Last week’s episode 7 further divided viewers. Between those who talk about LGBT propaganda (the video game exists since 2013) and the others who find that it’s too slow and that we get bored (Watch The Walking Dead lol), clearly, the episode “Left Behind” was not unanimous. However, God knows he was full of qualities. But who cares, because this week’s episode, episode 8 is going to make everyone agree. Want tension? You will be stressed! Do you want violence? You will have violence. You want emotions? There will be emotions. You want some video game accurate ? You will have the same sequences and the same dialogues that we already found in the video game. And above all, there is also the real Joel, the only one, namely Mr Troy Baker, the actor who played our own Joel in video games. And he will surprise us on several occasions…
Fifty-one minutes is the duration of this episode 8, directed by Ali Abbasi, a Danish filmmaker born in Iran, accustomed rather to auteur films which also manage to get noticed in the various festivals. The Berlinale, Copenhagen and even Cannes in 2022, he caught the eye of HBO, which also entrusted him with the production of the excellent episode 9 of The Last of Us, with its shocking and hard-hitting intro, but we will talk about it in details next week. For now, let’s return to our center of interest with this episode 8 centered on two characters, that of David, the leader of a group of survivors who live in a kind of small town which he runs with a hand of iron, and James played in the series by Troy Baker, the actor who played Joel in the video games. It’s so weird to see him in a different role, that of James, a bad thing, especially since physically, the actor has put himself in the right conditions. He is skinny, he looks tired and you can tell that the cold is anything but artificial. Moreover, for the record, the production shot in real conditions, in the Canadian cold and it shows on the faces of the actors. Take a good look at Ellie’s cheeks, which are red, stricken by the cold, just like Troy Baker’s, or even the ears and nose of actor Scott Shepherd, who plays David. It’s anything but fake and moreover, in the sets, we feel the authenticity of the snow and this polar cold.
Another significant detail: these are the actors who were chosen to represent David’s clan, they really have the physique that goes with the post-apo world, which was not necessarily the case with other characters from previous episodes . Take a good look, everyone is skinny, tired, exhausted, badly dressed, badly combed and sometimes gives the feeling of being sick, it fits well with this status of cannibalistic group, which eats human flesh to survive… As for the character of David that I have just mentioned, know that he can be considered a guru, a sort of prophet who guides these desperate people who have nothing left but faith and religion to take refuge in. This is also an interesting aspect that is developed in the series and that we did not have in the video game. And the choice of actor Scott Sheperd is more than relevant, because physically he embodies both peace and confidence, like evil and perversity. His game also allows you to go through these two very interesting aspects of the character. FYI, by the way, Scott Shepherd, we had seen him in Jason Bourne in 2016 (with Vincent Cassel as the villain) or X-Men Dark Phoenix as Dr John Grey. In the video game, it was actor Nolan North who played David, a counter-current role that Neil Druckmann had offered him, he who had always played Nathan Drake from Uncharted.
As said above, this episode 8 takes up a lot of passages from the video game, starting with the meeting, when Ellie had gone deer hunting. In the same way, David will try to appease Ellie by trying to reassure her, to prove to her that he means her no harm, even to offer her to join his clan, when in truth, he only has one thing in mind: to find the murderer of one of his men. The sequence near the fire where they warm up while waiting for James to return is also identical to the video game, with the same dialogues, like this cult phrase: nothing happens by chance… Similarly, when we told you that this episode 8 will make it possible to find the real Joel, it was a double-reading, because in addition to having the actor Troy Baker in the series, it is also the return of Joel version Pedro Pascal who is making his big come -back, after having spent a complete episode 7 lying on a bed, especially since the episode was focused on Ellie’s past. So there, by force of circumstance, due to the threat of this group of cannibals who are coming for revenge, Joel is forced to come out of his “coma” to defend himself and then go in search of Ellie who is captured by David and his men. And this is where we will find the violent, uncompromising Joel of the first episodes. No matter that his enemy has revealed good information to him, Joel will kill, like a beast, also carried by the rage to find Ellie alive.
The torture scene is also identical to that of the video game, with this stab in the knee, the fact that the prisoner points to the village on a map and that he is still executed badly. The other who is attached to the back of the room will also panic and remind Pedro Pascal that his comrade had told him the truth. Not enough to keep them both alive. Suddenly, iron bar on the skull and fade to black, like in the video game. So no need to shoot until you see the head exploded, that’s not the goal and in video games, it’s the same. We will then find Ellie, put in a large cage, the same one that was probably used to place the people David chose to slaughter and cut them into pieces to make a good stew. Where Episode 8 will differ slightly from the video game, i.e. source material, is the absence of James slicing up a body just as Ellie wakes up. Instead, we have the right to an ear that hangs on the ground and which allows Ellie to understand that she has been captured from cannibals. Moreover, the scene at the beginning of the episode where we realize that they have taken the body of the recently deceased father is quite strong, with this meat so red that will allow a whole group to continue eating . In real life, in a post-apo world like that of The Last of Us, it is forbidden to eat your neighbor in real life… Moreover, the scene where they all eat together, some with enthusiasm and in which we no longer hear than cutlery clashing, the effect is total!
For the rest, we are really extremely close to the video game, even the final scene where Ellie tries to flee David while they are locked in the large dining room which catches fire is videogame accurate. With this David looking for Ellie, calling her by her name in a perverse tone, until she manages to stick her knife in his abdomen, it’s all the same. The series will nevertheless add a small detail a little more sordid that we did not find in the game, the fact that David, in addition to being a cannibal, is also, forgive me the vocabulary in advance, a fucking pedophile, since she takes advantage of the situation to try to rape Ellie. Suddenly, the hatred that emerges from Ellie when she massacres him with a machete has an even stronger resonance. As in the game, the camera remains fixed on Ellie, who strikes it with machete blows of incredible violence, reinforced by drops of blood which come to stain the screen, and this effect of blur which is accentuated. It’s very strong. Bella Ramsey is incredible in her acting at this precise moment, just like when she leaves the room, exhausted, her gaze lost, to then find Joel in a state of shock. And then boom, end of the episode, we leave the spectator also stunned by what we have just seen. An episode 8 which will therefore make everyone agree, but know that there is even better with the 9th and last episode next week. It will be the shortest, 43 min, but the best and most intense. Be ready and see you next week.