HBO's The Last of Us has been very careful to stick to the source material for the most part — a smart but also rather logical choice, given how cinematic the original game was. The painstakingly crafted similarities between Naughty Dog's survival shooter and HBO's show have been a major part of why people were quick to call The Last of Us the best video game adaptation ever.
But it's by shifting away from the game in favor of telling new stories that The Last of Us has really been able to blossom the way it does in the “Long Long Time” episode that introduces Nick Offerman's Bill and Murray Bartlett's Frank.
The Long Long Time Has Blessed The Show With Tremendous Popularity
The real magic of “Long Long Time,” and the reason it's one of The Last of Us' strongest episodes yet, lies in how spiritually true to the game it feels even while it's doing its own distinct thing.
After focusing largely on Joel and Ellie in its first two episodes, The Last of Us switches things in “Long Long Time” by jumping into the past to tell the story of how antisocial, paranoid prepper Bill and hapless survivor Frank met in the apocalypse.
Back in the earliest days of the cordyceps outbreak, while dozens of his trusting neighbors were unknowingly carted off to their dooms, Frank made sure to hang back in their small town until he was certain that the entire thing was completely deserted and ready to be converted into a fortified compound for one.
Being the antisocial person that he was, the idea of spending the rest of his zombie-filled days in solitude and with Ron Swanson-esque self-sufficiency was favorable to Bill. That lifestyle seemed to suit him well. But that changed the day Frank entered Bill's property looking for safety and instead found himself stuck in one of Bill's traps.
Bill and Frank's Story:
When you meet Bill in the game, he's a jumpy, hard-boiled survivor who's lost so much over the years that he's become all but shut off from connecting with anyone, and it's hard to understand how he and Joel came to know one another.
All of those things are definitely still true of Bill's character in the show, but the show lays a lot of it out by giving Frank a voice and The TV series covered everything from the day of the outbreak in 2003, to their last moments together in the present day.
The latest episode of HBO's post-apocalyptic drama, The Last of Us, has landed – and the gay love story at its core is breaking hearts worldwide.
Their relationship blossoms in one of the most tender queer sex scenes ever seen on TV, before the episode flashes forward several years and we see how the pair have been living and surviving, ever since.
Throughout their years together, the pair confront government officials attempting to break onto their land, slowly build a friendship with Joel and his partner Tess, and attempt to make it through the barren years by growing strawberries, painting, and playing the piano.
The result is one of the best pieces of TV ever, thanks to Offerman and Bartlett giving the performance of their careers, a magic script from writers Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann, and cinematography so intricate that you feel you're grappling for survival alongside them.
How fans are reacting to this episode?
Fan's reaction in the US following the episode on January 29 is unanimous: there has never been an episode of TV like it.
One person wrote, “The episode of The Last of Us I just watched was the best piece of television, of writing, of acting I've ever seen. An incredibly beautiful political choice. The best thing Nick Offerman has ever done.”
Another said: “I didn't expect The Last of Us to tell one of the most beautifully tragic queer love stories I have ever seen. Absolutely stunning and so incredibly well done. My heart hurts.”
Many are praising the episode not only for its beautiful, start-to-finish portrayal of a queer relationship but also for spotlighting that, yes, older men can be gay too, despite the lack of such representation on screen.
The Last of Us' capacity to faithfully recreate things is impressive and true. But it's the show's ability to build out new pieces of lore that feel like they were always present that's most promising, especially with characters like Storm Reid's Riley and Melanie Lynskey's Kathleen on the horizon.
What is Next?
The Last of Us episode 4 came to HBO and HBO Max on Sunday, with Ellie and Joel (Bella Ramsey and Pedro Pascal) back on the road after last week's heartbreaking diversion. They're on track to connect Ellie to the Fireflies since the rebel group wants to replicate her immunity to the fungal infection that transformed billions of people into monsters. This episode also features a major deviation from the game by introducing an incredible new villain.
The fifth and last episode of this show will be released on February 10.