HomeTv‘The Last of Us’ Episode 4 Review: ‘Please Hold My Hand’ – Spoilers
‘The Last of Us’ Episode 4 Review: ‘Please Hold My Hand’ – Spoilers
February 6, 2023
Melanie Lynskey is just one of several new chess pieces on the board in another episode that builds towards an uncertain future.
(Editor’s note: Included in the following review spoilers for “The Last of Us” Episode 4, “Please Hold My Hand.”
Who knows if it will continue throughout the season, but “The Last of Us” has been working with “removal” in the show’s material. Between some of Outbreak Day’s more brutal attacks, a swarm under the sun in the heart of Boston, and Bill and Frank having their first meal, “The Last of Us” introduced key ideas and key moments from a distance, giving space. to make things more tense as they get closer.
Ellie (Bella Ramsey) is a frequent exception, as evidenced by the climax of “Please Hold My Hand,” which finds her besting Travis Bickle (obviously, since Scorsese films probably aren’t the most popular subject matter in FEDRA schools). Away from home and not having to hold on to every detail about himself that doesn’t make him the most valuable person, he tries the gun from Bill and Frank’s house on for size.
As much as death threatened those early episodes, “The Last of Us” found plenty of time for silence. This Ellie-mirroring sequence, Joel (Pedro Pascal) siphoning gas and most of their night in the woods all play out calmly. As tough as their road has been (and it looks like it’s going to get tougher in the future), Joel and Ellie have been patient from state to state. “The Last of Us” isn’t all about interruptions and setbacks while skipping the smoother sailing. Writers and co-creators Neil Druckmann and Craig Mazin recognize the need for a balance between the two. There is anxiety that comes from fighting for your life, but also from having to go through the whole area to have a chance.
Finding both in a tight 45-minute episode is no small feat, especially after last week’s big “Long, Long Time.” As vast as the outside world seems, with the Midwestern space for them to traverse, that distance shrinks the closer the show gets to Joel and Ellie. This also applies to their personal history, as Joel has revealed more information about Tommy while protecting him. At this point, the show radiates from them.
Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey in The Last of Us
As easy as it would be to paint Joel as the wild expert who always succeeds unless there’s an obstacle in his way, “The Last of Us” shows that he doesn’t always learn from his mistakes. Just like his failed attempt to get out of Austin on the day of the outbreak, there’s another off-the-freeway shortcut that doesn’t work out so well for him. Driving through the desolate streets of Kansas City—presumably, Kauffman Stadium Somewhere out of frame, with Carlos Beltran, Mike Sweeney and Raul Ibanez banners still hanging outside, the Chevy’s windshield is met with huge debris that races through the car’s shop window.
During the ensuing shootout as Ellie flees to safety, director Jeremy Webb never shows us the other side. “The Last of Us” takes cues from Joel’s worldview: Never get too close and don’t ask. Of course, that plan backfires when the last guy from the ambush team begs for his life. It’s another one on “The Last of Us” list, where people face almost certain death. Sarah and Tess stared at the end in speechless dread. Brian takes a different approach, bargaining with everything he has, appealing to the parts of Joel and Ellie that would have a harder time killing someone with a name.
As Ellie cries in the convenience store, Joel makes sure there are no survivors left to spread the word about the town. The voice team gets a moment to shine when Ellie just hears what’s going on in a room. This stomach-churning jab reflects real purpose. Not only does it remind everyone that Joel is actively choosing to kill the young man, but he saves a bullet that they either don’t have or don’t want to waste.
Another stop at the hideaway of high-rise apartments for “The Last of Us” to do something different that it has been effective at doing so far. None of these kills or narrow escapes are missed. As much as Joel wants to shut down talk of the past, both he and Ellie have to accept the psychological weight of what they’ve both done to survive this long. They dance around them for now, but more and more details begin to trickle into their conversation about experiences that have become very hypothetical to them. The super corny dad jokes start to become less of an influence or cute nod to the game and more of a necessary coping mechanism to get through each new day.
Melanie Lynskey in The Last of Us
Of course, they are far from the only ones who have to do this. Cue Kathleen and Melanie Lynskey’s grand entrance. As revealed at the time of casting, Kathleen is the show’s invention (the show’s second major departure from its source material in as many weeks). In her introduction, Kathleen is both a good cop and a bad cop, trying to get information from someone through thoughtful conversation before resorting to sheer violence. It’s the same in-depth approach to painting a picture of urgency that the opening episode did with Fireflies: Show a few people deeply invested in the outcome, and let the details of the mission unfold later.
This puts more emphasis on Kathleen’s methods. Like Brian in the convenience store, the doctor is another example of someone trying to find the magic emotional nerve that convinces someone else to keep them alive. And like Brian, it doesn’t work. Kathleen responds to the deaths of the ambushers with a quick, callous execution of the doctor. A symbol of his rashness as a leader, a sign that he doesn’t need another delivery room expert in his vision for the future of Kansas City, and a generally callous threat to Joel and Ellie (not to mention whispering about Henry). and Sam), Kathleen enters this “The Last of Us” ecosystem as a major force. He’s not afraid to twist the details to rally his people, and a cordyceps-resistant teenage girl seems to be the kind of bargain he wants to cement his position on the former Kansas-Missouri border.
With all the clear signs that Kathleen is the leader, “Please Hold My Hand” is still a mystery as to what exactly is fueling this animosity. With that hook, you could argue that this episode acts as the fourth “The Last of Us” pilot to date, leaving behind another setting and jumping right into unknown territory. All four episodes started as a jumping-off point for a new phase of the show, but by the end of the chapter, that path was closed. On the surface, this may not be a sustainable approach for the entire season, but a lot will depend on what Henry and Sam bring to this mission in the coming weeks.
Sam’s last-second introduction also comes with a fun bit of metatextual play from the show. This gentle, acoustic coffeehouse-sounding song that plays over the final word is Lotte Kestner’s version of New Order’s “True Faith.” We know ’80s songs are a problem in ‘The Last of Us’, but what about covers? Fresh versions of older horrors like making the cement floor vibrate in that warehouse Kathleen sealed off? Are they thinking of someone like Ellie, who can capture the painful parts of the past and conjure up glimmers of hope for the future? Or are our two protagonists destined to spend the rest of their lives looking over their shoulders and spreading shards of glass on the floor by their beds? All questions that may just get a little clarification as we pass the halfway point of the season next week.
“The Last of Us” airs Sunday nights at 9:00 PM on HBO and can be viewed on HBO Max.