Following up on last week’s cliffhanger, this episode introduces us to a pair of unloaded gun-wielding siblings who are desperate to escape Kansas City. And while the guns initially inspire some tension (“Everything is great,” Joel says in the world’s most unconvincing tone), a friendship does emerge … but even that has a caveat.
By virtue of their whole “lone wolf and cub” dynamic, it kinda feels like anyone who enters Joel and Ellie’s story is doomed. Tess didn’t even make it out of Boston and though they expected to meet up with Joel’s friends, Bill and Frank were already dead when they arrived. So once it becomes clear that Sam and Henry are friendly, helpful, and basically the perfect traveling companions, their survival starts to feel a little uncertain.
But “The Last of Us” doesn’t suffocate us with sadness. We’re a little tortured with worry — going into the tunnels sounds horrifically dangerous and the sniper waiting on the surface is far from fun — but in between all the bad stuff, there’s a heartwarming tint to the episode. How long has it been since either Sam or Ellie were allowed to be children? We’ve seen Ellie trying to find humor in the bleakness of their reality, pelting Joel with puns and slowly wearing down his tough exterior, but the girl still has a long way to go when it comes to her steely companion. No such barrier exists with Sam, who shares her love of Savage Starlight comics and jumps at the chance to play soccer in an abandoned underground daycare.