Please note: there are FULL spoilers for the entire fifth episode of this first season, as well as all preceding episodes. Also worth noting is that I have never played the video game this is based on, and have no idea of any specific plot points, so any speculation of upcoming events is truly just that.
After twenty years of living under the tyrannical rule of the Kansas City FEDRA officers, the citizens revolt and, led by Kathleen, retake the city. Avoiding the patrolling Resistance, Henry (Lamar Johnson) and his younger brother, the deaf Sam (Keivonn Woodard) search for somewhere safe to hide. The Resistance executed the FEDRA members, and imprisons the so-called Collaborators, those regular citizens who dobbed in their friends and neighbours for supplies or special treatment. Kathleen visits the imprisoned Collaborators, and asks for information on Henry. Only one man cracks and tells Kathleen what he knows, and as Kathleen leaves she orders all of the prisoners executed. Despite objection from her second in command Perry, Kathleen orders everyone available search for Henry.
Meanwhile in the city, Henry and Sam find a secret attic to sleep in, with the aid of Edelstein (John Getz, the man Kathleen executed in the previous episode). Henry and Edelstein determine there is only enough food to last 10 or so days, and they are both out of ammo. Henry goes to comfort Sam, and Sam begins drawing himself and Henry as superheroes on discarded cardboard and the walls. Ten days later, Edelstein had not returned, and Henry and Sam must move on. Before they can leave the building, Henry sees Joel crash into the laundromat, and he and Ellie kill their pursuers. Henry and Sam follow Joel and Ellie, and then hold the pair at gunpoint.
During a tense confrontation, Joel and Henry agree that since nobody has been hurt, they can work out a way for everyone to leave unharmed, and they four introduce themselves. Henry and Ellie do most of the talking as the four share some food, and Joel suggest they call their mutual survival a win-win and go their separate ways. Henry counters that he knows a way out of the now Resistance occupied city. As Ellie and Sam bond over jokes from Ellie’s joke book, Henry explains that some 15 years ago, FEDRA corralled the infected into underground tunnels, but a FEDRA officer let slip to henry that one of them is clear and empty. Henry can’t believe Joel and Ellie faces off with a clicker, let alone two, and the three decide to enact their plan.
In a tunnel underneath the city, Henry loudly brags that the tunnel is empty and his plan is good, before being quickyl silenced by the more experienced Joel. The four continue on, before coming to an area clearly painted by children to look like a fantasy land. Through the door painted like a castle, the four find a safe haven, with art supplies and children’s toys. Joel says he knew of people that went underground after Outbreak Day, forming these sort of settlements. Joel briefly checks the room, while Ellie and Sam bond further over their mutual love of comic books. Deciding to wait until it’s dark to continue on wards, Ellie and Sam play some football, and Sam teaches Ellie how to sign a line from their favourite comic, “Endure and Survive”.
While waiting to leave, Joel apologises to Henry and says that if Henry was only a collaborator ot help Sam, then Joel understands. Henry opens up to Joel about why Kathleen is after him, relaying that order to get Sam the medicine he needed, Henry outed Kathleen’s own brother, Michael, to FEDRA. Henry is ashamed of his actions, and believes himself to be a bad guy, but Joel does not respond. Joel says they have waited long enough, and the four leave the safe room. Simultaneously, Perry finds Kathleen in Kathleen’s childhood bedroom, where she remembers her brother, and how he told Kathleen to forgive Henry for what Henry had done. Kathleen disagrees, and vows to find Henry and get her revenge.
In the darkness of night, Joel, Ellie, Henry and Sam travel through an underground garage and into a residential street. Suddenly, a sniper begins to take shots at the four from a house at the end of the street. Ellie, Henry and Sam stay in cover behind a car, and Joel sneaks through the back way, and is forced to kill the old man who was sniping when the man goes to attack Joel. Joel hears on the man’s radio that he has informed Kathleen, and that Kathleen and more Resistance soldiers are on their way. Joel screams for Ellie, Henry and Sam to run, and Joel luckily manages to take out the driver of the plowing truck, which then crashes into a nearby house and explodes.
Perry and other soldiers keep Joel at bay in the sniper nest of the house, while Kathleen calls for Henry to show himself. Henry’s attempt to trade his life for that of Sam and Ellie is refused, and Henry steps out to face his fate. Before Kathleen can kill Henry, the plowing trucks begins to sink into the ground and suddenly hundreds of infected begin to pour out and swarm the Resistance soldiers. Henry runs back to hide with Sam and Ellie, while Joel to keep watch with the sniper rifle. As Henry and Sam run and hide under a car, Ellie jumps in the back window of another car. From the hole caused by the explosion, a large, bloated, monstrous infected emerges. Perry tells Kathleen to flee, which she appears to do, but Perry cannot withstand the new monster and is literally torn in two.
