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How They Crafted Bill And Frank's Love Story For HBO's The Last Of Us

The biggest deviation from the game also gave fans the best episode of the season so far.


The latest episode of HBO's The Last of Us showed us the most significant deviation from the game material. At the same time, it gave the show its strongest episode and fleshed out Bill, played by Nick Offerman, more than he ever was.

In the first Last of Us game, Bill is introduced as a doomsday prepper and survivalist, owing Joel a list of favors for unspecified reasons. We knew at one time Bill had a partner, Frank, who mysteriously left in the middle of the night, never to return. We never saw Frank but felt the impact he left on Bill. In Episode 3, titled "Long, Long Time" after the Linda Rondstadt song, Bill and Frank never broke up but actually lived to an old age where they both committed assisted suicide.

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"My philosophy on the show has been when should we deviate and when should we come back. If it's kinda the same or worse, we stay where the game is," explained The Last of Us co-creator Neil Druckmann during the behind-the-scenes video that followed the episode. "If it's better, we deviate."

Producer Craig Mazin elaborated that they used Bill as a way to show the passage of time. They focused on his struggles and growth as a man who had locked himself away from the world and opened up his heart to another man.

"We knew from the game that Bill had a partner," he said. "In the game, Frank is already dead and I thought there was an opportunity to go a different way....I've seen this thing 200 times, and I still cry and it's those two guys doing it to me, no question."

Frank, played by Murray Bartlett (Welcome to Chippendale's, The White Lotus) talked about how he saw Bill and Frank's dynamic and what makes their story special in the world of The Last of Us.

"Bill and Frank are kind of opposites really in terms of the way they operate in the world," the actor said. "Bill's super practical and not emotional and Frank is the opposite of that...we get to do these contrasting scenes. These action kind of scenes and then these intimate, vulnerable scenes."

Though the episode is a major departure from the material, the end result is still the same: Joel and Ellie get their outfits from the game, Joel gets the truck, and weapon upgrades, as well as Joel being guilted over the loss of Tess and a reminder of his failures to keep his loved ones safe.

The Last of Us airs Sundays on HBO.

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