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Episode 3 (Fan Creations)

by Kermit @, Raleigh, NC, Monday, January 30, 2023, 21:18 (447 days ago) @ Cody Miller

Brought to you by Tampax Pearl.

Ok, so I loved this episode. Loved, Loved, Loved it. My read was that it is essentially a counter example to the notion that so much of apocalyptic fiction has, that given the breakdown of society human beings will naturally gravitate towards conservatism as if it were the default.

It's a pretty common notion in almost all the stories that center around societal collapse, and such criticism has been levied against many shows like The Walking Dead. I feel like the Last of Us the game is not immune to this criticism as well. You see folks either integrate into fascist governments, or embody the old style conservatism of the old west, where you take your guns, protect what's yours, and let the strong survive.

From the game, Bill in particular embodies this. While he is gay, he presents as hyper masculine, aggressive, unfeeling. At the start of the episode, so too does this Bill. But this time he's a Trumper, with lots of guns, a 'castle' with his own (border) wall, cuts wood and eats steak, and sports a 'Don't tread on Me' flag. He berates Frank because he doesn't want Hobos or Vagabonds to try to get a free meal out of him. Perhaps though, more importantly is that he is a repressed homosexual. When he and Frank get in bed for the first time, Bill confesses that he's only had sex once before, and with a woman. The implication as the scene plays out is that he's never let anyone see this side of him.

Frank convinces him to let people through, and they begin trading with Joel and Tess. However when he trades a gun for seeds, that's when the show seals the deal. As they eat the strawberries that were grown, nurtured into being, the joy is too much he weeps. This moment is where the show tells us that no, Fascism or old west masculinity is NOT the only way in this world. And so Bill cares for Frank. A wheelchair, which anywhere else would mean your abandonment in this world, means nothing as Bill and frank live out their lives. Frank's euthanasia is contrasted with Ellie's killing of the stuck zombie. Ellie did it out of a combination of fear, disgust, and curiosity (playing with it before sealing the deal), while Bill's act is born from love.

And so the show DOESN'T commit to the notion that the games and most media do. There IS room in this world for someone like Bill to be himself. Is it a coincidence that I loved this episode so much, when it's the one that deviates from the game the most?

Stupendous.

I loved it, too, but I don't think I attach your labels to Bill (or agree with the interpretations that spring from them. Bill doesn't even accept "prepper"--although I think it fits, and on that score I'd say he bet wisely). When society breaks down, it's predictable that humans act like humans, and this predates "the old west" by quite a bit. I would not say that Bill is unfeeling before Frank. He just didn't have anyone to direct those feelings toward. (Even in the game, it's clear that his gruffness is a defensive act.) I would never say he berates Frank. He explains why he can't feed him, but is easily convinced to do so regardless. I see their relationship as complementary. Yes, Frank brings beauty, intimacy, love, and relationships into Bill's life, but these are luxuries that can exist only because of the protective bubble that Bill provides. George Orwell said, "...men can only be highly civilized while other men, inevitably less civilized, are there to guard and feed them." It's pretty obvious which is which in this story.

I do have mixed feelings about the double suicide. I'm for relief from suffering, but in a non-apocalyptic world that is nonetheless plagued by loneliness and depression, I'm anxious about encouraging the option. See also Melancholia.


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