Title: The Last of Us S1.E05 “Endure and Survive”
Released: 2023
Series:  The Last of Us

Previously: We travel to Kansas City and meet Kathleen and her ruthless band of revolutionaries; Ellie wears Joel down with her silly pun book; and our duo are held at gunpoint by a pair of fugitives wanted by Kathleen.

They packed quite a bit into this episode! Bill & Frank’s story is always going to hold a special place outside the rankings, but dare I say this is my favorite episode so far? Last week, Mandy W. asked me what kind of canned food I’d pack for the apocalypse, and I feel like the smart answer would be something like beans. Good for fiber and filling you up and making a crappy survival dish go farther.

From Revolutions To Regrets

Kathleen (Melanie Lynskey) is so intent on capturing Henry because he gave up her hero older brother—the kind, thoughtful, fair leader of the Kansas City revolutionaries—to the KC FEDRA, who spent their time raping and murdering their way through the QZ. Kathleen took her brother’s place and led her people to do what her brother could never accomplish: free them of FEDRA’s reign of terror (which also meant meting out their own “justice” by…raping and murdering those who supported FEDRA…).

Henry (Lamar Johnson) knows that the only way to escape Kathleen’s clutches is to team up with someone with a killer instinct that he apparently lacks, so he and his brother, Sam (Keivonn Woodard), convince Joel and Ellie to join them through the safest way out of the city: the maintenance tunnels. Supposedly FEDRA pushed all the KC infected into the tunnels years ago, but Henry knows they’re empty now. It’s a tense trip, but the way is clear and freedom is on the horizon.

Except Kathleen also knew about the tunnels, so there’s a sniper waiting at their exit, and she’s on her way with battering ram trucks and a whole platoon! Joel takes out the sniper and provides cover as Ellie, Sam, and Henry try to escape Kathleen’s army, but then all hell breaks loose when hell literally breaks loose from the ground and a giant, teeming mass of infected are unleashed, including the linebacker-sized daddy of all the infected.

Kathleen and her army are killed, and our group manages to get away…except Sam was bitten. 😭 He turns the next morning and attacks Ellie, prompting Henry to shoot him and then, overcome with grief, shock, and guilt for what he just did to his brother, Henry shoots himself. Ellie and Joel bury them and continue on to Wyoming with heavy hearts.

Best Joel/Ellie Moments

Survivor of the Week

Well. Not that many people to choose from here, but this round has to go to Ellie for some excellent footwork as she dipped, ducked, dived, and dodged through that horde of attacking infected. (OMG, let’s not even talk about the contortionist Clicker child in the Blue’s Clues t-shirt. *shivers*) She also knifed two Clickers to save Henry and Sam in a true moment of badassery. Joel providing cover as she runs about was the perfect touch and perfectly shows off their new-found trust in each other.

Pour One Out For

Henry and Sam. (And none for Gretchen Weiners Kathleen. Her solider-bud sacrificed himself to give her time to run and, instead, she used that time to still go after Henry and her revenge. I’m not without pity for Kathleen’s anger and sadness over her brother, but it was fitting she was mauled by that child Clicker only minutes after uncaringly saying that sometimes kids die and shit happens.)

ANYWAY. It’s horrible what happens to Sam, but the worst death for me is Henry’s. His reason for everything died with Sam, and he made a split decision in a moment of overwhelming heartbreak. Bella as Ellie’s cry of shock was such a great bit of acting in that moment. Joel knows exactly how Henry was feeling, and you have to think he probably would have made a similar choice right when Sarah died if Tommy hadn’t been there to provide him immediate support and a different kind of reason to go on. Once again, an TLOU episode left me in tears.

Best Time To Cover Your Eyes

Welp, FEDRA was good for one thing, after all. Kathleen failed to consider the infected as a credible threat and it backfired on her in the worst way. We finally got a mother-effing Bloater, and it looked so good! (In a VFX kind of way; nightmare-fuel in ALL the other ways!) My husband was like, “Is that some kind of football-player infected?! He’s huuuge!” (Insert some kind of joke about some turned, famous, 2003-era Kansas City Chiefs football player if only I knew or cared about football trivia.)

As the infected were running back towards the city, my husband looked at me and was like, “Yeeeah, that settles it; we’re never going to Kansas City. I know this isn’t real, but it’s convinced me to stay the fuck out of KC.” 😂

We Must Adapt To Survive

  • This episode was another feast for the eyes for video game players. The cul-de-sac at the end looked so freaking accurate! You play as Joel sniping raiders and then infected through that whole sequence from the window, and the camera shots from behind the cars or running between cover were still engaging for TV but perfectly video-gamey.

  • I know there is literally not enough time, but I’d wondered if they’d give us flashbacks to Ish and the underground society in the tunnels, since the co-writers seem to enjoy fleshing out side characters. Obviously it wouldn’t have fit narratively for the episode, but it was nice to see that segment and some easter eggs for gamers (the “our protectors” child drawing of Ish is identical).

  • Sam and Ellie’s conversation about their fears and the way he turns is all super close to how it plays out in the game as well (although Sam is not deaf and Ellie’s age in the game), but her trying to heal him is new. The game immediately fades to black after Henry’s last shot and it jarring in an effective way, but I think giving us that moment for the show when they bury them, and for Joel to spot Ellie’s apology to Sam and us knowing she feels guilty for not being able to save him, was needed.

Graffiti On The Wall

  • Perry should have known he couldn’t kill that Bloater with an assault rifle; he needed WAY more Molotov cocktails and a shotgun.

  • My husband pointed out that as Joel is opening the door to that playroom in the tunnel he glances up, meaning he’s on the look-out for traps from above, and that it’s such a small, subtle moment that’s perfectly spot-on for the character and situation. I also noticed it, but for a totally different reason (because at one point there IS a loud door-trap in the sewers that alerts the infected to your location in the game).

  • I love how this low-tech, kid’s reusable drawing pad can be one of Sam’s most prized possessions because it’s not like there’s copious amounts of pencils and notepads or electronic devices he can use to communicate. Makes you think of all the little things that we take for granted and how absolutely screwed most of us would be in an apocalypse.

  • Very niche, but for any His Dark Materials fans out there, when Henry sees how efficient Joel is at killing after their truck crashes and he’s like, oh I gotta join up with that guy, it reminded me of Lyra and Pan meeting Will and realizing he’s a “murderer”, and Pan is like, ahh, he’s a killer!, but Lyra is like, OMG, perfect, he’s a killer so that means he can PROTECT us!

  • I know it’s for the story and all, but was anyone else also yelling at their TV when the infected show up and it’s like, Henry, now is the perfect time to GTFO while no one is looking at you!!! instead of standing around watching the infected horde come at ya!

  • I felt so bad for that old-man sniper and for Joel. He’s bad at sniping because he’s old and can’t see well. 😭 He’s probably so tired of being around in this shitty post-apocalyptic world, and it’s like, just take me out. But to force someone else to kill you, when Joel obviously doesn’t want that weighing on his soul… Bleak.

  • Mandy W., would you choose to live somewhere like the underground tunnels during an apocalypse (easy to defend/seal off) or would you take your chances in a city or suburban setting above ground (less secure but more sunlight)?

How did you feel about Kathleen’s story? Let us know your thoughts on the episode in the comments!


Stephanie (she/her) is an avid reader who moonlights at a college and calls Orlando home. Stephanie loves watching television, reading DIY blogs, planning awesome parties, Halloween decorating, and playing live-action escape games.