In “The Last of Us” recap, Joel and Ellie meet some fellow survivors while attempting to escape Kansas City….
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
If there’s one thing we’ve learned through five episodes of “The Last of Us,” it’s that this show has an innate ability to break your heart, put it back together and then demolish it into even smaller pieces the second time around.
Last week saw Joel and Ellie find a little bit of hope after securing a truck and supplies from Bill and Frank after their passing but they only made it as far as Kansas City before running into trouble. With the highways blocked, Joel was forced to drive into the city and it wasn’t long before they were ambushed after discovering that FEDRA had been overrun and a resistance army was now in charge.
Unfortunately, Joel ended up killing a couple of members of the resistance, which made him a high priority for the new folks in charge.
The resistance army known as the Hunters had other problems to deal with as well — namely a group of collaborators who had sold them out to FEDRA before they finally overpowered them. Now the resistance army led by a woman named Kathleen are out to capture and kill anyone responsible for giving information to FEDRA — and that includes a young man named Henry and his little brother named Sam.
When last week’s episode came to an end, Joel and Ellie had climbed up a skyscraper to wait until morning to get a better look at the landscape in Kansas City to plot an escape but they soon woke up with guns drawn on them courtesy of Henry and Sam.
With that said, let’s recap the latest episode of “The Last of Us” titled “Endure and Survive”…
Henry and Sam
The episode begins with a flashback to 10 days before Joel and Ellie arrived in Kansas City, which was when the uprising happened as the resistance army rose up against FEDRA and dismantled the cruel and brutal fascists that had essentially tortured them for the past 20 years. The resistance army known as the Hunters took back the city, drove out FEDRA but not without a cost.
It turns out the Hunters original leader was tortured and killed while in captivity by FEDRA, which is what finally sparked the flame for the uprising. That leader’s name was Michael and his sister was Kathleen, who we first met last week.
In the wake of the uprising with the resistance taking over, Kathleen was determined to get to the bottom of who sold them out and that meant dealing with every informant and collaborator who gave information to FEDRA. She gathers them all into a holding cell and promises a fair trial but they won’t even get that much without revealing where the rest of the informants are hiding — most importantly she’s looking for Henry and Sam, who she knows sold her brother out.
When no one talks, Kathleen orders her top lieutenant named Perry to execute them all but someone finally speaks up and reveals that Henry is with Edelstein — the doctor we met last week who Kathleen eventually executed. The informant is unaware about where the doctor has gone or where he’s hiding Henry and Sam but it gives Kathleen the lead she needs to find them.
After leaving the room, Kathleen orders Perry to execute the entire group and burn the bodies because it’s much easier than potentially spreading infection.
As for Dr. Edelstein, he took Henry and Sam to the attic hiding spot we saw last week where he gave them a place to stay and enough food to keep them fed for the next 10 days. Sam, who is deaf, felt terrified after running for his life but Henry tries to comfort him by handing over a bag of crayons and asking his brother to decorate their new temporary home.
That explains all the superhero drawings on the walls that was discovered by the Hunters when they found the hiding place.
But after 10 days pass and Dr. Edelstein doesn’t return following a trip to find more food, Henry realizes that they’re on their own and it’s time to find a new way out of the city. Just as he’s about to move his brother to the tallest building in the city to get a better vantage point, Henry hears the commotion down on the street and he watches Joel crash his truck before killing two members of the Hunters.
That distraction allows Henry and Sam to escape but more importantly it gives him an idea about how they might finally get out of the city.
Back in the present time, Joel and Ellie are able to calm down the situation with Henry and Sam after waking up with guns pointed at their heads. Henry admits that he’s in over his head, especially holding somebody hostage at gunpoint but he chooses to trust Joel and Ellie before lowering his weapon.
Henry explains that he’s the most wanted man in Kansas City but after witnessing what happened on the street earlier that same day, he’s guessing that Joel is probably a close second on that same list.
With weapons lowered, the group sits down to eat a meal together and while tensions remain high, everyone finally starts to calm down just a little bit. Everyone introduces themselves but Joel is a man of few words so after breaking the ice by pointing out that they’ve shared a meal and managed not to kill each other so it’s time to put cards on the table.
Henry knows that Joel must have climbed to the top of this building to get a better vantage point so he could find a path out of the city. Henry promises that if he and his little brother can tag along, he’ll navigate the entire group to escape Kansas City.
The next morning, Henry looks out over the city with Joel before revealing that FEDRA was overrun after raping, torturing and killing the people for the past 20 years but when the resistance army finally gained enough strength, they roared up and did the same back to their oppressors.
That’s when Henry reveals that he’s even worse than FEDRA because he was a collaborator helping them and that’s a bridge too far for Joel — he doesn’t work with rats.
Of course, Henry knows better because he’s the best chance that Joel and Ellie have to escape the city without running into Kathleen and her rebel army. Henry then confesses that until the previous night, he had never pointed a gun at someone much less pulled the trigger.
Henry’s not capable of protecting himself or his brother if they run into trouble and that’s where Joel comes into the picture.
“So that’s the deal — I show the way, you clear the way.”
