WARNING: If you haven’t watched The Last of Us Episode 3 on HBO Max, this article contains MAJOR SPOILERS for you, so read at your own risk!
The premiere of The Last of Us Episode 3 sent fans heartbroken over the rewritten story behind Bill and Frank’s relationship. Apart from the distraught of Joel not reaching his friend Bill in time, there is no doubt that the love story of the two is nothing to sneeze at. Given the post-apocalyptic setting, Craig Mazin explained exactly why the Bill and Frank story is quite similar to Joel and Ellie.
As Neil Druckmann and Craig Mazin have done in the series so far, the showrunners and co-creators tweaked the story by never letting Joel and Ellie meet Bill and Frank. Instead, Bill leaves a heartbreaking letter of how Frank gave his life more meaning. However, despite the loss, the journey between Joel and Ellie has definitely strengthened their bond even more, which Mazin reiterates to be a part of why The Last of Us Episode 3 is the “skeleton key” of the show.
“For people who played the game and loved the game, this is pretty much all entirely new,” Mazin explained to The Los Angeles Times, being the writer behind episode 3, “The story of Bill and Frank and the letter that Bill leaves behind [in the show] is such a huge part of why Joel decides he’s going to keep going [on this journey] with Ellie… Their relationship ultimately becomes kind of the skeleton key to unlock all of this show, as far as I’m concerned.”
People who originally played the Naughty Dog video game would know that Bill and Frank had always been destined to be star-crossed lovers. Though not as explicit as the HBO series, we only find out about Frank when Joel and Bill see him hanging from the ceiling, committing suicide to prevent himself from succumbing fully to the Cordyceps infection.
Mazin continued on to say, “I think in a show [like this], where the world around our characters is constantly pressuring them… there is the tendency for endings to be tragic and violent and abrupt and too soon,” As for the inspiration behind writing the episode the way it is, “And I thought it was important to show how a relationship could endure, and then conclude in a natural way. Because death is a perfectly natural thing to do.”
The Last of Us Episode 3 titled Long Long Time is now available to stream on HBO Max.