‘The Last Of Us’ Episode 8: Recap And Ending, Explained: How Does Ellie Save Herself From David?

Leave it to Ali Abbasi to join Mazin in inflicting deranged religious horror on the already unnerving passage of two apocalypse survivors in “The Last Of Us” Episode 8. The mangled psyche of sociopaths, further provoked by either a dicey interpretation of “holy” doctrines or a conscious urge to exploit the same, hoists up a tremendously disturbing tale in “When We Are In Need” and echoes the terror of Abbasi’s 2022 Persian thriller “Holy Spider.” All that is helping us get through the freezing hell is the warmth, exuding from the reassuring campfire of hope. Making up for not reimbursing fans’ therapy bills, “The Last Of Us” penultimate episode (What are we going to do with our lives when it ends?) relinquishes something we’ve been dying and pleading to see. Nothing is as effective in fastening an emotional tie as being subjected to unimaginable horror together and getting away alive. Has TV’s favorite dad opened his heart to another of his magic children? Yes. Are we bawling like babies? You bet. Yet there are miles to endure before the light seeps through the crack. And there are miles of corpses to leap over before we get to the end that we can only hope would not leave us in pieces.

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Spoilers Ahead


David Played, And It Pleased The Lord

Singing of the new heaven and the new earth rising from the ashes of the ones that are gone, a preacher borrows verses from Revelation 21 to uplift his morose flock. It’s a funeral. And the one whose tears flow clear in the icy terrain of a dreary Silver Lake is a little girl mourning her father’s death. She can’t possibly hark back to what comes after the verse that the preacher, namely David, is reading aloud. All she wants to know is when it will be possible for the mouthpiece of God to offer her father a holy burial. When spring comes and softens the earth, the little girl’s father will receive a place in the ground. The faces of the apocalyptic flock echo the terror of a draconian convent. But instead of the fear of God, it is the fear of David that makes the group jitter. Only one is by his side, through fear of him or the guilt of their shared transgressions: James (played by Troy Baker, aka the actor who voices Joel in the game). But even James’ quavering state of faith doesn’t evade David’s eyes. The group is running out of food. Even rationing out portions would only leave them with enough to last a week or two. It’s been a rough six months, and as faith doesn’t satisfy hunger, James is losing his faith in the priest. David’s “resort” that circles an abandoned steakhouse is without any traces of a life well lived, unlike the heaven that the people of Jackson lovingly shaped. They’ve heard rumors of deer roaming the nearby woods, and they must attempt to hunt at least one if they wish for their group to make it through the winter.

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Wolves In Sheep’s Clothing

Joel is still breathing, however faintly he can, in the wretched state he is in. The wound that Ellie carefully closed with what was most likely a rusty needle isn’t looking too good. Running out of water, Ellie hydrates her mouth with a few drops and dampens Joel’s parched lips with the rest. She munches on the last bit of jerky that was stashed in her backpack and leaves a piece atop an unresponsive Joel. Having faith in the hunting lessons she had to wring out of Joel, Ellie grabs hold of the rifle and walks out into the bleak snow. The rabbit that catches her eye isn’t ready to meet God yet. Running after it, Ellie nosedives into the soft, icy earth. It’s still too early for her to give up. When she spots a deer and takes her shot, the lessons that Joel was initially reluctant to give her pay off. If only life could be a dream and the deer would just give up its fight and drop dead right there, Ellie wouldn’t have to sneak up on David and James, who were planning to steal the reward of someone else’s hard work. With her rifle at the ready, Ellie orders a swift surrender of the other party’s weapons. Taken aback by the shocking display of authority coming from a young girl, David lowers his rifle and asks James to follow suit.

