Murray Bartlett’s ‘Last of Us’ Performance is Being Favorably Compared to ‘Better Call Saul’

Some of the best TV around is defined by iconic performances like these.

by J.R. Waugh
Murray Bartlett Last of Us Better Call Saul
Image: HBO

The Last of Us has already turned up some incredible performances in just three episodes on HBO. It’s been some of the most engaging television drama in months, and even being hailed as the best TV drama since at least the finale of Better Call Saul. Key characters helped drive this, including a standout performance by Murray Bartlett, which draws favorable comparisons between The Last of Us and Better Call Saul, and it only helps that the fans are on board.

The Fans Are Loving The Last of Us as Much as Better Call Saul

Better Call Saul was another slam dunk with the critics by Vince Gilligan, but when it finished, people were left without a key water-cooler tv show to discuss before The Last of Us debuted. After the premiere though, even non-players of the games have become invested in this potent drama. It’s thanks in part to performances by Murray Bartlett and Nick Offerman in episode 3, ‘Long Long Time’ to solidify that.

It demonstrates that you don’t need to have main characters as the main draw for a series, but to have a world, devastated by calamity that remains alive with exceptional stories told within. Even one-shot character stories can grab onto the viewers and never let go, to remind viewers of the beauty and love that can still blossom. It’s this sort of slow-burn drama that endears the viewers much like with short-lived characters on Better Call Saul, like Werner, whose story and motivations are laid bare and linger far after they’re gone.

Eagle-eyed viewers might have noted that Murray Bartlett also starred as Armond in The White Lotus, but be sure not to confuse him with a certain Better Call Saul villain actor.

Don’t Confuse Murray Bartlett from The Last of Us with Tony Dalton from Better Call Saul

Images: HBO, AMC

Murray Bartlett might have a great smile and fantastic screen presence on The Last of Us, but don’t confuse him with Tony Dalton, who portrayed Lalo Salamanca on Better Call Saul. They resemble each other, perhaps, but their performances are different enough to remind viewers you can enjoy both for wildly different reasons.

Murray Bartlett’s Frank performance was exceptional, a disarmingly wonderful foil to the guarded Bill, played by Nick Offerman. Tony Dalton, however, was a ferocious, tenacious don of his Cartel, whose charm and wicked smile concealed a terminator-like killer instinct. It’s important to know the differences between the two, but still celebrate them both as iconic performances in some of the best TV of the still very young decade. If you say Murray Bartlett looks like that Swordsman character from Hawkeye though, we might have to have a talk.

The Last of Us premiered on January 15, 2023, on HBO and HBO Max, and will air weekly every Sunday. International viewers can catch this series on Sky Atlantic and Crave.

- This article was updated on January 30th, 2023