The Last Of Us Episode 8 Recap: Ellie’s Most Desperate Hour


Bella Ramsey as Ellie holds a sniper rifle in a moment from HBO's The Last of Us.

Screenshot: HBO

With only one episode to go, we’re nearing the top of Joel and Ellie’s lengthy journey collectively. This week’s entry, “When We Are in Want,” corresponds with the sport’s winter part, although the HBO adaptation isn’t utilizing the identical seasonal construction of the sport, and right here in TV land, it’s been winter for some time.

Once I first performed The Final of Us ten years in the past, in some methods the winter chapter felt to me like overkill, the sport leaning onerous into desperation and depravity simply to be as gritty and bleak because it might, to be able to assist promote itself as a “mature,” critical sport. “Sufficient, I get it. Humanity is terrible and given half an opportunity, we’ll all do grotesque, morally reprehensible issues.” Replaying the sport now alongside the present, the aim of the chapter inside the narrative is clearer to me. In fact it’s widespread for tales to place characters at their most hopeless and determined factors proper earlier than the decision, however the best way The Final of Us does it, separating the characters whereas each are in dire straits, drives dwelling the significance of their bond to one another. It additionally, importantly, illustrates that whereas Joel could have began out as Ellie’s protector on this journey, he now wants her at the very least as a lot as she wants him. Let’s take a more in-depth have a look at this week’s episode, and its similarities to the identical stretch of the sport.

Ellie meets David within the present vs. the sport

This chapter has its personal villain within the type of David, a preacher and a predator whose flock reside within the resort city of Silver Lake and are struggling via a very harsh winter. By way of dialogue, it’s one of many present’s extra trustworthy episodes. In reality, it’s virtually as if author Craig Mazin’s screenplay for the episode simply took this part of the sport, reduce out a lot of the fight sequences, and from there, sought to decorate the dialogue and construct on what the sport reveals to us about David and his congregation. It continues to be attention-grabbing to me how, within the sport, fight is maybe prioritized as a very powerful aspect, whereas in adapting the sport to a sequence, it turns into the least vital.

David stands before members of his congregation, a sign behind him reading When we are in need He shall provide" behind him.

Screenshot: HBO

The winter chapter instantly distinguishes itself from the remainder of the sport by having you play as Ellie for the primary time. (At present, taking part in via the story so as, you’d play the Left Behind DLC earlier than this, however when the sport got here out in 2013, this was a shocking shift in perspective.) Determined for meals, Ellie hunts a deer she spots within the woods together with her bow and arrows. Nicked and bleeding from a number of arrows, the deer runs, in the end collapsing, however when Ellie finds it, two others, David and James, have seen it too. Simply as within the sport, David (voiced right here by Nolan North, who performs Nathan Drake in Naughty Canine’s Uncharted video games) makes a take care of Ellie: penicillin for a number of the deer meat.

David, held at bow-and-arrow-point by Ellie, says "We're from a larger group--women, children--we're all very, very hungry" in a moment from the game The Last of Us.

Screenshot: Naughty Canine

What’s distinctive to the sport is that whereas ready for James to return with the drugs, you might have a multi-stage fight encounter preventing alongside David, involving a couple of standoffs towards a number of waves of contaminated and a climactic battle with a bloater. By way of all of it, you would possibly suppose that David is definitely a brand new buddy. He appears genuinely involved on your welfare, and preventing alongside somebody could be an expertise that develops belief. Naughty Canine is aware of the right way to use fight as a software for relationship-building, and right here, they construct up your belief in David a bit simply to drag out the rug from beneath you and remind you that, on this world, the belief between Joel and Ellie is a uncommon and valuable factor.

Within the present, by the point Ellie first encounters David (performed right here by actor Scott Shepherd), we have already got our causes to be suspicious of him. The episode begins with him studying scripture to his flock, within the outdated steakhouse he’s transformed right into a church and city corridor of kinds, a spot the place the considerable meals of the pre-cordyceps previous is sharply contrasted with the determined circumstances of the current. (It’s an vital location within the sport as effectively, one you come to later, and the signal studying WHEN WE ARE IN NEED HE SHALL PROVIDE is a element straight from the sport.) The faces of the congregation’s members are lean and hardened, telling us a lot at a look about what a tough winter they’re having. A grieving daughter asks when her father could be buried and David says that it’s too chilly to take action now, they’ll have to attend till spring. And outdoors after the service, David chides James (performed by Troy Baker, the voice of Joel within the video games) for his “doubt,” giving off the sense of a person who very a lot needs to keep up management.

