Title: The Last of Us S1.E03 “Long, Long Time”
Released: 2023
Series:  The Last of Us

Previously: We learned even at the outset of the cordyceps infection in Jakarta there was no hope for a vaccine or treatment. Joel and Tess take Ellie through a downtown Boston crawling with infected, who can communicate via hive mind through fungus tendrils. After an ill-fated run-in with Clickers (infected who are blind but hear through echolocation and are wicked vicious) in the Boston museum, Joel and Ellie are shocked to learn that Tess was bitten. Tess tells Joel to “save who he can save” and to help Ellie get to their friends Bill and Frank as she holds off the horde of infected by blowing them (and herself) up.

Last week, Mandy W. asked me what the horror level is like for someone who knows what’s going to happen and if being spoiled helps? I’d say it takes a bit of the stress out, though I was getting gaming flashbacks during those museum scenes, but they’re adding in enough new stuff like the massive pile of infected laying around that I don’t want to get TOO comfortable. The actors are doing such a good job I feel myself getting just as invested as I did playing the game and it’s still raising my heart rate!

But let’s slow it down for this episode and break out the tissues because, GOD DAMN, this bottle episode tried its best to wreck me.

From Lonely To Love

Ellie and Joel are camping out in the woods, and they’re both trying to hide how vulnerable they feel, but to us, the viewers, I feel like it’s painted all over their actions: Joel builds a cairn by the river for Tess and Ellie defiantly tells him Tess wasn’t her fault because no one forced them to help Ellie, but I think the lady doth protest too much. They agree they just need to get through a five-hour hike to Bill and Frank’s and that’ll be that, but Ellie can’t help peppering Joel with questions, and Joel opens up more than he expects.

But the real magic of the hour is the flashback to four days after the infection began, as doomsdayer prepper survivalist, Bill (Nick Offerman), hides in his basement bunker, watching on his cameras as the military hauls everyone in town off to the QZ (except, as Joel tells Ellie as they stand over a shallow mass grave, that when they didn’t have enough space soldiers would just shoot uninfected civilians since the dead can’t bite). Alone at last, Bill spends a “blissful” four years enjoying the finer things in life.

And then a wandering Frank (Murray Bartlett) drops in—literally, he falls into one of Bill’s trap holes, and convinces Bill to invite him in for dinner. Thus begins a beautiful, sixteen-year-long love story that comes to a tragic end right before Joel and Ellie are due to arrive. See, Frank eventually gets a degenerative disease that leaves him with loss of fine motor functions, and he announces to Bill one morning that today is his last day. They go on a long walk, exchange wedding vows, and share a nice meal, and then Bill crushes enough of Frank’s pills into his glass to fell a horse. But Bill refuses to be alone again, and Frank realizes Bill’s also dosed his own glass.

In the present, Ellie finds a letter that Bill left “to whomever, but probably Joel” and reads Bill’s final words to Joel, bequeathing him all his survival equipment because they are a lot alike: they don’t care about the world, but then Bill found one person worth protecting, so he wants Joel to use Bill’s weapons to keep Tess safe. Joel disappears outside to have a moment, but when he returns it’s with renewed purpose: he tells Ellie he’ll take her to his brother, Tommy, in Wyoming, because he is an ex-Firefly and should know how to get her to their hospital.

Best Joel/Ellie Moment

  • When Joel tries to take them off the road so Ellie won’t see the mass grave and have to explain to her how much shittier the world is than she even realizes. He’s trying his hardest not to care but he can’t help himself.

  • I also love the whole exchange when Ellie realizes Bill and Frank’s has hot water so she tells Joel he has to take a shower because whew! and then jokes, “well, don’t you look pretty!” when he comes back freshly washed, and he tosses her the deodorant, because we all know teenagers have an indefinable stank.

  • When Joel and Ellie drive off and the sun is shining, Linda Ronstadt is singing, and the windows are down, and Ellie looks at Joel and kinda smiles and my heart just melted. They won’t admit it yet but they’re already well on their way to being a team now that it’s just the two of them. (Also when he puts her seatbelt on! Such a dad! 😭)

Survivor of the Week

I mean, I know they didn’t make it out of the episode, but if we’re talking quality of life post-apocalypse, Bill and Frank obviously came out on top. Electricity! Wine with dinner!

Pour One Out For…

And this obvs also goes to Bill and Frank. I tried to keep that recap above short and to the point, but, if we’re being honest, I used up multiple tissues on this episode. Offerman and Bartlett (and the writing) made you care so much about these two and their love story in only forty minutes. Maybe most of us can’t relate to the extreme life and death stakes that many of the characters go through in this story, but watching your partner waste away from disease and having to face the decision that they no longer can or want to go on? It’s too relatable. I pretty much started tearing up after Bill told Frank a few years into their relationship that he was never afraid until Frank showed up, and when he’s on the couch and Frank’s explaining what he wants and Bill is struggling not to cry, whaddya know, I’m still fucking crying just typing this all out. 😭

Best Time To Cover Your Eyes

I almost forgot in between all the crying, but at some point I WAS screaming at my TV telling Ellie she was a freaking idiot for crawling into some random-ass hole she finds in the floor of an abandoned gas station. Super glad she found some tampons, but when that infected made a noise in the dark, it was a pants-shitting moment.

We Must Adapt To Survive

  • This was a mostly new-to-gamers episode! Game Bill is also very into survival but we don’t know really anything about his backstory. He and Frank have a much more acrimonious relationship, and, in fact, we only see Frank’s dead body after he leaves Bill, and also left him a horrible note saying things like, “I hated every moment with you.” So…even though Game Bill is still alive when Joel and Ellie leave him, I’d say this was the happier of the two stories.

  • Because of what I knew, though, I was questioning Frank’s motives until we got to him three years later poking fun at Bill for thinking the government is full of Nazis. It just felt like a very relationship-y moment.

Graffiti On The Wall

  • Once again I have to stan Nick Offerman and his delivery of the line, “Not today, you New World Order jackboot fucks.”

  • Also that AMAZING, gleeful giggle when he bites into the strawberry.

  • I loved the garden dinner party, and Frank and Tess becoming radio pen-pals and basically kick-starting this whole decades-long friendship.

  • BUT that also means that Joel and Tess were “Joel and Tess” for like more than a decade and he STILL wasn’t able to admit he cared for her and she put up with that? I mean, that tracks because MEN and it’s not like Tess had a lot of options in the QZ, I’m sure, but now I really feel bad for her.

  • Ellie grabbing all the toilet paper brought me back to some early 2020 flashbacks, LOLcry.

  • My question for Mandy W. would be: how many tissues did you use up during this episode? I kid, I kid: What was your favorite Bill and Frank moment?

What did you think? Were you upset that there wasn’t as much focus on the here and now and Joel/Ellie, or did you enjoy this episode that was designed to rip out your heart and stomp on it? Let us know in the comments!


Stephanie (she/her) is an avid reader who moonlights at a college and calls Orlando home. Stephanie loves watching television, reading DIY blogs, planning awesome parties, Halloween decorating, and playing live-action escape games.