‘The Last of Us’ Episode 3: Long, Long Time

HBO’s The Last of Us has officially been introduced to the world and its third episode, “Long, Long Time” has arrived. Here is a breakdown of what was seen in the episode and how it may impact the season going forward. Please be advised that this may contain spoilers for both The Last of Us series and video game.

The episode opens with no cold open this time but simply opens with Joel and Ellie encamped 10 miles west of Boston as Joel is constructing a memorial marker or cairn for Tess. The weight of Joel is feeling is something he cannot articulate as he must feel like he failed to protect Tess in the same way he failed to protect Sarah but he must know deep down that it is not Ellie’s fault what happened to her and yet he cannot help but find a way to blame her. Ellie is quick to call him out on this guilt he is feeling and Tess is not mentioned by the two of them for a long time. During their journey, they enter an old convenience store as Joel previously stashed some supplies there but in a slight moment of humor during the episode, he has forgotten where he stored it so Ellie goes exploring in the seemingly abandoned store and in doing so, she stumbles into the store’s basement and finds an infected. We hear it before we see it and it is a poor soul who has become trapped under some rubble in the basement and has been infected for some time as it is between some state between being a Runner and a Clicker. It is in this moment where Ellie’s sadistic side comes on full display; at first, she toys with the infected by slicing open its forehead to bleed it a little but then full on stabs it and puts it out of its misery. During this exploration of the store, Ellie finds a video game cabinet of Mortal Kombat II and recounts how her friend knew everything about the game and describes a particular fighter that has a famous fatality. It is another moment that is leading up to an eventual episode that will cover the events of Left Behind and how Ellie and her friend Riley snuck into the mall and became infected.

As they move on from the store, Ellie sees destroyed reminders of the old world and a crashed airliner and becomes fascinated by the idea of flying in the sky and asks Joel if he ever flew on a plane. He sarcastically recounts having to sit in the middle seat and paying for overpriced sandwiches which leads Ellie to ask how the pandemic started which Joel states that while no one knows for sure what exactly happened, it is believed that the cordyceps evolved from tainted food like flour, biscuit mix or pancake mix. During the first episode, the Millers were out of pancake mix for Joel’s birthday breakfast while their neighbors were eating biscuits and in the cold open of the second episode, the general advises Ibu Ratna that the infected corpse worked at a flour plant but it is during this macabre epidemiology lesson where Joel’s softer side continues to emerge; it is legitimately the first time in the series where he does not talk down to Ellie and explains how the world ended in the span of a weekend. He attempts to protect beyond this moment as they encounter a mass grave full of skeletons to which Joel explains that in an effort to curb overcrowding in the Quarantine Zone’s, civilians were rounded up by the military under the guise of evacuation, taken to an empty field and executed. When Ellie is asked why the military would do this, he tells her that “dead people can’t get infected”. This evacuation triggers a flashback to the early days of the pandemic and it is where the episode truly takes off. 

It is here in the town of Lincoln, Massachusetts where we meet Bill, a doomsday prepper who has been waiting his entire life for the moment where he was proven right and begins to go wild in his abandoned town. He revels in this opportunity to live out what he has been preparing for by taking gasoline, pilfering propane, raids Home Depot and of course, the liquor store but also begins booby trapping the town and growing veggies to maintain his self-sufficient lifestyle. Bill lives rather well by himself for four years until he sees one of his traps has been triggered. Normally, Bill enjoys seeing a random infected wonder into his traps just to be killed but this one is different; he wonders outside to a deep hole he has dug and finds a live person at the bottom of it. This person, who introduces himself as Frank, tells Bill that he is the last survivor from a group that exited the Baltimore QZ and is seeking refuge elsewhere. Bill initially tells Frank to get lost but takes him in, gives him fresh clothes and allows him to shower and they share a delicious meal. Bill is clearly not used to people but seems to welcome the chance to share a meal with someone and enjoy the company of another human being but their meal ends and they move toward an antique piano and Frank begins to poorly play a Linda Ronstadt song when Bill takes over and the two share an intimate kiss. It is a sweet encounter as Bill then confesses, he has never been with a man in spite of his feelings. It is not that Bill was in the closet before the world ended but that there was no one to come out to in the apocalypse and what follows is one of the most well-crafted romances in television. 

