As much as like to complain about Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann’s plans to destroy us emotionally with The Last of Us, I would like to thank them for giving us a moment of respite with episode four, “Please Hold My Hand.” While the episode is a nice break from the heartbreak, it doesn’t allow our heroes to rest as it introduces new foes, my favorite running gag from the game, and further strengthens the relationship between Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey).
Spoilers for “Please Hold My Hand.”
We begin our journey from Massachusetts to Wyoming. Joel has made it clear to Ellie that while they don’t exactly have a solid plan, their best course of action is to find Joel’s brother Tommy (Gabriel Luna) – who used to be a member of the Fireflies – in the hopes that he’ll know who to contact to extract Ellie. So, while they are still stuck with each other for a little bit longer, Joel’s main goal of looking for his brother is back on track. While on an hourly stop at a gas station, Ellie fiddles around with the gun she took from Bill (Nick Offerman) and Frank’s (Murray Bartlett), making sure to look tough while she does (foreshadowing!). When she comes back out, she dazzles Joel with the king, the incredible, the always hilarious No Pun Intended: Volume Too. There was no conceivable timeline in my head that did not include this insanely incredible book, the way it actively aids in breaking the ice between Ellie and Joel will never get old.
Their journey is stopped short as night comes around and they’re forced to make a pit stop in the forest at night. With them being so far out in the wilderness, Ellie proposes that they start a fire to keep warm, an idea that’s very quickly shut down by Joel, because out here, infected are not the main cause for concern, but rather people – the perfect set up for the episode ahead. As Ellie drifts off, Joel’s paranoia gets the better of him and he stays awake to keep guard with his gun all night.
The next morning they set out again and find themselves stuck entering Kansas City, as the road into the city is blocked off by cars and debris. Joel decides to reroute and still enter the city because the long road will take too long. But as they enter the city, they drive past the entrance to Kansas City QZ, but are alarmed to see no FEDRA presence.The entire city is eerily empty, but they are soon interrupted by a man approaching the vehicle, claiming to be injured. Joel will never trust anyone outside his car, not after the distrust he cultivated after Sarah (Nico Parker). He floors it, but it’s too late. The injured man is revealed to be a rebel and the car is ambushed.
Joel and Ellie are thrust into a gunfight against three rebels. Joel tells Ellie to hide in a hole in a wall, before using his rifle to kill two revolutionaries. As he reloads, he is ambushed by a third raider who attempts to choke him to death. However, Ellie gets the drop on him with her gun, shooting him in the back. While this is not the first time Ellie has killed someone, this use of violence at the hands of a gun catches her by surprise. Watching people around her be killers is an entirely different thing than actually pulling the trigger herself. Memories from the past surfacing back up to haunt her. Joel and Ellie take a beat to regroup, fear of who they are finally settling deep for both of them, and just as quickly as it surfaces, it is pushed back down. They need to move.
Meanwhile, gaslight, gatekeep, girlboss revolutionary leader Kathleen (Melanie Lynskey) interrogates Dr. Eldelstein (John Getz). She is trying to find Henry Burrell (Lamar Johnson), who she blames for causing her brother’s death by ratting him out to FEDRA. But just as she’s about to get anywhere, she’s informed of the people Joel has killed. Her manhunt has just become much larger, and her problems aren’t necessarily contained to people.
On the other side, Joel and Ellie are forced to hunker down in a rundown bar as they wait for Kathleen’s patrols to vacate the area. Joel apologizes for putting Ellie in a situation where she had to kill or seriously injure someone…and Ellie admits it was not the first time she hurt someone. Joel gives her the gun back, and makes sure she understands basic gun safety, giving her some tricks on how to hold it, finally accepting that it will make it easier for her to protect herself in the long run.
By far, my favorite part of the episode was easily sexy, sexy man Jeffrey Pierce (who played Tommy in the original video game). In the show he plays Perry, Kathleen’s lieutenant, who sadly tells her they have no new leads on Henry or on Joel and Ellie, but they do have a problem that needs their immediate attention. He takes her into the basement of another building, where they find an indentation in the ground from which something is stirring. And as ominous as that is (foreshadowing), Kathleen’s priority is still finding Henry.
The episode ends with an intense conversation between Joel and Ellie as they make their way up an abandoned apartment building to hide out for the night. Ellie asks Joel how he recognized the ambush, and he explains he had both seen and done the trick himself with Tess (Anna Torv) and Tommy (Gabriel Luna). Ellie questions if Joel has killed innocent people, to which he does not respond alluding to the fact that he most certainly has, and he’s not proud of it one bit. Joel turns the tables on Ellie and asks her what she meant when she said she’d “hurt someone” earlier, and it’s now her turn to not respond. The two have clearly done things they’re not proud of in the past, but that doesn’t mean they can’t choose not to be those people anymore.
Finally, before they drift off to sleep, Ellie catches Joel by surprise, springing one final pun his way, and this time it makes him crack a smile. However, having turned over and thus covered his good ear in his sleep, Joel is awoken by the sound of Ellie shouting for him as they are being held at gunpoint by a man and a young boy (Keivonn Woodard) who signals them to be quiet.