By: Papa Minnow

No dark dramatic intro this week. Instead, The Last of Us Episode 3, Long, Long Time, focuses on a budding love story between Bill and Frank that manages to flourish in a world engulfed in flames around it. 

Despite this heartwarming episode, Long, Long Time is the most divisive episode to date for several reasons. This adaptation is the most divergent portrayal of the Last Of Us’ source material and the showrunners took several liberties in delivering it. 

For context, when players meet Bill in the game he’s alone and has been for some time. As a result, he became self-absorbed, surly, and severely cautious to the point of paranoia. 

After Joel gets caught in one of Bill’s traps Ellie tries to free him while they ward off a horde of infected. The moment Joel’s loose he’s overpowered by a runner and almost loses his life until Bill drives a heroic machete through its temple. 

Once in safety, Ellie thanks Bill for his help and is grateful for his heroics but Bill immediately handcuffs Ellie to a pipe and knocks Joel down to the ground for inspection. What ensues is some hilarious banter between Ellie and Joel that eases the player’s tension after an intense getaway sequence. 

It’s a memorable moment in the game because it plays with the player’s emotion by juxtaposing a new companion, BIll; who drastically differs from a beloved companion, Tess; on this journey to the Fireflies. It’s also one of the most interesting aspects of the game gameplay wise, with players getting to catch their breath before exploring an entire town and having unique encounters with infected. 

Frank never makes a warm-blooded appearance in the game. It’s not until the later, via a note, that players find out that he was Bill’s partner and he took his own life as a means of escaping his disdain for Bill in this world. 

Bill becomes somewhat upset, but players are left to fill in the blanks of their relationship and what happened between them. At the end of Bill’s town Ellie and Joel obtain a working battery and leave town in a car and the chapter is sealed off by Ellie’s hilarious wit. 

I think if you asked players what parts of the game they remember most, Bill’s Town would rank amongst the top. It’s one of the most beloved parts of the game so to not feature any of these memorable scenes was always going to be a tough pill for most fans to swallow. 

But I would be lying if I sat here and failed to mention that some of ire for this episode stems from anti-gay sentiment. There is some criticism to be had in the idea that focusing on the story of one secondary character and a tertiary whom we’ve never seen before takes away from Ellie and Joel’s story and I can somewhat agree. 

But the Last of Us series has had its fair share of criticism when it comes to LGBTQ representation. Part II of the game series had leaks prior to the release that were detrimental to the game’s sales for simply having a buff female lead character and a trans companion. 

So there are many people out there who feel that this is a part of the “woke” agenda or that Neil Druckmann is forcing this narrative through these mediums. Everything about Bill’s sexuality is subtle Part I, he’s not flamboyant, we don’t find out about his partner until the closing moments of the chapter, and Ellie jokes about his sexual taste.

In some eyes the depiction of his love in raw form is a bastardization of his character and an assault on the essence of the source material despite the game’s hints (already review bombed on iMDB).

As a videogame player I don’t mind the direction they decided to take with this episode. It was a little more emotional than I would have expected, and of course I missed those major Bill Town scenes, but it was a refreshingly new take on a story I’ve played through numerous times and so well done that you can objectively say it’s a great love story.

We got to experience a different side of Bill while also learning about who Frank is and the relationship they had together. Long, Long Time gave us a set of new memorable moments that transcend the game’s original plot.

Meeting Joel & Tess for lunch, the night of the raid, the heart breaking mention of Tess in the letter, and the last supper scene are all new story elements that will resonate with viewers for years to come.

That’s where the strength of this show lies. It’s in its ability to draw elements from the source material and dive deeper into them to create new heartfelt moments for new viewers and gaming fans alike.



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