The core theme of this week’s episode of The Last of Us is just as its title implies; enduring and surviving. In a post-apocalyptic world like this one many people were able to endure, but very few are and were able to survive. This is something that is becoming more prevalent as each week passes by. At the start of this episode we flashback to the moments leading up to Henry and Sam going into hiding. Here we learn about who Henry and Sam met with, how much food they had available, and their plans to escape Kansas City and get as far away from Kathleen as possible. We also learn that Sam is deaf, which is a minor deviation from the original game.
During their eleven-day stay in this attic they temporarily called home, we see Henry and Sam trying to commit to their escape plan when an unexpected wrench is thrown into the mix. The wrench was Joel and Ellie being attacked by Kathleen’s men which resulted in their deaths and the death of Bryan. Keeping a close eye on Joel and Ellie. Henry and Sam manage to sneak up on them and convinces them to help them both escape the city. This moment brings the opening minutes of the episode full circle to the cliffhanger we were left with last week.
After sharing some food and some heavy negotiating, Joel agrees to help and asks Henry to tell him how to escape the city. This is where Joel learns about the underground tunnel system running to the city which if crossed successfully will lead them to an embankment by a bridge allowing them to escape Kansas City and either go their separate ways or stick together and venture to Wyoming. Once the plans have been fully set in motion and the team arrives at the tunnels, we learn more about the world within The Last of Us.
How FEDRA lost control of Kansas City, how Henry is a collaborator, his reasoning for being a collaborator, how other groups of people managed to survive underground, and the infected that FEDRA were able to herd in these tunnels to keep the city clear. Looking at it at face value, as intuitive as Joel is, it all seems too good to be true and it is. The underground team has ceased to exist but leave behind what can be considered relics of humanity. A sense of community and stability. People with set rules and a set way of living in order to survive.
This really puts things in perspective because we have seen various groups of people and how they were able to survive in these trying times. Joel was once a resident of a FEDRA QZ zone along with Tess. Others joined the Fireflies. We met people like Bill and Frank, the likes of Kathleen and her men, and ultimately, Sam and Henry. All of these separate groups have found their respective ways of surviving for better or for worse, and they’ve all had to do both good and bad things in order to protect themselves and those they love. Really putting into perspective how far someone or anyone is willing to go to protect their loved one and how quickly that moral compass switches when your back is up against the wall.
This comes full circle when Henry, Sam, Ellie, and Joel manage to get out of the tunnels and near the embankment. They are held up by a sniper who just so happens to be in contact with Kathleen and has now informed her of the group’s location. His sole mission at this time is to hold up the group until Kathleen gets there and makes Henry pay for his crimes. In order to give themselves and fighting chance, Joel sneaks around the housing area and reluctantly takes out the sniper. Just as he learns that Kathleen has been informed of their location, they are met by Kathleen and her men.
As Kathleen backs the group into a corner, forcing Henry to give himself up to her in an attempt to save Sam and Ellie; chaos ensues as a horde of clickers and infected submerges from underneath a home to attack both groups. Here we get our first encounter with the beastly Bloater who brutally kills Perry. Despite Joel’s best efforts and Katheeln’s group’s best efforts, the horde is too much for them to handle. Henry and Sam find themselves hiding under a car, while Ellie is on the brink of being attacked by a young Clicker.
Although this young Clicker doesn’t claim the life of Ellie, she does claim the life of Kathleen in a very poetic justice sort of way. It was a beautiful death, especially after Kathleen’s villainous monologue about children having to die because that’s what fate has already decided; and screwing with fate has its consequences. Again, poetic justice!! As Kathleen’s group is pushed back by the infected horde. Joel and the rest of the group manage to escape and find shelter for the night.
As the dust settles, Sam and Ellie continue to bond over the comic book they found back in the tunnels since they are both fans of the comic book series. Once Henry tells Sam that they need to go to bed, Sam reveals to Ellie that he was bitten. Ellie, knowing that her blood is the key to finding a cure applies a sample of her blood to Sam’s wound and hopes for the best. Only to find that Sam has turned the next morning. This brings Henry and Joel to a standstill leading to Henry killing Sam to stop him from attacking Ellie. Shocked by his actions Henry ends up taking his own life.
And with that, The Last of Us brings us yet another heartbreaking scene. This scene was so full of emotional weight and the performances from everyone in the scene were palpable and only drove home the emotional weight this scene carried. Here is Henry who has spent nearly two weeks trying to escape from Kathleen’s grip and protect his brother, sacrificing Kathleen’s brother in the process (if you were wondering why we were here), only to narrowly escape that grasp and have that little glimmer of hope instantly taken away in a matter of hours and at the expense of his own brother. It’s a lot to take as a person, especially when you’re the one who has to take your younger brother out.
Maybe Kathleen was right in the sense that when you mess with fate, there tend to be some costly consequences. Consequences both Kathleen and Henry have paid for in blood. This also boils over to Joel and Ellie. Here is a girl who was told she was the key to saving humanity. She sees an opportunity to save someone, and be the hero for a change, only to have that moment backfire in the most hurtful way possible. That’s a lot of trauma for a child to carry even if they’re able to get over it rather quickly as Joel implies. Every decision taken in this world has proven to be a costly one even if you end up surviving.
The Last of Us Episode 5 – Endure and Survive Final Verdict:
Episode 5 of The Last of Us really serves as a follow-up to last week’s episode. While we aren’t dealing with the infected as much as I would like to, the show has found a nice middle ground to deliver the game’s story in a way that feels authentic to the source material but also elevates to a point where certain story beats hold the same weight the held in the game or heighten that emotional weight and drama we enjoyed so much while playing the game. Despite the praise I have for the episode, I still feel like Kathleen’s ends didn’t justify her means. Granted she was, in her twisted way, protecting her brother.
But he was already dead, was he THAT important (outside of personal care and affection), that you valued his life more than you valued Sam and Henry’s? I just feel like all the chaos that was caused by hunting Henry down for being a collaborator and the reason her brother is dead aren’t all that justified. Perry tried his best to quench her blood thirst but that was a half-assed effort in and of its own as well.
Overall, Endure and Survive was still a solid episode and I have been enjoying The Last of Us each and every week and still look forward to Joel reuniting with Tommy in next week’s episode. If you haven’t seen the teaser for that yet check it out below.
The Last of Us is streaming now on HBO Max.
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