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The Last of Us Episode 4 Introduces Melanie Lynskey as the Evil Kathleen

We're breaking down the latest episode of the video game drama

Megan Vick

[Warning: The following contains spoilers from The Last of Us Episode 4. Read at your own risk!]

A new villain has emerged on The Last of Us and there doesn't appear to be a single Cordycep growing in her brain. Episode 4 of the HBO drama brought Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey) to Kansas City, where they didn't run into any infected, but perhaps encountered someone much, much worse. It appears that the Kansas City FEDRA faction has been ousted by a non-Firefly rebellion group led by a woman named Kathleen (Melanie Lynskey). 

As TV fans on Al Gore's Internet in the year of our lord 2023, we are conditioned to be elated when Melanie Lynskey shows up on our screens. Though she's been quietly putting in stellar performances for years, it was 2021's Yellowjackets on Showtime that brought Lynskey to the mainstream. She's just so good, and now The Last of Us has made her so... evil? It feels so strange to say, but Kathleen is definitely up to no good and has an entire military unit at her disposal. We learned in the episode that Kathleen was on the hunt for everyone involved with getting her brother killed by FEDRA before the rebellion succeeded, specifically two people named Henry and Sam. Based on Kathleen's no-mercy approach in tracking down the pair, it seemed like Henry and Sam are real bad people — but something also seemed not quite right with Kathleen. 

At one point, one of her guards directed her to a pulsating sinkhole within the barracks where she was holding her "interrogations" (see: murders). Kathleen promptly ignored the warning and told the guard to lock off the area so they could deal with it later. Not even an ominous, growling hole in the ground was going to distract her from finding Henry and Sam, and how dare anyone suggest that it should. The episode never revealed what was going on with that sinkhole or what was causing it to move in that way, but we can't fight the feeling that it should have reconfigured Kathleen's priorities a lot more than it did. 

While everything that involved Kathleen in Episode 4 was disturbing, the episode did provide some much needed bonding time for Joel and Ellie. After a violent entrance into Kansas City where they were ambushed by Kathleen's men, the pair escaped, got a little bit vulnerable with each other, and then laughed over some quality poop jokes. That's what really makes a bond cement in a fungal apocalypse. However, even though Joel and Ellie got closer, they are absolutely not out of danger. They are still stuck in Kathleen's Kansas City, hiding out, and the episode ended with the audience finally getting a glimpse at Henry (Lamar Johnson) and Sam (Keivonn Woodard). While the pair looked more like scared kids than hardened criminals, they were also holding Ellie and Joel at gun point when the credits started to roll. 

It seems that Joel and Ellie were put between a rock and a hard place and the road out of Kansas City is absolutely not going to be an easy one, no matter how they choose to leave.

The Last of Us continues Sundays at 9/8c on HBO.