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Secondary characters in The Last of Us foreshadow Part II

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  • The Last of Us expands the secondary characters to introduce the main themes in Part II

The Last of Us expanded the storylines of the supporting characters and, in doing so, created important themes and decisions for Joel and Ellie.

The following contains spoilers for The Last of Us Season 1, Episode 5, “Endure and Survive,” now streaming on HBO Max.

The Last of Us Season 1, Episode 5, “Endure and Survive” continues the series’ practice of expanding storylines and exploring the perspectives of supporting characters. This is made possible by the television format as it can stray from Joel and Ellie’s point of view in a way that the original games cannot. Episodes 4 and 5 spend a significant amount of time with Kathleen – an original character for the show – and the tragic brothers Sam and Henry. In doing so, the show foreshadows significant themes that are relevant to The Last of Us Part II, which is arguably the main source for the show’s recently renewed season 2.

The Last of Us Part II is a brilliant game, albeit a highly controversial one due to the polarizing storyline and character decisions. However, it’s those same bold choices that make the game great, which is why they need to be introduced early in the HBO series. This will prepare the audience to be more receptive to the adaptation than the players were to the original game. Kathleen, Sam, and Henry not only serve as convincing adversaries and allies for Joel and Ellie, but they also serve as harbingers of what’s to come later in their story.

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Henry’s choices foreshadow Joel’s biggest decision

At the end of the first game, Joel makes a very important decision. The aftermath of that decision reverberates throughout the sequel, and it’s likely the show will adapt that in the finale to set up the second season. Henry’s actions explored in episode 5 help prepare not only Joel, but also the audience for that choice. Henry explains to Joel why he is Kathleen’s number one target: he betrayed Kathleen’s brother Michael to FEDRA, which resulted in her death. Henry is not proud of this choice and feels immense shame for betraying him because he thinks Michael was a great man with a good cause.

Henry may be ashamed of his actions, but he has no regrets about betraying Michael because that act saved Sam’s life. Sam was diagnosed with leukemia and the only medicine available to save his life was held by FEDRA. Henry traded Michael’s life for Sam’s and believes it was ultimately the right choice. Joel even tells him it was the right choice in exchange for Sam’s life. This revelation and the subsequent conversation between Joel and Henry foreshadow the biggest decision Joel will make later in the show and the events of next season.

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Kathleen introduces a main theme from The Last of Us Part II

Kathleen inherited her role as leader of the resistance in Kansas City after the death of her brother Michael and led them to victory over their cruel dictators. Winning wasn’t enough for Kathleen, though, and it wasn’t enough to make her brother’s goals a reality. She needs vengeance for her death more than she needs her legacy to continue. Kathleen’s inclusion in the series is key to setting up the character of Abby Anderson and the themes of The Last of Us Part II. The central theme of the sequel game is that revenge cannot ease the pain and is ultimately a destructive path rather than a healing one.

Kathleen’s resistance army is only in control of the city for a short time because her quest for revenge against Henry leaves the city vulnerable to the infected. Kathleen and her lieutenant Perry are aware of an underground cluster of infected who pose a serious threat, but they overlook the issue in favor of revenge. They eventually reach Henry, but before they can retaliate, they and the entire town are overrun by infected and Henry flees. Kathleen is so blinded by her revenge that he kills her. In Part II, Abby and Ellie both learn that revenge is an unsuccessful and unsatisfying way to go through life, and the TV show has already set that theme.

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