Realizing this is the best option for survival, Joel concedes to team up with Henry to get out of the city. Henry then draws a map showing the four highways that surround Kansas City and how the Hunters will have garrisons posted at every possible exit.
Rather than escape on the streets, however, Henry reveals that there are maintenance tunnels built underneath the city. He also mentions to Joel and Ellie how they’ve not seen any infected in the city since first arriving — that’s because FEDRA forced them underground 15 years ago and left them to rot.
So Henry knows that Kathleen won’t have any of her people posted there but in reality he learned from his FEDRA contact that they cleared out the infected around three years ago so the tunnels will be clear again. But just in case there are a couple of random infected down there, Henry is confident Joel can take care of it — especially after learning that they went up against a pair of clickers back in Boston and lived to tell about it.
It’s a dicey-as-fuck plan but it’s the only one they’ve got.
After scoping out the city, Henry leads the group through a bank building and into the underground tunnels where Joel is cautious around every corner. As he leads them deeper and deeper into the bowels of the tunnels, Joel eventually runs into what looks like an underground bunker where people previously lived and tried to survive when the Cordyceps outbreak first happened.
The group makes it into what appears to be a children’s playroom except there are no more children. Joel remarks that it’s likely they were captured, killed or someone got infected for not following the rules and they all died.
He’s quite cheery that way.
While Joel and Henry talk, Ellie and Sam start being kids again as they read a comic book together and actually start playing with toys. Joel is quick to put a stop to it so they can move on but Henry remarks that it would probably be safer to move at night so letting the daylight die down a little bit might be a good idea.
As Ellie and Sam play together, Joel can’t help but think it’s cruel for someone like Kathleen to send an entire army after Henry and his little brother even if they were collaborators with FEDRA. That’s when Henry finally comes clean about his true crime — and how he lied about never killing anybody before.
It seems Sam was diagnosed with leukemia and there was only one medicine that would help him but it was in short supply and the only people with access was FEDRA. In order to provide medicine that so valuable, FEDRA asked for a big return on their investment.
So Henry gave them Michael — the leader of the resistance army and Kathleen’s brother.
“I am the bad guy because I did a bad guy thing.”
Joel doesn’t say anything in return but Henry knows by looking in his eyes that he’s done the same or worse in order to survive. Joel may not be Ellie’s father but he’s protecting her like a parent.
That’s enough talk for Joel for the day as he tells the group it’s time to get moving so they can escape Kansas City in one piece.
Meanwhile, Perry goes looking for Kathleen and finds her hiding out in the bedroom she once shared with her brother Michael growing up. She tells him a story about how she used to be afraid of thunderstorms but Michael always knew the right thing to say to comfort her and help her stop being scared.
Michael was a great leader but he was also forgiving and compassionate and Kathleen knows deep down that her brother would have wanted to give Henry a pass because ultimately he was just doing whatever it took to survive and protect his own family. But Kathleen is not her brother and Perry reminds her that she’s the one who led the uprising to overthrow FEDRA and now she’s the person all of the people are looking towards for guidance.
Kathleen has no intention of forgiving Henry — he has to pay for what he’s done.
The Monster Inside
Joel, Ellie, Henry and Sam get through the last part of the tunnel and pop out on the other side of town in a residential area. They only need to travel over an embankment and across the river to finally get out of Kansas City for good.
Along the way, Ellie tells her new friends that they’re headed for Wyoming so Henry and Sam should join them. Joel objects (obviously) but Ellie promises that despite his gruff exterior, her new protector will eventually cave into the idea and take them along for the ride.
Before they can celebrate, gunshots ring out from a sniper firing bullets down upon them. The group hides behind a car but the gunfire continues until Joel decides that he’s going to circle around, get into the house where the sniper is posted and take him or her out.
As Joel scurries away, the bullets rain down from the sky but he’s able to evade the shots while Henry, Sam and Ellie remain hunkered down behind a car.
When Joel finally makes it inside the house, he quietly sneaks up the stairs and finds an older gentlemen firing shots down at his group from a window. He tells the man to drop his weapon, slide it over to him and then he’ll just get to walk away.
But the gunman doesn’t comply and a second later Joel unleashes a bullet of his own.
A second later, Joel hears a radio crackle and he sees a walkie talkie inside the man’s jacket — and the voice on the other end belongs to Kathleen. She’s telling her sniper to hold Henry and the others in position because reinforcements are coming.
Joel begins shouting down to the street to tell Ellie and the others to run but they get the message just as Kathleen and the Hunters arrive in trucks — including one that’s been retrofitted as a plow of sorts that just barrels through burned out and abandoned cars on the street. As the group runs towards the house where Joel is stationed, Ellie pulls out her gun and tries firing back at the truck but she’s unable to do any damage.
Thankfully just at the last second before Ellie and the others are run over, Joel’s able to snap off a round that breaks through the windshield and kills the driver in the plow truck. The vehicle soon loses control and crashes into a nearby house before exploding into flames.
That distraction allows Ellie, Henry and Sam to get further away and hide behind another card but soon enough Kathleen and her troops have cut off the street and there’s no way to escape.
