How Does Sam Bring Alive Ellie’s Long-Lost Innocence In ‘The Last Of Us’ Episode 5?

In the fifth episode of “The Last of Us,” we see a few moments that’ll warm the hearts of the millions of Ellie fans who’ve been watching and loving the show for the last one month. In this episode, Ellie forms a friendship with a kid she and Joel come across when the boy and his elder brother wake them with a gun aimed at their faces. Although not exactly the best way to start a friendship, it’s with Sam that Ellie, a teenager who’s quick on weapons, gets to relive some of the innocent moments that childhood should be about. The early teen years should be spent playing out in the sun, watching movies, and listening to music, but in the post-apocalyptic world of cordyceps-infected zombies, innocence is a rare thing to come by. Thus, the few moments that Ellie gets to spend with Sam and be a child again are too precious to ignore. Here’s a look at how Sam helps Ellie rediscover the purity of childhood that she had buried deep down.

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All that we’ve seen of Ellie since Episode 1, she seldom lets others feel that she’s a 14-year-old teenager, having perfected the art of wielding her favorite jack-knife and her no-nonsense attitude while facing threats side-by-side with Joel. Ellie was never the mewling, weepy kid who might faint at the hint of danger, having received her education at a FEDRA-operated school, but with each passing episode, she has truly evolved into the ideal companion for a journey through a zombie-infested world. She learns how to wield a gun properly from Joel and learns how it feels to stab an infected to death with her knife, but while learning how to survive, she has left her innocence in the yesteryears. A kid who’s not even 15 shouldn’t have to be exposed to the horrors that Ellie has seen firsthand—and this doesn’t even include the circumstances under which she made her first kill, which will become increasingly apparent with time. Even her companion Joel, who saves her on multiple occasions, says the same after she saves his life by using a gun on his attacker in Episode 4. The confident yet brash-mouthed Ellie might have given up on enjoying just a day of being a kid once more until they meet Henry and Sam, brothers who are escaping a vengeance-crazed rebel leader in Kansas City. Throughout the episode, Ellie discovers a sliver of the joys of innocence with the 8-year-old Sam, who makes her find pleasure in things that a kid her age should enjoy.

From the get-go, when the four sit down to eat for the first time, Ellie takes note of the kid who uses sign language, and he’s probably the first person whom Ellie isn’t skeptical about from the start. As Henry and Joel discuss their escape plan, we hear Ellie giggle with Sam, and although hearing his little brother’s giggle is music to Henry’s ear, it’s also the first time we see Ellie laugh around someone close to her age. Sure, she and Joel had one of the most wholesome moments in Episode 4 towards the end when she told a joke that made both of them laugh. However, a child should be around someone closer to their own age instead of a 56-year-old partially deaf PTSD patient with bad knees.

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The most fun Ellie had had until Episode 5 was reading puns from a joke book to Joel, who could only manage to force out a single chuckle or two. The show even takes away the fleeting joy of Ellie reading a comic book in the car ride—but that might be because making Joel collect all the comic books strewn across the world won’t unlock any rewards for Pedro Pascal in the show. Moreover, with Tess dead, Ellie has to be around a man who’s almost like her father, so she has barely any chance of being a child. Henry has Sam covered in that department, he gives him crayons to paint Super Sam and even paints a pair of sunglasses on his little brother’s eyes. With Sam around, Ellie has someone she can look after instead of being the one being protected.

In the underground tunnels, Sam and Ellie discuss their comic book collections, and she starts reading to him from a book she found. Ellie asks Joel to stay back in the playroom for a while because she, too, feels that she can be a child in here for a while before she needs to head back out into reality to face the infected and armed soldiers. Sam is the only one in this post-apocalyptic world who’ll listen to her read a comic book, and he teaches her sign language on how to say “Endure and Survive.” However, when she sits down with him at the playroom table, she places the gun beside her before picking up the toys. This shows that no matter how much Ellie might lose herself in the temporary joys of reading comic books, she can no longer return to the idyllic times of safety, even if she can enjoy a few moments of happiness. She plays football with Sam inside the playroom the community had left behind and chases him around—and for a moment there, the audience can forget that the world has gone to hell and the ones who are left living are worse than the walking corpses with fungus in their brains.

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The final time we see Ellie dropping her guard is inside the motel after escaping infected and the Hunters outside Kansas City, when she reads the comic book to Sam. While exchanging scribbles on Sam’s slate, Ellie still finds time to joke with Sam, saying how scorpions scare her, and even though she doesn’t have that robot toy as she did for him in the game, she brings her company for the deaf kid. For the first time, Ellie bares her heart open to a kid she’s known only for a couple of days and confesses that she fears being alone. However, the bubble of innocence quickly bursts when Ellie learns that Sam has been bitten, but she tries saving him using her blood. One could argue that it’s out of her childlike innocence that she thinks dabbing her blood on the wound will save Sam. Sure, she tries her best to save the only friend she has made, with whom she can read comics and play catch, but she wouldn’t bother doing the same for some random guy who got bitten. Since Sam brought her innocence back, she tries to pay him back by trying to save his life. Like an older sister, she promises to watch over him and stay awake together, but the lull of safety quickly disperses in the morning when she wakes up to find Sam turned. With that, Ellie’s journey back to the days of playing football and comparing comic issues is over, and it’s back to the walk on the hard road, fighting zombies and savages.


See more: ‘The Last Of Us’ Episode 5: Recap And Ending, Explained: Is Sam Dead? What Happens To Henry?


Indrayudh Talukdar
Indrayudh Talukdar
Indrayudh has a master's degree in English literature from Calcutta University and a passion for all things in cinema. He loves writing about the finer aspects of cinema, although he is also an equally big fan of webseries and anime. In his free time, Indrayudh loves playing video games and reading classic novels.

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