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HBO’s The Last Of Us Season One, Episode Four Review – Hunters & Dad Jokes

HBO’s The Last Of Us Season One, Episode Four ReviewWhile last week’s tear jerking and high-performing episode is one that won’t soon be forgotten, episode four Please Hold To My Hand brings the focus back to Joel and Ellie, as we see them have their first run-in with a settlement of people who shoot first, and try to stop you from killing them after.

I loved how episode three expanded on characters we didn’t know very well from the game, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t much more excited to get more Joel and Ellie time this week.

And it delivered, with a sharper, 45 minute long tension-filled episode as we see Joel and Ellie go through some huge moments together in their building relationship.

HBO’s The Last Of Us Season One, Episode Four Review – Hunters & Dad Jokes

On The Road Again

Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey) are once again on their own, and this time we don’t leave their side for more than a few minutes, mainly to check in with Jeffery Pierce as Perry, a member of a group of people, similar to the Hunters Joel and Ellie run into in Pittsburgh it would seem.

But before all that, we’re treated to some much-missed Joel and Ellie quality time, which in this case, means a lot of travelling, driving, and Dad jokes.

Honestly, I do love these kinds of jokes so I did find them both hilarious and endearing, as Ramsey brings out a much more joyous Ellie than we’ve ever seen.

It’s heartwarming but at the same time all the more tragic for some of the episode’s most pivotal moments, though more on that later.

Those moments though are interesting foreshadowed by an early line from Joel that reminds Ellie of the “professional” nature of sorts to their relationship.

He calls her “cargo,” and says he’s only taking her further because Tess asked him too, and she was “like family.”

The events that follow unsurprisingly bring them closer together, though getting attacked by a group of hunters will do that to you.

(Jeffery Pierce) Tommy And The Hunters

After another tense night camping in the apocalypse and Ellie’s humorous disgust with coffee, they hop back into the truck to continue heading towards Wyoming.

Making it as far as Kansas City, they run into their first encounter with Hunters. It’s not the large group players face in the game, only a few people.

Still, it’s enough that Joel gets surprised by one who we learn is named Brian. Just before Brian can choke Joel (as if he wasn’t already going to survive) Ellie shoots him, allowing Joel the time to get up, and kill Brian.

How he begs for his life, and tells Ellie and Joel his name as an effort to create some sort of familiarity, felt a little like a nod to The Last Of Us Part II.

The episode overall seems to go to lengths to try and emphasize the real danger that other humans pose in a world like this, that they’re ultimately more dangerous than the infected.

I struggled to really feel that fear though, in part because myself and everyone else familiar with the story knows that Joel doesn’t die at the hands of ‘Brian,’ and their journey doesn’t end in Kansas.

I’m just not sure this first encounter really landed for me the way it was meant to. Maybe these hunters aren’t supposed to be people the audience should fear.

Maybe the point is more that they are just people, not bloodthirsty hunters, trying to survive, and no amount of creepily written warnings on plow-trucks will remove the knowledge that Joel and Ellie will indeed survive them.

What’s Their Problem?

It also didn’t help that the time spent away from Joel and Ellie couldn’t help but feel far less enticing. Melanie Lynskey’s Kathleen and the rest of Jeffery Pierce’s crew, at least for now, don’t seem all that interesting.

They also seem to have a vendetta against Henry and his brother Sam, two tragic characters from the first game that many fans love. What’s their problem?

She killed a doctor over it, so I imagine its more than your average misunderstanding.

Whatever it is, promo shots and knowledge of how the game’s story progresses betray that we’ll likely find out in episode five, when Joel, Ellie, Sam and Henry will have a chance to talk.

And likely more time with Kathleen and friends, who for all I know could get a lot more interesting by Friday.

In any case, for now, the most interesting about their settlement is the big concave pile of cement in that basement room.

While I doubt we’d get anything as tenacious as the Rat King so soon, my bet is more that its simply a huge nest of infected, with a bloater mixed in.

Bonding Over Toilet Humor

This episode was the most time we’ve gotten in the series so far with just Joel and Ellie. And I loved every second of it.

As someone who has played the games, the first in particular, countless times over the last ten years I was almost beginning to feel starved for time with Joel and Ellie.

Players by this point in the story have spent plenty of time with it being just the two of them, even if the player in question is running through without dying ten times in a combat section.

So now that we’ve finally gotten some alone time with just the two of them, it makes the highs of even such low-hanging fruit like toilet humour feel all that more high, and I couldn’t help but laugh at every one of Ellie’s jokes, or feel a warmth in my heart as Joel finally laughed along with her.

The moment that Joel and Ellie had together after they had killed Brian was just amazing to watch, as both actors delivered vulnerable performances that lifted the scene emotionally, and you felt Joel and Ellie get closer.

By contrast it made every scene away from the two of them feel lackluster. With this coming Friday’s episode being the Henry and Sam focused one, its unlikely that Jeffery Pierce and friends will have time to get anymore interesting before Joel and Ellie move on.

Still, I could be wrong. For now, I’m thankful for the time we do get with Ellie and Joel this week, and all the jokes that Ellie tells Joel thinking he’s not heard them before.

You can check out the first four episodes of HBO’s The Last Of Us wherever it is streaming in your region, right now.



The Final Word

HBO's The Last Of Us gives the audience what it wants in episode four in abundance, which is more alone time with Joel and Ellie, seeing their relationship grow and watching the two characters bond more, becoming closer together. It was great to finally get that in episode four, but the time spent away from them suffered more for it. While it's great to see Jeffery Pierce make his appearance, Kathleen and company don't quite yet hit the mark as interesting antagonists.