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The Last of Us shocks viewers with gay love story

Spoiler warning for episode three of The Last of Us!

By Emily Maskell

Pedro Pascal in HBO’s post-apocalyptic drama The Last Of Us.
Pedro Pascal in HBO’s post-apocalyptic drama The Last Of Us. (Image: Liane Hentscher/HBO)

The most recent episode of The Last of Us brought viewers to tears with an unexpected gay love story.

Final spoiler warning for The Last of Us episode three!

Since its debut, The Last of Us has become a TV sensation. It stars The Mandalorian‘s Pedro Pascal and Game of Thrones‘ Bella Ramsey as Joel and Ellie respectively.

HBO’s post-apocalyptic drama took a detour from the usual proceedings to focus on the tender romance of Bill (Nick Offerman) and Frank (Murray Bartlett).

In the game, this tender relationship is hinted at but never explored with the heart-tugging detail the show dedicates.

It’s the show’s biggest deviation from the original 2013 video game.

For nearly two decades, these men have grown old together while running from a decimating plague that’s poisoned the world.

The pair meet when Frank stumbles upon Bill’s infection-free camp and despite the latter’s suspicions, they find comfort in one another. 

Frank never ends up leaving. Together and isolated, they find beauty in their companionship. Playing piano and taste-testing strawberries, the pair’s joy is contrasted against the devastation that surrounds them.

Then comes the most heartbreaking line delivered by Bill to Frank: “I was never afraid before you showed up.” Ouch! Our hearts!

“As awesome as that episode is, there are going to be fans who are upset by it.” 

The episode then flashes forward to meet protagonists Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey) who discover a note left by the men. 

Following the episode’s airing, many took to Twitter to express their tearful adoration for the handling of gay love. 

One viewer shared the surprise of Bill and Frank’s episode romance tipped emotions over the edge.

They shared: “imagine being smug thinking you know everything that’s going to happen on The Last of Us show already bc you played the game and then they show you a gay version of Up.”

Many are also praising the show’s ability to elegantly tell such a harrowing tale in one episode.

Another noted: “The Last of Us episode three randomly being a masterwork in telling a concise queer love story”

The show’s writers told The New Yorker authenticity was key in the writing of this episode.

“To me, the story we tell is authentic to the world,” Neil Druckmann and Craig Mazin shared. “It’s authentic to the themes that we’re talking about.”

They added a pre-watch warning: “As awesome as that episode is, there are going to be fans who are upset by it.”

The romance of Bill and Frank, they say, embodies the show’s overarching thematics with the themes of “outward love and inward love.”

Also, these characters represent “the people who want to make everybody better, and the people who want to protect particular people at any cost.”

The Last Of Us has been celebrated for its inclusion of several LGBTQ characters. As well as Bill and Frank, Ellie is canonically a lesbian. She seems to be growing particularly close to Riley (Storm Reid).

As a surprise to nobody, The Last Of Us has already been renewed for a second season.

The Last Of Us is available to stream now on HBO Max.