- Hoar’s directorial choices in “The Last of Us” episode 3 created an emotional impact on the audience, with Bill and Frank’s love story leaving viewers heartbroken yet fulfilled.
- The portrayal of Bill and Frank’s queer romance defies harmful tropes and provides a beautiful and bittersweet depiction of enduring love even in the midst of a post-apocalyptic world.
- This episode stands out as one of the most touching moments in the series and highlights Hoar’s talent for crafting emotional queer narratives, solidifying it as one of the best television moments of 2023.
The Last of Us episode 3 director Peter Hoar opens up about audiences’ emotional response to Bill and Frank’s story. The hit HBO show is an adaptation of the beloved PlayStation video game franchise developed by Naughty Dog, with season 1 adapting the original 2013 game’s events. The Last of Us saw Pedro Pascal’s Joel Miller grapple with a troubled past as he escorted Bella Ramsey’s Ellie across an America devastated by a virus and fallen into factionalism, despair, and bloody conflict.
When speaking to Deadline about Bill (Nick Offerman) and Frank’s (Murray Bartlett) post-apocalyptic romance, Hoar addressed the emotional impact that The Last of Us episode 3, “Long, Long Time“ left on the audience with its bittersweet, tragic, but fulfilling tale. Hoar celebrated Offerman and Bartlett’s performances as a key to impacting audiences, before breaking down how each decision made in the creative progress ensured that the tale is an authentic and emotional episode of television that can leave an impact on the viewer. Check out Hoar’s full response below:
I didn’t certainly set out to tell a story that would make the world cry uncontrollably, but I did. There was one note that I gave Murray. I said, maybe this is the scene where we don’t cry. It was impossible because Bill was so passionate and in the moment saying to his love Frank, that he was his purpose. And Murray was like, ‘I can’t do it. Look at him, I can’t do it. He’s just so beautiful and human. I just can’t hold it in.’ So, that note was redundant! I’m there to make people feel something. And I know that there were times we made choices, like one piece of music in particular, which I know makes me feel things every time — Max Richter’s On the Nature of Daylight. That’s in a montage toward the end. But yeah, the simple answer is it can become too tear-jerky. There’s a straightness to this gay love story. It’s not flamboyant. It’s genuine and it’s authentic. We all talk about Nick and Murray, but there are some great performances from Pedro and Bella, particularly the scene where Ellie reads a letter from Bill. That’s just a beautiful scene. The way she reads that letter is hilarious, but yet heartbreaking. And the way that Pedro reacts is just beautiful.
How Bill & Frank’s The Last of Us Romance Is A Standout Queer Love Story
A deviation from The Last of Us game’s narrative, Bill’s story is an expansion of the character beyond being a supporting figure in Joel and Ellie’s story. While Bill was also an embittered survivor in the game who helps the main duo with their story, Frank is his partner who is only seen posthumously after an undisclosed falling out. Not only does Bill and Frank’s television trajectory gives the pair a fully fleshed-out origin and defined story, but works to enhance Joel’s story by showing a character who went through similar experiences and found a better life.
Beyond enhancing the world, The Last of Us‘ adaptation of Bill and Frank is a queer love story that strays away from so many shows’ unfortunate trends. While many have come under scrutiny for their handling of queer relationships through problematic depictions and committing to such tropes as “bury your gays“, Bill and Frank’s romance breaks these trends. Even though the couple is long gone by the time Joel and Ellie arrive, the duo had a long life together that they acknowledge as being satisfying in the end. Even as the world fell apart around them, Bill and Frank’s love survived through humanity’s darkest days, giving audiences a beautiful and bittersweet romance.
Bill and Frank’s episode is one of The Last of Us‘ most touching episodes, and stands apart from an already celebrated season as one of 2023’s best television moments. While Hoar is no stranger to emotional queer tales following his work on Russell T Davies’ acclaimed show It’s A Sin, it is clear that the director set out to tell a story that left audiences heartbroken but fulfilled. Through his and the cast’s decisions, Hoar created an episode that works as a perfect standalone tale of enduring.