When We Are In Need: TLOU Episode 8 Recap


[Editor’s Note: By the very nature of a “recap”, there will most certainly be spoilers in these weekly pieces, we didn’t think to mention that with the premiere, but we will keep a “SPOILER WARNING” label at the top of these weekly recaps for the rest of the season. Thank you and sorry if we spoiled anything for you!]

We are getting near the end, my friend. After taking on the Left Behind DLC in last week, The Last of Us on HBO has only two episodes left in the season. For people who have played the game and know what is left, you know that these final two hours or so are going to be a wild ride of emotions, with everyone questioning every decision these characters make along the way. One episode at a time, however. This week the Bella Ramsey Acting Hour returns with another stand-out performance that commands every ounce of her acting ability to convey the emotional journey that Ellie is embarking on. No big surprise, Ramsey knocks it out of the park (with a little Pedro Pascal love at the end).

We start off in the snow-covered resort town of Silver Lake, CO. The words “When We Are In Need, He Shall Provide” hang above appointed leader and “preacher” David (Scott Shepherd, exuding just enough creep to get under your skin). He is attempting to comfort a grieving daughter for the loss of her father and refers to scripture – specifically Revelation 21 – to achieve his goal. Afterwards, as he is speaking to his 2nd in command James (Troy Baker, the mocap/voice actor for Joel in the TLOU game) discuss the lack of meat to feed their followers, and suggests they go hunting in a spot where some of the group believe they have spotted some deer.

We reconvene with Joel and Ellie, in the same predicament we left them back in Ep. 7. Ellie is still tending to his wound as he heals, but as she shares the last crumb of food with him, Ellie realizes she must take it upon herself to find food. She needs to take the rifle and go out on a hunt. As Ellie is out in woods tracking a rabbit, she comes across a much bigger prize, a deer. She is able to get a clean shot off an injure it, but it runs off into the distance. As she gives chase, we see that David and James have come across the same deer, fallen dead from its gunshot wound. Ellie reaches them before they walk off with her prize and holds them at gunpoint. After some light negotiating, Elie agrees to give them half the deer in exchange for some penicillin for Joel’s injury.

As James heads off to retrieve the medicine from camp, Ellie and David hold up in nearby shack to keep warm from the unforgiving cold. As they chat away around a fire, we learn that David was a teacher before the viral outbreak, finding God in the aftermath and followers who freely elected him the leader of their group. We can start to see the sinister nature of David come through, and the tension between the two only mounts as its revealed that the father, whose daughter was mourning at the beginning of the episode, was the same man who attacked Joel back at the university in the end of Ep. 6.

James is suddenly behind Ellie with a gun, however David orders him to give her the medicine and let her go. She grabs it quickly and heads off into the forest, leaving all that deer meat behind. 

As Ellie returns to the house, administers Joel the penicillin and takes a well-deserved sleep, we cut back to Silver City. We see the chefs of this group bring out some meat from the freezer, stating that its “venison” after a few second pause from being asked what kind of meat it is. A lingering suspicion is confirmed a few seconds later. As everyone is sitting down for dinner, we see David and James bring in the deer from the cold. Considering they had no food left, what now know that these people are unwittingly (or maybe some do know) eating their dead. They are straight-up cannibals. After David informs them that they found the man who killed their group member and want to hunt him down and bring him to justice, the girl from earlier believes both Joel and Ellie should be killed for their crimes. After a few seconds, David puts a slap right across her face, and stating in clear language that he is now her father. The emotional stranglehold David has over this group is very evident from this sequence, and it even gets more disturbing as they all begin to eat dinner. Seeing the daughter eating a meal made of her father is fucked up, especially as David gives an unsettling smirk in her direction as she chows down.

Ellie wakes up following morning, gives Joel another shot of penicillin, and feeds the horse some snow for water. We see that a search party has entered Ellie’s very neighborhood, trying to find them both. Ellie, seeing no way of both her and Joel making an escape, decides to leave Joel a knife in case they find where he is and takes off on horseback to draw them off. Ellie’s plan doesn’t go on for long though, as James gets a clean shot off at Ellie, killing her horse and having her thrown to the ground. As James is about to kill Ellie, which is egged on by the other in the hunting party, David fires a warning shot and put an end to that thought quickly. David carries Ellie in his arms back to camp, while two drag the horse back for meat and the rest continue their search of the houses for Joel.

As one of the group enters the house Joel is holed up in, and locates the basement entrance that Ellie blocked off in a valiant effort, we fear for Joel’s safety as he doesn’t look like he can even get up. We quickly learn that is not the case, as Joel has risen from his bed and manages to sneak attack the man and stab him in the neck. David has locked Ellie in a cage within the kitchen, as he fears that she will kill him if she is let loose + the fact that everyone else truly wants her dead for what Joel did. David has more grand plans for her and wants to keep her alive. What are these plans exactly? It’s much more twisted and gross than you’d think.

