Another The Last of Us episode has debuted and, as such, more heartbreak has played out on our televisions. Seemingly each week, Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey) find themselves in the middle of a devastating situation and the fifth installment of the HBO series’ first season was no different–especially after introducing game characters Henry (Lamar Johnson) and Sam (Keivonn Montreal Woodard) into the mix.
Warning: The following contains spoilers for Episode 5 of HBO’s The Last of Us. If you haven’t watched it yet, head over to HBO Max now to catch up.
Henry and Sam were first introduced at the end of Episode 4, holding Joel and Ellie at gunpoint. In Episode 5, though, the four team up to escape Kansas City together, bringing down the wrath of Kathleen (Melanie Lynskey) and her army of revolutionaries that control the city.
Of course, this is The Last of Us, so there’s also a never-ending threat of the infected. It seems once upon a time, all of the infected were driven into tunnels under the city, where they still live to this day–until they don’t. While chasing down Joel, Ellie, Henry, and Sam, Kathleen’s group causes some serious damage, which opens up a hole in the ground, allowing dozens of infected–including the show’s first gigantic bloater–to escape their subterranean prison and attack everyone in sight.
And while the bloater itself may be created using visual effects, the scene was rather intense to film, according to Johnson. Speaking to GameSpot and TV Guide, the actor explained, “With this show, there were so many practical effects so a lot of what you’re seeing is actually there. they blew up cars, blew up houses, like even when the car sinks, all of that actually happened. When they’re coming out of the floor. there were maybe 70 extras all in make up, that was very much real. Watching all that happen and all the stunts and all this kind choreographing with the cameras running through all this kind of stuff, all the craziness.”
He continued, “You can tell that they really truly cared about the makeup, and these clickers and the infected and the bloater, they really, really cared about these characters and really kind of bringing them to life in such a real way–that it feels very real. So even when we were acting in the scene, we didn’t need to act.”
Of course, as high-impact as that scene may have been, it pales in comparison to the climax of the episode, in which we learn that Sam, Henry’s little brother, has become infected. It leaves him with no alternative but to kill Sam, keeping him from an eternity as an infected monster. Then, though, Henry takes a dire next step and kills himself.
“What motivates him to want to make that decision is Sam is all he lives for,” Johnson said. “That’s truly the only thing he cares about in this world. And that’s what’s keeping him going, you know, wanting him to survive, he has to be strong for Sam. And when Sam is gone, who does he have to live for? This world is already tough as it is. Losing someone that you’ve fought, you’ve sacrificed so much for, it’s tough to see them gone. I think in that moment, he just would rather not exist in the environment because of how tough it is. He also believes in a higher power, and he believes that, in this moment, he wants to join his brother.”
It’s also hard to ignore Henry seeing what Joel has become in the face of losing a loved one and wanting to avoid that. “I also commend Joel for being able to stomach literally holding his daughter in his arms[…]It’s very tough,” Johnson added. “And I commend him but you see what that has done to him, right? It’s kind of really hardened him and it’s jaded him in many ways. And I don’t think Henry would want to live his life that way, sort of being emotionless and sort of hardened in a way.”
So what initially looked like a new pair of survivors added to Joel and Ellie’s cross-country excursion, has instead spelled out more death and sadness for our dynamic duo. Based on Ellie’s reaction to burying Sam, though, this might be the devastation that actually breaks the young girl. While Joel is taken aback putting the two brothers to rest, it’s Ellie who quickly tells him it’s time for them to move on. It’s nearly a complete inverse of the reaction to Tess’s death earlier in the season. It remains to be seen exactly how well (or badly) Ellie will be holding up in the next installment, as the duo continue their search for Tommy (Gabriel Luna).
The Last of Us airs Sundays on HBO.
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