‘The Last Of Us’ Episode 4: Recap & Ending, Explained: Who Is Kathleen And The Other Residents Of Kansas City?


After episode 3 of “The Last of Us,” which was more focused on the drama and emotional side of things, and was greatly praised for it, episode 4 tries to balance things out with more action. But so far, the best element in “The Last of Us” has been that it does not demand long scenes to present the emotions and internal struggles of characters but does so in the shortest of glimpses. “The Last of Us” Episode 4 has plenty of such glimpses as our protagonists drive to Kansas City on their way to Wyoming and come across fatal danger.

Spoilers Ahead

What Happens In ‘The Last Of Us’ Episode 4?

“The Last of Us” Episode 4 begins with Ellie checking out the gun that she had sneaked into her backpack at Bill’s house, which she has still kept a secret from Joel. Now that she gets a chance by herself when stopping at an abandoned gas station, Ellie holds the gun in front of a mirror and makes all the impressions that are associated with holding a gun. Soon she steps back out where Joel is siphoning gas out of cars, and there are frequent stops in order to get more gas for their own truck. The two then keep driving towards their destination of Wyoming, but Joel is also mindful of taking breaks and not driving after dark. They camp in the middle of a forest, far away from the rotting civilization and the infected. However, as Joel warns, there may still be people watching, for which they cannot light a fire and risk revealing their location with smoke. It is also in “The Last of Us” Episode 4 that Ellie’s favorite book makes its debut—No Pun Intended Volume Too by Will Livingston, which is a joke book full of silly puns, which the girl has already used twice by this time. Joel is bemused at first, then slightly impressed the second time, allowing only a small smile with his back to Ellie. The next morning, they continue on their journey and reach a blocked underpass on the highway near Kansas City. Unable to find any other way out of the situation, Joel turns the truck around and decides to go through the abandoned Kansas City to take the next exit onto the highway.

However, it is soon evident that the blockage was probably an intentional one, as the remaining residents of the city blocked the highway with cars in order to force any possible travelers through their streets. As Ellie spots with fearful wonder, the quarantine zone here looks absolutely abandoned, with no sign of the FEDRA anywhere to be seen. Very soon, a man limps onto the road asking for help, but Joel knows this routine far too well. He continues driving and is soon attacked by the companions of the limping man, who have all been waiting for prey. A gunfight breaks out, and Joel instructs Ellie to hide inside a shop while he gets rid of their attackers. The man does so quite efficiently until the last of the attackers, a young man, sneaks up on him and almost chokes him to death. It is now Ellie who has to step in with her new gun in hand, and she shoots the attacker, injuring him badly. As much as Joel is shocked and dissatisfied at Ellie having to fire a gun, he is wary of their situation as well and making sure that Ellie does not witness the act, he kills the young man.

As the scene of this gunfight and the bodies of their fallen brethren are discovered by the people living in this post-apocalyptic Kansas City, more enforcement is brought out onto the streets to find the perpetrators. Armed with FEDRA weapons and assault vehicles, these people now begin an intense search for the outsiders who drove up in a truck and killed their men. Meanwhile, Joel and Ellie hide inside an old shop and wait for the search party to move away from them, intending to get out of the area as soon as possible. While talking to each other during this time, Joel and Ellie both make an effort to provide emotional comfort to each other after their experience in the gunfight, in their own broken ways. Joel also learns that Ellie was in FEDRA school, and after deciding to let her keep the gun, he gives her his own advice on how to use it more efficiently. Finally, after dark, the two sneak out of their hiding spot and move to a nearby building they had planned for, as it happens to be the tallest building in the area. It is also “The Last of Us” Episode 4 in which Joel and Ellie start working together to get past locked doors or blocked paths, something that was a basic gameplay mechanism in Naughty Dog’s 2013 video game. Climbing up as high as Joel’s fifty-six-year-old knees will permit, they decide to spend the night resting in this building. Before going to sleep, Joel carefully places broken glass shards around the doors of their room so that they can hear immediately if someone steps in and tries to attack them. Ellie makes one last joke from her book of puns, and this time Joel cannot keep his straight face any longer. The two spend a minute laughing out loud, and this is probably the first time we have seen Joel do so. Deep into the night, it becomes clear that Joel’s technique with the glass shards has completely failed, as Ellie shouts at him to wake up. A young man is seen holding Ellie hostage while a young boy holds out a gun and points it at Joel.

Who Are These Residents Of Kansas City?

