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“Endure and Survive,” The Last of Us‘ fifth episode, released Friday, February 10 (a couple days early because February 12 was Super Bowl Sunday). This episode goes into the story of Henry and Sam Burrell, the iconic brothers fighting for their lives in Kansas City, Missouri.

*This review contains HEAVY spoilers*

Through the Tunnels

We last left the Burrells holding Ellie and Joel at gunpoint. The beginning of “Endure and Survive” backtracks to 10 days or so ago, where the brothers are hiding in an attic, away from Kathleen and the FEDRA-resistance group. The two have a tight relationship. With Henry in his mid-twenties and Sam being only eight (a few years younger than Sam in the video game), the two rely on each other for survival. Henry has to be twice on guard for Sam not only because of his young age, but because Sam is also Deaf. The two communicate through American Sign Language and an erasable sketchpad, both of which are used heavily throughout the episode. The silence of their languages adds an even greater immersion of tension to the terrifying world.

After a week in the attic, the brothers run out of food and are forced to find new shelter. This leads them to discovering Ellie and Joel. Henry makes it clear that he and Sam do not want to hurt anyone; instead, they need help escaping the city. With some convincing from Ellie, Joel reluctantly decides to team up with the brothers. The four make a plan to travel through the maintenance tunnels, where Henry is almost positive no infected reside.

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Fortunately, Henry is correct. The crew is safe from infected and discover an underground community, where families lived free from infected, FEDRA and enemies alike. They hide out in what appears to be a schoolroom; Joel and Henry sit down to talk while Ellie and Sam bond over their love for the Savage Starlight comic series.

While the journey to this scene contrasts from the game, its identical set design and intimate dialogue sums up a large part of the Last of Us is all about. More than a shooting game, it is a deep study of humanity. Humans are shaped through their experiences and that shapes their behavior and decisions. With the help of good writing and acting, these characters feel and are real.

Ellie and Sam read a comic book

The realness of these characters is a large reason for The Last of Us’ success. The writers in both the game and series are not asking for us to forgive Kathleen or any other characters, including Joel, who enact tremendous pain and suffering on others. They are not providing an excuse for their actions. Rather, The Last of Us illustrates that humanity is complex and not a binary of black and white or right and wrong. In times of desperation, people will do what they can to survive even if they know it to be very, very wrong.

In both the game and show, Sam asks if the infected are still people underneath the disease. An answer is never provided and we are left to ponder this horror of an existence alone.

Endure and Survive the Bloater

The tunnels spit the group of four out into a desolate neighborhood in the dead of night. They feel a rare sense of security before a sniper shoots them back into reality. Leaving Henry to watch the kids, Joel makes his way to the sniper, shoots him down and clears a path for the rest. Suddenly, Kathleen and her crew of tanks roar through the streets. Joel shoots down one of the tank, which crashes into a house and blows up. But Kathleen’s army is strong, and this attack is nothing compared to what else she has up her sleeve.

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The crew of four are, in a word, fucked.

When Henry finally decides to show himself, begging for Kathleen to let the kids go, he is interrupted. The destroyed tank sinks into a large hole in the ground. Everyone is silent, shocked by what they’ve witness, unprepared for the monstrous hoard of infected that cascade out the hole.

the bloater
The bloater

Now Kathleen and her army have an enemy greater than our protagonists. Everyone fights off the infected with their guns and machines, but no one can take down the bloater, a behemoth and one of the final stages of infection. The creature is ruthless as it rips people’s heads off and deflects bullets like flies.

Despite all the odds being stacked against them, Ellie and the Burrells somehow manage to escape. They rest for the night in a little motel. When morning comes, Sam is no longer himself. He was bitten during their encounter with the infected, and has transformed overnight. He attacks Ellie. Henry is forced to shoot his brother and, succumbing to grief and shock, himself.

The Verdict

Joel and Ellie are once again on their own. Before returning on their journey west, they bury the brothers beside each other and Ellie places Sam’s sketchpad with the note “I’m sorry” on his grave. They now make their way to Tommy’s.

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“Endure and Survive” is, by far, the strongest episode in this impressive series. If one needed to sum up The Last of Us in its entirety, episode five could do the job. It has all the moments of action, sincerity, comedy, hardcore action and intense tragedy. All of these elements are included while pacing the story and . All the actors in this episode stand out, but Lamar Johnson and Keivonn Montreal Woodard truly shine. Their performances of these iconic brothers brought Henry and Sam to life and, despite how short their stay, will be dearly missed. 5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

We can anticipate to catch up with Tommy 20 years after the events in episode one. We can expect perhaps another slower episode like episode 4. This is a rather slow part in the game (minus the various shootout fights). However, this show is great at throwing a few curveballs, so we’ll just have to wait for Sunday, February 19.

Until then, make sure you check out the other shows and games we’re watching and playing at HauntedMTL.

