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The Last of Us episode 3 was originally "two hours" and made Craig Mazin cry "so hard it hurt"

"I actually said out loud, 'ow'."

Episode three of HBO's The Last of Us adaptation has already been lauded as one of the best hours (and a bit) of television by many. However, there was a time when it was nearly twice as long.

Talking to Deadline, series co-creator Craig Mazin revealed that one cut was "almost two hours or something like that".

Please note, there are spoilers for The Last of Us below.

Eurogamer Newscast: Is The Last of Us the best video game adaptation ever?Watch on YouTube

Episode three of The Last of Us tells the love story of Bill and Frank, something that is not well developed in the game.

Bill is a survivalist, and quite a cantankerous one at that. Frank, on the other hand, is warm and hopeful. Even when the world around him is crumbling, he manages to find joy - in the words of Nick Offerman, who plays Bill on the show, "Frank is the flowers, and Bill is the soil."

When Mazin first saw how long this original edit of the episode was, he assumed it wouldn't be good. However, then he sat down to watch it, and the end result made him cry "so hard it hurt".

"[Episode director] Peter Hoar did his director's cut with our editor, Tim Good, which was quite long," Mazin explained. "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 fucking thing, then I think it might work pretty well on other people'."

And, work well on other people it did, with the internet now awash with strawberry gifs and emojis (I am one of those people). Now I know there is an extended director's cut of episode three, I am desperate to know more about what was left on the editing floor. I would be more than happy to sit down and spend two hours further exploring Bill and Frank's relationship.

I did wonder if there was originally going to be more with Joel and Tess in Lincoln. In the final cut of the episode, we see the couple visiting Bill and Frank for the first time, and their agreement to form an alliance. After that, however, their visits are just implied, with Bill's letter to Joel at the end of the show, and Frank revealing he got the strawberry seeds by trading them with Tess for a gun. I expected to see at least Joel, if not Tess, return to Lincoln after Bill was injured by raiders.

Additionally, towards the end of episode three, Frank says to Bill "I am not going to give the 'everyday was a gift from God' speech, I have had a lot of bad days. I've had bad days with you, too. But I've had more good days with you than anyone else".

It would have been interesting to see some of these bad days between the couple. We know they bicker, as shown when Frank asks Bill for paint and supplies to do up the house and some of the shops in Lincoln, but I am interested to see what a "bad day" for the couple would have been like - perhaps they would have given us a closer look at Bill's gruff demeanour that is so present in the game.

Another thing I wonder about is whether we might have seen more of what happened before Bill and Frank's first kiss. While there is a nervousness about Bill in those first moments with Frank, their relationship does begin quite quickly. I appreciate the show has to tell a story in a limited amount of time, but I would love to see more of those early moments of uncertainty between the two before they finally realise their feelings.

Queerness in Conversation: Bill & Frank (via HBO).Watch on YouTube

All that being said, episode three director Peter Hoar has said a Bill spin-off could be an interesting idea to pursue. "Bill's got legs," he stated during a chat with Esquire.

"Obviously we see a little moment where [Bill and Frank] are working with Joel and Tess. And we see the scene where they first meet--but then it's a good few years of them working together and understanding each other. Maybe that's the section that you do as a spinoff, where it's action-packed and whatever. Or rather than a spinoff series, maybe it's just a spinoff of Bill, and it's just digging into that one moment," Hoar mused.

"I'd love to do something with Joel in the middle," the director continued. "You'd learn a lot about him mid-apocalypse, because obviously Pedro [Pascal] came on without all the grey in his hair, and he looked fabulous. I just thought, 'Wow, that's a Joel I don't know'.

"There's only that one scene [in Episode Three]. It was intriguing to me what they were up to in that period because they probably think, 'OK, we've got this. We're making the apocalypse work for us. We've got a little scheme going on here.' But as everyone knows - best-laid plans."

Well, a girl can dream.

For more on The Last of Us, you can read all about my thoughts on episodes one, two and three by following the links. In the meantime, is there anything else you'd like to have seen elaborated on further in this episode?

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