The Last of Us HBO episode 4 recap: Ellie on her own terms


Note: My name is Jane Park. I’m a reporter covering gaming culture for The Washington Post. I’m following “The Last of Us” from the perspective of someone who has played all the games (more than once).

If you missed Joel and Ellie in the previous episode, this one brings them back together with the title “Please Hold My Hand.” This is also the episode in which Bella Ramsey’s Ellie is finally allowed to be more of herself, and it clears the way for her to connect with the show’s other main character, Joel.

We start with Ellie pointing at her newly acquired pistol in the mirror. Wearing a green jacket, it echoes the iconic scene from Martin Scorsese’s “Taxi Driver,” with Robert De Niro’s famous “Are you talking to me?” speech Unlike that movie’s Travis Bickle, Ellie admires her gun with childlike curiosity, making pew-pew noises and examining every aspect of her weapon. And excites him.

Joel is getting fuel for his truck, obtained from Bill and Frank’s property. A very bored Ellie decides to bombard Joel with a book of puns, which is also featured in the video game. The way Ellie stares down Pedro Pascal’s exasperated Joel between punch lines is a great display of how Ramsey captures Ellie’s growing insistence, but it’s also very funny. Ellie’s eyes widen, and her mouth and jawline tighten with anticipation as she blurts out one bad sentence after another. So far, Ellie is the closest thing to comic relief on this show, and this episode is Ramsey’s time to flex those muscles.

The pair go through various scenes of ruined Americana, including the second mention of Arby’s in the show’s second consecutive episode. Camping out for the night, Ellie pulls out another pan, and Joel responds with a punch line with a smile that Ellie doesn’t see. Unlike the game, it seems to be going a little faster for Joel Alli. This is presented again when Ellie expresses her fear of what might happen at night. Instead of sleeping, we see Joel standing on the watch with his rifle.

As the couple heads further west toward Joel’s brother’s last known location in Wyoming, Ellie asks Joel why he became separated from his brother. Joel says it’s a long story, to which Ellie replies, “Is it longer than 25 hours because that’s what we got.” Ellie looks at Joel. His eyes darted down the road and back to Joel. She’s not letting him go. Joel once again abandons his tough guy self, and points out that Tommy has always had a brave but foolish streak, finding purpose in causes. The first was the 1990 Iraq War. Next was fireflies and the search for a cure. This idealism created a rift between the brothers.

So far we’ve spent a good 15 minutes with Joel and Ellie having conversations that weren’t in-game. After solidifying their relationship, the show eventually returns to the story of the game, except in Pittsburgh, the couple moves to Kansas City, Mo. arrives in, a more sensible point on the way to Wyoming. In a scene ripped straight from the play, the pair encounter a man pretending to be hurt, and the citizens of Kansas City, now free from federal military rule, jump in. They crash the truck, and the firefight inside the laundromat is lifted straight from the game. Joel shoots one of the attackers, which angers the rest of the pack. This echoes how the enemy combatants in other games react, calling out the name of their fallen comrade in an attempt to humanize Joel and Ellie’s “villain” as others survive. trying to

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It ends very differently from the firefight game, with Ellie shooting an attacker from Joel. The militia that now rules Kansas City discovers the death left in the wake of Joel and Ellie’s arrival, and reports to Kathleen, played by Melanie Lynskey. Kathleen is the leader of the Kansas City Resistance that successfully overthrows and ends federal military rule. Now she’s bent on finding the “colleagues” who hijacked the army. She is particularly interested in a man named Henry, who is responsible for her brother’s death. Without mercy or hesitation, Kathleen interrogates then kills her own family doctor in search of Henry.

Ellie shooting another man is actually a scene removed from the game in another sequence. But the show combines her two character moments. It’s also a skillful, clever execution, as it helps establish the growing guilt within Joel about his ability to protect Ellie not only from dangerous elements, but from the trauma of the violence around her. Is. Joel tries to talk Ellie out of his feelings, but admits he’s not very good at it. “Yeah, you’re not really,” Ellie replied in another hilarious line.

Kathleen and her right-hand man Perry (played by Jeffrey Pearce, who played Tommy in the game) find a hideout for Henry, and we learn that he’s looking after someone named Sam. Is. Perry also mentioned something else: There’s some growing activity in the Kansas City underground that’s related. Kathleen doesn’t care, because she’s dead set on revenge against Henry.

Joel and Ellie enter and climb a tall building to find a way out of the city, and decide to camp inside for the night. The episode is once again bookended by the bonding of the two. Ellie tells a joke about diarrhea, and Joel can’t help himself – he laughs, and Ellie finally gets the win she’s been searching for for hundreds of miles. She’s getting under his skin and into his heart. Suddenly, the couple wakes up with a gun to their faces. Joel, Ellie and the audience now meet Henry and Sam.

Some notes and observations:

  • Kathleen’s resistance is an entirely new element to the show. In the game’s Pittsburgh, we knew nothing of the organized humans in the city, other than that they successfully overthrew the federal army. Here, we see their plight and struggle through Kathleen’s eyes, as she suffered greatly under military rule. It feels similar to the wolf army feature from another game, and adds some welcome initial depth to how humans respond to military rule in other cities.
  • Henry and Sam are also introduced differently. In the game, Henry attacks Joel, mistaking him for one of the violent resistance members. After seeing Eli, he realizes that he is not one of the “bad guys”. Here, the two brothers jump on both Joel and Ellie, and we still don’t understand anything about their intentions for doing so. It’s probably the weakest closing shot of the season so far, but at least the audience is treated to a warm and cozy moment between our two main characters.
  • There is a sense of wonder as Ellie discovers elements of the old world. She scarfs down canned ravioli and remarks how Chef Boyardi was “nice.” When Joel gets frustrated at not being able to read the road map, she returns that it’s her second day in the car. Joel may be our driving protagonist, quite literally for the first part of the episode, but Ellie is the audience’s surrogate in understanding this world.

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