The Last of Us 1×08 Review: “When We Are In Need”
The Last of Us season 1 episode 8, ‘When We Are In Need’, ended up being a wild ride. After mulling it over, I really applaud the show as well as the source material for not only giving us new locations, in nearly every episode, but also telling these very human and grounded stories without it feeling repetitive.
When it comes to the narrative themes, thus far, we’ve had Marlene and the Fireflies, a tale of revenge in Kathleen, the parallels of what it means to be a protector with Sam and Henry, a settlement of peace and life moving forward with Tommy, just recently, young love with Ellie and Riley, and let’s not forget Bill and Frank. And now it’s time to explore the abuse of religion.
For a show about new-age zombies, The Last of Us really puts an emphasis on the monsters we are capable of becoming as flawed humans. Perhaps that turns some people off that we’ve gotten this far with very minimal Cordycep encounters, but I, for one, find such type of storytelling so fascinating.
This episode essentially spins the narrative of Ellie and Joel on its head and reverses their roles as protector and cargo. We’ve spent the entire season with Joel deciding how and when to approach every single situation to ensure survival and now this job is forced upon Ellie out of sheer desperation to keep Joel alive, however long he may have left. Ellie steps up big time, trying to give him water and hunt game for them to eat.
All the while, we are introduced to our next volatile encounter with a secluded community or more accurately a cult desperately trying to feed their people and save themselves from starvation in the cold and unforgiving snow. Lead by a preacher, David (Scott Shepherd), and his apprehensive enforcer James (Troy Baker, the original voice actor for Joel in The Last of Us video game). Side note, I’m a huge fan of Troy Baker’s work, and he’s one of the top guys in the voice acting industry and geek world at large. So, it was such an awesome experience to see the man grace our screens with a sizable role.
‘When We Are In Need’ is yet another episode where Bella Ramsay’s character is forced to face an impossible and traumatic outcome and she owns it. Her quick-witted remarks accompanied by a shaky resolve in whether to trust these strange men are apparent in every action. Ellie getting captured and feigning submissiveness to the truly awful, delusional, and sadistic David only to break his fingers in anger was thrilling and kept me on the edge of my seat. The chemistry between her and David was intense. The dynamics went back and forth as the two played with fire. They both contained an inner animal and rage at the world.
The cannibalism reveal was jaw-dropping and horrific. And layer by layer David’s psychotic, pedophilic, and sadistic behavior became more and more frightening and disgusting. Kudos to the writers!
By the climax of the episode after James takes a meat cleaver to the neck and the very building that they are trapped in becomes a game of cat and mouse in a raging inferno, you just couldn’t help but grip your seat in anticipation as to how it was all going to end. It felt so slimy to see this grown man overpowering and restraining Ellie. Add to that the very real implication of sexually assaulting her.
Ellie’s terror and screams and David’s pleasure in hurting and subduing her were chilling as the flames nearly engulfed them. In sheer desperation, Ellie was able to grab a cleaver and kill him, but that wasn’t enough for her. In her fit of rage, she lost control and went absolutely feral on him, striking over and over. It was beautifully shot and the raw emotion was so palpable.
Finally, Joel coming to her rescue, embracing Ellie only for her to be stricken with PTSD, crying and screaming, even trying to escape from Joel as her fight or flight response and adrenaline surged within her. The entire scene was so powerful. And of course, when he embraced her and called Ellie, “baby girl”, it hit me, this man has been wounded for decades over the loss of his daughter and now, she is the daughter he never got to see live to her full life.
With the next episode, the season one finale, coming right up, and it only being forty-five minutes long, I just have no idea how they’re going to have the time to wrap everything up in a satisfying conclusion.
Author: Micah Carrillo
Micah is studying English and Digital Design. His love of geek culture spans across diverse mediums and genres. Comics, anime, films, you name it! He enjoys video games on the Nintendo Switch and Xbox.
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