The Last Of Us (HBO) Episode 3 (Review) – Television At Its Finest
There isn’t a dry eye in this apocalypse
Episode three of HBO’s The Last of Us aired last night, which saw Joel and Ellie finally leave the tight grip of the city as they head for Bill and Frank’s. While fans of the game will know all about Bill and his trap-laden town, they haven’t seen it quite like this. One of the first episodes to be made almost entirely out of new material, “Long, Long Time” lets the creative team tug on those heart strings to deliver one of the best episodes of televised drama in recent memory.
Pascal and Ramsey don’t get much to do in episode three, but already we’re beginning to see those small little nuggets of fatherly affection slip through the cracks of Joel’s hardened exterior. It’s nice to see that the showrunners are still taking their time with the evolution of this relationship, and we’re eagerly watching on with each moment of screen time.
However, “Long, Long Time” isn’t Joel or Ellie’s episode, because front and centre we have Bill and Frank, a doomsday prepper and the survivor who fell into one of his traps. Nick Offerman and Murray Bartlett, who play Bill and Frank respectively, are on top form here, offering up nuanced performances where every dashed tear and tense shoulder act as delicious toppings to an already tasty meal.
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The emotional weight behind this episode is leagues beyond anything we’ve seen from the show so far — even that heartbreaking opener — and we’d be lying if we didn’t admit to shedding a few tears on a quiet Monday morning as we watched. It’s incredibly effective, and the creative team must be commended for resisting the urge to simply recreate what greatness they already had with the games. In its stead we have something new and equally brilliant.
However, we were a little upset that some aspects of the game were omitted. This isn’t the Bill you know from the games, and ultimately Offerman plays a softer version of the character over the harsh performance we got from W. Earl Brown in the game. It would have been nice to see certain scenes play out in live-action, but in our eyes the show is about expanding upon the source material, not repeating, so the changes were still welcome. We’d love to delve deeper into how it ties into the game, but we’ll cover things in a more spoilery fashion over on the Push Square YouTube channel.
Three episodes in, and The Last of Us has perfectly captured the tone of the game, expanded upon the lore in new and meaningful ways, and then dropped one of the best episodes of television in years. Saying we were enthralled by the story of Bill and Frank would be putting it lightly, and this take on everyone’s favourite prepper easily illustrates that the show can stand on its own two feet. It drew light to a different side of one of the game’s most iconic characters, while fleshing out the narrative threads that were present on PlayStation, but never explored. It’s perfectly paced, disastrously emotional, filled to the brim with terrific performances, and assuredly an episode of TV we aren’t likely to forget for a long, long time.
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