The Last of Us series co-creator, Craig Mazin, reveals that the one hour twelve minute episode 3, “Long Long Time,” was originally much longer.
Spoilers for The Last of Us episode 3 below!
The Last of Us creator, Craig Mazin, recently revealed that episode 3 was originally much longer. Following their narrow escape from Boston, weathered survivor Joel (Pedro Pascal) and 14-year-old orphan Ellie (Bella Ramsey) make their way to Bill (Nick Offerman) and Frank’s (Murray Bartlett) secluded sanctuary. Told over a series of flashbacks, episode 3 reveals the entirety of Bill and Frank’s relationship, depicting their first meeting in 2007 and culminating with their peaceful deaths in a joint suicide 16 years later.
Mazin sat down with Deadline and revealed that The Last of Us episode 3 was originally much longer. The HBO series creator explained the episode’s director, Peter Hoar, worked with the show’s editor and completed a two-hour cut of the episode. Mazin admitted that he cried during the showing of the original cut but still needed to trim it to its current runtime of one hour and twelve minutes. Read what Mazin said below:
Well, we felt really good about the script, and we felt really good about our cast, and we felt really good about our director. But I felt good about scripts, cast and directors before, and then sometimes the soufflé doesn’t rise. And with this one, in being there each day and watching the episode take shape, I was feeling pretty good about it. But it wasn’t until I saw the director’s cut that I knew. Peter Hoar did his director’s cut with our editor, Tim Good, which was quite long. When they sent it to me, I think it was almost two hours or something like that. So, I was like, oh, that’s probably not good.And I sat down, but I’m like, “OK, I’ll watch the two-hour version of this episode.” And I cried so hard that at one point, I actually said out loud, “Ow.” I mean, it hurt. I cried so hard; it hurt. And I thought,” Well, if these guys can do this to me and I wrote this f**king thing, then I think it might work pretty well on other people” Now, we did work really hard to, but we knew we couldn’t put a two-hour version of this thing out there, but HBO…was kind enough to let us go a bit long. And look, I never want to overstay my welcome. I always want to leave people wanting more. But this is a longer episode, and what’s really interesting is, even though I think it’s like 73 minutes long, so many people who have seen it have said that hour flew by. And I’m like; it wasn’t just an hour. It was 1 hour and 12 minutes. And so that’s, I think, a real achievement. But it was really when I saw Peter and Tim’s cut that I just thought like, “Wow, this one got me right here.” [Mazin places his hand on his chest].
What Could Have Been Included in the Longer Cut?
Although The Last of Us episode 3 deviated greatly from the story of the original video game, the episode has since been lauded as the show’s best so far, with many viewers taking to social media to praise the character and story changes. The video game saw players arrive at Bill’s town with Ellie in tow to find Bill very much alive. After fighting off hordes of infected, the survivalist discovers that his old partner Frank actually ran away sometime prior and killed himself after he was bitten. Where the game did not show the troubled relationship between Bill and Frank, the series detailed the breadth of their partnership as Frank helped Bill open up and live a freer life in the apocalypse.
An extended cut of The Last of Us episode 3 may have featured more of what was already depicted. This would include more of Bill living alone as he created and planted the traps around the town, a more in-depth introductory scene as Bill probes Frank to see if his guest is more than meets the eye, more of Bill and Frank’s subsequent relationship as it evolved into a strong partnership, and perhaps more of the couple’s final moments together. An increased amount of time with the characters would allow the romance to build, lending itself to the heart-wrenching conclusion.
Despite the unlikelihood of a director’s cut of The Last of Us episode 3, audiences were treated to two outstanding performances from Offerman and Barlett. Although the two will likely never return to the series, they have already helped solidify the episode as the one to beat. With The Last of Us promising an action-packed episode 4, audiences will see Joel and Ellie face some of their biggest challenges yet on their treacherous journey.