After the dramatic events of “Long Long Time,” Craig Mazin and the crew dig into the other side of humanity. While Bill and Frank found love, others found hate in the darkness. In The Last of Us, Episode 4 – “Please Hold on To My Hand,” director Jeremy Webb dives into a violent world. He gets the unenviable job of showing the extreme actions of a few broken people. At the same, Webb explores Ellie and Joel’s deepening relationship, reminding us that it’s our emotional connections that keep us sane.

The Last of Us - "Please Hold On to My Hand" - HBO HBOMax Melanie Lynskey

The Recap

Ellie (Bella Ramsey) plays with the gun she found at Bill’s house while in the bathroom. As she plays around with it, she pulls the bullet out of the chamber and the magazine out of the gun. When she steps outside, she sees Joel (Pedro Pascal ) siphoning gas out of an old car. As he waits for the siphon to finish, she tells jokes from an old pun book (a stationary joke is quite funny). They get back on the road, listening to Hank Williams as they drive through the deserted highways.

When they pull off for the night, they hide in the forest. After a nice Chef Boyardee meal, they settle down for the night. Ellie asks to start a fire, but Joel warns that others people might find them if they do. While they’re too far away from a city to see Infected, people living this far away from the world will be very dangerous. Ellie tosses another pun at Joel, which he actually finishes (Why did a scarecrow get an award? Because he’s outstanding in his field).

Joel makes coffee in the morning, and they get back on the road. Ellie asks about Tommy (Gabriel Luna), reminding Joel they have more than twenty hours to get to Wyoming. Joel tells Ellie about his brother, who joined the army before Desert Storm, and in Boston, he joined the Fireflies. However, it seems Tommy may have quit the group. When Ellie asks why Joel keeps pushing through it all, Joel tells her family matters to him. While Ellie might be “cargo,” Tess was like family, and he made a promise to keep Ellie safe.

The Last of Us - "Please Hold On to My Hand" - HBO HBOMax Melanie Lynskey

Ellie wakes up from a nap as they drive through Kansas City. Part of the highway is blocked, and they try to find an alternate route through. However, a non-infected man begins limping toward the car, begging for help. Joel does not believe him, and while Ellie asks if they’ll stop, Joel hits the gas. They soon find themselves in trouble, getting shot at by road bandits. They crash into a storefront and take cover behind the truck.

Joel sees a safe space behind a wall and asks Ellie to run and hide. Joel shoots the first two marauders that attack but begins getting choked out by the youngest of the three. Ellie steps out of the hole and shoots the bandit in the back, paralyzing him. The boy reveals his name is Bryan, and after taking Ellie’s gun, Joel finishes him.

The Last of Us - "Please Hold On to My Hand" - HBO HBOMax Jeffrey Pierce

In a military facility, an old man is being interrogated by Kathleen (Melanie Lynskey). She pushes him about the locations of several individuals, including a man named Henry. She believes Henry is responsible for the death of her brother at the hands of FEDRA. The man ratted out his neighbors and friends to FEDRA, and Kathleen knows this man is the only way to get justice for her brother.

Kathleen threatens him but steps out when she hears a commotion outside. She steps outside and finds Bryan has been killed. She speaks to a militiaman named Perry (Jeffrey Pierce), asking if the doctor can help. When Perry says no, Kathleen walks back inside and shoots her captive. She then tells the others in the base to find Henry at any cost and to kill him.

The Last of Us - "Please Hold On to My Hand" - HBO HBOMax Pedro Pascal Bella Ramsey

As the soldiers raid apartment buildings, Joel and Ellie hide in an abandoned storefront. Joel asks Ellie how she feels after shooting Bryan. He takes responsibility for what happened, blaming himself for being caught off-guard. Joel apologizes to Ellie because she should never have had to hurt someone to save him. She lets Joel know it is not the first time she hurt someone. Joel hands her the pistol and teaches her how to hold it properly. He lets her keep the gun as long as it’s in her pack.

Kathleen and Perry continue to inspect buildings, finding evidence of Henry’s actions. They find evidence that Henry is hiding with a young boy named Sam, but they continue to search. Perry also reveals that the ground in the basement is moving, likely from Cordyceps expanding. While Perry believes this is the most important issue facing the group, Kathleen tells him to continue searching for Henry.

Joel and Ellie begin climbing up a tower to take shelter for the night. As they go, Ellie asks Joel how he knew about the ambush. Joel admits he’s been on the other side before and would do anything to survive. When Ellie asks if Joel’s hurt innocent people, Joel cannot answer. After a minute, they continue walking up the stairwell and take cover for the night.

The Last of Us - "Please Hold On to My Hand" - HBO HBOMax Pedro Pascal Bella Ramsey

After setting up an “alarm,” Ellie reveals that Joel’s hearing is going in his right ear. They tell a couple of jokes and drift off to sleep. However, Joel’s woken up by Ellie, who is being held at gunpoint by Henry (Lamar Johnson). When Joel turns, the young boy named Sam (Keivonn Montreal Woodard) has a pistol in his face. Sam shushes Joel and the episode fades to black.

Episode Breakdown

It’s to the credit of Mazin and Webb that they could pivot to a far darker tone in Episode 4. Viewers have seen this darkness before, and “Please Hold My Hand” reminds the audience of The Walking Dead‘s ethos. However, the difference between the two post-apocalyptic series remains clear. While The Walking Dead certainly showed darkness, The Last of Us finds more comedic moments.

It’s unlikely that she will receive the praise of last week’s performances, but Melanie Lynskey brings an intensity that’s hard to ignore. She’s playing a woman so obsessed with revenge that she’s lost her ability to protect others. The question is whether those around her, namely Perry, will realize her obsession in time. Lynskey plays Kathleen so absurdly well. Lynskey has always been underrated, and her recent career run has opened the door for some very juicy parts in the future.

Once again, Mazin and the team build an incredibly beautiful landscape around their characters. As Ramsey and Pascal drive through the landscape, it’s impossible to ignore how cool the world looks. An abandoned theme park stands out, as do establishing shots of the bridges and fields. This juxtaposes nicely with the more cramped streets of Kansas City, which begin to feel like the walls are closing in on Joel and Ellie.

Unfortunately, this felt like a true “set the table” episode. While Webb does his best to add visual flare, he’s bound by considerable constraints. The question of whether “Please Hold On to My Hand” works will ultimately be answered in the weeks ahead. This hurts this week’s episode, but Webb should get some excellent work in the future off his direction here.

Alan’s Rating: 7/10

What did you think of The Last of Us – Episode 4, “Please Hold On To My Hand?” Let us know in the comments below!

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