At the beginning of The Last of Us episode 3, Ellie and Joel have made it 10 miles west of Boston. Ellie’s never been in the woods before. Ellie takes a moment to address the elephant in the room: Tess’ death. “Don’t blame me for something that isn’t my fault,” Ellie says. Joel and Tess chose to take on this mission.
Ellie and Joel have a 5-hour hike ahead of them. Ellie tries to make small talk and asks Joel about the scar on his face. Joel avoids answering. They stumble upon an abandoned store and look for fresh supplies. Ellie finds a hidden door to a basement. She spots some Tampax and hears a lone infected trapped under concrete blocks. Ellie walks up to him and takes out her knife. She cuts his face and then stabs him in the head.
After they leave the store, Ellie wonders how the pandemic happened. Joel’s best guess is that cordyceps mutated and got into the food supply. He explains to her how it evolved so quickly. They discover a pile of bones. Joel reveals that a week after the outbreak soldiers went through the country and evacuated small towns. The people were told that they were going to a QZ — if there was room. If there wasn’t, they were killed. These people weren’t sick. “Dead people can’t be infected,” Joel says.
The episode flashes back to 2003 when the evacuations began. Bill, played by Nick Offerman, is watching everything play out on his security cameras. He manages to avoid having to be evacuated after hiding in his secret bunker. When he walks outside, everyone is gone. He goes shopping at Home Deport and stocks up on gas and other supplies.
Four years later, Bill has created a fortress around his house. One day, he hears a man who fell into one of the holes he dug around his house. His name is Frank, played by Murray Bartlett. He’s from a Baltimore QZ and trying to get to Boston. Bill tests him for the infection, and Frank’s results come back negative. Frank’s desperate for some food.
Bill lets Frank clean up and have dinner with him. When Frank sees the piano in the living room, he can’t resist playing. Bill tells him to get up and shows him how it’s properly done. He sings and plays Linda Ronstadt’s “Long Long Time.”
Frank asks, “Who’s the girl you’re singing about?” Bill replies, “There’s no girl.” Frank kisses Bill. They get into bed together. Bill’s never been with a man before.
Three years later, Frank and Bill are together. But it’s not always sunshine and roses with them. They struggle with compromising. Frank wants to contribute in his own way. They meet Tess and Joel. Joel and Bill get some one-on-one time. Joel offers his help with the wire fence, but Bill is stubborn. Joel warns Bill that raiders will come sooner or later.
Another three years pass by. Bill and Frank have created a life for themselves. “I was never afraid before you showed up,” Bill admits to Frank. As Joel warned, the raiders do come. Bill has reinforcements set in place, but he does end up getting shot in a shootout. Bill thinks he’s going to die and urges Frank to call Joel.
Ten years later, Bill has survived his brush with death. However, Frank is now in a wheelchair and suffering from what appears to be cancer. He knows the end is near. One day, he wakes up and tells Bill that this is his last day. Bill doesn’t want this to be the end, but Frank has made up his mind. He wants to marry Bill. After dinner together, he wants Bill to crush up pills and put them in his wine. They’ll go to bed and Frank will fall asleep in Bill’s arms.
Bill doesn’t think he can help Frank like this. “Do you love me?” Frank asks Bill. He already knows the answer. “Then love me the way I want you to,” Frank says. They get married, Bill cooks an amazing meal, and Bill does exactly what Frank asks of him. But there’s a catch. Bill has also taken the crushed-up pills. He doesn’t want to live in a world without Frank. They go to bed and die together.
Joel and Ellie make it to Bill and Frank’s house. Joel knows something is up. The house is eerily quiet. Ellie finds a note and a key from Bill. The note is dated August 29, 2023. He tells Joel not to go into the bedroom but says to take anything he needs.
“I used to hate the world, and I was happy when everyone died,” Bill writes. “But I was wrong because there was one person worth saving. That’s what I did. I saved him and I protected him. That’s why men like you and me are here. We have a job to do. And God help any motherf***ers who stand in our way.”
Bill gives Joel everything and says in his letter to keep Tess safe. Joel walks outside and finds Bill’s car. He tells Ellie that he has a brother in Wyoming who might be in trouble. He used to be a Firefly and could help get her to where she needs to be. After cleaning themselves up, Joel has some rules for Ellie if she’s going to go with him to Wyoming: don’t bring up Tess ever, don’t tell anyone about her condition, and do what he says when he says it. They go down into Bill’s bunker and find Bill’s stash.
When Joel isn’t looking, Ellie takes a gun from one of Bill and Frank’s drawers and doesn’t tell Joel. They head out in the truck. It is Ellie’s first time in a car. She doesn’t even know what a seatbelt is. She finds a tape in the dash. It’s Linda Ronstadt. They drive away listening to a classic, ready for whatever comes next.