‘The Last of Us’ delivers a hauntingly beautiful gay love story – Rolling Stone

This post contains spoilers For this week’s episode of The last of us“very long time.”

The final chapter of the story has been booked with sequences featuring only two characters from the series at the moment. With Tess is gone — though she appears in flashbacks later in the episode — the series leans more strongly than ever on Lone Wolf and Cub A dynamic between Joel and Ellie Pedro Pascal He already has some familiarity with it from his work The Mandalorian. Ellie is more verbal than grogo (Just as Joel is far more expressive than Mando), it’s a similar contrast between taciturn combative readiness and childish likability. Despite all the darkness of the world Ellie grew up in, she’s still basically an excitable, easily excitable child who looks up to the things we take for granted. When they come across a crashed passenger plane, Joel talks about how inconvenient air travel can be, when all Ellie can think about is how great it is to be in the sky. At the end of the episode, they get into an old Chevy pickup truck that doesn’t impress Joel, while she compares it to being in a spaceship.

The Joel/Ellie interaction is given something of a hilarious mirror-image in the segment that takes up the bulk of the episode’s extended runtime, where we meet a grouchy loner who views the ruined world as heaven, and much more. A man who cannot help but feel sad for all that has been lost.

Meet Bill and Frank, the subject of an amazing and incredibly unlikely post-apocalyptic love story.

The episode is a lot of things, all of them great. But perhaps the first of these is how – like casting Pascal himself as Joel – there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being typecast if both the part and the typecast are good enough. If Bill and Frank are characters being created from the entire cloth of the series, rather than being adapted from the game It’s not hard to imagine the stage directions in the script describing Bell’s reclusive libertarian survivor as “ Nick Offerman Write “and” Frank the socialite and intellectual as “a.” Murray Bartlett He writes.” Instead, the show gets the actual Offerman and Bartlett. And just like The Mandalorian can get away with casting Timothy Oliphant Like jetpack Raylan Givens because no one plays that archetype better, The last of us You get tremendous value from the shorthand that comes from, say, inviting Offerman to play a slightly less cartoonish and infinitely more mischievous version ofRon Swanson

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My understanding is that Frank is already dead when Joel and Ellie meet Bill, and Bill is played by the great actor W. Earl Brown. Which I imagine would also have been great playing the part in live action.

Nick Offerman as Bill in The Last of Us.

HBO We meet Bill moments after Joel explains to Ellie the pile of human remains they’ve just found. Since resources were so scarce in those early days of Cordyceps, FEDRA soldiers would simply slaughter anyone for whom the quarantine zones did not have a place, to prevent infection. (Unlike other zombie shows, the dead don’t rise from the grave here.) We glimpse from the tattered scraps of a woman’s dress to the healthy, living version of that woman and her child aboard a FEDRA truck on September 30, 2003, days after the world ended, fearful of her current circumstances but oblivious to her imminent government-sanctioned murder. The soldiers are done evacuating the town, or so they think, because Bill is the kind of hardcore doomsday preparer who has a stash hidden under his basement just for that possibility. .

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Once everyone is gone, Bill is like a kid in a candy store, taking whatever he needs or wants from his neighbours’ homes, and from the local hardware and beverage stores, even managing to restore power because no one is guarding the new Bedford natural gas plant. Soon he has a very protective compound of vegetables growing in the garden, and chickens to provide eggs and other forms of protein, and no one to bother him. Related But for all that Bill seems to be enjoying himself – when he watches on a security screen as one of his decoys takes out a zombie that approaches the property, he says sparingly that the scene never gets old – it’s hard not to think about the loneliness of existence that this must have been. As painful as it was for Joel to hold the memory of his daughter for the past 20 years, at least he was around other people. Ellie was indoctrinated at FEDRA, but at least around the other kids. At a certain point, even the most antisocial person in creation must crave some kind of human contact.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BmS7aL9ThkE But it isn’t until Bill finds a helpless Frank trapped in a hole in the backyard – which Bill dug to catch her. zombies and/or the Raiders – that we realize how lonely Bill was even before he became the only one for miles and miles. Bill initially seems to take pity on Frank by inviting him to dinner, but it is almost immediately apparent that he delights in both the company and the opportunity to show off his skills as a host. And when Frank starts tickling the horns of Bell’s old piano to the music

Linda Ronstadt

The song that gives the episode its title, and Bill insists on playing and singing it himself. Offerman and Bartlett are absolutely adorable in this scene, their faces and body language telling you the whole story about who these guys are, and they still are, long before Frank asks who the girl Bill is singing about and Bill replies wistfully quietly. “There is no girl.” In this exchange, we understand that this is a part of himself that Bill was afraid to show the world in former times. Perhaps it was his isolated and closed life that led to his survival mentality. A guy who hides alone in a basement, after all, doesn’t have to worry about being rejected, either by gays or heterosexuals.

