The Last of Us “When We Are in Need” Photo-Recap: The Original Slap-Chop

So do we just mail Bella Ramsey all the awards? Do they have a P.O. box big enough? Emmy, People’s Choice, Spelling Bee, whatever, they get them ALL. Of course I loved them as wee Mormont, and I’ve been enjoying them as Ellie, but this episode launched them into my heart as one of my favourite actors forevermore. Their screams, sass, that HUG, and everything leading up to it, just… *Robert Redford nodding gif* 

The zombie / monster genre has always been more about humanity than the actual monsters: what becomes of us when faced with horror? Some people band together in a communism villa, while others see the end of the world as an excuse to become the monster they claim to be fighting. The Last of Us has never pulled punches, and When We Are in Need just kept those punches coming.

Meet Preacher David, just a super chill guy who doesn’t abide any dissent during his sing-a-longs. No red flags here! His pal James (whom Twitter has enthusiastically informed me was the original Joel in the video game), reported how low they were on jerky and corn chips, so a hunting trip was in order.

Joel was still napping after being impaled with a bat handle, so Ellie took it upon herself to go grocery shopping (using the skills Joel taught her, my heart is FINE about this). She shot a deer, but it ran off in search of some plot. 

Look who happened upon her Hamburger Helper! David and James were going to enjoy the rewards without doing the work like literal vultures, but Ellie told them what’s up. This led to David smooth-talking his way into a deal: she gets meds for Joel and he gets half the deer and an opportunity to talk at her a bunch. His favourite!

Once James skedaddled to fulfill his minion duties, David suggested a nice fireside chat, where he gave his preacher-man spiel, invited her to join their cult, then revealed that the baseball bat impaler was one of his minions! And he surmised who Ellie is! 

(For real, this reveal was so great, he was so creepy while also keeping up his nice-guy routine, and it was honestly masterful. Throw Scott Shepherd’s P.O. box some awards as well.)

Anyway, Ellie held her own, took the meds and ran like the spitfire she is.

She gave him the medicine along with a little snuggle that didn’t make my heart explode, IT IS FINE. 

The daughter of Joel’s mad killing spree victim was pretty bloodthirsty, and even though he too was bloodthirsty, David gave her a slap for not letting him say it first. Then he was all, “I’m your daddy now, girl.” And she was like, “ugh gross,” and he was like, “ugh gross WHAT,” and she rolled her eyes, “uhg, gross… Daddy,” and then they dug into their human flesh casserole. 

David and some of his ‘flock’ (shudder) came back to get revenge on Joel, but Ellie came out on horseback to lead them away. I always think it’s funny when someone does this and is like, “Hey, hello, yes here I am!” Like, guys, make it at least SEEM like you’re trying to get away so your heroic plan isn’t quite so obvious. Don’t worry, girl, they would have noticed a teen galloping away on horseback. 

James shot the horse (RIP noble steed) and Ellie flew off (which tbh looked very fun in different circumstances, like if it was into a big ol fluffy snow bank, sign me up!). David stopped James from killing his crush and stormed off in a huff, leaving the rest of them to hunt down a dreamy crazy man. 

Baaahahahahaha this dude was SO happy to be murdered by Joel! I mean, I get it, who could say no to that man’s touch, but I think I’d draw the line at being stabbed in the neck, probably. 

Joel is BACK, babayyyyyyy! The medicine + his unstoppable desire to protect his sassy daughter healed him enough to best three dudes and torture them for information. And listen, I’m not going to pretend like the line, “It’s okay. I believe him,” wasn’t one of the coolest moments to grace mine eyeballs. 

I also love the repeat of “and it had better be the same as your pal” technique, because it showcased a myriad of character development. First: he’s done this so many times before that he has a go-to catchphrase. B: his treatment of the adorable couple who had not done him wrong and gave him soup vs. his treatment of a thruple of dudes who hurt his BABY GIRL. Last: Ellie wasn’t there. He could go full-Joel without fear of damaging his image in her eyes. 

It was just a really great, is what I’m saying.

David pitched Ellie an Assistant to the Regional Manager position at the resort with some ‘various duties to be assigned at the discretion of management.’ She was rightfully skeptical (especially after he said God is a mushroom or something) and when he asked for her digits, she broke his (I’m trying so hard, you guys) (a ‘pinky swear’ joke simply refused to work) (love me for me). 