David wishes to make their ways of life sound enticing to Ellie as he talks up the large, hungry group he belongs to. Ellie chooses to pretend that she, not unlike David and James, is also out hunting for the big group she supposedly belongs to. She may be curious about what the two strange men and their group may be able to offer, but she is worldly enough to table the idea of a reasonable trade. If David gives her antibiotics, she would consider ceding half of the deer to them. Cynical James takes a minute to grasp that David is being sincere when he asks him to abide by the rules of the barter and fetch the medication along with a syringe. Ellie is right in her stance of not trusting the two shady strangers. If anything, David’s apparent friendliness comes off as creepy and even more ominous than a brazen threat. But she can’t afford to turn down help. Not when Joel is in an increasingly dire state.

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Crazy Preacher And The ‘Crazy Man’

Ellie and David’s post-apocalyptic and mostly one-sided small talk has him asking after the possible “dad” who needs the medication. When his question is unsurprisingly unanswered, David offers to make a fire nearby and wait out the time that it would take for James to be back with the Penicillin. Ellie won’t say no to a fire. But she assures her safety by prodding David to haul the deer so as to make sure that his hands are occupied. By the fire, David proceeds to warm Ellie up to the idea of joining his group, something that Ellie mockingly calls a “hunger club.” She hits the nail on the head when she wonders if it’s some sort of cult that David is running with the people who would not leave his side even when they are hungry. Painting a much less menacing and completely false picture of how it works, David admits to being a preacher who simply reads from the Bible. His transition from his pre-apocalyptic life as a math teacher to the current preacher is something that Ellie finds easy to satirize. As David evidently isn’t one to be tight-lipped, he continues to take a walk back to the time in 2017 when the Pittsburgh QZ was overturned, and he had to sally forth with a few people.

On his challenging way to Silver Lake, he had picked out the survivors who wanted to follow him and found comfort in his words of God. They’ve been through many raiders’ attacks and have finally laid their “peaceful” base nearby. “Your luck had to run out sometime,” snarks Ellie, to which David cryptically grins and says that he has never been much of a believer in luck. He is of the conviction that everything happens for a reason. What he means to insinuate by his allusive monologue is soon clarified to Ellie when he reminisces about a very recent past. David didn’t expect the winter to be that brutal. Out of options, he sent a group of four to scavenge for food and supplies, but only three came back. The one that didn’t make it was Alec, the father of a girl who’s Ellie’s age. Ellie isn’t unaware of where the grisly anecdote is going as David advances toward the mention of a “crazy man” who killed Alec.

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The second David laid eyes on Ellie; he was certain that the odds of her being the kid who was accompanying the man who killed Alec were extremely high. Before Ellie can call forth her defenses and get ready to kill the man if it comes to that, James has his gun cocked and pointed at her. David prompts James to lower his weapon and hand over the medication to the girl. Unlike David, who has an insidious, long game in his mind, James is squirming to avenge Alec’s death. But defying David’s order seems like a no-go for James, who scornfully tosses the medication to Ellie. Paying no heed to David’s offer of joining his group, Ellie speedily bolts with the Penicillin and the syringe in her hand. As James is caught up in the puzzle of why David would let her get away, Ellie is already on her way to nervously administer the medication. After a minute of frantic back and forth in her perplexed mind, Ellie decides that the wound itself would be the ideal spot for the injection. The flickering hope that Joel would recover and the frightening possibility of the opposite bruise her mind in a tug-of-war as she lays down beside Joel, and he snugs up to her just a little.


Sometimes, Things Are Exactly As They Seem

It’s a hopeless sight at the steakhouse kitchen when a bulk of questionable meat is brought in to be added to the stew. With the group gathered before him for a meal, David sees the doubt on their faces. He comes clean to his flock about finding the girl who was with Alec’s killer and reassures them that justice would be done and the man will not be spared. He has planned to send men to capture them the next morning. When Alec’s angry daughter cuts into his lecture and demands that they find and kill Ellie and Joel, we see the first stain of violence on David’s facade of benevolence. He takes the glove off his hand to brutally smack the girl out of her chair. He reminds her that Alec’s death doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have a father, and the one that she has now will not tolerate being talked over. Just a threatening look from David is enough to intimidate her mother into sitting down and joining the prayer before they practically inhale the food.

