Last week Tess met her untimely demise and Joel and Ellie narrowly escaped a horde of clickers at the statehouse. Read on to find out what happened this week in The Last of Us where we take a stark deviation from the game’s primary story to fill in a blank unable to be included within the limitations of gameplay: Bill and Frank’s relationship.
10 Miles Outside of Boston
Joel and Ellie are well on their way, taking a quick breather to eat some jerky Joel begrudgingly shares with Ellie, who has taken his coat to keep warm. It’s Ellie’s first time in the woods and she makes sure Joel isn’t going to place any blame on her for what happened to Tess. He volunteered to take Ellie to get his truck battery, none of this is on her. Joel gives her a curt nod and they begin a 5-hour hike.
Joel is on edge as they walk, but he’s not looking out for infected, he’s looking out for people. (One of the greatest dilemmas The Last of Us presents has always been who the bigger monsters are: the humans or the infected?) Ellie asks if Bill and Frank are nice and Joel responds with “Frank is” before Ellie begins to ask him about a scar on his head he tells her is from someone shooting at him and missing.
They head into an abandoned Cumberland Farms (a gas station for those not in the Northeast, but I am, and I yelled) where Joel has some stashed supplies. Ellie finds a Mortal Kombat II arcade game, giving us the scene from the pizza parlor in Bill’s town. When she heads into a backroom while Joel hunts down the supplies he’s absolutely lost, Ellie heads down through a door in the floor to an old basement where she finds a box of tampons (which is probably akin to finding gold) and a still-living infected man in his Stalker phase of infection trapped beneath some rubble that she stabs straight through the head.
The Journey Continues
Joel finds his supplies and the pair heads back out onto the road, passing the wreckage of an airplane off the distance that fascinates Ellie. Joel details Outbreak Day and that the Cordyceps fungus mutated and infiltrated the food supply in a common ingredient, like flour, and was circulated worldwide. It all began the night of Friday, September 26, and everything was gone by Monday.
Joel insists that they cut through the woods instead of taking the road because there’s something up ahead he doesn’t want Ellie to see, which of course piques her interest and she wanders ahead to find a mass grave filled with skeletons and personal belongings. After the outbreak, FEDRA soldiers began rounding up people from the countryside to bring them to QZs, and they made it to the QZ if there was room. If there wasn’t, this was their fate. She asks why not let them be, and Joel responds with a simple, “Dead people can’t be infected.”
Meet 2003 Bill
Those in the mass grave are from Bill’s town, and he avoided getting rounded up by hiding in a bunker to the surprise of literally no one who has played the game. Complete with security cameras and an armory fit for an Army, he heads out with a gas mask and shotgun after watching the final FEDRA truck leave.
Now, the town of Lincoln, Massachusetts is his. And he uses it as such. He loots houses, Home Depots, gas plants, and wineries, he’s getting himself apocalypse ready. He starts a garden for vegetables, has a coop of chickens and other livestock, he even has enough to make himself a steak dinner here in the apocalypse, which is possibly the most Bill thing I’ve ever seen. Well, it was the most Bill thing I’d ever seen until an alarm goes off as he’s eating his dinner and turns on a security monitor to find an infected walking towards one of his signature wire traps and uses that as his evening entertainment. That’s the most Bill thing I’ve ever seen.
Four Years Later, 2007
Bill is still thriving and as he’s crafting more traps in his basement one of his alarms goes off. He’s got something caught in a ditch. It’s a man, not infected, traveling alone to the Boston QZ from the Baltimore QZ which no longer exists. He started with 10, and now he’s alone. Frank. He begs Bill to at least give him some food before he heads out to Boston and Bill very begrudgingly agrees. He goes above and beyond actually, cooking him a rather exquisite meal complete with wine after a hot shower.
After dinner, Frank readies to leave but just wants to do one more thing: play Bill’s antique piano. Bill stops him not long after he begins, and Frank insists Bill play a song with the promise to leave if he does. Bill agrees. Frank asks who the girl he’s singing about was, and Bill responds there was no girl, and Frank replies he knows.
After a kiss, Bill finally shares his name as a tear rolls down Frank’s face and when Bill gets out of the shower, Frank is in bed waiting. Bill shares he’s never done this with a man, only a girl a long time ago and Frank says if they do this he’s going to stay for a few more days. Bill once again agrees.
Three Years Later, 2010
Frank is still around and he wants to beautify the neighborhood, resources be damned. He lives here and he wants it to look nice. He also intends to have friends and that baffles Bill entirely. Bill reminds him there are no friends to be had and Frank breaks it to him that he’s been talking to a nice woman on the radio.
Joel and Tess are having lunch with the pair and Frank tells Tess they’ll be working together. Frank brings Tess inside and Joel convinces Bill it will be lucrative for the pair to work together. They have things like medicine and machine parts in the QZ that Bill may eventually need.
Frank and Tess arrange their musical code through the radio and Joel warns Bill about the raiders that will come and destroy his defenses with ease. Bill assures him they’ll be fine.
Three Years Later, 2013
Frank and Bill are out for a jog and Frank has a surprise for Bill, he traded Tess and Joel a small gun, according to him, for a packet of strawberry seeds and he’s managed to grow them.
I like you older. Older means we’re still here.Frank
Bill confesses he was never afraid until Frank showed up. He’s afraid of losing him.
The raiders Joel warned Bill about years ago have arrived. Bill is nowhere to be found and Frank grabs a pistol and heads outside, finding Bill firing at the raiders still trying to get through his multiple defenses outside the gate. Bill is shot and Frank gets him inside and begins to tend to the wound. Deliriously, Bill tells Frank to call Joel because he doesn’t want Frank there alone, but Frank patches him up.
Ten Years Later, 2023
In a stark deviation from the game, Frank and Bill are still together in the current time. Frank is wheelchair bound but the pair are still happily maintaining their life in Lincoln. Joel is obviously supplying the two with the pills Frank needs to be comfortable and Bill is doing his best to be his caretaker.
It’s likely some sort of cancer and Frank has decided that today is the last day he’s going to suffer and be a burden on Bill. He wants one more good day. They’ll eat, go to the boutique, get married, and then Bill will crush up the bag of pills, put them in his wine, and let him go. They have their day, their wedding, and Bill makes the same exact meal he made for Frank 20 years before wine and all. Except this time he sits beside him and not across the long dining room table.
Bill does what Frank asks, except he does it for both of them.
Tragedy Strikes Again
Joel and Ellie arrive to Lincoln and find the pair dead. Ellie finds a note labeled “To Whoever but Probably Joel” along with a truck key. She reads the note aloud before Joel goes into the garage to see the truck. Joel wants to see Ellie’s arm after prepping the car battery. He tells Ellie they’ll be going to see Tommy in Wyoming. Tommy used to be a Firefly and he can find someone to help.
Joel sets the rules for the journey. You don’t bring up Tess, we keep our histories to ourselves, Ellie tells no one about her immunity, and what he says goes. Joel raids Bill’s armory and they take hot showers. (And Ellie dons her classic red palm tree shirt and Joel in his green flannel!) Ellie finds a handgun in a drawer and steals it while Joel showers before they take off west, Ellie popping a cassette into the tape player.
Episode 4 of The Last of Us premieres Sunday, February 5 at 9 p.m. ET on HBO and HBO Max.