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Sunday, February 5, 2023

[The Last of SQUAWKS: E3] Long Long Time |The Last Of Us

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Mazin & Druckmann run a wild gambit on this episode of The Last of Us by giving Bill (and, subsequently, Frank) an incredible backstory in order to plant at least some of the seeds necessary to encourage the bond between Joel Miller & Ellie Williams. This episode contains both our initial reactions to and the full breakdown of our discussion, which we livestreamed both right after the public airing of this episode and two days later, after allowing this episode to digest, in which you, too, can participate by subscribing to our YouTube Channel (and don't forget to enable all notifications because, if not, you won't see a blessed thing):
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David Cameo:
Rachael Burt:
Sherrandy Swift:
Bridget Mason-Gray:


  • Bridget, yet again, managed to play through to pretty much exactly where this episode ends!
  • For those who haven't played the games, like Lois, if it felt a little bit off, maybe it's because you, too, have an aversion to bottle episodes.
  • …however, well, it's Nick Offerman, who plays Bill: a character Bridget someday aspires to be.
  • Dave sums up how he feels about this episode in two parts: the first of which is crying both when Bill & Frank first kiss and during the portion of Bill's letter to Joel Miller where he tells him to use what he bequeaths to him in order to protect Theresa "Tess" Servopoulos.
  • Speaking of Bill's first kiss, the way Nick Offerman kept the tension in his shoulders during that scene was really indicative of what Bill had missed out on in life, all these years.
  • What's great about adapting the video game to a television series is the way in which the series allows our characters moments to breathe, as opposed to the video games where you're predominantly bouncing from gameplay to short cut-scene to more gameplay. An example of this is witnessing the way Joel processes Bill's letter or Ellie and Joel in the woods, in the opening sequence.
  • Breathing new life into Bill's thin video game storyline plants some seeds into what we know will eventually lead to a bond between Joel & Ellie.
  • Just like in The Walking Dead Universe, to varying degrees of frustration, this series is no stranger to introducing beloved characters we might immediately have to say goodbye to: something we predicted in our last discussion.
  • Update: after the podcast was published, Dave got his wife, Evelyn, to watch this episode with him and she really liked it!
  • Considering the theme of age against youth, Bill & Frank's story might impress upon Ellie the importance of carrying the hopes, knowledge, dreams, and aspirations of generations that lived before the fall.
  • Just like Nick Offerman's character on Parks and Rec, Ron Swanson, Bill is a Libertarian.
  • TWD fans must've gotten a kick out of Bill fulfilling our post-apocalypse fantasies of raiding all the shops and prepping all the death traps. Bridget expands on this by reiterating a previous conversation we've had on how the (zombie) apocalypse emphasizes survival over everything and freeing us from the mundane, day-to-day malaise.
  • For those who would've soured on the idea of the episode being exclusively about Bill & Frank, it helped to see their first encounter with a younger Joel & Tess, which eased our suffering over Tess' recent demise. Witnessing a vibrant and hopeful version of her was bittersweet, as well.

