Season Finale Review: 'Looking' - 'Looking for Home' or 'Wait, you're on Grindr?'
The second season of HBO's "Looking" came to dramatic end tonight and before we remark on where this episode leaves Patrick, Agustin and Dom, let's take a few minutes and review the entire season, shall we?
After a bumpy, but often impressive first season, "Looking" returned in January with a strong season premiere ("Looking for the Promised Land") which found Patrick (Jonathan Groff) and Kevin (Russell Tovey) deeply involved in a discreet affair, Dom (Murray Bartlett) wondering if he'd become closer with his new boyfriend Lynn (Scott Bakula) and Agustin (Frankie J. Alvarez) trying to dig himself out of a his life hole with a slightly more positive demeanor (likely more thanks to viewer complaints than anything else). The big news was that the show runners had 10 1/2 hour episodes to tell their story versus just eight the prior season. In theory, this meant they could spend more time fleshing out the main characters (another complaint about the first go around) as well as give some of the secondary ones more screen time. Remember, "in theory."
I'd originally planned to recap all of this season, but the Sundance Film Festival forced me to miss the third episode. Considering how frustrating the second episode was and the feedback friends provided about the third chapter I decided to just revisit the entire season after the finale. I'd occasionally hear buzz that it might be getting better but, frankly, it was absolutely not the conversation starter it was a year ago so it didn’t feel like I was missing much. Ratings for the most part were lower this season and HBO didn't help by airing new episodes not only on the same night as the Golden Globes, but the Grammys and Academy Awards as well. Y'know, major events the show's core audience usually makes appointment viewing for.*
A few weeks ago, I caught up with episodes three through eight in one sitting. As HitFix's own Fienberg and Sepinwall have remarked numerous times, some shows are simply better designed for binge watching than others. "Looking" definitely falls into that category for me. Over the course of the season Dom and Lynn realized they weren't made for each other, Doris went home to attend the funeral of her father (a nice change of pace episode), we learned Patrick should stay away from he punch on Halloween, Doris (Lauren Weedman) met a guy who truly adores her in Malik (Bashir Salahuddin) Richie and Patrick made an impromptu stop in his old neighborhood (leaving the door a tiny bit open for an eventual reunion), Kevin and Patrick went to the Gaymer convention to try and generate interest in their gay gaming app and, somewhat shockingly, Kevin and Patrick seemed like they actually just might be destined for each other. What was most disappointing about the season (besides the fact Julia Duffy returned just once to play Patrick's mom) was the storyline between Agustin and Eddie (Daniel Franzese). The two characters seemed to be going in circles (happens with a lot of the characters on "Looking") and you often forgot they were still part of the series. And that brings us to "Looking for Home" where we find Kevin and Patrick moving in together.
Ever since Patrick essentially chose the excitement of an affair with Kevin over the more down to earth Richie viewers have been wondering when the show's hero was going to come to his senses. Over the course of the season that appeared to happen when Patrick broke it off, but Kevin eventually did the unthinkable by leaving his longtime boyfriend for Patrick. In the previous episode Kevin invited Patrick to live with him in a gorgeous new downtown apartment and we appeared to have a fairy tale ending on our hands. It can’t be that easy, can it?
As “Looking for Home” begins we can immediately sense that Patrick is thinking this all might have happened too quickly. He has never seen Kevin's "stuff" before and Groff does a nice job conveying a silent cringe over his "Field of Dreams" poster (by the way, that's likely a very rare bus shelter ad). They are supposed to spend the night at the unveiling of Agustin's mural at the Trans Center Christmas party, but get sucked into attending a get together in their building after getting a personal invite from their cute yet shady downstairs neighbors.
"Looking" hasn't made many political statements as a series, per se, but this "party" was as close as it’s gotten to date (at least in the gay community). Within a few minutes of entering the packed apartment Patrick is already noting everyone is white, everyone is at a certain level of hotness and the whole party seems to be about something more sexual than just a weekend holiday celebration. Within five minutes director and co-writer Andrew Haigh, co-creator Michael Lannan and episode co-writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa have indicted this specific superficial clique in the gay community with drone-worthy precision. (On a personal note, I am not so convinced this was inspired by San Francisco gays as much as, cough, their cousins down south, but, hey, this clique is everywhere, right?).