Ellie asked Joel who their attackers were if they were neither FEDRA nor Fireflies, and Joel replied that they were people. Along with the two major factions in this post-apocalyptic world, there now seem to be many others who do not wish to fit in with either of them and want to ensure their own survival. This is how Bill thought too, and it is a similar bunch of people in Kansas City, except that they are way more organized. The community here seems to have overpowered the government-like FEDRA presence and driven them out of place. Instead, now they fight and survive as a community of their own, headed by a woman named Kathleen. The very introduction of Kathleen presents her as a strong-willed leader, as she interrogates an old man, asking for any information regarding the recent death of her brother. This old man happens to be a doctor, the same one who delivered Kathleen when she was born before the fungal outbreak, but the woman now has no sympathy for him. It is revealed that her brother had been beaten to death by FEDRA agents, and this was probably the event that rallied all the citizens to rise up against FEDRA and drive them out of the city. Kathleen also believes that a man named Henry ratted out her brother’s anti-government work to the enemy, for which the man was picked up and killed by FEDRA. Kathleen, now sworn to kill as many FEDRA agents and collaborators as she can, is determined to find Henry and punish him. When her men find the dead bodies from the earlier gunfight and bring them to the community, Kathleen keeps rallying her people against Henry, saying that he was probably the one to inform these outsiders over the radio to come to their city. Together with her henchman, she checks out an old attic where Henry had been hiding the past few days, and from the innumerable crayon drawings, it is clear that there is a child with Henry, one named Sam. At the end of “The Last of Us” Episode 4, it is clear that it is Henry and Sam who attack Joel and Ellie in the middle of the night. It must be that the two had been hiding inside the tallest building at present, and Joel and Ellie coincidentally happened to take shelter at the same spot as them. Or it could be that Henry and Sam were passing through the place and happened to find Joel and Ellie.

When it comes to the character of Kathleen so far, there seems to be an internal contradiction that she faces. While interrogating the doctor, she makes herself appear as dangerous and ruthless as possible. This interrogation is interrupted when her men bring the dead bodies of their brethren, and seeing one of them still breathing, Kathleen immediately asks whether a doctor could help. It is almost like she wants to help the wounded man as well as find an excuse to spare the doctor’s life. But then, when someone says that a doctor can no longer help, Kathleen immediately scraps the plan and works on an opposite whim—she returns to the interrogation chamber and shoots the doctor dead. It can be perceived that Kathleen did not really want to kill the doctor, but she was driven by the vengeful spirit of avenging her brother’s death. It is this spirit that serves as her main motivation throughout her short time in “The Last of Us” Episode 4. Even though Kathleen has lost her brother and there is no way to bring him back, the woman blindly wants to keep working for his purpose. She even lets this motivation get in the way of her leadership, too, as killing the community’s doctor amidst a fungal apocalypse is perhaps not the most sensible thing to do. In another instance, she and her associate go to check an area where the floor is cracking with pressure from the infected, which have been growing under it and are now trying to break out. It is clear that Kathleen and the man knew about this occurrence before, too, and were now just checking on it. However, it looks sinister at present, with massive cracks across the floor, but Kathleen insists upon not letting anyone else know about it yet. Instead of dealing with the infected, which would wipe out the whole community within days, she remains focused on trying to find Henry and punishing him for his supposed betrayal.

What More Do We Get To Know About Tommy?

During their conversation, while driving towards Kansas City, Joel reveals some more about her brother Tommy and about how they went to Boston during the pandemic. Joel describes Tommy as being obsessed with trying to save the world, as the brother had signed up for military service years before the fungal outbreak. It was as part of his service that Tommy was sent to Operation Desert Storm in Iraq, and this explains the sticker on the back of the car in “The Last of Us” Episode 1. It was actually Tommy who had served in the US Army, and Joel was never one to believe in such heroic deeds. Therefore, he was once again upset by Tommy’s decision, this time after the apocalyptic day when the world literally changed forever, as he wanted to move to Boston. Tommy had come across a group of men and women who wanted to stick together and move to Boston, possibly because they had heard things were better there. Although Joel did not necessarily believe in the purpose, he tagged along only to keep Tommy safe. It was through this group that Joel had met Tess, who was also a member. It was also during this time that Tommy met Marlene, who was already building a group called the Fireflies, and Tommy immediately signed up for them. But as Joel had expected, Tommy had left the Fireflies too sometime later, and had started living and working by himself. But there had been no contact or news from Tommy in the last three or four weeks, prompting Joel to travel to Wyoming in search of him.

