Is the latest addition to ‘The Last of Us’ deaf?

Sam - The Last of Us

The Last of Us/HBO

Two new members joined the main group last of us cast on Sunday and give viewers their first look at HBO’s Henry and Sam.

Henry and Sam, like many of the important supporting characters that are scattered throughout The last of usThe world afflicted by Cordyceps will receive a richer backstory and fleshed-out purpose in the HBO adaptation. The characters were already key elements of Ellie and Joel’s journey, but it seems HBO is hoping to enhance them even further.

At the end of episode four, “Please Hold My Hand,” Ellie and Joel faced two unfamiliar faces. These faces belong to brothers Henry and Sam, who seem to belong to a group of people that has a strong presence in Kansas City. The group is led by Melanie Lynskey’s Kathleen, a character whose current trajectory seems to mirror the tone and direction of Ellie’s character arc The Last of Us Part II.

Henry and Sam have yet to say a word in HBO’s adaptation, but early casting calls – leaked online more than a year ago – suggest Sam’s character is deaf. The casting call describes the character as “male, black, deaf” and between “8-14 years old”.

It seems that HBO is deviating from the source material once again, and we’re not complaining. The story in The last of us will always be there for gamers, and it’s a nice change of pace to see HBO switch up and improve some details. Sam’s deafness is certainly a danger in a world full of vengeful humans, angry infected, and lurking, keen-hearing clickers. This should add an enticing and suspenseful element to the HBO series as it progresses, while adding some much-needed – and far too seldom-seen – visuals in the process.

Sam’s character isn’t deaf in the Naughty Dog games, but it’s not a change that should drastically change the relevance of his role in Ellie and Joel’s journey. The brothers’ introduction has already seen numerous changes from game to show, from their affiliation with Kathleen’s group to the way they stumbled upon the series’ lead roles.

The role of Sam is played by Keivonn Woodard, who is himself a member of the deaf community. He has made history in his hometown several times, first as Bowie, Maryland’s first deaf black hockey player – at just 9 years old – and then as the youngest signing in the last of us pour.

Placing Sam as a deaf character in a deadly world is sure to shake things up and could make for some delightfully tense scenes in episode five. It might also add to the story in ways viewers have yet to determine, but all will become clear when the fifth episode drops a few days early on Friday, February 10th. Is the latest addition to ‘The Last of Us’ deaf?

Lindsay Lowe

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