The Last of Us

The Last of Us Episode 4 Delivers the One Thing Missing From the Show

A character blinded by revenge? Sound familiar?

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Melanie Lynskey and Jeffrey Pierce in The Last of Us Episode 4

The fourth episode of HBO’s The Last of Us doesn’t diverge as greatly from its video game source material as the show’s acclaimed third installment. However, that doesn’t mean The Last of Us Episode 4 is devoid of any of its own original moments or characters. As a matter of fact, the episode introduces one villain who will be entirely new to both the show’s casual viewers and video game fans alike in the form of Kathleen (Melanie Lynskey).

The head of a Kansas City-based rebel force, Kathleen is a militaristic and ruthless leader who is hellbent on tracking down Henry, the man who wronged her and her family. As The Last of Us Episode 4 proves, Kathleen’s so blinded by her need for vengeance that she’s even willing to kill the only living doctor in Kansas City solely out of spite. She is, in many ways, the first human villain that The Last of Us has introduced.

For longtime fans of the franchise, though, Kathleen isn’t just an ominous new villain. On the contrary, her vengeance-fueled mission in the HBO series is destined to take on a much greater significance once the show begins to delve into the events of The Last of Us Part 2.

The Cost of Revenge

In The Last of Us Part 2, Ellie’s all-consuming desire for vengeance ends up taking a heavy toll.

Naughty Dog

Revenge may not have much of a role to play in 2013’s The Last of Us, but it’s a major focus of that game’s sequel.

The Last of Us Part 2 starts out like a classic revenge story, one which follows Ashley Johnson’s Ellie as she sets out to avenge the murder of someone she loved. However, as those who have played The Last of Us Part 2 can attest, Ellie’s pursuit of vengeance ends up costing her more than she expects. Throughout the game, Laura Bailey’s Abby similarly loses a lot as a direct result of her own reckless, unwavering desire for revenge.

All of which is to say that Kathleen’s inclusion in The Last of Us Season 1 serves two key purposes. Not only does it inject some newfound tension into a chapter of the original Last of Us game that is utterly devoid of any real villains, but it also efficiently sets up what will ultimately be one of the HBO series’ key themes. Indeed, The Last of Us Episode 4 even hints that Kathleen’s single-minded pursuit of vengeance may lead to her own destruction.

Melanie Lynskey’s Kathleen is The Last of Us’ first human villain, but her significance in the series’ broader story is far greater than viewers may initially think.

Liane Hentscher/HBO

At one point in The Last of Us’ latest episode, Kathleen and her right-hand man, Perry (Jeffrey Pierce), hear what sounds like the rumblings of an entire infected horde coming from a hidden fissure in the ground. The moment suggests that Kansas City’s infected population may not only be lurking just beneath the city’s surface but may also be dangerously close to coming up through the ground again.

Rather than trying to find a way to trap, kill, or escape the city’s infected, though, Kathleen tells Perry that they’ll only address the problem after she’s found the vengeance she so desperately desires. Based on just how dangerous The Last of Us’ infected have already proven to be, it seems safe to say that Kathleen’s decision will likely come back to bite her, Perry, and everyone else who has the unfortunate luck of living in Kansas City with them.

Kathleen (Melanie Lynksey) is a woman on a dangerously short-sighted mission in The Last of Us Episode 4.

Liane Hentscher/HBO

The Inverse Analysis — Across its gargantuan, frankly bloated runtime, The Last of Us Part 2 is obsessively focused on exploring the ways that revenge and violence can mentally, emotionally, and physically destroy a person. Through both Abby and Ellie’s dueling stories, the game reveals just how one-sided, unimaginative, and foolhardy one’s desire for vengeance can be.

For those reasons and more, Kathleen’s introduction in The Last of Us Episode 4 is far more important and noteworthy than casual viewers may think. Her revenge-driven debut has essentially just laid the groundwork for The Last of Us Part 2’s dour, relentlessly brutal story.

New episodes of The Last of Us air Sundays on HBO.

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