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The Last of Us - Please Hold to My Hand & Endure and Survive - Double Review

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These two episodes of The Last of Us group together the Pittsburgh arc of the video game though it's now set in Kansas City and a lot of effort is put into humanising the hunters living in the city with some great acting by Melanie Lynskey over the course of the two episodes as she leads the hunters of Kansas City on a hunt for Henry who played a part in the death of her brother. 

Another two big changes to this arc include making Sam a deaf character and adding an extra layer of diversity and representation to the show and introducing a truly horrifying pit of zombies. If the zombie pit had been a feature of the game, I think I probably would have been scared out of my mind. That's not something I'd ever want to face if I was playing Joel and Ellie and props have to be given to the show for increasing the horror of the infected's physicality. They're like some kind of nightmare circus act and if I'd seen one of those infected leaping out at me from the dark, I probably would have had a heart attack. 

It was a great way to up the fear factor, especially in an arc that dealt with more of the darker side of humanity and the trauma this world can inflict. Ellie especially goes through a lot over the course of the two episodes from shooting a man to save Joel to watching a newfound friend succumb to the virus and witnessing a suicide. 

Sam's death is a pivotal turning point in Ellie's arc. They have a touching heart-to-heart about fear in a scene that juxtaposes the trauma of the world they're living in with the glaring fact that they are still children. Ellie's greatest fear is ending up alone and Sam's death exacerbates this fear. 

It was painful to watch Ellie tell Sam her blood was medicine and then smear it on his leg. I don't think she actually believed it would work but it was a great way to show how scared she is of losing people and how desperate she is to save them. This is only going to make her more determined to find the Firefly lab and make sure that Sam's death - and Tess' before him - wasn't in vain. 

Luckily, it wasn't all trauma and heartbreak in these episodes. The fourth episode has a long, relaxed sequence showing Ellie and Joel's journey across the country, complete with puns and some backstory into Tommy being someone always looking for something to fight for. It's nice to get some more exposition on the brotherly relationship and as the sixth episode revolves around their reunion, it's going to be interesting to see how that dynamic has changed considering we haven't seen Tommy since the pilot. 

The fifth episode also allowed the characters to have some downtime to breathe, with Ellie and Sam reading comics and kicking a ball around while Henry all but marvels at the sight of Sam smiling and being happy. Henry and Sam are a great juxtaposition to Joel and Ellie, showing what can happen when you try to protect someone but you fail. Henry's horror and pain at being forced to shoot Sam was palpable and Joel is plainly thinking about Sarah when he's standing over their graves at the end. 

What did you think of the episodes? Were you just as horrifed at the infected surging out of the pit? Sound off in the comments below!

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