The Last of Us (Season 1), Episode 4: With the heartbreaking story of Bill and Frank behind us, this week’s ‘The Last of Us’ episode reintroduces us to the dystopia that is its world. As Joel and Ellie step out into the larger world, new dangers emerge in the form of hostile factions and more evolved forms of the Infected (yes, Bloaters!), who will surely show up in the next episode.
As a means of balancing these threats, the showrunners focus on Joel and Ellie gradually getting closer to each other in this episode. He now realizes that she isn’t a passive liability but an ally in his search for Tommy. And she is starting to like Joel as a protective figure whom she clearly cares for. Her infamous joke book makes its first appearance and proves to be a crucial component of this emerging bond as Joel finally learns to let down his guard around her.
The Last of Us (Season 1), Episode 4 Recap:
Ellie acclimatizes to wielding a firearm using the gun she snuck into her backpack at Bill and Frank’s. The two have stopped at a wrecked gas station where Joel is siphoning gasoline from abandoned vehicles. Ellie has found Will Livingstone’s ‘No Pun Intended – Volume Too,’ a book of jokes that’ll provide some campy comic relief to her and Joel’s journey, somewhat to the latter’s annoyance at the silliness of the jokes. Ellie gives Joel a cassette of Hank Williams’s songs back in the truck, much to his joy. She also finds a pornography magazine in the truck that obviously belonged to Bill and jokes with Joel about its contents
The two stop to spend the night in a forest. The food supplies Joel picked up at Bill and Frank’s means that the two can eat quite well, a rarity for them given that they both, until recently, lived in a Quarantine Zone. Joel refuses to light a campfire lest it attracts Raiders. Ellie is worried about being attacked at night. But Joel reassures her they won’t be, and certainly not by the Infected in such a remote spot. After she falls asleep, he stays up all night with a gun, guarding her.
The next morning, Ellie discovers that coffee isn’t a beverage to her liking as they continue their journey. Joel suspects Tommy to be in Cody, Wyoming, where his last signal came, or a settlement nearby. Joel tells Ellie about how Tommy was always an overenthusiastic romantic, all too keen to save the world. Right after high school ended, he joined the army, which didn’t fulfill his dreams as he was shipped off to Iraq during Desert Storm.
Following the outbreak, he convinced Joel to join a group heading for Boston. Out of concern for Tommy’s safety, Joel agreed. The two met Tess in that group, and later, Tommy met Marlene. She convinced him to join the Fireflies, which he did as his youthful dreams were evoked by their promises. But at present, he has left the Fireflies and is on his own. Ellie tries to see if Joel’s cynicism can be reduced but is silenced by him simply calling her ‘cargo.’
Their path meets a dead end at a blocked tunnel in Kansas City. Joel decides to enter the city by working their way around the tunnel. Ellie, confused about how to use a map inside a city, can’t help Joel, who keeps driving all over the place. Piles of burnt corpses lying in the open presage danger. On reaching the city’s QZ, they’re surprised to find no FEDRA soldiers and the place seemingly deserted. When an injured man asks for help, Joel knows it’s an ambush by Hunters.
Crashing his car into a shop, Joel and Ellie are cornered by some Hunters shooting at them. Joel makes Ellie hide in the adjacent shop and then kills two of them. But he’s soon assaulted by a third Hunter, who almost chokes him to death. But Ellie sneaks up on him and uses her gun. The injured Hunter, Bryan, begs for his life to be spared. However, Joel kills him after asking Ellie not to be a witness to that brutality. The two stealthily make their way around the city as other Hunters are made aware of their comrades’ death.
In what was previously a FEDRA prison, a woman named Kathleen interrogates an old doctor about the whereabouts of families who lived in the QZ. The doctor is suspected of being a FEDRA collaborator, informing them about possible rebellious activity amongst the inhabitants of a QZ. He denies knowing anything about where they are at present, not having seen anyone since a particular night whose details aren’t divulged. Kathleen’s anger is fuelled by the fact that her own brother was ratted out to FEDRA, who then killed him.
She asks him about where a man named Henry is. But the old man claims that he doesn’t know anything, displeasing her. The doctor delivered Kathleen when she was born, a fact he uses to appeal to her humanity as she seems bent on avenging her brother for the wrong she believes the doctor did to him.
Outside, Kathleen is antagonized at the sight of their dead allies. Her second-in-command, Perry, believes outside mercenaries to be behind this attack. She thinks it’s Henry who must have contacted them via radio and brought them over to the city. Kathleen leads a heavily-armed faction of Hunters, who have no ties to FEDRA or Fireflies and operate within Kansas City. She kills the doctor for not giving her the requisite information on Henry, which she believes is what got her soldiers killed. An all-out search for Joel and Ellie (who they think are dangerous mercenaries) begins as the Hunters search for them in buildings across town.
Hiding inside a house, Joel tries to calm Ellie down about her shooting someone for the first time. Ellie admits to Joel that Bryan is not the first person she has shot. He isn’t quite adept at giving a pep talk. Nevertheless, he teaches Ellie how to hold a gun, realizing the importance of her having a weapon. Ellie is pleased with the lesson she gets and remains grateful for him finally allowing her to carry a weapon.
The Last of Us (Season 1), Episode 4 Ending, Explained:
Perry takes Kathleen to an attic where Henry and his younger brother, Sam, were previously hiding. She asks him to guard their provisions storage more carefully to catch them. Perry’s concern, though, is something else entirely.
He takes her to a room in a building where a large cracked spot on the floor seems to be moving, possibly housing a Bloater who will come out soon enough. This petrifies both of them. Kathleen still prioritizes the search and asks Perry not to inform the others about this imminent danger.