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The Last Of Us Episode 5's Tunnel Paintings Tell One Of The Game's Saddest Stories

This article contains spoilers for "The Last of Us" Episode 5, titled "Endure and Survive."

The atmosphere of HBO's adaptation of "The Last of Us" continues to be intriguing. The fifth episode of the series showcased some of the show's most diverse sets, from the streets of Kansas City, to its dilapidated suburbs, and the intricate sewers that run below it. The environment and visual language of the series, which is largely influenced by the art direction of the original 2013 game, tells the story of a world that is being reclaimed by nature. Moss, trees, and grass grow freely over cars, buildings, and other objects that are no longer used by humans.

Down in the sewers, however, it's a completely different story. As Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey) form an intriguing partnership with Henry (Lamar Johnson) and his younger brother Sam (Keivonn Montreal Woodard) to escape Kansas City, they make their way down to the city's sewers to evade Kathleen (Melanie Lynskey) and her army. As the navigate the maze-like underground, they discover that the tunnels were once occupied by survivors, who turned the labyrinth into their safe haven. Fans of the franchise will no doubt recognize that some of the environments, paintings, and drawings shown in the tunnels are directly lifted from the game, telling the story of Ish.

Those who pay close attention to the intricate set design and props seen in the tunnels will be rewarded with one of the game's saddest and devastating stories.

A community once thrived in the sewer tunnels

The HBO series doesn't explicitly reveal what happened to the community that once lived in the sewer's tunnels, but the information presented, particularly through paintings and drawings, confirms it's the same story as in the game. In the 2013 PlayStation 3 exclusive, the player sees that the tunnel was once populated, with makeshift bunk beds, a school, and other leisure areas. By exploring the area, players can come across collectibles, mostly notes, which detail the mostly linear story of Ish, a fisher-person who took to the sea after the pandemic started. Ish's compelling and devastating story is primarily told through the environment, making it a largely optional emotional investment.

After several months of solitude, Ish returns back to land, only to be repulsed by society's downfall. Distraught, Ish took the sewers of Pittsburgh (the series changes the location to Kansas City), to create an intimate life of their own. Eventually, Ish encounters a family, trading supplies with them. Growing close with the family, Ish invites them to join the isolated safe haven. Eventually, Ish becomes the shepherd of a growing community, allowing multiple survivors into the tunnels. A proper, nurturing, rule-following society is formed, with Ish serving as one of the community's protectors. 

In the HBO series, Ellie and Sam find a drawing made of Ish and another protector. The same drawing, as an example, is a collectible that can be found in the game. Ultimately, a door is left open in Ish's community, allowing the infected to wander in, murdering most of the members in the community. Ish manages to escape with a select few survivors, with their fate unknown.