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HBO’s The Last of Us Episode 8 Spoiler Free Review

Series Premiere: January 15, 2023
Starring: Pedro Pascal, Bella Ramsey
Episodes Commissioned: 9
Studio: HBO

When We Are in Need...

It's the penultimate episode for the season as Joel and Ellie's extended trip see's the pair's expedition take a fatal blow after the events of episode six. The malevolent attack by a group of looters pits Ellie in a difficult position to care for Joel as he heals from a deadly wound provided by a splintered handle of a baseball bat. After sewing Joel's lesion closed, the pair are left with no food or supplies leaving Ellie without choice to head out into the blizzardly unknown to hunt for rations. Taking the advice of her mentor and trying to snipe down a lone deer, she's confronted by survivalists David and James from Silver Lake, a small gathering at an abandoned resort for those without "guidance", to which David - a former teacher turned preacher - leads with his henchmen.

In what could be described as a cult led by a crazed evangelist-type priest, David provides those lost with sanctuary, but with ulterior motives in mind. After Ellie successfully lands her mark on the deer, it narrowly escapes, not before landing dead at David and James' feet, to which they presume another presence is not too far ahead. Ellie finds them both with the deer, while the priest tries to bargain for half of the animal meat. After disclosing Silver Lake entailing food and medicine, Ellie makes a deal for two vials of penicillin and a syringe. James reluctantly follows David's orders to head back to town and get the supplies. Pointing out the icy cold weather, David leads Ellie to a sheltered area nearby with an open fire to keep them warm while awaiting James' return.

David explains his leadership role, telling Ellie that everything happens for a reason. Ellie tries to call his bluff, but he tells her a story of four men that were sent on a scavenger hunt to bring back food for his camp, only three men made it back from their mission with one dead at the hands of a man travelling with a little girl – this citing the climax of episode six where Joel confronts the aforementioned looter that he kills after being stabbed. James makes his way back to the shelter, pointing his gun toward Ellie with David advising him to lower his weapon. Ellie takes the medicine from James and makes haste back to the cabin housing a ailing Joel. Ellie injects the liquid into Joel’s infected laceration, with the pair resting while laying beside him. Meanwhile David returns to Silver Lake with the deer telling the residents that he found the culprits behind the death of one of their soldiers, promising to avenge his death. 

This is where David’s ruthless character shows, with the silent but violent personality starting to peek through a façade the self-professed preacher hides behind. The kitchen prepares meals for the under privileged, with diced meats delivered in white tubs to which is hesitantly described as venison. A truly disturbing scene when putting things into place, but also having pre-conceived knowledge of David’s maniacal mind from the video game. However, David’s perfect life is about to coming crashing down with Ellie taking the initiative to protect Joel from his hunters, albeit sacrificing her safety in the meantime. With the pair again separated, she tells a drowsy Joel to protect himself if any of David’s soldiers come his way.

The episode itself highlights Bella Ramsey as an extraordinary lead to counter Pedro Pascal’s excellent acting. Troy Baker, for those unaware, voices Joel in the video game portrays the eerie personality of James perfectly. The contrast of Baker’s usual suave appearance to a creepy, brainwashed soldier for David’s madhouse of followers is unbelievable. The acting chops on this man is remarkable, and hope this lands Troy more televised or film roles in the future. David’s demeanour was nailed perfectly here by Scott Shepherd, with a calm before the storm type character that ultimately explodes in the episode’s climax. Almost demonic in nature, David’s perceived “way of life” is abhorrent, disgusting and a societal injustice to which he is served his just desserts – no pun intended.

While summarised in one episode, the game’s version was lengthier, but the television adaptation hit all plot points without bottlenecking the narrative to elongate the story with inessentials. Joel’s pivotal interrogation scene is one of The Last of Us’ primary cinematics that is incredibly re-enacted in this episode, with Pedro’s version giving more of a groggy Joel, merciless intent which he never discloses to Ellie. It’s an insight to Joel’s way of life before meeting the youngster and how he and Tess would survive any oncoming threats within Boston. The episode sets up the finale with emotions running high, anticipation palpable and last resorts all coming into play for our leading duo’s curtain call in this first epic blockbuster of a season.

Noteworthy Mentions...

  • Troy Baker; give this man more cinematic roles beyond his voice acting capabilities. The man is an accomplished actor that has carried a many video gaming and anime franchise to prominence, and is deserved air time. This episode has proven he’s a chameleon that can transform himself into anyone at anytime.

  • This was the perfect penultimate arc for The Last of Us. A primary survivalist act for Joel and Ellie, with their lives in immediate danger from brainwashed hunters who will do anything to anyone for a feast.

  • For the last two episodes, Bella Ramsey has shown she’s ready for the big time in taking on the task of leading The Last of Us’ second season. It will be emotional, but it will be incredible.

  • I’m not ready for this season to end, even though its story is almost over. I know it, I love it and I’ll miss the thrill an excitement of every episode’s release but I don’t know if we need an absolute fixed timeline in Joel and Ellie’s escapades outside Neil Druckmann’s source material.

The Last of Us is an upcoming American post-apocalyptic drama television series created by Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann for HBO. Based on the 2013 video game of the same name developed by Naughty Dog, the series will follow Joel (Pedro Pascal), a smuggler tasked with escorting the teenage Ellie (Bella Ramsey) across a post-apocalyptic United States. It will feature Gabriel Luna as Joel's younger brother Tommy, Merle Dandridge as resistance leader Marlene, and Anna Torv as Joel's smuggler partner Tess.

Summary: Wikipedia

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