This article contains spoilers for episode five of The Last Of Us.
For anybody complaining that there hasn’t been enough Infected action in the past couple of episodes of The Last Of Us, this week more than delivered the goods. And even better, it aired early thanks to scheduling changes surrounding the Super Bowl!
However, it was the aftermath of the Hunters’ thwarted attack on our heroes that has got everybody talking, with two devastating character deaths faithfully adapted from the games.
Die-hard fans of the source material may have known what was coming for Henry and Sam, but the rest of us weren’t prepared for that grisly end.
A Tragic Finale
To recap, as emotionally traumatic as that may be, the quartet’s escape plan from Kansas City was thwarted by the arrival of Kathleen and the Hunters.
However, their decision to open fire with the aim of running our protagonists off the road had a major consequence, awakening swarms of Infected (from varying breeds) who quickly swooped in to attack.
Although Joel, Ellie, Henry, and Sam eventually managed to flee the scene, they didn’t do so unscathed. Unbeknownst to the rest of them, Sam had been attacked by the Infected, and when Ellie woke him up the next morning, she discovered he’d turned into a Runner overnight.
A shocked Henry immediately killed his younger brother whilst he was attacking Ellie – briefly blaming Joel before turning the gun on himself. It was a tragic chain of events that followed the same pattern as the source material.
The impact of this saga can be keenly felt on Ellie’s journey going forward, although this is noticeably altered in the series – not least because the character of Sam has transformed.
Here’s how their friendship remains significant in the original games and how the foundations have changed here.
Sam And Ellie In The Games
In the game, the four begin their journey out of the city by hiding out in a toy store, where Sam takes a shine to a toy robot – something his older brother, who believes they should only take what they need, disapproves of.
This robot becomes a crucial piece of symbolism as the story continues, as Sam ignores Henry by taking it. Following his death, Ellie and Joel set about burying the siblings, with Ellie intending to put the robot on his grave.
However, she ends up keeping it with her as a memento, which is referenced again several times within the franchise.
The robot is seen frequently, including in The Last Of Us Part II, where the toy is sat on the shelf of Ellie’s new home in Jackson.
Sam’s death continues to cast a shadow over her too, at different points wishing that she said something different to him as her final words the night before he died – survivor’s guilt because he succumbed immediately to the infection, whereas she remained fine
How The Series Switches This Up
The character of Sam has been altered due to the casting of deaf actor Keivonn Woodard, which series creator Neil Druckmann described as the “kind of constraint that led to really interesting storytelling decisions that, in some ways, make that sequence more impactful than it is in the game”.
The main storytelling decision that has been made is to replace Sam’s toy robot with a notepad, on which he draws pictures of superheroes and communicates with Ellie.
This simple change helps make that final sequence all the more devastating, effectively communicating Ellie’s survivor’s guilt as she writes a simple “I’m sorry” on his notepad, leaving it on his grave before driving off with Joel.
The manner in which the pair die may be unchanged from the game, but this tweak generates an even more powerful emotional effect.
Expect this death to continue haunting Ellie for the rest of the series.