Full Spoilers ahead for The Last of Us Episode 3
The past two episodes of The Last of Us have been a showcase of the state of the world in the series’ universe, illuminating the desperation and the ways in which people survive through quarantine zones and isolation. The emphasis on the outbreak and its aftermath has allowed for deeper examination of character relationships, resulting in a more captivating viewing experience. Frank and Bill’s story arc, for instance, presents a moving relationship between middle-aged characters, highlighting the resilience of love in difficult times and straying from the original game’s story while offering a message of hope in a bleak world.
The episode begins with Ellie and Joel embarking on a journey west, about 10 miles from where they started in Boston. This is the first time they are alone, generating a fresh dynamic that is sure to be explored further in the show. Ellie exhibits curiosity about the world and questions Joel about the outbreak, to which he responds. The episode also displays some sinister character development for Ellie as she descends into the basement of a storage stash building, confronts an infected trapped beneath rubble, slashes its head open with a knife, and then violently delivers a fatal blow, foreshadowing potential violence in a future season.
“Friday night September 26th 2003, by Monday everything was gone.”Joel
During the hike, the two come across a field of human remains “Dead people can’t be infected.”, which, after a stunning camera shot, transitions to a flashback in which Bill makes his first appearance.
Nick Offerman’s portrayal of Bill retains the main characteristics of the character, which are cautious, pessimistic, and generally hostile to other humans (and infected). He is an anarchist by heart, and the first line he says sets the tone for these characteristics.
“Not today you New World Order jackboot fucks.”Bill
After the military has stopped evacuating the small town where he lives, Bill decides to become self-sufficient by cooking his own meals, getting a gas supply, and plundering each store to get enough for himself. You’d think he’s living a fairly normal life in a dangerous post-apocalyptic world if you didn’t know you were watching The Last of Us. While he has plenty of food and comfort, he lacks love and leads a lonely life, even if he doesn’t know it yet.
This is where Murray Bartlett’s character, Frank, appears, who appears to be the polar opposite of Bill, being funny, passionate, and full of hope for a better life in a world filled with adversity. This is also demonstrated in a great first scene in which he is discovered by Bill in a trap set by Bill himself, who is extremely cautious, holding him at gunpoint for several minutes before lowering his guard and offering Frank assistance, despite the initial hostility, their dynamic is immediately noticeable.
“Arby’s didn’t have free lunch it was a restaurant”Frank
Frank jumps to the piano out of curiosity after being fed an above-average diner, singing a rendition of ‘Long Long Time’ by Linda Ronstadt…..in not the most chordstruck way. The scene proves that Bill has been hiding a much more loving, open, and tender side to him, which Frank has seemingly awakened, as Bill begins to play the song in the most beautiful and emotional way.
This is the starting point for their relationship, which is portrayed in the most excellent way by showing the insecurities of finding new love, even when beyond adolescence. The world condition around them finds room to make them enjoy the little things, like strawberry’s they haven’t eaten in years, or making paintings, or jogging for fun.
However, Bill is still dealing with his trepidation, which has worsened since Frank entered his life; before Frank, his life didn’t mean much to him. But he now has a goal: to protect the one he loves. This is demonstrated by Frank inviting Joel and Tess over for dinner, and Bill having his gun pointed at both of them for the majority of the time they spent together; he didn’t gain faith in the world, he simply became more protective over time. Bill’s entire world is only Frank, and nothing more than that.
“I was never afraid before you showed up”Bill
Frank’s health has taken a devastating turn over the years, with indications that he may have ALS, a disease that slowly causes muscle deactivation and eventually affects the heart. Before and after the outbreak, there is no cure for the condition. Frank decides he no longer wants to live, and Bill eventually comes to accept this. The two spend their final day together, tying the knot and solidifying their love in the face of fate.
After a final dinner, the pair drinks wine, in which life ending medications are included, Bill ends his life with Frank together, because without it, he has no purpose to live, which Frank finds ‘Incredibly romantic’. In the end, they live a wonderful life full of love in a world that is in a terrible state, being able to say goodbye to each other in ways that the majority of humanity has not considered possible at that point.
“I’ve had more good days with you than anyone else.”Frank
When Joel and Ellie arrive at Bill and Frank’s house, they learn that the couple has died through a letter. Beyond Bill’s death, he still has a valuable lesson to learn Joel, to protect the one he loves, something he feels he has failed at twice now, first with Sarah, then with Tess, making it all the more difficult for him to let Ellie truly enter his life; he doesn’t want to be afraid of losing someone he cares about.
The episode ends with a beautiful, harrowing shot, perhaps familiar to any seasoned fan of The Last of Us games.
“We have a job to do, and god help any motherfuckers who stand in our way.”Bill
The third episode of The Last of Us takes a significant departure from the story established in the game. But this deviation proves to be a strength for the overall narrative, and serves and celebrates the medium of television. The audience is treated to a highly impactful and emotionally charged story backed by beautifully shot cinematography and standout performances from Nick Offerman and Murray Barrett as Frank and Bill.