The Last of Us – Episode 8 Recap – ‘When We Are in Need’

The Last of Us Episode 8 introduces one of its biggest antagonists, while Joel's original actor, Troy Baker, makes his series debut.
The Last of Us: Season 1 – Episode 8 Recap – ‘When We Are in Need’ - The Last of Us: Season 2

Episode 8 of HBO’s adaptation of The Last of Us introduces audiences to one of the biggest antagonists of the original game, David (Scott Shepherd). In ‘When We Are In Need’, Ellie (Bella Ramsey) encounters first him whilst hunting for a deer, in an effort to provide food for herself and a still-wounded Joel (Pedro Pascal).   

David’s community, which is built on the values of Christianity, is explored in greater depth, and we see how he approaches his position as a leader of this faction. Troy Baker (the original voice and motion capture actor for Joel in The Last of Us Part I & II) also makes his appearance in the series as James – a character who has been faithful to David, but is beginning to question his leadership further upon their meeting with Ellie. 

Ellie is also noticeably affected following the events of the series, as she has become a caretaker for Joel over the last two episodes, and is experiencing her first moments navigating this world completely on her own.

Image: HBO / Binge

or further analysis and reading on the HBO adaptation of The Last of Us, you can check out the following articles: 

Episode recaps and analysis: 

Behind-the-scenes podcast recaps:

The Last of Us is now streaming on HBO Max in the US, and Binge in Australia.

The Last of Us – Episode 8 Recap – ‘When We Are in Need’ 

Content Warning: Mentions of sexual violence and predatory behaviour. Episode 8 explores themes surrounding SA between series protagonist Ellie, and supporting character, David – GamesHub has edited scenes towards the end of this recap for clarity and consideration.

This episode was written by Craig Mazin, and directed by Ali Abbasi.

Episode 8 begins with a glimpse into one of the game’s biggest antagonists, David (Scott Shepherd), as he preaches a sermon to his community at the lakeside resort they’ve inhabited and now call home – Silver Lake Resort. 

A sign hangs overhead, that reads: ‘When We Are In Need, He Shall Provide’, and it’s quickly established David is the leader of this religiously coded faction. He paces the room of hungry and fearful individuals, reading passages from his Bible, before noticing a young girl who has begun to cry. The girl is mourning the loss of her Father, and it’s revealed later on in this episode that this was the man Joel murdered at the conclusion of Episode 6.

He pauses the sermon and walks to lean next to her, placing his Bible down and softly reciting the rest of the passage in an attempt to provide her comfort – ‘God will wipe away all tears from their eyes. For there will be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither will there be any more pain. For the former things have passed away.’ 

As he walks away, the girl asks when they will be able to bury her Father. David shares a brief stare with James (Troy Baker) before telling her that the ground is currently too cold to dig, and they will give him a burial in Spring. 

Troy Baker. Image: HBO / Binge

Members of the town exit the service, and David speaks with James, asking how much game the community has left to ration. James says that there is maybe a week (or two at most) left to supply, and tells David about a possible deer sighting a couple of miles out from their location. David picks up on James’ despondency at the sighting, prompting James to remind him the town is scared, but that they haven’t lost faith in his leadership. 

David pokes again, alluding to the notion that James himself has lost faith, and James reminds him of his devotion, but says the last six months have been weighing heavily on him. David reminds James that he needs him by his side, before requesting that he fetch their guns so the two can hunt the deer. 

We then join Ellie (Bella Ramsey) and Joel (Pedro Pascal) in the house they’ve taken shelter in, and Ellie pulls away Joel’s dressing to reveal an infection at the site of his stab wound. Joel is almost completely incapacitated at this point, and Ellie attempts to make him drink water and leaves a small food ration atop his blanket. Unsure of what her next moves will be, Ellie looks to her rifle across the room. She tells Joel she will return soon, and leaves.  

Ellie makes a trek into the woods and spots a rabbit, chasing it for a short while before slipping on a fallen tree branch in the snow. As she looks up and wipes the frost from her face, she realises she has lost its trail and sighs in disappointment.

As she continues on, she hears a rattling in the distance and discovers the source: a deer, which is likely the aforementioned deer James had mentioned to David. She lays prone, removes a glove, and lines up a shot through the scope of the rifle, landing a successful hit. This spooks the deer, causing it to flee. 

