Hello, guys and dolls! Welcome back to Looking, which ended its second and hopefully not last season last night. HBO better get on that renewal, because I’m not feeling up to getting a regular human job. When last we left our Three Musketeers, they were all at a crossroads, whether it be breaking up with a best friend, making it official with a new beau, or getting to the penguin habitat in time for the Splash Show.
“Looking for Home” begins with Patrick (Jonathan Groff) holding a box of valuables, looking up at his new digs. He’s wide-eyed, bushy-tailed, and ready to start his new life with Kevin (Russell Tovey). He grabs the door handle, but it won’t budge. And on your right is our first metaphor of the evening. Everyone, you’ll want to keep an eye out for those. It’s gonna be a bumpy ride.
Two twinks swan in and save Patrick from certain doom, opening the door with what, after several alarmed rewinds, I have now learned is called a “fob.” They’re pretty dismissive of Patrick from the get-go, so one gets the sense that they’ve been reading my recaps. But once they find out that he’s moving in with the buff Brit next door, their fake smiles gleam with sinister promise.
They kind of remind me of Flotsam and Jetsam from The Little Mermaid: double trouble, up to no good and loving it. Only instead of returning home to Ursula, they just have that old Divine poster from their college dorm room.
Patrick arrives at the new apartment and immediately comments on how much he hates the doorbell, which, whatever. Kevin asks him to take off his shoes and he looks bewildered, but complies. He puts on a strong face, but when he spots Kevin’s Field of Dreams poster on the wall, tears well in his eyes a little bit. He’s never actually seen Kevin’s stuff before (because it all used to be part of Jon’s waking nightmare), so it’s going to take some getting used to.
Also, Kevin comments on how hot the delivery guys were and I instantly imagine a spinoff where Soapy Joe and Ginger Roger own a truck and have hilarious misunderstandings.
They make a toast to their new apartment, but Patrick is shaking like a Rocky Horror virgin staring down the business end of a drunk theatre major in mesh lingerie. Kevin asks him if everything is alright, and Patty says yeah. His mother’s decision to “implode” his family has left him feeling strangely free, and he’s ready to rewrite the rules of what a relationship can be.
The ensuing 20 minutes will cast serious doubt upon what exactly he meant by that. You see, “Matching Track Suits” is only step one in Kevin’s book.
Kevin takes off his shirt, because thank you. They’re about to get down and dirty when the doorbell rings. That sound being Patrick’s kryptonite, his face turns ashen and he begs Kev to answer the door. While he wheezes on the Sleep Number™ mattress, the blondie lopes away.
After a bizarre smash cut to several seconds later, Kevin tells Patrick that Flotsam and Jetsam invited them out to their Christmas drinky party. Patrick reminds him that they promised to go to a fundraising event at the youth shelter, but they agree to stop by for one drink. Kevin strips down, flips over, and the scene cruelly cuts away.
Dom (Murray Bartlett) is down at City Hall visiting Malik (Bashir Salahuddin), who has a fancy government job doing Google meetings or something. Straight people, am I right?
Malik tells Dom that Doris (Lauren Weedman) has been taking their fight hard, and she has turned to stress cleaning to scrub away her feelings. I don’t blame her. She needs to keep her mantel spic and span for when she gets that Emmy. Malik tells Dom that he should stop by and have a chat with her. Dom asks if he really loves Doris and he says “big time.”
Meanwhile, back at Twink Towers, Kevin and Patrick stop by Flotsam and Jetsam’s party, which is teeming with nubile young gays. It seems like everyone in the building is packed into that little room. If there’s any San Francisco-based cat burglars out there who have a taste for Zac Efron DVDs and expensive loafers, now’s the time to pounce.
Everyone at the party takes instant notice of the “new meat.” They immediately begin making passes at Kevin, commenting on his sexy accent and how they “get wild as the night goes on.” Also, every single one of them is white, smooth, and handsome. It’s all very Stepford Wives.
