The Last of Us Episode 4 Recap: Please Hold to My Hand

This time we’re back with Ellie and Joel as they continue their cross-country trek, though this time, it’s made easier by Bill’s truck and supplies. During the first few minutes, there are many genuinely beautiful character moments. Ellie brings out a book of puns that she uses to tease Joel, and she pranks him with the sexy magazine she finds in Bill’s truck. He is so irritated, but it’s also endearing to him. The landscape they’re passing is so bare and destroyed, with not another soul in sight. Eventually, Joel pulls off to the side so they can rest for the night. He warns Ellie not of Infected, but of humans that can pose a threat to them. One brilliant thing about this series is how despite it taking place in this apocalyptic world, human stories and substance are prioritized first. If this were a lesser show, it would be all Infected, all action, all the time.

We finally get more background on Tommy whenever Ellie asks Joel about him. Though he’s initially hesitant, when Joel gets started talking, the love in his voice is clear. Tommy wanted to be a hero and save the world. It’s why he was in the military and deployed to Desert Storm and why he’d be the sort of guy to join the Fireflies. On the flip side, Joel is pessimistic and doesn’t see his brother’s choices as being smart. Ellie asks what his motivation is if he’s all wrapped up in his negativity, to which he replies, “You keep going for family.” Even though he’s talking about his blood brother, The Last of Us has strong “found family” themes. Ellie and Joel, Joel and Tess, and Bill and Frank are all examples of this phenomenon, and it’s only episode four. Almost every single meaningful relationship isn’t biological and nearly every relationship that’s blood has an issue. Joel is separated from Tommy, he lost his daughter Sarah, Ellie’s an orphan, and Kathleen lost her brother.

The pair reach a point in their journey where the path ahead is completely blocked by debris, so they must find another way through. This part of the story is different from the video game because they’ve now made it to Kansas City instead of Pittsburgh. This deviance leads them straight to an ambush with armed men and gunfire. They crash the truck, and Joel must kill the attackers. Ellie’s secret gun finally comes into play whenever Joel is overpowered, and she saves him. Joel kills the guy, which we eventually learn is named Bryan, offscreen, because the camera is focused on Ellie’s reaction. It’s been a common reoccurrence to watch her react to violence.

The next important character introduced is Kathleen, portrayed by Melanie Lynskey. We meet her as she is interrogating a man who snitched to FEDRA, which led to her brother ending up dead. We learn later that the Kansas City QZ is no more, meaning there’s no federal government overseeing the residents. We gather further information that a man named Henry is a big problem for the rebels. Joel points out that they aren’t Fireflies either, which makes the people even more intriguing. Who are they? What do they want? Who is Henry?

As they are preparing to find shelter, Joel feels guilty that Ellie had to shoot the attacker, and he apologizes to her for having to experience that as a kid. To his surprise, she admits that that isn’t the first time she’s had to protect herself to that extreme. This leads to a sweet moment between the two of them where Joel shows her how properly hold a gun. If she’s going to be carrying a gun, then it might as well know the right way. It’s good timing because they’re being hunted by every resident of Kansas City, so they need as much protection as possible.

Joel and Ellie finally make it to an abandoned apartment building where they climb 33 flights of stairs. Ellie asks Joel more tough questions, like if he’s killed innocent people, and asking if he struggles to hear because he’s deaf in one ear from being shot. They end the night with one last pun that gets them both giggling, but of course, this precious moment is too good to be true. Joel had set up a trap with broken glass so people don’t sneak up on them whenever they sleep, but we quickly learn it’s for nothing because they are surrounded by two rebels both pointing guns at them. What a cliffhanger to leave us on!

Due to Super Bowl Sunday, episode 5 will premiere on Friday, February 10th!


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