In the last episode, Joel took a break from the pain and suffering of loss! I’m sure that will continue in this episode, right? Why are you looking at me like that? Nothing bad could happen today. Right? RIGHT?!?!
Following the opening credits, we’re shown the liberation of Kansas City in a flashback. The people have risen up against FEDRA, overthrowing the ruling elite. Gnarly violence occurs, with FEDRA officers being skewered like pigs, hung, and tortured. The resistance of KC is running riot on these arseholes.
We left Ellie (Bella Ramsey) and Joel (Pedro Pascal) in a sticky situation, being ambushed by two people, an adult, and a child. These same two people are hiding, cowering from the liberators of Kansas City. The kid is scared and his carer tries to set him at ease in sign language. The little guy is deaf. They’re in trouble.
In the FEDRA base of operations, Kathleen (Melanie Lynskey) and Perry (Jeffrey Pierce) interrogate a cage full of people, imprisoned and scared. They’re traitors and informers who share the blame for the twenty years of tyranny that FEDRA has imposed. Kathleen asks where Henry is and one of the rats tells her that he escaped with Edelstein (the good doctor from the last episode), but he doesn’t know where.
Without remorse, Kathleen orders Perry to execute the collaborators and burn their bodies. Ruthless!
Henry (Lamar Johnson) and Sam (Keivonn Woodard) (who we now know are Eliie and Joel’s ambushers) meet up with Edelstein and set up their hideout, the attic of the building with the pulsating concrete. They have eleven days of rations left, enough to wait out the worst of the search parties and make their escape through the tunnels. Underground? Really, Henry?!
He promises Sam that they’re safe and nobody will find them.
Ten days later, the attic has been decorated with Sam’s paintings, mostly of superheroes. Edelstein is missing and he’s not coming back (he’s been captured by Kathleen). Sam’s getting hungry, and they only have one can left. Henry explains that they must leave and paints an orange mask on his brother. Superheroes can do anything!
They’re about to leave their refuge when the shootout at the laundromat happens. Henry sees a man who could, potentially, help them escape the city. New plan: follow Joel and convince him to help them.
And this is where we left off in the last episode.
Even now, when Joel is held at gunpoint, it feels like he has the power in the situation. He’s tense and has a resting asshole face, but he is more sure of himself than Henry. Ellie is more cooperative with their captors and chastises Joel for his attitude. Reluctantly, Joel agrees to join Henry to achieve their common goal: to leave Kansas City.
Our four heroes(?) get to know one another better. Henry tells Joel that he’s the worst kind of person, a collaborator. This did not sit well with Joel. How can he trust someone whose defining characteristic is betrayal? I mean, you wouldn’t let a man called Judas dogsit while you’re on holiday, would you?
Henry’s plan of exiting via maintenance tunnels also sounds pretty dicey, but at least we’re told why it could be a viable option. FEDRA drove the infected out of the city, first underground and then wholly eradicated. We have a little more information as the audience, don’t we?
But here we go!
The gang enters the tunnels cautiously, moving slowly down the narrow corridors. It’s claustrophobic. They proceed quietly until they find a door painted like an elementary school foyer. Joel takes the lead and opens the door carefully.
Oh. The tunnels were clear. Wow, that was unexpected! I for sure thought that Henry was going to be wrong given that pulsating concrete from the last episode! Winner, winner, chicken dinner!
Instead, we find an abandoned sanctuary within the tunnels, a hideout for a long-gone group of survivors. Toys and comics are found within and the roughly painted soccer goal on the wall shows that there were kids there. A drawing on the wall depicts the group’s protectors, Donny and Ish.
The mention of Ish got me as giddy as a schoolgirl. His character is learned about in the games through collectibles and it’s a mythology that The Last of Us video game fans revere. To find out more about his story, listen to the Watching Now: The Last of Us podcast, The Rest of Us. Lily, Erika, and Nick will be with you weekly to give you breakdowns, insights, and great theories wherever you get your podcasts on Tuesdays and on Youtube on Wednesdays.
Sam and Ellie then find another easter egg from the games: a Savage Starlight comic. This is where the “Endure and Survive” slogan originated. The two of them bond over their common interest.
Whilst the group waits for dusk, Henry tells Joel that he’s “the most wanted man in Kansas City” because he gave up the leader of the resistance, Kathleen’s brother. He had to have a chance of saving his baby brother from LEUKEMIA? Ok, what?! Maybe the good doctor diagnosed it, and perhaps they had something to treat it, but how likely in this post-apocalyptic wasteland is it that a kid survives a disease like that?
Regardless, Joel understands Henry a bit better now and sympathizes with his decision.
In the QZ, Kathleen ruminates on her decisions during and after the liberation of KC. She tells Perry that her brother, a genuinely good person, would be horrified by some of the things she’s done. He would tell her to forgive Henry. But she won’t. Perry agrees but reaffirms her position as leader. She was the one that toppled FEDRA, the strong, decisive leader that they needed.
Joel and the gang exit the tunnels and walk through an old suburban neighborhood. Henry, Sam, and Ellie are feeling good, maybe a little cocky. They’re home-free!
