The Last of Us: Episodes Four & Five - 'Please Hold to My Hand' & 'Endure and Survive' Spoiler Review

The Superbowl gave The Last of Us a gift in that HBO decided to air episode five two days early so they would not have to compete with the Superbowl. This was especially good news for me as episode four left me desperate to see episode five. Upon watching episode five I realized I wish I did not see it since it left me hurting inside like episode three did. The first several minutes of episode five introduced fans to Henry and Sam, and it succeeded in making us become attached to them in the short appearance. The beginning of episode five also introduced us to Kathleen in a much clearer light; we saw Kathleen more as a villain than a sympathetic character. After episode four I liked Kathleen, and I was curious why she was so intense on her desire to find Henry. The reason we learn is predictable, but the details from both hers and Henry's point of view makes both Kathleen and Henry easier to understand. The character work being done on an episode-to-episode basis has been outstanding, and the quality of series is exceeding my appreciation of Andor. The heartbreaking end to Henry and Sam's story was unexpected which is what caused the end to hit me like a sledgehammer. My only complaint is that I wish they could have combined episodes four and five into another long episode. The two-episode story arc would have made a great feature length film; and I wonder how good it would be to see these episodes in a packed movie theater.

While the first five episodes have been a little light on action, they have delivered in every action sequence we have seen.  The end of episode five featured out first look at why humanity lost the war; and it was shocking to see the horde of infected burst through the hole in the ground. The action scene was total chaos (in the best way possible), and while our heroes escaped this time, I think they were lucky to make it out alive. Joel is capable, but he relies on will power more so than any skill, and Ellie like Joel is not in possession of any special skills. Joel and Ellie have survived because of luck, and their determination which is why we like them so much. In my episode three review I said that I did not mind that a majority of the episode was spent away from Joel and Ellie; I think that was time well spent with Bill and Frank after seeing episodes four and five. The Bill and Frank arc showed that despite the world ending there were still good things to come from that (despite the sad ending). Episode five ends with a gut punch that makes me appreciate the little bit of happiness we got to see Bill and Frank share. The two episodes had some happy moments, but the devastating ending made those happy moments so easy to forget. Like Bill and Frank, Henry and Sam were given a one-episode arc managed to make us care so much about people we did not meet until the episode. Henry's name was mentioned many times in episode four, but we did not get to know him at all until episode five. The two-episode combined to feel like a perfect back-to-back viewing. 


Episode four opens with Ellie inspecting (playing with) the gun she stole from Bill and Frank's house, while Ellie is doing that Joel is siphoning gas for their trip. Ellie has a joke book that she teases Joel she will read from (which is something game fans will appreciate). They make camp for the night off the main road, and Joel refuses to make a fire because as he tells Ellie he is worried it will attract humans (not the good ones). Ellie tells Joel one of the jokes from the book, but Joel guesses the punchline as the fall asleep, but Joel does not sleep he instead stands guard until morning. While driving Joel explains that Tommy is a joiner; Tommy joined the army, and then joined the Fireflies when the world went to pot. Joel followed Tommy to Boston to keep him safe, and that is where Joel met Tess (on the way to Boston). Joel and Ellie reach Kansas City, but the highway is blocked by truck, so Joel decides to drive into the city to try and get around the blocked road and rejoin the highway. They find the Kansas City QZ which is empty now, and they find a man asking for help. Joel knows it is a trap, so he drives into the guy who dodges the truck. They are attacked from above and on the street by thugs, and Joel loses control of the truck and crashes into a laundry mat. Ellie hides while Joel kills two of the thugs, but a third attacks Joel from behind and is choking him until Ellie pulls out the gun and shoots the attacker in the back. The attacker is paralyzed, and he begs for his life, but Joel tells Ellie to walk as Joel stabs him in the chest. 

We follow the other members of the group who attacked Joel and Ellie, we see a woman named Kathleen (played by Melanie Lynskey) questioning a doctor. Kathleen is looking for someone named Henry Burrell who she blames for telling FEDRA information on her brother who was then beaten to death by FEDRA. Kathleen is alerted to the bodies of three of her men by her second in command Perry (played by Jeffrey Pierce). Kathleen believes that Henry is behind the murders of the men, so she orders her men to search the city for Henry or his accomplices. Joel and Ellie are in hiding watching the men search the area; Joel is mad that he didn't hear the guy coming so Ellie had to shoot him. Joel decides to teach Ellie to properly handle a gun in case she needs to protect herself, and he gives her back the gun. Perry shows Kathleen a place where Henry was hiding recently, but he also shows her something else that scares the both of them. In a room we see a floor that is cracking, but it is also moving too which causes them to run out of the room. Kathleen tells Perry to keep the building sealed off until they find Henry, and after that they will tell people about the floor. Joel and Ellie break into an office building where they climb up 33 floors so they can sleep and then inspect the city in the morning. As they are climbing up Ellie asks Joel how he knew it was a trap, and Joel explains that he has been on both sides of that situation with Tess and Tommy. On the 33rd floor they find a room to sleep in so Joel starts breaking glass up and spreading it near the door so he would hear if someone was coming. Ellie asks Joel a question and he does not respond so she guesses he has trouble hearing. Joel says that hearing in his right ear is bad because of all of the shooting he has done. Before they fall asleep Ellie tells another joke from the book which causes both of them to break out in laughter. Ellie wakes up Joel in the night as they are being held at gunpoint by two people one a boy as the episode ends.