Ellie is shocked at her own shot accuracy for a moment, and follows its blood-stained trail. However, David and James also come across the wounded deer, a moment before Ellie arrives, and start to haul it back to their town before Ellie holds the two up at gunpoint. 

She instructs them to drop their weapons, threatening to shoot if they make any sudden movements. The two oblige, but David attempts to connect with Ellie, praising her hunting abilities. Ellie doesn’t budge, ordering them both to leave. 

David calmly explains to Ellie that he and James are part of a larger community, consisting of women and children, who are all very hungry. In response, Ellie lies, saying she is also part of a larger, equally starving group of people. David tells Ellie he is willing to make a trade for the deer, and lists out a number of resources their town has on hand, which prompts Ellie to ask, with faint desperation, for medicine that can treat infections.  

David confirms he can supply the medicine, making an offer for Ellie to follow them back into town to retrieve it. Ellie denies, instead telling James to collect the medicine in exchange for half of the deer, reminding them she will shoot if they don’t follow through. David agrees to the trade, seemingly impressed at Ellie’s negotiation skills, and tells James to collect two bottles’ worth of penicillin and a syringe. James is visibly confused at the interaction, and reluctantly makes his way back into town upon David’s instruction. 

Ellie begins to unload David and James’ discarded rifles, while David begins asking questions. He’s attempting to pry about who needs medicine, whether her rifle potentially belongs to her Father, and why she is alone.

Ellie doesn’t respond to his inquiries, but upon David telling her that he has supplies to start a fire, and suggesting the two should seek shelter in a nearby house nearby. Ellie agrees, though she orders David to drag the deer across.

The Last of Us – Episode 8 Recap – ‘When We Are in Need’
Image: HBO / Binge

As the two sit by the fire, David continues to pry information out of Ellie, but she doesn’t even give him her name. In an attempt to build trust, he tells her that he genuinely means her no harm and that there is a place for her in his community. She asks if he’s the leader, to which David responds that he was anointed the role by the town, prompting Ellie to ask if he’s in a cult. David laughs, telling her he is in fact a preacher, which leads into a conversation about his faith. 

David reveals that he was a teacher during his life before the outbreak, and found his faith after the fact, saying he’d left with a few other people to find his ‘flock’ after a Pittsburgh Quarantine Zone fell in 2017. He said as raiders would inevitably find them at every location they’d sought out, they began travelling through different cities to invite new individuals into their community, before eventually settling at the abandoned resort. 

Ellie smugly tells him that his luck had to run out sooner or later, and David reminds her of his belief that ‘everything happens for a reason.’ Ellie briefly lets her guard down as David elaborates, and he tells her that the past Winter has been an especially cruel one, due to the lack of crops growing and available game to hunt.

He explains that he had sent four of his men to scavenge for food in a nearby town, and that only three had returned. The man who didn’t return was the Father of the young girl who had been crying during the initial sermon. 

David continues to explain to Ellie that this man was murdered by a ‘crazy man’, one who had coincidentally been travelling with a ‘little girl.’ Ellie grips her rifle, now realising the man in the story is the same one Joel killed at the university, in the same conflict he was stabbed in. David smiles, reiterating that everything happens for a reason. 

James has now returned and is standing behind Ellie, armed once more. David tells him to lower his gun, causing Ellie to dart around and raise her rifle in defence. James attempts to confirm that Ellie was the one responsible for the murder of their townmate, but David jumps to her defence, saying she didn’t kill anybody, asking James to lower his weapon. 

James looks to David in confusion again, pushing back on his request to give Ellie the medicine he had collected. But David makes his stance clear, and James tosses the wrapped penicillin on the ground in front of her. Ellie grabs it and rushes off, and David, now knowing she is only travelling with Joel, reminds her that he can provide protection, as her chances of surviving are slim. As Ellie leaves, James becomes verbally annoyed with David at the prospect of letting her run free. 

Image: HBO / Binge

Ellie rushes back to Joel in the basement, unwrapping the penicillin but not knowing how or where to apply it. She places the syringe in direct contact with his wound in the hopes it will aid him. She checks his fever, tucks him under the blanket, and crawls onto the small space of the mattress next to him as he falls asleep.

We’re invited back into David’s community, as members of the town are preparing dinner in the resort’s kitchen. A man enters, carrying a small crate of chopped meat, which he confirms is venison, though the unspoken looks on certain faces in the room point to the possibility of this definitely not venison. 

