In its eighth episode, HBO’s The Last of Us adapts one of the darkest chapters of the 2013 video game that inspired it. Picking up an unspecified amount of time after the events of the series’ seventh installment, The Last of Us episode 8, titled When We Are in Need, follows Ellie (Bella Ramsey) as she fights to survive a series of interactions with a priest-like madman named David (Scott Shepherd).
David is, just as he is in the original Last of Us, the predatory leader of a group of post-apocalyptic cannibals. Ellie’s scenes with him rank firmly as some of the most unnerving and psychologically disturbing that The Last of Us has delivered up to this point. His right-hand man, James, is also, notably, played by Troy Baker, the actor who portrayed Joel in the original Last of Us games.
Beyond that fun Easter egg, here are 5 questions we’re dying to know after The Last of Us episode 8.
Early on in When We Are in Need, David tells a grieving mother and daughter that they’ll have to wait until spring when the ground has softened to bury Alec, the man who Joel (Pedro Pascal) killed at the end of The Last of Us episode 6. The brief look David exchanges with James, however, suggests that Alec’s body had already been partly dismembered and fed to David’s followers when he says this.
Assuming David hadn’t been killed by Ellie, it’s worth wondering: What was he planning on telling Alec’s daughter and wife when they wanted to bury him in the spring? How would he have explained what had been done to Alec’s corpse? Odds are, David hadn’t planned that far ahead yet. Based on just how securely he seems to have a hold on his leadership position, though, he probably wouldn’t have had to worry too much about explaining away his actions.
In The Last of Us episode 8, David tells Ellie that his group has resorted to cannibalism as a result of just how difficult the winter season has been for them. It’s never revealed just how long he, James, and their select number of confidants have been secretly feeding human meat to their fellow survivors, though. At first, it seems like Alec’s body was the first that they’d butchered.
That notion is dispelled later in the episode, however, when Joel wanders into one of the group’s buildings and discovers multiple dismembered human corpses hanging from hooks like pieces of meat. That one shot alone suggests that David and his inner circle had turned to cannibalism a fair amount of time before Ellie and Joel even entered the picture.
When The Last of Us episode 8 begins, Joel’s stab wound has been successfully sewn shut by Ellie. However, not only is his wound infected but his and Ellie’s food supply has also been wiped out. Those two details suggest that The Last of Us episode 8 picks up with Ellie and Joel several days, if not a few weeks, after viewers last saw them.
Unfortunately, When We Are in Need never explicitly reveals just how much time passed between The Last of Us’ seventh and eighth episodes.
Joel is understandably horrified when he discovers the human corpses hidden in one of the Silver Lake resort’s buildings. However, it’s hard to tell whether he’s surprised by the fact that he’s wandered into a community of cannibals.
This question likely won’t ever be answered, but it is interesting to wonder, given just how much he’s seen and done, whether Joel’s trip through Silver Lake is the first time he’s actually encountered cannibals in The Last of Us’ post-apocalyptic world.
Ellie manages to kill both David and James on her own at the end of The Last of Us episode 8, but not before coming face-to-face with the full, twisted threat that David poses to her. Consequently, when she stumbles out of Silver Lake’s burning steakhouse at the end of the episode, she looks understandably traumatized by all that she’s experienced. While she quickly embraces Joel once she realizes it’s him standing in front of her, it’s clear that whatever was left of Ellie’s innocence has been taken away from her by the events of The Last of Us episode 8.
With that in mind, will Ellie be okay by the time The Last of Us’ forthcoming season 1 finale begins? Her and Joel’s relationship seems to be as strong as it’s ever been, but it’s unclear right now whether Ellie will still be the same lively survivor fans have come to know and love when they see her again.
The season 1 finale of The Last of Us airs Sunday, March 12 on HBO — here’s how to watch The Last of Us on any device, anywhere.