In “Lengthy, Lengthy Time,” the newest episode of HBO’s “The Final of Us,” we enter Invoice’s never-before-seen romantic life. Followers of the sport might discover some large deviations from the supply materials, as characters are given reimagined lives.
Within the recreation, we meet Invoice solely briefly, as protagonists Joel and Ellie go by his city in hopes of scrounging collectively a working automobile for his or her journey throughout a post-apocalyptic America. We uncover Invoice wasn’t all the time solo — his romantic accomplice, Frank, died by suicide after turning into contaminated. The sport doesn’t linger on these particulars lengthy, with solely small nudges and insinuations by dialogue and textual content, however there’s a way that the connection ended bitterly.
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As compared, we meet a extra weak Invoice (performed by Nick Offerman) within the TV present, who spends almost twenty years alongside Frank (Murray Bartlett) as they construct a peaceable life collectively whereas the skin world fights for survival throughout a zombie apocalypse. This peek into their principally tranquil life, which the sport by no means provided, is greater than welcome, particularly when prolonged happiness — not to mention between a queer couple — is so uncommon on this universe.
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It’s a change showrunner Craig Mazin mentioned he got here up with to “go deeper” with Invoice and Frank, and to supply a “breather” after two quick-moving, action-oriented episodes. It’s additionally an answer to translate a gameplay-heavy part of the sport to the large display. In the course of the writing course of, Mazin informed Neil Druckmann, co-creator of the present and recreation, that he was “about to jot down one thing [Druckmann] wouldn’t acknowledge.”
“As a lot as I liked taking part in it, I believed possibly we’d do one thing wildly totally different,” Mazin informed The Washington Submit in a current interview. He recalled feeling impressed by the sport’s revelation of Invoice having a accomplice, explaining the way it’s sudden, particularly due to Invoice’s presentation as a “paranoid nutter” and a “cranky, very straight-acting, annoying man.” He’s not somebody you’d essentially count on to have a romantic backstory, Mazin mentioned.
“There was this tragedy to the way in which it ended,” he mentioned. “And I believed, ‘nicely, what if we really go actually deep into that? And it would not essentially have to finish the identical approach because it ended within the recreation. It may finish fairly otherwise.’”
The change to Invoice’s story provides us new context for who he’s, who he turns into, and the optimistic impact he’s had on others. Nevertheless it additionally brings us to a brand new conclusion, with Invoice and Frank rising aged and Frank finally falling in poor health. Unable to look after himself, his high quality of life wanes, and he requests a marriage ceremony the 2 can have fun collectively that ends with Frank taking his personal life. To Frank’s shock — and maybe to the viewers’s as nicely — Invoice consumes sufficient capsules “to kill a horse” alongside him.
The story is heartbreaking, however Mazin considers it nonetheless hopeful.
“We had an opportunity to ask: what occurs when a personality on this world is definitely, comparatively secure?” Mazin mentioned. “What do they do? What do they want? Can we give any individual a cheerful ending? And I believe they’ve a cheerful ending. I do. They win. They get this entire life collectively. And when it ends, it ends on their phrases as they want. It is also vital to indicate to the viewers that there was an opportunity for issues to be okay, and for like to flourish, and to conclude nicely.”
Moderately than having to struggle for his or her love, Invoice and Frank merely exist collectively. For Mazin, it was a chance to delve deeper into extra views of how love can manifest within the post-apocalypse.
“I needed to discover this elementary thematic dichotomy that comes up again and again as we watch the sequence, and that’s that there are two very totally different varieties of affection,” Mazin mentioned.
Mazin defined that the way in which Frank exhibits love is, because the character says within the episode, by “taking note of issues,” as he performs renovations in town, crops stunning gardens, and infrequently surprises Invoice with these to indicate affection. Invoice, alternatively, exhibits love by safety. As they develop nearer, a profound worry of loss is felt, notably by Invoice, one that’s paying homage to how Joel cares for Ellie. “I used to be by no means afraid earlier than you confirmed up,” he tells Frank in a second of vulnerability.
Exploring these new views grew to become doable as Mazin, Druckmann, and the remainder of the crew labored to construct a cinematic expertise that expands the fictional world of the video games. Mazin noticed this episode as one other likelihood to “give context to the time that occurred between outbreak day and the place we at the moment are within the story.” These tales past Joel and Ellie give viewers an opportunity to expertise “The Final of Us” in a reimagined mild. In some instances this has labored nicely, whereas others are extra closely debated. Maybe we’ll see extra of those sorts of tales because the sequence continues within the months forward, and past in its second season.