'The Last of Us' Episode 3 Is Starting the Linda Ronstadt Renaissance

nick offerman, murray bartlett, the last of us
'The Last of Us' Starts Linda Ronstadt RenaissanceHBO

Spoilers follow for the first three episodes of HBO's The Last of Us.

It seems like ever since Sadie Sink's Max was saved from the clutches of the evil Vecna by the sound of her favorite song in Stranger Things, every TV show has been looking to have a big music-centric moment. The inclusion of 'Running Up That Hill' by Kate Bush in Max's high-stakes escape in the episode "Dear Billy" became the biggest of that show's scenes to go viral, prompting remixes and cover versions of the song and bringing Bush's expansive body of work to a whole new generation.

The Last of Us, HBO's big-budget adaptation of the post-apocalyptic video game, is continuing that tradition of meaningful needle-drops. The first episode went in hard on symbolism in song form, using 'The Long and Winding Road' by the Beatles to signify the arduous journey that lies ahead of Joel and Ellie, and playing 'Never Let Me Down Again' by Depeche Mode over the final moments, a deceptively dark '80s banger about a complicated friendship which foreshadows the connection between the two main characters.

Episode 3 had the biggest breakout musical moment so far, however. "Long Long Time" took a detour away from Joel and Ellie's story and zoomed in on Bill and Frank, two characters from the game whose storyline was updated for the show. The episode follows the two men as they fall in love and grow old together, and their romance is bookended by the music of American singer Linda Ronstadt.

In one of their early scenes together, Frank (Murray Bartlett) picks up several books of piano sheet music owned by Bill (Nick Offerman), settles on 'The Best of Linda Ronstadt,' and begins to play and sing her 1970 song 'Long Long Time,' a ballad all about unrequited love which also gives the episode its name. It is the first in a series of tender moments in the episode, and precedes their first kiss.

The episode spans the two characters' lives together, and ends many years later following their deaths. Joel and Ellie arrive at Bill's house seeking help, and find a letter from him. They end up taking his car in order to continue their journey, and as they drive off into the unknown, they push play on the cassette in the car stereo, and viewers finally hear the original version of 'Long Long Time' by Linda Ronstadt:

"Love will abide, take things in stride / Sounds like good advice but there's no one at my side / And time washes clean love's wounds unseen / That's what someone told me but I don't know what it means / 'Cause I've done everything I know to try and make you mine / And I think I'm gonna love you for a long long time."

The lyrics and the refrain of the title map beautifully onto the themes of the episode, and viewers certainly seemed to love it: Ronstadt's name trended on Twitter after the episode aired, and many fans have taken the opportunity to share what her music means to them.

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