Troy Baker returns home in The Last of Us Episode 8

Troy Baker as James (Picture from the HBO Press site)
Troy Baker as James (Picture from the HBO Press site)

The Last of Us Episode 8 reminds us that even in a world filled with monsters, there’s nothing as monstrous as the human species. Even men of God have to debase themselves to survive in this cruel, torrid world.

One such fallen creature is David (Scott Shepherd), a man who went from 'teacher to preacher' once the world ended. As rations run low among his people, he sets off with James (Troy Baker) to hunt for venison. Fans of the franchise are doubtless aware that Troy Baker immortalized the role of Joel in the critically-acclaimed game.

Speaking of game, a deer breathes its last within Ellie’s crosshairs. But winter has come upon the world in The Last of Us Episode 8, and food is scarce. Ellie trains her gun at David and sends James to fetch medicine for a recovering Joel, when they both come upon the deer's carcass.

Beneath the veneer of a soft-spoken, worldly-wise spiritual man, the audience quickly realizes there’s something wrong with David. Even as Ellie lets her guard down, he informs her that the man Joel killed two episodes prior was one of his men. He lets her escape, much to the confusion of James.

That said, Joel is very much one of David’s targets. Leaving him armed only with a knife, medicating him with penicillin and hope; Ellie tries to lead the attackers away. But she is apprehended in the process.

By the time David’s men try to get one up on Joel, he has (miraculously?!) recovered, and strikes them down.

And so, we finally see the dangerous man everyone warned us about in The Last of Us Episode 8. It’s very easy to forget that the character of Joel is different from how affable Pedro Pascal is. But The Mandalorian star is such a proficient actor, that he slips into ruthless mode right away.

Torturing David’s men with no mercy, we learn that Joel is, indeed, a most fearsome man. Replicating scenes from the game to the T, he learns where Ellie has been stowed away. But is it too late to save her?

The Last of Us Episode 8 may just be Bella Ramsay’s strongest performance yet

Every villainous group we’ve encountered thus far on the show has had to resort to dire depths because of their circumstances. David and James fall into the same category, but at some point, they lost their humanity.

They are cannibals, and Ellie is caged, fearing the worst. What’s perhaps even more sinister is that, in his twisted mind, David seems to feel an almost romantic connection with her. But when she breaks his finger, he promises to chop her into little pieces.

Ellie has one last ace up her sleeve (quite literally) in The Last of Us Episode 8. She tells David that she’s infected, and in the chaos that ensues, stabs James. A cat-and-mouse game with David thus begins, within a burning building. After a scuffle, he attempts to violate her, but Ellie manages to grasp a knife just in time.

She stabs relentlessly. On and on.

The Last of Us Episode 8 ends with Joel hobbling over to Ellie, who is inconsolable, after the events that just transpired. It is indeed admirable that someone as young as Bella Ramsey is able to take on such an intense subject matter and hit it out of the park.

But Scott Shepherd as David is the star of The Last of Us Episode 8. The True Detective star plays the part of a man determined that his way is right, however twisted it may be.

And how cool is it that Troy Baker is able to be a part of this major undertaking, even if it’s in a supporting role? His role may be limited, but it's certainly a grand homecoming.

The Last Of Us Episode 8 is a difficult episode to stomach, no pun intended. Those who’ve trudged along thus far expecting another emotional rollercoaster may be overwhelmed by the violence. Those who’ve played the game or watched a playthrough may be better prepared.

With one chapter to go, this is yet another solid outing from the franchise.

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Edited by Upasya Bhowal