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who are simply not interested. Or perhaps he hid that part of himself because he could not reconcile it with the rest of the image he had adopted. The reason does not matter . All he does is his complete isolation, as well as his fear that this beautiful man in front of him will not find him desirable. But Frank—who seems to be a very sociable creature, completely taken with Bill even before learning about his host’s deep secret—does want him in, and not just because he knows life in this house will be so sweet. Before sex, Frank says, “I want you to know I’m not a bitch. I don’t have sex for extra lunches.” By this point, we can tell that he means it. If anything, it’s probably just because there’s no one else around that Bill finds the courage to reveal that part of himself to Frank.

From there, the episode keeps jumping forward several years every few scenes. We see them bicker the way all couples do over time, but it’s also clear that they delight in each other’s company. We see how their relationship with Joel and Tess began, because after a while, Frank craved being around people besides Frank. And then we see Bill take down an entire group of raiders through years of preparation and Swanson-style superhuman efficiency. Or maybe he’s just a regular human being, because he’s been shot in the crossfire, and he needs Frank to save his life.

The final jump takes us to the year 2023. Bill appears to have healed well from a gunshot wound, while Frank is in a wheelchair not due to an injury, but an illness that cannot be properly treated even with the help of pills. Joel’s network is smuggling up and down the East Coast. In a beautiful and utterly heartbreaking sequence scored for “On the Nature of Daylight” by Max Richter, we see the elderly partners travel around the neighborhood for what Frank thinks will be his last day on earth, but which Bill already knows will be a reasonably happy ending for both of them. . When he reveals his plan for double suicide after their private marriage ceremony, he insists, “This is not the tragic suicide at the end of the play. I am old. I am satisfied…and you were my target.”

Bella Ramsey


Pedro Pascal

in “The Last of Us”.

Lean Henture / HBO Knowing what year this happens, and that Joel and Ellie are on their way, it’s not hard to imagine the idea of ​​our two heroes arriving just in time, perhaps with some new drugs for Frank from Joel’s hidden stash, or perhaps just to convince Bill that he might have a purpose beyond his true love. It would be a blast, after all, for Bell to travel with them for a while, or even just get to have one scene between the four of them. Frank would clearly have liked Ellie, and it’s not hard to imagine Bill gaining a veiled respect for her in his haste. But most of this episode is not the story of Joel and Ellie. It’s Bill and Frank. Bill chooses a life away from the world, and then gratefully lets Frank into that life. No one else should be around until the end. But in a way, it’s a story about our central character. Joel and Ellie show up later, finding a note from Bill telling them not to open the bedroom door to find his and Frank’s decomposing bodies. He wrote a pithy note to Joel that includes this passage:

“I used to hate the world, and was glad when everyone died. But I was wrong, because there was one person worth saving. That’s what I did. I saved him. Then I protected him. That’s why men like you and me are here. We have work to do. God help any A bitch gets in our way.” Rumor has it Bill thought he was writing a letter about Tess, but instead it turns out he was writing about Ellie. Joel didn’t warm to Ellie as quickly as Bill did to Frank, but his stoic face is clearly cracking with every question she asks and every joke she tells. Joel was not happy when the world ended, because that day came with Sarah’s death. But if he’s been physically around other people all these years, he’s mostly remained emotionally alone, other than Tess. And now it is about this girl whose feelings are all very clear, and she usually discusses them as soon as she feels like it. She needs protection just as much, if not more, than Frank did. And we see that she is already beginning to penetrate him. As they drive off Bill’s truck (loaded with some supplies, but away from the entire arsenal), Ronstadt’s now-familiar tune lays on the cassette deck, and he can’t resist letting himself smile a little as she jokes that Ronstadt’s voice is “better than nothing.” What a wonderful, wonderful episode of TV, right down to that last picture of the bedroom window that Bill left open so that the house he and Frank had made wouldn’t be tainted by the smell of what they became after death. There are a couple of zombies, but they only appear briefly, and are quickly dispatched by Ellie (who she finds trapped in rubble in the opening sequence on Cumberland Farms), and then Bill. This is the most convincing argument yet that The Last of Us is a show about humans first, bloody creatures second that goes a long way. And this was a wonderfully painful and powerful human story.

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