The Last of Us: Episode 5 Recap and Review

“Endure and Survive” introduces us to two new characters, as they try to escape Kansas City with Joel and Ellie.

The Last of Us: Episode 5 Recap and Review
The Last of Us Episode 5. Image credit: HBO

Warning: Spoilers for Episode 5 of The Last of Us Ahead

The bonding between Joel and Ellie in The Last of Us episode 4, “Please Hold My Hand,” lays the foundation for episode 5, “Endure and Survive.” In this episode, we are introduced to another set of survivors – brothers Henry and Sam – who are on a mission to escape the dangers of Kansas City in a post-outbreak world. While “Long Long Time” displayed the positive aspects of finding companionship during the apocalypse, “Endure and Survive” highlights the heart-wrenching realities of love and loss in this difficult world. The episode serves as a cautionary tale, reminding us that opening up to others in such a perilous environment may lead to inevitable heartbreak.



The beginning of The Last of Us, episode 5 “Endure and Survive” takes us to the recent past in the Kansas City quarantine zone, where the local residents have taken control from FEDRA. The people of Kansas City engage in violent acts, such as beating, hanging, and executing FEDRA officers. As the new leaders of the QZ patrol the streets, searching for FEDRA collaborators, Henry and his deaf brother Sam are forced to hide in the shadows as they try to navigate the war-torn streets and reach safety just two blocks away.

Kathleen, played by Melanie Lynskey, has taken captive a group of individuals who previously acted as informers for FEDRA. In a confrontational moment, she questions the group about their actions, asking if they felt good betraying their own community to FEDRA in exchange for small luxuries like medicine, alcohol, and even apples. However, the situation has now reversed, with Kathleen in control. She declares that there’s no need for anyone to die, and that the informers will face trial for their crimes. Before the trial begins, Kathleen is determined to locate Henry.


When the informers remain silent, Kathleen orders her right-hand man Perry to kill them. However, one of the captives reveals that Henry is with Edelstein, a doctor who Kathleen killed in the previous episode. This information takes Kathleen by surprise, as Edelstein had mentioned having a rendezvous point with Henry and Sam in case of an emergency. Despite this knowledge, the captive is unaware of the exact location. Kathleen immediately dispatches her men to search for Henry, as finding him is their top priority. Perry questions the fate of the informers, to which Kathleen replies that they will not be put on trial and instead, Perry should dispose of the bodies by burning them, as it’s a quicker process.


Super Sam

Henry and Sam finally arrive at the designated rendezvous point and discover Edelstein hiding in a cramped crawlspace. Edelstein explains that he learned of the location from a FEDRA officer, who assured him that FEDRA was unaware of its existence. Unfortunately, the trio has limited supplies and ammunition, so their only hope is to discreetly leave the quarantine zone by using underground tunnels. With their current food rations, Henry estimates they have 11 days to come up with a new plan. Edelstein then highlights the fact that Sam is afraid because Henry is also scared, which is affecting the younger brother’s well-being.

As they colour and draw, they create a vibrant and imaginative world around them, helping to take their minds off the dangers that surround them in the post-apocalyptic world. The two brothers create characters and stories with the drawings, depicting battles, adventures, and superheroes. The drawings provide a sense of hope and escape for the brothers, giving them something to look forward to and hold onto as they try to endure and survive in this world. Through their artwork, Henry and Sam show the power of imagination and creativity in the face of adversity, and how it can help people find happiness and hope in even the bleakest of circumstances.


With the orange mask now covering Sam’s eyes, the two brothers venture out into the streets, trying to escape the quarantine zone and find safety. Sam is now dressed as Super Sam, and Henry tells him to be brave and act like a superhero, which helps to boost Sam’s confidence. They make their way through the city, using the knowledge Henry has gathered about the FEDRA teams’ movements to avoid detection. Despite facing many challenges, they continue to push forward, determined to escape the quarantine zone and find a safe place to call home. In the end, their bravery and determination pay off, and they successfully make it out of the quarantine zone and into the wider world. From there, their journey continues, as they face new challenges and obstacles, but always with the strength and courage of Super Sam by their side.