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CourtCourt is a writer, horror enthusiast, and may or may not be your favorite human-eating houseplant.

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Movies n TV

American Horror Story Delicate, Little Gold Man

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Last night’s episode of American Horror Story Delicate was wild. From its star-studded start to its powerfully quiet finish, I was enthralled through every moment.

Let’s discuss.

The story

We begin this episode at the funeral of Dex’s mom. While he’s giving a eulogy, which was very nice, Ms. Preecher walks in. She shouts to the room that Virginia didn’t commit suicide, she was murdered. She also tells Dex to listen to his wife.

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What a concept!

Touched by this, or maybe just curious, Anna goes to the hospital to check on Preecher. She falls asleep at the hospital. When she wakes up, Preecher is gone. A nurse says that she was discharged to a group of women.

While at the hospital, Anna also discovers that she’s been nominated for best actress.

Kim Kardashian in American Horror Story Delicate.

At a publicity event for the awards, Anna runs into Cora. And she sees the coat she remembers from her late-night visit near the start of her pregnancy.

With the slightest amount of pressure, Cora spills it all. She and Dex have been having an affair, and Cora was trying to sabotage Anna’s pregnancy. So Anna, channeling her inner Madison Montgomery, kicks him out and heads to the awards ceremony with Siobhan.

There, Siobhan asks her if she wants an Oscar more than anything. If she’d be willing to give up anything for it.

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And Anna says yes.

The bargain is then sealed with a kiss.

Kim Kardashian and Emma Roberts in American Horror Story Delicate.

What worked

I’d like to begin, paradoxically, at the end of the episode. We’ve seen Anna have some terrible, loud, frightening hallucinations in this season. At least, we assume they’re hallucinations. But this one wasn’t loud. It was, in fact, very quiet. Anna is led off stage, without a word, leaving nothing but a puddle of blood behind.

In horror, like in all art, the notes you don’t play are as important as the ones you do. And the notes that weren’t played her rang like a bell.

I also appreciated that this episode describes why being a celebrity would be a huge pain in the ass. Imagine going to an event where the whole purpose is for people to take pictures of you while holding their product. Imagine if they invaded your personal space, sprayed things on you, put things over your eyes, and you were expected to smile and pose.

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I don’t know what it is about being a celebrity that makes others feel entitled to a person. To talk with them, take their time, and share in their moments. To touch them without consent. Yes, there are way worse things happening to people. But this isn’t a great way to live. It’s no wonder so many of them go nuts. This is most clearly shown in the scene when Anna is sitting next to Preecher’s bed. She wakes up to find the older woman gone. But all anyone wants to talk about is how she was just nominated for an Oscar. At that moment, she doesn’t give a damn. She cares about this kind woman, and where she’s gone. Just like any other person.

Finally, I appreciated that this season didn’t do what so many AHS seasons do. Which is to say that this episode didn’t feel like the last episode. It felt like the penultimate episode. It felt like there was still more story to tell, not just loose ends to be wrapped up. I appreciate that the writers have finally learned that lesson.

For this season, at least.

What didn’t work

The first thing that bothered me in this episode was Cora’s confession. I said something about this during our live-watch event on Threads. (Join us next week for the finale. Bring popcorn and wine.)

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I don’t believe Cora’s confession. I further don’t believe that she just dumped all of this incriminating info on Anna with no more prompting than a wide-eyed look. There was just no reason for it. So, Anna saw her coat? Lots of people have similar coats. This feels fake, and she brought no receipts.

Tavi Gevinson in American Horror Story Delicate.

I also found Siobhan’s behavior confusing. At times she seems genuinely concerned for Anna’s wellbeing. At other times, she is more than willing to let her suffer and risk her pregnancy.

While this has been going on all season, it was happening every few minutes in this one. Either Siobhan cares about the welfare of that fetus, or she doesn’t. But she needs to pick a lane.

All in all, I don’t know what to expect from next week’s season finale. Anna has her Oscar, but now she might lose her baby. She might also get sucked into some horrible cult and experience a bad death. We won’t know until next week.

See you then.

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4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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Movies n TV

Fallout, The Target

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Episode two of Amazon Prime’s Fallout was equal parts funny and bloody. This almost always leads to a good time.

The story

We begin this episode with the birth of some puppies that look like they’ve had a rough start to life. Each one is weighed, with the ones who fall short being incinerated.

One pup who is just below the correct weight gets a bit of a thumb on their scale. The scientist weighing them, Wilzig, writes down the proper weight. He later takes the puppy home to raise instead of putting them into what looks like an unforgiving training program.

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Eventually, we see Wilzig put some blue glowing thing into his neck. When a soldier comes for him, Dog attacks the soldier, and the two escape.

Ella Purnell in Fallout.

We go from there to the wilderness, where Lucy is recovering from the last episode and enjoying a campfire at night. Wilzig and Dog come out of the shadows, saving Lucy from a bug monster. Wilzig tells Lucy she should go home. And if she’s not going to go home, she needs to evolve.