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The sweat on Joel’s face is a hopeful sign that his fever is breaking. Lifting his shirt, Ellie sees that the wound is remarkably less inflamed, and she decides to administer another shot of Penicillin just to be on the safe side. She feeds some snow to the horse before taking in the fresh air of the day. Her state of mind, however, swiftly turns from serene to disquieted when a flock of flying birds delivers the warning of the incoming danger. On the way to finding the two, David explains what he wants the group of men to do. They are to find and deliver vengeance to Joel, but Ellie is to be captured and brought back alive. James isn’t all that happy to let Ellie go alive, and he communicates his rage at this decision through the ruse of his concern over having another mouth to feed. If she is to die out there, maybe it is God’s will. Just a death stare from the terrifying preacher is enough to clarify to James that whatever David says goes.


How Is Ellie Captured By David?

Fearing for both of their lives, Ellie rushes to wake Joel. When her panic-stricken calls go unanswered, Ellie places a knife in Joel’s hand and asks him to kill the men when they come in. She secures the door with a sizable cabinet before venturing out on her horse. Ellie has had more than enough experience dealing with threats to know that there’s no way she can escape without catching their eyes. So instead of hiding, she hollers at the group and shoots at them as they follow. When a bullet almost brushes against Ellie, David roars out to remind them that she is supposed to be seized alive. James shoots Bojack (grant me this joke) from under Ellie, making her plummet to the ground and pass out. The man beside James nudges him to pull the trigger and kill Ellie. James would’ve gone through with it if his attempt wasn’t timely stopped by David’s rifle shooting a bullet into the air. David takes an unconscious Ellie in his arms and heads back before asking the rest to flip through the area and satiate their hunger for vengeance by killing Joel.

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When a man makes his way through the ruin of a house and walks down to Joel’s hideout, he is met with the empty cot where Joel was lying immobile just a moment ago. As it turns out, when Joel jumps the guy and viciously puts a knife through his neck, he had more than likely been conserving his energy until the circumstances call for him to take action. Was it just me who was frightened at the very real possibility that Joel only had enough vigor left in him to eliminate one enemy? Well, thankfully, I was wrong. The man who was close to taking his last breath just a few hours ago has now captured two of David’s men to question. It is almost poetic how an unlikely resurrection is the first instance of us witnessing the extreme extent of Joel’s savagery after hearing about it for quite some time. The man tied up in the back whimpers as Joel brutalizes the other man and puts a knife through his knee to make him talk (and boy, does he scream!). To save his knee from being wrecked further by Joel, the man points to a spot on the map and confirms his honesty by saying that the other guy can corroborate it. By stabbing him to death, Joel proves that one shouldn’t hold on to hope if they’ve so much as planned to touch a hair on Ellie’s head. The man in the back is unwavering in his resolve to keep mum, but even that proves to not be much of a choice when the very next moment, Joel grabs hold of a pipe and beats him to death with it.


What Does David Want From Ellie?

Waking up in a cage she is unable to break out of, Ellie is reluctant to answer David’s question about her name. It seems it’s not just the walls that have ears. Ellie is terrified and appalled to find a stray human ear on the floor. David comforts her with the assurance that, for what it’s worth, the food that he is offering her is venison. Countering Ellie’s disgust toward the life he has chosen, David says that cannibalism was his last resort when his back was against the wall. He may be ashamed of how low his morals have stooped, but he couldn’t let his flock go hungry. He doesn’t wish to chop up Ellie into pieces. He would rather Ellie join hands with him in his mission to give his followers a better life. Echoing the words of the FEDRA captain who saw potential in Ellie, David states that when he looks at her, he sees a leader, a braveheart, and he recognizes the acute violence she hides within her heart. He feels drawn to her violent heart, as he himself had struggled to come to terms with the same in a pre-apocalyptic world. Ellie snides him with a question about whether it was God who freed him, to which he answers with something that proves him to be far more unhinged than we’ve been anticipating.

