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This Tiny Change Made David So Much Scarier in HBO’s The Last of Us

David in HBO's The Last of Us
Image Source: HBO

This Tiny Change Made David So Much Scarier in HBO’s The Last of Us

Everything happens for a reason.

This week’s episode of HBO’s The Last of Us was an exciting one. Titled “When We Are In Need”, this is the episode that really kicks things into high gear. Do be warned that we’ll be getting into spoilers for episode 8, so look away if you haven’t seen it yet.

In episode 8, we were introduced to David, who is one of the most terrifying villains not just in The Last of Us, but in gaming as a whole. He’s a really creepy dude who came across as someone with possessive and even pedophilic tendencies in the game but there are a couple of very subtle changes in the HBO adaptation that make him even scarier.

And this might come as a bit of a surprise, but the changes aren’t with David himself; they’re with Ellie.

In the original game, when Ellie first gets the drop on David and James with the deer, she’s very adept with the rifle. She points it at both men confidently, and she clearly knows her way around it. Even David says as much.

Her aim is steady, and it’s very clear that she’s not messing around. Up to this point in the game, we’ve seen that game Ellie is very proficient with the rifle, and we know she could kill both of them on the spot if she wanted to.

In the show, however, Ellie actually comes off as a little weaker. Portrayed by Bella Ramsey, Ellie looks much less stable with the gun. The official HBO podcast for The Last of Us features showrunner Craig Mazin, series creator Neil Druckmann, and voice actor Troy Baker, who all confirm that this was intentional. They wanted to create the sense that while Ellie might appear to have the upper hand on these guys, David is the one who’s in control the entire time.

Past that, David continues to play the role of the nice guy and the reasonable, caring father figure who tries to lure Ellie into a false sense of security. By making her think she’s in control, he attempts to convince her that sticking with him would be her best move. He becomes obsessed with the idea of possessing her and getting her to join his group, which is also clear in the game, but the show does a much better job of showing how David actually tries to achieve that goal.

David was creepy enough in the game, but by deliberately showing the audience that Ellie is not, in fact, in control, the episode gets even scarier.

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