This article contains spoilers for the third episode of the HBO series “The Last of Us.”
In the video game “The Last of Us,” two characters named Frank and Bill are briefly mentioned as former partners who couldn’t survive the apocalypse together. However, in the HBO television adaptation of the game, their relationship takes center stage in the third episode, “Long, Long Time.” This episode serves as a departure from the source material, as it focuses on the years-long love story between Frank and Bill, making for a unique and moving viewing experience. Fans of the game, as well as first-time viewers, have responded positively to this deviation from the original storyline.
Happy endings are a rare sight in apocalyptic storytelling, but the love story between Frank and Bill provides a glimmer of hope in a world plagued by tragedy. Through their relationship, we see a different path that the life of the series’ heterosexual protagonist Joel might have taken if he had opened himself up to the people who care about him. The series lets Frank and Bill’s story stand on its own, contained in one episode and not tied to Joel and Ellie’s journey.
Valerie Anne, a writer for the lesbian pop culture site Autostraddle, expressed her admiration for this beautiful deviation from the canon game content. “I just know I’m going to connect even more to Bill emotionally than I did on previous playthroughs,” she said. The love story between Frank and Bill shows another side of life after the apocalypse and strengthens the series as a whole.