I’ve just finished reading an IndieWire Emmy-hype interview with The Last of Us co-showrunner Craig Mazin.

Written by Ben Travers, it gets right into the divided reactions to Episode 3, which was titled “Long, Long Time.” Divided, I mean, between heartfelt admiration (although some critics were afraid of going negative for fear of being called homophobes) and serious squeamishness, especially in the matter of Nick “please don’t drop that towel!” Offerman.

Posted on 2.1.23: “So the producers of The Last of Us decided to abandon the basic zombie apocalypse narrative in order to tell a domestic love story (a sad one) between two middle-aged men with hairy chests and beards.

“It’s very well finessed all around (I half-chuckled at the gay strawberries scene until it led to smooching) but I’m afraid I’ve been permanently traumatized by that sex scene in the upstairs queen bed.

“Watching a prelude to the naked-ass Bartlett giving naked-ass Offerman a blowjob…good God in heaven and Jesus H. Christ! I’m not endorsing the IMDB review bombing, but I understand it. I’ll be having nightmares about this, and about images of bear sex in particular.

“I will never, ever derive the slightest amount of anything from watching older bearded guys…I don’t want to think about it.

“I was terrified of watching Offerman and Bartlett…truly and profoundly uncomfortable. And I’m saying this as one of the biggest fans ever of Brokeback Mountain.”

Travers excerpt: “When The Last of Us released its third episode, ‘Long, Long Time,’ reactions surfaced faster than fungi on an infected host.

“Many (including IndieWire) praised the episode for its aching love story, wherein Bill (Nick Offerman), a survivalist holed up in a makeshift fortress, and Frank (Murray Bartlett), a stranger who wanders into one of Bill’s traps, fall in love and — despite their post-apocalyptic environs — build a life together. Seeing that life unfold marks a pivot (or departure) from the original plot, tracking new characters whose story can stand on its own, even when it eventually loops back to our primary leads.

Not everyone liked it. Today’s day and age of second-screen viewing paired with snap judgements doesn’t always reward atypical TV structure, and ‘Long, Long Time’ faced its share of backlash.

Mazin: “Some people didn’t like Episode 3 because, you know, gay stuff. And then they kind of retroactively try and come up with a [different and inoffensive] reason why. [But] one of the complaints I saw was, ‘Oh, it’s just a filler episode…it doesn’t advance the story.’ And I was like, ‘I think this episode advances the story more than any other episode we have’ — because it’s not plot, it’s character. It’s the letter Bill leaves behind to Joel that powers the rest of the show.”