Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for the eighth episode of “The Last of Us,” which premiered on March 5.
As “The Walking Dead” and its offspring have repeatedly demonstrated, people – left to fend for themselves in a lawless society – become the real monsters during a zombie apocalypse, a point forcefully underscored in the latest. episode of “The Last of Us,” while demonstrating just how tough, steely, and resourceful teenage Ellie can be.
With Joel (Pedro Pascal) still ill, Ellie (Bella Ramsey) met David (Scott Shepherd), the leader of a starving community he presides over as a spirit guide as well as on a more basic level.
“It’s hard to trust strangers, I know,” David said when he first met Ellie, assuring her, “I’m a decent man.”
Yet despite having a pleasant voice and sounding entirely reasonable at first, David was exposed as a different kind of monster, resorting to cannibalism to feed his struggling herd, and eventually trying to sexually assault teenage Ellie, who , thanks to his courage, he saw as soul mate.
In one of the most gruesome images the show has produced, first Ellie and then Joel witness the remains of what David relied on for food, with the latter discovering a gruesome locker where bodies were stored.
For her part, Ellie retaliated after trading a deer for antibiotics in order to help Joel, who has recovered enough to torture and kill several of David’s men in order to find her. She also brilliantly leveraged her immunity to the virus to buy time when David was about to kill her, before cathartically saving himself with a burst of visceral violence.
Almost surely by chance, the odd episodes of the series have generally been more memorable than the even ones, a pattern that persisted here. These final chapters were notable for the gradual evolution of the Joel-Ellie relationship, highlighted when he finally reunited with her at the end of the hour, telling the emotionally drained youth, “It’s okay, little girl “, with a tenderness that was austere. relief from brutality otherwise exposed.
Already a huge hit for HBO (which, like CNN, is a unit of Warner Bros. Discovery) in terms of viewership and media buzz, the series has one more episode to essentially cement its credentials in terms of another associated priority. on premium television. fare: Be reminded when Emmy Awards season kicks into high gear this spring.
Aside from a storied guest star roster, Pascal and Ramsey may not have fully closed this deal given the historical hurdles the genre faces on that front; Yet in each of these final hours, they continue to build on what already seemed like a pretty compelling case.