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The Last of Us Episode 4 Recap breaks down everything you need to know about episode four of The Last of Us.

On this week’s episode of The Last of Us, Joel and Ellie’s ill-planned detour through Kansas City ended with them on the run from the Hunters and militia leader Kathleen (Melanie Lynskey). For this week’s The Last of Us (TLOU) recap, here’s what we dug about episode four.

When does The Last of Us show come out?

The Last of Us airs Sundays on HBO and HBO Max at 9:00 p.m. EST/6:00 p.m. PDT. But this week’s episode will also debut early on HBO Max on Friday, February 9, at 9:00 p.m. ET so it won’t run against the Super Bowl.

Read our HBO Max review to learn more about the streaming service.

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The Last of Us
“Please Hold to My Hand”

The Last of Us (HBO)

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We need to talk about Ellie

Joel and Ellie looking out of a newspaper-covered window in HBO's The Last of Us.
Image courtesy HBO.

Episode four opens with Ellie trying out her new pistol in front of a bathroom mirror, complete with her steely-eyed looks down the barrel and some mouthed “pew pew” sound effects. The sequence lines up with a thread the show’s gradually exploring: Ellie’s going to be okay, right?

When it comes to killing people, Ellie doesn’t have Joel’s emotional calluses. She’s initially unnerved after Joel kills the young soldier she shot in the car garage, though she quickly bottles up her reactions. But the show has frequently underlined how growing up around violence has been corrosive for Ellie. Going back to the sequence in episode one where Ellie watches Joel kill a FEDRA soldier, co-creator Craig Mazin has talked about the specific beats within Ellie’s reaction.

She might still be a kid, but she still finds the intent of Joel’s violent act—beating a person to death to defend her in a life-or-death scenario—validating. And when it comes to being an inflictor (see last week when Ellie dissected Bean Sprout Clicker’s head), she’s both fascinated by and receptive to being violent. (The scene where Joel teaches Ellie proper pistol technique is an equally “aww” and “oh, man” moment for these same reasons.)

Game easter eggs, references, and everything else

Jeffrey Pierce dressed as a soldier standing outside in HBO's The Last of Us
Image courtesy HBO.
  • Perry, the soldier who’s Kathleen’s right-hand man, is played by Jeffrey Pierce, who plays Tommy in the TLOU games.
  • No Pun Intended: Volume Too makes its first in-show appearance. Puns are the comedy equivalent of baseball bunts, but they help Joel and Ellie bond, so we’ll call it a net win.
  • Bill’s . . . personal magazine also makes an appearance in the truck. This recap guide is a family-friendly environment, so we’ll just say the scene sizes up well with the source material.
  • Who are Sam and Henry? We’ll keep things spoiler-free, but in the game, they’re a pair of brothers Ellie and Joel meet on their way through Pittsburgh. In the show, they introduce themselves to Joel and Ellie in considerably less friendly fashion.

Waiting for the gritty Mario Kart reboot, HBO

In case you missed it, Pedro Pascal hosted Saturday Night Live last weekend. The episode’s take on The Last of Us was great (and we’d watch a real version of this sketch in a heartbeat):

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