Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for Episode 3 of The Last of Us.Episode 3 of The Last of Us, titled “Long Long Time,” might very well be the best of the series—and also is the episode that diverts the most from the game itself. In the game, we meet Bill, a cantankerous man who has fenced up the city he lives in, ensuring that no one else can get near him. As Joel and Ellie leave the town, they find another man named Frank, who has hung himself. Bill says that Frank was his “partner,” and that even someone like Bill, who has closed the world off around him had also found someone at the end of the world. But “Long Long Time” takes a different, and more moving approach to Bill and Frank’s story, which gets Joel and Ellie to the same place they need to be, but through a beautiful look at two people who saved each other during the end of the world.
The third episode of The Last of Us starts after the tragedy of losing Tess (Anna Torv) at the end of Episode 2, “Infected.” After getting bit, Tess sacrificed herself to make sure Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey) could get to safety, blowing herself and a bunch of infected up in the process (and after a disgusting tendril kiss as well).
Saying Goodbye to Tess
Episode 3 begins with Joel by a river, piling up a series of rocks—a makeshift tribute to Tess. Joel and Ellie are only ten miles west of Boston, and they’ve already experienced a major loss. Joel is giving Ellie the silent treatment, until Ellie mentions that no one forced Joel and Tess to escort her across the country, that they needed her for their own means, so Joel shouldn’t blame her for things that aren’t her fault. Joel silently nods, as if he admits what she’s saying is correct, and that his quiet anger is misplaced. Ellie asks how much longer they have to get to Bill (Nick Offerman) and Frank (Murray Bartlett), and Joel says it’s a five-hour hike.
On the walk, Ellie asks how Joel got a scar near the temple of his head, and Joel responds that someone shot at him and missed. He states that he shot back at them and missed too. When Ellie mentions that she should probably also have a gun, Joel quickly shoots the idea down. The two enter an abandoned gas station where Joel says he’s left some things stashed away. As Joel looks for his stash, Ellie talks about how she wishes she could play the broken Mortal Kombat II arcade machine inside, then explores on her own. Ellie ends up finding a door to the basement, where she finds an infected trapped under a pile of rubble. Ellie pulls out her switchblade, and gently cuts open his forehead to see what’s inside before she stabs him in the head. Joel finds his stash, and leaves his gun with no ammo behind, while Ellie doesn’t tell Joel about the infected in the basement.
As they keep walking, they see a crashed plane, and Ellie asks about Outbreak Day, and how the world basically fell apart in a day. Joel says that no one knows for sure how the outbreak came to be, but that the best guess is that cordyceps mutated (much like we saw discussed at the beginning of Episode 1, “When You’re Lost in the Darkness”), and that some of it got in the food supply through a basic ingredient like flour or sugar (like we saw mentioned in Episode 2, “Infected”), and if the person ate enough, it could get you infected. With tainted food hitting stores around the world at once, it wouldn’t take long for many to get infected, then start biting. In just a few days, the world was destroyed.
Joel tries to get them to take a shortcut to avoid something that Ellie shouldn’t see, but naturally, that only makes Ellie want to go see it. What she finds is a pile of human bones, many of which have luggage around them. Joel explains that a week after the outbreak, soldiers swept through the countryside, evacuated small towns, and told people they were moving to a quarantine zone—if there was room. If there wasn’t room, the people who likely weren’t sick were killed and left there. When Ellie asks why they would do this, Joel says, “dead people can’t get infected.”
Bill and Outbreak Day
The episode then jumps back in time to one such town being gathered by soldiers on September 30, 2003. As everyone is loaded into trucks, we see a house covered in cameras, and the man inside watching the monitors underground as everyone leaves. He hears soldiers walking around above him in his basement, and he grabs his gun just in case. Yet the soldiers don’t find him, and the people are hauled out of town. We see that this man is in a doomsday prepper’s basement, covered in guns and supplies, and he makes his way out of hiding, armed to the teeth and with a gas mask on. Once the coast is clear, he takes off his mask and smiles. This is our introduction to Bill.
Bill has been preparing this for what seems like years, and he makes the most of it. He steals a boat and gas from a local gas station, takes supplies from a boarded-up Home Depot, breaks into a natural gas plant to get power back, grabs several boxes of wine from a local winery, and gets his own generator working. Bill gets to work fortifying a fence around the town, planting his own vegetables, and raising his own animals. Bill sits himself down to eat a gorgeously prepared dinner, made thanks to all his hard work—and a meal that seems like it almost shouldn’t exist in a post-Outbreak Day world. As he eats his dinner, we see on his monitors that he’s set up even more cameras around the town, so he can keep a better eye on the perimeter and the traps he’s set to keep infected away.
