When necessary, Ellie and Joel can resort to grave violence. The penultimate episode of The Last of Us took viewers through Ellie and Joel’s most violent nightmare and it shook many to the core. Along with incredible performances by Bella Ramsey and Pedro Pascal the twists and turns of episode 8 “When We are in Need,” gave fans the ultimate cathartic moment with Joel saving Ellie emotionally this time. In a new featurette co-creators, Neil Druckmann and Craig Mazin break down the violent emotional core of the story.
In this episode David captures Ellie, and we see Joel slowly recovering because Ellie was able to get in medicine for him. However, she’s forced to survive on her own. All the while, we’re waiting for Joel to do the traditional hero thing: he’s gonna burst through the door, he’s going to kill David and save Ellie and then they can continue on the journey but Druckmann reveals “we wanted none of that.” He adds, “This sequence is the thing that inspired me or made me want to make the game. So in the game at this point, you play as Ellie and it’s really wonderful moment when you watch people play because they almost say, ‘oh my god I’m Ellie.’” And oh the horror of being Ellie in this sequence.
Ramsey tells, “She’s prickly and doesn’t trust anybody naturally she has no interest in a random guy and his buddy in the middle of a snowy forest.” David is presented as a good dad and it makes the viewers wonder if maybe she has met the one good person out there. Mazin elaborates, “We of course see fairly early on there’s also a very dark part of David. When he captures Ellie, we’re all meant to feel hopeless because it is hopeless for her.” He further notes, “we also come to understand two things that maybe weren’t immediately clear. One is that David is a bad father in a terribly bad way and the other is that these people that Ellie finds herself amongst, have been eating their own dead.”
Of Ellie’s Violent Heart
Ramsey sums up Ellie’s mindset as, “Really what he’d like for her to be his minion, his little wife. Once Ellie begins to realize that ,the relationship becomes a lot more tense and a lot scarier and a lot more dangerous.” Then we see David trying to turn Ellie and recognizes the violence in her heart. Mazin divulges, “David says something to her that absolutely true because he sees it in her because he knows it’s in him, he says, ‘you have a violent heart,’ and that is something Neil and I talked about quite a bit because it’s not in the game, that line. As much as we love her, we also have to be a little scared of her.”
The episode depicts the usual hero moment as Mazin explains, “We see Joel coming to help her and we’re rooting for Joel to save her but that’s not gonna get it done. In the end, the only person who can save Ellie is Ellie and how? Violence.” And oh the violence Ellie resorts to, it’s a very interesting moment because her violence has an element of catharsis to it as well, the viewers can feel it. It’s similar to when we see Joel interrogating David’s men at his violent self, that’s almost the worst form of ‘dad rage,’ that concurs to love can make you do violent things, a running theme of the series. When Joel finds Ellie, Druckmann explains,
In a way Joel saves her but emotionally. She’s just so broken, she doesn’t know what to say, she’s covered in blood, and she just looks right in his eyes and leans forward and hugs him. And all he could say is that thing he hasn’t said in 20 years which is “baby girl,” which is what he called his daughter.
The Last of Us finale will air on March 12. You can check out the featurette below: