Episode 4 of HBO’s The Last of Us brings Joel and Ellie into the post-apocalyptic nitty gritty, with scenic vistas of abandoned vehicles and what appear to be raiders.
This is a recap and review of episode four. Spoilers to follow!
The Last of Us Episode 4 Review
The episode begins with Ellie doing what every teenager (and, okay, every adult) does in the bathroom: makes stupid poses in the mirror. In this case, she’s pretending to be a badass with the handgun (a Beretta Model 70) she snuck from Bill and Frank’s house. As per the dramatic principle set out by playwright Anton Chekov, this gun will definitely have significance later.
She leaves the rest stop to find Joel siphoning gas from cars, and they are soon on the road. The drive is monotonous and quiet, with no people or other drivers in sight, but we are treated to some amazing scenery. Collapsed trains, military vehicles, boats trapped in channels … all of which are abandoned and overgrown with vegetation.
They stop for a night in the woods, where Joel imparts some advice about why building a fire isn’t a great idea. Ellie believes he’s worried about Cordyceps seeing the smoke, but Joel corrects her: they don’t make correlations like that, so it’s people she needs to worry about. After she falls asleep, he stands watch.
I don’t know why they wouldn’t sleep in the truck or at least the truck bed. Their sleeping bags would get so damp on the ground, not to mention the bugs and spiders (this is why I only review History Channel’s Alone and would not apply to be on the show).
On the road the next day, Joel is convinced to tell Tommy’s backstory, revealing that Tommy had fought in Desert Storm, not Joel as previously believed. Tommy, according to his brother, is a “joiner” always looking to be a hero. Once a Firefly, now he’s on his own.
Upon reaching Kansas City, they run into a roadblock. It doesn’t appear entirely organic if you know what I mean, but Joel takes the bait and drives into the city. As expected, the city is rigged with traps to disable the car, and they crash into a laundromat.
A shoot-out ensues, and Joels sends Ellie into hiding. Yet, when Joel is tackled, Ellie leaves her safe area to save Joel with, as expected, the Beretta. The man, Brian, pleads and tries to humanize himself, but in the end, Joel stabs him.
Next, we meet some new characters. First is Kathleen (Melanie Lynskey), a rather unassuming woman, interrogating an older man. In this scene, we learn that FEDRA beat her brother to death in the same interrogation chamber and that she’s searching for those who tipped FEDRA off about him (as to why he was beaten, we’re not sure). She is specifically looking for a man named Henry.
After the interrogation is unsuccessful, Kathleen leaves the facility to find a group of her presumed raiders standing around the corpses of the three men Joel dispatched earlier. The most dapper raider I’ve ever seen, Perry (Jeffery Peirce), explains the situation to his boss.
Low-key enraged, Kathleen heads back into the interrogation chambers and shoots the older man, despite him being a doctor (and one she’s known since birth). She orders her troops to find the intruders and Henry.
As they hide, Joel and Ellie talk about her shooting Brian to save Joel, which leads to gun training and more bonding.
Meanwhile, Perry leads Kathleen to an attic which is covered with kids’ drawings. We learn that Henry has a child, a son named Sam. Perry appears uneasy about the entire situation, though he leads her to another room in the basement. Inside, they are both horrified by movement under the floor – suggestive of some large Cordyceps mutant, perhaps? They agree to deal with it later.
Joel and Ellie break into a large skyscraper and climb forty-five flights of stairs, hoping to see a route out of the city in the morning. As they get ready to sleep, Ellie tells a joke which makes Joel laugh for the first time, probably, since 2003.
Unfortunately, later in the night, Ellie wakes Joel up; there’s a gun pointed to her head. Holding another on Joel is a child, likely named Sam.
You can’t have an apocalypse without raiders, and I love that Kathleen, presumably a raider and presumably the leader, is someone who does not look the stereotypical part. She also looks a lot like Ellie. I hope this is just a coincidence, as that connection would be a bit far-fetched.
The scenery and sets in this episode were top quality, with landscapes and city destruction that I wished they’d panned over a little slower or shown even more. They continue to put a great deal of effort into the details of the show, including choosing cars from no later than 2003.
It’s interesting that we didn’t see any Cordyceps in this episode, but given Kathleen and Perry’s reaction to whatever was under the floor, we might get a great battle next time.
And, after some delay, Joel is finally starting to bond more with Ellie, a relationship that I know will make me cry at some point. What is it with this show and making me cry?
The next episode is airing early, on Friday, February 10, on HBOMax because of the Superbowl.
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