Episode four left us with a cliffhanger–Joel awakens to a man and a child (Henry and Sam played by Lamer Johnson and Keivonn Woodard, respectively) pointing guns at him and Ellie. In episode five, which aired early due to Superbowl Sunday on the 10th, rewinds the clock and provides insight on how Henry found them.
Note: If you’ve watched the episode and don’t necessarily want to read the synopsis, feel free to skip down to the analysis portion!
It’s a grim scene. Horrific even. People are cheering “freedom” and shooting flares into the sky in celebration while FEDRA officers are shot, tortured, and killed. Some are hung, another was dragged in the streets with a score of blades dug into their body. The rebellion successfully reclaimed Kansas City, and we see Kathleen confronting a group of “informers”–civilians that ratted on their neighbors to FEDRA for food and supplies. As Perry looks on, Kathleen claims that no one has to die. She promises, in her oddly calm and sweet tone, that if they tell her where Henry is, they simply will go in trial and do some time. At first, no one budges, but after threat of death, one exclaims, “He’s with Edelstein.” Edelstein, we learn, is the doctor who she shot in episode four.
After getting the information she wanted, Perry asked if they should wait. His team has been working non-stop, but Kathleen retaliates with brutal sarcasm. Before she leaves, Kathleen commands Perry to execute all those prisoners.
When you’re done, burn the bodies. It’s faster-Kathleen, The Last of Us
Next, we finally meet Henry, who signs to his deaf younger brother, Sam. They maneuver their way into an abandoned building and meet up with the doctor. They secure themselves in an attic with a limited supply of food. Sam keeps himself busy with drawing and painting. Dr. Edelstein comments that Sam is likely scared…because he sees Henry scared. So, Henry does his best to put on a brave face.
Days pass and food runs out. By now, the attic is decorated with crayon and paintings of Sam and Henry as superheroes. Sam is hungry, but Henry tells him to wait a little longer. Dr. Edelstein had gone out to get more food. However, it isn’t much longer when Henry has decided that the doctor wasn’t ever going to return. Before leaving, Henry paints a superhero mask on Sam. When Sam sees his reflection, a smile washes across the child’s face.
As they are about to exit the building, they hear a crash and gunfire. Henry peeks from a window and witnesses the rebels attacking Joel. Henry is particularly intrigued at Joel’s ability to take down his threats and ducks down when he thought he was spotted. It was time for a new plan.
This is where episode four formally meets episode five. Henry and Sam sneak into the tallest building and find Joel and Ellie. Henry explains he has no intention to hurt them, but rather, hopes to work with them to get out of the city. With anger and frustration in his face, Joel reluctantly agrees.
That’s a weird fuckin’ tone, man-Henry, The Last of Us
That’s just the way he sounds. He has an asshole voice. Joel, tell him he’s okay-Ellie, The Last of Us
Henry’s plan is to exit the city through the maintenance tunnels. Why? The resistance group has all highway areas patrolled. He insists that the tunnels are safe, that Kathleen and her group wouldn’t go under because FEDRA had once driven the Infected there. Joel quickly rejects the idea of confronting any Infected. Not only does Henry insist on Joel’s capability to defend them, but he also claims a FEDRA soldier told him that the Infected had been cleaned out. Of course, there’s only one way to find out.
The group make their way down to the tunnels, and they discover what was a former settlement. Joel commented that several people decided to hide away underground after Outbreak Day. This particularly pulled at the heartstrings, as kids’ paintings decorated the walls and there were a plethora of toys. Ellie asked what happened to them.
Maybe they didn’t follow the rules and got infected-Joel
His words are laced with sarcasm, as he had recently discovered that Ellie hid her gun in her pocket and not in her backpack as he instructed. They rest for a little while, and the adults watch over Ellie and Sam play. They also read a comic book, and Sam teaches Ellie how to sign, “Endure and Survive”.
