The Last of Us Episode 3 Recap: Long, Long Time

This episode begins with Ellie and Joel immediately after Tess’s death. They’ve now made it 10 miles west of Boston and are stopped at a stream. What most viewers were probably expecting here was an apology from Ellie because of Tess’s death, but that’s not what happens. Instead, she flips the script and tells Joel not to blame her because he decided that the car battery he wanted was worth the risk. It’s brutal, but not inaccurate. Part of living in this post-apocalyptic world is making tough decisions and living with the consequences of your actions.

Ellie’s personality continues to break through. She’s inquisitive, always asking Joel questions, and making jokes. She doesn’t shy away from violence. She begs Joel for a gun and kills the Infected she runs into while looking for supplies. There’s a great moment where she comes across a box of tampons, which pokes fun at the age-old question of how women deal with their menstrual cycles in fantasy worlds. Ellie’s thirst for knowledge comes to benefit us because Joel explains the theory of how the Infected came to be so quickly. Mutated cordyceps made their way into flour or sugar, and enough people throughout the world ate it around Thursday or Friday, so many people became ill at once. If we look back at episode one, their infected neighbors are making cookies and biscuits, and Sarah didn’t have any pancake mix to make for his birthday, keeping them safe.

At first I thought this episode was going to continue to follow Ellie and Joel, but about 18 minutes in, it switches completely to Bill and Frank’s story and stays that way for nearly the rest of the episode. Bill was completely prepared for this situation. His survivalist preparation and underground bunker allowed him to hide from the government which was evacuating his town. He has generators, guns, food, access to electricity, hot water, and a protective electrified gate to keep him safe. He’s set traps for Infected and trespassers to get caught in, which is exactly how he meets Frank. He was originally in a group of 10 traveling from Baltimore QZ to Boston QZ, but now he’s the only one left. He persuades Bill to let him eat dinner and shower.

Frank quietly judges the state of the house. It’s dusty and unkept, not at all very homey. He immediately clocks the fact that Bill’s gay because of his knowledge of wine pairings. Being unfamiliar with the source material, when I caught the vibe of their connection, I thought I was going to be wrong due to the nature of the world and the stereotype of Bill’s character and we’d see them connect with a great friendship. I’m so happy to have been wrong because we are given one of the most beautiful gay love stories I’ve ever seen. While Murray Bartlett is an iconic gay man in nearly everything he’s done, having Nick Offerman play the other half was brilliant, surprising casting.

Flash forward to three years in the future, they’re in love but arguing. Frank wants to clean, paint, and mow the lawn so their little world can be not only functional but beautiful. He wants to live, not just survive. Bill, on the other hand, is concerned primarily about survival and resource management. They balance each other out perfectly. It’s precious to see Frank be a soft spot for Bill. He wants to have friends and meet new people, and Bill is initially angry when he learns he’s been talking to a woman on the radio, which makes the quick cut to their dinner with Joel and Tess hilarious. The pair decide to trade with each other, and Joel warns him about raiders that will eventually come their way.

Has there ever been anything more precious that the strawberry scene? Frank fesses up that he traded one of Bill’s guns to Tess for a packet of seeds, and he didn’t even flinch. Also, has a strawberry ever looked so good onscreen? The perfection of that scene staggered with the gut-wrenching moments of the next scene with the raiders is an emotional one-two punch. Bill is shot in the stomach, and all he cares about is taking care of Frank. This also throws us off when we see that Frank is the one who’s sick ten years in the future.

Frank confesses to Bill that he wants one more good day with him, and then he wants to die. He’s very ill at this point, so it would be a release from his pain. In one heartbreaking montage, we watch their final day together. They dress up, marry each other, have one final meal, and Frank asks for Bill to crush up all of his pills in his wine so he can drift off in Bill’s arms. Bill decides he’d rather join him in death than live another day without his partner, so he drank the wine, too. This is a major change from the video game. While the story in the game has its purpose, this change is great. For once we don’t have to watch a gay love story that ends in trauma. They both take control of their destinies and make their own decisions about how to live, and end, their lives.

When Ellie and Joel finally make it to their house, they find a note that Bill left them, as well as supplies. One mention of Tess’s name in the letter sends Joel for a whirl. He’s already reeling from her loss, and now the surprise loss of his friends is making him push all his emotions down. Ellie and Joel both shower, gather everything they need, and hit the open road with the truck Bill left behind. On a rewatch, HBO has added a sweet moment at the beginning that honors Annie Wersching who acted and voiced Tess in The Last of Us video game. She passed away last Sunday, January 29th. This episode is pure and wholesome from beginning to end.


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