Tess’s death was just the set-up for the heartache we endured on The Last of Us Season 1 Episode 3.
It’s rare for a TV series to be able to introduce multiple characters in a single episode and make you care deeply for them when they die in the same installment.
If The Last of Us Season 1 has taught us anything, the world these characters reside in has little hope because the government made terrible decisions to contain the fungus.
Bill was a fan favorite in the first video game. Frank didn’t get any time to shine in that game, so the series successfully fleshed out both characters and showcased their relationship over several years.
Nick Offerman was brilliant and managed to nail Bill’s quirks. It’s unfortunate he died because I expected a lot of back and forth between him and Ellie
However, this is a deviation from the source material I can get behind.
The writing, acting, and direction came together in a way that told a love story that wasn’t driven by drama. Far too often, TV shows introduce needless drama between couples in ways that pull the lovers apart, push them back together, rinse, repeat.
Here, we got their entire love story with a post-apocalyptic backdrop, which was beautifully told.
I know a particular part of the fan base will have qualms about deviating from the source material, but the Bill and Frank story is an improvement because it added depth to the character of Bill and showcased some of his best years, despite the world being in tatters.
Bill was a loner who thought he could navigate this world alone, and all it took was a chance encounter with Frank for him to live a life that allowed him to feel not only satisfied but also happy.
What more could you ask for? Letting Frank into his safe haven was risky because the viewers unfamiliar with the source material were probably wondering whether Frank was with another group who wanted to use the many resources to their advantage.
Thankfully, that wasn’t the case, and we witnessed the highs and lows of their relationship together. They beat the odds many times, and I appreciate that Frank helped Bill expand his horizons.
Bill was accustomed to being cut off from civilization, and while the world Frank knew and loved was long gone, he had communicated with people regularly inside the QZ he called home.
Throughout the years, Frank grew stagnant in this new way of life. He lived in this beautiful town, well away from the perils of the new world, but he didn’t have any friends beyond his lover.
It makes sense that he wanted to make the town look more picturesque and liveable because it’s probably something Frank never thought he’d have after the outbreak began all those years ago.
When you get a shred of something you thought you’d never have, you nurture that and hold it dearly, never wanting to let go.
But the constant struggle with Bill to expand his horizons was necessary to show that these were two very different people, each with their vulnerabilities.
Frank watched on his cameras as the poor people were led out of town, thinking they were being sent to a QZ, only for their remains to still be present on the roads leading out of town.
It was a chilling visual, and it hit like a ton of bricks when Joel explained the meaning behind the remains to Ellie, but the series has this way of telling stories that dig deeper than you expect.
The cut to the mother and her child after seeing the fabric they were wearing showcased the true extent of the new world order in the aftermath of the outbreak. It also resonated with Ellie because she’s been largely shielded by Fedra since birth.
We’ll return to Joel and Ellie in a little because we still have plenty to discuss about Bill and Frank.
Frank wanted that sense of community, while Bill was happy to spend the rest of his days together and probably would have been fine to spend them alone before Frank entered the picture.
Bill was a loner who thought he’d always be alone, and his decision to end his life the same day as Frank highlighted that he couldn’t return to a world being the only person in the picture.
Despite not wanting to admit as much, Frank changed Bill in many ways. Bill was adamant about not letting people like Joel and Tess in, but it led to plenty of rewards.
Joel was aware that Bill would require certain things to keep the town’s safety levels up for the years to come, but I did laugh when Bill kept pointing the gun at Joel.
They are very different men, who like to be in control of situations, so leaving them together to talk through the terms of this alliance created by their lovers was comical.
It was also great to see Tess again. Anna Torv turned in a showstopping performance on The Last of Us Season 1 Episode 2, but here, it was more about expanding the knowledge of the universe for fans.
I hope we see Anna again, but I can’t fathom where she would fit into the story unless the series drastically switches things up by giving us more flashbacks from the 20 years she survived in the apocalypse.
Bill lacing the bottle of wine was a little predictable, but that wasn’t a bad thing. It was more a testament to his love for Frank and how he didn’t think he could return to living alone.
I figured Frank would flip out when he realized, but he knew that once Bill had a decision in mind, he wouldn’t deviate from it. Truthfully, Bill is stubborn as hell, but he has a heart of gold when you get through that icy exterior.
The letter was another solid touch, mainly because it was read out by Ellie, someone who had heard about not actually met him.
Bill had all of his bases covered, even in death, and somewhere along the way, he realized just how viable friends Joel and Tess had been to them.
The part about Tess was tearjerking because you could see the sadness on Joel’s face when Bill said to take the weapons to keep her safe.
Tess’s death is a sore point for Joel because he won’t be able to help to feel somewhat responsible. They undoubtedly took many risks over the 20 years they spent in the outbreak, but it will be difficult for him not to have resentment towards Ellie.
If they hadn’t agreed to take Ellie to the Fireflies, Tess would probably still be alive.
Joel’s decision to utilize Bill’s resources and take Ellie to Tommy is like killing two birds with one stone. His drive from The Last of Us Season 1 Episode 1 has been to get back in contact with Tommy.
He also has a connection to the Fireflies, meaning he will know where Ellie should be sent next.
“Long Long Time” highlighted the trust issues between Joel and Ellie. Ellie wants to be more armed to protect herself against the infected and whatever else they encounter on their travels. Still, the thought of giving a firearm to a teenager after what happened to Sarah doesn’t compute to him.
He’d much rather take the risk to preserve Ellie’s youth for as long as possible, but with the world in this state, it’s hard to tell whether that’s a good or bad thing.
The rapport between the pair is excellent, but they need to be more trusting of one another if they hope to make it to the other side of this journey alive.
Ellie taking the gun and hiding will cause problems, but maybe Joel will understand that she is taking her fate into her own hands.
Truthfully, Ellie doesn’t know much about Joel. He’s lost multiple people he loves, so maybe she’ll use that as an angle when he inevitably realizes what she did.
Then again, Ellie isn’t his daughter, so maybe he’ll appreciate that she took the initiative, assuming she correctly uses the weapon.
Killing the infected below the store was an incredible character-building moment because it highlighted that Ellie was no longer scared. She needed to do that to be comfortable with killing the infected down the line.
Ellie’s blunt personality helps to keep the show going in the slower moments. She isn’t written like teenagers from other shows, and she stood up to Joel when she thought he was blaming her for Tess’s demise.
Overall, “Long Long Time” was perfect from start to finish, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it being talked about during awards season. It was that good.
Nick Offerman and Murray Bartlett successfully told a very different side to Bill and Frank’s relationship than we got in the games, and it helped enhance our understanding of their time together.
What are your thoughts on Bill and Frank taking center stage?
Were you surprised by how their relationship played out?
What are your thoughts on the evacuation and subsequent genocide in the town 20 years before?
Hit the comments.
The Last of Us continues Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO.
Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.