During this time, Henry opens up as to why Kathleen is hunting him down. Sam had leukemia, and in order to obtain the extremely limited supply of medicine, Henry had to deliver the head of the rebellion, Kathleen’s brother, to FEDRA. Henry feels guilty, but he wanted to do everything he could for Sam.
We revisit Kathleen, who is reflecting in a kid’s room. She tries to button up her emotions as Perry enters. Kathleen opens up that his was her room that she shared with her brother. She spoke to how wonderful–and forgiving–he was as a person. Of course, she attributes this type of personality as to why he’s dead now, unlike her, where she is unwilling to forgive.
Your brother was a great man. We all loved him. But. He didn’t change anything. You did. We’re with you-Perry, The Last of Us
After that brief scene, Joel, Ellie, Henry, and Sam emerge from the tunnels unscathed. However, the moments of peace are soon gone when a sniper shoots from a top floor of an abandoned home. Everyone takes cover, and Joel states that he will sneak up there from the side and take the sniper out. When Joel reaches the top floor, he asks the elderly man to put down the gun; however, the man chose to fight back. After quick gunfire, Joel kills the man and takes the rifle. Radio crackles to life on the ground. This man works for Kathleen and has informed her of their location. All Joel can do is shout, “Run!”
In mere seconds, armored vehicles blast through the street. Joel aims for one of the bulldozing trucks and takes out the driver. The vehicle crashes, and the leaked gasoline causes an explosion. Kathleen and her army spill out, leaving Henry, Ellie, and Sam hiding behind one car but nowhere else to go. Henry cries out and offers himself if she spares the kids; however, Kathleen heartlessly states that kids die all the time.
Henry turns to Sam and Ellie and prepares them to run at any moment’s notice. He stands, raising his arms. Kathleen aims her gun…but, before she shoots, the earth shudders. The armored bulldozer sinks into the ground, and howling echoes from below.
Infected erupt from underground and charge at the rebellion. A guttural cry reveals our first look at a Bloater, an extremely large and strong Infected. Everything becomes chaos, and the humans turn to fight off Runners and Clickers. Joel continues to snipe Clickers to clear a path for Ellie–who spots Sam and Henry beneath a vehicle. Clickers claw at them, and Ellie takes out her knife and takes them out without hesitation.
Joel makes it downstairs, and the team regroups; however, before they escape, Kathleen shows up with a gun pointed at them. Her goal is cut short when a child Clicker leaps out and tackles Kathleen, and there, she meets her end. Joel, Ellie, Henry, and Sam escape, leaving the Bloater and the rest of Infected to swamp the rebellion group.
Our final scenes takes place outside Kansas City in an abandoned motel. Joel extends an invitation to Henry and Sam to travel to Wyoming, and all seems well. Ellie and Sam are in their room, reading through a comic book until Joel announces lights out. Then, Sam asks Ellie through his hand-made “Etch-A-Sketch” what she is afraid of. Ellie makes light of the question, but Sam continues to ask if people are still there when they turn into the Infected. He reveals that he has been bitten near his ankle.
Ellie thinks fast and tells Sam her blood is medicine. She cuts herself and applies her blood against his wound. Sam appears comforted but asks her to stay awake with him. Ellie agrees.
Morning arrives. Ellie has nodded off in a chair. When she wakes up, she spots Sam sitting upright and facing away from her. Once she approaches him, Sam snarls. He has turned into an Infected and begins to attack. A scuffle breaks out, alarming the adults. Joel instinctively wants to protect Ellie, but Henry shoots at the ground, refusing to let him shoot his brother.
But in the end, Henry shoots Sam. As blood expands across the flood, horror fills Henry’s face as he asks Joel what has he done. Henry holds the gun to his head and takes his life.
The episode ends with Joel and Ellie burying the brothers. Although shaken and in tears at first, Ellie hardens, and after dropping Sam’s Etch-A-Sketch on top of the boy’s grave with a note–“I’m sorry”–she asks Joel where west is. Then, she moves on. Joel takes a moment to reflect before he, too, moves on.
