[Ed. note: As you might’ve guessed from the headline, this post contains spoilers for a death at the end of The Last of Us episode 5.]
All the pieces goes flawed for everyone in some unspecified time in the future within the suburb throwdown at the tip of The Last of Us episode 5. “Endure and Survive” ends with an elaborate motion set piece, with infected swarming out of a sinkhole and overrunning Joel (Pedro Pascal), Ellie (Bella Ramsey), and their Kansas City allies and enemies alike. Loads of people die. But few get as brutal a death as Perry (Jeffrey Pierce), who gets torn to pieces by a bloater.
Even out of focus within the background as Kathleen (Melanie Lynskey) escapes, it’s a very gnarly kill. And Pierce, who also voiced Joel’s brother Tommy in The Last of Us game, wouldn’t have it some other way — and never only since it’s an Easter egg.
“Craig [Mazin, co-showrunner] said, ‘Look you’re gonna get one of the best death of your complete season,’” Pierce tells Polygon in an interview. “And for me — he’s a person who has lived by a code of honor. And the concept he gets this honorable death that he gets to decide on, and to sacrifice himself within the hope of Kathleen potentially having the ability to escape, is admittedly as heroic and selfless an act as you’ll be able to hope for.”
That strength was something Pierce wanted in every moment that Perry was on screen. The way in which he saw it, Perry was former military, had no real interest in joining FEDRA and their death squads, and had been moving around until he found Kathleen and her brother and joined their cause. Pierce describes going forwards and backwards with the props department, assembling the look that he wanted for the character he envisioned: a plate carrier tactical vest, a private weapon along along with his FEDRA Beretta, three separate knives (“Within the lore of the sport, your knives run out,” Pierce notes), and a med kit on his back. The goal was for him to feel steely and skilled, consistent with the “mythology of cowboys and samurai.”
“So, yeah, I like that that’s the way in which that he got to decide on to finish things, despite the incontrovertible fact that she doesn’t quite benefit from the window that he buys her,” Pierce says with amusing. “Perhaps any person got away because he sacrificed himself!”
Ultimately, the Kansas City cul-de-sac just wasn’t sufficiently big to contain the Cordyceps network beneath town. And Perry becomes one more distinctive zombie kill in a world stuffed with them. Still, Pierce will at all times treasure his memories of sacrificing himself in the road of duty like that.
“We did the whole lot as much as the bloater grabbing hold,” Pierce says, noting that there was an actual guy within the bloater suit. “He was hilarious. Like a 6-foot-5 rugby player from Australia, and he would do, like, Michael Jackson dances within the bloater outfit in between takes, it was fucking hilarious. But in addition, when a man that big is running across the road at you, it’s somewhat terrifying. […] None of [the acting there] was hard.”