Last Night's The Last Of Us Was A Thrilling Action Movie
(SPOILERS ABOUT LAST NIGHT'S EPISODE ARE IN THIS BLOG. STOP READING NOW IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN IT)
No clickers? No problem. Last night's episode was focused on how humans ae far more dangerous than the zombie-esque beings that inhabit this world. Instead, we got a soft spoken cult leader who has been the scariest thing we've encountered all season. After last week's yawnfest, the show delivered the closest thing to an action movie that a television show can be. Because we've spent nearly a season with Ellie and Joel, it had more emotional effect than almost anything you'll see in a theater.
The best thrillers have great villains and this episode was no exception. David (Scott Shepherd) is so unassuming yet is always creepy. When his reveal comes that he's a sick fuck that likes to groom young girls, you're not shocked at all. Yet his demeanor until the very end is mostly one of patience and what appears to be forgiveness. You obviously see glimpses of some psycho behavior, especially towards girls when he slaps that one girl who wants Ellie killed. But it's Shepherd's great performance that keeps you on your toes whenever he is on screen.
I also have to give Bella Ramsey a ton of credit here. This was far and away her best episode. She was acting with her eyes and at times you could almost see her mind working as she attempted to get out of another jam. I believed she was terrified the entire time. This in sharp contrast to last week when she was paired with a weaker actor. I don't know if it's Ramsey getting more comfortable with the role or she is just an actress who needs stronger performers around her.
It was interesting how until the very end, there was so much grey area with what the cult was doing. I don't see anything with resorting to cannibalism if there is absolutely no food left. Take the rugby team in 1972 that crashed in the Andes. They were lost for 72 days and were forced to eat those that had died. If it's your only option, you have to do what it takes to stay alive. Putting that out there and having David initially explain that to Ellie, you could see his perspective. Having the audience constantly weighing the good and evil of the group kept everything feeling unsettled.
Watching Joel take no prisoners with those guys in the house, you saw a glimpse of who Joel used to be. He's spoken before (and it's been alluded by others) how he has killed numerous people to stay alive. That's a flashback I'd like to see instead of spending an hour in a mall while people play multiple games of Mortal Kombat II.
One thing I did want to mention is the game vs. the show debate. I saw a lot of people defending last week's episode simply because it was in the game. The source material shouldn't matter to the show being good. I have not played much of the game at all and I'm only judging the show on it's own merits. Something simply existing beforehand doesn't mean it's instantly great quality. For example, the film version of The Shining was very different than the book (and was better). I have no idea if what happened this week was in the game. The show needs to stand on it's own. Having a terrific source material and characters that the game has obviously provided is huge but that doesn't mean every element of the game will translate well to TV (nor should it).
The cult was the most inept group of people I've seen in awhile. No wonder they were starving. They claimed to be out of food yet Ellie found a deer after a couple hours (at most) of hunting. A very sick and injured Joel was able to kill three of their guys. They had Ellie locked up and she killed two of her captors and escaped while burning down their meeting place (while no one came out to investigate the fire).
Despite last week's episode, this has been a fantastic season of television. I am bummed out that next week will be the last episode for at least a year. The show did get picked up for second season but didn't happen until a couple weeks ago. I'll miss brilliant hours like this one that not only was action packed but also introduced and established a great bad guy in only an hour. It's tough to ask much more of a show.
Episode 8: A
Episode 7: D
Episode 6: B
Episode 5: A
Episode 4: B-
Episode 3: A+
Episode 2: B
Episode 1: A-