Joel? Are you ok, buddy? You’re looking a little under the weather.
At the end of the last episode (and, technically, the start of the previous episode, too), we see Ellie (Bella Ramsey) trying to save Joel’s (Pedro Pascal) life from a nasty-looking stab wound.
It’s still winter, and it’s bitterly cold. Inside a restaurant, a man preaches while a young girl mourns. The preacher (the group’s leader) knows that his people are hungry and food is scarce, but they should trust in him.
No! I want to know how Joel is doing! Show me Joel!
“When we are in need, He shall provide.”
In religious quasi-cult leader fashion, the man uses phrases that could be applicable to God or to himself, phrases that beget loyalty and devotion. He speaks all nicey-nicey, but I can’t help but think of Charles Manson.
One man seems dubious throughout, and once the preacher finishes, they step outside. The sceptical man, James (Troy Baker), tells the preacher, David (Scott Shepherd), that they only have a week of rations left. David senses doubt in his right-hand man, so he asks James to affirm his loyalty. James states that he’s with him, but I don’t think he would pass a polygraph.
James is played by Troy Baker, which is so cool! Troy voiced and did the motion capture for Joel in the video games, so it’s exciting to see him in the show!
To find out about more easter eggs, listen to the Watching Now: The Last of Us podcast, The Rest of Us. Lily, Erika, and Nick will be with you weekly to give you breakdowns, insights, and great theories wherever you get your podcasts on Tuesdays and on Youtube on Wednesdays.
David and James set out hunting, looking to replenish their food store.
Ah, here’s Joel! It looks like we picked up immediately after the last episode ended, so he’s still in bad shape. Ellie finishes sewing up the wound, then tries to feed him. They are running out of rations.
It’s time to do your best non-incompetent Elmer Fudd impression, Ellie. Go get a rabbit! She’s the regular Elmer Fudd, falling flat on her face comedically as she runs.
A noise in the woods! A clicker? Of course not. This show only gives us infected every other episode. A deer trots out of the shadows into Ellie’s sights. She shoots it, just as Joel taught her. It’s a hit! But not a kill shot. It leaps away, wounded. Ellie watches in disbelief before chasing after it.
Cut to David and James standing over a recently deceased deer. Ellie’s deer!
Ellie holds them at gunpoint, making it clear that she will put a bullet in both of their heads with one wrong move. David offers a trade for the spoils of the hunt. Ellie asks for medicine which is agreed to, but she declines to follow them back to their camp. Smart, Ellie! “Buddy Boy” (James) can go get it while David stays as her hostage. Terms are agreed upon, although James, again, seems displeased with David’s decision. James exits to retrieve penicillin from the town.
While they wait for James to return, David and Ellie start a campfire in an old cabin to keep warm. It looks remarkably like the one in the game where they are ambushed by infected, but that was not on the cards here. David opens up to Ellie about his past and invites her to join their group. No thanks, bro!
The conversation takes a turn when David reveals that it was his group that had attacked Ellie and Joel at the university. Creepy. Simultaneously, James returns with the medicine. To the dismay of his acolyte, David keeps his word and lets Ellie leave with the medicine in return for the deer.
Ellie returns to Joel with the medicine. Horrifyingly, she injects a random amount of penicillin into the wound. She has no idea what she’s doing! She could have overdosed him! She could have made everything worse!
Back in Silver Lake, the cooks are preparing dinner. A man enters with a tray of meat, supplementing their last few cans of food. When the cook asks what kind of meat it is, the man says venison, shiftily. I don’t trust that answer…
David and James return, dragging the deer they traded with Ellie. David tells the group that they found one of the people that killed the raider at the university, the crying girl’s father. In the morning, he will take a group out to hunt Joel and Ellie. When the girl demands that they kill them, David slaps her hard, re-establishing his place as leader and father of the group.
The camera lingers on everyone eating their meals a little too long. I’m not sure this is venison, guys.
In the morning, Ellie gives Joel another random dosage of medicine in the stomach. Let’s hope for the best! She feeds Callus (their horse, although its name is not mentioned in the series).
Birds scatter nearby. There’s someone coming!
David and James’ hunting party is nearing Joel’s hideout. David wants to take the girl alive, but the man will be killed.
Ellie realises that her protector isn’t yet ready for action, so she tells him that he should be prepared. Ellie mounts Callus and calls the hunting party “motherf*ckers” for a classic distraction. Ride like the wind!
I’ll never forgive you for this, James! He shoots Callus and Ellie crashes off the horse, incapacitating her. The hunters are about to defy David and execute Ellie when he stops them. He wants her… to join their group. They still need to find Joel, so they continue their search, door to door.