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The God who granted his darkness a free world to thrive in wasn’t bound to any religion. He is devoted to Cordyceps. It was Cordyceps that massacred the sane and made space for him to be who he really was. To the deranged preacher, Cordyceps isn’t evil. It’s a fruitful organism that wishes to multiply its family and doesn’t withdraw from violence if that is what the circumstances warrant. For a shepherd surrounded by sheep, Ellie being his friend and companion would offer him the means to make everything better for his flock. He promises to spare Joel’s life if Ellie would only come to realize her true path and join hands with him. As he proceeds to put his hands on the bar, it is unnervingly evident that the worst that we’re assuming of him is actually true. Ellie places her hand over his and distracts him with hope before snapping the horrendous pedophile’s finger and reaching for the keys. As with any predator who lashes out with his claws bare when his advances are thwarted, David takes the rejection to his heart and promises Ellie an awful end.


‘The Last Of Us’ Episode 8: Ending Explained: How Did Ellie Save Herself From David?

Arriving close to the place where Ellie is being held, Joel follows a trail of blood and breaks into a storage space. He is both unnerved and soothed to find Ellie’s backpack, but what his eyes land on next would drain any man of any sense of hope. Decapitated and skinned human corpses hang from the ceiling like pigs in a butcher shop. We cut back to see James and David walking in with a cleaver and dragging Ellie out of her steely confinement. Before they can lay her down on the table, Ellie viciously bites David, only to be overpowered by the two. Before David can hack into her with the cleaver, Ellie screams out that she is infected, and now that she has taken a bite out of David, so is he. Bargaining with the dreadful possibility, David convinces himself that Ellie can’t be infected. That is before he sees the scars on her arm, and Ellie capitalizes on the distraction to clamp her hands on the cleaver and bury it into James’ neck.

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As a bewildered David watches James bleed to death, Ellie has made her way out of the holding cell. Ellie gets her hands on a burning piece of wood from the kitchen, and David extracts the cleaver from James’ neck and heads out to hunt her down. David doesn’t believe that an infected person would fight tooth and nail to hold on to life and wonders if Ellie is special through his sing-songy call for her. When Ellie attempts to hit David with the burning cinder and misses, the curtains catch on fire, and the building quickly proceeds to succumb to the flames. David has apparently changed his mind about killing Ellie and now wishes for her to accept him as her father. As he grabs hold of her and swiftly overpowers her little frame, the raging lunatic is only further fueled by the fight she puts up. Crawling through the floor, Ellie gets her hand on the cleaver and viciously hacks him to death with it.

As she walks out of the steakhouse that is going up in purifying flames and taking the nefarious man with it to hell, Ellie still hasn’t been able to shake off the horrendous shock of the events. When Joel embraces her, a frantic Ellie screams out to be freed before she can hear his voice and close her eyes to his face. Echoing the words that were all that he could get himself to say to Sarah when she had been shot, Joel holds on to Ellie and reassures her while calling her “baby girl.” Ellie has done more than enough to establish that she can take care of herself. But as Joel wraps her in his jacket and the two walk towards safety, we know that it isn’t protection that Ellie seeks from Joel—it is the love that he has long been afraid to communicate that soothes Ellie more than anything in this horrid world.

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See more: ‘The Last Of Us’ Episode 8: Easter Eggs, Video Game Differences And Similarities, Explained


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Lopamudra Mukherjee
Lopamudra Mukherjeehttps://muckrack.com/lopamudra-mukherjee
Lopamudra nerds out about baking whenever she’s not busy looking for new additions to the horror genre. Nothing makes her happier than finding a long-running show with characters that embrace her as their own. Writing has become the perfect mode of communicating all that she feels for the loving world of motion pictures.

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