Ellie continues to look after Joel, whose wound becomes infected. While out hunting for food, she runs into a group. Their leader, David, feels that their meeting was fate. Ali Abbasi directed ‘When We Are in Need’, which aired on Sunday, March 5th and ran for a clean 50 minutes. More importantly, this takes us right up to the season finale next week.
The episode opens to a mountainous area near a body of water. The wind is howling , and the snow is accumulating. A man recites a passage from the Bible, fittingly from the book of Revelations. A community in the abandoned Silver Lake Resort listens to this man named David (Scott Shepherd)–all looking worn and hungry.
A young girl sobs uncontrollably. David stops reading and tries to console her. “When we are in need, he will provide“. When the girl asks when they could bury her father, he responds that it is too cold to dig, and that they need to wait until Spring.
When the group adjourns, David speaks with a man named James (Troy Baker, also known as the voice of Joel in The Last of Us video games). He learns that even if they ration the food, they only have a week or two before they run out. However, some have spotted deer in the surrounding area, so they decided to hunt for them. David questions James’ faith in him. After a tense and awkward silence, James states he is still with David.
Meanwhile, Joel’s wound doesn’t look too good. You catch a glimpse of pus festering around the sutures. As Ellie keeps a watchful eye over him, she realizes quickly they are also out of food. After whispering words of encouragement, Ellie takes his rifle and searches for game.
Ellie fumbles a few times, missing the opportunity to shoot a rabbit. She continues to trek along until she hears deer. Ellie takes the shot, and to her surprise, she hits the deer, and she gives chase to the wounded animal.
Unfortunately, this is where the two worlds collide. David and James first discover the now dead deer. Before they could haul it away, Ellie shouts at them, gun raised. Her guard is up, claiming to be part of a large group who needs food. David tries to bargain with her, perhaps they could trade for half of the meat. Ellie blurts out her need for medicine.
David orders James to bring back two bottles of penicillin. In the meantime, David was able to convince Ellie to take shelter from the snow and cold in a nearby abandoned building.
I’m a decent man, just tryna take care of the people who rely on me.-David, The Last of Us
With the rifle still pointed at him, Ellie talks with David. He tries to convince her that he means no harm, and that Ellie is welcome to their community. David also confirms that he is their leader, not because he wanted the role, but rather because the people chose him. Ellie scoffs and asks if it’s a cult. David admits he never was religious before the outbreak. In fact, he was a math teacher of children Ellie’s age and only found God and became a preacher after the ‘world ended’.
Luck? There’s no such thing as luck. I believe everything happens for a reason. It does…I can prove it to you.-David, The Last of Us
David also reveals that due to the particularly harsh winter, he sent our four men to a nearby town to look for resources, and only three returned. The men claimed one of their own was slain by a ‘crazy man’, and with this man was a young girl. Ellie tenses up. James returned, armed as well, but David commands him to lower his weapon and give Ellie the antibiotic. James protests, knowing their group would want justice. David sends Ellie on her way.
You won’t survive for long out there. I can protect you.-David, The Last of Us
Ellie rushes back to Joel. Although she has no idea where to inject the antibiotic, she draws up the medicine and inserts the needle into the wound. She then curls up beside Joel.
The scene quickly cuts to the group at Silver Lake. A woman tells a cook that they only have five cans of tomatoes left. Another man brings in a tray of meat. When the woman asks what it is, he replies that it is venison. The meal is cooked and served. David and James return with their deer, but the room remains sullen and quiet. David addresses the rumor that he’s met the people responsible for that man’s death, and he promises that they will follow Ellie’s track in the morning to make Joel pay. The daughter of that man shouts that both Joel and Ellie deserve to die. David strikes the girl but then gives her his hand.
You will always have a father, and you will show him respect when he’s speaking.-David, The Last of Us
The next day, David and a group of men travel to the neighborhood where Ellie and Joel are hiding. Ellie had given Joel a second dose of penicillin, and we see ever-so-slight progress. Joel’s eyes flicker open; however, the moment of hope doesn’t last. While Ellie is taking care of their horse, she notices birds scattered from a tree. She finds David and his group and runs back to Joel. She gives Joel and knife and tells him that she will try and lead them away.
Ellie is true to her word and tries to distract the group. However, James shoots the horse, and Ellie is thrown off. The men egg James on to kill her, but David shoots a round into the air. He scoops Ellie up to bring her to Silver Lake, commanding the others to take the horse back and search for Joel.