How Does Joel And Ellie’s Bond Develop More?

Even though Joel and Ellie now have just the two of them for company, and their relationship has gotten much better than how it started, there is still a wall of unease between them. This is even clearly stated by Joel in the episode’s first half, when he draws a line between Tommy and Ellie, between who he considers his family and who is merely cargo for him. But there is a sense that this uneasiness is gradually dissipating, and Joel is sharing much more with Ellie than he used to. A major reason for this development comes in the form of the brutal experience the two had during the gunfight in Kansas City. Joel, after being caught off guard, has to be saved by Ellie, the young girl who he feels should not have to experience such horrific violence. There is a very natural father figure in Joel, which keeps cropping up from time to time, especially when it comes to keeping Ellie away from violence. His decision is definitely right, and he does not treat Ellie any differently in these circumstances than he would have treated his own daughter. However, it is the situation that catches up, and ultimately Joel realizes that the world they are living in does not allow a young girl to keep her innocence intact by staying away from violence. He realizes that Ellie does need the gun for her own protection, for Joel had feared he would be killed in that encounter. That, too, his killer would have been a young boy, only a few years older than Ellie. Joel feels extremely sad for Ellie, as he tells her, for her having to experience such things, but Ellie’s response is perhaps even sadder. She says that this was not the first time that she had shot someone. Later on, when Joel asks for details, Ellie replies that she does not want to talk about it. During the fight, when she shoots Joel’s attacker in the back and is then by herself, Ellie can be seen crying, something that she does not do even in the toughest scenarios.

While there is definitely the shock and guilt of having shot someone, there also seems to be something else working in Ellie’s mind; she seems to have an associated memory with this whole experience. So far, there are a few things about Ellie that have not been revealed yet, and these match up in this regard. The fact that she had lied about going into the abandoned, infected-ridden shopping mall alone earlier and the whole mystery about her best friend Riley does make it seem like that could have been the first time she had shot someone. Joel respects her wish not to speak about it and tries to comfort her in his own distant manner. In this process, his own discomfort with killing is also laid bare, for Joel, too, still has difficulty taking a life, even at this age. He reveals that the group he, Tommy, and Tess were a part of that moved towards Boston was essentially a group of raiders who would loot and kill anyone they could find, innocent or otherwise. But although he is remorseful about these acts, there is also the sense that he had to commit such moral crimes in order to survive. Unfortunately, the world has been compelling the characters to act in certain ways, and this can perhaps be said of Kathleen too. Both of these characters are driven to make decisions only with their loved ones in their minds. However, the series is also strong in showing the difference between people’s own individual moralities, and there is a clear difference between Joel and Kathleen. While the insurgent leader whimsically kills people, the effect of killing is much more intense on Joel. The more sensitive side of his character is now starting to come into play, even in his relationship with Ellie. Even though he mentions her as not being family, he does want to ensure her safety. During their stay in the woods in the first half of “The Last of Us” Episode 4, Ellie nervously asks whether they would indeed be safe from attackers, and Joel replies that they would, only to reassure the girl. Later in the night, we see Ellie sleeping peacefully while Joel stays awake on watch. Finally, through the events of the gunfight, his decision to let Ellie keep the gun, and then his breaking into laughter at Ellie’s joke, it is clear that even though she is still not his family, perhaps, Ellie is way more than just a cargo for Joel.

What Should We Expect From ‘The Last Of Us’ Episode 5?

“The Last of Us” Episode 4 ends on a note of suspense as the characters of Henry and Sam are just introduced, and they are possibly about to be the next companions of Joel and Ellie. Although Kathleen keeps claiming that Henry sold out on her brother to the FEDRA soldiers, the account of the matter from Henry’s side also seems crucial in this regard. There must have been some motivation for Henry to have done what he did, and merely supporting the FEDRA does not sound very convincing, especially since he has a young boy with him. There is also the extremely scary matter of the floor bursting open in Kansas City as the infected keep growing in number underground. The infected infiltrating the community of survivors, or worse, the emergence of a greater infected creature, would be devastating for the place. Along with that is the matter of Joel and Ellie’s escape, as they have to flee the city to survive the attackers. With all of these put together, the next few episodes of “The Last of Us” seem poised to be intense and exciting all the way.

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Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya keeps an avid interest in all sorts of films, history, sports, videogames and everything related to New Media. Holding a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies, he is currently working as a teacher of Film Studies at a private school and also remotely as a Research Assistant and Translator on a postdoctoral project at UdK Berlin.

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