Rather than allow them all to die, Henry finally stands up and surrenders to Kathleen while asking for mercy for the others in his group. Kathleen declines because the girl is with the person who killed two of her people and Sam is with Henry so nobody is making it out of this situation alive.
Kathleen tells Henry she understands why he did what he did but he probably should have considered that perhaps Sam was meant to die and saving him is what will ultimately get them both killed.
“Well, kids die, Henry. They die all the time. You think the whole world revolves around him? That he’s worth everything? Well this is what happens when you fuck with fate.”
Henry tells Ellie to take Sam and run as he stands up to face Kathleen, who pulls a gun and prepares to execute him. Joel continues to watch from the window to see if he can take a shot that will end Kathleen.
Before either thing can happen, the plow truck that crashed into a house and exploded then opens up into a sink hole in the street. Everyone looks at the trunk falling into the hole but a split second later they all hear a roar — and the infected soon come pouring out like roaches when the lights come on.
Perry and the soldiers begin firing their weapons but the infected are just coming at them in waves and the resistance army is quickly being overrun. Henry, Sam and Ellie run away with Joel trying to provide them cover with his sniper rifle from the nearby house.
As the resistance army continues fighting, Perry pushes Kathleen behind him to force her to find safety while he continues unloading round after round. That’s when he hears another loud roar and a rumbling from underneath the street — and then a huge arm comes pulling an even larger body out of the sinkhole.
What emerges is a bloater — the fourth and final stage of the infected but also the rarest case where a person has become a massive shell covered in fungus that almost acts like armor while what was once human underneath has grown into a hulking, powerful monster. Imagine “The Mountain” from “Game of Thrones” covered in bulletproof mushrooms.
The bloater rips through the soldiers before eventually getting to Perry, who runs out of bullets trying to take the creature down. Perry doesn’t last long after the bloater just rips his head in two before tossing him back to the ground.
As for Ellie, she’s forced to hide in a truck before an infected person gets inside with her and she has to flee again but thankfully Joel is able to once again save her from being torn apart. She then finds Henry and Sam hiding under an adjacent car with infected nipping at their feet so Ellie pulls out her knife and stabs each of them in the neck, which is an effective enough maneuver to slow down the fungus ridden creatures.
Just as Ellie, Henry and Sam make it out of the fighting, Kathleen catches up to them — and she has no intention of letting any of them escape. But Kathleen waits too long to pull the trigger because she doesn’t see the infected person come from behind as it leaps down upon her and begins feasting on her flesh.
As Kathleen screams out in terror, Ellie and the others are able to get away, reconnect with Joel and get out of the city.
After finding a safe house away from Kansas City, Ellie and Sam start reading a comic book together and Joel finally invites Henry and his brother to join them on the road to Wyoming. Henry is concerned about how Sam will bounce back from everything he’s just witnessed but Joel reminds him that children are resilient — he’ll move on far faster than either of them will.
Henry tells his brother it’s time to get some sleep because they’ve got long day ahead of them to begin walking towards Wyoming.
Rather than fall asleep, Ellie continues reading the comic to Sam, who interrupts her to ask why she never seems afraid. Ellie tells him that she’s scared all the time — that’s just the world they live in now. But more than anything, Ellie is terrified that she’ll end up alone.
As they exchange messages on a notepad, Sam finally writes one to Ellie before revealing a secret
“If you turn into a monster, is it still you inside?”
Sam then pulls up his pants leg and shows Ellie that he’s been bitten and the Cordyceps fungus is already infecting his body. Frantic after seeing the infection, Ellie shows him the bite mark on her own arm before slicing open her hand and slathering blood on the wound while explaining that she’s special and can provide him medicine to save his life.
Ellie then promises to sit up with Sam all night until the sun rises again.
The next morning, Ellie wakes up after obviously dozing off and she sees Sam sitting on the other side of his bed, staring out of an open window. When she approaches him, Sam turns and he’s transformed into one of the infected as he roars and jumps at her.
The children tumble into the next room with Ellie trying to fend off Sam but before Joel can pull his weapon, Henry has grabbed the gun and pointed it back at him. Joel can’t help Ellie as she tries to fight for her life but Henry finally comes to his sense, turns and fires directly at his brother.
Sam falls dead on the ground as a shocked Henry looks down at him.
Henry can’t fathom what he’s just done while Joel is begging him to hand over the gun. As Henry attempts to reconcile with his actions, he finally realizes that he can’t go on without his brother and he turns the gun on himself as Joel and Ellie watch him commit suicide.
Later that day after burying both Henry and Sam in their graves, Ellie finds Joel and drops his backpack down to him. She then lays the notepad down on Sam’s grave with a final message scribbled on it saying “I’m sorry.”
Ellie then starts walking west towards Wyoming and this time she’s anxious to get movie as Joel realizes more than ever before than this 14-year-old girl is never going to be the same again. She’s seen things no teenager should see and no amount of resiliency will ever allow Ellie to truly bounce back from the atrocities she’s witnessed.
Without saying another word, Joel loads up his backpack and weapons before joining Ellie on the long walk out west to Wyoming.
“The Last of Us” will return next Sunday night at its normal time at 9 p.m. on HBO