The Last of Us, all the anger of Ellie. Episode 8 review

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After suspending the present to give viewers a glimpse into Ellie’s past and give recovering Joel a breather, The Last of Us (THE SPECIAL) returns to immerse itself in the harsh American winter and in the western atmospheres that had already characterized the sixth episode. When We Are in Needeighth episode of the HBO series aired on Monday 6 March at 3 in the morning, exclusively on Sky and streaming only on NOW, simultaneously with the United States in the original subtitled version, picks up on Joel’s serious injury and the new role of Ellie, called to take care of her older and more experienced travel companion for the first time.

Role reversal

Thus we find them, intent on reversing roles, trying to get by and not die of cold, hunger and septicemia (Joel), immersed in a hostile environment not only from a meteorological point of view. Outside their refuge, in fact, they are about to get to know the most monstrous of the dangers they have faced so far, more ferocious than a clicker, more lethal than a bloater: the human being in its most basic form, the brutal and savage one of those who have lost all form of inhibition.


Within a few scenes, Ellie goes from hunter to hunted, from menace to prisoner. But unlike the 2013 game Naughty Dog, the series offers a little more insight into the community of David and James, portrayed as the perfect antithesis of Tommy and Maria Jackson. If there we had known a communist utopia in which everyone had their own role and there were no hierarchies, here we are in the dystopian theocracy, with an absolute leader, David, who with apocalyptic quotations holds in his grip a group of desperate people made such by a dehumanizing hunger.


The narrative expedient also provides Mazin and Druckmann with the opportunity to introduce an element that has so far remained marginal: the role of faith and hope in a desperate context. A dialogue, in particular, is revealing in this sense, it takes place between Ellie and David, in a moment in which they are alone and the girl has not yet discovered the truth about the man she believes she has under her gunsight. David tells her he is a preacher and she asks him how does she still have faith: “The world has ended and you still believe in that stuff?” she asks him. David’s answer is unsettling: “I started believing it after the world ended”. Not a choice, therefore, but a necessity, that of finding hope and meaning in the struggle for survival, to be satisfied in any possible way. As well as thirst, like hunger.


Druckmann and Mazin handle the twists well, clean up the script from some ingenuity (however necessary) of the video game, skilfully balance the more reflective moments and those in which the action dominates. In an episode in which not even an infected is seen or its presence is sensed or its arrival is feared, the worst of the monsters of The Last of Us: man, his needs, his darkest perversions. Ali Abbasi, director of Holy Spiderdirects the episode with the pace and rhythm of the agonizing thriller, playing very much on the dualism between the young protagonist and her elderly antagonist.


On the acting front, with a Pedro Pascal on the sidelines for almost the entire episode, Bella Ramsey is engaged in a substantial one girl show, finding her terrifying nemesis in Scott Shepherd’s David, while Troy Baker, name and voice known to lovers of the two video games The Last of Us (voice of Joel in the original Naughty Dog saga for Playstation). The actress embodies a determined, courageous, stubborn Ellie like the Lyanna Mormont of game of Thrones, but also scared, vulnerable and wounded as it is normal for a fourteen year old girl forced to fight tooth and nail to survive and defend herself from the worst violence. An evolution of the character (and another extraordinary proof of talent) made even more evident by the episodic contiguity with the Ellie of Left Behindwhich finds its climax in a scene of pure and violent rage, before returning her most human and vulnerable face.


Once again admirable, to conclude, the work done in the adaptation of a game segment particularly full of escapes, shootings and ambushes, reduced to the essentials without any kind of diminutive effect in the television version. While Joel and Ellie’s journey resumes towards the epilogue of this first season (the last episode in the original version will air on Monday 13 March at 3 in the morning, exclusively on Sky and streaming only on NOW), we always have the feeling of being in front of a serial masterpiece is clearer. A product full of emotion from which it will be difficult to detach yourself.