The following article features spoilers for episode four of The Last Of Us.
After seeing her in Yellowjackets, we’ve learnt to be afraid of Melanie Lynskey whenever she appears on our screens.
The beloved character actor steals the show this week as the terrifying Kathleen, the most major character to be introduced so far who doesn’t directly appear in the games.
The show has done a good job of fleshing out more minor characters – just look at last week’s episode for conclusive proof – but hasn’t quite deviated from established canon quite like this before.
Many fans of the games will likely be wondering who Kathleen is – it turns out, she frighteningly fills in one of the most intriguing gaps in the source material’s narrative.
Who Is Kathleen? And Who Are The Hunters?
Joel and Ellie’s arrival in Kansas City may already be surprising for fans of the game, but it’s clear that the Pittsburgh chapter of that story has been relocated out of Pennsylvania. In short, this is where they first come into contact with the Hunters.
One of the most feared factions to have emerged following the outbreak, the Hunters are sharply anti-FEDRA, successfully fighting back against the regime that’s imposing strict rules and regulations on them.
However, once in control of a new territory, their rules of command are not that different from their previous oppressors – they’re similarly ready to pull the trigger on any Firefly they come across too.
Aside from the change of scenery, the main difference between the Hunters of the game and those in the series is that for the first time, we get to see their ruthless leader. And who better to cast as the previously off-screen adversary than the most terrifying woman on television?
In the game, you only get second-hand information about the unseen leader during the Pittsburgh set chapter, with a section allowing you to listen in on conversations between the Hunters before killing them.
They recount various bits of information about their boss and the instructions given to them, even though the unnamed leader remains stubbornly off-screen throughout.
Based on the source material, giving a fleshed-out role to this leader means that things will inevitably end badly for Kathleen in next week’s episode.
When we encounter the Hunters within the game, it’s striking due to how much they openly hate each other, going so far as to kill fellow members.
This includes previous leaders too – one in-game conversation references a past boss who died after expressing their desire to expand beyond the quarantine zone’s wall, heavily hinting that their disgruntled underlings had enough of their ways.
This means that Kathleen might not be as fearsome as initially assumed, especially if she’s leading a faction prone to turning on their leader at any given moment.
Who Are Henry And Sam?
Further proof that the Pittsburgh storyline has been relocated to Kansas City comes via the cliffhanger, where Joel and Ellie are woken up in the middle of the night and held at gunpoint.
This is the introduction of Henry and Sam (played by Lamar Johnson and Keivonn Woodard respectively), a duo who play a crucial role in this chapter of the game.
The two brothers are also on the run from Hunters, having secretly made their way into the quarantine zone to get supplies, waiting for the right time to escape without drawing attraction to themselves.
In the game, Joel and Ellie help the pair with their escape plan, but not before they are ambushed by Hunters on their way out of a safe zone – a noisy arrival that alerts the nearby Infected too.
Yes, if next week’s episode is staying broadly true to the game’s narrative, you can expect the most violent carnage of the series so far.
However, the addition of Lynskey’s Kathleen to the mix does mean that there may be big changes: instead of facing off against several Hunters along the way, will this be a more streamlined narrative, with just one big bad for them all to face down?
Guess we’ll have to wait until next week to find out.