What would happen if Taken cast Joel as Liam Neeson? This.
Joel wakes just in time to hide from a raider invading his basement. Stealthily for someone who has barely moved in two episodes, he manages to take the raider by surprise, stabbing and strangling him to death while staring into his pleading eyes. This is the cold-hearted badass that everybody has been talking about. Finally!
In Silver Lake, Ellie is caged. David is back on his softly-spoken, nice-guy act. He stopped his people from killing her. He can take care of her. You are alone. Classic cult leader isolationist bullshit. Ellie’s not buying it.
The hunters struggle to find Joel. But they’re the ones being hunted. Joel manages to knock out the two remaining members of David’s group. Impressive because he was ON DEATH’S DOOR five minutes ago!
Remember the tactic he used on the old couple? It’s just more violent this time. He beats the crap out of one of the raiders strapped to a chair and then plunges a knife into the man’s leg. He tells him to point to the place on the map where they took Ellie, stressing that it had better match the other guy’s answer. In pain, the raider points to Silver Lake. Joel kills him.
The next man says that he won’t help him, but it doesn’t matter. He believes the first guy. The screen cuts to black as he swings down a pipe onto the hunter’s head. YES, JOEL!!! You beautiful violent man! Go get your girl!
Ellie is visited by David. She angrily bats away the food he brought her. And I bet she’s glad she did. Under the butcher’s slab, she sees a human ear! They’re eating people! David tries to defend his actions and then starts with cult leader bullshit again.
This time, there are some (ewww) sexual undertones to it. She’s a child, you freaking sicko! They can lead together. She is extraordinary. Give me a break. David is a crackpot, equating God to the cordyceps.
Is Ellie into this? She seems to be… Nope. She breaks his finger and bites him. David drops a C-bomb, losing his cool, and then threatens to chop her into little pieces.
Joel is almost there, Ellie! He picks up a trail, leading him to a meat storehouse. Inside, he finds Ellie’s backpack. And human bodies hanging from meathooks. This is serious, Joel! Find her NOW!
David and James grab Ellie and throw her on the butcher’s slab. David half swings the meat cleaver down to kill her before Ellie confesses that she’s infected. And, now, so is David. Their confusion and self-doubt allow Ellie to snatch the cleaver and plunge it into James’ neck. Buh-bye dude! She runs away into the main area of the lodge.
Hiding, she grabs an ember from the fireplace. David enters, brandishing the cleaver he retrieved from James’ neck. Ellie throws the ember at David but misses, only succeeding in setting the room alight. How atmospheric!
David is angry. Just like in the boss battle in the game, Ellie ninjas behind David and stabs him in the back. It’s a blow, but David is too powerful. He throws her to the ground and kicks her in the stomach before mounting her. He likes it when they struggle. Sick f*ck!
Just in time, Ellie manages to grab the cleaver and swipes at his head. She turns the tables, mounting him and then swinging down over and over again until he is no more. Until he is unrecognisable. Wooooo, you know he dead!
Ellie stumbles out of the lodge, blood covering her face. Joel finds her and comforts her. His baby girl. They walk away from the scene with relative ease, but Ellie may never be the same again.
Here’s the Joel that I know and love. Here’s the loving father-turned-asshole that I was expecting in this series. Although it took a while to get here, this is what I wanted to see. Finally, we got some violence!
The whole sequence was a faithful retelling of the events from the game. Scene after scene was lifted frame by frame. The David showdown was extraordinary, with Bella showing off their acting chops. They made me say “Daaaaaaamn, they’re good!” The pain and rage she’s felt throughout her life culminated in this. And I am glad we did not get an image of the aftermath. That would have been gross.
What we see in Silver Lake is the brutality of a world in extreme conditions when the amenities we are accustomed to are not present. What are people capable of? Cannibalism, apparently. People have to eat, I guess, but long pig wouldn’t be my first choice.
But why can’t the world just be rebuilt? Where are the infected? How many are left in this world? In Jackson, they established that the infected have started venturing from the cities. Why foreshadow if you’re not going to use it this season? I’m not convinced that infected will threaten Ellie and Joel in the finale, either. If infected are scarce, then it should be easy to rebuild a civilised society, right?
One last thing: what about the rest of the people in the town? Did they not hear all of the commotion, or see the smoke emitting from the lodge? Did nobody try to stop Ellie and Joel from leaving? There had to be more than twenty other residents remaining!
Overall, though, I really enjoyed the episode. And after eight installments, Joel and Ellie have established their father-daughter relationship. They are in the place that they have to be for the final episode of the season. The show is expertly made, and I cannot wait to see if the ending lives up to the game. It’s got enormous boots to fill.
Soup Rank: 8.5/10