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The Last of Us Episode 3 Recap breaks down everything you need to know about episode three of The Last of Us.

On this week’s episode of The Last of Us, we detoured to Lincoln to spend an hour with survivalist Bill (Nick Offerman) and his partner Frank (Murray Bartlett). For this week’s The Last of Us (TLOU) recap, here’s what we loved about episode three.

How many episodes of The Last of Us

The Last of Us‘s first season has nine episodes. The show airs Sundays on HBO and HBO Max at 9:00 p.m. EST/6:00 p.m. PDT. Read our HBO Max review to learn more about the streaming service.

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The Last of Us
“Long, Long Time”

The Last of Us (HBO)

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[sighs deeply]

Nick Offerman and Murray Bartlett standing around a piano from episode 3 of The Last of Us.
Image courtesy HBO.

Well, how’s everyone holding up?

TLOU’s third episode was a departure in every sense of the word, as Joel and Ellie only came in to bookend the episode’s main story. Fans of the game will also notice how the episode also deviates from the game’s version of Bill and Frank. In the game, Bill also turns an abandoned and Clicker-infested town into his fortress. But Frank and Bill’s relationship is merely hinted at, Frank eventually leaves Bill, and Frank kills himself after getting infected, leaving Bill alone yet again.

The episode’s departure from the source material works thanks to Offerman and Bartlett, who anchor the entire 75-minute episode beautifully. Over twenty years, we see the full arc of Frank and Bill’s relationship as Frank breaks down Bill’s walls while Bill learns about the value of love and companionship in a post-Clickers world.

As bleakly as Bill’s in-game story ends, it’s designed as a counterpoint to Joel’s arc—if Joel doesn’t open himself up to other people, he’ll end up as miserable as Bill did. With some nifty narrative sleight of hand, the show flips Bill’s character beats from the game but ends up at the same conclusion (while giving Bill and Frank a much happier ending). Bill’s final note to Joel underlines this shift:

“I’m going to tell you something because you’re probably the only person who will understand. I used to hate the world, and I was happy when everyone died. But I was wrong because there was one person worth saving. That’s what I did. I saved him. And then I protected him.”

Body counts (and about that ending)

Nick Offerman and Murray Bartlett filming an action sequence behind an explosion in HBO's The Last of Us.
Image courtesy HBO.

When Bill took a bullet to the stomach, and the screen faded to black, you could’ve been forgiven for thinking that Bill was a goner. The third-act reveal that Bill and Frank survived was a nice and self-aware reversal, even if it set up their eventual joint deaths. Although the episode’s a doozy, the show’s more than aware of how viewers could receive its ending—Bill quips about how his plan’s not “the tragic suicide at the end of the play.”

There’s certainly space to nitpick Bill and Frank’s plans if you’re looking for it (couldn’t Bill have just, like, moved out?), but overall, it’s still a poetic button to their story. Against the odds, they built a home and lived full lives in their small town. In a world where death’s frequent, brutal, and unsentimental, it’s a victory for Bill and Frank to live and die on their own terms.

An appreciation for Nick Offerman’s strawberry-induced joy giggle

Nick Offerman and Murray Bartlett eating strawberries outside of a house in HBO's The Last of Us.
Image courtesy HBO.

Let’s also put Bill’s montage of breaking into Home Depots and doing DIY projects into the pantheon of “montages of characters in post-apocalypse shows doing whatever they want before things get too grim.”

Will Forte’s montage in the underappreciated The Last Man on Earth is a sterling example of the form:

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