At the same time, Ellie is cornered by a child Clicker crawling through the same open window and she has to escape. Elle manages to kill two infected who had cornered Henry and Sam underneath a car. The three are suddenly held at gunpoint by Kathleen, who refuses to forgive Henry, and Kathleen is killed by the child Clicker. Joel reunites and escapes with Henry and Sam, as the horde instead heads back into Kansas City. Taking refuge in a nearby hotel, Joel offers for Henry and Sam to accompany he and Ellie to Wyoming. Sam reveals to Ellie that he has been bitten, and Ellie cuts her hand to put some of her blood, which she believes is a cure, onto his wound. Ellie falls asleep in an arm chair.
The next morning, Ellie attempts to talk to Sam, but he has turned. Tumbling out of the bedroom to where Joel and Henry have slept, Joel attempts to grab a gun but Henry beats him to it. Conflicted, Henry shoots the infected Sam, before questioning what he has done. As Joel implores Henry to give him the gun, Henry instead turns the gun on himself, and shoots himself to Joel and Ellie’s horror. Joel buries their bodies, and Ellie leaves a note on Sam’s grave that simply says, “I’m sorry.” The two continue their journey, alone.
+ Henry holding Joel and Ellie at gunpoint while out of ammo is literally exactly why I said Joel should have kept his assault rifle in the previous episode. Obviously the car crash and all that made it somewhat redundant, but still
+ so we finally get someone saying ‘Clicker’. It’s sometimes difficult to use these game descriptions in a adaption, because there is no encyclopaedia like in those games. For my money this made some sense, as after some 20 years there would be ways to distinguish between the different infected. I’m glad it was a single sentence, and not some long and drawn out ‘What should we name these things we are seeing?’ situation
+ the child clicker was a lot more bendy/contortionist than the other infected we’ve seen so far. I wonder if it’s an age thing, or she was more recently infected? Do the infected actually eat their victims, or just bite them? Because there might even be some clicker babies around, which is a terrifying thought
+ Bella Ramsay’s gasp when Henry shot himself was some good stuff. By which I mean, horrifyingly realistic and not a good thing at all. I’m still not a fan of Ellie, though
– it was a strange choice to make FEDRA the off-screen bad guys in the prologue to this episode, only to then have the Resistance come along and do heinous things on-screen. I understand that Joel and Ellie are (more or less) the only people we are meant to be cheering for, but to make this rebellion so cartoonishly evil was a bold choice that I don’t think paid off. Consider especially that in the underground safe room, there is a drawing of two FEDRA officers dubbed ‘Our protectors’
– I’m glad we finally got a name given to Dr Edelstin from the previous episode. And I’m not sure we even had Perry’s name in the previous episode, either. If these are characters from the game, I’d say they still need to be introduced properly. And if they are not, then doubly so
– once again, Henry (and Ellie and Sam) were all just so dang loud when in the tunnels and then the ‘safe room’. We never see Joel, or even Henry or Ellie clearing the room properly, so it was so jarring to see them just relax and play games. In the first episode we saw that the infected can mould to walls, unseen and unheard, so you’d think they would take more time clearing the ‘safe’ areas properly
– I was not a fan at all of the scene of Kathleen in her childhood bedroom. It was an unnecessary attempt at humanising this antagonist; what was the intention, to make us feel bad when she later gets killed? I’m glad she’s dead because she was easily my least favourite part of this series so far. In general I’m not a fan of ‘strong military team takes orders they disagree with from civilian woman because of reasons’
– when Ellie was hiding with Henry and Sam behind the car, Kathleen said ‘She’s with the man who killed Bryan,’ or words to that effect. How did she know who Ellie was? Earlier on, Kathleen had only said ‘the man who killed Bryan’, and there has been no indication that anybody had seen Joel and Ellie together
– I have no strong thoughts on real world Ben Shapiro, and if I’m being honest he seems like a right cunt. That said, the fact he was openly mocked for wondering ‘Where are the zombies?’ and then to have the climax and best part of this episode being a not!zombie ambush felt somewhat counterproductive. I realise that his asking where the zombies were was more about homophobia than anything, but you get my point
– I wasn’t a fan of Kathleen getting the comparatively less violent death, when the relatively nice and loyal Perry got torn asunder by the Bloater. If anything, it should have been the other way around, but we all know soldier men are more viable targets for violence than the actual bad people?
Final thoughts: As the disparity between the positives and negatives listed above might lay clear, I was not a fan of most anything to do with Kathleen/Perry/the Resistance/Kansas City in general, which means I wasn’t a big fan of the last two episode. Even now that it’s over, I wonder what the point was other than to traumatise Joel and Ellie; they didn’t get anything out of this little detour, and in fact lost their truck, supplies and weapons from Bill. I’m glad it’s over with. I just want more of Joel and Ellie taking down the infected in ruins of civilisation. Is that too much to ask?