The Last of Us: Melanie Lynskey's Kathleen, Explained

[Warning: This story contains The Last of Us spoilers from season 1.] The Kansas City QZ isn't the only new territory being explored on The Last of Us. HBO's live-action adaptation of the PlayStation video game has already deviated from the source material, changing the death of Anna Torv's Tess and expanding the entirely new love story of Nick Offerman's Bill and Murray Bartlett's Frank (who only appears in the game after he's already died). Sunday's episode 4, "Please Hold My Hand," also goes off course from the game when hardened survivor and smuggler Joel (Pedro Pascal) and his "cargo" — the bitten-but-immune Ellie (Bella Ramsey) — find themselves taking a wrong turn into Kansas City, Missouri. 

The fourth episode introduces two new survivors of the fungal apocalypse: Kathleen (Yellowjackets star Melanie Lynskey), described by HBO as "the ruthless leader of a revolutionary movement," and Perry (The Last of Us game actor Jeffrey Pierce), a rebel in the former FEDRA-controlled Kansas City quarantine zone.


Kathleen and Perry on The Last of Us.

- HBO)

Is Kathleen in The Last of Us Game?

Kathleen is an original character created for HBO's The Last of Us. During a panel at Brazil's CCXP convention, series writer and showrunner Craig Mazin revealed that Lynskey would play "a leader of a group that in the game were known as the Hunters."

"[Melanie's Kathleen] is a very complicated character," Mazin said. "She's a brilliant actor, and we needed somebody who could portray somebody that was doing terrible things, but then when you got to know her, you understood why and actually felt for her. One of the things that [The Last of Us game writer and series co-creator Neil Druckmann] created with the game was this philosophy that no one's ever purely good, no one is ever purely evil; we have the capacity to do both. And Melanie Lynskey plays somebody that I think you're gonna hate and then you're gonna love."

(Photo: Naughty Dog / PlayStation)

The Last of Us: The Hunters, Explained

In The Last of Us game, the hunters were a hostile faction encountered in post-apocalyptic Pittsburgh, not Kansas City. After violently revolting against FEDRA to take over the military-controlled Pittsburgh QZ, the rebels became territorial hunters who would prey on "tourists": the name for travelers who would be killed and looted for trespassing.

The hunters "take a slightly different role [on the show]," Druckmann explained in a recent interview. "Because I love the idea that there aren't just good guys and bad guys. Everybody's trying to survive, everybody's trying to live life to the fullest way they can."

Druckmann continued: "But often, the goals are competing with each other, and that's where the interesting things happen. The different philosophies of how to survive — or do the ends justify the means? — speak to what the story is really about in new ways than we did in the game."

Added Mazin, "We didn't have to fulfill a need that the video game had, which was to send NPCs at you. You have to kill a lot of people in that video game, but for us, violence was quite serious, and we didn't want to numb people to it. And so when enemies come, it was important for us to ask the question, 'Well, why are they enemies? What do they want?' They're not just evil people. From their point of view, this all makes sense, and it's justifiable, and that was an interesting thing to explore."

New episodes of The Last of Us premiere Sundays on HBO and HBO Max. Follow for more The Last of Us on ComicBook.