Hello and welcome to this recap of The Last of Us, season one, episode five, Endure and Survive. Neither of which I feel like I succeeded on because I nearly cried myself to death by the end of it. This recap is, as always, a tag team between me, Valerie Anne, and Nic, just two queer nerds who love the snarky lesbian teen protagonist of this show, and also apparently are emotional masochists. There’s no other way forward but through, so let’s do this.
Nic: Previously on the The Last of Us, Ellie and Joel ran into a group of hunters (led by Melanie Lynskey) on their way out west, Ellie shot a guy real bad, Joel attempted to feel some feelings, Ellie made Joel laugh, and they were both woken up at gunpoint by two strangers.
Valerie: We open during a celebration, fireworks exploding, chants of “Fuck you FEDRA” filling the air. The people we have come to call the hunters have revolted. They’re beating on, shooting, and hanging FEDRA agents in the streets, taking over the QZ. The city belongs to the people now.
A man and a child hide. Henry and Sam, respectively. Henry speaks to Sam in sign language, telling him not to look at the carnage, explaining where they’re about to go next to hide. And I’m reminded yet again that ASL should be taught in all American schools, for obvious reasons like being able to communicate with the deaf and hard of hearing (and other people who might have trouble communicating verbally), but, less importantly, in case of a zombie apocalypse. Being able to communicate silently without the help of technology is a clutch skill Henry and Sam have.
Nic: I was ready to love Henry and Sam, but I sure was not ready to protect and die for them the moment we met them.
Valerie: In the overrun FEDRA base, Kathleen sits in a chair, looking down at a huddled group of collaborators. People who snitched on their peers to FEDRA agents for food or medicine or other such amenities. Kathleen puts on her sweetest voice she can muster and tells them that they’ll just have to do time for their crimes, but no one speaks up. It’s not until she orders Perry to kill them all that a man confesses to knowing where Henry is. He says Henry is with Edelstein, and Kathleen seems genuinely surprised to learn that Edelstein is a collaborator. Almost impressed, saying he was much more subtle than the rest of them.
Kathleen then hilariously insults this man for doing exactly what she asked him to do. Just, chef’s kiss, perfection. This whole scene, expertly written, expertly executed.
Nic: MELANIE FUCKING LYNSKEY killed this scene. The faux sweetness dripping off of every line, catching you off-guard until you realize the implications of what she’s actually saying?? A masterclass.
Valerie: When she leaves the room, Perry says a manhunt for Henry will take a lot of manpower, and with the revolution turning tides less than 24 hours ago, there’s other things to do. But Kathleen looks Perry in the eye and says Henry is her priority, and so it should be his as well.
As she starts to head out, Perry asks if they’re really going to put all the hostages on trial, and she says no, and suggests he burns their bodies when he’s done.
Meanwhile, Henry and Sam are indeed with Edelstein, the doctor from the last episode, who is hiding them in a sort of crawlspace in the apartment building. They don’t have enough ammo and they only have enough food for the three of them for 11 days, and then they can sneak out of the tunnels.
Edelstein asks if Sam is scared, and says if he is, he can see Henry is scared, too. So Henry goes to Sam and tells him he’s not scared, hoping his little Super Sam can find bravery in that. He gives him crayons and they start decorating their new temporary home.
Ten days later, the walls are full of superheroes and their stash is empty of food. There are still rebels everywhere, and Edelstein hasn’t returned for a whole day. Sam, being 8 and hungry, sasses his brother about being hungry in a way only a little brother could. Henry, frustrated and too young to be in this position, snaps back at him, saying they have to wait. And as an older sister who, from when I was about 8 to 18, used to have nightmares about how to keep my brother safe in an emergency and/or apocalypse, I felt this so hard. Almost immediately after snapping at Sam, Henry softens, and explains the situation to him, that Edelstein isn’t going to come back and that they need to go, but that he thinks he knows a safe way out because he’s been watching the hunters and their patterns.
Sam asks if they killed Edelstein, and when Henry confirms, Sam gives his big brother a hug. In return, Henry paints a superhero mask on his face.
Nic: Something that stood out to me about the way Henry talks to Sam is that he doesn’t shield him from the realities of the world they’re living in. He doesn’t make up a story about Edelstein getting lost or leaving them just to make Sam feel better; but it’s not in a callous or careless way. Sam understands the danger, but he can also see that his brother is doing his best to keep him safe from it.
Valerie: Yeah it was kind of refreshing of him to be honest! And one other thing I did want to note is that I feel like they do a good job of keeping both Henry and Sam’s hands in frame while they are signing. A lot of shows will cut away to favor the reaction of the non-signing person or unfathomably just zoom in too tightly onto the person’s face, which always feels rude to me. But I felt like it happened rarely if at all in this episode, which I appreciated.
Nic: Henry and Sam don’t make it very far from their hideout when Henry hears the sounds of gunfire and conflict, and we’re taken back to last week, but we get to see what Joel and Ellie’s confrontation with the Hunters looks like from another perspective. Henry and Joel appear to make eye contact before Henry ducks back out of sight to reassure his brother that they’re okay.
