This week, Joel and Ellie take to the road and learn about threats beyond the Infected. Episode four, ‘Please Hold to My Hand’ aired Sunday, February 5th, and ran about 45 minutes. Let’s dive in.
The episode begins with Ellie studying her new gun in an abandoned bathroom at a gas station. She points it at her reflection before removing the clip and examining a bullet with awe. Afterwards, she joins Joel who is siphoning gas. The two exchange light banter. Instead of waiting in the car, Ellie pulls out a joke book and reads off a few cheesy lines.
The levity continues as they drive–playing Hank Williams, a song of his that we hear in the game. Ellie pulls out an adult magazine and asks why the pages are all sticky. Joel stutters, and Ellie laughs before tossing the magazine out of the truck. The pair drive for hours, and we get more glimpses of abandoned roads, bridges, and lots.
Fun Fact: The song is titled “Alone and Forsaken” by Hank Williams back in the 50s. It references holding of hands, which likely inspired the title of the episode.
By sundown, Joel pulls over and drives into the woods where they could rest for the night. Ellie asks if they could have a fire, but Joel says no–not because of the Infected, but because of attracting other humans. Ellie asks,”People? So, what are they gunna do, rob us?”
Well, they’ll have way more in mind than that.-Joel, The Last of Us (HBO)
Joel detects the child-like fear in Ellie’s tone and questioning, and he ends up patrolling the area all night.
The following morning, they are back on the road. The scene begins lightly with Ellie commenting on the horrid smell of coffee. Joel responds by audibly sipping. After a while, Ellie asks about Tommy. Joel describes his younger brother as someone who always wants to be the hero. Tommy enlisted in the army when he was 18, and he continued to idealize saving the world when he traveled up to the Boston QZ with Joel years ago. That’s when Tommy met Marlene and was moved by the Firefly cause. By now, Joel believes Tommy quit the Fireflies and is somewhere out in Wyoming where he must “go get him”. Then, we hear the iconic exchange viewers have seen in trailers:
If you don’t think there’s hope for the world, why bother going on?”-Ellie, The Last of Us (HBO)
You keep going for family…”-Joel, The Last of Us (HBO)
And that’s where Joel states he considers Ellie cargo, not family.
The awkward silence coats the truck as they finally reach an impasse. Cars and a trailer block the road near Kansas City, leaving Joel no choice but to find a short cut. After driving through the city, Ellie spots the QZ…with no FEDRA soliders in sight. A man shouts, holding his hands to his stomach, and cries for help. To Ellie’s surprise, Joel says they are not helping him and floors the gas pedal.
It’s an ambush. One person drops a cinder block on their windshield, and others lay out spikes to take out their tires. They crash into a laundromat. Joel instructs Ellie to hide through a crawlspace and not leave until he says so. He fights on the assailants off; however, one takes him by surprise. Joel struggles as the man attempt to choke him.
Ellie leaves her hiding place and shoots the attacker, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down. She is shocked by her own actions as the attacker begs for his life. Joel takes the man’s knife and tells Ellie to return through the crawl space before he ends that man’s life. Ellie is shaken, but she quickly wipes her tears away. The pair regroup–Ellie pretending everything is okay–and we jump to an entirely different scene.
A woman named Kathleen (Melanie Lynskey) interrogates a man about missing people in a FEDRA prison cell.
The man, who turns out to be a doctor–her doctor, too– claims he has no idea and has had nothing to do with their disappearance. Kathleen insinuates that he knows where Henry (Lamer Johnson) is. When the man continues to plead ignorance, she muses out loud if this was the prison cell where her brother was beaten to death.
She does not feed into the man’s comments of “this needs to stop” and “this is gone too far”. She points out the hypocrisy that it’s only gone too far when he is in the cell and not when he was safe and ratted out others to FEDRA. He claims that it was because FEDRA put a gun to his head. Kathleen responds by pulling out her gun.