Troy Baker as James looks at David in a moment from HBO's The Last of Us.

Screenshot: HBO

Notably, within the present, Ellie hunts the deer not with a bow and arrows however with the sniper rifle, recalling in our reminiscences the second towards the top of episode six when Joel tried to show her the right way to use it. When she takes a second to focus with the deer in her sights, we will sense her recalling Joel’s phrases and attempting to attract on what he taught her.

Each the sport and the present have Ellie speaking robust when she sees David and James close to the deer she killed, together with her calling James “buddy boy” and saying that if David tries something, she’ll “put one proper between your eyes.” The present, nevertheless, foregrounds David’s position as a preacher of their first dialog excess of the sport does. In reality, maybe the one actual trace David offers off within the sport that he has sure inflexible ethical requirements would possibly come when, after Ellie swears, he absurdly says, within the midst of a life-and-death battle towards waves of contaminated, that she ought to watch her language. We undoubtedly decide up on the truth that he’s a preacher ultimately, however there’s no actual character growth completed round it.

Within the present, nevertheless, Ellie asks if David’s “starvation membership” is a few kind of cult, and he activates the folksy allure, saying “Effectively, you sorta kinda acquired me there,” however saying that what he preaches is “fairly normal Bible stuff.” When Ellie wonders how he can nonetheless “consider that stuff” after the whole lot that’s occurred, he tells her it was really after the world ended that he began to consider. “Every thing occurs for a motive,” he says in each the present and the sport, and it’s right here that no matter sense of belief you may need felt for David whereas preventing alongside him probably evaporates. His seeming friendliness reveals itself to be a guise for one thing extra threatening, and he tells her {that a} “loopy man” killed somebody of their flock lately on the college. A loopy man who simply occurs to be touring with a “little woman.”

Ellie now understands that David is a menace if she didn’t earlier than, however David lets her journey off with the drugs, telling her that there’s room for her in his group, that he can defend her. It’s virtually as if he has some gross designs of his personal for her.

Dinnertime on the steakhouse

One of many luxuries of HBO’s adaptation has all the time been that it will possibly depart the angle of Joel and Ellie behind completely when it needs to, and right here, we get extra growth of David’s congregation. Within the kitchen, members of the flock lament their dwindling meals provides, and when a person brings in some contemporary meat, one in all them asks, “What’s it?” “Venison,” he replies hesitantly, in a manner which will have you ever asking, “Is it though?” Nonetheless, they put it into the night’s soup.

Ellie stands before a sign that reads "When we are in need He shall provide!" in an old restaurant in the game The Last of Us.

Screenshot: Naughty Canine

David and James haul the deer Ellie killed into the restaurant, however the room nonetheless appears quiet. Sensing what the stress is about, David tells them that sure, it’s true, “we discovered the woman who was with the person who took Alec from us.” Come morning, he says, they’ll observe her path, and “deliver that man to justice.” The grieving woman from the opening scene raises her voice, saying they need to kill each of them. David walks over and, in a second that exhibits us simply what sort of congregation chief he’s, backhands her throughout the face. Issues worsen nonetheless a second later when he tells her that though she might imagine she doesn’t have a father anymore, “the reality is, Hannah, you all the time have a father. And you’ll present him respect when he’s talking.” Kenneth isn’t flawed when he says the show makes David even more disturbing than he already was.

The scene ends with photographs of those hungry folks consuming their dinners, the thought lingering in our minds that it might be Alec they’re consuming.

Hungry…for vengeance!

The following morning, David’s males do certainly come a-huntin’. In each the present and the sport, Ellie does the one factor she will be able to suppose to do: attempt main the lads away from Joel, who she’s injected with penicillin however who remains to be hovering on the sting of consciousness. Within the present, she presses a knife into his fingers and tells him to kill anybody who comes into the home, although he doesn’t even appear to be he has the power to take a seat up.

The present offers us one other transient trade between David and James, as David insists that Ellie be introduced in alive. James says he doesn’t imply to query David’s “sense of mercy” however the woman would simply be one other mouth to feed, and that sure, she could die if left alone out right here, however maybe that’s God’s will. David merely offers him a withering look, however it’s abundantly clear that David’s curiosity in holding Ellie alive has nothing to do with mercy.

