‘The Last Of Us’ Episode 3: Recap And Ending, Explained – What Did Joel And Ellie Find In Bill And Frank’s Camp?


Out of a number of advantages one can think of while adapting a video game for the screen, one major point is not having to constantly think of gameplay and level design. If these elements (which are, of course, the most important ones in a game) are kept aside, then a story and its characters can be given far more depth. Episode 3 of HBO’s “The Last of Us” is an outstanding reminder of this, as it transforms an infected-ridden section of the game into one telling an etching tale of love. While Naughty Dog’s original video game was itself remarkable for its storytelling, the HBO version is arguably taking an already beautiful work and turning it into perfection.

Spoilers Ahead

What Happens In ‘The Last Of Us’ Episode 3?

With the sudden loss of Tess still fresh in their minds, Joel and Ellie continue their journey toward the west. Tess had asked Joel to get to Bill’s camp, as he was someone who could immensely help them, and Joel did so. But he is immensely frustrated and grieved about his situation, hardly talking to Ellie at all, for to him, all this has happened because of Ellie. Had they not had to escort the girl to the Firefly outpost, he and Tess would not have been so exposed to the infected, and Tess would probably never have been bitten. Ellie senses that Joel is holding her responsible in his mind as well, and she directly confronts him, saying that nobody had forced them to take her along with them. As Tess had also reminded Joel numerous times before, Ellie now recalls that they had taken on this mission only for their own benefit. Joel now seems to accept that it was just his misplaced anger and frustration that held the girl responsible, and he does behave better with Ellie from now on.

As they walk towards Bill’s camp, the two come across an old gas station, where Joel mentions having stashed up some resources sometime earlier. They enter the place, and Joel starts to look for his things while Ellie finds an old Mortal Kombat II arcade game and reminisces about playing it with her favorite character, Mileena. She then wanders around the abandoned place and finds an opening to the basement, which she immediately climbs down to explore. Ellie had so far asked Joel, and also Tess, multiple times to give her a gun, but to no avail. Finally, it is her time to try out her survival skills, as she finds an infected person trapped under rubble in this basement. Like everyone else, Ellie too has a vicious side, but instead of going right for the kill, the girl first cuts open a wound on the infected’s face to see what is inside. This can be connected to her earlier curiosity about whether killing the infected was equivalent to killing humans, or this act can even be perceived as the girl’s brutality. Either way, Ellie seems satisfied when only very little blood oozes out of the cut, and she then goes on to stab the infected to death. But she does not reveal this to Joel throughout the episode, keeping it a secret of her own.

Soon the two set out again and passed through an abandoned area that was once inhabited by people. Through a visual cue here, “The Last of Us” Episode 3 takes us back to 2003 and presents a long flashback following Bill, a survivalist who decided to stay by himself inside his house instead of taking help from the government. Over the years, Bill had fenced off his whole neighborhood, or “town,” as it is referred to, and had been living on it. Now, when Joel and Ellie finally arrive at the place, there seems to be no response from Bill. Joel, who knows the code for the main gate, makes their way in but notices oddities in the area. The flowers outside Bill’s house used to be very well kept by his partner Frank, but they are now dying. The main door to the house used to be always locked from the inside but now easily opens up when Joel turns the latch. Entering the place, he calls out to Bill and Frank, but nobody responds. On the other hand, Ellie is ecstatic to see such a luxurious house with a grand piano sitting in one corner. As Joel asks her to stay put while he moves around in the house, Ellie comes across a note left on a table. This letter, addressed “To whomever but probably Joel” informs the reader not to enter Bill’s bedroom, suggesting that he and Frank are dead. It goes on to make some heartfelt confessions to Joel and then also asks him to take Bill’s car and put it to use for himself. 

