New episode of The Last of Us on HBO every Sunday night, and Ars’ Kyle Orland (who played the games) and Andrew Cunningham (who didn’t) will talk about them here every Monday morning. While these recaps don’t go into every single plot of the episode, they clearly do heavy spoilers is inside, so go watch the episode first if you want to get fresh.
In the games, we get a quick cut from the events of episode 6 to Ellie hunting wild game in the snow. As we head directly to Ellie for the first time, we don’t even know if Joel is alive or dead.
We also don’t know about the mild-mannered stranger named David whom Ellie stumbles upon while hunting. Even at points during the early, manageable parts of their in-game teams, Joel seems like a plausible replacement.
Seeing everything from Ellie’s point of view really adds to the tension and mystery of David’s entire arc, and I feel like that sort of destruction show is swinging here.
David suffers the most. It’s like the show needed to be filled with red flags to make sure the audience didn’t like him or feel bad for him, but it also makes him a cartoon character in a show where most of the antagonists were already. a small apartment.
Slim: The preacher subplot is completely new to the show, as far as I can tell, as is David’s despicable vision of a violent teenager as a partner in leading the flock. I can see why they wanted to give the cannibalism some substance, but yeah, it’s another case where the red flags are a little too obvious.
But I didn’t believe for even one fraction of a second that Ellie was in any danger of getting involved with this horrible fundamentalist/mushroom cultist/boy child/cannibal, and it makes it even weirder that the last sequence between them is framed as. this great emotional upheaval.
And also… there were many other people in this community? Where did they go? Perhaps a more organic and satisfying version would allow David’s own community to see the horror that exists and experience it, rather than a dramatic one-on-one confrontation between David and Ellie in the most flammable restaurant in the world. It doesn’t seem like that’s how it goes in the games, but it also sounds like the character is handled but fundamentally different.
Here’s my main question for someone new: Did you ever feel like David was a nice guy and someone Ellie could trust and/or let her guard down in front of? I think the game went to great pains to push the player in that direction for a while before the heel, and it just didn’t work for me here. Then again, I knew some of David’s dark secrets from the start…
The first scene where David and Ellie meet, on the other hand – I could see it! David (played by Scott Shepherd, a fairly prolific character actor with one of those “what did I just see?” faces) has a certain avuncular charisma. Unfortunately, we’ve already seen too many Bad Guy markers from him, even before you discover that he is reading To Serve Man.
Slim: While this episode follows the games closely it leans more towards the “torture porn” side of the equation than any part of the story so far. Not that there hasn’t been plenty of violence before, but seeing Joel torture and kill two prisoners without remorse and Ellie’s own partial revenge takes it to a whole new level. It also makes you look at both characters in a disturbing new light, I think.
And you’re right that Ellie’s butchering of David at the end of the episode goes on a little too long for comfort. I’m not sure what to make of it. Ellie has certainly been through as much trauma as she could possibly need for story purposes. It’s not like David was close enough to her to really notice her. Between the two of them, Joel and Ellie do enough violence in this episode to sour their happy reunion a bit. This is not where I wanted to be going into the finale of my favorite season.
Slim: There’s definitely a certain “War on Terror” mentality that seeps into the story over the last few decades, for sure.
Andrew: That’s where society ended up, which the show occasionally references but doesn’t choose too much. We have one 9/11 reference and one Pearl Jam album with a lot of anti-Bush stuff on it, so the US had probably invaded Iraq six months before society collapsed.
Slim: Now I’m wondering if Osama bin Laden’s cave hideout was safe enough from the Infected. Depending on how much cordyceps-infused flour they imported, I guess?
Andrew: Makes me want to see more about how the world outside the US is handling the apocalypse. Maybe, back in the old days of 22 episode seasons.
All that death is heading towards the big end, though. Not to spoil it, I wonder if you even remember what Joel and Ellie are wandering for/towards at this point, and do you have any big predictions for the final episode?
I would love to be pleasantly surprised! Perhaps the show has set up this predictable rhythm to make it very mind-blowing next week when all the scientists are very sensible and professional.
Andrew: It’s too late, you’ve set my expectations too high! If I don’t like the finale, it will be your fault.