As everyone prepares to eat, James and David enter the cabin carrying the deer, and David tries to elicit excitement but is met with a room full of disappointed faces. He realises the town has caught word of their encounter with Ellie, but tries to diffuse the situation by saying he will send a group to pick up her trail in the morning, claiming he will bring Joel to justice. 

The young girl speaks up, saying David should kill both Joel and Ellie for murdering her Father. David walks over to her, removes his gloves, and strikes her across the face before offering his hand to the girl, who has collapsed on the ground. She accepts, sitting back in her chair, while David tells her she is not ever without a Father, and that she must ‘show him respect while he’s speaking.’ He is then served cutlery next to his noticeably larger plate of food, and the group begins to pray before scoffing down their rations. 

Truly one of the eeriest scenes in the entire series. 

Meanwhile, Ellie tends to Joel, and seeing that his wound has improved since applying the penicillin, injects him with another dose. She steps out to feed her horse with a bucket of snow before noticing that David, alongside James and a group of men from their faction, are on Joel and Ellie’s trail. 

David commands that the group are to bring Ellie back to the town alive, but James pushes back, saying she will be just another mouth to feed if they do so. David tells him Ellie will die if she is left alone, to which James responds by saying maybe it’s just ‘God’s will.’ This comment stops David in his tracks, and James looks to the ground, realising the offence he has just caused.

Ellie rushes back to Joel, attempting to wake him, while warning him of the incoming men and leaving a blade in his hand. She barricades the door to the basement and mounts her horse, riding away and shooting in the direction of David’s group, attempting to lead them away from Joel’s location. James takes pursuit of Ellie, taking a clean shot at her horse which knocks her to the ground, nearly unconscious. 

The Last of Us – Episode 8 Recap – ‘When We Are in Need’
Image: HBO / Binge

The men surround Ellie as she fumbles onto her back, and one instructs James to shoot her. James begins to load his rifle, and points his gun at Ellie, but David fires a warning shot as he approaches, causing them to stop. He picks up Ellie while the other men drag her horse back to town, and David invites the rest of the group to search every house for Joel, saying that this is the way they can deliver the vengeance they’re so hungry for. 

One of the men eventually enters the house Joel is stationed in, but thankfully, Joel begins to regain consciousness as he hears footsteps coming from the floor above him. The man removes the furniture Ellie has used to barricade the basement entrance, which gives Joel enough time to move out of sight. 

The man walks down the steps to find Joel’s empty mattress, and scans the room. Joel sneaks up behind him, and pieces his throat with the blade Ellie left by his side. The two fall to the ground, and Joel crawls away, trying to regain strength as the man bleeds out beside him. 

Meanwhile, Ellie is now being held by David in a makeshift prison in one of the kitchen areas of the resort. She wakes up slightly disoriented, asking why she is being held captive, and David responds by telling her he is afraid of her, as she has proven to be a dangerous individual. He explains that others in the town want David to kill her, fishing for some sort of approval from Ellie as he reiterates he wasn’t intending on following through with this request. 

He becomes stern for a moment as Ellie throws expletives at him, but quickly returns to comforting her as he reminds her of the help and protection he can provide. Ellie says that she isn’t on her own, and David reminds her of Joel’s current condition and situation, saying that she must accept her previous reality is coming to an end. 

As Ellie backs into the wall, as far away from David as possible, David states that if she can’t find any way to trust him, she will indeed be on her own. He then exits the room leaving Ellie, who is now on high alert, to ponder this thought. 

Elsewhere, two of David’s men are now being held captive and bound with duct tape as Joel attempts to extract information on Ellie’s whereabouts, in a scene just as intensely depicted as it was in the video game version. Joel, having now regained full consciousness, swiftly stabs one of the men in the knee as the other cries out, and one of them reveals Ellie is alive. He asks after her location, and after turning the knife, learns of Silver Lake Resort.  

Joel pulls the knife from the man’s knee and places the handle in the man’s mouth, asking him to mark out their current location, and the location of the resort on a map in blood, threatening that it better be the same spot the other man points to. He obeys, saying that his friend will be able to verify that he’s telling the truth, and Joel waits a moment before stabbing him. 

The other man pleads as Joel begins to pick up a metal pipe, feeling the murder unnecessary as Joel got the information he needed. He tells Joel that he won’t cooperate further or tell him anything, to which Joel responds, ‘it’s okay, I believe him,’ before an implied bludgeoning takes place. 