  • After years of being consciously aware of both their age and the age gap between Bill and Frank and how Bill expected to be the first one to die, the switcheroo of seeing Frank with a degenerative disease - just after seeing Bill nearly dying from a gunshot wound 10 years earlier - was heartbreaking.
  • Though there have been some advancements for treating Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), there is no cure, but one achievement we've had in the last 20 years has been gay marriage. Did they wait so long because old habits die hard? Just like Bill never thinking love was possible for him, they got used to the idea that they would never wed? Or could it just be Libertarian Bill not believing in the concept until Frank asked him to love him like he wanted him to?
  • Bridget describes the scene that touched her most was when Bill admitted to Frank that he also spiked the bottle of wine so that he could die in his arms, too. She, too, can't imagine living without her husband... but until then, she's never dying (again). Dave, who is also of a certain age, having seen many shows and movies reminding him of his mortality really felt Bill's admission to Frank, "I was never afraid before you showed up."
  • Dave takes a moment to explain how he never really believed in the concept of marriage but, like  Bill, age moved him to either not take a stand on principle or even care all that much. It's the same with his disbelief in the idea of a one true love: after finding someone who made it impossible to imagine being with anyone else, he's moved on that as well. Bridget is adamant about true love, to the point where she calls her mew grandpa a nice guy.
  • Dave also felt something during Bill's first genuine sexual experience: the awkwardness and clear vulnerability. Bridget did not.
  • Bridget takes a moment to discuss the differences between the game and this episode:
    • As Ellie & Joel in the game, you spend so much time avoiding Bill's traps, whereas in this episode, only the raiders in the flashback 10 years prior receive the full brunt of them (plus the one infected we actually see and Frank in the pit).
    • Ellie does come across an arcade cabinet in the video game, but instead of Mortal Kombat, it's a game called The Turning.
    • In the video game, you do end up getting caught in one of Bill's traps and you have to take out a bunch of Clickers while hanging upside-down until Bill comes to save you.
    • Still in the game, Bill seems to get you into many scrapes and traps until you finally get to his place. He's absolutely bonkers.
    • The Bill in the video game thinks caring for others is a burden, whereas the Bill in the series sees the protector in Joel that he sees in himself. Video game Bill keeps telling Joel to cut Ellie loose and drove his Frank to his death, "I used to have someone. Someone that I cared about. Someone that I had to take care of. A partner."
    • Frank, in the video game, steals the battery from the Chevy S10 and has it in his place. In the series, it's just deconstructed in the fridge for preservation. Video game Bill hates Frank by the end of his arc, whereas TV series Bill couldn't imagine living without him.
    • Leaving Bill's town in the series is a breeze. In the video game, Bill & Joel are trying to push-start it (so the alternator can charge the battery) while eliminating infected. Also video game Bill is super useless.
  • This bottle episode reminds Felicia of Black Summer's 2nd season. We take a moment to discuss how the whole second season of Black Summer was full of bottle episodes, perhaps the entire series, along with the type of thrill ride it was.
  • We discuss the ways The Walking Dead comic diverged from the TV series as well, for a variety of reasons, in order for the stories to remain more grounded in reality and to be palatable for a wider television audience. Also, when some authors, like Robert Kirkman, write dialog for women that sound more male than female.
  • The audience watching Bill change over the course of 20 years - a man who you would think, on any given day, is unchangeable - is meant to convey the way Joel will eventually change, what change might look like, and what it might take in order to change.
  • The teasers held back from showing old Bill & Frank, so revealing their 20-years-later faces on the show was a real treat. That's how you do it.
  • Kirsten Acuna posted a snippet from her interview with Craig Mazin & Neil Druckmann where she asks the reason why they changed Bill's story so dramatically:


  • Just like the 2nd episode experienced in uptick in viewership from the series premiere, the 3rd episode received even higher initial ratings from the 2nd. In in an age where people wait for entire seasons/series to show up in order to binge-watch the whole thing, it's amazing when shows like this, which air week-to-week, can still pull in a live television watching audience.
  • Dave makes a feeble attempt to connect the Pearl brand of tampons that Ellie finds to Ibu Ratna, which means mother of pearl. Pandemonium ensues.
  • Sherrandy compares this episode to Fear The Walking Dead's 5th episode of season 4 titled, Laura. She goes on to describe other moments in the show in praise of the gamble Druckmann and Mazin made so soon, in only the 3rd episode in the series.

  • Praise is not the only reason why this episode received massive ratings: though many loved it - whether they played the video game or not - and though a scant few didn't enjoy the homosexual relationship between Bill & Frank, there's a growing portion of the videogame-playing fanbase that believe this episode wasn't faithful enough to the game, to the point of being offensive, straying away from the core narrative surrounding Ellie and Joel.

