The Last of Us: Endure and Survive   Books Included 
February 11, 2023 3:36 PM - Season 1, Episode 5 - Subscribe

Joel and Ellie get some unexpected help in finding a way out of Kansas City. (vulture recap)

dis_integration isn't caught up yet and gave me the OK to post a thread. Hope they join us soon. Tags stolen from ismael in the show only thread.
posted by Iteki (10 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Liking the continued integration of small things like the Savage Starlight books, and how Ellie has only found a certain number of them so far. The choice of having Sam as a Deaf character came from investigating ways of having less dialogue. Video at that link with the young actor behind Sam. I loved his physicality in the character, especially the little swaying thing he did when pointing the gun at Joel, it really drove home that he's just a baby. He feels younger than game Sam.

Joel's change from "I don't work with rats" to "I could maybe understand, seeing this" is a really nice example of the constant work they are doing to break down the black and white to shades of grey, bringing us the audience along with them. They need us, especially those who haven't played the game, to take those steps to move us into a position that will allow us to accept what Joel is going to do 3 episodes from now, that one pivotal choice he will make. It get's my skin prickling every time they do it, knowing what's coming. Henry killed a good but ineffective leader, enabling a bad leader to effectively overthrow their even worse oppressors. But his own judgement is "I'm a bad man because I did a bad thing". Kathleen is killing dozens, to avenge one. Aw mang...

And yeah, the non-game addition of Ellie trying to cure his goddam bite with her "magic blood"?!
That's my #thisfuckinshow.
posted by Iteki at 4:15 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]

I had to explain Ish and the bunker colony to my spouse, a non-player. I'm sort of glad they didn't go into the whole thing about what happened to the people that lived there. It was pretty bleak, and as I've said before the reason I won't replay it.
posted by fiercekitten at 4:25 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]

(end of Ep5 spoilers) How is it that these two words keep wrecking me in the most beautiful way?
posted by xedrik at 5:25 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]

frankly I thought the bloater was dumb? prosthetics looked very good I guess but it feels so video game-y in the worst way, especially in a scene where the real focus is on how the sheer numbers and speed of the zombies is what's impossible to overcome. I dunno.

joel sniper-covering for ellie by contrast felt like a very good transfer of a general video game vibe into this medium

in general though the show is just absolutely nailing what's compelling about the story's bones and packing more nuanced, humanistic softer edges around what the often nasty nihilistic streak in the original telling
posted by Kybard at 6:29 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]

The bloater was dumb. I was especially disappointed to see it because I thought they’d explicitly excluded it from the show.

On the other hand, I was quite pleasantly surprised at how they repurposed the sniper scene. It’s among the oldest of gunplay tropes: manage to flank a sniper or a turret and your reward is a few minutes of sniping or turreting. And the game had us believe that the disorganized groups of hunters would somehow chase you down to the suburbs with their armored car?

And yet they kept the bones of the scene and built something much more satisfying around it, including a plausible reason for the snipee to become the sniper.

My only concern is that I think they’re repeating the leitmotif a bit too often. Henry’s decision to sell out Michael was a pretty blatant example of someone making the “wrong” choice, sacrificing dozens to save the one he cared about. In terms of raw body count it’s probably even more lopsided than what Joel will do at the end of the season. But it’s a quibble, and maybe it only seems obvious to me what they’re setting up because I already know the outcome.
posted by savetheclocktower at 7:56 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]

And yeah, the non-game addition of Ellie trying to cure his goddam bite with her "magic blood"?!

Would have been an interesting deviation from the game if that had worked: think of how valuable she'd be if people found out. Maybe more interesting than the canonical plot.

There is some point in the game Part 2 where she mentions that her blood doesn't work as a cure. I don't remember if they ever explained how she figured that out.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 8:36 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]

I played the game this last week, after 9 years of never finishing it because I didn't like the gameplay. And somehow managing to avoid spoilers the whole time.

The Sam & Henry sequence was by far the best part of the game for me. I was genuinely surprised at their rapid demise, I had no idea how the game's structure was going to go and they'd done so much work making the AI for the 4 people work together in a sensible way I just assumed I had some companions for the rest of the game. So it was a lurching horror to see Sam turn, Henry's violence. Quite a shock for a videogame.

