‘The Last of Us’ gives Bill and Frank the love story they deserve

Deviating from the source material in a television adaptation always involves a degree of risk. If a change doesn’t live up to the spirit of the original, you risk completely derailing your project and alienating an audience of passionate fans. However, a smart customization change offers really great rewards, like the ability to add more context to certain events or flesh out supporting characters further. Such is the case with HBO’s remarkable third episode The last of usentitled “A Long Long Time”.

Long Long Time continues to follow Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey) on their quest to find the fireflies, but the real heart of the episode is an extended flashback spanning decades. Neither Joel nor Ellie are the focus here. Instead, that honor falls to survivor Bill (Nick Offerman) and his partner Frank (Murray Bartlett). While these characters will be familiar to the players of The last of us, her story on the show is completely different than what we see in the game. It turns out to be a brilliant decision that brings hope to the series’ increasingly grim apocalypse.


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How is the story of bill and frank in The last of us different from the game?

A man holds a shotgun in front of an electric fence.

Who was Bill before he met Joel and Ellie?
Credit: Liane Hentscher/HBO

When Joel and Ellie arrive in Bill’s town The last of us Game they only meet with Bill. In fact, Joel doesn’t even know who Frank is until Bill mentions that he once had “a partner.” However, he maintains that in this world “taking care of someone is good for one thing. to have you killed. So do you know what I did? Since then, Bill has been on his own.

We later learn that Bill and Frank had a fallout, with Frank growing weary of Bill’s unshakable rules of survival and boundaries. He stole some of Bill’s supplies while trying to leave town, but before he could realize it, he was bitten by an infected clicker. Instead of turning into a mindless monster, Frank committed suicide. Bill, Joel and Ellie find his body.

Joel also discovers a note Frank left for Bill that gives us a sense of how things ended between the two. “I want you to know that I hated your guts,” the note said. “I was sick of this shitty town and your stubborn attitude. I wanted more out of life than that and you could never get that… I think you were right. Trying to leave this town will kill me. Still better than spending another day with you.” When a player decides to give Bill the note, his response isn’t sadness but anger: “Well, fuck you too, Frank.”


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The harsh circumstances of Bill and Frank’s split couldn’t be further from what we get on the show. There, a suspicious Bill picks up Frank and the two fall in love, confirming and expanding on a relationship that the game heavily implies. Over the next few years, Bill and Frank build a life together and become friends with Joel and Tess (Anna Torv). Frank falls ill and decides to die by suicide – something he explains to Bill. After one last good day together, during which the two get married, Bill decides to die by his side. In a show that has given us heartbreaking deaths from gunshot wounds, blasts and infection, this is a moment of relative peace.

Why does Bill and Frank’s love story work so well?

A rain-soaked man in a white shirt.

We see a lot more of Frank on The Last of Us show.
Credit: Liane Hentscher/HBO

The success of “Long Long Time” is partly due to how The last of us embraces his new television medium. The game failed to give us the kind of varied flashbacks we’ve seen on the show so far, like the television interview warning of the cordyceps threat or the Indonesian mycologist realizing the severity of the outbreak. With Bill and Frank The last of us takes a chance to expand an in-game relationship we’ve never seen. What we get is new, but it still feels true to the world and spirit of The last of us – and that includes the changed fortunes of Bill and Frank.

Until now, The last of us has presented a consistently frightening reality. Between the hordes of clickers, the threat of disease, and the fascist rule of FEDRA, how is one supposed to live a fulfilling life?

“Long Long Time” offers a break from the horror and tells the audience that it’s possible that hope exists in this world. Bill and Frank have managed to thrive together, eating gourmet home-cooked meals and painting artwork. Sure, they have moments of conflict, but their battles are more about whether they can have friends and less about how, say, best to kill the infected. Overall, her life is proof that people can still lead lives in seemingly uninhabitable conditions — a message of hope echoed in HBO’s Sublime station elevenwhere survivors of a global pandemic form communities, create art and build lives that go beyond simply trying to fight the apocalypse.


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The hope even extends to the joint death of Bill and Frank. The scene could read like a new addition to “bury your gays”(Opens in a new window) canon, but it’s complicated by the fact that these two grew old together and lived happily ever after, even at the ends of the earth. As Bill says to Frank, “This isn’t the tragic suicide at the end of the play. I am old. I am happy. You were my target.”

None of the beauty of Bill and Frank’s time together would have been possible The last of us strictly based on what we see from Bill and Frank in the game. There, the two are torn apart by differences and the stress of the apocalypse. Their division is bitter and hostile. If we had seen that on the show, it would have dashed any hopes the rest of the episode had raised. Instead, we’re presented with a world where Bill listens when Frank says, “I wanted more out of life than this.” And that is a wonderful thing.

How does Bill and Frank’s altered storyline affect Joel and Ellie?

A young girl sits with her back against a tree.

“There was one person worth saving.”
Credit: Liane Hentscher/HBO

Supplies and a car aren’t the only things Joel gets from Bill and Frank on the show. He and Ellie also find a letter from Bill – one that’s a lot more positive than Frank’s in-game letter. Here, Bill tells Joel what happened and offers him an important new perspective on how to move forward.

“I used to hate the world and was happy when everyone died,” Bill writes in his letter. “But I was wrong. Because there was one person worth saving. That’s what I did: I saved him. And I protected him. That’s why men like you and I are here: we have a job to do that stands in our way.”

When Bill wrote this letter, he assumed that Joel’s “one person” was Tess. But now that Tess is gone, the letter reads more like an instruction to Joel. Find your new person. you protect. And since Ellie is Joel’s only traveling companion, the show’s message is clear: Ellie is Joel’s person. It’s a touching way to end an episode that started with Joel not wanting to speak to Ellie at all.

“Long Long Time” feels like a promise that hope, love and beauty are still possible after the world falls apart. But it’s also a narrative promise: just as Frank was Bill’s goal, so will Ellie Joel’s goal. Eventually, both couples’ relationships began in places of tension — Frank tripped into one of Bill’s traps, Joel threw an attacking Ellie against a wall. but The last of us has shown that it’s possible for a deep human connection to form in even the most unlikely of places… And that’s what we should expect from Ellie and Joel in the weeks to come.

The Last of Us will now continue HBO Max.(Opens in a new window)(opens in a new tab) New episodes air every Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.

https://mashable.com/article/the-last-of-us-bill-and-frank ‘The Last of Us’ gives Bill and Frank the love story they deserve

Zack Zwiezen

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