Yet, far from driving them apart, Joel and Ellie’s confrontation in Jackson only winds up bringing the two of them closer together. Before they know it, the pair are even bonding over shooting lessons and Joel’s stories about the pre-Cordyceps world on their way to what turns out to be the Fireflies’ abandoned base in Colorado. “Kin” then ends with the pair barely evading a pack of raiders on horseback before Joel collapses from being stabbed in the gut mid-scuffle with one of their attackers. Cue the all-too-perfect needle drop that closes out the episode as it ends on this cliffhanger.
Commenting on the official “Last of Us” podcast, co-creator Craig Mazin noted that Ellie’s reaction to Joel passing out (“I don’t know where I am. I don’t know what the f**k I’m gonna do”) is both “beautiful” and “selfish” in that her words are all about her and not him. Their subtext, of course, is another matter entirely. It’s clear at this moment Ellie is thinking only about Joel and not herself. With the betrayal of him trying to pass her onto Tommy still fresh on her mind, Ellie’s fear and anger from earlier are only amplified during this scene. Juxtaposed with this turn of events, the lyrics and even the title of “Never Let Me Down Again” take on a whole new meaning.
“She was taking a ride with him, and he has let her down, even though it’s ‘Never Let Me Down Again,'” Mazin observed. He added that he wanted to “re-present that song but in this point of view of just sadness and loss.”