Spoiler alert! Warning: spoilers ahead for “The Last of Us” episode 3, titled “Long Long Time”. Proceed with caution if you haven’t watched!
“The Last of Us” introduced another fan-favourite character from the video game series in Sunday’s all-new episode, only for them to meet their end in a tragic way — and surprise fans by veering off course from the game’s canonical story.
In the first “Last of Us” video game, over the course of their journey, Joel and Ellie meet up with Bill, a survivalist who gives them grief when they ask to borrow his car. They also find a letter from his late partner, Frank, and the implication that the pair were in a relationship prior to Frank’s death by suicide after he was infected.
“The Last of Us” episode 3, however, expanded Bill (Nick Offerman) and Frank’s (Murray Bartlett) story into something of a bottle episode, sharing how the pair met and fell in love before a neurological disease left Frank asking Bill to help end his life. Taking the same lethal dose, the pair died together, leaving their car for the taking when Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey) return to their compound.
ET’s Ash Crossan spoke with show creator Craig Mazin about the creative decision to alter Bill’s storyline, which Mazin said he and co-creator Neil Druckmann — who developed the game series at Naughty Dog — was not something they took lightly.
“It was something that I proposed to Neil because I thought there was an opportunity there,” Mazin noted. “The Bill section [of the game], a lot of it was based around game play and we obviously don’t have that, but also Bill was unique. He had created safety and I was fascinated by the idea of somebody who had eliminated the major problem and was safe. But now what?”
“And I loved that there was this hint of a relationship, and I suggested that we show something else,” he added of expanding the character of Frank and the pair’s relationship. “I wanted to show what love looked like as the product of commitment. I wanted to show what it looked like to be middle-aged and to be in love. And I also wanted to show the passage of time and a conclusion that showed us both sides of what love is.”
Mazin explained that, despite the pair’s fate, the “duality of Bill and Frank” is a recurring theme throughout the season.
“You keep seeing the dynamic popping up over and over and over, every time we meet people,” he noted. “And Neil, being the incredibly generous and flexible guy that he is, just zeroed in on it and said yes. I remember sending him the script and him going, ‘This one’s my favourite.’”
“The Last of Us” was renewed for a second season earlier this week, and prior to the renewal, Mazin told ET he would love the chance to “dive into more of the world of ‘The Last of Us’” in future seasons.
“We have definitely talked about seasons to come,” he revealed. “I think everybody at HBO is excited about keeping it going, we want to keep it going. So as long as the audience is there and the desire’s there for more, we’re ready to go.”
“The Last of Us” airs Sundays at 9 p.m. PT/ET on HBO and HBO Max.
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