The Last of Us fans are convinced Ellie’s girlfriend Dina just appeared in episode 6

Paolina van Kleef as 'Staring Girl', possibly Dina, in The Last of Us episode 6 (left) and Ellie, played by Bella Ramsey

The Last of Us delivered another emotionally gut-wrenching hour of television in episode six, “Kin”, this week, but among all the strife, fans are convinced that Dina from The Last of Us: Part Two has made her first appearance.

The fleeting moment came after Ellie (played by Bella Ramsey) and Joel (Pedro Pascal) arrived in the seemingly safe commune of Jackson, Wyoming, where the latter was finally reunited with his brother Tommy (Gabriel Luna).

While eating in the dining hall, Ellie catches sight of a young girl staring at her from behind a beam – a girl who happens to look very similar to Ellie’s future girlfriend Dina, who first appeared in the video game’s 2020 sequel.

Fans were quick to pick up on the possible cameo, pointing out the physical similarities between the two and to a scene from The Last of Us: Part Two where Dina recalls first seeing Ellie stuffing herself with food.

The credits for the episode didn’t mention Dina by name, instead referring to “Staring Girl”, played by 23-year-old Canadian actress Paolina van Kleef.

Given that Dina is a resident of Jackson, where this scene takes place, it’s certainly possible that the girl was indeed her – and the show’s creators haven’t exactly attempted to stifle the speculation.

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After the episode aired, show co-runner Craig Mazin cryptically told The Last of Us podcast: “It’s ambiguous. Someone’s staring at Ellie… I wonder who that could be, or not – we’ll find out one day.”

Executive producer Neil Druckman continued: “In Part Two, there is a story about the first time Dina met Ellie that is very similar to what happens here…”

Mazin then added: “That doesn’t mean that that’s Dina, but it doesn’t mean it’s not.”

Who is Dina in The Last of Us?

Fans of The Last of Us: Part Two will know that Dina, one of the central characters in the game’s sequel, forges a heartwarming romance with Ellie as the pair embark on a violent quest.

In the game, she was voiced and acted by Shannon Woodward, although her face was modelled on Cascina Caradonna.

The Last of Us has already been renewed for a second series, so hopes are high that future episodes will explore Dina and Ellie’s relationship, which has been praised for providing vital LGBTQ+ representation in the gaming industry.

Ellie (left) and Dina dancing in The Last of Us: Part Two
Ellie (left) and Dina dancing in The Last of Us: Part Two (Naughty Dog)

And Ramsey, who recently described her own gender as “fluid”, has already voiced the hope of exploring the pair’s relationship.

“I’m really excited for the Ellie/ Dina story,” the 19-year-old actor told Josh Horowitz on the Happy, Sad, Confused podcast earlier this month.

“I’ve watched a cut together, someone’s made a phenomenal – I don’t know how they do it – like an amazing edit of just the gameplay, like Ellie and Dina’s love story. I’m excited to play that out.”

Van Kleef would be in the right age range to play Dina in the follow-up series, which, in the game, is set five years after the events of The Last of Us.

Ellie and Dina are unlikely to provide the only LGBTQ+ representation in season two, given how strong the first series has been at telling queer stories, such as the heart-wrenching standalone arch of Bill (Nick Offerman) and Frank (Murray Bartlett) in episode three.

The game’s 2020 sequel also included a ground-breaking transgender character, Lev, played by trans actor Ian Alexander.

Alexander has recently expressed their hope of reprising the role in the TV adaptation, telling Insider: “I was so grateful that I was able to be a part of that franchise and I’m excited that we got picked up for season two. My fingers are crossed that I get to reprise my role.”

The Last of Us continues on Sunday on HBO in the US and on Monday on Sky Atlantic and NOW TV in the UK.

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