One man enters the house where Joel is still lying down. By the time the man locates the hidden room, he finds only an empty (and bloody) mattress. Joel attacks from behind and stabs the man in the neck. Joel is winded, still very much recovering, but he takes down threats one by one. He captures two and tortures them until they give up their location so that he could find Ellie.
Meanwhile, Ellie wakes up locked in a cage. David continues to insist on protecting her. Ellie refuses to have anything to do with him, and David leaves. Before he returns again, she notices a human ear on the floor. David brings food, and Ellie questions the origin of the meat–David claims its deer meat.
You’re gunna chop me into little pieces?-Ellie, The Last of Us
The conversation only grows darker as David acknowledges that Ellie has a ‘violent heart’ as he himself has one. He admits to the fascination with the Cordyceps fungus that resorts to violence, if needed.
You remind me of me. You’re a natural leader, smart, loyal…violent.-David, The Last of Us
David wants to ‘recruit her’, leaving his hand on the bar, over hers. Ellie places her other hand over his…then proceeds to snap them. Ellie scrambles for the keys, but David fights back. He curses in anger.
Ellie…Tell them that Ellie is the little girl who broke your FUCKING FINGER!-Ellie, The Last of Us
We next see Joel, battling the worsening winter storm toward the resort. Following a trail of blood, he finds Ellie’s backpack, the dead horse..and then, bodies. Bodies strung upside down with heads cut off to drain the blood.
David returns with James and struggles to get Ellie onto the butcher’s block. Ellie fights like crazy and bites David, screaming that she’s Infected. They see her arm, but David refuses to believe that it’s real. In the confusion, Ellie takes the butcher’s knife and lodges it into James’ neck. She tries to escape the abandoned restaurant, but the doors are locked. David retrieves the blade and hunts for Ellie.
She throws a burning piece of wood but misses. The game of cat and mouse continues, and the restaurant catches aflame.
Neither one of us is dying today. You see, I’ve changed my mind. I’ve decided you do need a father. So, I’m gunna keep you, and I’m gunna teach you. Ellie? Ellie…-David, The Last of Us
The standoff comes to a head when David pins her to the ground, but before he can reach for his weapon, Ellie grabs the butcher’s knife. She hacks away at David, screaming at the top of her lungs. Now covered in his blood, she leaves the burning building, where Joel finds her.
Joel does his best to comfort a very shaken Ellie and calls her babygirl. However, we are not sure if Ellie will be able to recover from those events.
In this episode, we see two versions of what a ‘father’ can be. Joel is a brute while David appears at the start of the episode to be a loving shepherd among sheep. David embraces to role of a father to his community, doing what he can to take care of them. Even when he meets Ellie, he insists on saving and sparing her, despite everyone’s thirst for revenge. And yet we learn the age old adage, nothing is always what they seem.
David slowly reveals his true self over the course of the episode, coming to a head when he imprisons Ellie. He has this violent blood-lust, which is scary to think how he probably suppressed this back when he was a school teacher. Instead of exhibiting self-sacrificing, empathetic behavior a parent generally has, David is obsessed with control. Being a ‘father’ is all about control.
Joel, although rough around the edges and no stranger to violence, he does what he can to protect Ellie. In this episode in particular, he does not save her. Ellie saves herself; however, he provides emotional support for the first time.
While we are only one episode away from the finale, the events in this episode really set the tone for Ellie’s journey in the second season (and as we witnessed in The Last of Us Part II game). She starts off this series as a sassy young girl, but she slowly transforms into a force of her own, fortunately and unfortunately fueled by anger and violence.
I applaud Bella Ramsay’s performance in the final showdown with David. I felt the fear she felt, and we rarely witness this level of fear from her before. This hits hard because I know how traumatizing this will be for her character. Scott Shepherd also had an outstanding performance. Despite knowing the character form the video game, he almost convinced me that perhaps David was a half-way decent man in the show.
This episode warrants a full five stars. It contained action (which I was hungry for) and stellar acting. We begin to see Ellie come into her own without Joel, and we also can see how their growing bond could lead to their demise. ‘When We Are in Need’ contained lots of elements found in the game which was greatly appreciated, and they trimmed a lot to create consistent pacing. It flowed a lot better than I feared given we are one episode away from the finale.
I personally loved Ellie best in this episode, despite the pain and trauma she endured, and as like in the video game, I’m all in.
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