WARNING: Spoilers for The Last of Us Episode 3
Disregarding all the pre-misconceptions I allowed myself to be fooled with during the first two episodes, The Last of Us decides to craft its own path by creating a beautiful love story for Frank and Bill that we didn’t know we needed. Episode 3 could be a short story of its own without surrounding show ever existing, and while they did stray from the game’s story, I’m glad to see Bill and Frank’s relationship leave on a satisfied ending rather than the depressing ending in the game.
Nick Offerman’s performance as Bill was phenomenal. The awkward but confident way he carries himself is fun to watch but I am very sad we won’t get to see anymore Bill (other than potential flashbacks). For those of us who have seen Parks and Rec, this performance was a beautiful nod to how Ron Swanson would’ve reacted in an apocalypse. Murray Barlett’s performance as Frank was phenomenal as well. His controlling but caring nature is exactly the sense I got of Frank from the game (well at least from the letters and stories). Frank’s character in the game is but a memory when Joel finds Bill. I was impressed to see the story of Bill and Frank told from start to finish; but if I'm being honest, I would settle for a story from start to middle. It was a nice touch to start the story with all the civilians that once inhabited Bill's town being scooted out by FEDRA. It shows that each place that is now an abandoned, survivalist's dream was once someone's home or business.
While most of the episode covers Bill and Frank's past, it didn’t forget some Easter Eggs from the game. Joel is able to stash stuff (like a functioning assault weapon). Ellie becomes a playable character when she sneaks a gun into her bag. And we get a glimpse of Bill’s badass bunker.
Adding these little elements from the game throughout the show makes The Last of Us stand out above all the other video game shows/movies out there.
Ellie has her first encounter with a cordyceps. As she looks into the almost human eyes of her enemy she contemplates its soul. While this scene seems insignificant I think it shows how curious, but also potentially dangerous Ellie could become. It was pretty cool (and disturbing) when she cut the skin of the cordyceps to see if it bleeds and the moving/living fungus was exposed inside of the lifeless shell. The prosthetics were astonishing in this scene!
We also learned that the virus didn’t come from monkeys as Ellie might've heard at Fedra school, but most likely from food supply contaminations like flour (which is in almost everything, including but not limited to pancake mix), but I have a feeling this might be a topic that gets revisited. The pancake virus seemingly spread like melted butter and the world fell just as quickly. Thank God FEDRA was there to oppress, I mean help everyone.
I thought we learned a lot in the few moments with Joel and Ellie and the short story was great, but I am very sad that we won’t get to see Bill join in on the adventure. I thought it was ballsy of the writers to make such a bold change so early in the season, but it paid off. I could see the Bill and Frank story being entered into a short film festival and winning.