Kevin and Patrick slip away to the bathroom to assess the threat level. They decide that it’s probably not a murder cult, because do you know how difficult it is to get bloodstains out of a carpet? They need their damage deposit back. Patrick decides to stick around for a little bit because he wants to see if it turns into a weird Eyes Wide Shut orgy.
Out in the main room, Patrick joins a pack of guys who are comparing the men in the room to their Grindr photos. When one of them discovers a blank account called “Rumpford,” (Kevin’s hometown) his face falls. He storms out of the party, Kevin in hot pursuit. I mean, everything he does is hot, but you get the picture.
Patrick confronts Kevin about Rumpford (teehee) and, to his credit, he owns up to the profile. He says he was only checking to see who else was in the building and offers to show Patty his history. He briefly calms down and Kev slips away to the restroom.
Patrick pulls out this phone to call Agustín (Frankie J. Alvarez), who is living it up at the youth center Christmas party/mural unveiling. He says that it doesn’t matter if you have a Grindr profile, it’s what you do with it that counts. Patrick seems reassured, but Augie turns to Eddie (Daniel Franzese) and comments that he might not have to search for a new roommate after all.
We have a brief moment of peace, where we get to watch Eddie caress Augie while wearing a Santa outfit. Augie is on PrEP, his mural is fantastic, and all is right with the world. NEXT!
Get all your final Mean Girls jokes out now, because they vanish into the void after this brief moment of bliss. It’s almost like they don’t even go here.
Kevin offers to make Patrick a PB&J without the J, which is pure heresy. Patty says that he hates peanut butter. “How have you not heard my rant about nut butter?” No comment. Patrick asks if Kevin hooked up with other men while he was with Jon. A cartoon anvil begins to teeter on the shelf above Patty’s head.
After some amateurish sidestepping, Kevin admits that he had a few affairs before Patrick came into his life, but he’s glad that he cheated because that road led to him. He asks if they can forget the past and concentrate on the future. Patrick steps into the bathroom to angry pee. After some intense mirror reflection (pun not intended, but welcomed), he puts his toothbrush in the holder next to Kevin’s. Whatever happens to them, at least their germs are free to commingle.
Patrick steps back out and Kevin says that he doesn’t want to keep any secrets from him. Smash cut to Patrick denouncing Kevin’s idea to have an open relationship. OK, that feels like cheating on the writers’ part. I know emotional scenes are hard, but skipping that moment feels like a huge misstep. Luckily, it’s pretty much the only one in the episode. Moving on.
Kevin says that they should be realistic and consider if monogamy is truly important to them. Patrick says that he assumed they would be exclusive and that he doesn’t want to give him a hall pass for sweaty gym affairs. Kevin throws shade at Patrick’s mom. Kevin has a cute yellow teddy bear that is somehow blamed for the “KKK sex party” downstairs. Patrick storms out.
Kevin follows Patrick into the hallway as he struggles to navigate the elevator without his trusty fob. Kevin points out that Patrick was still with Richie when they first slept together and asks if he could resist a horny Mark Ruffalo in a locker room. I haven’t seen Foxcatcher yet, but I feel like there’s a joke there. Kevin says that he can’t always control his urges, but he wants to be with Patrick for as long as he can.
Patrick continues his storming, ending up in the basement parking level instead of the lobby. The M. C. Esher nightmare maze of the apartment complex only exacerbates his feelings of being trapped in this conversation, and he lashes out, saying that he might have screwed up before, but he wants to make the choice not to cheat. He doesn’t want to wonder if Kevin is stepping out every time he stops to get a bagel. Because bagels are nature’s sexiest food, apparently.
Kevin asks if Patrick is looking for a reason to bail, pointing out the EXIT sign above his head. OK, that metaphor was a little strained, but I’ll let it slide.
Over in a quieter, less stressful part of the world, Dom and Doris take a walk. They talk about how great Malik is and how Doris is settling into her new life, tacky door wreath and all. Doris says that they need to own how screwed up they are and Dom realizes that they need a clean break in order for this to work.
They can still be close and supportive friends, but he needs to open the chicken window on his own and learn how to be independent. He can’t be stuck under the bleachers with his high school sweetheart his whole life, he needs to get out onto the field.