Meeting Joel and Ellie

As they ready themselves to depart, they overhear the commotion of Joel and Ellie’s truck accident in Episode 4 and the impending conflict with the Kansas City group. Observing Joel defeating the opposing force, Henry declares that he has altered his strategy. That evening, Henry and Sam locate the building where Joel and Ellie are resting at the conclusion of Episode 4 and quietly approach them, guns in hand. Joel and Ellie awaken to find themselves at the mercy of Henry and Sam. Henry assures them that their intention is not to harm, but to assist. Despite Joel’s initial skepticism, Henry decides to place his trust in these two fellow survivors. He introduces himself and reveals that they are the most sought after individuals in Kansas City, but with Joel and Ellie’s arrival, the situation has become more precarious. Later, Joel and Ellie share their provisions with Henry and Sam, and Joel proposes that they go their separate ways. However, Henry has a different notion, offering to guide Joel and Ellie out of the city the following morning.

Early the next day, Joel and Henry stand atop a vantage point overlooking the city. Joel mentions that he had heard rumors of the monstrous behavior of the Kansas City FEDRA, who were known to commit acts of rape, torture, and murder for two decades. Henry concurs with Joel’s observation, adding that the people have now risen up and inflicted similar atrocities on FEDRA. Henry confesses that he was not part of FEDRA, but rather a collaborator, a fact that initially makes Joel reluctant to work with him. Despite his reservations, Joel realizes that Henry knows the way out and, being someone who has never committed violence or taken a life, he needs someone to clear a path for him. The two reluctantly form an alliance. Meanwhile, Ellie and Sam have developed a friendship, with Henry commenting that he hasn’t seen Sam laugh in a while.


Henry outlines his plan, stating that the city is controlled by Kathleen, but the only way to traverse the city is through the maintenance tunnels that lead to freedom. In response to Joel’s inquiry about why he is needed, Henry explains that FEDRA forced the infected underground 15 years ago and never allowed them to resurface. Despite the widespread belief that the tunnels are overrun with infected, Henry reveals that he has insider information from a former FEDRA member that the tunnels are clear. Although he acknowledges that the plan is highly risky, Joel and Ellie’s previous success in defeating two clickers gives him hope that they can handle the challenge.


Through the Tunnels

The four of them set out to a bank that offers access to the tunnels, and as they enter, Joel instructs Ellie to be prepared with her weapon. As they traverse the tunnels, they are pleasantly surprised to find that they are devoid of any infected. However, they eventually come across a section covered in children’s drawings and adorned with a door resembling the entrance to a fairy tale castle. Upon entering, they discover a designated children’s area, filled with more drawings, toys, books, and even a makeshift soccer goal. Joel remarks that he has heard of similar underground settlements, formed by people seeking refuge after the outbreak on Outbreak Day.

Joel stumbles upon a drawing that bears the inscription “our protectors” depicting two men named Danny and Ish. In “The Last of Us Part 1,” we learned that Ish was a man who went underground and found a family while scavenging for supplies in the suburbs. He invited the family and a community was established. Later, Ish met Danny, and the two became the protectors of their underground sanctuary, as depicted in the drawing. Tragically, one of the doors was left unsecured, resulting in a group of infected breaking in. While Ish and Susan, the mother of the first family Ish found, managed to escape the attack and flee to the suburbs with some survivors, their ultimate fate remains unknown.


In the underground playroom, Sam discovers an issue of the Savage Starlight comic, a series that Ellie is a fan of and collects in the first game. Ellie’s excitement over the issue deepens her bond with Sam, who shares her love for the series. Ellie recites a famous quote from the comic: “To the edge of the universe and back, endure and survive,” and Sam teaches Ellie how to express the phrase in sign language. Ellie persuades Joel to stay a while, pointing out that there are things for them to do and enjoy. Henry agrees, suggesting they wait until it gets dark. Meanwhile, Ellie and Sam are elated to have a place where they can be normal kids for a while.

