Please note: there are FULL spoilers for the entire eighth episode of this first season, as well as all preceding episodes. Also worth noting is that I have never played the video game this is based on, and have no idea of any specific plot points, so any speculation of upcoming events is truly just that.
In the deep winter snow, Pastor David (Scott Shepherd) is reading from the Book of Revelation, chapter 21, to his congregation. As one girl cannot stop crying, David suggests he may have read the passage too many times and puts the Bible down, but continues the passage by heart. The girl, Hannah, asks when her recently deceased father can be buried, and David says it will need to be once the frozen ground has thawed out in the Spring. Following mass, David meets with James (Troy Baker), and they discuss their dwindling food levels. David says he feels James may be losing faith in him, but James rebukes this, saying the last few months have been hard. David says it has been hard for everyone, and James reaffirms his loyalty. The two head off hunting.
With Joel still bedridden and unconscious, Ellie heads out to hunt for some food. She initially sees a rabbit, but she trips on a tree root and it gets away. Deeper in the woods, she spies a deer, and manages to wound it, but it flees and she follows the blood trail. Nearby, David and James come across the deer, and though they heard the shot, they have not seen anyone nearby. Ellie arrives and holds the two at gunpoint. David introduces himself as part of a larger group, to which Ellie lies and says the same. As David suggests a trade, Ellie asks if they have medicine for infections. David says they do, and sends James off to bring some back. Davis suggest they take shelter in a nearby shack, and Ellie agrees, telling David to drag the deer.
Inside, David attempts to bond with Ellie, but she is resistant. David tries to persuade Ellie he is a decent man, elected leader by the others in his group. Davis says he is a preacher, and when questioned why he believes, David explains he only began to believe after the world ended, and used to be a teacher. David relays that he used to be in Pittsburgh, but left with his flock, and they picked up others along the way until he ended up where he is. When Ellie questions his luck, David says he doesn’t believe in luck. David says that to scavenge for food, David sent four of his men to a nearby town, but only three came back – and Ellie soon realises they were the men at the University that injured Joel, and that the missing man is the one Joel killed.
As David reveals he knows Ellie was with the man who killed his group member, James has returned, and has Ellie at gunpoint. David tells James to lower the gun, and James throws Ellie the medicine. Ellie flees back to Joel as David and James watch. Returning to their safe house, Ellie injects Joel with the penicillin in a panic and then lays down with him.
Ad David’s camp, one of David’s men arrives with meat, which he calls venison, and some others prepare the food. David and James return home with a deer, and share a look. David informs that they have found the man who killed Alec, and the next morning a team will head out to look for them. When the man’s daughter, Hannah, who was earlier crying, says that they should be killed, David viciously backhands her across the face, before sitting down to say grace and eat.
The next morning, Ellie again injects Joel with the medicine, and he seems to be recovering, albeit slowly. After feeding the horse some snow, Ellie wanders through the town, but hears approaching voices. Nearby, David is leading a squad to search the town to find and kill Joel, but he expressly forbids hurting Ellie. Sprinting back to the house, Ellie does her best to rouse Joel and gives him a knife to defend himself, before blocking off the doorway with a bookcase from outside and fleeing on horseback. Ellie takes some shots at the group, and attempts to escape, but James shoots the horse and knocks Ellie unconscious, after a warning from David. David carries Ellie back to the camp, and tells some of his men to take the horse, while the rest continue to search for Joel.
As one man discovers and enters the basement, he is ambushed by Joel who murders the man with the knife from Ellie. Using another man as bait, Joel knocks the two men unconscious, and takes them into a house. There, he tortures one man before asking him to point out their current location on a map, just like he did with the older couple in the cabin before finding Jackson. With the knife in his mouth, this man points at a location, and Joel then kill shim. The second man, apparently having lied earlier, curses out Joel, but Joel kills him as well.
Meanwhile, Ellie has been captured by David and locked in a cage. David wants Ellie to join his crew, because he believes she has what it takes to survive. Ellie attempts to escape, but notices something on the ground outside the cell: a human ear. David returns, and admits that yes, they have been cannibalizing their crew, but he would not do that with him. David again attempts to bond with Ellie, which belies an ulterior motive, however, that he wants to be “with her”, not just for her to be with his group. Ellie draws David in, before breaking his finger and biting him. Elsewhere, Joel has found the compound and sees the cadavers that the group has been cutting from and eating.
At Ellie’s holding cell, James enters the room, and he and David go to kill Ellie with a cleaver, but she reveals that she is infected, ad by biting David, he is now, too. As the two discuss the plausibility of these claims, Ellie grabs the cleaver and kills James. Ellie flees through the kitchen into the restaurant area, and David follows with the cleaver. Throwing a smouldering piece of wood, a fire lights up the curtains and the building begins to burn. A terrifying game of cat and mouse ensues, as David taunts Ellie throughout the burning kitchen. Ellie manages to stab David, but is knocked down. David gets on top of her, and attempts to rape her, but Ellie grabs the dropped cleaver and brutally kills David. Escaping the building, Ellie is grabbed by Joel, and the two wander off into the snow.
+ the way Ellie was taking care of Joel was nice. I was pretty sure he was gonna be out of action for the rest of the episode, but I’m glad I was wrong.
+ I loved the speech David gave to Ellie in the shack, where he revealed he knew who she was. It’s better still in that perhaps he didn’t immediately realise who Ellie was, bit pieced it together himself as he was talking. Either way, great delivery, and Bella Ramsay sold it perfectly
+ when the cannibal man gave the cooks the “venison”, was the implication that it was the woman’s husband, Alec, who the daughter had asked to be buried? If so… damn.
+ it was particularly pleasing to see Joel be the bad guy (or if you want, “bad guy”) in this episode. That is something I had issues with previously when it was never really made clear how brutal he was in his past. The way the first dude died with the bloody smile was a bit unpleasant
+ I really enjoyed the way Joel asked the two captives their location on the map, mirroring how he asked the older couple in the house a few episodes ago. Especially how he put the knife in his mouth to stop the chair victim from talking about it. Maybe I missed a line, but I don’t think it was even made clear in this episode if one, both, or neither of the men were telling the truth, but as we found out later, Joel did eventually find the compound. My interpretation was that the guy on the ground was the liar
+ Bella Ramsay’s “oh” when Ellie understood what David wanted from her was good. All season, I seem to praise her single word or single moment acting, but don’t much care for the rest of it
+ at the end there Joel called Ellie “baby girl”, which is exactly what he called Sarah as she lay dying in his arm. Mah heart.
– these villains are just so cliched, especially the ‘twist’ speech to Ellie in the cage (woah, these religious nutjobs are cannibals AND sexual deviants? I’m shook. That’s never been done before.) I personally would have been more disturbed if David was genuinely a nice guy trying to do right by his people, but it just so happens that that would involve killing Ellie. That is a real scary villain, in my mind
– burning down the compound would surely have some negative consequences for the innocent, or at least less-guilty members of David’s crew. Enjoy dying of starvation or freezing to death, with little more than a ‘lmao, dicks on you’
> I’m not proud that it takes me so long to write these. I just don’t care about the show anymore. The season has lost steam at a startling pace
Final thoughts: I dunno. This was a good episode, not great, but I am just not feeling this show anymore. I said, regarding the whole Kansas City dilemma, that ‘other people’ are the worst part of zombie fiction, and these cliched bad guys don’t help that. Is ‘cannibal rapists’ really the pinnacle of antagonist writing these days? This is the story people have been praising since 2013? I’m not so sure it deserves it.