This episode brings everything from episode four full circle. We begin learning where Henry and Sam where hiding and how they learned about Joel. We also continue to see Kathleen’s ruthless side, not only to accomplish overthrowing FEDRA, but also to avenge her brother’s death. Revenge, as most who played The Last of Us Part One and Part Two know, is one of the major themes in this franchise.
Kathleen is wrapped up in revenge for her brother’s death. In the underground tunnel scenes, Henry confesses that he was responsible for turning her brother in so that he may cure Sam from leukemia. There is a strong emphasis on the brother’s ability to forgive, demonstrating the dichotomy between the siblings. Kathleen is quick to point out that a forgiving nature could get you killed. However, at the same time, we see that Kathleen meets her demise because her hunger for revenge trumped the urgency to warn her people about the possible resurgence of the Infected. There even was an irony to her death. Kathleen mocked Henry’s motive, claiming “kids die all the time”. The Clicker that killed Kathleen was a former child.
What makes Henry and Sam very interesting is that they act as a reflection of Joel and Ellie. Their relationship is similar; one assumes responsibility protecting another. In fact, Henry and Joel would do whatever it takes to keep the kids alive. In the end of the episode, I believe Joel is now realizing how dangerous this relationship can be, as Sam’s death was too much for Henry. That was Henry’s sole reason for living. Joel wonders if him and Ellie will suffer a similar fate in this apocalyptic world.
While there were deviations from the video game, there are certainly several nods to it that fans can enjoy. The first is the underground settlement. Although we saw no Infected or dead bodies, we learn of people (with children) who survived for a time. There is also a drawing from the game of Ish and another FEDRA officer as their protectors. For those that played the game, notes are scattered about in this level from Ish and his journey post-outbreak. We also see the comic books that were collectables in the game.
The sniper was also a level in The Last of Us Part One game. While Joel didn’t explore houses and fight enemies on the way to the sniper, this scene was a great nod to the game. The fact that the sniper worked with Kathleen did tie everything together for the episode’s climax.
One last thing I wanted to comment on was Ellie’s desire to heal Sam in the end. This was not part of the game, but it actually makes sense from a character standpoint. Ellie is a young teen who knows she survived the bite from an Infected; however, she doesn’t understand how her immunity works. Whether or not she knew deep down her blood would “transfer” her healing powers to Sam, Ellie did not hesitate to give it a try–at most to give Sam some hope. When she fails and witnesses Sam’s transformation and death, Ellie appears to grow more numb. Perhaps, she is also questioning her purpose. Could she really save humanity?
This episode was a nice, neat little package that cleaned up plot elements introduced in the previous episode. The strengths include Henry and Sam’s performance. I’m sure there are varying opinions on how Henry and Sam were characterized for the show, but I felt they were strong. I enjoyed Sam’s reliance on superheroes to remain strong, and I was impressed at production’s judgment to make Sam’s character deaf. It somehow made his reliance on Henry a bit stronger and also make their bond more visible to the viewer.
There was a nice balance between fidelity and deviations from the video game. I appreciated the nod to Ish and the sniper scene. However, I do go back and forth about whether the fleshing out of the resistance group was necessary. At first, I bought into the idea that this was necessary because HBO needed to turn a simple obstacle in the game into something worth watching. However, I struggled with Kathleen, and despite losing her brother, I could not muster any sympathy for her. She was so blinded by rage, and I was surprised that Perry did not press the urgency to warn the group about the risk of Infected.
I believe that HBO could have glossed over the backstory of the resistance group and focused more on the adventures Joel, Ellie, Henry, and Sam were on. Henry and Sam were such amazing characters, that I don’t think anyone would mind more screen time with. In fact, I was a little disappointed that they didn’t run into any Infected in the maintenance tunnels. Where did they get pushed off to where they would swell up from beneath a house in one of the final scenes? Where were all the bodies of those that settled underground?
Overall, this was still a solid episode, and I am looking forward to Joel and Ellie’s arrival in Wyoming for their next leg of their journey.
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