The Last of Us
Season 1, Episode 4
Please Hold to My Hand
After abandoning their truck in Kansas City, Joel and Ellie attempt to escape without drawing the attention of a vindictive rebel leader.
Warning: This episode contains graphic violence
The story opens with Ellie practicing with her weapon in the mirror and looking pleased during a rest stop while the two are en route to Jackson, Wyoming. Ellie’s demeanor and seeming joy in practicing her weaponry feels both eerie and humorous. Her childlike posturing is no different from any youth with a new toy, however the necessity and danger that is inherent to the device she holds contradict any notions of fun that is displayed. One is also left wondering if she has had previous weapons training.
As they travel Joel and Ellie bond over jokes that Ellie reads from a book she’s acquired; “No Pun Intended” by Will Livingston. I reimagined cut scene from the game is also played out involving a Hank Williams song and a special magazine. Later, the two discuss Tommy and his history, as well as the meaning of life in a post-apocalyptic society. I really enjoy the way this show expounds upon the characters and give depth to their actions.
Soon, they find themselves trapped on a blocked highway I-35 in Kansas City. The first thing they notice is that the FEDRA QZ appears abandoned. In an attempt to get back on the highway they drive through the city and run into armed gunmen from a powerful resistance group. The two then spend their time in an attempt to make their way out of the city while avoiding their new enemies.
Meanwhile, Kathleen, the leader of the Kansas City Resistance, desperately searches to find information on the whereabouts of a man named Henry, who is wanted for his role with FEDRA. After the discovery of a murder, her sites turn toward Joel and Ellie in order to exact revenge.
There are a myriad of happenings in this world building, plot heavy episode. First is the relationship growth between Joel and Ellie. Since there first encounter, Joel has done his best to maintain a distance from what he considers his “cargo.” As they travel together and learn more about each other, his wall slowly starts to crack. And after a terrible encounter, his emotions begin to surface, and he views her as the youth she is. It’s a turning point that will have enormous aftereffects, especially as it allows the viewer to connect more with Joel psyche.
Then, there is the story of Kathleen and the Kansas City Resistance. In a slight departure from the game, the characters of Kathleen and Perry are introduced, bringing humanity and history to a group that, in the game, was depicted solely as a new series of obstacles for Joel and Ellie to overcome. Kathleen is a ruthless killer when it comes to her enemies, however they are glimpses of her compassionate side as she mourns the loss of one of her own. As she is an older character, it is obvious that she was a survivor of the pandemic and one can only guess what devastation caused her to become the woman she is. Perry, played by Jeffrey Pierce (the voice of Tommy in the game), acts as her voice of reason. I feel like these two characters act as mirrors to the relationship between Joel and Tess. Whether they are seen as villains or heroes really depend on what lens you look through.
Finally, I would be remiss if I did not mention the production quality and game related aspect of this episode. There are so many scenes that felt just like the game play, and I am sure fans of the original “The Last of Us” were excited to see the respect shown toward it. Although the city was changed from Pittsburgh to Kansas City, and their human enemies were changed from Hunters to resistance, the nature of the obstacles and enormity of danger remained the same. I was especially excited to see the highway scene and subsequent chase as they looked so much like the game, even down to the weapon choices. Also, I must give props to the audio team, and writers, as the shouts and comments from the resistance during their battle scenes mimicked the game 1 to 1. Overall, I felt this action packed episode was both entertaining and heart-rendering.
Stay tuned for an “Inside the Episode” segment for additional contact that breaks down the dynamics of the program’s creation and the major changes from the videogame.