If I am completely honest with you, among my plans for this last Monday in January, I did not include starting the day crying her eyes out with the third episode of ‘The Last of us’, but the HBO series has continued to offer top quality television and a master class in terms of adapting video games deviating once again from the source material to enrich his already fantastic universe.
- From these lines we will go into detail about the new routes that Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann have taken in ‘A long, long time’.
Love in times of Cordyceps
This week, the translation to the small screen of the Naughty Dog game has opted for distance themselves from the point of view of Joel and Ellie to focus the core of their narrative on Bill; one of the secondary characters of ‘The Last of Us’ who could not have further development in the playable version of the story. In it, through small details, it was stated that he maintained a sentimental relationship with a man named Frank very different from the one we’ve seen in ‘A long, long time’.
In the video game, Bill and Frank lived together for nearly two decades in their Lincoln fort. At one point, the couple held a discussion due to Bill’s strict security measures and practices which ended with Frank breaking off the relationship and running away. Unfortunately, Fr.ank was infected after an attack and committed suicide —without first having met Joel—but not before leaving a not at all nice note for Bill.
In the series, we have chosen to turn what we experienced in 2013 and treat this post-apocalyptic romance in a very different way. Bill and Frank manage to spend a life together and happily —with its pluses and minuses, of course— after the second fell into one of the traps of the preparationist, until the ravages of age put an end to the idyll. Frank’s deteriorating health causes him to ask his partner to help him commit suicide after spending one last day together, but Bill decides to go with the love of his life.
All of this is narrated with undeniable care and effectiveness, but What has led the showrunners of the series to opt for this angle? During a conversation with Insider, Mazin gave his point of view on the matter.
“There’s a beautiful thread in the game that suggests that Bill and Frank were in a relationship. I just suggested to Neil that maybe we could pull that thread and take it in a different direction from how it’s portrayed in the game. , and use it to show the passage of time and to explore some of the themes that are so important to the series, themes of what it means to love someone, the different types of love, including a love that can be very protective, violent and dangerous, and how could we give those two men a victory. They did it. They had a long love and an ending that was quite peaceful and happy.”
DruckmannFor his part, he added the following.
“In the game…mainly because we never leave Joel and Ellie’s perspective, we don’t get to see how Bill lived his life. When you have a safe space, what do you have left to live for? I love that Craig brought up this story of, “We’re going to build on this and show that it’s a different Bill for whom, at first, it’s all about survival and nothing more. And then there’s this other person who continues to look for beauty in life, even in these horrible circumstances. This Bill, in this world, in the world of the show, eventually changes and gives himself over to that love and thinking, ‘Oh, this is what matters in life.'”
love and purpose
The episode, in addition to allowing us to delve into aspects that the video game could only go through on tiptoe, has served to reinforce the discourse and the themes on which the production revolves —which does not stop dealing, like the original, about love, its chiaroscuro and its consequences— and, ultimately, to prop up Joel’s dramatic arc thanks to the letter that Bill left him before he died.
In it, he explains how he found his purpose in continuing to protect Frank, and leaves his arsenal for him to do the same for Tess. But with the smuggler out of the equation, Pedro Pascal’s character begins to see Ellie as his own “purpose”.
Druckmann explains it like this.
“He gives her a warning too late. This is what you have to do for Tess. And then Joel realizes, ‘Well, it’s too late for Tess. Maybe it’s not for this kid.”
Mazin, in an interview with Time magazine, has condensed everything previously stated in a simple reflection, making it clear that, ultimately, the greatest use of the charming story of Bill and Frank is none other than to enhance that of Joel and Ellie. If there is room for happiness in this world, the leading duo has a lot to lose during their journey.
“One of my goals was to show that there is a way to win. I mean, it ends tragically, but from what I understand it’s a happy ending. They’ve had a great life together. And if we know that emotional success can still happen in this world, if “It can go well, we can worry a little more as Joel and Ellie move through the story because if there’s no chance of it going well, nobody cares. But if there is, that’s what the story is about.”
It is possible that with ‘A long, long time’, ‘The Last of Us’ has peaked. But if what is to come is half as fantastic, intense and emotional, we can make room for it at the top of the list with the best of 2023.