As Sam and Ellie continue their playtime, Joel speaks to Henry and acknowledges that he shouldn’t have been angry with him for turning informant. He understands why Henry would do anything to protect Sam. However, Henry confesses that what he previously said about never causing harm to anyone was not entirely true. He explains that he once followed a great man who was selfless and forgiving, but when his adopted son Sam fell ill with leukemia and the only cure was in the possession of FEDRA, he made the difficult decision to sacrifice that great man and the leader of the resistance movement in Kansas City to obtain the medicine. He acknowledges that he became the “bad guy” for making that choice. But he believes Joel understands, as he can see that Joel was once a father. After their conversation, Joel decides it’s time for them to move on.


Perfect Box

Returning to Kathleen’s story, we find her in a child’s bedroom where Perry enters and informs her that Henry and “the man who killed Brian” have yet to be located. He reveals that Kathleen’s mother told him where she was, and we learn that this is the room where Kathleen spent her childhood. Kathleen recalls her childhood memories with her brother Michael and how this room seemed so spacious when they were little. During storms, she used to be afraid of the thunder, but Michael would reassure her by telling her that their room was a perfect box that nothing could penetrate, and they would be safe as long as they were together in their safe haven.

Kathleen reflects on her brother Michael, saying that he was a beautiful person and she feels unworthy in comparison. She fears that he would be horrified by the actions she has taken. But she remembers the last time she saw Michael alive, when he was in jail and he implored her to forgive others. She wonders what the purpose of forgiveness is, considering it ultimately led to Michael’s death. Perry disagrees, pointing out that while Michael was indeed a great person, it was Kathleen who made a difference and changed things, and he and the others are with her, supporting her choices.


Through the Suburbs

The group successfully reaches the other side of the tunnels without encountering any infected. As they wander through the suburban area, Henry ponders where they’ll go once they’re safe. Ellie mentions their destination is Wyoming, which Joel seems less than thrilled about. But Ellie jokes that it’s a familiar pattern: Joel initially opposes her ideas, but eventually warms up to them after she asks repeatedly. As Ellie continues talking, they barely avoid a bullet shot from a nearby house. The group takes cover behind a car, and Joel suggests that he will try to sneak up to the house and stop the shooter while the others wait there. When Ellie expresses her concerns, Joel asks her “do you trust me?” Ellie nods, and Joel sets out on his mission while the others wait nervously behind the car.

As Joel approaches the house, he draws the attention of the shooter, narrowly avoiding the bullets fired in his direction. When he finally reaches the house, he encounters an elderly man with a sniper rifle. Joel requests that the man surrender his weapon, but when it appears the man won’t comply, Joel pleads with him, saying “Please don’t do it, please.” The man attempts to fire at Joel, but Joel quickly shoots him first. After the man falls, Joel picks up a nearby walkie-talkie and hears Kathleen’s voice, instructing the shooter to “hold them where they are, we’re almost there.”


As Ellie, Sam, and Henry hide, they hear Joel shouting “RUN!” in the distance as cars approach from down the road. Joel quickly takes up the sniper rifle and tries to shoot the cars before they reach the three. Just as a truck is about to hit Ellie, Joel shoots the driver, causing the truck to crash into a house and explode in a blazing fire. With Kathleen’s men hunting for Henry, Kathleen calls out to him, offering to spare him time by coming out. Henry agrees to come out, but only if the children are allowed to go free. Kathleen refuses the deal, leading Henry to plead with her, stating that she doesn’t understand. Kathleen counters by saying that maybe Sam was meant to die, and that children die all the time. She asks if Henry truly believes that Sam’s life is worth everything. In response, Henry tells Ellie to take Sam and to be ready to run, before stepping out to meet with Kathleen.


