HBO’s Last of Us made its biggest game-changer yet
Warning: Contains plot spoilers for HBO’s The Last of Us Episode 3.
The Last of Us on HBO has been a massive hit, and I expect the hype around Episode III will only add to the huge viewership. From the start, the showrunners were very open about the fact that the series would deviate from the game. Some of these moments will expand on the original story, while others will change the nature of the show. Deviations were so far welcome changes and small expansions.
The beginning of each episode gives viewers a look at the beginning of the outbreak and the real threat against humanity. Meanwhile, other changes have been met with some skepticism. The absence of spores from the show, for example, still feels like something is missing in this dangerous world.
In the third episode of the series, the showrunners did the unthinkable. They pulled away from Joel and Ellie’s trip to tell Bill and Frank’s story. Bill is still a paranoid prep type, which allows him to survive the apocalypse for four years on his own. When Bill meets Frank, the man is lost and hungry. Bill gives him a hot meal, but that’s not all.
The two men bond over a love of music, wine, and other common interests. Frank is not a survivor. In fact, it’s hard to imagine Frank surviving four years without Bill. The man is optimistic. Frank is a confident and caring soul. It is not enough for Frank to live. He wants a life, and he wants to build that life with Bill for the next sixteen years.
Frank reveals that he has been talking to a woman on the radio. The woman turns out to be the very familiar Tess. Then we have a scene where Bill and Frank are having Tess and Joel out for dinner. While this meeting also aims to set up a trading agreement, it appears to be a normal Sunday dinner.
Gone are the angry and sarcastic video game bills. Gone is the tragic story of a man who dumped his partner and didn’t believe anyone could be trusted. The series did away with these things and replaced them with a permanent relationship between Bill and Frank. Well, that is until disaster strikes in the form of a serious illness.
Frank loses much of his mobility and is unable to take care of himself. Bill takes care of his partner day in and day out until Frank says he doesn’t want to do that anymore. Frank just wants one last good day with Bill. He wants them to get married, and then he wants to drink a glass of wine filled with sleeping pills. Bill grants this wish, but also takes his life. They choose to die in each other’s arms rather than continue on their own.
Instead of the obnoxious note from Frank that we see in the game, Bill leaves Joel a thoughtful note. He leaves all his possessions to Joel in hopes that Joel will protect Tess and find the happiness he and Frank once enjoyed. Bill is not bitter. He doesn’t tell Joel that caring about others will kill him. In fact, he installed Joel as a protector, and said it was his job to keep others safe when possible. Bell’s last words are filled with hope and love, which couldn’t be further from the Bell we meet in the game.
Time and time again, The Last of Us co-creator Neil Druckmann has made it clear that the core of the story revolves around love. He believes The Last of Us is an exploration of love and its many forms. This was never more true than in the third episode of the series. He shows the audience what it’s like to be happy in a world that condemns humanity. We see these two men fall in love, stay in love, and die in love. It’s heartbreaking, it’s so different from the game, and yet it hits at the very heart of what makes The Last of Us about love in its purest form.
Next: HBO’s The Last Of Us – Differences between the game and the series