  • Dave took some time to express his disappointment on Twitter: he targets the video game fans who specifically can't seem to understand the need to embrace the artistic liberty necessary in order to adapt stories from one medium to another medium:
  • As much as Bill doesn't appear to even like Joel, his first thought after being shot by raiders is to immediately call Joel to take care of Frank. It's more evidence that this story needed to be told to plant the seeds necessary for both Joel and the audience to buy into Joel's eventual transformation from smuggler to protector.
  • Most of time in the video game (that the TV series is attempting to faithfully adapt) is spent either fighting off infected or puzzle-solving. Without the gameplay, the bare storyline in the videogame would be super thin and, if included, would stray from or become a completely different style of story that this series is trying to tell.
  • Bridget also reminds the audience that there are so many shot-for-shot scenes from the video games, along with word-for-word dialog, that appear in the series. Sherrandy tries to sympathize with the disgruntled-gamer perspective: not all adaptations are successful, as was the case with the semi-recent made-for-television reboot of Stephen King's The Stand.
  • They also take a moment to remind the audience that Druckmann, who co-created and wrote for the video game, is heavily involved in the television series, similar to the role (The Walking Dead comic book creator) Robert Kirkman played in lending his creative voice The Walking Dead television series. Also, Bella Ramsey's portrayal of Ellie is spot-on, for someone who never played the video game.
  • Rachael explains that, were it not for Nick Offerman, she would've hated this bottle episode: and not as much because it was a bottle episode, but specifically being introduced to such a cool character that ends up dying by the end of it. She almost couldn't see Bill as anyone else than Nick Offerman's character on Parks and Rec, Ron Swanson, and adding so much facial hair to the mix really turned her off, especially during the more intimate moments.
  • Sherrandy continues the thought of why Joel needs to change: that even in the face of certain doom or your own mortality, it's important to move forward and hold on to whatever love you can find because that is what makes life worth living. The apocalypse gave him more than he ever had before.
  • Another minor gripe Rachael had was the predictability of Bill's suicide pact. The ceremony of Bill dumping the drugs into Frank's wineglass threw her off a little, but not enough to dissuade her. Dave explains how Bill's intention in doing so was to actually throw Frank off so that, for all Frank knew, Bill would go on without him. Like Frank in the pit, though, Bill couldn't bear to keep that lie up and came clean super quick. Further evidence of role-reversal between the two.
  • Speaking of John Dorie, Thomas is selling merch that pays homage to Fear The Walking Dead!

