If you played The Last of Us game and are watching HBO’s TV adaptation, you probably saw a couple of characters in this week’s episode and wondered, “Who the hell are these people?” That’s because these characters weren’t in the original game, but there’s a reason you might have thought you recognized one of them, as he is portrayed by an actor from the game.
Who is Kathleen?
Kathleen (Melanie Lynskey, Yellowjackets) is one of the original characters created for HBO’s adaptation. The existence of a character like her could have been inferred from the game, though, as she acts as a leader for the hunters who attack Joel and Ellie in Kansas City with methods identical to those employed by the hunters who attack them in Pittsburgh in the game. While the location change hasn’t been a significant factor in the show thus far, Kathleen still adds some human depth and drama to what was once a faceless group of enemies in the game. As we see in episode four, Kathleen and her cohorts overthrew the Kansas City branch of FEDRA, the post-apocalyptic law enforcement in The Last of Us’ universe, but she’s still holding grudges against people who sold out her brother to the governing force, and even makes reference to him being killed by FEDRA soldiers in a holding cell where she interrogates a local doctor.
She’s looking for information on Henry, a prominent character from the game who we don’t meet until the end of the episode, but fans of the game know he and his brother Sam will have a pretty significant role in what’s to come next week. Kathleen believes Henry is responsible for her brother’s death, so it will be interesting to see how the show changes up his story to accommodate hers, as the brothers were just passing through Pittsburgh in the source material, where now there seem to be some personal ties between them and the hunters in Kansas City. In all likelihood we’ll learn more about her in next week’s episode as well.
Who is Perry?
While Kathleen seems to be in charge of the group that overthrew FEDRA’s reign, Perry is her right hand. Fans of the original game will recognize his voice, however, as he’s portrayed by Jeffrey Pierce, who played Joel’s brother Tommy in both Last of Us games. As of episode four, we don’t know much about his character, but it is fun for longtime fans to hear a familiar voice. This isn’t the first time a Last of Us game actor has appeared in the show, as Merle Dandridge is reprising her role as Marlene in the series and appeared in the pilot. Ashley Johnson and Troy Baker, who portrayed Ellie and Joel respectively, will also make appearances in later episodes as other characters.
Just how their stories will wrap up remains to be seen, but Kathleen and Perry are one example of how HBO’s take on The Last of Us is filling in gaps left by the game. Both The Last of Us and its sequel were very particular about how they played with perspective, which meant that if it wasn’t in the scope of Joel, Ellie, or Abby’s view, it wasn’t really explored. The show has been shifting perspectives throughout its run, which means we spend less time with Joel and Ellie, but do get to learn more about the characters in their orbit and, through them, the wider world. Hell, if the show was as laser focused on its main characters as the games, we wouldn’t have gotten a whole mini-movie about Bill and Frank in episode three, and the world would be worse for it.