The Last of Us episode 4 review: Vengeance At All Costs

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The fourth episode of HBO’s The Last of Us takes us further across America as Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey) travel to find Joel’s younger brother Tommy (Gabriel Luna) to hand Ellie to the Fireflies. As they travel, the pair run into a few roadblocks as they travel out of the safety of the surrounding areas of the quarantine zones. With just the two of them, Joel and Ellie finally start to show more of their relationship as Joel explains the harshness of the world. It’s interesting to see the true decay of the world as the pair drive through. From collapsed bridges, abandoned roller coasters and decay everywhere. Yes, the Quarantine Zones were bleak, and grey, but the world outside was overgrown in green. It’s almost as if Earth is returning to its natural state. The different locations are a stark contrast, but they all create beautiful symbolism in the world of The Last of Us that not only highlights the different locations, but the different nature of the groups and people we have encountered on Ellie and Joel’s journey. 

As viewers follow Joel and Ellie into an abandoned Quarantine Zone, Ellie learns that there is more to fear than the infected. Game fans will know at this point, we meet the hunters, but like any adaptation, this has been slightly altered, but more on that further down. Joel and Ellie escape an ambush attempt, but not completely unscathed. As cries and pleading can be heard, viewers will get a glimpse into Joel’s past, before he and Tess were black market smugglers. Joel’s priority is to protect Ellie, not just physically but emotionally. The world they are in is a harsh one, one where survival comes at a cost, but Joel will pay it as long as Ellie survives. As Joel steps into the role of protector, it signals a change in their relationship. Ellie is no longer just cargo; she is a young girl who has already seen too many horrors of the world.

Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey) in The Last of Us episode 4

So far, the changes HBO has made have been perfect. They’ve added to the story and expanded on key parts like any perfect adaptation should do. From expanding more, the Quarantine Zone life, episode four gives us new insight into the hunters and introduces Kathleen (Melanie Lynskey) and Perry (Jeffery Pierce, also Tommy in the game!). Unlike in the game, The Hunters are more organised, more disciplined than in the game. It’s almost as if they are their own militia, following the orders of Kathleen. This organisation seems to have rid Kansas City of any infected but also any unwanted guests. The hunters are organised and effective, but the show lacks showing their barbarity. We see their thirst for revenge through Kathleen and how it dominates her actions and mind but more time should have been spent on the hunters even if it was a few more minutes to see how ferocious they can be.

Another change that is spoken about at length by the hunters is Henry (Lamar Johnson). In the game, Henry is trying to escape the Hunters. Henry and his little brother Sam (Keivonn Woodard) left Hartford after the military abandoned them, but were ambushed by The Hunters. In the series, Henry seems to be hiding from a revolutionary movement, seeking vengeance in Kansas City. Throughout the series, Henry is established more as a threat to the Hunters than he ever was in the game, so much so, the Hunters prioritise finding him overlooking for Joel and Ellie. This addition for Henry and Sam establishes them more within the world of the last of us, rather than just happening by Joel and Ellie by chance. As with all the changes, expanding on Henry and Sam weaves them into the story naturally and gives them more drive, instead of a chance encounter. With Joel now bonding and protecting Ellie, Joel and Henry clearly are going down very similar paths.

Kathleen (Melanie Lynskey) in The Last of Us episode 4

Fans of the game had been waiting for Joel and Ellie to have a friendship and bond like they do in the game, and it’s safe to say, this episode delivers that. From scenes in the game that viewers will like (though feels slightly forced and out of place, but still great to see as a game fan), episode 4 cements that compassion Joel and Ellie have for one another through different ways, but the best way to break the ice is a good old fashioned joke book.

Episode 4 is a great episode, but it is expected to be the shortest episode in the series, with a running time of just 45 minutes. Not too much happens in the show, but one thing I felt that was missing was the ruthlessness of the Hunters. In the game, Joel and Ellie come across what would be best described as their storage. Filled with the bodies, clothing and belongings of people they have killed just because they dared to cross into their territory was something I felt the show needed. Kathleen has this quiet fierceness to her, but I think an extra 10 minutes of showing viewers why these people aren’t welcoming would have had more of an impact on the episode. Given that this episode was more likely to establish and build upon Joel and Ellie’s relationship, Joel and Ellie’s banter makes up for a lot in this episode.

Perry (Jeffrey Pierce) in The Last of Us episode 4

Kathleen is the MVC of the episode, she has this quiet fierceness and ruthlessness that hopefully we have only just started to see. Joel and Ellie’s relationship aside, her scenes were the most interesting in the show! Although we just met her in this episode, you’ll be wanting to see more of Kathleen.


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