Endure and Survive: The Last of Us, Episode Five

Endure and Survive: The Last of Us, Episode Five

Good morning, Readers!

I have long been stressing about this episode, since Sam and Henry were introduced last episode. I know precisely how this is going to end, and I’m not looking forward to it at all… While also looking forward to it a great deal. We don’t have time to unpack that. Let’s get on with it all the same.

Once again, there is no pre-credit scene. I was really hoping this would be a recurring thing, but I fear not. I shall just have to make peace with all the cool worldbuilding and backstory that isn’t being done before the episodes begin.

There is a slight jump back in time as the episode opens on the liberation of Kansas City from the fascist military government Fedra, whom we later learn are particularly horrible in Kansas City.  We follow Henry and Same evading capture. We don’t, of course, get any of this in the game, for obvious reasons. Sam and Henry aren’t the game’s protagonists.

Another interesting change from the game is that they’ve made Sam deaf. This adds another layer of dependence that Sam has on his big brother. It’s a brilliant change.

During this section we learn that Kathleen is about as bad as Fedra was. For the informants captured during her uprising, there is no trial. The promise of a fair trail and jail is used to gain their information, with the threat of death hovering over their heads if they refuse. Once the information is given, however, the captured informants are summarily executed with Kathleen giving orders to have their bodies burnt. The time the show took the previous episode to linger on a pile of charred corpses in the street has a payoff beyond showing the monstrous result of the uprising.

During their attempts to escape, we experience Joel and Ellie’s arrival into Kansas City from Henry’s perspective, which is a really simple and quite clever way to tie their two stories together. Henry, seeing Joel’s performance after the crash, gives Henry an idea; a plan to get his baby brother and himself out of Kansas City. A plan that hinges on Joel’s competence.

And so, Joel and Ellie are introduced to Sam and Henry with the former waking up to find themselves at gunpoint. This is not how it happened in the game, but the bones are there. Joel and Ellie are making their way through Pittsburg (not Kansas City), climbing high to avoid the bad guys driving around in their armoured vehicles with mounted guns. They climb through a window and Joel’s face meets Henry’s fist and the business end of Sam’s gun. In the show, they awake to find Henry and Sam pointing weapons at them. The details are different, but the basics are there. I’m not so much of a purist that I’m upset at this change. It works in the flow of the story. Also, the interactions between the characters in the show are great. Joel’s deadpan “asshole voice” was fantastic. I giggled.

The Last of Us S1 Wrap-Up – Forever Young Adult

That’s not the only change from the game this episode employs, while still retaining the bones of the story. The entire escape from Kansas City jumps around in time. Mind you, my recollection may be a little fuzzy, as it has been many years and many games since I played it. Still.

The first thing I noticed was that, in the game, the underground daycare/community that we encounter as part of the escape from the city happened immediately after the escape. As I recall, in the game Henry and Sam and Joel and Ellie are separated (with a great short scene in which Ellie jumps down from the escape route that Joel can no longer use and let’s him know that she’s sticking by his side). In a frantic chase scene involving the armored vehicle that appears at the end of the episode, Ellie and Joel are forced to jump into the river from the pedestrian bridge, and end up being fished out by Henry.

After an angry reunion (I mean, I’d be upset too if I had been abandoned the way Joel was), they team up once more to make their way through some storm drains and get further away. These tunnels are not empty, either. In the game there are a number of runners and far too many clickers for my taste.

In the show, however, the tunnels are not storm drains outside of the city limits leading into suburbia, but service tunnels that run underneath Kansas City leading to residential zoning. They were once full of infected, but were, apparently, cleared out by Fedra. These tunnels, not the river, are the means to an escape from the recently liberated Kansas City and the vengeful woman who now runs it.

Getting to them is also a lot easier than getting to the river was, it seems. Some key moments happen in this tunnel in the show. First, Joel and Henry begin their uncertain bond, and we learn why Henry, a basically good guy, ended up as an informant to the tyrannical Fedra  (and why Kathleen has such a rabid vendetta against him). That didn’t really happen here in the game, though much later Henry and Joel do bond over motorcycles. Sam and Ellie find their bond, including kicking a soccer ball around, which did happen in the game.

There were two other nods to the game that made me smile.

First, the discovery of the Starlight comics, which are collectible items in the game. Ellie, in both the game and the show, is a fan of that comic series. In fact, it is from the comic that we get the title for this episode – Endure and Survive.

My favorite nod to the game, however, is the Ish story. In game, you follow what happens to Ish through notes and scraps of paper you can pick up as you go. While we don’t get the entirety of the Ish stuff, for obvious reasons, in the show we do get a mention of Ish on a picture that hangs on the walls of the main room of the tunnels. It’s small detail, likely missed by those who don’t game, but do know that the very pointed shot of that paper in the show had a purpose.

Thanks to Buzzfeed for the exact image I was looking for!

Following the escape from the tunnels, Joel and Ellie and their new friendly acquaintances find themselves in a residential neighborhood, nearly free and clear… only to be set upon by a sniper. While in the game, the number of enemies is far greater, representing a considerable challenge for Joel, this section of the show feels very much like the game.

