‘The Last of Us’ Season 1, Episode 4 Recap: Truck Stop

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The Last Of Us

This week, Joel and Ellie’s bond deepened during an unplanned stay in Kansas City. They should have tried Des Moines instead.

The central duo of “The Last of Us” don’t know it yet, but they made a formidable enemy this week in Kathleen, played by Melanie Lynskey.Credit...Liane Hentscher/HBO
The central duo of “The Last of Us” don’t know it yet, but they made a formidable enemy this week in Kathleen, played by Melanie Lynskey.Credit…Liane Hentscher/HBO

For a long stretch of this week’s episode of “The Last of Us,” it looks as if not much is going to happen, and that maybe this week we’ll just have “The Chill Road-Trip Adventures of Joel and Ellie.” They listen to some Hank Williams. Joel teaches Ellie how to siphon gas from parked cars — though when he fumblingly tries to explain the physics behind it, she flashes a wicked smile and says, “You don’t know.”

They eat some 20-year-old Chef Boyardee ravioli. (It’s good!) Ellie finds a book of puns at a gas station and torments Joel with jokes like: “What did the mermaid wear to her math class? An algae bra.”

The fun can’t last, alas. About a third of the way through the episode, our heroes hit a blocked road in Kansas City, and while trying to find an alternative route through downtown, they are ambushed and then ultimately caught in the crossfire of a power struggle involving a local militia. In the initial melee, they crash Bill’s truck. All things considered, they probably should have driven through Des Moines.

By the time the closing credits roll, there is a lot we still don’t know about the predicament in which Joel and Ellie find themselves. We know that the K.C. militia — which has “WE THE PEOPLE” emblazoned on its armored vehicles — is headquartered in a Quarantine Zone that FEDRA abandoned. We know its leader, Kathleen (Melanie Lynskey), is so ice-cold that she executes her old family doctor. We know Kathleen is on a rampage against FEDRA “collaborators,” and that as part of that mission she is looking for someone named Henry, who is with someone named Sam: a child, apparently, who draws pictures of himself and Henry as superheroes.

We know that Henry and Sam were recently hiding out in a building where the concrete foundation is breaking up and rippling, perhaps because of some cordyceps/infected activity going on underground. And we know that next week, Joel and Ellie are going to have to deal with the two guns pointing at the episode’s cliffhanger ending.

Assuming our heroes don’t immediately die next week — a pretty safe assumption with five episodes remaining — what mattered most to the story this episode was that the trouble in Kansas City deepened Joel and Ellie’s bond, forcing them to be more honest with each other.

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