With the episode sitting at a 9.9 out of 10 on IMDB prior to its release, the third instalment of HBO's The Last of Us adaptation had fans anxiously waiting for the newest storyline to unfold. The show is at present the most popular in the world, with tens of millions of viewers tuning in every week. The Last of Us episode three boasts the biggest diversion from the source material, will audience and critic opinions align?
*Spoilers ahead for the latest episode of The Last of Us*
Take her to Bill and Frank's
We open on a conflicting Joel and Ellie following the shocking events of episode two. Tensions are high after the loss of Tess, with a slight sense of blame in the air. Pedro Pascal beautifully exhibits the most subtle displays of Joel's grievance, staying true to his tough-skinned nature and numbness after everything he has already lost. Showrunner Craig Mazin confirmed on the official The Last of Us Podcast that when Joel sits peacefully at the river, mindlessly stacking rocks, it is in fact a quiet goodbye to Tess. One of many heart-wrenching details embedded in this exceptional episode.
The pair endure into the next leg of their journey; getting Ellie to Bill and Frank's—two characters familiar to fans of the game but completely new to other viewers. Throughout the episode, we learn of survivalist Bill who outsmarted soldiers and let them completely clear out the town of people whilst he remained, content and alone, in his home bunker. No threats, no potential annoyances, just an empty town with nothing or no one around for miles. For a while, Bill is complacent; surviving all on his own with enough resources to last him a lifetime. That is, until, an unsuspecting traveller arrives at his doorstep—Frank.
“I was never afraid before you showed up”
With nothing more than a small nod in the game to Bill and Frank's involvement, HBO momentarily corners the primary narrative to elaborate on a glorious, against-all-odds relationship between the two characters. Whilst Joel and Ellie's story bookends, “Long, Long Time,” a tragic tale of love and loss acquires the spotlight this week.
Perhaps the most refreshing and emotional change from game to show, Bill and Frank's backstory undoubtedly adds much-needed depth and essence to the couple. From the primary shared apprehension to the indisputable solicitude, the hour or so we spend with Bill and Frank is simultaneously magical and melancholic. It tells an insatiable tale one can only be envious of; an eternal love story, partners in everything, hand-in-hand until the very end. They spend every single day together for 13 years. With no commitments to separate them from one another, the two glory in each other's company timelessly.
Nick Offerman and Murray Bartlett both give unsurpassable performances in their respective roles and have viewers experiencing all the emotions under the sun. Hats off to them.
The Last of Us viewers never miss a trick.
Viewers of last night's episode shared some interesting findings on Twitter after the episode aired, including an uplifting detail surrounding Bill and Frank's marriage. The outbreak takes place in 2003, as we see in the first episode. However, same-sex marriage was not legalised in the first US State until 2004, meaning their relationship was truly against overwhelming odds.
'80s means trouble
“I was thinking we could use radio codes… songs?” we distantly hear Frank say to Tess. Back in episode one, we learn that songs from different decades carry different phrases. Smuggler's codes, created by the new allies. A song from the '60s signals ‘nothing in' alongside the '70s gesturing ‘new stock.' Next to the '80s, however, a big red cross. “Gotcha. '80s means trouble…” Ellie pranks Joel by telling him Wham!‘s Wake Me Up Before You Go–Go played whilst he was asleep. Once Tess, Joel, and Ellie leave their apartment, however, Depeche Mode‘s '80s hit Never Let Me Down Again is the needle drop signalling danger at Bill and Frank's.
Seeing a younger Tess and Joel together after the devastation last week is just the latest gut punch of the series. I thought that would be painful enough, but seeing Tess being so friendly and trusting with Frank whilst knowing their joint fate was incredibly emotional. And, if that wasn't enough, Bill's note which he leaves for Joel is the next tearjerker of the episode. “Use [my weapons] to keep Tess safe,” he writes. These words trigger discomposure for Joel as he wanders outside for some air. Another grinding instance enhancing the hurt Joel is harnessing. Give him a damn break, please.
‘The Last of Us‘ Fans had high hopes.
Bill and Ellie undeniably have comedic chemistry in the game, and fans were adamantly awaiting the adaptation of their relationship. Unfortunately, the two never cross paths. Yes, I missed stubborn old Bill beefing with a fourteen-year-old girl too; but, the changes in the storyline are executed so wonderfully, there is no room to complain.
With the back end of the episode containing more of that glorious back-and-forth between Joel and Ellie and a final shot that will give you chills, I believe this is the strongest of the three episodes thus far. The coming weeks have an agonizing wait, as fans look forward to the next chapter of the story unfolding.
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