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Show vs Game – The Last of Us Episode 8 – “When We Are In Need”

We are at the penultimate episode of this season of TLOU, and back to a full episode set in the present day.

SPOILERS for episode 8 of The Last of Us show and the Lakeside Resort chapter of the TLOU game.

Did you hear that?

I’m going to shake things up and start with a thought that has frequently occurred in the last eight weeks, notably in this part of the story. Has there ever been a narrative game as purposefully quiet as The Last of Us? Today’s world is so loud, but replaying this game reminded me of the pleasures of exploring barren, snowy towns, with only the distant hoot of an owl or a woodpecker for company. Nobody in TLOU show dares to state that the planet is better with so many people gone (#Thanoswasright vibes). Earth is enjoying its extra Cordyceps layer, and the only areas suffering long-term environmental damage are those nuked QZ’s. The biggest problem, the Infected, were once humans. TLOU makes Humanity look around and declare, “I’m the problem, it’s me.”

Check out our coverage of The Last Of Us

Tiny Little Pieces

Photograph by Liane Hentscher/HBO Scott Shepherd

Back to episode 8. In a wintry Colorado lakeside resort (conveniently known as ‘Lakeside Resort’) a man called David (Scott Shepherd) delivers an impassioned bible reading to a group of 20, including a crying Hannah (Sonia Maria Chirila), who asks “when can we bury him?” him being the man that Joel strangled in episode 6. David says it’s too cold to do so. Later, David’s second in command, James (played by game-Joel’s voiceover artist, a surprisingly tall Troy Baker) quietly mentions that the group’s rations are running out. David questions James’s faith as they head out on a deer hunt.

Troy Baker

Ellie checks on a barely surviving Joel. Rorschach would have a field day analysing how she’s sewn Joel’s stomach wound in the shape of a bite mark. She also heads out, impressively taking down a large buck, which David and James want to claim, but Ellie has her rifle trained on David and his “buddy boy.” David attempts to reason with her, asking to trade and whether it’s her “dad’s gun,” but Ellie declines joining their “hunger group.” David orders James to get her some Penicillin, and while he’s gone, David does what no decent man would do, which is to tell Ellie “I’m a decent man.” Ellie is wise to his religious cult schtick but is surprised to learn that David found God when the Pittsburgh QZ fell in 2017. David’s big on everything happening for a reason, then shows his hand, having worked out that Ellie is the little girl travelling with the ‘crazy man’ who killed Hannah’s dad. James has returned, and on hearing this, wants to shoot Ellie, but David lets her leave with the meds. Ellie returns to Joel and, panicking, stabs the needle directly into his stitches. Ouch.

Back at the cult’s kitchen, they’re having venison for dinner – or are they? David breaks all health and safety rules by dragging the decaying buck into the dining area, but everyone’s more interested in news of Ellie, including Hannah, who gets slapped by David for wanting to kill a little girl (okay, hypocrite). David moves to maximum creepazoid by telling Hannah that he’s ‘her father’ now and they pray. In the morning, Ellie waits for Joel to wake, injects more Penicillin and feeds their horse, but it’s too late, David’s gang has tracked her (first rule of hiding in the snow, cover your tracks!). Ellie lures the gang away on horseback, until moments later, it’s RIP horsey, but David stops James shooting Ellie. Good news, it’s horse for dinner! David’s men hunt for Joel to deliver their righteous vengeance, but, having made a miraculous recovery, Joel’s ready to shiv and bludgeon them. Ellie wakes up in an unhygienic makeshift kitchen jail, David keen to convert her, ‘I’m offering you a beginning.’ Joel’s cocaine-laced Penicillin has given him the energy to tie up and torture two men, seeking Ellie’s whereabouts. After some casual knee-knife-twisting and map-pointing he kills them. Yuck. Ellie sees the worst health violation (oh, Bella Ramsey’s face!) a human ear, telling David, “You gonna chop me up into tiny little pieces?” He admits his cannibalism was a last resort, to help his followers ‘who love me.’ They debate who started the Joel/gang fight and, once again, an older man calls a younger girl ‘a natural leader’ based on her inability to follow his shitty rules. David completes the bad guy journey by going full paedo, calling Ellie a “friend”and touching her hand. Our hero responds in inimitable style, telling him that “Ellie is the little girl who broke your fucking finger.” Joel finds his dead horse in cold storage, he’s getting closer.

James and David throw Ellie on the slab, ready to procure their human meat in a non-kosher manner, but Ellie shows them her Infected bite mark. Their hesitation is enough for Ellie to bury the meat cleaver in James’s neck. Now in the dining hall, Ellie’s makeshift firebomb inadvertently sets the place alight. But David has the cleaver and an incurable case of male fragility, spewing, “You don’t know how good I am. If you’d just let me be.” Happily, murder-Joel is on his way – yay! David straddles Ellie, stating “there’s no fear in love,” but using anti-pervert super-strength she throws him off and repeatedly cleaves him (the cult won’t go hungry tonight). Stumbling out into the snow, Joel grabs Ellie, with his “Okay baby girl. I got you.” Episode over – and all hail Alexander Fleming!

