Just like in the games, Ellie is extremely wary of David when he proposes a barter, but she accepts this offer to retrieve antibiotics for Joel. After all, Ellie is not naive, as she understands that humans are more dangerous than the infected, given that they are capable of duplicity and heinous acts in the name of survival. David’s group is no different: Although the show hints that not everyone in the group is aware of the cannibalism aspect, these people hardly have any other choice but to actively endorse or passively suffer David’s abusive behavior. Hypocrisy grips humanity even in a world that’s ending, as David’s group deems Joel a monster for defending Ellie at the university, but fail to acknowledge (or deliberately evade) their own evil.
While David’s men are adamant to kill Ellie, David obsessively insists that she be allowed to live, as she can be recruited into their group. This, obviously, is not an act of compassion but a part of his twisted power play, as David views her as an object to further legitimize his illusion of righteousness. After Ellie retaliates, he initially intends to kill and eat her, but then proceeds to indulge in a sick cat-and-mouse game and attempts to sexually assault her. As David’s cannibalistic and paedophilic urges are mapped out much more explicitly in the show, this heightens the impact of the moment when Ellie hacks into him repeatedly, drenched in his blood, with the room aflame around her.
Just like in the games, the focus is not on David, but on Ellie’s rage, trauma, and the cathartic retribution that comes along with this act of self-defense. The blood on the lens is a grim reminder that this incident will leave a mark on Ellie forever.