We’re just about caught up to the final scene of last episode as the brothers make their way through the “crunch crunch crunchwp_poststrap and into the room where Joel and Ellie are sleeping. It becomes clear very quickly though, that Henry is not as comfortable being the aggressor as the gun in his hand might make it seem. Ellie tries to diffuse the situation by hilariously insisting that Joel is gucci, it’s just that he has an asshole voice, and Joel does absolutely nothing to dispel that notion.
Valerie: This whole exchange was hilarious. Both Henry calling out that Joel had a weird tone and Ellie trying to defend him while also mocking him.
Nic: Eventually Henry tells Sam that he trusts these strangers, so the kids and Not!Dads settle in for an evening of snacks and introductions.
I love the shades of duality we get to see between Joel and Ellie and Henry and Sam. Both duos include a child and a caretaker, both have their own unique ways of communicating and coping in an impossible situation, and both are just doing their absolute best to protect each other. Once Sam sees that Henry lets his guard down, he does the same, and Ellie asks questions to get to know them. Surprising no one though, Joel is a bit slower to trust and is ready to send them on their way until Henry correctly guesses that they’re waiting until it’s light out to scope a way out of the city. And lucky for them, Henry knows one.
The next morning, they get an honestly gorgeous view of Killer City, and we learn that KC FEDRA was some of the worst out there. After 20 years of being taken advantage of in every way imaginable, the city rose up against them. And while Henry wasn’t FEDRA, he was a collaborator, which in Joel’s mind is ten times worse. But for today, this snitch’s stitches will have to wait because he holds the key to their escape. Despite being the most wanted man in KC, Henry reiterates that he’s not violent and needs Joel’s help to clear the way out of the city. Their strategy session is soon interrupted by the almost unrecognizable sounds of laughter; Ellie and Sam are doing their own bonding over their shared love of a comic.
Henry lays out their plan with a roughly drawn map that really made me miss Valerie’s D&D sketches when we were in a campaign together.
Valerie: I miss making those maps. I’m a big fan of cartography, turns out.
Nic: Because they’re boxed in by highways, they figure they can get out of dodge using maintenance tunnels since they’re never guarded because Kathleen thinks the tunnels are still overrun by infected. Henry knows this plan will work though, because his source told him the tunnels were cleared out 3 years ago and they’re totally clean. But just in case there are any stragglers, Henry knows Joel and Ellie can handle it, especially since they fought 2 clickers and lived to tell the tale. It might be a dicey plan, but it’s the only one they’ve got.
Valerie: The new fabulous foursome heads to the building that has the tunnel entrance, and as they descend I can’t help but remember the breathing floor Kathleen swept under the metaphorical rug last week, rendering me STRESSED AS HELL.
Joel tells Ellie to get her gun out, and Ellie looks so proud but Joel looks annoyed that it was in her pocket. And also unamused that she was so excited, probably.
Nic: That interaction is one of many reasons I cannot multitask while watching this show. The looks on their faces change so quickly and show the kind of shorthand they’ve already developed.
Valerie: Henry is probably equal parts excited and relieved when the tunnels seem empty, but Joel tells him not to count his chickens before they hatch. Henry says “Your dad is kind of a pessimist,” and Ellie and Joel are QUICK to inform him that Joel is NOT Ellie’s father.
Nic: Sorry to interrupt again, but I read that as “clickerswp_postsbefore they hatch and LOLOL not incorrect!
Valerie: First of all, stop apologizing. You “interrupting” is the whole point of the JOINT recap!! Second of all, that’s way funnier, I should have said, “don’t count his clickers before they hatch.” Thanks for punching me up!
They find a door with children’s drawings around it, and Sam excitedly goes to open it, but Joel dad-arms him back and opens it carefully. They don’t find any infected inside, just an abandoned classroom. A leftover relic from the early days of the outbreak, when some communities moved underground. Ellie wants to rest here for a little while, and Henry convinces Joel by explaining that it would be better to leave as the sun goes down anyway.
Sam finds the comics Ellie has been collecting and they bond, it’s so cute. Sam teaches Ellie how to say the comic’s tagline in sign language. Endure and survive.
Ellie and Sam play soccer in the makeshift goal while Joel and Henry watch over them. At one point while Ellie is playing, Joel looks down at his watch. His watch that hasn’t worked in 20 years, his watch that he knows full well doesn’t tell time. His watch that reminds him of his daughter.
Valerie: Henry and Joel are sitting in silence, but Joel is uncharacteristically the one to break the silence. He says that if Sam is why Henry was a collaborator, he takes back what he said before, that he gets it. Henry explains that Sam had leukemia and he had to give up something big to get the medicine he needed, so he gave up the leader of the resistance, a good man…and Kathleen’s brother.
Henry asks Joel if he’s a bad guy, but he doesn’t wait for an answer. He’s sure he knows it. He did a “bad guy thing” so he must be a bad guy. It’s this that reminds me that Henry is barely older than a kid himself.
Henry can tell Joel was a father, even if he isn’t Ellie’s, but Joel isn’t quite ready to talk about that yet, so he says it’s time to go.
NEXT PAGE: Heartbreak, obviously!