Those who are following The Last of Us only through the HBO series and without knowing the plot through the games must have noticed that Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Tess (Anna Torv) mentioned some names more than once throughout the first two episodes. On more than one occasion, the smugglers mention Bill and Frank as possible allies and people they can trust beyond the walls of the Boston Quarantine Zone.
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Anyone who has played the game knows who they are and their importance to the plot, but one of the great charms of the adaptation is taking this story to a new audience while at the same time sewing together all these facts in a very organic way, making a name presented in the first chapter make sense and become important later on.
More than that, the entry of Bill (Nick Offerman) and Frank (Murray Bartlett) in the plot will also be a surprise for players. One of HBO’s promises was to expand some plots in relation to the games and that implies showing more of these characters’ relationship.
Thus, without needing to go into spoilers, it is already possible to trace a minimum of details about these new survivors and how they will be shown in The Last of Us.
Who are Bill and Frank
In short, Bill and Frank are Joel and Tess’ kind of safe haven outside the Quarantine Zone. The two live in an area outside the area protected by the military in Boston, living in a kind of bunker built in a more distant neighborhood. You know those American suburban areas? Imagine this turned into a gated community to keep out infected and invaders.
In the game, Bill is portrayed as someone paranoid who managed to survive precisely because he was prepared not to leave the house and repel anything he saw as a threat. Extremely antisocial, he compensated for his isolation with a huge arsenal and many supplies – which ensured his safety during all this time. His only company is Frank, who barely appears in the game.
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Why are they important to Joel and Tess?
Throughout the first two episodes of The Last of Us, both Joel and Tess talk about the duo as trusted outside the Quarantine Zone. And although it is still not possible to understand why, it is clear that they are important allies who have already helped them in the past.
This is something that is only shown in the third chapter of the series, when we see how all these characters will meet and the relationships that arise from that. Only, even before this whole presentation, it is already possible to say that Bill and Frank are the closest thing to what Joel and Tess can call friends. In a world so screwed up where everyone is struggling to survive, having someone you can trust is rare.
In addition, they are also essential for smugglers to work. They are the ones who inform the protagonist about the situation outside the ZQ and who let them know when there are new products that they can trade in the militia area — and all of this controlled from a very intelligent music system.
How does the code they created work?
Yes, the radio code that is featured in the first episode of The Last of Us is something that was created by Bill and Frank to help Joel and Tess with their activities as smugglers.
This is already revealed in Joel’s first contact with Ellie (Bella Ramsey), when the girl finds a book in which the protagonist wrote down the meaning of each song: the 60s means that there is nothing new, the 70s means that there are new ones. 80’s merchandise and music is played when there’s a problem in the area and it’s best to avoid going around.
At first, this is just a detail of the script, but it shows how much the adaptation of the game is concerned with tying all these ends together and showing how organic this world is. And, in the third episode, all these elements are better developed.
Differences with the game
To talk about the differences, we need to get into the area of spoilers a bit. So, if you haven’t played The Last of Us or even don’t want to know what happens in the third episode of the series, maybe it’s best to skip to the next topic.
Decided to continue? Well, as said, Bill appears in the game as a paranoid survivor who is even somewhat antisocial and lives outside the Quarantine Zone. So much so that when Joel and Ellie come to him, his main concern is to send them away so he can enjoy the solitude of his bunker. And this also happens a lot because he was abandoned by Frank, his partner until then. In a second moment, the player discovers that the fugitive ended up dead.
In the series, however, this is all very different. As producers Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann had already signaled, the idea of expanding the story and the relationship of these characters was expanded significantly. So what episode 3 does is show how Bill and Frank met and loved each other up until the moment when Joel and Ellie come to visit.
There is a crucial difference in all this between the series and the game, but we won’t talk about it here so as not to spoil anyone’s surprise. The important thing is to know that the series managed to create something much more interesting than what players already knew.
How Joel and Ellie will find them
After all the mess in the second episode, with Tess’s death on Capitol Hill after being infected by the cordyceps fungus, you may have missed an important line that will lead Joel and Ellie to Bill and Frank.
When the group arrives at the building they believed the Fireflies were in, they discover that their contractors have all been killed. Instead of people ready to welcome Ellie, they only find dead bodies lying on the floor. More than that, there’s a horde of infected coming your way.
It is in the midst of all this despair that Tess tells Joel to look for Bill and Frank, as they must know where the Fireflies went. After all, if they are the eyes of the smugglers outside the Quarantine Zone, they might know where this rebel group went after the failure in Boston. And that’s how the paths of these characters will cross.
The Last of Us is available on HBO Max.