The Last of Us

Season 1, Episode 3



1 HR 15 MIN

Long, Long Time

When a stranger approaches his compound, survivalist Bill forges an unlikely connection. Later, Joel and Ellie seek Bill’s guidance.

Warning: This episode contains graphic violence.

This episode opens 10 miles west of Boston. Joel and Ellie are travelling to Bill and Frank’s compound through a wooded country where the two have a pointed conversation regarding a previous deadly event. They then stop at Cumberland Farms to obtain supplies. This section has near perfect game play content. It’s one of the many scenes in the series that feels dedicated to The Last of Us gamers, and I love it dearly.

Ellie’s experiences at Cumberland Farms also serves to show how she is directly impacted by the post-apocalyptic world in both a physical and emotional sense, especially in terms of the infected. Afterwards, Joel and Ellie travel on a deserted road where they happen upon something unsettling. This causes him to delve into the events surrounding outbreak day and the immediate aftermath.

September 30, 2003, in the town of Lincoln, it’s citizens are evacuated by the US Military. Later, the scene shifts to Bill, a militia inspired survivalist who, after successfully hiding from the authorities in his underground bunker, emerges to survey the now deserted town. He then begins to create his own compound. These first mid-series flashbacks are extremely emotional and jarring. The realistically portrayed actions of the government entities, and the conceivability of the speed of infection hit different after having experienced a global pandemic. I was immediately transported back to 2020, but with the absolute worst-case scenario. Also, it makes you take a second thought about survivalists. An end of the world situation would play out for these groups in a similar manner.

Four years later in 2007, Bill meets Frank, the lone survivor of a group traveling to the Boston QZ (quarantine zone). Their first interactions define the nature of their relationship in a truly lovely manner. As a longtime fan of the game, I was excited to get more details into the lives of these two men whose connection was only vaguely alluded to.

Three years later in 2010, a simple argument over home renovations turns into Frank expressing his heart’s true desire. Bill soon discovers that he has been communicating with someone on the radio. Later, they have their first meeting with Frank and Tess, and a partnership amongst the two couples is quickly formed.

I really like how this snippet of time, directly relates to the overall story. Not only does the audience gain an understanding of how the two groups communicated and why, it makes Joel’s decision to stop in Lincoln have value.

Three years later in 2013, a depiction of life after the partnership between the two couples is shown through the eyes of Bill and Frank including a terrifying scene involving non-infected raiders. This section not only highlights the benefits received from sharing supplies, it physically introduces the audience to another threat survivors face in the post-pandemic world.

Ten years later in the present year, an aged Frank has fallen ill and is being taken care of by Frank. He requests to have one perfect day with Bill and the two spend time reliving all the major events of their time together. This devastating, yet sublime, section is some of the most emotionally engaging television I’ve ever seen. Thank you The Last Of Us for this magnificent gift.

Finally, sometime later, Joel and Ellie arrive in Lincoln and enter Bill and Frank’s home. The discovery of a letter directed to Joel challenges his point of view and alludes to his feature reasoning. Then, he and Ellie set up some ground rules and stock up on supplies before heading West to find Tommy.

I was pleasantly surprised with this lowkey episode. After the first two hyper charged chapters, this break in action and gore felt like a much-needed reprieve. However, this doesn’t mean that this episode only involves world building, there are some very interesting and graphic conflict related scenes that are at times jaw dropping. The production on this project is incredible. The set design is realistic, and the special effects are carefully crafted to mimic the videogame.

Also, the soundtrack is immaculate. The title of this episode is named after the feature song; Long, Long Time by Linda Rondstadt. Not only does the song represent the relationship between Bill and Frank, as it is a song from the 1970’s it fits in perfectly with the danger code created by Frank and Tess as only a medium level of threat was portrayed in this episode.

This beautiful love story is a direct departure from the game, but in the most majestic of ways. This is one time where the decision to change a narrative goes perfectly. Nick Offerman and Murray Bartlett, Bill and Frank respectively, absolutely kill their roles. Their chemistry and acting ability is top tier. I expect Emmy nominations for each of them.

Their tender portrayal of a devoted couple at the end of the world made me cry several times. Even more, I am impressed with how the creators chose to represent a gay couple as gentle, caring, and decidedly without the extreme and pointed situations typical of American content. Bill and Frank find each other, fall in love, build a good life, and live it on their own terms. It’s a romance story at the end of the world that feels authentic and relatable.

I would say this was a perfect episode that paid tribute to the original videogame while drastically changing the content in a matter perfectly suitable for the overall storyline. Well done, HBO Max. Well done.

Stay tuned for an “Inside the Episode” segment for additional contact that breaks down the dynamics of the program’s creation and the major changes from the videogame.

The Last of Us S01XE03



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