When We Are in Need: The Last of Us, Episode Eight

When We Are in Need: The Last of Us, Episode Eight

Hello, Readers!

Here it is. The second-last episode of the first season of The Last of Us. The episode I’ve been dreading intensely, given how visceral and triggering this particular part of the game was. Let’s not draw this out any. I’ll chicken out otherwise. C’est parti!

I like how they opened the episode with David reading scripture, and then showing his interaction with the young girl who is grieving her father. There is just something about how it’s shot and acted that is legitimately off-putting. Now, I thought it might just be because I’ve played the game, and I know what David is from the outset, but I’ve spoken to a lot of women who don’t game and have loved this show, and all of them from the beginning all agreed that there was something about David here that made their skin crawl. Kudos to the writers and actors both for making it so there was something just a little bit off; something almost intangible that just crept under the skin and made a home there, leaving the viewer unsettled right from the off.

I might have done a little squeal when they showed Troy Baker; who was the voice actor for Joel Miller in the game. I love that they’ve included him in this. It feels like a warm hug in a very unsettling scene, even though James is nearly as bad as David.

Troy Baker as James… and himself.

Once again, there is something unsettling in their interaction, and it’s nothing in particular. It’s not something you can easily explain, but it’s definitely there. Making me feel all kinds of squicky.

When we cut back to Ellie and Joel, my first, very loud thought was: HOW IS JOEL ALIVE?! That wound should be all kinds of infected. And while that’s true, I do appreciate that they’ve made Joel appear to be clinging on for Ellie’s sake. That is something I find believable, and so I can forgive the lack of green and puss that ought to be oozing from that wound.

As I mentioned last episode, in the game, we start the winter chapter with Ellie hunting. For that reason alone, I adore that they’ve included a rabbit as Ellie is looking for game. While it escapes and doesn’t end up with one of Ellie’s arrows, it is a nice nod to the game that I appreciated. About the hunting, the deer chase in the game was so frustrating for me. I was quite lost for a long time… though I am terrible at gaming, so that accounts for most of it.

The culmination of the hunt for Ellie — her meeting David and James, is pretty much how it plays out in the game. Ellie aggress to trade the deer for the penicillin. James is sent off to collect the drugs. While James is gone, however, Ellie and David are forced to work together in the game to fend of a few waves of infected.

While I still bemoan the general lack of infected action in the show, I do think that it would be out of place here. Of the changes to this particular section of the game, I really appreciate how much more cautious and clever Ellie is here. It’s so nice to see young women who are, essentially to subjects of escort missions, being more than silly, squealing twits.

They’ve also added detail to David’s story; that he used to be a teacher, teaching children. That just makes everything so much worse. This detail may haven been in the game, and I just don’t recall it. I do know though, that hearing it in the show gave me a visceral gag reaction.

Little changes between the game and the show as to how Ellie is followed and captured, though, obviously, in the game it’s playable and the chase lasts a little longer. What we don’t see in the game is that just before, when Ellie lies beside Joel, Joel tilts his head to rest it against Ellie’s. That doesn’t happen in the game, and it really was such a sweet little moment.

When we return to David and his people, sitting down to a meal (which we all know is not venison, right? We all know that), I find myself once again very unsettled. David’s horrendous nature is given a more obvious spotlight; first with the strike, and then with the speech about the poor, grieving girl he just struck still having a father… All the ice.

Also, we all know that that poor child was probably just fed her own father, right?

I must say, Joel’s recovery in the game was far more miraculous in the game than the show. In the show, it’s clear he still hurts. It’s less obvious in the game. I appreciated this about the show.

I also appreciate that they kept in the torture scene. We finally get a glimpse of the terrible person everyone kept saying Joel was. This was hands down my favorite scene of the game, and I still feel the game version has an edge on the show version, but I whole-heartedly loved it in the show, as well. This isn’t to say that I condone torture… but hell, if any cannibalistic, pedophiliac cult leader kidnaps me (unlikely, given my age), I sincerely hope someone is willing to torture their followers to find and rescue me!

Moving swiftly along…

David finally reveals himself as a monster when he tries to get Ellie on her side; immediately following her discovery of their cannibalism. In that speech, he reveals that, despite being a preacher, he doesn’t believe. He’s been feeding his followers lies because they ‘need God. They need heaven.’  They way he tries, in one speech, to groom Ellie is honestly sickening. Ellie breaking his finger is exactly what he deserves.

My second favorite scene of the game is the exact same in the show; that beautiful moment when Ellie finally tells David her name, and says, “Tell them that Ellie is the little girl that broke your f—ing finger!” ICONIC.

Also iconic and straight out of the game is the scene immediately following that where Ellie reveals she’s infected to David and James. RIP James, you deserved it.

Following that is the scene that absolutely left me stunned and in need of some serious processing following my play through of that section of the game. It’s incredibly raw, in both the game and show, but Bella Ramsay’s cries were a hit to the gut. Ellie brutalizing him is also just as terrible in both. In the game, Joel arrives and pulls Ellie away. In the show, he finds her stumbling outside, having stopped mangling David’s corpse herself.

I’m not sure how I feel about this change. But, I do love that they kept Joel calling her baby girl in. You know now that the walls are well and truly broken down. It’s a good place to end the episode.

Now, while I do wish that we got to see more of Joel slaughtering his way through the township to reach Ellie, I also appreciate this paired down version, where it’s Ellie that does all the work. I really enjoy how they pointedly avoid making Ellie the damsel in distress trope. They didn’t really do that in the game either, but I do appreciate the stronger point of it they make in the show (and also make it believable that a man still fighting a horrible wound and infection would be able to find Ellie and still be walking if he wasn’t fighting his way through the whole damned town).

All in all, a near perfect episode for a game adaptation. Now if you excuse me, I have to go have an impossibly hot shower and scrub the first twelves layers of skin off.


David is so gross.

Articles in this series:

When You’re Lost in the Darkness: The Last of Us, Episode One
Infected: The Last of Us, Episode Two
Long, Long Time: The Last of Us, Episode Three
Please Hold My Hand: The Last of Us, Episode Four
Endure and Survive: The Last of Us, Episode Five
Kin: The Last of Us, Episode Six
Left Behind: The Last of Us, Episode Seven
When We Are in Need: The Last of Us, Episode Eight

When S.M. Carrière isn’t brutally killing your favorite characters, she spends her time teaching martial arts, live streaming video games, occasionally teaching at the University of Ottawa, and cuddling her cat. In other words, she spends her time teaching others to kill, streaming her digital kills, teaching about historical death, and cuddling a furry murderer. Her latest novels are SkylarkDaughters of Britain, and Human.

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Eugene R.

A tough episode to watch, for plenty of reasons (cannibalism, torture, graphic violence), with lots of bad-assery to go around. The most unbelievable scene, even more than our infection-free main character on the prowl, was the fight in the fiery community center. The amount of flames depicted, spreading so quickly, would lower the oxygen and raise the temperature to levels that should have knocked out Ellie and David, if not just collapsed the building on them. But it did look awesome.

I wonder how much of Ellie’s finger-chomping reaction to David’s attempt to recruit her as his protege is built on her secret fear that she is not that different from him.

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