The Last of Us episode 8 review and recap: Ellie faces her most terrifying villain yet as season 1 races towards its ending

We recap events in the penultimate episode of the HBO series as Ellie meets chilling new villain David and Troy Baker makes a cameo appearance.

By Alex Fletcher Published: 6 March 2023 - 1.15pm
Bella Ramsey in The Last of Us episode 8
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After last week’s The Last of Us episode took us into Ellie’s more innocent past, this week’s instalment brought us into her brutal present and opened the door on a terrifying future.

Desperate and alone, clinging on to the hope that Joel will recover after her needlework, Ellie finds herself entangled with a settlement of survivors unlike any we’ve seen so far.

The Last of Us takes a sideswipe at the mixing of religion and state, as this cult-like community prove to be the most chilling yet. Led by a cannibal preacher and sexual predator, it showed how the wrong kind of faith can take a group down the darkest of paths.

Check out our review and recap The Last of Us episode 8, including a significant Easter egg for fans of the game...

Is David the most terrifying villain of the series?

Joel and Ellie have met some bad eggs, faced down Clickers and escaped Bloaters across The Last of Us season 1, but nobody has quite matched David for sheer chilling evil.

The infected have given us jump scares and chills and the brutal Kathleen (Melanie Lynskey) made our blood run cold as she chased revenge at all costs. But in both cases you could at least grasp their motivation – whether it be the death of a sibling or a brain-melting fungal takeover.

We don’t learn about David’s life before the apocalyptic events, but unlike other characters in the show, it’s safe to guess he was just as despicable before the killer fungal infection swept the globe.

Scott Shepherd - Plays David in The Last of Us

Delivering sermons and gospels to help manipulate the weak, serving up dishes of human flesh to maintain control and his perverted fascination in claiming Ellie as his own; actor Scott Shephard (The Young Pope, Bridge of Spies) gives a masterclass performance as the nightmare-inducing villain.

And he’s successfully put us off eating venison for a lifetime.

Even in a world where flesh-eating zombies are chasing after you, there are still some humans that are just the worst.

The Troy Baker Easter Egg

Troy Baker play James in The Last of Us TV series

Fans of the game were treated to more than just a brief cameo from Troy Baker – the actor who played and voiced Joel in the original computer game - this week.

Baker turned up as James, David’s right-hand man. Baker met a grisly finish at the hands of Ellie. After David was stalled by Ellie revealing that she was infected, she took the opportunity to wield the meat cleaver meant for her into the throat of James.

Talking about Troy’s cameo, the games creator and co-producer of the series Neil Druckmann told Newsweek: “Troy and Ashley [Johnson] were such a part of realising the story for the first time, they kind of define who Joel and Ellie are in many ways and they will forever be the first versions of Joel and Ellie, and we really wanted to honour that and make them part of the show.

“And not just a cameo, a kind of wink [to fans of the game], we wanted to give them significant, meaty roles because they're really fantastic actors that can play well on the show with the rest of our amazing cast.”

Ellie saves herself - and more changes from the computer game

Bella Ramsey in The Last of Us episode 8

There were a couple of key changes from the computer game in this episode, which creator Craig Mazin explained on the official Last of Us podcast.

Firstly, they removed David winning Ellie’s trust through a shoot-out with the infected. The showrunner said that this was partly for the practical reason of not wanting to have the infected being a constant threat in the background of this episode, but also more importantly it allowed the show a chance to delve deeper into David’s nature.

David manipulates Ellie through his own twisted chess game and power plays, slowly revealing to her that it was his group who stabbed Joel two episodes ago.

Another slight tweak is that Joel doesn’t come into the burning room to drag Ellie off David after she’s brutally stabbed him to death.

Mazin said that it was a deliberate choice to keep Joel away from the scenes with David, because he felt it was important for this to be Ellie’s ‘moment’. Ellie isn’t rescued by Joel, she saves herself.

'It’s OK, baby girl, I got you'

Bella Ramsey in The Last of Us episode 8

Joel’s final line in the episode as he is reunited with a bloody, terrified and traumatised Ellie is one of the most emotional and important lines in the entire series.

It’s the first time Joel has said those words since his daughter Sarah died and it’s his final act of submission to his paternal feelings for Ellie.

The trauma of his journey has finally softened and broken his resolve and refusal to get close to Ellie. His fear of getting hurt again has been slowly stripped away and the hug between the pair in the closing sequence shows how Joel is now prepared to protect Ellie emotionally, as well as physically.

No, you’re crying.

How many more episodes are there left of The Last of Us

Oh no. There is just one more episode left in season 1 of The Last of Us.

Episode 9, Look for the Light, will be available to stream on Sky Atlantic with NOW from Monday, 13 March.

How does The Last of Us end?

Ah, come on. Let’s all just rock backwards and forwards in a ball, nerves shredded and wait one more week.

Watch The Last of Us weekly on Sky Atlantic with NOW.

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