We cut back to the neighborhood, as Joel effectively knocks out and capture two more of the group. Joel has tied them both up in the house, and we see Joel is mercilessly beating and torturing one of them, wanting to find out where they took Ellie. This is a faithful recreation of this brutal scene, one of the few in the game that gives the viewer a rush of “good guy getting the bad buy” energy as Joel will do anything to get Ellie back. A few more whimpers and emotional pleads from the captured do lend this scene a little grayer area, trying to make you feel empathy for these people following the words of a preacher madman. On a grim note, the sound of the kneecap getting twisted by Joel’s knife as he digs it into one of their legs is one of the things I will not forget anytime soon. 

As David bring some food in for Ellie – and discovers that these people are truly cannibals as Ellie gets an eyeful of a sliced off ear under the butchers’ block – he tries to convince her that she is different from the rest. She is not a sheep, someone who can handle the truth of how to survive and the brutality of the world. He is clearly implying some sort of relationship that they should begin, heavily hinting at the pedophilia angle that was explored in the game. As David extends his hand to her, trying to receive some sort of emotional response in return, Ellie begins to caress his fingers…but we know better. Before you can say “cracked knuckles”, Ellie grabs his fingers and breaks a few of them, trying to reach for the keys around his belt. David gets back the upper hand, banging Ellie’s head against the bars to break free – even calling her a cunt – further cementing his status as a mean old bastard. The visceral reaction as Ellie states to David he should let them know who broke his fingers is probably the point where we see Ellie turn from rebellious teenager with emotional baggage to an all-out warrior of anger and untethered mayhem. It’s quite an effective scene and Ramsey sells the pain and anger behind it.

Joel finally shows up in town – one of the men he tortured pointed out the location on a map – and comes across three bodies strung up in a building, confirming to Joel what we all know already. These people are no good and Ellie is in trouble. David and James come into the kitchen and remove Ellie from the cell, ready to chop her up and serve her for dinner. As they about to land the first blow, Ellie uses her ace in the hole. She says that she is bit and infected. As the two men bicker to the legitimacy of her claims, Ellie grabs the meat cleaver next to her and puts it right in James’ neck. She runs off as she escapes the kitchen. 

One of the most iconic sequences and boss battles in the TLOU game is about to go off. Ellie starts a fire in restaurant that her and David are now trapped in. David slowly stalks Ellie through the burning restaurant, making himself look more and more scummy as the seconds tick away. Ellie is able to get a surprise stab in on David before she is knocked to the floor. As she crawls for the meat cleaver from earlier, David straddles her and clearly begins to undo his pants, something that was never explicitly stated in the game during this scene but is unmistakable here. It never gets anywhere, thankfully, as Ellie grabs the cleaver and wails on David about 15-20 times with the sharp object as she straddles him. This was someway even more brutal than the game interpretation, and the primordial scream of pain and emotional exhaust that Ellie exudes is all thanks to Bella Ramsey’s raw and unflinching performance. She was meant for this role, no doubt about it.

Ellie walks outside after the battle and is drifting toward lake near the restaurant. Joel comes in from behind her and grabs her. Ellie struggles momentarily as she is still in the shock of the moment, not realizing who she is with now. As her sense begin got return, she knows it’s Joel and embraces him like daughter to father. Let me tell you, when Joel hugs her back and says the line “It’s OK baby girl, I got you”, I teared the hell up. Calling Ellie by the nickname he used of Sarah, and just the trembling raw emotion that comes out of Pedro Pascal’s voice, got me good in this moment. This MIGHT be the top few seconds of the show so far for me, and that is saying a lot. They then walk off away from this house of horror. Fade to black. 

Episode 9, titled When We Are In Need, is just continuing the winning formula that TLOU has been displaying since Ep. 1. Great central performances from Pedro Pascal and (especially) Bella Ramsey, brutal action set pieces that sell the horror of the world around them, and just great all-around writing and directing. I can’t believe we only have one episode left, where this all comes to a head and is going to be one hell of a journey coming to a brutal and emotional end. The Last of Us on HBO is a masterclass of dramatic episodic television, and it has been a treat recapping every single episode. One more to go before Joel and Ellie’s journey comes to its conclusion. My body is ready.

Eric Mayo
Horror Lover / Resident Evil Fanatic
While Evil Dead 2 is my first horror love, my cozy horror that I always return to is the Friday the 13th franchise, though I am known to thrown on Tremors or even Malignant at a moment’s notice for some good old absurd fun. However, first and foremost, my most loved piece of horror anything was, is and always will be the Resident Evil series. Wesker for life!
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