If you're like us, you absolutely loved The Last of Us episode 3. A practically perfect 75 minute-episode of TV that told a story nobody expected, the latest The Last of Us edition is already staking a claim to "the best episode of the year." And it turns out we saw the short cut.
In an interview with Deadline (opens in new tab), co-creator and co-executive producer Craig Mazin explained that while the team expected The Last of Us episode 3 to be great "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."
'Not good' of course, because The Last of Us airs on the HBO linear schedule, which means they've got some limits to abide by. But Mazin noted the longer cut is seemingly even-more affecting, as he continued "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.'"
As for HBO and its ability to allow a longer version, Mazin noted "We didn’t quite have the luxury of that, I think. [Laughs]. But HBO was kind enough to let us go a bit long," as the episode's 75 minute run-time is longer than its usual (non-premiere) 60-minute duration. And a shorter cut is intentional in another way, as he said "And look, I never want to overstay my welcome. I always want to leave people wanting more."
It's not a huge leap to think this longer-cut of The Last of Us episode 3 will come out at some point, possibly once the season is over. HBO Max shows are sold on optical media, as Amazon offers a 4K edition (opens in new tab) of the House of the Dragon season 1. Of course, if they don't feel a need to drive sales, it could also be dropped at the end of season 1, as a treat.
So, let's dive into what a longer cut could have held, but, of course, the below wil contains details of The Last of Us episode 3, so there are spoilers.
Analysis: How The Last of Us episode 3 could have been more affecting
Mazin doesn't explain what was cut from The Last of Us episode 3, but there's a couple of scenes that would make sense to add more to. The episode, which focuses on the relationship between survivalist Bill (Nick Offerman) and Frank (Murray Bartlett), jumps a few years at a time — multiple times — in the episode.
At one point, we see that Frank had picked up painting, but it's almost too late to even acknowledge it. The scenes are more meant to show how his motor skills are declining with his health. Another scene, about his artistry, could easily have been added.
The action scene that ends with Frank tending to Bill's wounds — while he talks as if he's about to die — is definitely abridged. But we doubt that much of the chaos outside would have added to the emotional heft, save for Frank witnessing Bill getting hurt. Their brief moment inside, where Bill's thinking that Frank will need Joel's help, could definitely have had more happening, though it does end at the right point.
Then, there's Frank's last day, where a montage showed us their trip to the boutique that Frank had been tending to, and their wedding ceremony. What they said to each other, and more details of that day, could have been added to make it all more emotionally arresting.
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