A Long, Long Time – The Last of Us Episode 3
The third episode of HBO’s The Last of Us, titled “Long Long Time,” is an emotional rollercoaster that takes us away from our zombie apocalypse storyline to a different place entirely. In a similar fashion to Agent of Shield and their episode focused purely on Jemma Simmons, this episode also has a different focus than you’d expect.
This episode is a departure from the game, as it focuses on the relationship forming between Bill and Frank instead of the main protagonists, Joel and Ellie. The episode starts with Bill setting up a makeshift trap to catch any would-be invaders. When Frank falls into this trap, Bill decides to let him go rather than killing him. Bill hesitates to trust anyone, but he cannot keep Frank away.
It’s a beautiful thing when shows break away from the thought that everything is already predetermined. With storytelling that carefully builds suspense, every decision feels like one of many options to explore. I experienced this personally while watching Episode 3 of “The Last Of Us” for the second time and seeing how Bill’s (Nick Offerman) and Frank’s (Murray Bartlett) initial encounter set off an avalanche of events over 16 years with just one choice!
I will be honest – as I was watching for the first time on IPTV, I did have some issues with my stream which definitely impacted my immersion, however, now that I know how to fix those issues, I should be golden going forward! Fortunately, on my 2nd run-through, everything worked like clockwork, so onto the review!
For the third time in a row, “The Last of Us” has demonstrated its excellence through precise control. Bill’s tripwires and generators are a portrayal of an individual used to being solitary and seemingly content in that state – this makes his dinner with Frank such a compelling scene by displaying Offerman’s realization: That when he allowed Frank inside the fence, it meant that he was letting him into his life as well.
As the two of them get to know each other better, we see Frank continually trying to remove Bill’s bluster. Bill’s perimeter succeeds because it’s perfectly kept. His and Frank’s partnership survives because it’s not. That messiness is there right from their first song, with the two of them each trying their hand at “Long, Long Time” itself.
Throughout the episode, we get glimpses into their pasts, and how they have both been affected by the post-apocalyptic world they live in. In one such flashback, we’re presented with Bill fighting off some raiders but in doing so, taking a gut wound that looks fatal. However, the next scene is many years later, and we find that it is Frank dying, not Bill.
Frank, we learn, has a terminal disease, and while pills can help him deal with the symptoms, there is no cure. He decides that continuing is no longer an option and gives Bill an ultimatum. He wants to go on his own terms, and he wants Bill to be the one to end his suffering.
Through the nuanced performances of Offerman and Bartlett, Mazin and Hoar masterfully craft an emotionally captivating scene that captures 16 years’ worth of crucial details without making it overt. “Long Long Time” goes beyond merely evoking feelings; instead, Bill and Frank’s relationship is portrayed through a combination of physicality to demonstrate how they have aged over time and emotions to show how their relationship has grown and matured. It’s remarkable how much this last day conveys in such a short amount of screen time – from their slower movements to the conversations about their changing bodies – all with just two actors at its center.
The episode ends with Bill reluctantly complying, in what is an emotional and heartbreaking scene. It’s a reminder of just how much Frank has become part of Bill’s life and Bill of Frank’s. At its core, “Long Long Time” is about two people whose paths crossed at a specific moment in time, leaving them changed forevermore. In the span of 16 years, it was love that kept them together, but also grief when they had to part. The episode is an amazing display of the power of relationships and how moments can define our lives.
The episode is a testament to the greatness of “The Last Of Us” and its ability to tell stories that feel epic in scope while still retaining their emotional depth. Bill and Frank’s story is one that I’ll carry with me for a long time because it serves as a reminder of just how powerful relationships can be – even in the darkest of times. Ultimately, it reminds us that no matter what we face, love will always prevail. And this is why “Long Long Time” sticks with us so much; It captures profound emotions through small details and shows us what truly matters in life – connection between people.
It’s great when TV makes you think and helps keep the conversation growing. While Bill and Franks’s struggles, didn’t really help serve the larger plot and address anything specific about Joel and Ellie’s journey, we do get some answers to questions that were raised in earlier episodes. In episode 1 you might remember there was a sequence where the radio in Joel’s room started playing 80’s music. We learn in this episode that Bill had set it up to automatically do that if he’d not turned it off for two weeks. This gives us a bit of an understanding of the timeline and helps us see that Bill and Frank had passed at least 2-3 weeks before Joel and Ellie managed to get into the compound.
In this episode, Joel and Ellie’s epilogue made the transition from Bill and Frank’s ballad to the main storyline effortless. With his letter, it was as if Bill reminded Joel of their duty – that he had a job to do; protect those close to him come what may. He wrote,”God help any motherf*clerks who stand in our way!”
Audiences and critics have already been blown away by the first two episodes of The Last of Us, but “Long Long Time” takes everything to a whole new level. This show isn’t about monsters – it’s about relationships. We saw it in the last episode when Tess sacrificed herself and we see it again here, in the care and affection Bill and Frank show to each other. If the talented writers, cast and crew can make us tear up over characters we meet in one episode without relying on any genre tropes or source material, then imagine how great this show could be further down the line!
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