Ellie rides via the neighborhood on her horse—the neighborhood which, within the sport, has a small military of David’s males on the streets—and ultimately, her horse is shot out from beneath her. Within the present, it’s James who does this, and David has to cease him and another males from killing Ellie. Carrying her off himself and ordering a couple of males to haul the horse carcass, he tells the rest of his males to go door to door looking Joel. “You’re so hungry for vengeance? Ship it.”

Within the sport, nevertheless, one other prolonged fight sequence begins, as Ellie should sneak by or kill a variety of David’s males. What we get right here that we don’t get a lot within the present is numerous deep dissatisfaction among the many flock with David’s management, with many males expressing doubt in David and suggesting that quickly, his position as chief be put to a vote. Regardless of your greatest efforts, although, David does ultimately seize and subdue Ellie, whereas his personal delusions of grandeur about his personal benevolence proceed to manifest. “I’m holding you alive right here,” he says, as he jokes the consciousness out of her.

Ellie left Joel behind

In each the present and the sport, Joel lastly comes again to life, as if woke up by the cosmos simply in Ellie’s hour of want. The Police have a tune about that known as “Synchronicity I,” however I digress. Within the present, some poor bearded sap enters the home the place Joel is stashed within the basement. Ellie was good and hid the door to the basement behind an outdated piece of furnishings, however the poor bastard rolls effectively on his notion test and notices one thing’s up. It will have been higher for him if he hadn’t.

As he comes down the steps, recognizing the bloody mattress Ellie’s had Joel on for days, we all know Joel has lastly regained consciousness, and is hiding down there someplace. Sure, it seems Joel has regained the power not solely to maneuver, however to stab and choke the life out of a person. That’s the Joel we all know and love!

In the meantime, Ellie wakes up in a cage—within the sport, to the sight of a person butchering a human physique proper in entrance of her, although within the present, it’s simply David sitting there, ready for her to get up. Within the present, which continues working to make David extra overtly disturbing than he’s within the sport, he tells her that she’s in a cage as a result of “you’re a harmful individual, you’ve actually confirmed that,” and there’s an unmistakable trace of amusement and even admiration to his remark.

Joel stares intently at another man in a torture scene from HBO's The Last of Us.

Screenshot: HBO

Joel’s again in motion

Joel, determined to search out Ellie, tortures two of David’s males to get her whereabouts. It’s a startling juxtaposition with an trade between Ellie and David within the sport. When Ellie calls David an animal, he protests that she and Joel have killed an important many individuals too. “They didn’t give us a alternative, it’s a online game,” she says. (Effectively, okay, she doesn’t say that second half.) “And also you suppose we’ve got a alternative, is that it?” David says. “You kill to outlive. So will we. We’ve to maintain our personal, by any means vital.”

I don’t actually subscribe to that logic, however his phrases do on some degree indict Joel, I believe. Some could really feel that Joel and David are factors of distinction, one’s violence rooted in hate and delusion, the opposite’s in love and necessity. I actually don’t suppose Joel and David are the identical, however I additionally don’t suppose there’s something harmless or acceptable about what Joel does right here. And I’m high-quality with that. I need characters in my media who typically do terrible issues. What’s all the time troubled me in regards to the response to Joel, although, is simply how many individuals who performed the sport appear to suppose that the whole lot he does is completely justified, whereas recognizing that the actions of others on this planet aren’t. It’s as if we don’t need to carefully interrogate the actions of the individual we play as, the one we most carefully establish with.

This can be a dialog for subsequent week’s finale, however it appears clear to me that the sport, and the present, at the very least need us to consider the lengths Joel goes to right here, lengths that embrace brutally murdering one man after he tells Joel what he needed to know, after which killing the opposite, too. When the second man declares that he gained’t inform Joel something, each the sport and the present give us the chilling and memorable line by which Joel, referring to the person he simply killed, says “That’s okay, I consider him.”

Cordyceps confirmed David the sunshine

The present expands considerably on David’s dialog with Ellie, and makes it way more unsettling. He speaks to her—a 14-year-old woman—as if he sees her as some type of equal, a kindred spirit, as a result of they each have “a violent coronary heart.” He fought to restrain his violent coronary heart for a very long time, he says, earlier than he was proven the sunshine, not by God, however by cordyceps. “What does cordyceps do? Is it evil? No. It’s fruitful. It multiplies. It feeds and protects its youngsters. And it secures its future with violence, if it should. It loves.” I recognize the growth of David’s concepts right here, as a result of I believe the notion that love and violence can overlap is on the core of The Final of Us, and whereas David is clearly deranged, the talk over whether or not Joel’s violence is a manifestation of affection rages on.

