Attention!!! The article contains spoilers about the fifth episode of The Last of Us
If the world was all black and there were only cuts and gashes should we be afraid? Probably yes, our fear would be legitimate. But what if the world gave us someone to fight that scare with? We would feel so strong as to avoid any cursed trouble or tribulation. If we all had a person willing to give body and soul for our psychophysical safety, the world would be flooded with Superheroes lent to reality. Together it would be enough to close your eyes and imagine harmonic designs under the rubble – soccer fields instead of bombed out areas full of melancholy.
In The Last of Us 1×05 Sam asks Ellie exactly this: have you ever been afraid? It is a question that arises from a journey in which Sam has never seen the light. Only escapes and illnesses accompanied by hunger and shortages reigned in his existence. But the sharing of this suffering with the brother Henry has managed to appease the negativity – to make every step feel less heavy – to delude herself that, in two, we can become superheroes who fight fear. Together fear is less scary.
The Last of Us 1×05 – Fuga da Kansas City
This poignant episode was born from the ashes of the previous one: Joel and Ellie, hidden in an old building, are suddenly awakened by two armed boys. After announcing that they do not want to harm our protagonists, they introduce themselves: they are Henry and Sam, brothers on the run from a group of revolutionaries. The latter are headed by Kathleena woman who took over the city after a long war with the FEDRA military services. The revolutionaries are on the trail of Henry and Sam because they are guilty, according to Kathleen, of killing the woman’s brother. Henry offers Joel to help each other so that they can get out of the city unscathed and hope for a better future. Joel, reluctant at first, accepts because he thinks that the two boys know better the escape routes of the city nas well as all hiding places and shelter areas. So Joel, Ellie, Sam and Henry hit the road as they tell each other their stories: the melancholy past that eats, like a snake with its own tail, the bitter and atrocious present.
Henry says he delivered Kathleen’s brother to the FEDRA military to save his brother Sam, suffering from an aggressive form of leukemia: if he had collaborated with the military he would have in exchange a cure and medicines suitable for improving the child’s health. Henry talks like he’s the bad guy in the situation and sometimes regrets sending an innocent man to his deathbut Joel tries to cheer him up through a speech that echoes even under the sound of the festive bells: when you care about someone you are willing to do anything.
The story of Sam’s suffering, also deaf, goes through a cruel and merciless symbolism that the creators of The Last of Us masterfully use in empty and desolate tunnels. It is right here, in the desert and in contact with the ferocity of devastation, that Sam rediscovers the beauty of harmony. On the almost decayed walls of the underground settlements there are drawings of caressing flowers and children holding hands in the grass so green it’s envious. On the rusty and tired tables there are depictions of happy families where children look like angels sent by God himself to resurrect the beauty in the catastrophe. In this symbolism, quite in the middle of nowhere, Sam remembers what it’s like to feel joy while reading a comic with Ellie – he remembers what it’s like to get excited by the power of the imagination alone: this room has no walls, only trees. Infinite trees. Find, in the pages of an abandoned comic, the best reflection of his life.
How much does freedom cost?
The Last Of Us 1×05 has another fundamental theme at heart, which is that of freedom. After the pandemic this sentiment lost its power because it was devoured and sucked in by FEDRA and then by the revolutionaries. The people, placed in the middle, continue to be the victim of a struggle for the seizure of power, in which, in the end, there are only losers and no winners. People, lacking autonomy, are forced to act as spies in order not to end up in prison, some even collaborate with the revolutionaries to avoid death. The world described in The Last of Us has forgotten how important the dignity in the characterization of the human soul, making everyone so cynical as to expel any kind of common sense. Kathleen herself moves only to avenge her brother’s death even though the latter has expressed a deathbed prayer: to forgive Henry. For the woman, however, there is no forgiveness towards the one who deprived his life of love. After all, even if enemies, Henry and Kathleen act for the same reason: good to brothers.
During the escape, Joel, Ellie, Sam and Henry are joined by Kathleen and the other revolutions. As Henry is about to give himself up and inevitably sacrifice himself to save his brother, a group of infected rise from beneath the earth. At this precise moment, The Last of Us releases all the strength of him, staging a devastating long shot in which the fact literally take civilians by assault. It looks like a war with unequal weapons, in which in addition to the flames, we can see the brutality with which the infected attack people to transmit the fungus or ‘simply’ to kill. Many revolutionaries, including Kathleen herself, lose their lives in what appears to be punishment for their gruesome ways in Kansas. Meanwhile Ellie, increasingly comfortable with weapons, manages to stab two infected and save Henry and Sam while Joel manages to put everyone to flight.
The four protagonists hide in an old abandoned house and reflect on the continuation of the journey to the West. Locked in a room reading a comic as if it were a sweet lullaby that helps you fall asleepSam and Ellie find out who the baby has been infected. The latter wonders how it can change and if the monster attacks also the soul, that sweetest part that has always rejected evil. Ellie says she is the cure for the fungus and after cutting herself with a knife, she bathes Sam’s wound in her blood. as if that were a friendship pact to remember forever. Also Ellie, thanks to Sam, has finally thought about having fun – to believe that the world outside is just a bad dream.
The Last of Us ends its fifth episode with a finally disarming: Sam, now infected, ferociously attacks Ellie, throwing himself on her with an out of the ordinary rage. He nearly strangles her until Henry shoots her little brother dead. They are moments of panic in which Henry’s whole life passes in front of him like a box full of bittersweet memories. Desperate for the loss of the only person he has ever come to love, Henry commits suicide with the same weapon. Sam and Henry. Henry and Sam. Two threads intertwined even after death, two kids who lived life just for the sake of sharing it until the end. Even after this merciless odyssey.
Just before he died, Sam had asked Ellie a question: What are you afraid of? ‘To be alone,’ Ellie replied”. Because, deep down, the little girl knows that in two she can fight like giants against all pain. You also know that together we can do great things and challenge the very meaning of life – imagine it as a large drawing that still lives under the rubble.
“I am sorry”. He recites a note left by Ellie on the grave dug for Sam’s slender body. You are not the monster Sam, but this life without flowers.