A letter-perfect, memorable, beautiful episode 1.3 of The Last of Us, in which see how two people can find deep satisfaction in a lasting relationship that flourishes amidst the fungal ruin.
[Spoilers ahead… ]
Although Joel and Bella play a significant role, and it was good to see Anna Torv’s Tess back in a flashback — as I hoped for/predicted last week — the heart of this episode was Frank and Bill. It could easily have been a standalone movie or even series, but as it was, it lit up The Last of Us.
Bill’s a conspiracy theorist survivalist who goes way back, before the arrival of the fungus (which we learn probably arrived in cereals — oi! that could make me lose my taste for oatmeal every morning). Frank shows up hungry, not having eaten in two days, not long after the pandemic has struck. Bill is suspicious but cooks Frank a delicious dinner — rabbit — washed down by Beaujolais, which gives Frank an opening for a line about who knew how well Beaujolais and rabbit went together. Bill and Frank certainly go well together (great acting by Nick Offerman and Murray Bartlett in the roles) and they live out their lives until … well, I don’t want to give everything away. I will say that I thought the ending was the best way to go, given what the world around the two was like.
The larger lesson of this heartening and heartbreaking story is that who knows how many people really survived the fungal attack. There could be thousands of couples and families in out of the way places around the world. And this in turn means that there could be many seasons of this story.
But as to where we are now, Joel and Bella have a car, which plays Linda Ronstadt’s “Long, Long Time” as the two drive west, which will now remind me of Bill and Frank for a long, long time.