The Many Shades Of Silver-Lake Messiah, Pastor David, In ‘The Last Of Us,’ Explained

The sixth episode of HBO’s “The Last of Us” gave us a glimpse of the best of human potential when it’s not being bogged down by authoritative forces through the idyllic settlement of Jackson. As an almost direct contrast, the penultimate episode of the series focuses on how lawlessness can unshackle the absolute degeneracy latent in people as the series continues to act as a reminder that nothing beats the real-world horrors of the recesses of the human psyche, not even Cordyceps-infected frenzied zombies. In the course of the episode, the viewers are introduced to David, the pastor, and leader of the community that has settled in the Silver Lake resort, and the manifold secrets the character conceals, which eventually spell danger for the group itself. Unlike the simpletons that follow him, the enigmatic, barbaric leader David is a man of many faces, which readers will discover as we go through the character.

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Spoilers Ahead


From Teacher To Preacher And Leader

As Ellie and the viewers come to know from David’s own words, during the pre-pandemic period, David used to be a math teacher. Appropriate, given how calculative this monster proves himself to be. It wasn’t until the world fell to the Cordyceps outbreak that he found faith and started believing in the Divine plan. He even rationalized the cordyceps’ outbreak as a struggle for existence and its place in the grand design. During the pandemic period, David gathered a bunch of followers in Pittsburgh QZ, where he was stationed, and after its fall, he managed to pick up some more on their way to available settlements. David’s charismatic demeanor and oratory prowess worked well to entrap gullible people through his theological jargon, and he has a remarkable hold on them too. Posing as the Lord’s shepherd to protect the sheep that are his followers, he actually is the vile wolf that preys on them. Ironically enough, both the professions of educator and spiritual leader require people who are able to guide the minds of large numbers, and David uses that skill of his to absolute diabolical advantage. We see the façade of his fabricated appearance of someone with a meek demeanor; sound judgment falls off the moment he is questioned by his followers, be it his right-hand man James or a girl who has just lost her father.

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The quality of a leader is put to the test in the direst of situations, and here too, David proves his sinister capabilities unabashedly. As the supplies in the Silver Lake settlement run thin, games is hard to come by; David decides to resort to cannibalism, and the worst part is that he keeps the truth a secret from the majority of his group (except for a few loyalists). A sin that can still be excused under the context of survival necessities, but feeding the remains of a person to his unaware daughter goes straight into the zone of unquantifiable debauchery. While others at least seem guilt-ridden or miserable at the acknowledgment of the horrendous reality, David’s casual posture doesn’t even make it seem like too much of a big deal. Talk about taking Christ’s body as  bread allegory too seriously. David isn’t even concerned about the well-being of his followers, as seen by his nonchalance when James gets fatally wounded by Ellie.


A Pathetic Predator

However, the most heinous side of David’s character surfaces after his meeting with Ellie. Previously, while Joel and Ellie explored Colorado University in search of the Fireflies, they came across a few hostiles, who turned out to be David’s people he had sent there to scavenge. Joel had managed to kill one of them, Alec, before getting stabbed and fleeing the scene with Ellie. The majority of the group is concerned about enacting vengeance when Ellie finally gets caught, but David has other nefarious schemes when it comes to Ellie. From his very first meeting with Ellie, he tries his best to pose as a reliable protector and doubles his efforts after realizing that Ellie is not as credulous as the rest of his flock.

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David gets desperate at times to earn Ellie’s trust. Even when his loyalists manage to capture Ellie alive, as per his command, he keeps pursuing her to join his group of followers in vain. To appeal to her younger mind, David praises Ellie’s temperament, treats her as an equal, and offers for her to be at his side. Fortunately for Ellie, she knows the way of the world a bit better than David’s flock of sheep, and she defends herself accordingly. When his efforts to convince her using his usual guile fail, David’s ulterior motive surfaces bluntly. He makes sexual advances towards Ellie, a teenager, and even when he has the chance to escape the cabin that had caught fire, he remains fixated on his target. Ellie faces the worst threat she has had to encounter so far valiantly and manages to deliver a befitting end to the monster by hacking him to pieces. But as the little girl barely escapes from the burning cabin, viewers realize that the encounter with David stole a portion of her childhood forever and that she has aged drastically in the last few hours. The man of faith, sharing the namesake of the Biblical shepherd, turned out to be the Devil in disguise.

Since antiquity, religious ambitions creeping inside administrative establishments have always proven to be the vilest concoction, something that holds true to this day. Religion on its own can uphold faith and morals, and in its best application, it can unite the people, but much like science, the misuse of the institution corrupts it. As the makers continue to make the protagonists encounter the best and worst elements humanity has to offer through their journey, nothing could have been worse than the insidiousness of a predator who pretends to be a protector.

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See more: How Did The Encounter With Pastor David Change Ellie Forever In ‘The Last Of Us’ Episode 8?


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Siddhartha Das
Siddhartha Das
An avid fan and voracious reader of comic book literature, Siddhartha thinks the ideals accentuated in the superhero genre should be taken as lessons in real life also. A sucker for everything horror and different art styles, Siddhartha likes to spend his time reading subjects. He's always eager to learn more about world fauna, history, geography, crime fiction, sports, and cultures. He also wishes to abolish human egocentrism, which can make the world a better place.

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