Warning: This article contains spoilers for The Last of Us episode 3. Turn away now if you haven’t seen the latest episode of the HBO and Sky show.
The Last of Us episode 3 flips up the format of the HBO show, introducing a largely standalone story focused on Bill (played by Nick Offerman) and Frank (Murray Bartlett). While the characters were in the game, the series expands heavily on them, changing some key aspects of their love story.
Beginning with the outbreak of the infection, the episode follows Bill as he turns his town into a fortress, before Frank arrives at his gate one day. Over the next 15 years, the pair fall in love and build a life together. The episode ends with the pair deciding to end their lives after Frank has fallen sick.
In the final moments of episode 3, Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey) visit their home and find out what happened. The episode makes a conscious decision to not show Bill's and Frank's bodies, instead focusing on an open window with the curtains blowing in the wind (a shot that will be very familiar to fans of the game).
At a recent screening of the episode, attended by SFX, director Peter Hoar shared that this was an important part of the script. Hoar explained that series co-creator Craig Mazin was very keen to limit the violence in the adaptation.
"I do one episode of a big show, and I turn up, knowing the game and the brutality of the gameplay," he explains. "There are moments for great tenderness, loss, and grief, but there are lots of times to shoot Clickers. But as soon as I got there, it was a little bit like, 'Okay, this is how we're doing this. We're not about the gore, the gratuity, or anything like that.'"
He added of Mazin: "He was that careful about it, he didn’t want to see heads exploding or whatever, the stuff that makes games up. Not because he’s sensitive, it’s just, ‘what’s it for?’ You have to earn that sort of stuff."
The final shot of the open window is the same as the menu page for the original Naughty Dog game as well, and cinematographer Eben Bolter said it was really important to them to end on it.
"We had to fight for that shot to be honest," Bolter adds. "The main thing was we really wanted Joel and Ellie driving off into the next episode, into the sunset. But we just wanted to have that final reminder of this was Bill and Frank’s story, and it just felt like a lovely way to do both things at the same time."
The Last of Us streams Sundays on HBO and HBO Max and Mondays in the UK on Sky Atlantic and NOW TV. If you’re affected by the themes of the episode, for confidential support call the Samaritans in the UK on 116 123 or visit a local Samaritans branch.