What I’m capable of

Episode 8 is the most the show script has directly mirrored the game, nonetheless, there are subtle differences. For example, when TLOU game arrived there was no Left Behind DLC to play, so players head straight into this chapter after Joel falls on the huge spike. Playing as Ellie, the player doesn’t know if Joel has made it, as it starts with Ellie on a peaceful, rural deer hunt. Armed only with Bill’s bow and arrow, after some false starts she hits the buck and follows the blood trail to an abandoned lakeside resort. Here she meets a very different-looking David, but show-similar James (buddy boy). David tells her, “we’re from a larger group with women and children who are very hungry” and Ellie lies, “so am I.” Ellie needs medicine, so David also orders James to get the Penicillin. Game Ellie feels much more in control, musing, “I don’t like company,” but in the game, the wait involves no religious talk, instead, Ellie and David take down a sea of Infected storming their cabin. Then it’s a race through a warehouse, Ellie and David forced to work together. He seems nice, saying she’s good with the rifle. At one point they get stuck in a conservatory and even have to hold out against a Bloater.

This David is a real Joel-wannabe, until he announces his culty everything happens for a reason, revealing that he knows that Joel and Ellie are the people who killed a lot of men at the University. The Hannah story isn’t part of the game, because the game – with its focus on murder as progression – forced Joel to kill 20 nameless guys in the previous chapter. James again returns, gun aimed at Ellie, but David orders him to give her the meds. As she leaves, David assures her, “I can protect you,” but it’s somehow not (yet) creepy.  Joel, as in the show, is alive, languishing on a mattress in an isolated house. Ellie injects him with the Penicillin, not once contemplating whether James swapped the liquid for poison or water. She assures Joel that he’s gonna make it. In the morning, David’s gang has tracked them, so Ellie rides Callus to draw them away from Joel. Unfortunately, the player has to canter, avoiding 30 people all shooting at them, but these NPCs are dumb and it takes a while for someone to think to shoot the horse. RIP Callus, you were important! Ellie legs it, stealthing her away through the resort, picking off gang members with the hunting rifle.

There’s also a Savage Starlight issue to grab, because everyone needs good reading material in the middle of a gunfight. Then, Ellie is captured by David, who locks her up in the kitchen cell. The seeds for cannibalism were planted as early as the Pittsburgh chapters of the game, so game Ellie quickly deduces that David also likes to bite. They debate that Joel’s killing of David’s men was only in self-defense (partly true!) and David justifies his men’s murderous ways as them doing what they could to protect their own. He then touches her hand *shivers* and calls her special. Uh oh. Ellie breaks his fingers here too.

Then the player gets to become Joel who has taken the super-serum Penicillin and is now back to being a killing machine! He’s not quite fully fit, but he does have all of his guns and a flamethrower (why Ellie wanted the bow and arrow, makes no sense!) Joel shoots a few gang members then things take the same nasty turn, Joel also torturing two gangs members trying to get info on Ellie’s location. One man calls her “David’s newest pet” *more shivers* so Joel promptly breaks his neck. The game flicks between the player playing as Ellie and Joel. Ellie’s also about to become sandwich filling when she tells David and James that she’s infected, allowing her to cleave James (whose role is tiny in the game). Ellie escapes into a blizzard, an ominous bell tolling while male gang members (notably, we never see any women or children) hunt her. Amusingly, the NPCs moan about David’s terrible leadership as Ellie avoids or shivs them. Ellie again gets grabbed by David, but she stabs him and escapes into the dining hall which accidentally gets set on fire. There’s some tense gameplay as David hunts the player while holding a machete, as Ellie must avoid stepping on broken plates and making noise. After much surreptitious knifing, Ellie gets knocked out. The action cuts to Joel running through the blizzard, again either avoiding or killing gang members. Joel finds Ellie’s backpack and a lovely meat ledger, then in case the player wasn’t certain, Joel walks through a meat locker full of hanging bodies, exclaiming, “Oh christ! I gotta find her.” Joel sees the burning building.

Then it’s back to a bruised Ellie, who crawls towards the machete while now fully sadistic David kicks and mocks her, telling her she has no idea what he’s “capable of.” There’s actually very little suggestion of sexual violence in the game, but Ellie still machetes David to a grisly death. Joel finds her inside the hall, hugging her while cooing, “it’s me. Oh baby girl,” her whimpering his name in response. Then we see but can’t hear Joel talking to her as they leave, the camera holding on the stuck machete.

And then, the screen goes back, until we see the word…SPRING.

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