Back at Silver Lake, Ellie is beginning to look around the cell for an escape, but stops as David brings her a tray of food and water. Ellie hesitates as this is presented to her, locking her eyes on pieces of human remains that lay on the floor across from her. David tries to provide comfort, imploring that the food he has given her is only deer meat, and Ellie asks if he is planning to ‘chop her up into little pieces.’ 

David says he’d rather not, again asking for her name to no avail, and attempts to level with Ellie about judgement before she kicks the tray in disgust over the notion his faction is practising cannibalism. 

David confirms as much, explaining this was a last resort of which only a few members of the town are aware, and that he would have opened up to Ellie about this in due time. 

David begins to draw parallels between himself and Ellie, saying they share leadership qualities and equally violent hearts. He explains that if he were to let her go and return her switchblade, she would jump at the chance to kill him. He also tells her that he struggled with his own violent tendencies before the outbreak, and that he was ‘shown the truth’ after the world was impacted by the Cordyceps virus. 

His theory is that Cordyceps are loving, and aren’t inherently evil. As they multiply, feeding and protecting their children, they are instead fruitful, and find ways to secure its future with violence if it must.

David tells Ellie that he feels like a shepherd surrounded by sheep, all of whom need something to believe in, and that he desires to befriend Ellie because she is beyond this belief. David sees her as his equal. In this moment of compassion, he walks towards her, telling Ellie that he can instruct his men to stop their search for Joel. He tells her that this group can be not only obedient to him, but to her as well, if she joins him. He places a hand on the cell door while reminding her of the thriving community they could build together. 

As he reaches to grab Ellie’s hand, Ellie sees an opportunity to take advantage of David’s perverted intentions, breaking his finger, and reaching through the cell to grab the keys on his waist. David repeatedly bashes Ellie into the cell door as she tries to grab the keys that have now fallen, before both of them fall to the floor. At this moment, in David’s eyes, the trust that he could have gained has now been broken.

David threatens Ellie, asking what he will tell others in the community after this interaction. Ellie responds by finally revealing her name, delivering the forever iconic line – ‘Tell them that Ellie is the little girl who broke your fucking finger.’ David has now secured Ellie’s fate.

Meanwhile, Joel has now arrived at Silver Lake Resort. He follows a blood-soaked path, breaking the lock off a door that leads into a storage room containing Ellie’s backpack, their now deceased horse, alongside a number of decapitated bodies that have been left to cure. 

Image: HBO / Binge

David and James re-enter the room Ellie is being held in, and Ellie bites David’s hand as they forcibly remove her from the cell. The two throw Ellie onto a wooden butcher’s table, but as David raises a butcher’s cleaver to her arm, Ellie buys herself time by proclaiming that she is infected, and now, because of David’s bite, so is he. David slams the butcher’s cleaver onto the bench next to her head, observing the faded bite mark on Ellie’s arm. Ellie then reminds him of his own belief that everything happens for a reason.

As David and James argue over the validity of her bite, Ellie swings the butcher’s cleaver into James’ throat, running out of the room as David shoots at her.

A game of cat and mouse then proceeds to take place in the cabin between Ellie and David. Ellie throws a lit piece of wood taken from the kitchen at David. It misses, but ignites the curtains which eventually build a fire that steadily consumes the whole space.  

Ellie manages to procure a knife from the kitchen whilst evading David, and hides in a crawl space as the fire begins to spread to the cabin roof railings. David begins to change his tone, saying that neither one of them is dying, and that he wants to take on a paternal role in the hopes he can ‘teach’ her.

Ellie lunges at David and stabs the side of his torso with the knife, causing him to lose grip on his own knife as Ellie falls. Ellie begins to crawl towards the cleaver, but is kicked by David before he pins her to the ground. As David makes a vulgar innuendo, Ellie stretches and reaches to finally secure the butcher’s cleaver and begins repeatedly hacking at him. 

She’s left in a state of shock at the events that have transpired. 

She exits the building, exhausted, and as someone places their arms around her, she begins screaming and hitting before realising that the man is Joel. He holds her face in his hands, attempting to refocus her to safety. Ellie, still in shock, leans in to hug him as he places his jacket over her and returns her backpack. The pair stagger away from the cabin to seek shelter before continuing their journey.

Emily Shiel is a freelance writer based in Melbourne, Australia who is passionate about all things accessibility, mental health and the indie games scene. You can find her on Twitter at @emi_shiel