Here. Have I satisfied the necessary conditions for you to talk?-Kathleen, The Last of Us (HBO)
Her interrogation is on hold when the men Joel killed are returned to their camp. We learn that these people are not FEDRA but rather a resistance group that has long since taken their city back. Kathleen pins these deaths to a man named Henry–or people associated with Henry. Kathleen commands they find and kill those responsible. People suit up and go door to door with guns and battering rams.
Not far from all the action are Joel and Ellie, hiding out in an abandoned bar. Joel finally opens up, apologizing to Ellie that she shouldn’t have to harm another human, although Ellie claimed this was not her first time. Joel caves. He returns the gun she had taken, and teaches her how to properly hold it. Although he instructs her to place it in her backpack, Ellie chooses to pocket her gun.
Perry (Jeffrey Pierce), who is Kathleen’s right hand-man, shows her an attic where he believes Henry and Sam (Keivonn Woodard)–someone Henry looks after–have been staying. There are drawings everywhere of superheroes and empty cans of food. Kathleen concludes that they can’t be far. She wants to double security around their rations, but Perry wants to show her one more thing. When they arrive in another building, Perry points out the floor that is sinking into the ground. It quivers. Both look on in horror, and Perry asks when they should tell everyone else. Kathleen holds firm to her first objective. Find Henry first.
The day comes to an end, and Joel and Ellie find a room to rest in. Joel scatters glass on the ground so he could hear any intruders…Unfortunately this fails as Ellie wakes Joel up. Both have guns aimed at them–one, an adult, and the other a young kid with a superhero make painted across his eyes.
This episode begins slowly to feed us more information. We see Ellie’s fascination with her gun, and it leaves us feeling a little uneasy about a fourteen year old with the ability to kill. We also see the relationship of Ellie and Joel building. Although Joel refers to her as cargo, Ellie tries to break the ice several times with the joke book. The joke book is something we also see in the game. At certain spots as you progress, Ellie will pull out the book and tell a joke. Joel brushes it off, but he finally cracks and laughs with her by the end of the episode.
We also learn about Joel’s history with Tommy. The show provides additional details that the game does not, but HBO still paints the younger brother as the idealistic hero wanna be.
Fun Fact: Perry is played by Jeffrey Pierce, who does the voice and motion-capture for Tommy in the video game.
Kathleen is a new character that gives a face to the resistance group that was otherwise an objective and obstacle in the game. Taking place in Kansas City instead of Pittsburg, Kathleen is the ring-leader of the group that takes the city back from FEDRA. Her comments to the doctor and her people are charged with anger and revenge. She was wronged by FEDRA and wants to stop at nothing to kill Henry and Sam–even when there is a mysterious threat lurking beneath the concrete. It is also worth noting that Kathleen’s blood-lust makes you question whether her group is truly any better than the FEDRA “tyrants” they overthrew. Commentators after the episode explain that we have commonly seen this is human history.
HBO did an excellent job creating two distinct perspectives–Joel protecting Ellie from other humans that intend to harm them, and Kathleen protecting her people from outside threats. It creates high-stakes when the two paths ultimately converge.
The episode ends with a great cliffhanger when Joel and Ellie waking to who appear to be Henry and Sam. Kathleen painted Henry out to be a dangerous villain, but is he? If he is, why is Sam drawing the two in the likeness of superheroes? (For us in the game. we know who they are, but the execution of the scene was well done).
Quite frankly, this is another home run. After a slow episode three, this time we are filled with action. Ellie finally is drawn into violence in order to save Joel, and the two begin forging a strong unique, bond. It also highlights the perils beyond the fungal infection–that humans can be driven to do evil things.
HBO created Kathleen and Perry to provide depth to the rebellion group that you fought in the game, and I’m looking forward to see what happened between Henry and Kathleen that drives her anger. And of course, I’m highly anticipating what will become of that sunken room…What lies beneath? Will Kathleen’s blind rage put her people at risk?
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