After the show's co-creators did almost everything they could to make us dislike both Patrick (Jonathan Groff) and Kevin (Russell Tovey) in episode three, "Looking for $200/hour" takes a 180 degree turn and tries to find some chemistry between the two characters.
We begin with the duo spending Sunday in the office hard at work on a last minute presentation. Eventually they take a break to actually catch up and learn something about each other. (And yes, I'm considering putting swinging chairs in the HitFix office. Fun!). Shocker: Kevin's long distance relationship isn't as blissful as it might have initially seemed. Will Patrick pounce on the opportunity?
Following a quick break where Kevin picks up his boyfriend at the airport and Patrick makes a quick detour to the Folsom Street Fair (more on that later), they get back at it. And the flirting starts once again. Kevin finally makes his interest in Patrick beyond his video game making skills evident by inviting him to get some dinner ("Fried Chicken" no less). Our hero has a choice to make: a meal with the "unavailable" boss or meet up with his friends at The Stud? Judging by the last five minutes of this episode he probably made the right choice.
At The Stud (a real SF landmark by the way), Patrick runs into Richie (Raúl Castillo) and finds the courage to go talk to him after their horrible date two episodes before. They don't say much to each other, but Richie makes it clear how hurt he was from their failed date. Patrick has a moment/grows up/fights for it (call it what you will) and makes sure he doesn't end the night eating a bucket of ice cream and telling his friends it's kale salad with chicken.
Huge credit for "Looking for $200/hour goes to Allen Heinberg's sharp script (the best of the series so far) and Ryan Fleck's expert direction (yes, that "Half Nelson" Ryan Fleck). Somehow, they helped put the series back on track after a clunky episode three.
Some other observations regarding "Looking for $200/Hour"...
Dom and Lynn have lunch
The other intriguing storyline of this week's episode was the "lunch" between Dom (Murray Bartlett) and Lynn (Scott Bakula). Dom immediately tries to clarify what this is. Is it a date? Is Dom asking for business advice? By the time they say goodbye at the steps of Lynn's apartment it appears even Dom is sure what he really wants.
It's the world famous Folsom Street Fair everyone!
One of my favorite moments of the series so far is near the beginning of this episode when Patrick and Kevin peak out the window to look at the goings on at the Folsom Street Fair. It's clear it's not their thing, but they also want to sort of gawk at it without being caught gawking at it. It feels like a genuine moment between the characters and gives them a second chance after the awkwardness of episode 3. Eventually, Patrick meets up with his friends at the Fair who convince him to dress the part by buying a leather vest for the day. The Fair is part of the fun of living in SF and the show tried to embrace it as much as they could, with an emphasis on "could." Impressively or disappointingly, the producers managed to cut the footage of the Fair in a way that made it look less sexy and fun than anything you'd see on the local San Francisco evening news.
Agustin continues to play with fire
Agustin (Frankie J. Alvarez) clearly has become obsessed with Rentboy C.J. (T.J. Linnard). Turns out he wants to do an art project on C.J. (warning: cliche) which prompts him to bluntly ask, "Are you sure you just don't want to [explicit] me?" It takes Agustin off guard, because, isn't it just obvious that's what he wants? Our three leads all have their issues, but underneath it Agustin may be the biggest mess of all. Curious if the show's writers can convince us to like him by the end of the season. It feels like a reach at this point.
Can you deal with no explicit sex yet?
Whether it's comments from friends in NY or LA there sure do seem to be a lot of people disappointed by "Looking." By putting the show on after "GIRLS" HBO didn't realize they made a secret promise there would be just as much explicit sex on "Looking" as on "True Blood" or Lena Dunham's dramedy. Instead, after four episodes, we have one unfinished hand job, a sex scene that falls apart and a smattering of kisses. I've heard complaints of its "boring" and "nothing is happening." Funny, a lot seems to be happening for a series that just wrapped up about two hours of storylines. Granted, from a bird's eye view "Looking" probably isn't as progressive as a show set in modern day San Francisco should be, but is that really what HBO's gay community wants? A hipster "Queer as Folk" for 2014? Let's just see how these characters continue to develop and enjoy the ride shall we?
What did you think of tonight's episode? Share your thoughts below.