Joel does get up to the snipers nest in the house. He does use the rifle there to help Elli, Henry and Sam evade and escape the folks chasing them (including a very satisfactory snipe on one who’s about to throw a Molotov cocktail, which he then drops into the Humvee, providing a horrific death). All the commotion brings the infected to the yard, and it’s your job as Joel to snipe those too, as Ellie, Sam and Henry make their way to your position.

The show is very similar, but different in ways I greatly appreciate. First, it takes the opportunity to show how Joel and Ellie’s relationship has progressed. Joel asks Ellie if she trusts him, is given a nonverbal affirmative, and then proceeds to prove himself worthy of that trust. The show also uses this as its big action set-piece, and confrontation between Henry and his hunter, Kathleen, and then humanity versus a swarm of infected. While it doesn’t play out quite like the game, once again, the bones are there.

There was much I liked about this scene. There is a payoff to the ground heaving last episode when an exploding tanked plough creates a sink hole under a nearby house, letting loose all the hordes of infected, including our first in-show encounter with a Bloater (we’ve met one prior to this in the game).

The Last Of Us Tlou GIF - The Last Of Us Tlou Hbomax - Discover & Share GIFs
“They have a cave troll.”

We also see some of dangerous Joel here (which I have missed while watching the show), and also the connection between Ellie and Joel. Ellie runs to help Sam and Henry, who are trapped under a car by infected, knowing Joel will have her back. And he does. There isn’t a single snipe shot that he misses until the appearance of a child clicker. Joel’s steady hands start to shake and he misses every shot. The child clicker is the only enemy that Joel does not coldly and capably dispatch. It’s a nice character moment, actually. A good thing, too, as it’s the child clicker that enables them to escape when Kathleen catches up to them.

I also really loved that an acknowledgement of the death the Bloater delivers in game is included. Perry, Kathleen’s right-hand man, is given the death that Joel gets in the game if the Bloater catches him… Which it did often when I gamed. I’m not especially good (as an aside, I adore that the show is showing the game so much love, including casting the voice actors from the game in alternate roles. Perry, for example, was the voice actor for game-Tommy (Joel’s baby brother)).

The scene that follows is quite different from the game. In game, this is the point where Joel and Henry finally bond — over riding a motorcycle. In the show, it’s less overt, with Joel extending an invitation for Henry and Sam to travel with them to Wyoming.

Ellie and Sam together is different from the game. It starts off the same, including trading greatest fears. But while in the game Sam keeps his bite hidden from everyone, in the show he confides in Ellie. Ellie tries, and fails, to cure him with her own blood. This deviation is actually an improvement. It helps set up more obviously the survivor’s guilt Ellie is feeling, and how it would make her want even more to find the Fireflies so they can find a cure.

However, it ends the same. Sam loses his mind and attacks Ellie. Joel is powerless to help as Henry is the first on the gun draw. In the end, Henry is forced to shoot the little brother he had spent his entire life protecting — selling secrets to Fedra to acquire medication for, fighting his way through Kansas City, teaming up with a sketchy middle-aged man and the girl he is escorting… Unable to process what he just did, he, just like in the game, puts his gun to his own head and pulls the trigger.

This left me utterly wrecked when I played the game. Like, full body sobs. The only reason it didn’t hit as hard for me watching the show was because I knew it was coming. I still cried, though.

I have to make mention of Bella Ramsay’s cry when Henry pulls the trigger. It’s such a guttural, heart-wrenching sound. It’s so real. Ms. Ramsay outdid herself in this scene.

This episode is, to my mind, the most video-gamey so far. Despite all the changes (which I feel were largely necessary to fit the medium), there was so much of the spirit and imagery pulled from the game that I was almost transported. It certainly pulled a number of unpleasant memories.

I’m excited for, and quite nervous about, the next episode. Luckily, as of the publishing of this article, it will all be available for some serious binging.

Articles in this series:

When You’re Lost in the Darkness: The Last of Us, Episode One
Infected: The Last of Us, Episode Two
Long, Long Time: The Last of Us, Episode Three
Please Hold My Hand: The Last of Us, Episode Four
Endure and Survive, Episode Five

When S.M. Carrière isn’t brutally killing your favourite characters, she spends her time teaching martial arts, live streaming video games, occasionally teaching at the University of Ottawa, and cuddling her cat. In other words, she spends her time teaching others to kill, streaming her digital kills, teaching about historical death, and cuddling a furry murderer. Her latest novels are SkylarkDaughters of Britain, and Human.

Notify of

1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Eugene R.

Yes, the game-y nature of the show really starts to shine in this episode, particularly with that scrambling horde of horrors emerging from the ground to confront the Mad Max-vehicled vigilantes of KC. And Joel’s near-miraculous sniper fire. Bad-assery squared! My moment of poignancy was Sam’s “tombstone”, the Magic Slate pad stuck in the ground, reading “I’m sorry”. I loved those magic ink pads, so I felt closer to Sam and Ellie, then.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x