The Last of Us Episode 3: Long Long Time

[Warning: this story contains The Last of Us spoilers for episodes 1 and episode 2.] "So, who's Bill and Frank?" It's the question a curious Ellie (Bella Ramsey) asked smuggler Joel (Pedro Pascal), hired to get the bitten-but-immune girl to Firefly doctors out west working on a Cordyceps cure. Joel has twice name-dropped Bill and Frank, his suppliers who send signals in radio code: a '60s song means nothing new, '70s means new stuff, and '80s means trouble. Outside the walls of the Boston QZ, that trouble found Joel and Tess (Anna Torv), his Infected-bitten smuggling partner whose dying wish was for Joel to "get her there. You keep her alive, and you set everything right." 

Where is there? Lincoln, Massachusetts. The trailer for episode 3 revealed the trap-rigged small town just north of Boston, where post-pandemic survivalists Bill (Parks and Rec's Nick Offerman) and Frank (The White Lotus' Murray Bartlett) holed up in total isolation. 

The episode fleshes out — spoilersthe romantic relationship between Bill and Frank, something only hinted at in the video game. ("As awesome as that episode is, there are going to be fans who are upset by it," Neil Druckmann, co-creator of the video game and the HBO adaptation, told The New Yorkeradding: "To me, the story we tell [in episode 3] is authentic to the world. It's authentic to the themes that we're talking about.")

For much of its feature-length runtime, the episode's focus is on Offerman, best known for his long-running role as the mustached macho-man Ron Swanson in the NBC workplace comedy Parks and Recreation.

"I wasn't at all surprised to know that Nick could do something like this. What I was surprised about was how good he was," showrunner and series co-creator Craig Mazin, who wrote episode 3, told TVInsider. "I mean, I had high expectations, and he just went right over the top. It was an incredible thing to watch his chemistry with Murray Bartlett was incredible. You know, we cast Murray Bartlett, and then a few months later, Murray Bartlett wins an Emmy (for HBO's The White Lotus.) And we're like, 'this is really great.' And so we've got these, like absolute A-List guys bringing it at such a high level."

Mazin continued: "That storyline was really just a product of us saying, 'hey, we have an opportunity to actually do something different that doesn't break our experience of the game if we are a fan but adds to it. And if we're not, and we don't know about the game, [it] will just feel right.' And it was that was such a joy to work on. And those guys are amazing."

The Last of Us episode 3, "Long Long Time," premieres January 29th on HBO and HBO Max.