As a game, “The Last of Us” is committed to realism, as seen by its incredibly grounded characters and meticulously detailed graphics. This is my hot take, but while the winter chapter has always been effective and necessary for Ellie’s character growth, it does take a temporarily tropey turn. Even decades into an apocalypse, it’s hard to buy into the concept of a whole community (including women and children) willing to accept cannibalism as their main solution to a hunger crisis.
The backstory of David’s group in the show is a lot easier to grasp in direct comparison. As the remnant survivors of a fallen Pittsburgh FEDRA QZ, his people have relocated to an abandoned mountain resort village. Willing to accept guidance and hope from an authority figure, David used his status as a preacher to quickly become the leader of this community. It all seems to be a more recent affair, versus the game, where David’s group has seemed to occupy the mountains for years.
There’s an interesting contrast here with Tommy (Gabriel Luna) and Maria’s (Rutina Wesley) Jackson commune — where arts, education, and philosophy seem to thrive — David’s entire method of control is reliant on a narcissistic image of himself as a religious figure. “He shall provide!” reads banners posted around public spaces. In the introduction of the episode, it’s clear that this is a promise that David is struggling to keep. As a solution to keeping his people fed, David resorts to cannibalism. Instead of a widespread solution an entire group of people morally agrees with, it’s now a secret that David and his confidante feed to their people.