  • TWD Brain: Both Rachael and Walking Dead Eternal didn't trust Frank('s "doucheface"), initially.
  • We take a moment to flip back to the beginning of this episode, when Ellie encounters an immobilized infected she gets uncomfortably close to. This moment was either an extension of the theory that infected are docile if you don't give them a reason to be violent or there is some spooky-beta-shit going on with either Ellie's pseudo infection or that she has yet-to-be-confirmed powers of manipulation over the infected. Sherrandy also uses it as a callback to when she asks Joel whether it's hard to kill infected because they used to be people. The question still remains: how long can infected survive?
  • We also touch on the fact that Ellie is born after the fall. For a hot sec, since Ellie is the only child we think we see, on screen, born after the apocalypse, we had to remind ourselves that Robert's henchmen were 19 years old and that Ellie went to Fedra Academy as an orphaned child. Dave also wonders about this much older "friend" of Ellie's, born before the apocalypse long enough to actually play arcade games like Mortal Kombat.
  • Sherrandy takes a moment to count the possible Ron Swanson homages:
    • Ron also went to a Home Depot and made sure to tell the employee who was trying to assist him that he knew more than he does.
    • Bill eating his steak dinner, watching infected getting shot in the head from his trip-wires, is a lot like the birthday dinner Leslie Knope threw for Ron Swanson.
  • Speaking of trip-wires, Alexandria Safe-Zone could've used a Bill and his death traps.
  • Truly appreciated the level of detail on the infected Ellie runes across in the Cumberland Farms cellar. Speaking of, you should follow Rachael's VFX account, @looksthatkillme, on both Instagram & TikTok! Check out this cool Clicker mask she made:
    @looksthatkillme I'm very proud of this one! over 20 hours i spent making this cotton/latex clicker mask #thelastofus #clicker #infected #spfx ♬ The Last Of US- Main Theme - Geek Music
  • Taking a break from the heartbreak of watching Frank attempt to paint Bill in watercolors, Dave thinks the depiction sort of looks like some infected, with streaks of face fungus moving horizontally across the face. Everyone else can't help but comment on not only the beauty of that painting but all the paintings of Bill, along with the color and life Frank's work brought into he and Bill's family home.
  • Despite the dramatic change to their home's interior, by the time we reach near-present day, the exterior and surrounding neighborhood is quite weathered. It shows that, as much as Frank wanted to sustain the beauty of their slice of the world, they simply grew too old to maintain that level of care. Dave has it in his head that maybe this was one of the few arguments Bill might've won over the years: keeping it that way might make it so that Raiders don't attack their neighborhood again.
  • Speaking of homes, Dave wanted to point out (mostly for Sherrandy) that they lived in one of those historical neighborhoods (Lincoln, Massachusetts) where each property had a circa date plaque and homes had to be maintained in such a way that they retain their historical look.
  • We zero-in on the door of Bill's home, during the town's evacuation, and the definition of the codes the Fedra soldier spraypainted onto it. It's an 'X' with different letters and numbers in each of its quadrants. At the top, 9.30 represents the date of inspection; 31.01 to the left represents the organization and unit that inspected the premises; NE on the right stands for No Entry, Hazards Present - basically, the manner in which the unit inspected; 0A at the bottom means Zero Alive, indicating the amount of survivors and/or dead found.
  • Dave's inner Bill is showing: he finds it pretty interesting that Fedra is a thing right from the onset of the outbreak. The rest of the gang do the Dave thing and remind him that this is simply this universe's FEMA. Dave is not 100% convinced, but pretends to go along with it.

  • The chat compares the infected on The Last Of Us to how the Daryl Dixon spin-off's fast-walkers will probably move. This prompts both Sherrandy and Dave to showcase their impression of a walker with a French accent.
  • Rachael is impressed that Bill & Frank even made it 20 years, which gives the game a lot more credibility, in our cynical brains. For gamers, it was probably a real treat to see Frank & Bill get into one of their first real fights after 3 years, thinking this might be the moment Bill cuts Frank off.
  • Dave also wanted to take it back to the first episode, where Joel deals the hydrocodone to the Fedra trooper, and how it appears as though he might've gotten the meds from Bill & Frank. The rest of the hosts think Joel actually got them from where the trooper mentioned, Atlanta QZ, but Dave takes note of how weird it was that Joel needed to keep the small baggie and didn't seem to acknowledge the Trooper's suggestion of their origin, one way or the other. Bridget also mentions that pharmaceuticals are still 90% effective after 20 years under optimal conditions.
  • When Bill first meets Frank in his trap, Frank makes a comment about where he even got the testing equipment. Dave throws it out there and the gang surmises that he must've gotten it off of a dead Fedra soldier (infected or not) that fell prey to one of his traps or just happened to stumble upon a body out in the wild. Dave is spiraling and thinks Bill might've gotten it off of one of the Fedra soldiers that evacuated the town, affirming his (not really) firm stance that this was a plandemic.
  • Thomas asks how long tampons last, which turns into a pretty funny conversation. The real answer is completely unimportant.
  • It's also important to note that paranoid-prepper Bill is also a meat and veggies guy, which most likely saved him in the same way The Miller family were spared. This also spawns a pretty funny conversation about what "toast" looks like 20 years later.
  • But on a serious note, Sherrandy takes issue with the idea that the outbreak happened in a matter of days due to flour and grain contamination. Dave points out that our own pandemic exposed how interdependent we are on our own fragile global supply chain and how it's possible that the contamination occurred a while beforehand. The infection had probably only reached outbreak levels a few days before the fall - where patient zero actually bit another human - achieving another stage in rapid, (most-likely) exponential mutation.
  • Killer soundtrack this episode, top notch: Fleetwood Mac's I'm Coming Home to StayCream's White Room, and Linda Rondstadt's (title track) Long Long Time. We know, from this episode, that Joel's radio at Boston QZ was picking up the soundtrack Bill was broadcasting as code, but this soundtrack also indicates Bill's own condition in each scene. We also note that the date on Bill's letter and the series starting out around Joel's birthday indicate that it's been a couple of weeks to a month since Bill and Frank passed on. Long Long Time might also be the TV series' response to the video game, in terms of Bill's story and allowing him to keep the love he lost in the games.
  • Speaking of Long Long Time, Linda Rondstadt's streams soared much in the way Kate Bush's Running Up That Hill did during (and well after) Stranger Things' 4th season. This spawned a truly diverse mix of reactions from all of us. Another thing worth noting: in the 70s, there was massive speculation over Linda Rondstadt's own sexuality, having never married. She was always straight but - given the taboo over homosexuality, the feelings this particular song was trying to convey, and her relationship status - is it any wonder that it was chosen as the them and title of this episode?