Along with the letter was a car key, and Joel checked out the garage to find the vehicle. Although it does not have a battery in its engine, all the supplies needed to make one are neatly kept inside a small refrigerator. Such a setup is necessary because leaving a fixed battery inside a car would eventually drain and ruin it, especially since there was not much use for cars in such times. Joel builds the battery, puts it on a charge, and then goes around the house looking for more supplies. He and Ellie also come across the radio, through which Bill would send coded messages to Joel by playing songs from three different decades. Finally, when it is time to leave, Joel clearly tells Ellie about his plans to go to Wyoming to look for his brother. Ellie agrees to this, and it is evident that she wants to stick with Joel by now. She also agrees with the primary rule that Joel sets out—that it is always going to be Joel who decides what they do. Seeing a whole arsenal of weapons that Bill owns, Ellie once again asks to carry one with her, but Joel denies her request. It is then while going through the rest of the house, that Ellie finds a handgun inside a cabinet and secretly puts it in her backpack. After enjoying all the amenities at the house, such as hot water for an exquisite bath, Joel and Ellie get into the car and prepare themselves to drive away. It is Ellie’s first time in a car, and she is filled with excitement, and Joel, too, now seems softer toward her. Finally, as they drive away towards the west, Joel seems to laugh at some of Ellie’s usual foolery, and it is the first time ever that he does so.

How Had Bill And Frank Met? How Did They Know Joel?

“The Last of Us” episode 3 is already being hailed as the best episode of the season and possibly one of the best episodes on TV this year, and rightly so. What had only been a small note and some side dialogues in the game have been brilliantly fleshed out into a story of love and companionship. It all started in 2003 when the government was evacuating this particular neighborhood and taking all residents to their newly built Boston quarantine zone. Always being one to believe in the evil side of governments—he strongly felt that the 9/11 incident was an insider job and that all governments were essentially Nazis—Bill decided not to leave his house. He had always been prepared for a disaster, with a basement full of guns and ammunition, enough resources to run for a year, and traps and wires set around his house that would inform him of any intrusion. On the day of the evacuation, Bill remained holed up in the basement when the soldiers searched his house and then left, finding nobody. Once all was settled, he went out and lived in peace alone in the whole town. With time, he stocks up on even more resources, crucial ones like gas and luxurious ones like wine, and he also installs more surveillance and protection all around his house and town.

For the next four years, until 2007, Bill lived all alone until one day, one of his alarms informed him of an intruder. Going over to check a hole he had dug outside his fences, Bill finds a man around the same age as him who claims that he is not infected. Bill quickly tests him to find that he has been honest and then spares his life, saying that it is very uncommon for him to let anyone walk away. The man introduces himself as Frank and asks for some food, saying that he has been traveling toward Boston from his native Baltimore. Despite a lot of initial hesitation, Bill does invite him in and treats him to a fantastic meal, even though he is not sure whether to trust Frank. The visitor then spots the piano and tries singing on it, rather horribly, when Bill instead takes his place, and a more artistic side of him is seen. What follows is a sublime moment of understanding and longing as the two men kiss and then go on to make love. Earlier during the lunch, Bill had said that he knew he did not appear to be the kind to enjoy fine tastes like wine and rabbit, but Frank had replied that he actually did. Then, before their first kiss, Frank asks Bill about the woman for whom he sings such love songs, and Bill replies that there isn’t any, to which Frank says that he knew about it. Even in this very short while, Frank had understood and seen the real character of Bill more than anyone ever did before the pandemic. Within moments, Bill looks touched—all his safety walls and protective barriers have been penetrated by the warm and compassionate Frank, who has recognized him for who he is. As they make love, Frank says that he would want to stay on for a few days, and we are taken straight to three years later, in 2010.

The two have been living as a couple ever since, and despite Frank’s wish to keep their house and neighborhood tidy, Bill believes all of it to be a waste of resources. Nonetheless, Bill does agree after some time, but then he is angered and shocked to know that his partner has been communicating with someone on the outside, some woman living inside the Boston QZ. Frank invites this woman and her partner to lunch one day, and even though Bill is scared of an intrusion, he cannot do anything about it. This woman turns out to be Tess, and her partner is Joel; this is how they got to know Bill and Frank. The two sides become friends and discuss business, and it is very clear that Bill and Joel are quite like each other. Even though they both don’t trust each other for the initial few years, this likelihood is exactly what Bill writes in his letter to Joel years later, in 2023. In that final note, Bill mentions that before meeting Frank, he had no purpose in life, and it was his partner who had kept him alive for so long. He knew that he would have to protect Frank from the external attacks of the infected and raiders that kept growing with time. Similarly, he wrote Joel should also stay determined to protect his partner, Tess, forever. Because as Bill urged, the reason for the existence of tough people like himself and Joel was so that they could protect others. While Joel almost breaks down after reading this since he has not been able to protect Tess, he also recovers and sees the other side of his situation. It is from this letter that he currently draws motivation to keep Ellie safe at all costs and deliver her to safety. As Bill had given his all to protect Frank, Joel, too, would give all his might to protect Ellie. If not for the young girl, at least for the memories of Tess and Bill.

