Warning! This article contains spoilers for The Last of Us episode 5 and for The Last of Us Part 2 game. If you've yet to catch up, then turn back now.
The Last of Us has included a few Easter Eggs for existing fans of the franchise to enjoy across its run so far, from cuddly toy giraffes to Murray Bartlett's Frank wearing Joel's "hero shirt" from the game. Episode 5 features a heartbreaking nod, too – and it might just be the most painful one yet.
In 'Endure and Survive', Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey) befriend Henry (Lamar Johnson) and his eight-year-old brother Sam (Keivonn Woodard) as the two duos try to make their way out of the dangerous Kansas City. At first, it looks like the quartet's escape was a successful one, but when vengeful Kathleen (Melanie Lynskey) catches up with them and a horde of infected attack, Sam is scratched.
Later that night, the youngster turns, and to prevent him from hurting Ellie, Henry shoots him dead. Devastated by his actions, Henry then turns the gun on himself, and Ellie and Joel are forced to bury their former friends. Right at the very end of the episode, Joel is seen using Henry's backpack – and fans have since pointed out that it's the same backpack the game version of the character uses in The Last of Us Part 2.
Joel at the end of episode 5 takes Henry’s backpack!!Fun fact it’s the same one from The Last of Us Part 2 😭 pic.twitter.com/vLUB2EGUybFebruary 11, 2023
"With each companion interaction Joel is slowly learning things about himself and his purpose," another viewer theorized in response to the above tweet on Reddit (opens in new tab). "Bill teaches him the benefits of opening up to people, as well as explaining his purpose as a protector and survivalist. His experiences with Henry and Sam force him to come to terms with the fact that he's starting to care about Ellie, which would put him in a position to experience the trauma he swore he would never allow himself to go through again.
"With each interaction he is taking physical objects from them to assemble the Joel outfit, symbolizing his growth towards his 'true' self."
The Last of Us continues on Sunday, February 19 on HBO and HBO Max in the US, and Sky Atlantic and NOW the following day in the UK. Make sure you never miss an episode by checking out our The Last of Us release schedule and our breakdown of how many episodes are in The Last of Us.
For more from the series, check out our guide to the major Last of Us episode 4 changes from the games and a terrifying look at the Cordyceps fungus.