Henry and Sam Question Morality in The Last of Us

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Henry and Sam Question Morality in The Last of Us


The Last of Us Episode 5 featured food for thought on ethics and morality in a post-apocalyptic world thanks to Henry and Sam. How far can humans go to protect themselves and their loved ones? Sam and Henry’s story proved that people are ready to do whatever it takes to survive. Are they to be blamed for that? Unlike what Henry stated, the answer isn’t easy.

What Happened in The Last of Us Episode 5

“Endure and Survive” told the backstory of Sam (Keivonn Woodard) and Henry (Lamar Johnson), the two characters introduced pointing their guns at the head of Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey) at the end of The Last of Us Episode 4. In a world devastated by the Cordyceps pandemic, Henry has been taking care of his 8-year-old deaf brother. The pair lived in Kansas City, where the local FEDRA was mistreating the survivors pretty much like in every other place. Fed up with FEDRA’s abuses, Kansas City people put on a Resistance movement led by Kathleen’s brother, Michael. Admiring Michael’s bravery and capacity for forgiveness, Henry enrolled in the Resistance movement to a certain degree.

Things took a nasty turn after Sam was diagnosed with leukemia. The only drug that seemed to be effective was in FEDRA’s hands. Seeing no other solution for his brother’s survival, Henry made a pact with FEDRA and betrayed Michael, informing the local authorities about his whereabouts. Henry’s information allowed FEDRA to capture the Resistance leader and kill him. FEDRA didn’t imagine that Kathleen (Melanie Lynskey) would take her brother’s place and ultimately take over Kansas City by leading the Resistance movement.

Is Henry a Bad Guy?

With tears in his eyes, Henry told his dramatic story to Joel before asking if he was a bad man for what he did. “The answer is easy: I am the bad guy because I did a bad guy thing,” concluded Henry when he saw Joel was reluctant to say anything. As fans already know, Joel’s reticence wasn’t because he thought Henry was an evil man but most likely because Joel was thinking about the things he did himself.

Since the series premiere, Joel was shown behaving in a way considered amoral in a normal society. One of the first scenes involving the protagonist in the Boston Quarantine Zone featured Joel throwing the body of a little girl into the flames. He didn’t hesitate to kill that FEDRA guard before leaving the QZ with Tess and Ellie. In The Last of Us Episode 4, Joel confessed he used to ambush people to get their goods. The list might go on and on, and many things about Joel’s past are still unknown. There might be a good reason why Tess told Joel he needed to set everything right for “all the s— we did” by taking Ellie west right before her ultimate sacrifice.

Henry and Joel did what they did either because they needed to survive in a crazy world or ensure their beloved’s survival. Does it even make sense to talk about “good” and “bad” in a world where tomorrow is no certainty? Where do ethics and morals stand when you have to deal every day with monsters, human and not? Showrunners Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann didn’t offer a real answer to the question, leaving it up to fans to be the judge of it. The irony is that Henry’s questionable decisions were ultimately futile, as his and his brother’s story ended with tragedy. When Sam got the Cordyceps infection, Henry shot himself in the head after killing his brother.



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