The Last of Us Episode 5 asks: What if prestige TV shows had boss monsters?

I think we all need a hug after this episode ends...
Zoom in / I think we all need a hug after this episode ends…

Kyle: Like everyone who has played the games, I imagine, I’ve been dreading watching this episode ever since we first saw Henry at the end of the last episode. The ultimate fate of him and his brother Sam is one of the most indelibly sad moments in a game series full of them.

Part of me tried to hold out hope that they might change that fate for the show – they’ve changed a lot of other things about the narrative, including a lot about Henry and Sam themselves. But in reality this was probably just wishful thinking born of a deep connection to the characters. The specifics may change, but this plot needed to stay there precisely because it’s so raw emotionally.

Andrew: I don’t know how each beat will go, but I know the story is defined by the Joel-Ellie duo. Which gives the show that sad air of inevitability whenever someone else joins the party. First with Tess and now with Henry and Sam. I don’t think every ally they make along the way will end up dead or infected or both, but the odds of them heading west with Our Heroes seem pretty slim.

Kyle: Yes, if you’ve been traveling with Joel and Ellie for any significant amount of time, you might as well break out a red Star Trek outfit. Really, though, Henry was kind of asking for it with “I am absolutely sure there are no danger in this creepy underground tunnel vamping. Just not a genre connoisseur at all…
I would say
Zoom in / I was going to say “Nice to meet you” but…well…wasn’t that nice?
Andrew: And the Kansas City vigilantes really should have assumed that Chekov’s Throbbing Underground from the last episode would be a problem. I’m not going to say I’d be great at an apocalypse, but knowing how these stories work sure seems to come in handy.

Well, you say that a lot of the details of the Henry-Sam story are different than in the games, and you said last week that this Kansas City story and the characters in it were different from the games. Without knowing what’s coming in the next few episodes, what purpose do the changes serve? Just refactoring things to be more functional on TV or something else?

Kyle: Some of the changes are kind of incidental in the grand scheme of things, like making Sam a little younger and deaf. The biggest change in this entire arc is the creation of Kathleen, which gives a stronger narrative focus to the most anarchic faction of Hunters in the game. I appreciated them trying to humanize her a bit with her memories of her brother and such, but ultimately I didn’t feel bad when the little miss “LOL, no trials for these jokers” made her appearance.

Andrew: The show decided it needed to make Kathleen a monster and humanize her in just two episodes, and that’s hard to do, especially when everything we know about her brother is said and not shown. Melanie Lynskey gives it her best, but at the end of the day it’s hard to single out the character who supports child murder. The way Joel and crew just…left her to her fate was kind of darkly funny, whether it was meant to be or not.

Kyle: Yes later second When you point a gun at someone only to be distracted/eaten by the Infected at the last minute, you know the writers are out to screw you up at that point.

Instead, one thing the series managed to establish quickly was the friendship between Ellie and Sam. We’ve talked about her tough-girl exterior here before, but what makes this story so good is that, deep down, she’s just a lonely kid who quickly realizes that anyone she grows up with might abandon her.

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