Kathleen confronts Henry, declaring “this is how it ends,” and prepares to fire her weapon. However, in the background, the audience sees the wreckage of the nearby exploded truck gradually sink into the ground. Suddenly, the cries of infected individuals emerge from underground, as they break free from their long-standing entrapment. The mass of infected creatures overrun Kathleen’s soldiers, as Joel fights off the infected that pose a threat to Ellie. Ellie makes her way to a truck, as a massive and monstrous infected, known as a bloater, emerges from the hole. The bloater effortlessly tosses aside those in its path, and sets its sights on Perry. Despite Perry’s attempts to fight back with his weapons, the bloater easily decapitates him.

Meanwhile, inside the truck, an infected child starts making its way towards Ellie. She skillfully escapes the truck and runs over to where Henry and Sam are fighting off infected beneath another truck. Joel provides cover for Ellie with his sniper rifle, allowing her to reach the two men and help them by killing the infected. Just as they are about to reach safety, Kathleen confronts them with a weapon drawn. However, the infected child sneaks up on Kathleen from behind and attacks her. The four of them reunite and flee from the ruined Kansas City suburb.


Ends the way it ends

The group of four eventually finds refuge in a hotel. While Joel and Henry converse, Joel mentions that they don’t yet know how they will reach Wyoming, but offers that Henry and Sam are welcome to join them on the journey. Henry accepts, saying that it would be good for Sam to have a companion, and that he will inform Sam of the plan in the morning. With a new day ahead of them, the group looks forward to a fresh start.

Instead of retiring for the night, Ellie and Sam spend their time together reading comic books. Using his Magic Slate, Sam asks Ellie if she ever feels afraid. He comments that she never appears scared, and Ellie candidly replies that she is scared all the time, but mostly of scorpions. She then shares with Sam her fear of being alone. When Ellie inquires about Sam’s fear, he confides that he wonders if a person who turns into a monster is still the same person on the inside. Following this admission, Sam reveals that he has been bitten on the leg. Ellie, shocked and upset by this news, shows Sam her own bite and explains that her blood is a potential cure. She cuts her hand and rubs her blood into Sam’s wound in an attempt to help him. Sam asks Ellie to stay with him, and she promises to remain by his side, comforting him with a hug.
The next morning, Ellie awakens to find Sam sitting at the edge of the bed, gazing out the window. As she approaches him, she realizes that he has turned into an infected. The commotion wakes Joel and Henry, and Ellie struggles to fend off Sam. Joel reaches for his gun, but Henry grabs it first, firing a warning shot in Joel’s direction. In the heat of the moment, Henry shoots Sam to get him off Ellie. However, the realization of what he has just done quickly sets in. Henry, who has been fighting to protect his younger brother, has now taken his life. Overcome with grief, Henry points the gun at Joel, asking himself repeatedly, “What did i do?” Despite Joel’s pleas, Henry puts the gun to his temple and pulls the trigger, leaving both Ellie and Joel in stunned shock.

Joel has excavated two graves outside the hotel, one for each of the brothers. As they say goodbye to their fallen companions, Ellie places Sam’s Magic Slate on his grave, with the words “I’m sorry” written upon it. Ellie then inquires about the direction of the west, before setting off on her journey. From a distance, she calls out to Joel, signalling that it’s time for them to move forward, leaving behind the memories of the friends they encountered in Kansas City.


The Last of Us Episode 5

The fifth episode of The Last of Us brings a powerful end to a chapter filled with poignant moments – both exhilarating and haunting. A standout action sequence followed by a sudden and violent twist results in another shattered friendship for Joel and Ellie, but not before they have a chance to experience moments of compassion and tenderness. This episode continues to showcase the excellence of the HBO series and builds upon the previous episodes, while ominously hinting at what lies ahead.


Elsewhere in entertainment, the bold new twist to Joe Goldberg’s story in You Season 4 pays off.

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