The Last of Us is proving itself to be one of HBO’s stand out drama series with each episode it continues to amaze in its ability to take an already incredible story and make it even better. Without knowing anything about the game, the series works so perfectly on its own. This weeks episode had a strong focus on Joel and Ellie and their complicated but ever-increasingly tender relationship as their safety is compromised once more with the arrival of Henry (Lamar Johnson) and Sam (Keivonn Woodard).
In a flashback to ten days previous we watch the story of Henry and Sam unfold and what led them to the moment they discover Joel and Ellie asleep and hold them at gun point. Turns out, they were collaborators too and Henry shot Kathleen’s brother to provide more leukaemia medicine for Sam. Kathleen is beyond pissed about this and is willing to commit a string of ruthless murders until she finds Henry. We don’t know how Kathleen ended up in such a position of power that she has swathes of people bending to her will, but she is not to be messed with.
Once its clear that Joel and Ellie are not a threat to Henry or Sam and are actually quite solid potential allies to their escape from the city, they team up and head through the tunnels to reach the city limits. Once there we have one of the games most iconic and difficult stealth challenges as there is a sniper up high, relentlessly shooting at them. Players of the game will remember how infuriating this challenge was as you made your way behind the cars and into the tall building. Joel makes it look like a walk in the park and once in, takes out the sniper. He then realises that Kathleen and her army are only minutes away from their location and Joel isn’t down on the ground to protect them. The scene that follows is so intense as Ellie, Henry and Sam have to hide, however what no one was expecting was the emergence of hundreds of runners from underground who obliterate most of Kathleen’s army, and we see our first bloater. A super-runner who is REALLY hard to kill, trust us. While Ellie dodges her way through the bloodbath unfolding in front of her, she has Joel as a guardian from above ruthlessly taking out anyone or anything who gets to close to her. She rescues Henry and Sam from under a car and they all reunite and head out of the city. What a happy ending…
But wait. As intense and sensationally executed the preceding action scene was, the more memorable moment of the episode comes next. If you’ve played the game and its been a while, you may have forgotten the fate that befell Henry and Sam, but lovely little Sam was bitten. But the thing that makes this pill so hard to swallow is that he has developed such a strong bond with Ellie, in a matter of days she has become a big sister to him, someone closer to his age who isn’t only focussed on survival, someone who allows him to be a kid and laugh at dumb comic books and play practical jokes. Someone to confide, someone he doesn’t have to be strong for. Ellie is all of that to Sam and Sam is all of that to Ellie too. So in the episodes final moments, the heartbreak that she feels hits really hard.
Bella Ramsey is proving herself to be the absolute stand out choice for Ellie, she has become Ellie and all that she embodies and has taken the character further to someone who is so deeply enjoyable to watch on screen. She and Joel are at the beginning of a long road to Wyoming where much, much more is going to test them.
Take a look at the preview for the next episode. The Last of Us continues on HBO on Sunday nights.