After I completed The Final of Us’ eighth episode “When We Are in Want,” which recounts the occasions of the sport’s winter part, I needed to go take a stroll. I believed I used to be emotionally ready to see a live-action model of the supply materials’s darkest moments, however I used to be as soon as once more shocked by the HBO present’s willingness to attract textual content from the sport’s subtext. In doing so, the present makes one of the crucial horrifying figures in Naughty Canine’s post-apocalyptic world much more horrifying, to bone-chilling impact.
Who’s David in The Final of Us present?
David is portrayed by Breaking Dangerous and Jason Bourne actor Scott Shepherd, and his efficiency is constructing off a personality who, within the recreation, is already undeniably villainous. In a franchise that usually explores the ethical ambiguity of heinous acts when the world has ended, the sport makes no try and disguise David as a very good man who misplaced his approach within the apocalypse, even when that’s what he may consider he’s. This can be a man who has shaped a cult, has established a system to kill and cannibalize harmless folks, and regardless of the sport by no means saying it out loud, is a predator towards 14-year-old Ellie.
The characterization of David as each a cult chief and predator is dialed as much as 11 in HBO’s model of the character. Episode eight opens with David giving a sermon, studying from the E book of Revelation. His viewers doesn’t appear notably soothed by his scripture, and as a substitute is distraught concerning the loss of life of somebody of their group. A younger lady asks David once they can bury “him,” and we come to search out out later that is the person Joel killed two episodes in the past on the College of Japanese Colorado. However David’s chilly (no pun meant) reply that they’ll have to attend till the snow clears and bury him throughout the spring doesn’t fulfill the neighborhood David has cultivated.
The sport The Final of Us made it clear that no matter maintain David has on the folks he instructions has been waning, and that his unwillingness to cope with Ellie in a approach that feels proportionate with the lack of the folks of their neighborhood was a last supply of friction. The present, in the meantime, makes it clear that whereas Joel and Ellie’s actions might have served as a catalyst for the cult’s unraveling, David’s abuses weren’t unique to these outdoors of his tight-knit followers.
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There’s a scene about 20 minutes into the episode where David enters a populated diner and tells his community he has found Ellie and will track her to find Joel. Then, when the daughter of the man he killed says they should return the favor, David backhands her in front of the entire group. He tells her she may not feel like she has a father anymore, but claims she still has one in him, and that she should respect him when he speaks. He then sits down at her table and proceeds to feed her the cooked remains of her father.
All of this disarray comes because David doesn’t want to kill Ellie, who members of his cult believe is at least partially responsible for the loss of one of their own. The Last of Us game makes it very clear that David has some kind of predatory intention toward the young girl, as there’s a scene where the man holds her hand through the bars of a cell and tells her she’s special. In both versions of the story, Ellie takes advantage of the moment to break his finger and attempt to escape. But because the HBO scene is a bit longer, we have to sit with the uncomfortable, growing tension as an older man tells a 14-year-old girl about the life they could build together.
The entire thread nearly snaps as the conflict reaches its conclusion. After Ellie bites David in a struggle, the two have a confrontation in a burning restaurant similar to the original game. As David gains the upper hand and pins Ellie down, he utters a horrifying line: “I thought you already knew, the biting is the part I like the most. Don’t be afraid. There’s no fear in love.” Ellie manages to reach a cleaver and deal multiple killing blows, but not before the show manages to say out loud what the game didn’t acknowledge. In doing so, the show solidifies there is no necessity that motivates David’s actions, merely a perverse, predatory nature.
It’s a phenomenon the show has been illustrating through its entire run. In episode three, we watch Bill and Frank’s love story unfold rather than it being heavily implied in the game. In episode six, Joel and Tommy have conversations about Joel’s PTSD involving the loss of his daughter Sarah, and how, as he grows closer to Ellie, he fears he won’t be able to protect her in the same way he couldn’t protect Sarah. The HBO series has spent more time in each episode talking about things the game left as subtext, and while it’s led to some lovely characterization for a cast we thought we already knew pretty well from the games, it’s also meant horrors like the ones David inflicts or intends to inflict on others have a more horrifying impact.
Why it matters that HBO’s David is unambiguously horrifying
What makes this interesting for David specifically is that the character’s actor in the game, Nolan North, has spoken about interpretations of the villain over the years, and was perhaps more charitable to him than the show ever entertains. North has gone on report that in stepping into character, he didn’t view David as a foul man, and says that whereas most individuals would view him as “out of his thoughts,” he sympathized with him as an actor inhabiting the function. He even stated in a YouTube Let’s Play of the unique recreation that he considered David as extra of a “warped father” slightly than a “sexual deviant.”
Quite a lot of North’s feedback are merely what you may anticipate of an actor stepping into character. Nevertheless, Troy Baker, who performs Joel within the unique recreation and performs the supporting function of James on this episode, has tried to equate David’s actions with Joel’s in a approach that was baffling in 2020, and is extra baffling in 2023 now that the present has gone to such nice lengths to make it clear that David is reprehensible, even by post-apocalyptic requirements. In The Official The Last Of Us Podcast (the one concerning the video games, not the one concerning the present, I know it’s confusing), Baker leads dialogue on David with the next:
The character of David, inform me one factor that David did that was unsuitable. You inform me one factor that makes him “the unhealthy man.” I can state a case that David is—he and Joel may very well be mirror photos of one another. They each are searching for those who they love and shield. Each of them are keen to take care of Ellie. The one time that he really takes motion in opposition to Ellie is when she tries to kill him.
Evaluating these two defenses of David, I discover North’s to be largely high-quality, as a result of as an actor, it’s your job to get within the thoughts of a personality, regardless of how a lot of a monster they could be. However Baker’s evaluating David to Joel is wild to me, as a result of it speaks to an concept that by some means, regardless of the questionable morality of Joel’s violent actions, he’s by some means equal to a cannibal and sexual predator. For all of The Final of Us’ notions that violence is a morally ambiguous act within the post-apocalypse, some acts of violence aren’t deemed acceptable by any necessity, and David crosses this line greater than as soon as.
What makes David’s look in HBO’s present a standout is that it’s one of the crucial specific examples of The Final of Us adapting the supply materials not through sweeping changes. As a substitute, the present capitalizes on what was already there by drawing out the components of characters that have been effervescent simply beneath the floor within the video games to extra overt ends. The present doesn’t permit for various interpretations or explaining away the reality. Generally it’s okay to unambiguously say somebody is a monster, even in a world the place most individuals are shambled variations of who they as soon as have been.