Why the third episode of HBO’s ‘The Last of Us’ will be the most memorable piece of TV in 2023

WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Episode 3 of HBO’s The Last of Us series. So if you’re not already watching it, you need to seriously review your life priorities.

‘The Last of Us’ is one of my favorite video games of all time.

It’s a game that shines in every aspect, from its heartfelt story and performances to its immersive gameplay and stunning graphics.

So when I heard they were adapting it into a TV series I was nervous to say the least…

We’ve seen it tried with quite a few other games before, and they’re usually a complete mess. Download horror film adaptations Max Payne, Assassin’s Creed or Hitmanfor example.

But HBO’s take on Naughty Dog’s post-apocalyptic modern ‘The Last of Us’ has been brilliant so far. And especially the latest episode, Long, Long Time (Episode 3), which is for my money one of the best TV episodes I’ve ever watched.

Like many, by the end of the year I was broke. And I don’t think I’ll recover from it anytime soon.

A post-apocalyptic love story

Credit: HBO/Warner Media

Bill played by Nick Offerman from episode three of HBO’s ‘The Last of Us’ – Credit: HBO/Warner Media

While the first two episodes set the overall tone of the series and introduced the audience to the two main characters, Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey), the third part boldly departs from this journey and instead explores on the story of personal love and heartbreak. between Bill (Nick Offerman) and Frank (Murray Bartlett).

Two naturally funny and goofy stars to wear Parks and Recreation and The White Lotus It was a surprise from the show’s creators, but one that paid off handsomely.

The chemistry on screen is amazing and they play their roles with great sensitivity and nuance.

The episode jumps back in time to the early stages of the cordyceps outbreak where we meet Bill, a gruff survivor, who manages to avoid the evacuation of his home by hiding in a surveillance bunker he built under his house before the outbreak

With everyone in the area now gone, Bill comes out of hiding and, for lack of a better phrase, begins to live his best life. He raids his local off-licence, chops down trees, steals his neighbour’s boat and sets up a bunch of devilish booby traps to destroy anyone infected nearby. Kevin McCallister would be proud.

Bill is very happy with his new life of freedom – but he clearly lacks a sense of purpose.

Four years later. Bill meets Frank, who has fallen into one of his traps. Little does Bill know, he will soon be falling for Frank. I’m sorry you had to read that last sentence.

After Bill reluctantly invites the helpless Frank into his house for a very well-prepared rabbit lunch, along with a fine Beaujolaisthe two men share an intimate moment around a piano, taking turns singing Linda Ronstadt’s ‘Long Long Time’ (probably finding a Kate Bush counterpart / Stranger things ‘Run Up That Hill’ moment). Bill then reveals to Frank that he is gay, to which he replies “I know,” and the two kiss.

After this encounter, Frank waits to say goodbye. The pair create a life together within the compound. They cook, make art, invite guests over for dinner (Joel and Tess), laugh about strawberries, and begin to find love and meaning in the bleak post-apocalyptic world of they.

I was never afraid before you showed up

But like the heart wrenching opening sequence of Pixar’s UpFrank eventually becomes ill and decides to take his own life.

After spending one final day together – while Max Richter’s wonderfully moving piece ‘On the Nature of Daylight’ accompanies the sequence – Bill reveals to Frank that he is going to take his own life and that they will find die in each other’s arms.

“I’m happy and you’re my purpose”, Bill tells Frank with tears, who responds by saying, “I don’t support this… But from an objective point of view, it’s very romantic”.

Why I love this episode

While the first two episodes of the show stayed pretty close to the story and characters of the original game, episode three deviates from it significantly. And this was something I initially thought would make me hate the series.

But is the key to creating a great video game adaptation staying 100% faithful to the original material?

Obviously not.

Here the show takes the character of Bill, who doesn’t have much of a back story in the game and is just a side character to help advance Joel and Ellie’s journey, and transforms him into a complex character with an interesting story of his own. By delving deeper into his relationship with Frank, who is only briefly mentioned in a suicide note hidden in the game, the series expands the world of The Last of Us. And this really improves the original game.

Thanks to the series, now Bill and Frank have a lot more backstory in the game, and it makes me want to play it again.

It was also a very brave decision from the creators of the show to dedicate an entire program to these side characters, who are no longer alive by the end of the episode and we will not see again as viewers.

But the episode doesn’t just tell an incredibly personal story of hope and love; it also provides context for what the infection has lost, perfectly changes the tone of the first two episodes, and expands the depth of the show’s world. Overall, it helps us understand what is really at stake, showing how humanity can be saved from the collapse of civilization.

In short, if the first two episodes of The Last of Us build the world of the show, then Long, Long Time it provides the audience with a real reason to care.

As if that wasn’t enough, this episode ties in nicely with the rest of Joel and Ellie’s journey on a thematic level.

“I was wrong, because one person was worth saving. That’s what I did. I saved him. Then I protected him,” reads the suicide note left by Bill, which Ellie reads out loud to Joel towards the end of the episode.

Joel is clearly on a similar path to Bill: one of redemption and healing.

Ellie gives him “something to fight for” now.

The first three episodes of HBO’s The Last of Us are currently streaming.

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