Joel arrived and took in the sights, commented that the decor left something to be desired, picked up after his daughter (always leaving her backpack just lying around!) and just generally did some sneaking.

The dudes came to chop our girl up, but she kindly informed them that her meat was past its best-by date. Their doubt gave her just enough time to chop James right in the throat with the giant knife and skedaddle on outta there.

This is barely a joke – this dude seriously yelled “You don’t know how good I am,” at the teen fleeing his violence. 

Then he tried to rape her. There is nothing funny I can say about that. It was horrifying and visceral and both the actors brought everything they had into the scene (but, like, Bella stole it, as I’m sure the show wanted them to). 

Ellie fought him off as best she could, then she managed to get the knife and cut HIM up into little pieces, and fuuuuuuuuuuuuck it was all just so much. Girl was a fury of vengeance and rage and survival and madness and strength and BACK OFF GET YOUR OWN SANDWICH. 

Joel showed up just in time to congratulate his daughter on all the murder, which was EFFING BRILLIANT. She did it. She got out herself. She showed those men and all of us what a survivor she is, and how far she’s willing to go. We have no idea how much of it was “I’m the saviour of the world, I need to live,” vs. “I want to live,” vs. “Joel needs me,” but it doesn’t matter, because whether it was none of those are all three, SHE DID IT.  

And I’m not saying “hey look, she saved herself, she doesn’t even need him!” because she does. Look at her face. She needs him to hug her and tell her it’s going to be okay and call her “baby girl”, which made all of our hearts rocket out of our chests and onto our screens, sweet lord it was just so messy. What are you guys using to clean that up, by the way, because my screen is still streaky with my heart-juice. 

And that was that!

The 100, The Walking Dead, Cannibal the Musical, the cannibal storyline is a veritable right of passage for dystopian shows. However those stories were used to show the lengths people will go to for survival, and the emotional struggle of using another’s life to prolong their own. David’s journey was more about maintaining power at the expense of his people. 

I liked that the cannibal stuff was more of a backstory to the horrors of this episode. Honestly, those people were simply surviving and they made a choice. The real horror of this episode wasn’t zombies or cannibals or huge ass needles–it was one man’s perverse desire for domination and adoration. 

Last week I mentioned the formulaic pattern the show had gotten itself in (and I know it’s kind of the point to show all these deaths one after another, making life in this world a relentless parade of loss) but this episode broke out of the pattern. Yes, people died, but this time it was the baddies! 

The reveal, Ellie’s fierce journey, Joel’s ride-or-die determination to get back to her, their father-daughter moment, Bella’s performance, that one guy’s death-face… all make this a serious contender with Long, Long Time for my favourite episode of the season. 


  • “So you went from teacher to preacher because what, it fucking rhymes?” I love her so much.
  • I had to look up whether or not an antibiotic shot can just be sproinked into someone like that and be effective, and as a matter of fact, yes, it can! I thought it had to go into a vein, like a chump. Add that to my dumb-dumb “disinfect the needle!” point from last recap, because apparently that doesn’t quite matter, either. 
  • I respect the way this episode went, but at some point I’d love a story about our heroes coming up against some truly good people. What then? It’s easy to root for our grumpy father/daughter duo because so far everyone they’ve faced have been trash human beings. 
  • If the dude who hit a home-run into Joel’s stomach was just out looking for food for the cult, why did he attack Joel and Ellie? Was he going to steal the horse to eat, or just generally steal what they had? It’s an interesting look at “them” vs “us” – the man attacked first, yet Joel was branded a “crazy man” because he won. 
  • So, um, did the entire ‘resort’ burn down? Absolutely no one cared about that fire, ya’ll.
  • Has anyone written any Marlon and Florence fanfic? I need it. 
  • What other awards can we send to Bella Ramsey’s P.O. box? MVP? Employee of the month? Should they be a keynote speaker at a chef conference for that knife-work?



One thought on “The Last of Us “When We Are in Need” Photo-Recap: The Original Slap-Chop

  1. Great as always.

    As far as “at some point I’d love a story about our heroes coming up against some truly good people” I feel like the next episode might have that, from a certain point of view? I’d be interested in your thoughts after you watch that one.


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