Every episode of The Last of Us, ranked worst to best

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Television is an artistic medium, and therefore open to interpretation. What is the “best” or “worst” episode of a TV show? None can say, because that’s up to every individual viewer to decide for themself.

That said, our powers of perception are infallible and our judgment foolproof. In that vein, we have gone over all nine episodes of the first season of HBO’s zombie drama The Last of Us and determined to within a minute of degree of scientific certainly which lead the pack, which are at the back, and which in between.

Briefly, The Last of Us is about a pair of people — Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey) — trying to make their way decades after a zombie apocalypse collapsed society. Ellie is immune to the cordyceps fungus that turned a lot of people into monsters, and Joel is saddled with getting her to the people who may be able to use her immunity to create a cure. Will they survive the trip? And how do the episodes stack up against each other? We’ll tell you:

Photograph by Liane Hentscher/HBO

9. The worst episode of The Last of Us is Episode 4, “Please Hold to My Hand” 

Time for the disclaimers: The first season of The Last of Us is a very good season of TV. I don’t think there was a truly weak episode. At the top, you have moving masterpieces that people will be thinking about for years. And at the bottom, you have solid hours of TV that set up even better ones.

Such is “Please Hold My Hand,” the first episode of the show where we get to spend a good chunk of uninterrupted time with Ellie and Joel on the road. And their banter is the highlight of the hour. From Joel keeping watch while Ellie sleeps to Ellie peppering Joel with terrible puns to Joel giving Ellie a gun after she saves his life, we can see their bond starting to form in earnest. They work well together in the field and enjoy each other’s company in private. This, we think, could be the start of something special.

The episode drags a bit when it sets up the conflicts between the Kansas City revolutionaries. Who is Kathleen and how did she come to have such a powerful hold on her followers? Who are Henry and Sam, and why do they sneak up on Joel and Ellie while they sleep? We don’t get all the answers in this episode, which makes it less satisfying than some of the others. But they’re important questions to ask.

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