The behavioral nitty gritties, the manner in which Henry treats Sam, and the relationship they share, are portrayed differently in the HBO series, “The Last of Us,” as compared to the games. We are introduced to the characters of Henry and Sam towards the end of the fourth episode of the series. Both the brothers had found out that, apart from them, there were two other people hiding from Kathleen’s resistance forces.
Henry had become a collaborator not because he wanted to earn money but because he wanted to make sure that his brother survived. Sam was suffering from leukemia, and Henry was ready to go to any lengths to save him. Sam was his life, and he was not going to let him die just because the drug used to treat his condition was not available in the open market. Desperate times demanded desperate measures, and Henry came into contact with FEDRA and got to know that there was one drug that could help his cause, but the issue was that it was present in limited quantities. People were bidding on it, and Henry realized that to procure the medicine, he would have to give something to the regime in exchange that was of great value to them. It was because of the information provided by Henry that the FEDRA was able to catch hold of Michael, the leader of the resistance movement. Henry agreed that Michael was a great man with a great vision, and though he hated his core for going against him, he didn’t have any other option.
Henry approved of Kathleen’s actions and he agreed that after committing such an act, it was quite probable that they would go hard on him. FEDRA had ruled, not governed, for 20 years, and during that span of time, a lot had changed. Though they had been able to put all the infected beneath the surface, they couldn’t suppress the rage that the people had towards them. The rebellion, under the leadership of Kathleen, was able to make the regime abandon Kansas City. As soon as the FEDRA soldiers left, Henry knew that his life was in danger and that he needed to go into hiding. Edelstein, who once shared a very close relationship with Kathleen, had also become a FEDRA informant, though not by choice. Henry and Sam were staying with him in the attic of a building. Edelstein got caught and when he refused to divulge any information about Henry, Kathleen killed him.
Henry had always tried his best to not let his innocent brother be exposed to all that was happening around him. But he had realized over time that it was not practically possible to shield him at all times. On their first meeting, Edelstein noticed Sam was terrified, not because of what he had witnessed with his own eyes but because he saw fear on the face of his brother. Henry went, and he once again tried to recreate that illusion, which was fast getting deflated because reality had started peeping from the multiple small holes made on its surface. Still, Henry tried to bandage the surface and fill in the gaps so that innocence and happiness could thrive, and once again, the balloon of childhood could manage to soar high in the sky. He asked his brother to paint the walls of the attic so that it felt less ghastly. He liked when his little brother crackled with joy, and he could do anything to just hear that sound. He didn’t want Sam to be hopeless like all the others around him, and though he had no clue whether he would be able to escape Kansas City or not, he wanted to make sure that his brother thought that everything was under control. Ellie and Joel’s relationship was pretty much the same as that of Sam and Henry, though there were a few exceptions. Joel was not as hopeful as Henry was, and he had no expectation of a miracle happening and their situations changing overnight. It was important to be realistic in such circumstances, but both of them went to extreme ends and failed to strike a balance in their approach.
Henry, at times, took shelter in his fantastical world, and it felt that either he was ignorant about the situation or maybe a little unrealistically hopeful about things. Joel, on the other hand, before he had met Ellie, was completely devoid of hope, and he rejected each and every possibility of having a better tomorrow even before scrutinizing it with an analytical mind. Ellie, as compared to Sam, was much more aware of what was happening on the outside. She had witnessed more violence in her life than she would have liked, but her response to it was different from Sam’s. Whereas on one side, Sam was petrified knowing what existed out there, Ellie was fascinated by it, and there was a curiosity inside her to know more about it. But Joel tried to save Ellie’s innocence until the day he realized that it was a futile attempt, and unfortunately, it had become the inevitable reality of life to get exposed to such things.
Joel was the kind of man who didn’t jump into the sea unless he knew what resided inside it, and that is why, when Henry proposed the plan of escaping the city through the tunnels, he was skeptical about it. Henry had reasons to believe that though the infected were beneath the ground, there were none present in the tunnel. They came out on the other side, but Kathleen and her clan got wind of their location. To make matters worse, even the infected came out like a swarm of bees and attacked them all at once. Henry, Joel, Sam, and Ellie got lucky and were able to escape. In a heartbreaking moment, it is revealed that Sam was bitten, and Ellie, though she knew that he would start showing symptoms, didn’t want to embrace that reality. Both the children feared abandonment and the fact that there could come a time when they would be all by themselves haunted them.
Ellie was still able to deal with her fears and keep them at bay, but Sam was too small to not let them affect him. Sam had started confiding in Ellie, and there was a comfort that he shared with her. In his last moments, he really wanted Ellie to be with him, as he was scared to face the inevitable. In the morning, Sam was completely infected, but before he could infect others, Henry shot him with his own hands. The moment Henry pulled the trigger, he realized that he wouldn’t be able to live with the regret of not being able to save his brother. He knew that grief would eventually swallow him, and there was no concrete reason for him to live any further. Protecting his brother gave a purpose to his life, and whatever he had done, whatever ideals he had stuck to, whoever he had betrayed, it was all because he wanted to save that ray of sunshine.
Sam’s death broke the illusion that he so desperately wanted to keep intact, and it lifted the veil and made him see life through a more pragmatic lens. He didn’t like what he saw, and he ended his life. At the end of the fifth episode of “The Last of Us,” Ellie realized how vulnerable and fragile life was. There was a point in her life where she felt invincible, but now she saw things the way they were. The incident shattered any delusions she had, and it dealt yet another blow to her innocence, which Joel had tried to save with all his might. Ellie and Joel commenced their journey once again and left for Wyoming, but they involuntarily left behind a part of themselves in Kansas City itself and, with it, probably the hope of having a better future.