Episode five starts with the overthrowing of the Kansas City QZ by Kathleen's rebel group who we see terrorizing their former dictators. We see Henry and Sam evading the rebel patrols, and we learn that Sam is deaf. Kathleen and Perry visit a group of informants for FEDRA that Kathleen had rounded up so she can get them to inform on where Henry is. One of the informants gives up Edelstein saying he too was an informant and that he might have information on Henry. The reward for informing is that Kathleen orders Perry to kill the informants as they betrayed Kathleen and her group to FEDRA. Kathleen asks the men to go door-to-door to find Edelstein and Henry, but Perry disagrees until Kathleen explains how important Henry is to her. Henry and Sam find Edelstein and they hide in the attic of a building where they have 11 days of food. Edelstein must leave at one point (which is how Kathleen gets him), Henry asks Sam to decorate the attic while they try to wait out Kathleen's search. They run out of food so Henry and Sam must leave the attic which is how they come across Joel and Ellie getting attacked (from episode 4). Henry watches as Joel takes out three of Kathleen's men and he realizes Joel is the type of person he needs to get them to safety. 

Joel and Ellie are awakened by Henry and Sam who snuck up on them while they were sleeping (which is how episode four ended). Henry tells Joel that they have no intention of hurting them, and that he is the most wanted man in Kansas City ahead of Joel. The group shares some food, and while they eat Ellie bonds with Sam. Henry says that he has a way out of Kansas City, but he needs Joel's help since he is tough and capable. Joel begrudgingly comes to an agreement with Henry on the escape plan which will involve using the tunnels. Henry says his FEDRA contact said the tunnels were cleared of infected years ago, but he needs Joel in case the tunnels are not cleared. They go down the tunnels which are clear until they reach what appears to be an empty underground daycare. Joel explains that people tried to live underground, but they didn't follow the rules and the underground cities became overrun too. They wait in the daycare until dusk, so they sneak to the bridge that leads out of town, while they wait Sam and Ellie continue bonding over a comic book they find Savage Starlight. Henry tells Joel why he is being hunted by Kathleen; Henry says that Sam got sick and FEDRA had drugs he needed so he told FEDRA where to find Kathleen's brother. Henry looked up to Kathleen's brother, and he feels like he did a villainous thing which makes him feel guilty. 

Kathleen is standing in her and her brother's old room from when they were kids when Perry finds her to give her an update. Kathleen explains that she knows her brother wanted her to forgive Henry for what he did, but she is not as good of a person as her brother was, so she can't forgive Henry or let him go. Perry tells Kathleen that the men are with her because despite how good of a man Kathleen's brother was he never changed anything, but she did. Joel, Henry, Ellie and Sam are walking down a street when they get shot at by a sniper in the window of a house that is in their way to the bridge. Joel says he will go around and get into the house to take out the sniper, but he wants the rest of them to stay where they are until it is safe. Joel sneaks up on the shooter, and even though he gives the shooter the option to walk away the shooter draws on Joel forcing to Joel to kill him. Joel takes the rifle, but a walkie talkie goes off revealing that the shooter works for Kathleen and that she is almost there. Henry, Ellie and Sam run from Kathleen's men, but they are outnumbered so they need to hide behind a car. Henry gives himself up to save Sam and Ellie, but before Kathleen can shoot him a hole in the ground opens revealing a horde of infected who attack the rebels. 

Henry and Sam run one way while Ellie goes another way as things become crazy as the infected attack. Joel covers Ellie from the second floor allowing her to make it to Henry and Sam who are trapped under a car by infected. Perry is killed when a bloater appears from the hole in the ground, and it rips Perry's head off and Kathleen is attacked by an infected after she tries to stop Henry and Sam again. Ellie and Joel get Henry and Sam free, and they make it to the bridge safely as the infected were busy with Kathleen's rebels. They take refuge in an abandoned motel where Ellie and Sam share a room. Joel tells Henry that they can join Joel and Ellie on their trip to find Tommy which Henry agrees to happily. Sam reveals to Ellie that he got bit by an infected on the leg during the attack, and that he is scared he will turn into a monster. Ellie tells Sam that her blood is magic, and she then cuts open her hand and rubs her blood over Sam's wound. Sam asks if Ellie can stay awake with him until morning, which she agrees to, but she falls asleep. Ellie wakes up and sees Sam sitting on the edge of the bed looking out the window. Ellie walks up to Sam who then turns to her revealing he is an infected now attacking her. The tussle leads into the other room awaking Joel and Henry, but before Joel can get to the gun Henry grabs it. Henry shoots at Joel's feet to keep him away from Sam but seeing Ellie in danger Henry shoots Sam killing him. Henry is distraught at what he did, and before Joel can stop him, he kills himself. Joel buries the bodies of Henry and Sam and Ellie leaves a not on Sam's grave saying "I'm sorry" as her and Joel depart for Wyoming as the episode ends. 