  • One observation Dave had - that Bridget immediately agreed with - which might've shown exactly how similar Joel and Bill were (and why they respect each other so much): during their first meeting with Bill & Frank, it appeared as though Joel might've been pointing a gun at Bill under the table during their entire meal. We can help each other out-- and get that gun out of my face.
  • Brian asks whether anyone had Carl Grimes vibes when Ellie was exploring Cumberland Farms. Sherrandy takes a feminist stand: Carl gets pudding while Ellie gets tampons?! Brian elaborates on this comparison further in his own recap of this episode:
  • On top of our hearts swelling when we saw Anna Torv's Tess, we also noticed that they might've aged her up in prior scenes (especially after only recently having received the beat-down from Robert's goons).
  • It wasn't just Frank's gaydar that was truly impressive: Frank really had a knack for reading people, which not only lent to his survival, but facilitated their relationship with Joel & Tess. Paying attention to things is how we show love inspires a conversation about how long-lasting relationships have their troubles, especially after the honeymoon phase is over, but listening to one another, allowing ourselves to accept the other's quirks, learning to adopt our partner's useful behaviors, and learning when and when not to stand on our principles for the sake of marital harmony is the key. It's also a frightening reminder of our own mortality and a quick decider on what's truly important and the urgency of wanting to protect what and whom you love.
  • Bill's giggle just after eating the strawberries Frank had planted, thanks to Joel and Tess, is absolutely everything. I don't think Bill has ever laughed like that in his entire life. Along with the continued imagery of clocks, watches, and the allegory of time, it really impresses the urgency for Joel to kickstart living again, not just surviving.
  • After the scene with Joel & Tess, right after Joel reminds Bill to watch out for people, it cuts to all the cars stacked in front of one of the gates - a la The Walking Dead's Woodbury community - and we spitball the ways in which Bill and Frank might've accomplished this feat. Forklift or backhoe.

  • Dave goes into detail on the 20 years Frank & Bill missed out on due to the fungal apocalypse and all the landmark cases that made national marriage equality possible: California Supreme Court's Hollingsworth v Perry ruled that Proposition 8 (a ballot initiative to outlaw same-sex marriage) had no legal standing, which eventually lead to 2015's Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court decision that effectively legalized gay marriage.
  • On the note of old habits dying hard (why Bill & Frank waited so long to wed) Dave admits that he never got around to watching Talking Dead's coverage of The Walking Dead's final episode, to which Bridget & Rachael also admitted the same. Maybe a future Watch Party for either our Ko-fi or Patreon members?

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