The Last of Us episode 5 is set to premiere Friday, Feb. 10 at 9 p.m. ET via HBO Max and HBO On Demand. Episode 5 will then air again during the show’s usual release date and time of Sunday, Feb. 12 at 9 p.m. ET. In its release to the press, HBO didn’t cite a reasoning for this schedule change but it doesn’t take much sleuthing to find out what Sunday night event the pay cable network wants to avoid.
Super Bowl LVII featuring the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles (go birds, I guess) will begin Sunday, Feb. 12 at 6:30 p.m. ET on Fox. This NFL championship game is typically the most watched television broadcast in North America each year and lasts three and a half to four hours long, pitting the climax of the game right up against the middle portion of The Last of Us episode 5.
Of course, The Last of Us episode 5 will still be there on Sunday night for non-Super Bowl watchers to enjoy but given that the game is traditionally accompanied by watch parties for football fans and the football agnostic alike, it was nice to give The Last of Us fans this early viewing option for episode five.
The remaining four episodes of The Last of Us‘s first season will continue to air in their usual Sunday at 9 p.m. date and time, culminating with its season 1 finale on March 12. EW notes, however, that that finale date could also prove to be a headache for HBO as it also just happens to be the date of the 95th Academy Awards.
Per its teaser trailer, The Last of Us episode five “Endure and Survive” will take place in Kansas City and feature the presence of video game characters Henry and Sam, played by Lamar Johnson and Keivonn Woodard. Melanie Lynskey will continue her role as Kathleen, an original character created for the series.
Thankfully for HBO, The Last of Us has performed more than well than enough to endure these scheduling shenanigans. Like many HBO dramas receiving the hallowed 9 p.m. at Sunday time slot, The Last of Us has enjoyed some superb ratings. Unlike many other HBO dramas in that time slot, however, those gosh darn numbers keep going up!
The network revealed on Feb. 6 that 7.5 million viewers took in the show’s fourth episode, marking the show’s third consecutive week of audience growth. It’s fairly unusual in the modern era (but not unheard of) for a TV series to continually gain viewers from week to week. Premieres and finales are natural tune in points for audiences while the ratings for weekly episodes in-between tend to fluctuate or fade. But The Last of Us keeps doing its best Avatar impression by getting stronger as time goes on, suggesting that word of mouth appeal for the show is growing.
TV shows and movies based on video games have historically been dicey propositions and it would seem now that The Last of Us has built up enough goodwill with audiences to assure them that it’s the real deal. It’s built up enough goodwill with HBO as well as the show has already been renewed for a second season.