Nope. They’re under fire from a sniper down the street. This guy has stormtrooper aim, though, so they’re pretty safe while behind any sort of cover. In this case, it’s a rusty car. Joel realizes that the sniper’s skill is sub-par, so he makes a break for the back of the building, flanking him.
Joel creeps up on an old man with barely the eyesight to see five yards in front of him. Uncharacteristically, Joel gives the man a chance to live, which he declines before Joel puts him down. But, uh oh! Kathleen is on the way.
Correction, she’s here! With a convoy of backup. And what is essentially a tank!
Joel snipes the tank, missing most of his shots. Just as it looks like the armored vehicle has caught Ellie, Joel snipes the driver, causing it to crash into a nearby building and explode. It’s a small win because the rest of Kansas City has descended upon them.
Kathleen calls out to Henry, telling him that kids die sometimes. She tells him that the world does not revolve around one person and that the greater good has to be considered. Her teacher-like voice breaks for the first time, exposing her rage. Henry surrenders, hoping to spare Ellie and Sam, but Kathleen is feeling less than generous. They’ll die next.
Wait, what was that? The tank is sinking into the floor. How is this possible? There’s a tense pause before some familiar rumblings. INFECTED!! HOLY CRAP!!
A platoon of infected, both runners and clickers, burst from the sinkhole and immediately overrun Kathleen’s group. Then, it’s the BIG BOY! A bloater from the games (an oversized infected covered in armour of hardened cordyceps) emerges, terrifying everybody, especially our boy Perry. The coolest man in Coolsville tells Kathleen to escape before idiotically firing an assault rifle at the bloater. The bloater shrugs it off and catches Perry, ripping off his head exactly like they do to Joel in the game if you’re killed by one. Damn, that guy was my hero.
Covered by Joel with the Sniper rifle, Ellie tries to survive the chaos. She jumps through a car window, hoping to find safety. No, no, no, no, no, no, no. We have creepy kid clickers now? Creepy little kids give me nightmares! This one follows Ellie into the car and almost catches her before she exits and locks it inside.
Henry and Sam are in trouble, battling infected from underneath a car. Ellie sprints over, still covered by Joel, and stabs the infected with her switchblade. It’s precisely the animations that she has when killing clickers in the games. They escape to the outskirts of the battle before being stopped by Kathleen.
Kathleen is about to shoot when her own words come back to haunt her. Kids do die. And the creepy little kid clicker behind her is a testament to that. It mauls her to death. Buh-bye Kathleen. The horde of infected is seen walking towards Kansas City with most of its protection lying dead at its hands. And mouths.
We pick up with Joel and Henry, holed up in an old motel. Joel trusts Henry now, maybe even likes him, so he invites the former rat on their journey to Wyoming. Henry accepts.
In the bedroom, Ellie and Sam are reading Savage Starlight. They are becoming friends, but there’s something wrong with Sam. He’s asking heavy questions about fear and what happens to you when you get infected. He’s been bit, which he shows to Ellie. She confides that she’s also been bit and her blood is medicine. She slices her hand and mixes her blood with his before promising to stay awake with him to make sure it works. I’m thinking of an L.A. Noire meme… that’s right: Doubt!
When Ellie wakes, she thinks that it’s worked; Sam’s cured. It hasn’t worked, you nutcase! A newly turned Sam attacks Ellie and they fall into the other room. A scuffle ensues and Joel reaches for his gun. Henry stops him, but the cogs are turning. What can he do?
Henry shoots his brother. But he can’t live with himself, so he turns the gun on himself. Joel and Ellie are alone again. They bury their friends and walk away, onward to find Tommy.
Tears? What tears? Somebody is slicing onions next to me. No, sorry, I have an eyelash in my eye. Shut it! It’s sad!
I loved this episode. There was a lot to live up to with the video game content in Pittsburgh, but it delivered. In the game, Pittsburgh spans six or seven chapters. That’s three to five hours of gameplay crammed into these last two episodes. But we got what we needed.
Ellie and Joel grow closer and begin to trust each other completely. They meet a mirror of themselves, Henry and Sam, who they think they can grow close to but ultimately die. And all of the stuff in between? So good. The scene in the abandoned refuge was excellent, providing a lot of easter eggs found in the sewers in the game.
The changes from the game enhanced the story overall, although there are a couple of things I didn’t like.
The scene directly before Sam’s turning is different. Sam didn’t share the bite with Ellie, but this way is more powerful. It shows Ellie’s immaturity (come on! That’s not how medicine works!). It also depicts a closer bond between her and Sam and that makes what happens next even sadder.
Sam also wasn’t deaf in the game and, as far as we know, had never suffered from leukemia. His disability is an excellent addition to their story, but being a cancer survivor? It’s a tad too much. I already cared about him; he didn’t need any more tragedy in his life to make him more sympathetic!
We’re back to Joel losing everybody around him. And those people are indirectly giving him the same advice along the way. Tess: “Save who you can save.” Bill: “Find one person worth saving.” Henry: sacrificed everything for Sam. Everyone who isn’t friends with Joel contradicts this entirely (like Kathleen), but who’s he going to believe? I’m sure it won’t mean much in the end… Surely…
… And a freaking BLOATER! Squeeee!
Soup Rank: 9/10