strapping us to that emotional rollercoaster just for fun.

Ellie (Bella Ramsey) and Joel's (Pedro Pascal) pseudo-father/daughter relationship has been put under strain – he literally shouts: "I'm not your dad" at her – when he questions whether or not he's the right person to continue escorting her to the safety of the Fireflies.

His attempts to foist her off on his fitter, younger brother Tommy (who is back by the way) in a protective but dismissive manner go down like a lead balloon as they feed into Ellie's abandonment issues.

It's heartbreaking to watch these two vulnerable characters' fear of losing one another manifest in opposite ways, leading to them almost separating.

No. What of the cringe-worthy puns? Don't worry, Ellie's not done tormenting Joel with those just yet.

pedro pascal, bella ramsey, the last of us

Thankfully the pig-headed Joel reneges on his decision to have Tommy (Gabriel Luna) deliver her to the Fireflies and decides that Ellie should get to choose for herself who her quest companion should be: The older, slower, deaf-in-one-ear Joel or the stronger, healthier, more able Tommy. She chooses Joel and to be fair it's a wise decision.

The love and loyalty they have for one another is what has gotten them this far long after the incentive of reward in the form of supplies has disappeared for Joel. Tommy and Ellie wouldn't have survived one day.

All is well. A little too well.

As they saddle up and forge ahead, the sense of peace one gets from seeing them resolve their differences and show the tiniest bit of affection for one another is quickly eroded by dreadful foreboding.

If you felt the hot breath of death creeping close behind them then you were right to fear something menacing.

samuel hoeksema, the last of us

This time however it was not the spore-spewing, flesh-ripping Clickers, Stalkers or Walkers the two have to worry about. Not even the Bloater, whose reappearance you've probably been anticipating since its terrifying debut in the previous episode.

It's the survivors who potentially landed the fatal blow after a scuffle broke out with some hostile strangers at an abandoned Firefly medical base in an old university.

Joel is stabbed in the gut but not before breaking the neck of the man who wounded him.

Things are looking pretty hairy by the close of the episode. Ellie has managed to drag Joel onto their horse and ride off to safer pastures but his limp body slipping to the ground does not paint the picture of someone who's got long left to live.

A new trailer for the Last of Us episode seven just dropped and if you were hoping for some insight into Joel's fate, think again.

While the show still manages to jerk at those heartstrings, the emotional upset is not Joel related.

In fact he doesn't feature in the clip at all. Instead it's very heavily Riley-centric (Storm Reid) in a way that suggests that episode seven will finally answer the mystery surrounding Riley's absence.

It's likely the episode will also deeply explore the two's relationship, however the one question it will not be answering, it seems, is whether or not Joel is alive.

The Last of Us episode seven premieres on February 26th but that's simply too long to wait for answers.

So what's the deal? Is Joel actually going to die? Here's what we know.

Did The Last of Us kill off Joel?

pedro pascal , the last of us

Admittedly it's not looking good for Joel. His injuries are so severe that he has slipped into unconsciousness with Ellie unable to rouse him.

That's coupled with his anxiety, panic attacks and remarks about his age slowing him down – the episode has practically been set up to foreshadow an unfortunate event central to his character.

Bleak as things seem, fans of his grumpy demeanour and scowl can rest slightly easier in the knowledge that his gaming fate doesn't end in death at this juncture. The game narrative does see similar events unfold, with Joel suffering from a near-fatal stab wound but the key detail there is 'near-fatal.'

While we won't go into potential spoiler details we can confirm that he does pull through…eventually.

nick offerman, murray bartlett, the last of us

That said the show has been known to deviate from script. Bill (Nick Offerman) and Frank's love story is a great example of this as are Henry (Lamar Johnson) and Sam (Keivonn Woodward), whose narrative ends in doom a lot sooner than fans may have expected.

It's possible that the same could be said for Joel. Plot changes could have been made in the series to facilitate a solo journey for Ellie or a new alliance to be formed.

It wouldn't be the first time the series has introduced new characters, thus changing crucial elements of the storyline, again like with the case of Sam and Henry with the addition of antagonist Kathleen (Melanie Lynskey). Their feud with her accelerated their deaths on screen.

Turning back our attention to Joel, it's highly unlikely that The Last of Us will go down this route.

Aside from the fact that Ellie and Joel's dynamic is a major part of the appeal of the show, their personal journeys feed into one another's and inform their character growth.

Both Ellie and Joel have a long way to go in confronting their own personal demons in order for their story arc to feel complete. We also suspect they were destined to see this journey through together. At this stage the journey feels unfinished.

The Last of Us airs on HBO in the US, and on Sky Atlantic and streaming service NOW in the UK.

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