This post includes general spoilers for The Last of Us Part II, and potential spoilers for future seasons of HBO’s The Last of Us.
HBO’s The Last of Us is still striking a great balance between satisfying longtime fans of the games, and appealing to mainstream audiences. Episode 6 included a particularly intriguing example, introducing a subtle Easter egg that thrilled fans of The Last of Us Part II while remaining basically invisible to newbies.
After Ellie and Joel arrive at the peaceful town of Jackson, Wyoming, there’s a scene where they join Joel’s brother for dinner at the community dining hall. For a few seconds, we see a teenage girl silently watching them from behind a pillar. “What?” Ellie calls out, catching the girl’s eye—and then the girl just runs away.
This may just be another illustration of Ellie’s brash personality and poor socialization, but a lot of fans believe that girl is a key figure from The Last of Us Part II: Dina, Ellie’s girlfriend. She’s expected to become a main character within the next couple of seasons of the show.
@tastyhusband Dina Easter Egg in The Last of Us show Episode 6 😱 #thelastofus #thelastofus2 #thelastofuspart1 #tlou #tlou2 #tloushow #tlouhbo #tlouhbomax #dina #dinatlou2 #tloudina #thelastofusdina ♬ original sound – Tasty Husband
In one scene from the game, Dina and Ellie seem to discuss this exact moment when they “met” for the first time in Jackson, years before they actually got together.
“I was overwhelmed by all the food,” Ellie says in the game, talking about gorging herself and stuffing food in her pockets for later. “I saw that!” says Dina. When Ellie disagrees, Dina replies, “I did, I remember thinking, ‘Who is this stringbean girl stealing all the jerky?'”
The actress who stares at Ellie in the show, Paolina van Kleef, isn’t actually credited as Dina. IMDb just lists her as “Staring Girl.” However, during the official TLOU podcast this week, the showrunners dropped some pretty strong hints that this scene was an intentional Easter egg—even if they didn’t officially confirm that Paolina van Kleef is playing Dina.
“In Part 2, there is a story about the first time Dina met Ellie that is very similar to what happens here,” says Neil Druckmann, who was one of the main creative forces behind the original game. “That doesn’t mean that that’s Dina, but it doesn’t mean it’s not,” added co-showrunner Craig Mazin.
So if you’re one of the many (many, many) TLOU fans speculating about this on social media, you’re probably right to assume this was Dina. It’s a cool example of how the show’s creators are playing the long game here, because “Staring Girl” really doesn’t have a wider role in the episode; she’s essentially a background extra. HBO’s TLOU hasn’t even delved into Ellie’s sexuality yet, but the show is already sowing the seeds for storylines several years down the line.