HBO's The Last of Us has passed the halfway mark of its epic retelling of the 2013 PlayStation classic, and it's yet to truly misstep. Trying to keep things interesting for new and old fans alike, episode 5 showcases another fine balance of iconic scenes from the game and bombastic deviations that will undoubtedly prove to be the highlight of the episode.
After taking things a little slower in episode 4, "Endure and Survive" amps up the tension as Joel and Ellie try to make their daring escape from the revolutionised Kansas City. With danger at every turn and an uneasy alliance, we were kept on the edge of our seat for the majority of this episode's one-hour runtime.
Without getting into specifics, we were reminded of the real danger of this outbreak, as the infected finally work their way back into the storyline. Fans that have been waiting for some more clicker action will be vastly rewarded here, and it serves as a strong reminder as to why we were so afraid of them when they made their debut in episode 2. Their inclusion at this part of the story felt needed, and it was dealt with in such a great way that we were left dying for more.
However, while that deviation is a great inclusion, Kansas City proved itself to be a bit of a downgrade over the game's setting of Pittsburgh. The streets were too clean, and it severely lacked the naturalistic beauty that can be found in the original. Sure, there may be narrative reasons for this, but ultimately we felt that Kansas City as a setting was far less memorable. There were seeds of greatness in the city's lore and the pacing kept us hooked, but we weren't really there long enough for it to overtake our love of the game.
Our time in the city is split between Joel and Ellie and then the resistance leader, Kathleen (Melanie Lynskey) and her right-hand man Perry (Jeffrey Pierce). Lynskey in particular is fantastic as a deceptive woman, who seems sweet from the outset yet has some delicious revenge on her mind. While performances kept us hooked in these scenes, we couldn't help but be let down by the new direction the show took here, as overall it doesn't really evoke the same level of fear the rumbling humvee from the game did.
On the other side of things though, Lamar Johnson and Keivonn Woodard excel as Henry and Sam, bringing every bit of fear, love, and charisma that you expected from these characters. As we noted in last week’s review, Bella Ramsey by this point in the story has sunk into the role wonderfully, and together with Pascal's Joel, they're beginning to feel like a real team.
We've still a while to go, but we were constantly reminded of the stellar job at hand when concerning Joel and Ellie's evolving alliance. Every step we take towards that inevitable father/daughter relationship has felt wholly earned and natural, and that only continues here.
Episode 5, then, is another solid addition. While we felt it lacked in some departments in comparison to the game, it also gave us entirely new and exciting story strands that are sure to be a highlight of the season for some. But more so than anything, we feel as though we're finally getting into the meat of The Last of Us, and we can't wait to see how it all plays out.
To find out when you can tune in for the next episode, click through to our Where to Watch The Last of Us TV Show guide. Additionally, our Full Cast List provides more details about the actors and characters. And of course, be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.