Bill, Meet Frank
Four years later in 2007, Bill is still on his own and thriving in his town when he gets a notification that something is stuck in a hole outside his fence. When Bill goes to investigate, he cocks his gun before reaching the hole, and the person inside states “I’m not infected,” and replies that he’s not armed. The man says that he was trying to make it to Boston and that his group started with ten people, but he’s all that left. He came from the Baltimore QZ, which is now gone. Bill lets the man out of the hole, checks with a device to see that the man isn’t infected, and at gunpoint, points him in the direction of Boston. But the stranger says he hasn’t eaten in two days and introduces himself as Frank. Bill says that if he feeds Frank, everyone he tells about his free meal will come by looking for a handout, and yet, Bill eventually finds compassion for Frank and brings him to his house.
While Frank takes a warm shower, Bill brings him some fresh clothes. Frank is extremely gracious for the shower, and Bill looks at the closed bathroom door as if he’s forgotten the joys of another person. Later, Bill and Frank share a meal prepared by Bill. As before, the meal is expertly made, and Frank’s face is full of joy, as he almost can’t believe that such fine dining is still possible in this world. As Frank enjoys the delicious meal, Bill pours him wine, and Frank notes that Bill knows what wine to pair with the rabbit. When Bill says, “I know I don’t seem the type,” Frank replies, “No, you do,” a moment that shows that Frank already understands Bill more than anyone has in a long time.
After the dinner, Frank thanks his host and says that he should be going. But first, Frank goes to the other room to a piano, which he says he’s been eyeing all night. As Frank looks through the sheet music Bill has, Bill seems unnerved by Frank’s actions. Frank says that the music he finds isn’t Bill’s, but then finds a collection of Linda Ronstadt songs and states, “this is you.” Frank begins to play and sing “Long Long Time,” but Bill stops him when he keeps playing the wrong notes and singing off-key. Frank says he’ll go as soon as Bill plays the song correctly.
As Bill beautifully plays the song, Frank looks on, genuinely moved by this man’s performance. Frank asks who the girl is that Bill is singing about, to which Bill states, “there is no girl.” Frank puts his arm around Bill and says, “I know.” Frank tenderly kisses Bill, a moment of intimacy that leaves Frank crying and Bill almost shaking with joy. Bill finally introduces himself, and Frank tells Bill to go take a shower. When Bill comes out of the shower, Frank is already in his bed waiting for him. Frank takes off Bill’s towel and the two lay together, naked and open with each other.
Bill admits that he’s never done this with a man, but that he did have sex with a woman a long time ago. Frank says he’ll start with the simple things, and as he climbs on top of Bill, he states that he’s not a whore who has sex for lunches and that if they do this, he’s going to stay a few more days, which Bill agrees to. The two gently hold each other, kissing softly, as Frank kisses Bill’s chest down and out of the frame. It’s a moment of intimacy that likely these two never imagined they’d have again, considering the state of the world.
Paying Attention to Things, It’s How We Show Love
But then, we cut to three years later, with Frank saying “fuck you” as he leaves Bill’s house. The two are having a fight after Frank asked for some paint and a little gas for the lawnmower. Frank wants to paint the house, fix up some of the shops, and generally, make their street nicer. As he says, “paying attention to things, it’s how we show love.” Bill asks if they’re going to start hosting formal garden parties; Frank responds no, but they are going to have friends, and they will invite them to visit. Bill rebuts that there are no friends to be had, and then Frank mentions he’s been talking to a nice woman on the radio.
It turns out that woman is Tess, and we see that Bill and Frank have invited her and Joel to their home — Bill with distinct reluctance. As they eat, Bill keeps his gun on the table, unnerved by strangers in his neighborhood. Frank and Tess agree that they’ll be working together in the future, leaving Bill and Joel alone. Joel says he understands Bill’s wariness, but they can help each other, that there’s stuff in the QZ they can get that will be beneficial to Bill and Frank. Yet Bill maintains that he doesn’t need the help of Joel and Tess. Joel points out the faultiness of Bill’s fence and says that he can get him supplies that will last him the rest of their lives. As Tess and Joel leave, Frank mentions they should have a radio code (which we learned about in the first episode), while Joel tells Bill that even though their home is well-protected, raiders will eventually come, to which Bill responds, “we’ll be fine.”
Caring for Each Other
Three more years later in 2013, we see Bill has fortified the fence even more, piling up cars to make a blockade. Bill and Frank jog around the neighborhood, and Frank says he has a surprise. Frank has secretly planet a garden of strawberries, having traded Joel and Tess one of Bill’s guns for a packet of seeds. The two toast each other with their strawberries, as Bill giggles with joy over tasting the fresh fruit that he surely never thought he’d ever have again—a reminder of the small things that can make life truly overwhelming at times. Bill apologizes to Frank, saying he’s getting older faster than he is, as Bill continues to say that he was never scared before Frank showed up. The two kiss, touched by each other’s admissions.
We cut to a rainy night, as raiders show up outside Bill’s gate, and Bill’s traps catch some of the men aflame. Frank wakes up to flames and gunshots, with Frank nowhere to be found. Frank grabs a gun and proceeds outside, where he finds Bill in the middle of the street shooting raiders with a sniper rifle. After Bill is shot in the side, Frank brings him inside. Thinking this is the end, Bill gives details on how Frank will go on once he’s gone, as Frank treats the bullet wound. Bill tells Frank to call Joel, saying that Joel will take care of him, as he can’t stay here alone, but Frank says he’s not alone, since Bill is here. It’s their first moment of real danger together, and while Bill is scared, Frank takes the initiative and saves Bill’s life.