The TV episode lost a lot of that tension in its structure. This is the Sam & Henry episode; once Henry agreed to go to Wyoming it was clear they weren't going to make it to Wyoming, that was going to be the end of them, they were confined to the one episode. And so they have to die. I also felt this was a case where the agency of a videogame made a scene much more powerful than the TV show. In the game we are Joel, and even though we don't control Joel in the cutscene there's a whole thing where he pulls a gun first, is about to shoot zombie Sam, and I was practically tapping the trigger button on the controller myself to make him do it. It was me Henry stopped, me watching the horrible outcome without any means to change it. Here in the show it was competently executed but I was just watching some actors on screen do the thing. A good TV show, mind you, but it's a place where the narrative affordance of a videogame worked better than a TV show.

We never got a game-included post for the last episode so I wanted to comment on a change they made to the script in the lst episode. In the game there's a whole big thing where Ellie first gets a gun. Joel (me) has this wrestling fight with a bad guy for a gun and Ellie manages to grab the gun and kill, saving Joel. It's a shockingly violent moment. And Joel freaks out, yells at Ellie about how she was told to stay put, takes the gun away from her. Treats her like a little girl. And she accepts it. A bit later Joel thinks better of it, gives her a gun of her own, and it's a major moment of bonding and trust between them. None of that happens in the show, they just sort of skate faster through all that character building. She has the gun in her backpack, Joel's like "huh, thanks", end of discussion. I missed the more complicated version.

Even later Joel sets Ellie up in a sniper nest with the Hunter Rifle (the first time you get it!). And Ellie smoothly kills 3-7 bad guys in one of the game's scripted battle scenes, pop pop pop, shooting them whenever you screw up the gameplay bad enough you need help from above to survive the level. It's very videogamey. Also character breaking; she shoots awfully well for a 14 year old. Doesn't seem panicked at all at all the killing she's doing.

The mass killing is an awful recurring trope in the videogame. Every 10 minutes the game drops you into some sequence where 3-4 men or zombies spawn at a time and you have to kill them, slowly moving forward through the level while scavenging half-scissors and rags. I think Joel has killed like 30 people by this episode of the show. All without commentary. It's awful.

That's a change the TV show had to make, mass murder like that is a game trope but not a TV trope. I thought in particular his killing of the old man in the sniper house was very nicely written and acted here, "don't make me do this". Videogame Joel (me) seems to kill scores of people with unfeeling competence. And the occasional game reload, for mistakes.
posted by Nelson at 6:57 AM on February 12 [2 favorites]

I loved the bloater but had a moment of, “ah, that’s for the people who played the game and I wonder how that hits for everyone else.” I agree with another comment that the speed running and creepily moving little girl infected were much more terrifying. Still glad to see it represented and thought it looked neat, just didn’t really give me the heebie jeebies like the others.

The addition of Kathleen and Henry/Sam’s story added more, I think. I’m still bummed pittsburgh wasn’t included. I used to live there, and replaying the first game during the pandemic was a strange and very emotional experience for me during those scenes. Something about the general feeling of absolute terror in real life at the prospect of the pandemic becoming The Event and being in a gameplay realization of that thing in a place I still love today just hit with depth that surprised me, and still makes me feel something in my chest.

I think they are going to have to really lean into making the relationship between Ellie and Joel very, very impactful for the audience in this show if the end is going to punch. Both actors have done an awesome job, but I agree they have done a speed run through some key moments in service of the world they’ve built here and to allow for development of other characters. I think that’s ok, and they can still land that ship, but there will absolutely need to be heartstrings pulled and that connection further cemented to make you believe their unique bond in the end.

Other things I liked:
-The sniper scene being the same setup as the game - I liked that the set was the same, it worked in the show, too
-Ellie’s softening towards Sam and hardening after his downfall
-The idea that Kansas City FEDRA was particularly brutalist towards the people. They made an effort to humanize FEDRA and add nuance, and KC was a good opportunity to show the relationship between that group and the people they oversee is very complicated
-Seeing Ish’s things. That whole set was just like the game but a sweet break from the brutality in the outside world

I continue to be very pleased with this show.
posted by glaucon at 9:00 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]

I agree with another comment that the speed running and creepily moving little girl infected were much more terrifying.

The way the infected girl sort of falls/tumbles over the seats in the car was just... [shudder]
posted by Fleebnork at 8:20 AM on February 13 [4 favorites]

The way the infected girl sort of falls/tumbles over the seats in the car was just... [shudder]

Played by Skye Cowton, gymnast and contortionist!
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:54 AM on February 15 [2 favorites]

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