(Spoilers for The Last Of Us will be found below.)
As the debut season of The Last Of Us continues, HBO sure is putting its music budget to good use. This week’s episode played various hits from Fleetwood Mac and Cream (your ideal apocalyptic soundtrack). Still, one song played an essential role in the episode’s narrative, and that is Linda Ronstadt’s “Long, Long Time” from her 1970 album Silk Purse.
Episode three brings Nick Offerman into the mix as Bill, the grumpy survivalist who accidentally catches Murray Bartlett’s Frank in one of his traps. After a tense encounter, Bill allows Frank to stay for the night, which turns into several years of them living together in a zombie-free domestic bliss, where they bond over music and fall in love over Bill’s poor piano playing, beginning with “Long, Long Time” by Linda Ronstadt.
It’s an emotional rollercoaster that ends up showing Bill and Frank’s final day (which also doubles as Offerman’s campaign for an Emmy). Frank gets sick and they chose to live out their final, heartbreaking moments together.
Joel and Ellie show up years later when they use Bill’s car, which just so happens to have Linda Ronstadt’s tape. The two drive off of Bill’s property listening to the song that soundtracked Bill and Frank’s life for so long. A long, long time, if you will!
Craig Mazin, episode writer and series co-creator, wanted to make sure he found a song that was perfectly melancholy and enough to make several grown men cry. Mazin told IndieWire: “I went through hours and hours and hours. And finally, I was like, ‘I know what to do. I’m going to text my friend Seth Rudetsky,’ who is a host on Sirius XM On Broadway, and has this encyclopedic knowledge of all music,” Mazin explained. “I described what I needed and within 30 seconds, it was [incoming text noise] ‘Long, Long Time by Linda Ronstadt.’ I kinda remembered that song. I played it and was like, ‘Oh, my. There it is.'”
The use of the song was enough to get it trending on social media, with many fans hoping that Ronstadt will get her Kate Bush-level hype for being on a popular sci-fi series during a pivotal episode, or at least some award season hype for Nick Offerman and his dramatic acting chops. Even if neither of them are acknowledged, it’s likely we will remember this episode for a long (long) time.