The Last Of Us Writer Craig Mazin Wanted [REDACTED]'s Death To Deliver Poetic Justice

This post contains spoilers for "The Last of Us" episode 5.

On HBO's "The Last of Us," if a character's name isn't Joel or Ellie, chances are they're going to die a horrible death. That includes Kathleen, the ruthless Kansas City resistance leader played by "Yellowjackets" star Melanie Lynskey. When Kathleen makes her entrance in episode 4, she's obsessed with finding Henry (Lamar Johnson), but it's not until episode 5 that we learn the reason for that. By then, Kathleen's two-episode arc has come to a close in a standoff with a child clicker that doesn't end well for her.

As /Film's Shania Russell recently observed, Kathleen and Henry are "mirror images of one another." Henry betrayed Kathleen's resistance-leader brother, handing him over to FEDRA to obtain leukemia medicine for his own deaf younger brother, Sam (Keivonn Montreal Woodard). He's willing to do anything to save his sibling, while Kathleen is willing to do anything to avenge hers. Unfortunately for other FEDRA collaborators, that means casually ordering the death of a whole room full of people.

On the official "The Last of Us" podcast, co-showrunner Craig Mazin explained why it was important for Kathleen to go out the way she did after her violent actions:

"Let me crib a line from 'Westworld,' 'These violent delights have violent ends.' I think it's important to show that when you are dead set on using violence to settle the score and win the day, you are going to probably get subsumed by that yourself. And the fact is, Kathleen is a moral criminal. She's done terrible things. Does she deserve to die? I don't really get into that. I just know that the odds that you are going to die by the sword go up dramatically if you live by it."

Death by child clicker

By her own admission, Kathleen's not a nice lady. She sends in the death squad after she's promised people a fair trial. In her mind, she's out for justice, but the way she goes about it is all wrong. Even when it becomes clear she's led her people into a death trap, with the underground clickers she deprioritized — in favor of Henry — ready to massacre them all, Kathleen is still bent on personal revenge.

Her trigger man, Perry (Jeffrey Pierce), gives her the chance to escape, sacrificing himself for her in a gruesome fashion. But in the face of certain death, Kathleen has the quality of Captain Ahab in "Moby Dick." "[Perry] told her to run," Craig Mazin said. "And she couldn't help but chase the white whale to the very end."

Mazin concluded by discussing the poetic justice of Kathleen's death by child clicker:

"It was important for me, also, that Kathleen is killed by a child because what she says — it's one of my favorite lines in the series — is when she's saying that Henry has to die, and so does Sam. And Henry says, 'He's just a f***ing kid.' And she says, 'Well, kids die, Henry. They die all the time.' And she's not wrong. The thing is, a lot of what we talk about when we're talking about the moral conundrum of 'The Last of Us' is, 'Why does my kid's life matter more than yours? Does my kid's life matter more than your mother's? Does my kid's life matter more than an old man's life?' And so, the idea that she ultimately is killed by a kid felt sort of like a circular completion of that story."

New episodes of "The Last of Us" air Sundays on HBO.