The Last of Us Episode 8 Recap: When We Are in Need

The audience has had some difficult episodes to watch in this series, but I found this episode the most disturbing. It is the dead of winter. A stranger called David quotes a Bible verse from Revelations, immediately setting the tone for the episode. Anyone with familiarity with Christianity knows that Revelations can be a terrifying book of the Bible. All the cult followers are sitting around tables at a Steakhouse listening to him preach as a little girl cries over her father who recently passed. David speaks with James, his right-hand man, after the service, letting him know he can tell his faith is starting to waiver. James is portrayed by Troy Baker, who voiced Joel in The Last of Us video games, a sweet homage and a great opportunity to give a friend of the creator work.

Ellie is struggling to keep Joel alive, who is still passed out in the basement of an abandoned house. She determines that the next thing they must do is get more food, so she takes his gun and heads to the woods to hunt. She struggles, but she eventually shoots and kills a deer. This is when she runs into David and James who found the dead deer first and were considering taking it before she threatens them. David offers to trade some deer for supplies, and she too quickly asks for medicine. David tells James to get some penicillin. The way that Ellie calls James “buddy boy” is so innocent and hilarious. She is trying so hard to be the adult and keep everything together. David offers to make a fire, though Ellie keeps the gun pointed at him the entire time.

He claims he is the leader of their group, but not by choice. He is supposedly a preacher teaching standard Bible stuff, though he used to be a math teacher. He lived in Pittsburgh, but when the QZ fell, he and some of his group left and picked up others along the way, making up their flock. David points out that he does not believe in luck but that everything happens for a reason. This leads us to the first stomach-dropping moment of the show. He admits he sent four men in their group to a nearby town to scavenge, and only three returned. The guy who died was murdered by a crazy man traveling with a girl. They were the raiders that came after Ellie and Joel two episodes ago, including the one that Joel had to break his neck to escape but was left with the wound. She takes the penicillin that James brought back and runs to Joel. She puts the syringe directly in Joel’s wound to fight the infection, and then she curls up beside him.

David and James drag the deer back to the Steakhouse as the cooks prepare a “venison” soup for the congregation. David announces that the rumor they heard was true; they found the man with the girl who killed Alec. The crying girl from earlier jumps into his speech and claims they should kill them both, speaking out of turn. David, an unsettling presence before this, fully establishes who he is by backhanding her so hard she falls to the floor. He tells her that she still has a father. I assumed he was going to mention how the Lord is their father, but he claimed that position for himself. He does not care about Christianity; he cares about power.

Joel has made progress throughout the night but he is still passed out. Ellie takes care of him and feeds the horse water from the snow. The hunting group finally made their way to their area, and David instructs them that Ellie be left unharmed. There is no logical reason to want to keep her around when they already have mouths to feed, so David’s claim for mercy is based on an obsession with Ellie. She runs down to Joel, shaking him and begging him to wake up. She leaves a knife in his hand and tells him to kill anyone who makes it down into the basement, though she plans on trying to lead them away. She gets on the horse and chases them away, though James quickly shoots it down. This is a difficult episode for any animal lovers watching. James almost goes against orders to shoot her until David stops him.

The group continues their search for Joel, and eventually they find the house where he has been recovering. One of the cult members makes his way into the basement, and Joel uses the knife Ellie left to stab him in the neck. It takes all his energy. Meanwhile, Ellie has been placed in a cage with David watching over her. He tells her that she is dangerous and wants to help her, but she does nothing but spit obscenities back at him. She looks like a pitiful, rabid animal stuck in there. When we switch back to Joel, he has eliminated most of the other men. He tortures one man while the other watches. He demands they tell him where Ellie is and if she is alive. Despite cooperating, Joel kills them both. While it is hard to watch, there is no other way. Joel was only defending himself two episodes ago, yet the town members still went out looking for vengeance. It is the only way to get any security that there won’t be more retribution by the cult.

As Ellie looks around the room and tries to escape, she sees an ear and blood on the floor. David, who just brought her food, promises the soup is just deer meat, admitting to her accusation. Not only are they a religious cult, but they are also cannibals that eat their dead. David also tells Ellie that she reminds him of himself because she is intelligent, loyal, a natural leader, and violent. This immediately haunts her. The apocalypse has permitted him to be the violent man he always wanted to be. David is inspired by cordyceps, how it multiplies, how it secures its future through violence, and how it cannot be considered evil. He keeps complimenting Ellie on how mature she is, and how she can handle the truth. David claims that he wants an equal. He is trying to groom her, which is even more horrifying when you remember he was a teacher. Also, it shows what could have happened to Ellie if Joel lacked morals.

As Joel makes his way to Ellie, he finds the building where dead bodies are hung from a rack like a deer. Simultaneously James and David grab Ellie, ready to chop her up. In a smart move, Ellie screams that she is infected, stopping them temporarily. During their hesitation, Ellie uses the knife to kill James and make her escape to the Steakhouse, which she sets on fire. David chases her, taunts her, and asks if she is just so special that she can overcome an infected bite. We think we are about to see Joel come to her rescue, but she is the one that outwits David and kills him, stabbing him repeatedly. Who cares if Ellie has a violent outburst if she kills a man as evil as that? She runs out of the building and Joel comes to comfort her, much to her surprise. This emotional catharsis has made me cry on every viewing. Joel pulls her into a deep hug and calls her “baby girl,” a name only reserved for his daughter, and now Ellie. “When We Are in Need” is one of the more emotionally exhausting episodes of the series, but we are left dying to see the finale.

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