One of the biggest issues when adapting one medium to another is the severity of their deviation from its source material – it often ruins the experience and usually disrespects the fanbase; HBO’s The Last of Us episode 3 deviates from its gaming counterpart, telling a deeper story of Bill while still maintaining its pacing with the overall plot.

Joel’s Burden

The episode opens with Joel by a stream while stacking rocks – an easter egg from Uncharted 4’s Not a Cairn in the World trophy I presume – he sinks his hairline fractured knuckles in the stream for relief. This element of trekking miles off of Boston was absent in the game given its linear nature and design to keep players retention. As they travel, Ellie pretty much overwhelms Joel with questions – one in particular had Joel recount the events of the outbreak clarifying that the it didn’t start because of monkey’s, but because of flour. This scene was peculiar because Joel gave the exact time and date of when it all fell apart, naturally, given that it was on his birthday and the day he lost Sarah. Ellie appreciated that. Eventually they reach an abandoned mart where Joel stashed supplies a couple years back. As he searches, Ellie finds a hatch that leads to the basement with some feminine product and an infected stuck in rubble. Ellie approaches with her butterfly knife fearlessly, waving it across its face. The infected tracks it – which I found curious as it seems to be aware of danger. Maybe they’re not as inactive as want to believe.

Eventually they reach a section where Joel doesn’t want Ellie to see, yet another fatherly instinct kicking in – but that doesn’t stop Ellie which transitions to an eposition of introducing Bill during the start of the outbreak – and here we see a story that really highlights the height of episode 3.

Bill’s Survival

In the game, Bill is a paranoid survivor – he doesn’t like people and trust them even less. For years they made enough trades to owe Joel a favor – which he leverages to get himself a working vehicle to bring Ellie across country. The baseline relationship between them still stands in this episode, but dives much deeper into who Bill is, with the added introduction of Frank, a significant character to his development. This episode deviates greatly for all the right reasons, and it starts with Frank being alive instead of dead like the game.

Nick Offerman portrays the enigmatic character to such a degree, it’s almost impossible to tell the difference between renditions. We see how prepared he was to face all the government conspiracies he’s built over the years with his retrofitted bunker under his home. After the town gets evacuated, Bill finds this as the best opportunity to stock up on all the best resources he can muster. After 4 years, he’s got a rhythm going for sustainability. This is when a trap is set which triggers an event that would change the way he views the world for the rest of his life.

The Unexpected

Murray Bartlett portrays Frank, a creative people person. Bill checks if he’s infected – finds that he’s clean and helps with directing him away from the town. Frank pleads for food and ofcourse Bill denies but is then convinced eventually. Because of his lavishly sustainable living conditions, he has working elements that’s absent everywhere else in the world – including running water. Bill not only offer him a shower and clean clothes, but cooks an excellent meal that basically brings pure joy to Frank. The stark difference between this Bill and the game is that he is absolutely filled with class and hospitality whereas he’s absent of these things.

This episode is about learning to love and the beauty of it – Bill was always paranoid, had zero faith in humanity and didn’t want to get along with anyone. He meets Frank who contrast his personality and brings life to him in ways he didn’t know possible. There are several moments that’s filled with excellent highs and harrowing lows that really highlights Bill’s character that we did not see in the game – and with deviation comes surprising conclusions I did not see coming.

The episode does a great job in time stamping pivotal moments which eventually brings us back to the present day – Joel makes it to Bill’s town and just like the game, gets his car to drive off to Tommy’s last know location. A letter is left with Joel that reminds him of his failures – this was a turning point for Joel’s character since he’s lost Sarah and Tess, two of the most important people in his life. Whether or not it reinforces his desire to be better, it weighs heavy on him and seems to be determined to not make that mistake anymore.


Episode 3 isn’t just a deviation from the game, it’s a beautifully told exposition that stays on track while expanding on everything we didn’t know we loved about Bill. Yet again, HBO’s The Last of Us tops with every episode and I cannot wait for Sunday.

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