The Last of Us Episode 3: The music on Bill and Frank’s last day explained

Bill in The Last of Us Episode 3HBO

The Last of Us Episode 3 uses a renowned, heartbreaking piece of music during Bill and Frank’s last day – if it sounds familiar, here’s why.

In our review, we said it “belongs in the same untouchable echelon as Ozymandias and Pine Barrens; it’s one of the greatest episodes ever committed to television, and pop culture history will renown it as such.”

It follows the 15-year love story of Bill and Frank, a survivalist and survivor brought together by the apocalypse who become everything to each other until the bitter(sweet) end.

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While you were wiping away the tears, you may have recognized the music that plays as Bill and Frank spend their last “perfect” day together – so, let us explain.

The Last of Us Episode 3: What music plays on Bill and Frank’s last day?

Max Richter’s ‘On The Nature of Daylight’ plays in the final act of Bill and Frank’s story in The Last of Us Episode 3.

The needly drops after Frank, now wheelchair-bound and frail, tells Bill he’s ready to die. “There wasn’t anything to cure this before the world fell apart… give me one more day,” he says.

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“Do you love me?” he asks Bill. “Then love me the way I want you to.”

Then the music starts playing, with Richter’s strings singing as the couple get married and sit down for their last meal together.

The track has an extensive history in movies and TV, perhaps best remembered for its punch-to-the-gut impact in Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival. It was also used in Shutter Island, Stranger Than Fiction, and an episode of The Handmaid’s Tale.

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Coming from Richter’s The Blue Notebooks album, the composer described it as a protest about “Iraq, a mediation on violence – both the violence that I had personally experienced around me as a child and the violence of war, at the utter futility of so much armed conflict.”

While it’s not hard to read similar themes in The Last of Us, the reason for its use in Episode 3 appears to be far more simple: even the most coldhearted among us will feel emotional when it plays.

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Also, the beauty of Bill and Frank’s relationship is just like the nature of daylight: it had its time in the sun, but for every dawn, there has to be dusk.

The Last of Us Episode 4 will be available to watch on February 5 in the US and February 6 in the UK. You can check out the rest of our coverage here.