Like all couples, Bill and Frank have their ups and downs over the course of the next 16 years together. Bill wishes to remain isolated and do whatever he can to protect Frank and Frank is willing to invite strangers into their home. Their sweet first encounter is quickly smashed to three years later as they are arguing about whether or not Frank should put forth the effort into sprucing up their home or the surrounding town but he reveals he has invited strangers for a garden party. These strangers turn out to be Tess and Joel as they open up a partnership for the exchange of smuggled goods but as Tess and Frank hit it off, Bill and Joel do not share the same warm feelings. There is clearly some form of resentment towards one another but also a begrudging respect as they are able to recognize that they are both protectors who will do anything necessary to protect the ones they love. Their relationship then shows Bill fighting off raiders and the booby traps he constructed just to keep them safe but the episode then moves forward ten years later and they have become old. Frank is afflicted by some type of physical ailment that is limiting his quality of life and Bill has become his caretaker. Frank is transported around in a wheelchair and is not able to grip a paintbrush or eat solid food so one day, Frank tells Bill that he wishes to end his life and wants Bill to give him one final day where they dress well, get married, eat well, take a large number of painkillers and fall asleep in each other’s arms one last time. Unbeknownst to Frank, Bill has also ingested enough pills to kill him as well as Bill lovingly tells Frank that he was his purpose and that he can die happy knowing he protected him from the horrors of the world. 

This episode represents a major departure from the game as when we meet Bill, he has booby trapped his town with bombs and even uses infected as sort of a defense mechanism from raiders, his introduction is much more action filled as he chops off a head to save Joel from an infected. Bill is much more bitter in the game and mentions Frank almost in passing but it is clear that Frank has left Bill but as they make their way through the town to find a car battery, they encounter Frank’s corpse as it is revealed he did not get very far from Bill before he became infected and opted to end his life before he could turn. Bill’s section of the game is much more action filled but that is not something that easily translates into an eighty-minute episode of television that isn’t Game of Thrones. The choice to provide context for Bill and Frank’s relationship and change their fate is not “filler” from creators Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann; it provides the groundwork for future characters we can expect to see like Sam and Henry, David, Marlene and even Joel and Ellie. As an audience, we need to see what others are willing to do for the love they have found and how that love will drive people to do terrible things. 

Joel and Ellie arrive at Bill and Frank’s house to find a note that was addressed to Joel where they explain what happened and what they should do. The note was intended for Joel to use Bill’s supplies to protect Tess but all it does is serve as a reminder of her death to him so he resolves to finish Tess’ final command to him and in a scene that once again borrows dialogue from the game, Joel lays out his ground rules and resolves to take Ellie across the country to find the Fireflies and hopefully provide a cure to the world. After they shower, obtain fresh clothes and stock up on supplies, they head out on the open road when Ellie discovers a tape that to Joel’s delight, contains songs from Linda Ronstadt and bookends the romantic journey of Bill and Frank. “Long, Long Time” represents the decision that The Last of Us is not afraid to deviate from the game if it means telling a good story. The elements of Bill’s character are still retained but it is appreciated to see his relationship with Frank contextualized although it would have been nice to see Ellie and Bill interact as their dialogue in the game is some of the most amusing. Nick Offerman and Murray Bartlett give brilliant performances in what will likely go down as one of the best episodes of television in the 21st Century and has certainly provided an emotional highlight to the first season of The Last of Us. 

Featured Image Credit: HBO

About Author

Here at UrbanMatter, we pride ourselves on leading the charge when it comes to entertainment. Need ideas? News? Info? From venues, restaurants, and bars to events, festivals, and music — we’ve got you covered.

200 N LaSalle St Ste 1540 Chicago, IL 60601
E: info@urbanmatter.com
P: 630.864.5270

Built, Powered, & Developed By: Youtech