The Last of Us recap episode four – ambush in Kansas!

This article contains spoilers for The Last of Us TV series. Do not read unless you have seen episodes one to four

After the heartbreaking spectacle of Bill and Frank’s two-hander, here we saw Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey) return to centre stage as they embarked on an epic road trip and adjusted to life post-Tess.

All was going swimmingly until they got to Kansas City, where the highways were blocked and they needed to find a detour. Of course, this being The Last of Us, nothing can go to plan. After a quick gunfight, in which Joel swiftly took out two of their attackers, a third took advantage of Joel’s poor hearing to creep up and get the better of him. Thankfully, Ellie, who had been pleading for a gun, had squirrelled one away while rooting around at Bill’s place and used it, saving Joel. I’m sure he wanted to be disappointed, but how could be anything other than pleased. Later, he gave his ward a few pointers on stance and grip for her troubles.

Ellie, meanwhile, said she had killed before. Whoever could she mean? (I don’t think she was referring to that trapped infected she stabbed in the head in the bunker.)

We then met Kathleen (Yellowjackets star Melanie Lynskey), leader of a local band of revolutionaries who have seemingly risen up to overthrow the Federal Disaster Response Agency (Fedra), which has control of the city, and dismantle the quarantine zone. The group’s rule is every bit as terrifying as Fedra’s, with Kathleen hellbent on finding Henry (Lamar Johnson) and his kid brother, Sam (Keivonn Woodard). Quite why isn’t clear (something about giving information to Fedra), but she does talk to the doctor about her brother being beaten to death, and reels off a list of names of people she is looking for – “collaborators” – later rushing back to the cell to calmly shoot the doctor dead. She may have an utterly unthreatening voice, but don’t be fooled – this is one ruthless individual.

As the militia searched high and low for the boys and the mystery outsiders we know to be Joel and Ellie, we saw a strange undulation in the ground. Never a good sign, especially in the survival horror genre … “When do we tell the others?” said Kathleen’s beardy right-hand man, Perry (Jeffrey Pierce). “Not yet,” said Kathleen. “Let’s handle what we have to handle. We can deal with this after.” That definitely sounds like a sensible suggestion that won’t come back to bite you.

Ambush city limits

As Joel and Ellie made their way to the top of that terrifying looking staircase – I was fully expecting something to be waiting for them as they ascended – Ellie seemed shocked to learn a bit more about her travelling partner. Joel was so quick to spot the earlier ambush because he had done similar things with Tommy and Tess in the past. He is also 56, and his hearing is probably even worse than he has let on, a result of firing too many guns.

Ellie wasn’t the only one with questions, though, with Joel picking up on something Ellie had said earlier about hurting people. “What did you mean that it wasn’t your first time?” he asked. “I don’t want to talk about it,” came her reply, while his attempt at reassurance fell flat when he admitted that this life doesn’t get any easier as you get older. It’s the nearest they have come to a normal conversation and, ultimately, bonding. Thanks to the minimal script and excellent performances from Pascal and Ramsey, it’s wholly believable.

They drifted off, but Joel’s hearing is totally kaput – not even his glass-on-the-floor trick stopped Henry and Sam sneaking up on them. What a sight to wake up to; two boys holding pistols. Let’s hope they are not as dangerous as Kathleen believes them to be. I have a feeling they’re not …

Notes and observations

  • One person commenting on the recap of the first episode suggested it was ridiculous that petrol-powered cars still worked in a world without petrol production, correctly stating that fuel has a shelf life. It was nice for that to be addressed here, with Joel explaining why he and Ellie had to stop to siphon petrol so often. “It’s basically water.” Bleak_T_W, I hope you enjoyed that one.

  • I liked Joel’s attempt at explaining how siphons work. Something, something gravity is about the extent of my understanding, too.

  • Ellie’s book, No Pun Intended: Volume Too, is straight from the video game. It was an artefact first seen as a collectible in The Last of Us Pt I and later the expansion spin-off The Last of Us: Left Behind. It was written by Will Livingston.

  • The Hank Williams song that played in the truck was the aptly titled Alone and Forsaken.

  • Lincoln, Massachusetts, where Joel and Ellie picked up Bill’s truck, is about 2,500 miles from Jackson, Wyoming, where they are heading. On a good run, with efficient fuel and no militia roadblocks, it would take about 39 hours to drive.

  • If you think eating 20-year-old tinned ravioli is bad, here’s a video of someone eating 90-year-old canned soup.

  • Jeffrey Pierce, who plays Perry, provided the voice of Tommy in the video games. He was cast as Joel’s brother after initially auditioning for the part of Joel.

  • The closing song was a cover of New Order’s True Faith by Lotte Kestner. (That link is safe, but a word of warning to anyone hoping to find out more about that cover version: spoilers abound and the YouTube comments section is not your friend!)

What did you think of episode four? Enjoying things so far? Who are Henry and Sam? What is that underground? Have your say below …