Episode three of HBO’s The Last Of Us, titled “Long, Long Time,” is one of the most powerful episodes released this year. Expanding on the video game by drawing a poignant and emotional relationship between Bill (Nick Offerman) and Frank (Murray Bartlett), the episode showcases, in 75 minutes, the most complete character arc of the show thus far and ends in the most devastating ways.
When the episode was released into the world, it received overwhelming praise from critics and fans; many called it one of the greatest episodes of television they’ve ever seen. Honestly? I agree. The Last of Us was filled with many incredible episodes, but “Long, Long Time” will stand the test of time as one of the greatest television episodes ever crafted.
Awards Radar spoke with director Peter Hoar on Zoom, who helmed the third episode of The Last of Us, to discuss his Emmy nomination and the reception that the show and the episode received. Hoar is well-known in television, directing several episodes of Daredevil, The Defenders, The Umbrella Academy, and, most recently, the miniseries It’s a Sin.
While talking about the reception that the episode received, Hoar stated that showrunner Craig Mazin was convinced it would be received the way it was:
“Craig is a wonderful, talented, beautiful human being, and he was so positive throughout the filming of the episode. He knew it was going to make a mark. He was like, “This is so good. This is just great stuff. This is great TV.” You always hope that it will get noticed and that it will do well. I think the British part of me is always quite modest about the whole thing and hopes people will like it and be nice about the episode, whereas my American friends are all like, “Yeah, this is great. It’s gonna be great.”
“I knew we were making a good piece of television. I believed in the game and, therefore, the show, and I believed in Craig. However, what actually happened was off the charts, it was an amazing response. Seeing the layers of the response because, obviously, we made a gay love story, and people picked up that it was a middle-aged gay love story. That was a big thing. We inherited the queer representation from the game, so it’s not like we made that up. It was already there. Also, I think a lot of people were relieved to watch a game adaptation that was quite good, and that made them happy.”
As a gay man, Hoar explains that he knew how important it was for the queer community to have good representation on screen:
“For the queer community, an episode like this is very important for them, and I had to get it right. The main objective of this episode was to tell a love story, which happens to be about two men. Everyone can relate to the moments in the story, other than the zombies: how they argue, fall in love, do things for each other, and look at each other. We’ve all done that. I hope we’ve all done that. And if you haven’t, you will hopefully find that special person that does these things and makes you feel like that.
I recently watched Heartstopper, and it’s exactly that. It’s such a genuine, gorgeous telling of a love story. Sometimes, we were afraid that we were not being too demonstrative. Maybe there are not enough explosions, or maybe someone should get a hideous disease or a fight between somebody. Heartstopper doesn’t do any of that. It goes, “No, no, this is about two kids who love each other.” That’s part of why it works. For our episode, we wanted to tell a simple love story with a very complicated background: a life-threatening pandemic. But it worked because it wasn’t just a queer story. I think everybody saw something in it. Everybody felt it. Everybody saw love as being the genuine thing that love is. I’m not saying we’re going to change the world. However, if you tell more stories about everyone but include a point of view that not everybody sees, you get more people to see it, feel it, and understand it.”
There were also plenty of other subjects to discuss, including Hoar’s reaction to his Emmy nomination for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series, his collaboration with showrunners Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann, working with actors Nick Offerman and Murray Bartlett, capturing a natural progression between Bill and Frank, and if Max Richter’s “On the Nature of Daylight” was always the top musical choice for the episode’s final montage.
You can watch the full video interview below and stream all The Last of Us episodes on Max.
[Some of the quotes in this article have been edited for length and clarity]