The Last of Us Episode 8 Review: Here Comes Winter

Winter is upon us as Ellie tries to survive by not only herself, but also taking care of a bedridden Joel. She encounters trouble with a group of people that have less than honorable intentions. While episode 7 provided Ellie’s backstory, we get the biggest amount of growth in an outstanding hour.

The Last of Us Episode 8 Review: Here Comes Winter

We’re only one episode away from The Last of Us finale next week and it’s a different feeling from most shows. There’s not a lot of setting up with the story in terms of everything coming together, but more of the end of a journey. Doesn’t mean that characters haven’t grown, quite the opposite in fact. Episode 8 is a fantastic hour that puts a lot of focus on Ellie and her need to survive.

The Last of Us Episode 8 is now available on HBOMax. If you missed last week’s episode then read our review to catch up.

This review will contain full spoilers for the entire episode.

The Last of Us | Official Trailer | HBO Max

Story: Wolf in Shepard’s Clothing

We begin the episode with Ellie still trying to heal a ill-bodied Joel that’s recovering from the nasty knife wound. While Ellie is hunting a deer, she encounters two strangers from a nearby group that’s starving. The leader of the group, David, is a preacher and seems like he wants to do good for his people. But slowly, the layers start to get shredded as he’s an example of someone who’s more terrifying than the infected. This hour is the show’s take on the famous “winter chapter” from the game as you get to surprisingly play as Ellie until the next chapter.

Just like the game, it captures the feeling of the struggle on surviving on your own. What’s interesting is the time we get with David as he’s somewhat portrayed in a sympathetic light and a horrific one. The big change is David is now a preacher which makes sense of wolf amongst sheep’s clothing. There’s focus on David actually being a leader to the group, but not a kind one like we saw in episode 6 with Jackson.

There’s some terrifying moments in the first half like him getting a huge plate of food while everyone is shaking eating their small bowl or striking a kid. It’s not until his interactions with Ellie that the animalistic predator comes out which makes him the scariest thing we’ve seen so far (and that includes the bloater.) It’s the perfect villain for Ellie at this stage to combat as he represents the cruel nature of this current world.

Dinner is served.

Dinner is served.

Characters & Performances: Buying Into the Lie

The show so far has done on balancing recreating aspects of the game while doing its own thing. Before the episode, thinking about David was tricking because he’s such a ruthless character. Would they keep true to David or tone down his disturbing nature? At least, I thought they were toning down by turning him into a priest and showing that he wants to provide for his group. Then slowly as it progressed, the mask starts to fade away.

Huge credit goes to Scott Shepherd who plays David as I bought into the initial charm of him. Take the scene when David and Ellie are talking and he’s lowing her defenses by talking about himself. Then he brings up that Joel and Ellie killed one of his men and my veins went cold. Even know it was from the game, it still got me off guard because of how great Scott Shepherd is.

David vs. Ellie

When the true monster is revealed, the showdown between David and Ellie is spectacular. And I don’t just mean the amazing cabin fire fight scene, but when she’s in the cage. This is when we see David from the game as the crazed cannibal that regresses into his animal instincts. Their back and forth conversation is terrifying as David gives a monologue that the cordyceps is something to aspire to. Also credit once again to Bella Ramsey who again is an acting force in this show. The blood curling screams they  gives had me a nervous wreck even know Ellie is surviving. Also, when they said the line of “tell them that Ellie is the little girl that broke your fucking finger” had me pumping my fist in the air.

I rather face a clicker than talk to David.

I rather face a clicker than talk to David.

Cinematography & Sound: Harsh Shades of Winter

Being from Upstate New York, I’ve had my fair share of battles of winter. It can be beautiful, but also brutal in so many ways. Thank god that I have basic utilities and electricity on my side. So imagine having none of that and you’re barely surviving. That feeling is perfectly expresses that in this episode. Just take a look at everyone’s faces when they’re outside in the freezing cold. Flushed faces with red noses and ears on the screen makes you feel cold only by looking at them. Then in some scenes, we get the beautiful glow of the fire, but even that gets creepy. When David and Ellie are fighting while the cabin is on fire, it looks like they’re in hell. We’re a broken record here at KeenGamer, but they nailed the cinematography in The Last of Us.

Wait, doesn't that guy sound familiar?

Wait, doesn’t that guy sound familiar?

Editing & Pacing: The Mask Falls Off

As mentioned before, the handling of David’s true nature was done masterfully. It’s very tempting to show what he truly is but the show did a good job of slowing down the pace of it. We want to trust him and for the first couple of minutes, it seems like we can. Then it spirals down and he becomes the most evil character of the show.

Episode 8 perfectly captures the feeling of the “Winter” chapter from the game. We get a sense of Ellie as a survivalist and her coming into her own without the help of Joel. Scott Shepard delivers a standout performance as someone who lures you in with charm and leaves you with nightmares. We also get the harsh beauty of winter throughout and the final fight between David and Ellie is exhilarating. With one episode left, it’ll be a fitting end to an amazing journey.
  • Scott Shephard as David
  • Bella Ramsey
  • David vs. Ellie
  • How they capture winter.

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