Warning! This article contains spoilers for The Last of Us episode 3. If you've not yet caught up with the show, turn back now!
While The Last of Us episode 3 does feature a few scenes with Joel and Ellie, much of its runtime was spent with Bill and Frank, played by Nick Offerman and Murray Bartlett. Their part kicks off in 2003, the year of the Cordyceps outbreak, as Bill singlehandedly turns his evacuated town into a self-sufficient safe zone, before fellow survivor Frank wanders into his front yard four years later.
The next 45 minutes then take us through their entire 16-year romance, from inviting Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Tess (Anna Torv) for lunch and growing strawberries in their garden to growing old together, and ultimately, taking their own lives before Frank succumbs to a terminal illness. It's a one-and-done story in a sense, as it tweaks the source material so that Joel and Ellie never run into Bill in Lincoln, like they do in the game – but that hasn't stopped Offerman and Bartlett thinking up how they might be able to reprise the roles in the future.
"It's amazing in that that this episode covers such a vast chunk of time in these two people's lives. It's one of the things that makes it so special, seeing, from the very beginning, how this connection develops over time," Bartlett explained to GamesRadar+ and other media recently. "It's like a film in a way; it's sort of complete in that it goes from beginning to end of their story. It really allows you to see the full kind of flowering of this relationship. But yeah, how great it would be to go back and fill in all those spaces?"
"You're goddamn right we can imagine a spin off. We've done nothing but pleasure ourselves to visions of a spin off, prequels, epilogues, you name it," Offerman teased. "We start a family, there's multiverse quantum physics timelines. You name it. Well, yeah, I mean, it would be wonderful to see a lot of the stuff fleshed out, a lot of the dynamics that we skipped across because we cover 20-something years. Yeah, I'd say five 10-episode seasons should probably cover it..." the actor joked.
The Last of Us continues on Sunday, February 5 on HBO and HBO Max in the US, and Sky Atlantic and NOW TV the following day in the UK. Make sure you never miss an episode by checking out our The Last of Us release schedule and our breakdown of how many episodes are in The Last of Us.
For more on the latest installment, check out our guide to the major Last of Us episode 3 changes from the games, Murray Bartlett's breakdown of Frank's untold backstory, and the showrunners' chat on episode 3's final shot.
If you've been affected by the themes of the episode, call Samaritans (opens in new tab) for confidential support on 116 123 in the UK, or visit a local Samaritans branch.