This dialogue and assessment accommodates spoilers for The Final of Us episode 5, “Endure and Survive.”

There’s something to be mentioned for a pleasant visible metaphor. There may be additionally one thing to be mentioned for structuring an episode to finish with a pleasant visible metaphor that neatly mirrors its opening scenes.

As one would possibly anticipate from a present largely written by Craig Mazin, the showrunner accountable for Chernobyl, there’s a literary high quality to The Final of Us. It’s a present that’s structured very intentionally and really rigorously, with its supernatural parts structured as mirrors to its central driving themes. Regardless of its epic sweep and spectacular scope, Mazin ensures that The Final of Us at all times stays intimate, a corridor of mirrors reflecting again on Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey).

After all, that’s to not counsel that The Final of Us can’t ship by way of spectacle. “Endure and Survive” is probably going the most costly episode of the season for the reason that premiere and a testomony to the cash that HBO has invested within the present. It’s largely set inside a post-apocalyptic metropolis. It opens with footage of a revolution, crowds engaged in violence and horror. It then builds to the most important showcase the sequence has supplied thus far for its contaminated, providing hordes of monsters swarming a small military.

“Endure and Survive” looks like a showcase for The Final of Us. Like the sooner episodes of the season, it’s working by a guidelines of what audiences probably anticipate from a present set amid the zombie apocalypse: militias, gunfights, zombie assaults, violence, horror. Nonetheless, as with “Please Maintain to My Hand,” “Endure and Survive” is a bit more elegant in the way it deploys these tropes than “When You’re Misplaced within the Darkness” and “Contaminated” are. To deliver it again to the present’s artistic lineage, “Endure and Survive” is surprisingly literary.

It opens with depictions of a violent rebellion in Kansas Metropolis, because the native inhabitants activates FEDRA. The gang chants “freedom” as the town descends into anarchy, a sequence with an inevitable and uncomfortable resonance after these previous few years, even when FEDRA is an establishment that deserved to be toppled. Nonetheless, the episode builds to a different extra literal type of rebellion on the climax, as sinkholes open up the “upkeep tunnels” beneath the town, and the contaminated swarm out.

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Earlier within the episode, Ellie notes that there don’t look like any contaminated in Kansas Metropolis. Henry (Lamar Johnson) corrects her. “There’s contaminated — simply not on the floor,” he explains. “FEDRA drove them underground fifteen years in the past and by no means allow them to come again up. It’s the one good factor these fascist motherfuckers ever did.” They buried them deep down underneath the town. Nonetheless, the issue with this method is that buried secrets and techniques usually make their strategy to the floor.

Most monsters are metaphors, and so are the tales about them. “Endure and Survive” is essentially constructed round that set piece of the swarms of contaminated rising up, and Mazin constructions the script so the imagery works on a number of ranges. On essentially the most fundamental degree, it’s a reasonably intelligent literalization of Cordyceps as a fungal organism. It’s one thing that lurks at nighttime underground, simply ready for a chance to burst by the soil and lengthen its attain.

Nonetheless, the social and political subtext of “Endure and Survive” isn’t buried significantly deep. Henry tells Joel that “KC FEDRA” had been “monsters (and) savages” who “raped and tortured and murdered individuals for twenty years. what occurs while you do this to individuals? Second they get the prospect, they do it proper again to you.” The residents of “Killer Metropolis” staged their very own rebellion towards the individuals who pressed them down, and now the monsters do the identical.

American zombie motion pictures have at all times been tales of revolution, the fears of a society apprehensive that the established order could be upended. Erin C. Cassese notes that George A. Romero’s Night time of the Residing Useless broke out as People had been watching footage of “race riots in cities like Newark and Detroit.” Adam Lowenstein argues the movie’s vital redemption hinged on its re-release as a part of a double function with Slaves, a film explicitly a few slave revolt, a yr after its preliminary launch.

Zombies symbolize many various issues, however they faucet into the worry held by many individuals that there’ll come a reckoning for the established order, that teams of dehumanized people will ultimately rise as much as devour those that constructed a world atop them. This subtext continues by to the trendy day. It performs out in The Lady with All of the Presents, a novel launched the yr after The Final of Us hit consoles. It’s a subtext particularly obvious in the racebending within the cinematic adaptation.

“Endure and Survive” makes it clear that Mazin understands the zombie style past its floor trappings. He understands the fears that underpin it. “Endure and Survive” is constructed across the metaphor of the underground, with Henry main Joel and Ellie by the tunnels beneath the town. Whereas exploring, they discover an deserted underground neighborhood. “I heard about locations like this,” Joel displays. “Folks went underground after outbreak day, constructed settlements.” These had been individuals actually pushed underground.

