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Episode 5 of ‘The Last of Us’ Shows Childhood Wonder in a Devastating Way

Joel and Ellie sitting in episode 5 of 'The Last of Us'

One of the more heartbreaking elements of episode 5 of HBO’s The Last of Us is the fact that there is still a lot of wonder left in the children of the series’ post-apocalyptic world. When Ellie (Bella Ramsey) gets to meet Sam (Keivonn Woodard) and his brother Henry (Lamar Johnson), it is clear that for all her bravado, she’s still just a kid who’s been thrust into this larger-than-life adventure.

Henry finds a connection with Joel (Pedro Pascal) as people just trying their best to keep a kid alive when the cards are stacked against them, and that protective nature in Joel has been highlighted over and over again by other characters throughout the show so far. Bill (Nick Offerman) left him a note about protecting Tess, and now he has Henry to relate to.

But where the episode really shines is in the small moments with Ellie and Sam together. She quickly realizes how she can interact with Sam, and they both go from two people who know how best to hide in this bleak setting to two kids who just want to talk about comic books. They’re both so grown up in their young ages because they had to grow up quickly, but getting to see them briefly be kids just feels like a punch to the gut.

They’re not allowed to have fun and this episode and in episode 4, “Please Hold My Hand,” we got to see what happens when these kids can just have a bit of fun.

Ellie and Sam’s friendship

sam in the last of us

Ellie realizing that Sam likes the same comics that she does is an easy way for the two to connect, but it also gives us a look into their ability to still be kids despite all that’s happened—and that’s not a bad thing. They are kids, and getting to see them act like it is something that we haven’t gotten yet throughout the show, because Ellie knows the stakes of what is happening around her.

Sam and Ellie know that they can’t really live a normal life as kids, but they are still young and have moments where it shines through. Ellie asks about starting a fire, and Joel just looks at her and says something about her knowing why he’s going to say they can’t. Henry is struggling to get Sam to remember that the world is against them.

It leads into the two having such a childish reaction to Sam getting bitten by the infected. Ellie thinks she can save him from the Cordyceps infection just by using her own blood, due to her immunity, and Sam doesn’t want to tell anyone out of fear. Of course, this doesn’t work out in the end. Yes, it is childish, but they’re both excused from this thinking because they are literal children. We haven’t really seen Ellie act like a kid outside of her bad jokes, and her friendship with Sam lets us be reminded that she is just a teenager.

Ellie and her puns

Ellie stands by a fence with the woods in the background in The Last of Us.

While the pun book is something from the game and a staple of Ellie Williams, it is also the first moment we have of Ellie being childish. She’s giggling and making jokes, and while she loves to be a smartass to Joel, the pun book is different. Ellie uses it to tell bad jokes and giggle over it as a 14-year-old would do in our own life.

Her jokes and poking fun at Joel with them brings us into the childlike wonder that the characters had ripped from them, and when we do get to see characters like Ellie and Sam just be kids, it’s heartbreaking. They just want to have fun and be young and carefree, and they can’t.

The Last of Us has consistently shown that it will break our hearts week after week, and getting to see Ellie and Sam have a friendship only for it to be taken away from us just hurts.

(featured image: HBO)

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She/Her. A writer who loves all things movies, TV, and classic rock. Resident Spider-Man expert, official Leslie Knope, actually Yelena Belova. Wanda Maximoff has never done anything wrong in her life. Star Wars makes her very happy. New York writer with a passion for all things nerdy. Yes, she has a Pedro Pascal podcast. And also a Harrison Ford one.