After collectively picking up pieces of our hearts from last week’s masterpiece of an episode, The Last of Us is seemingly back on track with its story. It might feel like a pitstop, but a lot of ground got covered here. We got development on the Joel and Ellie dynamic while introducing characters from the game, Henry and Sam.
The Last of Us Episode 4 is now on HBOMax. If you missed last week’s episode, read our review to catch up.
This review will contain full spoilers for the entire episode.
Story: Escaping the Rebels
This episode focuses on Joel and Ellie trying to travel to Wyoming to find Tommy. They try to make their way through Kansas City, but encounter rebels that overthrown FEDRA. The core of the story deals with the relationship of Joel & Ellie. To finally see them connect and start to bond is wonderful to see. I’m happy it started with the gun that Ellie took in the last episode because I thought it would have gone in a different direction. The “liar revealed” trope where Joel would distrust her more and be distant. Instead, it led to them starting to open up about their darkness.
While that was going on, we dealt with the emerging threat of the rebellion. It’s interesting to see another side to this apocalypse as we see people going against the government. I didn’t know what Melanie Lynskey’s character would be like since it’s an original character, but now we know it’s a great villain. Someone who felt forced to take control as she has an iron grip of the city. Anytime that you can make the human characters more terrifying than the actual monsters is a good sign you’re doing something right.
Characters & Performances: Bonding Together
The instances where Joel starts dropping his facade of not caring are some of my favorite moments from this episode. The way that he’s shocked by how Ellie mentions that it wasn’t the first time that she used a gun. In that moment, Joel drops his facade of not caring and slowly opens up to Ellie. He appears heartless, but this is the same person who was a father to a girl around Ellie’s age. Realizing that she’s been through hell like himself makes Joel pause and thinks about Ellie’s life through her shoes. That and the diarrhea joke at the end with Joel laughing hard at how dumb Ellie’s pun is a perfect moment of levity.
Cinematography & Sound: Kansas City Ruins
Just like how Boston was, the shots of Kansas City were breathtaking and also terrifying. You know with the bombings and the outbreak that the city has been through the ringer, but what separates it from Beantown is the rebellion. The added details throughout shows how they were able to rebel and the impact afterwards. Torn up FEDRA uniforms on the soldiers with them driving around town alongside messages like “We the People.” The level of details is insane and shows that the creators know what to do with a massive budget.
Alone & Forsaken
The song “Alone and Forsaken” by Hank Williams has an interesting history intertwined with The Last of Us. It’s been featured in one of the main trailers for the first game and was the song for the teaser trailer for the show. The song is a perfect representation of Joel as a character. The themes of dealing with loneliness and isolation with begging the lord for help sums up Joel’s journey. Having the song with the montage of the duo traveling in their car with the desolated shots of landscape was stunning.
Editing & Pacing: Two Different Paths
This episode feels like a two parter with episode 5 looking like it’ll conclude the Kansas City storyline. With that, there’s a lot of setting up with the rebels and their situation. While interesting, it felt like we were watching a spinoff instead. It’s crazy to say that because episode 3 only had Joel and Ellie for 15% for the time, we got a self-contained story of Bill and Frank.
In this situation, we only got a chunk of Kathleen’s situation while balancing Joel and Ellie. Granted, this is the shortest episode we’ve gotten so far at 45 minutes so the show had to do a lot with so little time. Maybe after watching part two of this story, it’ll flow better in context.