Although the couple, Bill and Frank, had managed to survive the global fungal outbreak, the government’s mass murder of citizens, and the countless waves of infected and raiders that all tried to enter their town, old age and sickness soon caught up with them. By 2023, Frank had gotten cancer, and the man was bound to a wheelchair. Such was his pain that it would keep him up through many nights, not letting him rest at ease. It was for this suffering that one day he asked Bill for an end—he says that his life has been fulfilled by spending these last twenty years with him, and now he wants to end it before his sickness turns even worse. So, as he had planned, Frank and Bill visit the local abandoned church and exchange rings and vows, marking their marriage. They then return home, where Bill cooks them a lunch of rabbit and wine, just like their first meal ever. Frank had earlier asked Bill to mix a concoction of ground-up pills inside his wine so that he could pass away peacefully in his sleep. Although Bill had protested a number of times, he eventually realized that there was no other way out of their situation. There were no doctors they could visit, as going to the QZ would definitely get them killed by the FEDRA, and no doctor could ever possibly come their way. He had agreed, and now he mixes the pills in Frank’s wine too, but with an ease that is definitely suspicious. Frank, too, notices this and immediately realizes what has happened—he asks whether the bottle of wine already had pills mixed in it, and Bill replies that it did. Bill had drugged himself as well, saying that his life too was fulfilled and that he did not want to live on without Frank. In the end, the two lovingly retired to their bedroom, where they died peacefully in each other’s company.

What More Do We Learn About The Fungal Outbreak?

While “The Last of Us” episode 2 revealed more about the exact way in which the fungus had spread, first in Indonesia, in “The Last of Us” episode 3, we get an idea about the pathetic government response to it. During the first half of the episode, Ellie asks to know more about how things panned out, especially how the whole world got infected within a single day. Joel explains that the cordyceps had mutated and latched onto basic products like flour and sugar, therefore getting into the food chain. Once that happened, the next part was quick. The infected batch went out on shelves in various parts of the world, and people started to get the fungus inside them. Within a few hours, they were biting and spreading it more, and in only a few days, the world was a different place. With such utter chaos and unprecedented events, governments around the globe did not simply know how to react. Just as was mentioned in “The Last of Us” episode 2, major cities were bombed to kill citizens, irrespective of whether they were infected or not. In the same manner that happened in Bill’s town, armies were sent out to evacuate small towns and take the citizens to quarantine zones. But it was obvious that not all would fit inside the QZs, so the army’s response was to kill everyone else. During their hike towards Bill’s town, Joel and Ellie pass by one such spot, where countless human skeletons and some mere remains of their clothes and belongings still lie. In fact, it is suggested that the people from Bill’s town were actually not taken to the Boston QZ but were killed by the soldiers on the way. While the fungus itself was horrific, the government’s reaction to this outbreak is now painted as equally horrendous and tragic.

What Is To Be Expected From ‘The Last Of Us’ Episode 4?

Now that Joel has managed to get hold of a car, he is expected to go looking for Tommy, so we can look forward to a possible reunion. With so many flashback sequences happening, especially the one with Bill showing him surviving through phases since the outbreak, the question of how Joel and Tommy survived also becomes very interesting. If we were to get such an episode, how their paths diverged after Tommy joined the Fireflies would also be very interesting to watch. After the events of “The Last of Us” episode 3, Joel seems even more determined and naturally protective toward Ellie. Joel has been losing close ones very quickly; even though Bill was not really his best friend, he was the closest thing to a friend that Joel had. Just how far the man would go to protect Ellie, who has become his companion by now, would be something to look out for. Lastly, whether the gun Ellie sneaks into her backpack would come in handy soon would also be something to expect. 

See More: ‘The Last Of Us’ Episode 4: Recap And Ending, Explained: What To Expect From Episode 5?

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Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya keeps an avid interest in all sorts of films, history, sports, videogames and everything related to New Media. Holding a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies, he is currently working as a teacher of Film Studies at a private school and also remotely as a Research Assistant and Translator on a postdoctoral project at UdK Berlin.

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