Ellie, behind bars and bruised, says "Ellie is the little girl that broke your fucking finger" in an image from the game The Last of Us.

Screenshot: Naughty Canine

David, plainly a person who’s used to having folks reply to his charisma, makes the error of considering that Ellie is likely to be seduced by him as effectively, when, in each the sport and the present, he places his hand on the bars of the cage and makes it clearer nonetheless that his concepts about her are, to place it mildly, inappropriate. It’s a deeply unhappy second to me, the belief that even on this world the place society as we all know it has collapsed, Ellie, like most girls in our world at one time or one other, in a method or one other, nonetheless has to take care of the menace and the supreme bullshit of predatory males. Each variations punish David for his conceitedness and delusion, as Ellie, briefly taking part in alongside, takes his hand after which snaps one thing in it earlier than lastly telling David her title. Inform the others, she says, that “Ellie is the little woman that broke your fucking finger!”

Right here the sport begins to make use of the efficient gadget of getting us change backwards and forwards between Joel and Ellie at intervals, as Joel heads into city to search out her, killing loads of David’s males alongside the best way whereas a blizzard gathers power, elevating the sense of drama and letting you decide off your prey within the low visibility. Sure, after all he’s doing it for her sake, to guard her, to assist her, however by now, it additionally feels very very similar to he’s doing it as a result of he doesn’t know what he would do with out her. In fact traditionally, video games as soon as relied too typically on placing underdeveloped girls in peril and simply specializing in the lads who needed to rescue them, however The Final of Us earns this setup by humanizing them each, by creating their connection, and by presenting their relationship as one in all mutual care and profit. By now, Ellie has taken care of Joel and saved his life about as a lot as he’s completed for her.

The present additionally now switches again to Joel’s perspective, displaying him heading into city and discovering Ellie’s stuff, to not point out human our bodies strung up on meathooks. Higher hurry, Joel.

The trick up Ellie’s sleeve

In each variations, David (with James’ assist, within the present) hauls Ellie out of the cage to chop her up into “little items,” since she didn’t take him up on his glorious provide. Simply as they’re about to begin cleaving, nevertheless, she broadcasts that she’s contaminated, prompting David to roll up her sleeve and reveal the wound on her arm. David says it will possibly’t be actual, James says it seems fairly fucking actual to him, and that’s the very last thing he’ll ever say, as Ellie takes benefit of their second of hesitation to sink a meat cleaver into James’ neck and sprint out of the room.

Ellie looks bloody and shaken as a building burns behind her in HBO's The Last of Us.

Screenshot: HBO

Right here, the sport turns into a type of boss combat, as Ellie should sneak across the restaurant and stealthily assault David whereas a hearth begins to unfold. Within the present, his ego extra evidently implodes because the restaurant, his church, burns down round him. It’s a breakdown on a number of ranges, with this deluded, terrible, terrifying man shouting “You don’t know the way good I’m!” In each circumstances, it’s as much as Ellie to guard herself, to defeat this supremely shitty, predatory man, whose intentions to inflict sexual violence on Ellie, implied however nonetheless clear within the sport, are made way more express within the present. And in each circumstances, it’s immensely cathartic and satisfying to see her lastly kill him, and never simply kill him however stab him repeatedly till she herself is a blood-spattered survivor, a horror movie final girl. However a part of what offers the ultimate woman trope its terrible efficiency is that the sorts of sexualized violence these girls so typically combat towards can’t be killed by killing only one dangerous man. It’s a menace all of us face, on a regular basis. Ellie survives, after all, however the stare she offers within the wake of it, the best way she reacts at first when Joel approaches her, means that she’s perpetually modified by the expertise. Ellie is all of us.

It’s okay, child woman

Joel exhibits up simply after her combat is gained, and as delicate a element as it’s, the truth that within the present, identical to within the sport, he calls her “child woman” within the wake of the horror she’s simply endured is tender and really significant. It tells us that there’s not any pretense of division or obligation between them, of Joel doing this simply as a job, of her simply being cargo.

By placing each characters in such determined circumstances, after which having them lastly come again collectively in the long run, this episode and this stretch of the sport are the cementing of the connection between Joel and Ellie that the story wants earlier than it heads into its closing chapter. That’s subsequent week, after we’ll lastly settle the discourse about whether or not or not Joel’s actions are justified as soon as and for all. See you then.