Review: 'Looking' - 'Looking for a Plus-One' or 'Is that a pot brownie?'
[Apologies for the 24 hour delay in this week's recap. There was this little event called the 86th Academy Awards that probably prevented even you from catching this episode on its first airing.]
If there is one thing we've learned seven episodes into "Looking," it's that no one is going to stay happy for long and each of our three heroes may have serious self-destructive tendencies.
After trying to alleviate Richie's doubts about their relationship following Dom's drama-filled 40th birthday picnic, Patrick's anxiety over his sister's wedding gets the best of him in the worst way possible. Granted, Richie bailing right after they cross the Golden Gate was a bit much, but could his own doubts about the affair be at play? Perhaps he's just as nervous about meeting Patrick's parents as Patrick is? In any event, in less than 35 minutes of air time we've gone from a couple in the midst of complete bliss to a couple on the cliff. Frankly, it just seems a bit much.
But let's talk about the most important revelation in these scenes:
IT'S GONE. DEAR GOD IT'S GONE.
A BEARD HAS BEEN REMOVED! IT'S BEEN SHAVED AWAY! THANK YOU LORD! THIS OVEREXTENDED FAD MAY SOON END AND SMOOTH SHAVEN FACES MAY RETURN TO GAY MEN'S FACES EVERYWHERE!
(Dare to dream we might someday see Frankie J. Álvarez without his James Harden-esque beard? Oh, we can.)
But, I digress...let's get back to the important stuff and boy did this episode cram a lot of plot into 25 or so minutes. In corner no. 1, Agustin (Frankie J. Alvarez) and Frank (O.T. Fagbenle) are dealing with the ramifications of their artistic three-way, which anyone could see was going to cause major trouble. Dom (Murray Bartlett), on the other hand, is finally having his pop-up restaurant dream come true thanks to Lynn's financial assistance. Lots of stress all around for our trio to say the least, but the real drama took place at Patrick's sister's wedding.
The surprise appearance at the event of Kevin (Russel Tovey) and his boyfriend Jon (Joseph Williamson), was a little too convenient and slightly unbelievable (Somehow Patrick's brother-in-law never mentioned he was having a gay friend from college attend his wedding? Or that his fiancé, Patrick's sister, would not have brought this up? Is this a '90s romantic comedy?). Now, having already seen the finale I won't spoil where it's all leading, but things are set in motion in a perfectly played scene where Kevin makes a move on Patrick in the men's bathroom (Newsflash: Tovey plays a nicely understated drunk). The producers are doing everything they can to try and make Kevin more sympathetic after his rocky start, but if Tovey weren't so adorable, would anyone believe it? Expect Team Richie and Team Kevin fan bases to begin sprouting up online within the month.
As for Patrick himself, our look into his psyche continued with the introduction of his mother played by veteran actress Julia Duffy. A gay man's relationship with his mom can be cliche either way you play it, but Dana's passive aggressive pressure has clearly contributed to Patrick's relationship troubles in the past (or at least he thinks so). As the wedding party dies down, mother and son have a chit chat no doubt affected by the good amount of alcohol and, um, weed they've consumed. Having lied about Richie's absence earlier in the night, Patrick has the gall to blame his mother for it. In his eyes, she's made him think he can only be with someone who is up to her WASP-y standards and she'd dislike Richie and his lower class aspirations. Duffy plays Dana's reaction wonderfully. She's slightly offended, slightly amused and slightly disappointed that her almost 30-year-old son could even think she's responsible for sabotaging his love life. Of course she wants the best for him, what mother wouldn't? But maybe she should actually meet someone he's dating before he determines how she'll pass judgement on him? She makes it clear: you make your own mistakes. Don't thrown them on anyone else. Perhaps if he called her more he'd have a better idea of what she'd really think (snap!).
Some other thoughts from this week's episode…
Shocker: The end of Agustin and Frank
We saw this one coming in the first episode. Who has one of their main characters move in with their boyfriend in the first 30 minutes of a series (let alone a season), portray him as visibly uncomfortable about it by the second episode and think the audience will buy into it long term? Here's hoping this isn't the last of Fagbenle, however, and he'll be back for season 2. He was impressive and charismatic in the few moments we got to see him interact with the rest of the cast. Hey, at least he got a good IMDB credit.
Dom, Dom, Dom
It's still so hard what to make of Dom. This week we learn he's prone to stress attacks and blowing up at people trying to help him! (Whoops, Lynn got caught in the crossfire.) Meanwhile, this whole Dom/Lynn "they are" or "aren't into each other" storyline is getting tedious. Is Lynn pretending he isn't infatuated with Dom because he thinks he's too old for him and Dom will break his heart? Is Dom actually falling for Lynn or is he projecting his appreciation for all his help as romantic feelings? It's hard to care about it all except...
Yay for Doris!
Honestly, I wasn't in love with Dom's roommate and best girlfriend through much of the series. She seemed like too much of a stereotype that was simply around for sassy one-liners and not much else. Over the final three episodes I've completely changed my tune. Mostly thanks to Lauren Weedman (word has it she's improvised a lot of her lines), Doris has become the only real character who can cut through all the B.S. Weedman has also somehow managed to make her so endearing you forget Doris is still something of a walking cliche. It's great news she'll be back for season 2 and hopefully become a more well-rounded character because of it.
OK boys and girls, only one more episode to go in season 1. What did you think of this week's episode and where do you think the finale will leave Patrick, Agustin and Dom? Share your thoughts below.