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Why is the Bill and Frank episode so important?



The emotional third episode of The Last of Us, centered on the characters Bill and Frank, is important to the video game’s serial adaptation. That’s why.

Attention, spoilers. It is advisable to watch episode 3 of The Last of Us before continuing to read this article.

The long-awaited adaptation of the famous video game The Last of Us has become a real hit. The phenomenal series, which was a real success in the US on HBO and in France on Amazon Prime Video, convinced a wide audience, from fans of the video game franchise to neophytes, from the first two episodes.

But the third chapter, now available, marks a turning point in The Last of Us. This episode allows the series to rise to a higher rank and stand out in intensity from the source material, exploring its characters’ past even more deeply. Here are Bill (Nick Offerman) and Frank (Murray Bartlett).

Episode of great emotional power

Still hurt by the death of Tess (Anna Torv), Joel (Pedro Pascal) wants to find his former allies, Bill and Frank. He thinks they can be of great help in his mission, which is to lead Ellie (Bella Ramsey) to the Fireflies. Very quickly, this third episode of The Last of Us turns into a series of flashbacks that reveal a touching and tragic love story.

It’s Bill and Frank, and it’s over twenty years old. In “A Long Time” we discover their meeting, the beginning of their rapprochement and idyll, the birth of true love, their struggle to protect their home, their joys, their sorrows, their disputes, their moments of separation, but also their “happy” endings.

Because when we return to the present, we realize that Joel and Ellie will not find Bill and Frank alive. Frank was paralyzed due to a degenerative disease and asked Bill to help him kill himself after getting married, which Bill does out of love. He would follow his wife into death by committing suicide because he knew he couldn’t bear to live without Frank.

With performances by Nick Offerman and Murray Bartlett, direction by Peter Hoare (It’s a Sin) and a screenplay by Craig Mazin (Chernobyl), The Last of Us gave us one of the best episodes of the series ever, with great emotional power. which should become one of the must-see episodes of the TV year.

Neil Druckmann, creator of the video game franchise and co-showrunner of the series, entrusted his partner Craig Mazin to bring to life the characters of Bill, who is much loved by the game’s fans, and Frank, whose corpse we only see in the game. and write them a real untold story.

“We don’t have to stay with our two heroes for the entire trip or focus on one timeline and one place,” explained Neil Druckmann. Term‘, so when Craig presented me with the full story [de Bill et Frank]although it evolved over time, it was all there.”

“It was so beautiful and touching and it kind of connected and reinforced the themes and questions of Joel and Ellie’s story in an interesting way. Despite the fact that we were going in a different direction, I realized that this was a good idea,” he said. added.


And the result is as sublime as it is heartbreaking. Craig Mazin was very moved to hear what director Peter Hoare and editor Tim Good came up with, especially when he saw the first two-hour cut of the episode:

“I cried so hard that at some point I said out loud: “Oh.” I mean, it hurt. I cried so hard it hurt. I think it can work very well for other people.”

From implicit clues to a big frustrating gay romance

This third episode of The Last of Us might confuse fans as it’s an unpublished story, as well as newbie viewers because it’s not time for “great” main action. But therein lies the beauty and value of this chapter. The public takes on the brunt of another point of view – an optimistic one! – on this apocalyptic context and gives a glimmer of hope in a world where death reigns.

The beautiful love story between Bill and Frank is a pause in the series, a breath of fresh air before returning to the oppressive and dangerous atmosphere of the adventures of Joel and Ellie. First of all, it doesn’t come from nowhere. Video game fans know very well that Bill is gay and that he had an affair with Frank.

Even though it’s not explicitly mentioned in The Last of Us Part I, there were clues that Bill was homosexual. He is greatly affected by the death of Frank, with whom he lived, when he and Joel discover his dead body and Ellie finds adult male magazines in Bill’s van.


Bill’s sexuality was even confirmed by game director and series co-creator Neil Druckmann in a 2014 interview with gay gamerin which he explained that he would have liked to include her more openly in the game, but in the end, her sexuality was treated ambiguously.

In this way, the show’s co-showrunners can stage this gay romance, which further contributes to LGBTQIA+ representation on television. A serious problem for the director of this episode 3, Peter Hoare, who is homosexual himself.

He admitted in an interview Reverse that he was honored to tell this poignant, intimate and fair love story between Bill and Frank in The Last of Us:

“I have just finished the series It’s a Sin, in which five boys go through the AIDS crisis in the UK. I didn’t realize what kind of voice I could be, a representative and how many people were listening to me.

The community was so wonderful to the show. Now it’s happening again, not just with the LGBT community, but with The Last of Us community, which I now belong to.”

An important new plot for the series that remains in phase with the game

This exploration of the romantic relationship between Bill and Frank in no way alters the video game canon and even enriches it by adding an extra emotional layer and depth to The Last of Us story. Ellie’s relationship, even if the latter doesn’t end up meeting Bill.


Already in the game, Bill explained to Joel that it was difficult to part with Frank, because they did not have the same vision of the future: “A long time ago, I became quite attached to one person. partner. Someone I had to protect. But in this world, such nonsense brings only one thing: ruin. So, do you know what I did? J I’ve thought it over. And I decided to be alone.”

This video foreshadowed Joel’s future: he would become attached to Ellie and feel a certain paternal love for her to the point where he would see his life turned upside down. The fact of deepening the romance between Bill and Frank grinds the grain with the feeling that will be born in Joel.

In the series, this is much more explicit, as Joel discovers a letter left by Bill after their suicide, in which he explains that Frank’s protection is what gave meaning to his post-pandemic life. And he unwittingly left him the necessary tools so that he could continue his story with Ellie.

Unlike their video game alter egos, Bill and Frank were able to fully experience their love story, grow old and die together in a chaotic context, and become a source of hope for Joel. Despite losing Tess, he will open up to Ellie and allow himself to become attached to her – who reminds him of his own daughter Sarah, who tragically died – with a desire to live such a banal and normal existence in a context as dangerous as Bill and Frank.

The third episode of The Last of Us not only gives the series emotional depth, but also pays homage to the very essence of video games. Despite the violence and post-apocalyptic context, The Last of Us remains a love story, a story full of humanity, like the story of Bill and Frank.


And the final shot of the episode is even a good nod to the game, as it’s a shot from the window of Bill and Frank’s house. This layout is reminiscent of the video game launch menu, which is also the window for when you want to launch the game. A good way to end this episode is as explained by Craig Mazin:

“As a player, I’ve always liked the ‘The Last of Us’ intro. Looking at this window, I can see how peaceful it was, even though the world is not peaceful, and even though what is happening to these characters is not peaceful.

And that seemed like a good idea to us. There is an opportunity to show both the idea of ​​this permanent love that will always be in this building, in their house, and just the theme of this window, which is the embodiment of peace in the world of The Last of Us. .”

The Last of Us airs in US+24 on Amazon Prime Video in France.

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