Like all good metaphors, this one works on (actually) a number of ranges. It isn’t simply social commentary; though it clearly exists in dialog with the style’s historical past and modern American anxieties, it’s additionally a potent metaphor for the human drama that drives the present. “For those who flip right into a monster, is it nonetheless you inside?” Sam (Keivonn Woodard) asks Ellie, when he realizes that he has been bitten. He’s speaking about actually turning into a monster, however it additionally applies metaphorically.

The Final of Us is fascinated by the problem of expressing humanity in a world that has grow to be hostile to each humanity as a species and as an idea. In “Please Maintain to My Hand,” Joel confessed to Ellie that he had finished horrible issues as a way to survive. When she pressed him on whether or not he had ever killed an harmless particular person, he evaded the query. “Endure and Survive” opens with the revolutionaries participating in the identical form of violence the contaminated make use of on the episode’s climax.

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Kathleen (Melanie Lynskey) has finished horrible issues. The episode opens along with her arranging the mass homicide of accused collaborators. She compares herself to her brother Michael, discovering herself wanting. “He was so lovely,” she admits. “I’m not. I by no means was. He could be horrified by the issues I’ve finished.” Perry (Jeffrey Pierce) factors out that Kathleen’s willingness to do these issues obtained outcomes, “Your brother was an incredible man. All of us cherished him. However he didn’t change something. You probably did.”

All people talks about Michael as a dwelling saint. “There was a person, an incredible man,” Henry tells Joel. “He was by no means afraid, by no means egocentric. He was at all times forgiving. Have you ever ever met anybody like that? The kinda man you’d comply with anyplace?” Nonetheless, simply as Kathleen needed to betray Michael’s beliefs, Henry needed to betray Joel himself. Henry acknowledges that this can be a monstrous factor, confessing, “I’m the dangerous man, as a result of I did a foul man factor.” In its personal approach, humanity must be buried deep.

Regardless of the epic scale of the occasions in “Endure and Survive,” issues stay private. As with “Lengthy Lengthy Time,” that is an episode largely constructed round a set of supporting characters that function funhouse mirrors of the present’s two credited leads. It’s a literary gadget, however — given Pascal’s different obligations — it’d additionally be a sensible one. The episode breaks away from Joel and Ellie to inform a narrative from the attitude of Henry and Sam. Joel and Ellie are very a lot passengers on this journey.

“Endure and Survive” opens by leaping again 10 days. It then filters a few of “Please Maintain to My Hand” by Henry and Sam’s eyes, following them as much as the climax the place Joel wakes as much as discover Sam pointing a gun in his face. Henry is clearly a mirror to Joel. Though he’s Sam’s organic brother, he’s a surrogate father. He sees one thing of himself in Joel. After confessing his crimes, he tells Joel, “You get it, although. You won’t be her father, however you had been somebody’s. You see, I can inform.”

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As ever, it’s considerably trite to speak about The Final of Us as a narrative about parenthood, however it’s the central theme of the present. Henry tries to guard Sam from the horrors outdoors, identical to Joel did with Ellie on the mass grave. “Have a look at me,” Henry instructs Sam. “Not that.” Later, he tells Edelstein (John Getz), “He noticed loads. Nothing I can do about that now.” Henry betrayed Michael to guard Sam, a call that will not directly have killed all people in Kansas, because the contaminated race in the direction of the town.

Kathleen is herself a darkish mirror to each Henry and Joel. She has already misplaced her son Bryan (Juan Magana) and her brother Michael. Nonetheless, she’s obsessive about them even in dying, to the purpose that her chasing of Henry results in the contaminated bursting out from beneath the town and prevents her from specializing in pressing priorities like the town’s rotting foundations. It’s straightforward to romanticize the thought of oldsters defending their youngsters, however The Final of Us suggests there’s one thing horrific as effectively.

“You assume the entire world revolves round him?” Kathleen challenges Henry on the climax. “That he’s value all the pieces?” For higher or worse, the reply is “sure.” That’s why Henry selected to betray Michael to save lots of Sam, even permitting for the bitter irony that Sam finally doesn’t reside for much longer. It means that Joel may need to make some equally powerful decisions about Ellie sooner or later. It’s additionally why Henry takes his personal life after he has to kill an contaminated Sam.

Henry’s suicide by gunshot to his proper temple on the finish of “Endure and Survive” provides some fascinating subtext to what we find out about Joel. Joel has a scar on the best facet of his brow from a bullet wound simply two days after the dying of his daughter Sam (Nico Parker) and is deaf from the sound of gunshots close to his proper ear. Once more, it’s a really intelligent and really literary parallel between the 2 males, suggesting that their journeys are extra related than they could initially seem.

“Endure and Survive” ends with Henry and Sam buried, whereas Joel and Ellie proceed on their journey. They could keep underground, however it appears simply as probably that Joel and Ellie will carry the pair with them for fairly a while.