- Warning: Spoilers ahead for “The Last of Us” season one, episode three.
- Creator Craig Mazin explained why he chose to use Linda Ronstadt’s song “Long, Long Time.”
- The third episode details an unexpected romance between apocalypse survivors Bill and Frank.
A song can make or break a moment on television.
In the case of the third episode of HBO’s The Last of Us – creator and writer Craig Mazin got it right.
In the episode, viewers were introduced to Bill (Nick Offerman), a middle-aged doomsday planner who had holed up in a Massachusetts town after the outbreak of the Cordyceps pandemic.
Despite his initial reservations, Bill let Frank (Murray Bartlett) into his compound and the two went on to enjoy a 20-year romance, growing old together before eventually committing suicide together after Frank’s battle with cancer.
Their romance began when Frank began playing an up-tempo rendition of Linda Ronstadt’s “Long, Long Time” on the piano at Bill’s house. Bill then took over and played a more somber rendition before the pair shared their first kiss.
Since the episode aired on Sunday, the song has grown in popularity on Spotify, with a 4900% increase in feeds.
Speaking to IndieWire on Monday, Mazin explained how and why he chose Linda Ronstadt’s 1970 hit for the moment.
“I thought this would happen, that it would be a song that would be played and that we would be surprised who was good at it and who was bad,” he said.
“I remember telling Neil [Druckmann, cocreator], ‘I’m not sure what the song is, I just know it has to be this incredibly sad song about wanting love, and never getting love, and just making your peace with the fact that you always will be alone. But it can’t be in the nose. And it can’t be a song we all know.’
Mazin said he searched for “hours and hours” for the right song before turning to SiriusXM host Seth Rudetsky for advice. Rudetsky suggested “Long, long time.”
“I described what I needed and within 30 seconds, it was there [incoming text noise] ‘Long, Long Time’ by Linda Ronstadt,” Mazin said. “I kind of remember that song. I played it and I was like, ‘Oh, my. There she is.'”
“The goal was to show the arc of dedication,” he added. “I’m in my 26th year of marriage, and middle-aged love is one thing. And it’s something different than love in your 20s and young love. There’s something that starts with commitment over time.”
“It was important for me to show that romance, however long it lasted, didn’t last. And then there’s arguing. And then there’s shopping. And then there’s understanding what the other person does for you,” Mazin continued. “And then there’s the fear, and the pulling of these characters through the stages of life, as I’ve experienced and seen my wife’s parents’ experience and other friends’ experience. The whole idea was to hit key moments in your life. life where love means something different.”
The show creator added: “At the end, Neil said something really smart: ‘Even if a character doesn’t make it on our show, in this case, these guys got a happier ending than they did in the game.’
The fourth episode of “The Last of Us” airs on HBO and HBO Max on Sunday.