The Last of Us writers explain why it was important to “humanize” David in Episode 8

The Last of Us DavidHBO

The Last of Us writers reflect on Episode 8 of the show, dissecting villain David and how despite being “a manipulator and abuser” they felt it was important to “humanize” him as well.

Episode 8 of HBO’s The Last of Us broke viewership records for the show, with the newest episode introducing one of the game’s most iconic villains in David. While prolific voice actor Nolan North played the character in the game, actor Scott Shepard brought the character to life for the silver screen.

While David may not appear to be a threatening figure at forst, the episode quickly establishes just how evil and, at times, horrifying he truly is. However, writers Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann said on The Last of Us Podcast that they still felt it was important to try and human David and, at the very least, bring extra dimensions to the character throughout the episode.

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The Last of Us writers talk David in Episode 8 of the show

“We thought we needed to humanize David, and the world around him, and make him a good guy. He’s forgiven her, a Christian thing to do, he’s been honest with her. Never lied to her. Gave her medicine to save Joel, and we have to make sure it’s not the complete truth but we can’t show you that whole thing quite early.” 

The writers add, “so we had to show the audience that he isn’t a nice guy. He says to Hannah after he hits her that she will always have a father. Father comforts you and feeds you and hurts you out of love.”

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And while they do acknowledge his introduction as settling him to be a supportive figure, they also comment on how “dark” and “controlling” he soon becomes.

“There is a lot of dark in this episode, and then he gently motions to her mother to sit back down. It’s so controlling. The control he has is shown when she does actually sit back down. If you keep the people in line, you keep yourself in line. And then he offers his hand, and makes her take his hand… That’s about the most David thing you can do, that’s the DNA of an abusive relationship. This guy is the model of a gaslighter, a manipulator, and an abuser.”

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The Last of Us is currently streaming on HBO, with the final episode set to drop later this week. For all the latest TV and movie news, be sure to check out Dexerto’s full coverage here.