The next day Lucy finds her way to a town called Filly. As a Pennsylvanian, it hurts me to spell it that way. Lucy is entranced by this town, though clearly put off by the fact that no one is very nice here.

She eventually finds her way to a shop run by a delightful woman named Ma June. Ma doesn’t seem particularly interested in helping Lucy. Or, frankly, having Lucy in her shop.

Or in her town.

Eventually, Wilzig is tracked to this same shop, being tracked by The Ghoul. This is our final primary character. Lucy defends Wilzig, being aided at the last moment by Maximus.

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Maximus, by the way, has been having a terrible time. After finally becoming a squire he’s disappointed to find that his knight, Knight Titus, is a terrible person.

Fortunately, Maximus doesn’t have to put up with Titus for long. After Titus gets the bright idea to go hunting, he’s attacked by a mutated bear. Maximus freezes, unable to save him. Then, well, he decides not to save him.

It was Titus’s idea to go hunt the bear, after all.

What worked

Walton Goggins in Fallout.

The first thing I want to draw attention to is the shootout scene at Filly. This scene checked every box a fight scene should check. It was fun to watch, with great effects. But it also gave us insight into the characters. Lucy is a decent fighter and has a strong moral compass. The Ghoul is callus and desensitized to death. And Maximus continues to be, well, sort of bad at this whole fighting thing. But with enough moral fortitude that we have a hard time blaming him.

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the dog. Who’s name, as far as I’ve been able to ascertain, is just Dog. Which is fine. He doesn’t need to have a name to be a very good boy. He’s sweet, loyal, and fearless.

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Also, puppies. Puppies are always great.

Finally, I’d like to shine a spotlight on Lucy’s reaction to the world at large. She is both amazed and terrified by everything. And while she certainly doesn’t want to be rude, she also doesn’t want to be taken advantage of. The best example of this is when she stops to ask for directions with a bright smile and a gun.

Once again, I don’t have anything bad to say about this episode. It was funny, dark, and fun to watch. I’m very much looking forward to the rest of the season. 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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Fallout, The End

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Launching with worldwide excitement, Fallout is based on the extremely popular game series of the same name. Fans of the series have waited with anticipation and trepidation to see if the Prime series would live up to the game.

Having now watched the first episode I can say that, so far, it’s successful.

The story

Our story begins with a children’s birthday party. A performer is there with his daughter, giving horse rides and taking pictures with the kids.

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As much as the adults try to focus on the party and the kids, it’s impossible to ignore the looming threat of war that’s on everyone’s mind.

Of course, it’s during this party that war comes, and the bombs drop.

We then cut to after the war and into one of the vaults established to protect humankind and the American Way. For future reference, this is Vault 33. We meet Lucy, our first main character, who’s petitioning to be married to a man from Vault 32 to ensure DNA diversity.

On the wedding night, though, Lucy and the rest of Vault 33 are met with a horrible surprise. The group they let in is not in fact from Vault 32, but is instead a team of raiders from the surface. The raiders kill a lot of the vault dwellers and kidnap Lucy’s father.

We are then introduced to our second main character, Maximus. He is in training to become a Knight in the Brotherhood of Steel. And, well, he’s not doing great.

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Things get worse when his best friend Dane becomes a squire before him. But when Dane is hurt, Maximus gets their spot.

Aaron Moten in Fallout.

We then go back to Lucy, who has decided to leave the vault and find her dad. Of course, the council of her vault doesn’t want her to go. So she is aided by her brother Norm and cousin Chet in a wild escape.

What worked

The first thing that deserves attention is the exceptional character work. Our three main characters are fleshed out and relatable right away. We feel sympathetic for The Ghoul before he’s even introduced as such. We love Lucy’s nativity and selflessness. And we love Maximus for his honesty and passion for his cause.

While these characters are their own people, they also exhibit the three responses we might expect to see in a post-apocalyptic world. We have the hopeful optimist who doesn’t understand how bad things are. We have the aspiring hero who wants to make the world better by force. And we have the self-serving individual who’s given up on the rest of humanity and is only focused on surviving.

Another thing I enjoyed about this episode was the balance of humor and gore. Because there was certainly enough blood and guts for even the most hardcore horror lover. We had a violent sabotage, a brawl with raiders, and even several nuclear bombs.

But there were a lot of funny moments as well. Usually from Lucy. Her overall goodwill and fearless gumption are absolutely hilarious, especially given the horrors she’s facing. It never ceases to amuse me.

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Ella Purnell in Fallout

Both of these aspects are done perfectly. The jokes land and the bloody scenes pull no punches. It was delightful.

All in all, this was an exciting start to a much-anticipated series. Here’s hoping they’re able to stick the landing.

For more tv shows based on video games, check out my review of Witcher. 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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