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Monday, June 17
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COLUMN: ‘The Last of Us’ episode 3: bad days and good days

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SPOILER ALERT: This column contains potential spoilers about the third episode of “The Last of Us.” 

“The Last of Us” episode three: “Long, Long Time” 

I literally tossed and turned most of the night trying to figure out how to write about this episode. Because, honestly, I don’t know how to do it justice in a reasonable amount of words. I don’t know how to do it justice if I’d have to explain certain scenes.  

And I also don’t know how to do it justice because it is simply one of the most well-written things I’ll ever witness in my life.  

Like, for instance — I forgot that you would still have a period in the zombie apocalypse. The fact that they remembered that detail? Are you kidding me?  

They clearly understood the gravity of just how much that would suck. I mean, doesn’t the sheer thought of that just absolutely destroy you? When Ellie (Bella Ramsey) was scouring an abandoned general store for tampons near the beginning of the episode, I didn’t even realize what she was looking for at first, but when they showed that damn Tampax box… 

Related: [COLUMN: ‘The Last of Us’ episode two: hope in a broken world]

God. I just felt for the kid. At least she doesn’t have to pay period tax, I guess. But that’s kinda the only upside of having your period during the zombie apocalypse.  

And then there are Bill (Nick Offerman) and Frank (Murray Bartlett), a couple who found each other in the midst of chaos and managed to put together a life — a real, meaningful life — in the midst of said chaos. And with a real, meaningful life comes those stupid little arguments, like when Frank wants to make the street they live on look pretty and welcoming and Bill just doesn’t get it. 

But it’s kinda like Ellie and her period — you wouldn’t think about it until someone brought it up. Because, for some weird reason, I get what Frank is saying. It’s like, “Hey, somehow, we’re here together in this life, and we’re doing pretty okay. We should make it more than just okay.” 

And they do. They make their apocalyptic life beautiful. It’s counterintuitive, but it slowly starts to make a whole lot of sense. If you can make something beautiful, you should. I think that’s just human nature. 

Related: [COLUMN: 'The Last of Us' can win the hearts of non-gamers]

That’s why I really love the quote, “I’ve 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’s not just about Bill and Frank. It’s kind of just about everyone who has ever lived a life where they loved somebody and fought with them. Some days are bad, some days are good. But — despite all the bad — you keep trying to make things good. 

I honestly have nothing more to say. Everything down to my word choice and syntax and grammar was uninspired in this piece, which is no fault of the show. But, sometimes, I think when you try to write a commentary on something that’s already so beautiful, you kinda miss the point, right? I’m trying so hard to sound beautiful when today is just not my day.  

But, for another writer, it was.  

And I’d much rather share their words than my own uninspired ones. I’ve had a lot of bad days when it comes to writing. I’ve had a lot of good ones, too. So, I’ll keep weathering the bad ones while I wait for those good ones. 

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Anyway, it’d probably be smart to use some of the skills I’ve learned in journalism school, so why not end this with a kicker quote? I’m just not sure I can end this piece in a way that’s more profound than what was already written by somebody else. And I think that’s more than okay. Journalism is about so much more than being some star writer. 

I don’t always have the words to paint a pretty picture; I’d say this is one of those moments. But someone else — who was in the right place at the right time with the right thought — did. They found them and ran with them and strung together a gorgeous array of simple words, purposeful punctuation and heart-wrenching emotion. 

I think my job as a journalist should mostly be that of a vessel. The star here is “The Last of Us,” not me. And I’ll be damned if I ever read or hear something more beautiful than this: 

“I used to hate the world and I was happy when everyone died. But I was wrong. Because there was one person worth saving. That’s what I did. I saved him. Then I protected him. That’s why men like you and me are here. We have a job to do.  

And god help any motherfuckers who stand in our way.”

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