The Last of Us Episode 5, titled “Endure And Survive,” doesn’t pull any of its punches. Whether it’s the emotional heft or the action sequences, this episode will keep you glued to the screen at all times. “Endure And Survive” works to fill in some of the gaps from “Please Hold My Hand“, specifically where Henry (Lamar Johnson) is concerned. After a brutal falling out with Kathleen (Melanie Lynskey), Henry goes on the run with his younger brother Sam (Keivonn Woodward). But their paths soon cross with that of Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey). As the two groups of survivors connect, Joel formulates a plan to escape Kathleen and her raiders with Henry’s help.
“Endure and Survive” finally underlines what makes The Last of Us such a great story, no matter what medium it’s in. And that element is human connection. The human race thrives on connection—we form long-lasting friendships, families, and sometimes unbreakable bonds over the course of our lives. Even the end of the world hasn’t changed this, as Henry is fiercely dedicated to protecting Sam. Everything he’s done, for good or ill, is in the service of his brother.
This episode explores the power of bonds, again drawing a parallel between another pair of survivors and the lead characters. The first twenty minutes are dedicated to Henry and Sam, and I love the bond Johnson and Woodward share. Sam is deaf, meaning that Woodward has to communicate using sign language as well as his body. And he pulls it off while still maintaining the energy of a little kid. A great example comes from the Savage Starlight comics that Sam carries with him. He’s a fan of the series, and his face lights up with joy when Ellie mentions she’s a fan of the series as well. In a world that’s been overrun by a virus as well as man’s own inhumanity to each other, the fact that these two can actually have a moment to just be kids is a beautiful if fleeting thing.
Family has been a recurring theme throughout The Last of Us, and that continues to be explored here. What do we do when we lose the ones we love? And can you find people to love at the end of the world? But most importantly, The Last of Us Episode 5 delves into how far you’re willing to go to protect your family.
Joel, at first seeing Ellie as nothing more than a job, is willing to literally run into gunfire to keep her safe. Likewise, Henry doesn’t regret the actions he took to keep Sam safe. Both Pascal and Johnson deliver great performances throughout this episode, with Pascal finally showing a crack in Joel’s armor—he even smiles! It’s Johnson who has to carry the episode’s emotional heft though, since his character’s being hunted and he has to keep his brother safe. The mounting pressure eventually leads to one of the most heartbreaking moments on the show. But it also solidifies that Henry is willing to do anything to keep Sam close and safe.
Returning director, Jeremy Webb, also deserves some credit for how he layers the episode’s action scenes with its quieter ones. Take the aforementioned moments where Sam and Ellie are bonding. It feels less like a post-apocalyptic scene and more like two kids hanging out. That’s in stark contrast to when the four have to outrun a sniper, and then Kathleen’s forces barrel down on them in armored trucks. And in perhaps the most horrifying scene, a swarm of Cordyceps-infected monsters bursts from under the ground, including yet even more horrifying variants that will sear themselves into your nightmares. From here, Webb goes for a handheld approach when the Cordyceps-infected rush at the revolutionaries, tacking them and chewing off their brains.
The way that the camera follows Ellie and Sam as they race through the chaos puts the audience right in the middle of all the bloodshed. What makes this truly terrifying is that Ellie and Sam are kids. They shouldn’t have to deal with flesh-eating monsters or armed men out for revolutionaries, yet they find themselves fighting for their lives.
The Last of Us Episode 5 explores the bonds between family, whether they be found or blood – leading to an emotionally devastating ending. I find myself falling increasingly in love with the series as it goes on, both in terms of its storytelling and how the cast & crew bring that story to life. And even if the show’s passed the halfway point
The Last of Us Episode 5 is streaming on HBO Max February 12, with new episodes premiering every Sunday.
The Last of Us Episode 5
- Rating - 10/1010/10
The Last of Us Episode 5 explores the bonds between family, whether they be found or blood – leading to an emotionally devastating ending.
Born and raised in Texas, Collier “CJ” Jennings was introduced to geekdom at an early age by his father, who showed him Ultraman and Star Trek: The Next Generation. On his thirteenth birthday, he received a copy of Giant Size X-Men #1 and dove head first into the realm of pop culture, never looking back. His hobbies include: writing screenplays and essays, watching movies and television, card games/RPG’s, and cooking. He currently resides in Seattle.