The music, the lighting, the love story; everything about episode three of The Last of Us was simply *chef’s kiss*. Turns out, this isn’t a show about undead mushroom zombies, but love.
*Be warned: there are MAJOR spoilers ahead. *
If you’re not already watching The Last of Us, the post-apocalyptic drama series starring Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey, I recommend doing so for episode three alone. It was *that* good.
sat down expecting an hour of grotesque fungus monsters and got the most gut wrenching love story of the decade #TheLastOfUs pic.twitter.com/A0TrPjmK7S
— Binch Patrol (@FritterBoochie) January 30, 2023
Directed by Peter Hoar (It’s A Sin), episode three was titled Long, Long Time, and chronicles the love story between Bill (Nick Offerman, Parks and Recreation) and Frank (Murray Bartlett, The White Lotus). Spanning the course of 10+ years, we see the two cross paths for the first time, fall in love, and ultimately, meet their end. It’s a rollercoaster episode that will have you smiling one moment, and sobbing uncontrollably the next.
The episode opens with Joel and Ellie, now 10 miles west of Boston, in the middle of a forest, happening across a mass grave. Back in 2003 when the infection first began spreading, the military would round civilians up under the pretence of herding them off to quarantine zones, Joel explains. Only the lucky few actually made it there – those with no where to go would be executed, many of them not infected.
It’s at this point the camera zooms in on a child’s swaddling cloth and we brace ourselves for more misery porn. Unexpectedly, the episode sidesteps this trope completely and instead, we’re introduced to Bill; a gun-wielding survivalist who escapes evacuation by hiding out in his doomsday cave. Finding himself the sole inhabitant of his community, Bill starts amassing supplies and setting up camp. An electric fence to keep out intruders, booby traps to kill infected stragglers; he’s hellbent on surviving and it’s clear he’ll go to any means to do so.
Four years later, when Frank unwittingly falls into one of his traps, we’re sure that Bill will kill him without thought… but he surprises us, lowering a ladder into the pit and allowing Frank to climb out (not before checking to make sure he’s not infected). Frank begs for some food and again, Bill surprises us by obliging. From this point on, the trajectory of the story is clear; Bill confides in Frank that he’s gay, they sleep together and Frank? Well, he just never leaves.
“you were my purpose” #TheLastOfUs pic.twitter.com/1iuFB9HFoo
— zo (@hawthcrnes) January 30, 2023
The two fall in love and build a life together (not just a ramshackle one but a meaningful, fulfilling one) and 20 years down the line, when Frank’s illness becomes too much, they pull a Romeo and Juliet and put enough crushed up pills in their wine to end their lives together. They go to bed and die in each other’s arms. It’s all incredibly, incredibly moving – especially to the backdrop of the Cordyceps infection and the harshness of the outside world.
i don't know how else to put it into words but #TheLastofUs Season 1, Episode 3 is a perfect episode of tv. nick offerman and murray bartlett really did THAT ? pic.twitter.com/xkdzAFtD6K
— Nora Dominick (@noradominick) January 30, 2023
A window never hurted me that much before #TheLastOfUs pic.twitter.com/lhgWYbQ18V
— elly | TLOU SPOILERS | 29 ? (@wizardjarin) January 30, 2023
Those who have played the game will already be familiar with the story of Bill and Frank (which differs from the series – the two don’t stay together in the game and we never actually meet Frank), but Offerman and Barlett bring a special kind of magic to the relationship. It’s tender and loving in equal measure and the ending is nothing short of devastating. “I used to hate the world and I was happy when everyone died, but I was wrong because there was one person worth saving,” Bill wrote in a letter he left to Joel. I’ve never been so affected by a window.
This episode catered to every taste; whatever you want from a series – be that tension, drama, love – it had it. The characters had depth too. They were flawed, but we were emotionally invested in them. Hoar made us care about this story and these people – a particularly impressive feat in the case of Nick Offerman’s character; a doomsday, gun nut often typecast as the bad guy. Here, he was just a lonely man hiding his true self from the world. Until he met Frank.
While the previous two episodes are heavy with bloodshed and violence, this is an homage to the enduring power of love; all the more poignant given Joel’s own grief and the still-fresh loss of Tess. It’s the tale of two men brought together by a chance encounter in the midst of a global pandemic, who end up spending the rest of their lives together. It was so beautiful I had a small (ok, large) cry at the end, and I guarantee you will too.
THIS. THIS IS EXACTLY THE REASON YOU TELL THIS STORY. There is so much *more* to TLOU than Joel and Ellie moving from plot point to plot point. Its raison d'etre isn't just about survival. It's about *what* we're keeping alive. Will 'the last of us' know things like love? pic.twitter.com/uRpuc7PunI
— now is the winter of our discothèque (@NOTGH_Holly) January 30, 2023
a post-apocalyptic zombie show based off a video game somehow making one of the most beautiful queer stories I’ve seen in a long time — not what I expected #TheLastOfUs pic.twitter.com/3BNd2JCK5i
— toekneepraysick (@tonypraysick) January 30, 2023
It was like an hour long version of the Up scene and I was NOT mentally prepared for it?#TheLastOfUs pic.twitter.com/xC0IRCEzSg
— Alex ? Loves U. (@alexisamenace) January 30, 2023
the last of us just randomly telling one of the most beautiful and devastating gay love stories i’ve ever seen on television…with nick offerman no less.. pic.twitter.com/p201aseJj2
— sappho’s friend (@grakke) January 30, 2023
Heart-wrenching, poignant and extremely romantic, it’s not what one would expect of a video game, much less a series about a parasitic fungal infection that has devastated mankind. But, quite simply, this is one of the best TV episodes of recent memory.
Episode four of The Last of Us will be available to watch on Sky Atlantic on Monday, February 6.
Feature image via IMDb