OK, that metaphor may have been terrible, but I need to prepare you for the abject horror of the next conversation, which revolves around an atrocious extended comparison between Kevin and Patrick’s relationship and a Sleep Number bed. Patrick worries that he and Kevin differ too much in the fundamentals of their personality. Man, he really hates Field of Dreams.
Kevin says that he can’t believe this fight started because of a Grindr profile. Deep down, Patty seems to notice that he’s shifted the blame yet again. Nothing is ever Kevin’s fault. He didn’t eat that candy bar. A raccoon took it. Kevin says that he can make the choice to change and asks for Patrick’s trust.
Dom drinks a beer alone outside for twelve seconds. That’s a wrap on Murray Bartlett, everyone. You can collect your paycheck at the door.
Patrick and Kevin lay in bed together, but their dangerously different sleep number ratings keep Patty up. He gets out of bed and sifts through his “Valuables” box, pulling out some pictures of his friends and the escapulario that Richie gave him.
Smash cut to freedom. Patrick walks into Richie’s barbershop and asks him to shave his head. He doesn’t want to talk. He just wants a change.
Grade: OK, this episode was great. The season has had its ups and downs, but this episode’s writing was subtle and evocative, the performances were top notch, and Patrick finally transitioned into a person that doesn’t want me to scrape my eyeballs across an ice skate. I really feel like we needed more closure on Dom and Doris, and I’m sad that Agustín and Eddie got such short shrift this time around, but all in all I have nothing to complain about.
“Looking for Home” was practically a bottle episode, showing the implosion of Patrick’s idealistic dreams for his relationship in real time. It was clever, it was harrowing, and it was deserved. After a season of acting like a demented marionette with the strings cut, Patrick finally took charge of his own destiny. He nailed down what he wants out of life, and he made a decision to change.
I’m not sure going back to Richie is the best choice for him (and especially for Richie), but a haircut doesn’t mean that they’re getting back together. Richie represents the relationship ideals that Patrick has finally gotten a grasp on, and returning to him is more symbolic than anything at this point.
I’m overjoyed that this final moment came with no huge declarations of love and devotion. With these people as we left them, that would be wildly fanciful and out of character. No, instead, Looking did what Looking does best: present us with a low key, truly human story of a gay man struggling to find himself and make a connection.
I really hope HBO renews the series, but if they don’t, I think this is a swell place to leave it.
MVG (Most Valuable Gay): This one goes out to Patrick because 1) Who else was even in this episode? and 2) He finally started realizing that 30-year-old infant wasn’t a good look for him.
Champion Dialogue: “A little lookie loo of some nookie noo action. Why not?” – Patrick
*I demand to know why there wasn’t a hookup scene in the rooftop garden.
*One of the twink twins is played by Wesley Taylor, AKA my second favorite Smash crush after Andy Mientus. And Debra Messing’s scarves.
*What the hell is wrong with the doorbell? It’s just minding it’s own business. You’d think that Patrick would have a higher tolerance for annoying things after living with Season 1 Agustín for so long.
*Learn from Doris. Clean those fork holder things. I’m serious.
*We need a season three, if only so we can get closure and finally hear Patty’s nut butter rant.
*Seriously, I don’t get toothbrush holders that practically invite the bristles to touch. I know it’s technically OK because they’re dating and all, but I don’t want to rub anyone’s backwash all over my teeth. Gotta take care of those babies.
*Has an affair ever started in a bagel shop? Stories, please.
*Patrick needs to cool it with the “lesbian hair” comments. If Tegan & Sara are anything to go by, that insult is way off the mark.
*Richie has no customers at all in his shop, ever. He really needs to get a Yelp page or something.
*My new fascination is that Murray Bartlett is secretly Australian. I know it wouldn’t make sense, but I wish they’d have let him keep the accent for the show. He could throw another shrimp on my barbie any day.
So what did you all think? Should we start a letter-writing campaign to get a third season? Or was this a satisfying ending for you? Let us know in the comments below!