It’s not every day a show ultimately shocks and awes me, in a way that I can think of not much else long after the credits roll. The Last of Us has become one of those shows for me, which was definitely unexpected. I had never played the game before, so I didn’t know much about the story, other than it was a post-apocalyptic world riddled with zombies of some sort. What the series has done so far is nothing short of fantastic and in a league of its own. A pattern that continues in The Last of Us episode 4.
The previous episode, “Long Long Time” was perhaps the single best hour of television that I have seen in quite a long time. This week’s episode, “Please Hold My Hand” proved that it can continue the streak set by the preceding episodes. Written by Craig Mazin, one of the show’s creators, and directed by Jeremy Webb, who has directed episodes of Locke & Key, The Umbrella Academy, Shadow and Bone, and even Marvel’s Runaways, this episode has a ton of talent behind the screen.
[Warning: Spoilers from The Last of Us episode 4 are below!]
A road trip for Joel and Ellie in episode 4 “Please Hold My Hand”
The Last of Us episode 4 picks up not long after we last saw Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey) in episode three. Having taken the truck from Bill (Nick Offerman) and Frank’s (Murray Bartlett) compound. Joel, bound by his duty to deliver Ellie to her destination and his promise to Tess (Anna Torv), seems rather annoyed to be stuck in a vehicle with a teenage girl. Neither of the passengers seem happy with the situation at first, leading to some tension and awkwardness between the two.
This buddy road trip from hell lasts for about a third of the episode, punctuated by stops along the way and plenty of character growth. The duo has to make frequent stops to siphon gas from other vehicles just to make the trip. This process may be grueling for Joel and Ellie, but fascinating for viewers as the two begin to bond. Both of their defensive walls begin falling down, as they discover more about each other.
Ellie is inquisitive about what life was like before the outbreak, asking tons of questions that seem to annoy Joel quite a bit. However, you see her snarkiness begin to deteriorate a bit with him, as much as she doesn’t want it to. The scene of her and Joel sleeping out in the middle of a forest is one of the stand-out scenes from this episode. You see a moment of a scared and vulnerable Ellie, who is looking for some reassurance from Joel.
On the flip side, Joel’s hardened exterior remains intact for most of this episode but there are definite cracks. In the truck, Ellie asks him about his brother, which viewers could tell was a painful topic for Joel. However, he does talk with his younger passenger about his relationship with his brother and how the Fireflies believe their actions will save the world. This was a monumental step forward in their relationship.
A smashed windshield signals a change of pace
Where the first third of the episode 4 is spent building Joel and Ellie’s relationship and personal character growth, all of that changes with one big crash. At one point in their journey, the duo finds the road they are on is blocked, meaning that they have to take a detour through Kansas City. This is easier said than done, as a trap is laid and the heroes of our story drive right into it.
Getting lost in the city, something large is dropped onto the windshield of the truck Joel is driving, causing them to abandon it and proceed on foot. A struggle ensues with two men who intend on robbing them, though not before Joel tells Ellie to hide. Just when it looks like Joel is about to lose the fight, Ellie comes back and shoots one of the robbers, much to the shock of everyone involved.
This seemed like a huge changing point for Ellie, who was not mentally prepared to shoot someone. It’s a toss-up who was more shocked, her or Joel, but this moment also allows both of them to grow again. Yes, Ellie takes the gun from Bill and Frank without Joel’s permission, but Joel now understands that Ellie used it to defend him. Meaning they are finally acting as one unit, not as enemies against each other.
Joel also feels bad that Ellie had to shoot someone, feeling that it was more than someone her age, but he also realizes the severity of the situation. No longer is this just a straightforward cargo delivery, things have just gotten much worse. This event evolves into Joel trusting Ellie with the gun once more, with the promise to teach her properly. But for now, the two need to escape the city before the body of the robber is found.
Running parallel to this storyline is one that introduces audiences to Kathleen (Melanie Lynskey), an apparent leader of a militia group in the city, who wants to bring about a revolution. Kathleen is angry, like seriously pissed off about the death of her brother, indicating that she’s looking for a Henry. Who Henry is, we don’t quite know yet, but her resolve is focused and she isn’t afraid of killing others to complete her mission. When her attention is brought to the dead body of the robber, Kathleen sets her people with finding whoever is responsible, meaning trouble for Joel and Ellie.
Final thoughts on The Last of Us episode 4
Typically for my reviews, I do a good and bad section from the episode or project, but as I watched this episode of The Last of Us, I couldn’t find anything I disliked or felt was bad about it. Instead, this episode felt like it continued the fantastic trajectory this entire season has been on.
There was plenty of intense action and quite a bit of heartfelt moments. Easily the best part of the episode was the growing relationship between Joel and Ellie. The shared laugh between the two at the end of the episode, as the screen fades to black, made me slightly emotional. Both have been through so much in their lives, but they find a moment of levity, bonding together.
Also did anyone else nearly have a heart attack with that ending? I can’t wait to see what comes next.
The Last of Us airs weekly on Sundays on HBO and HBO Max. Did you enjoy this episode? Let us know on Twitter and our Discord channel. And if you haven’t already, check out our review of The Last of Us’ third episode!