The two episodes featured a great arc that made Kathleen's rebel group sympathetic until they tried to kill Joel and Ellie. I thought the character of Kathleen was very interesting because she was self aware enough to know she was not as good of a person as her brother, but she failed to grasp that her pursuit of Henry put the rebel group at risk. I think it is safe to assume that Kansas City will be overrun, and that there will be little to no survivors except Joel and Ellie. Kathleen succeeded where her brother failed, and even though she liberated Kansas City she also ended up bringing its doom. Kathleen's arc felt so human and real that I empathized with her character by the end, but I also thought she got the death she deserved. I did not remember that much from the cutscenes, so the ending really hit me hard, but I have since watched the cutscenes featuring Henry and Sam and I think the show again succeeded in honoring the game while also improving the story. The game does not have the ability to spend the time on cutscenes that the show can, but the quality of storytelling in the show is more impressive than anyone expected. When a horror themed show based on a videogame can find a way to make emotional moments in each episode, I think the show and the material it is based on have to be special.

I think one of the biggest reasons I could not find myself able to hate Kathleen was because I felt something so human about her. Kathleen is flawed as evidenced by her illogical pursuit of Henry, but the rebels were so cruel and vengeful because it was established by Henry (and Joel had heard rumors) that the Kansas City FEDRA team were monsters. The monstrous acts we saw the rebels committing in the opening moments of the episode were likely on par with how they were treated by FEDRA. I also understand why Henry betrayed Kathleen's brother like he did, it was obvious that Henry hated himself for what he did. Kathleen's brother as everyone said was a nice guy, but he was too nice to do what was necessary to defeat FEDRA which is why Kathleen succeeded where her brother failed. I admire that Kathleen showed no mercy to FEDRA or the collaborators, and I think Melanie Lynskey delivered a fantastic performance. Lamar Johnson was perfect as Henry; he was someone I could empathize with while also being mad at too. I agree that Henry had to do what he did to save Sam, but he was not a particularly useful in any way. I was surprised Henry had managed to live as long as he did, but I will say that he did what he had to do every time something came up. Henry was able to summon the courage at all of the right times, and he saved Ellie off of instinct which while horrifying showed that he was not the bad guy he thought he was. This episode felt like a Kathleen and Henry starring episode, and I think both actors were more than up for that challenge. Casting is almost as important as is good writing, and the casting director nailed the choice of Lamar Johnson and Melanie Lynskey. 

The series started showing Joel as a loving father, but when he lost his daughter, he turned his emotions off. Since meeting Ellie, we have seen Joel loosen up, and we have seen him become more and more emotional with each passing episode. Joel burying the bodies of Henry and Sam show that he has come along way since the Joel we met in the Boston QZ. The old Joel probably would have left the bodies in the motel room, but this Joel would do something like that. Ellie though looked to be turning her emotions off by the end of this episode. Not only is she mourning the loss of Henry and Sam, but she also has realized that her immunity offers no help to anybody without more medical intervention. I am not sure if Ellie believed that her blood could cure Sam, but I would not be surprised if she thought her blood could save Sam. We have yet to learn more about Ellie's backstory, but she has been through so much since starting on this journey and I think the loss of Henry and Sam has been the worst thing so far. Ellie has also now seen the true horror of the infected, and also the horror that humans can be capable of doing to one another. The world of The Last of Us is scary because it seems that there are dangers everywhere, and that you cannot trust anyone. Kathleen and Henry represented the best and worst that humanity has to offer, and I wish we could have seen more of Kansas City.

I am going to give episode four a 9/10 and I am going to give episode five a 10/10; I think both episodes were in line with the quality of the first three episodes. Episode four might not had the incredible moments of episode five it was still a very tight and important episode which is why I gave it a 9/10. Episode might have lacked action, but it was still very entertaining and very well acted and executed. Episode five was one of the best hours of television I have seen, the Henry and Sam arc was heartbreaking, but executed to perfection by all involved. The first 15 minutes of the episode setup the Henry and Sam story and it had me foolishly believing they were going to make it out alive. The preview for episode six shows that Joel finds Tommy, but it also suggests that Tommy left because of Joel. Since I no longer remember the story from watching the cutscenes I am really at the show's mercy for what will happen next. The Last of Us has been magnificent at building tension, but its true strength has been its ability to develop characters in an economical rate. While I have enjoyed the weekly guest star who does not make it out alive, others who I have talked with did not find it that enjoyable. The game would introduce characters to have them be killed off, but I am marveling at the storytelling ability of the creative team behind the show. The final four episodes of the season have me very excited, and if they are on par with what we have seen thus far I believe this show will be one of my all-time favourites. 

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