We once again cut to 10 years later, where we see both men have gotten grayer, while Frank is now sick and in a wheelchair. Frank has taken up painting, having completed gorgeous pieces, but his sickness makes it difficult for him to complete his latest work—a portrait of Bill. Later on, at dinner, we see that Frank is mostly on a liquid diet and is taking quite a few pills for his illness. At night, Bill has to carry Frank to bed and get him situated.
Frank’s Last Day
The next morning, when Bill wakes up, he sees that Frank has gotten himself to his wheelchair, saying that it took him almost all night to get there. While this irritates Bill, who thinks Frank will fall asleep in the chair, Frank states that he’ll stay awake, since he’s decided this is his last day. Later, the two sit together; Bill has clearly been crying, asking about the possibility of finding a doctor — to which Frank says that they didn’t have a cure for his disease before the world ended, so what good would that do?
With tears in both of their eyes, Frank says that he’s had a lot of bad days, and yes, a lot of bad days with Bill too, but he’s had more good days with Bill than anyone else, so he asks for one more good one. Frank says in his final day, he wants Bill to make him some toast, then they’re going to go to their neighborhood’s boutique—which Frank fixed up—where he’ll pick outfits for both of them, and then they’ll get married. Then, Bill will cook a delicious dinner, crush all of Frank’s pills up, and put them in his wine. Frank will then take Bill upstairs, where Frank will fall asleep in Bill’s arms. Fighting through the tears, Bill says that he can’t, but Frank asks if Bill loves him, to which he replies yes, and Frank says that he should “love me the way I want you to.”
We watch as these two spend their day together, a touching montage of Bill and Frank going through the day Frank wanted to have. We see as they exchange rings and kiss, cementing their bond with each other. Bill once again cooks them rabbit as they drink the same wine they had during their first meal together all those years ago. At the end of the meal, Bill brings out two more wine glasses, prepared to end the life of his love. Bill pours the wine, then takes the bag of ground-up pills and dumps it into Frank’s glass. Frank drinks the glass in one gulp, followed by Bill drinking his own. Frank then asks if there were already pills in the bottle, to which Bill replies, “Enough to kill a horse.” But Bill says this isn’t the sad suicide at the end of the play. Bill is old, he’s satisfied, and Frank was his purpose. Frank says he should be furious, but he finds this incredibly romantic. The pair laugh at their choice, then Frank asks Bill to take him to bed. The two newlyweds head to bed, ready to spend their last few moments of life together in each other’s arms.
Joel and Ellie Arrive
Sometime later, we see Joel and Ellie arrive at Bill and Frank’s town. The flowers are dying, Bill and Frank’s door is unlocked, and the remains of their final meal are left on the table, covered in dust. While Joel goes to investigate and finds Bill and Frank’s bedroom barricaded, Ellie finds a letter from Bill with a car key on top. The letter is addressed “To Whoever But Probably Joel.” Ellie reads the note, which tells whoever finds this note to not come into the bedroom. Bill writes they can take whatever they need and states that he never liked Joel, but it’s still like they’re almost friends, and Bill respected him. Bill adds that he used to hate the world, and he was happy when everyone died, but he was wrong, and there was one person worth saving. And that’s what he did, he saved him, he protected him. That’s why people like himself and Joel are here: they have a job to do, and God help any motherfuckers who get in their way. Bill also writes that Joel can have all of his weapons to keep… and then Ellie quits reading. Joel looks at the letter, which continues to say that Joel should use the weapons to keep Tess safe.
Joel leaves the house, seemingly saddened by not being able to protect Tess, as he crumples up the note and heads to the garage, where he finds Bill’s truck. While there’s no battery in the truck, Joel finds the ingredients to make one in the refrigerator. Returning to the house, Joel asks to see Ellie’s arm, which still hasn’t changed. Joel accepts this and says he’s charging the battery, and that he’s looking for his brother Tommy (Gabriel Luna), who is in trouble in Wyoming, and he’s heading out to find him. Tommy used to be a Firefly, and maybe, he can find out where to take Ellie.
Joel says if he’s taking Ellie with him, there are rules she has to follow: she can’t bring up Tess, and in fact, they should keep their histories to themselves; Ellie can’t tell anyone about her “condition,” and Ellie has to do what Joel says when he says it. Ellie agrees that what Joel says goes. The two grab what they can, and even though there’s an entire wall of guns, Joel denies Ellie’s request for one. As Ellie looks around the house by herself, she finds another gun, which she hides in her bag. With the two showered and loaded up, they get in Bill’s truck—the first time Ellie has ever been in a car before. Ellie finds a Linda Ronstadt cassette in the glove compartment, which they play as they leave Bill and Frank’s town. As they head for Wyoming, we see the truck depart from the open window to Bill and Frank’s bedroom, where the two will remain together in each other’s arms, forever.