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« Beauty vs. Beast: Evil Julianne & Evil Eddie | Main | Belated Thoughts on This Weekend's Unintentional Selma / Birth of a Nation Confluence »
Monday
Feb092015

Looking Down the Road: So This Is Goodbye

Manuel here, braving a sick day bringing you a short and sweet recap from this week's SanFran shenanigans. Even if this week’s episode of Looking hadn’t ended with one of my favorite college-throwback songs I overplayed during many a heartbreak (that entire EP is to die for!), “Looking Down the Road” would have easily become my favorite season 2 episode so far. I wish I weren't so indisposed otherwise I rattle off an endless valentine to this episode which saw itself resetting (or re-directing) our three main leads lives with Dom and Lynn's relationship seemingly at an end, Kevin and Patrick's affair finally buckling under its own platonic weight and Agustin landing a job alongside Eddie at the trans center.

More...

"You're not fat Patrick" - Easy for Tovey to say, I mean; look at him!

But while the plotting of the episode was excellent, artfully shuttling us between pretty much every character we've met this season and even including a new one -- hey sexy Ginge! -- what drove it home was the way director Ryan Fleck visually echoed the strongest aspects of the show. 

- I love that while Kevin & Patrick have their rooftop (public yet private, gorgeous yet necessarily inaccessible), Richie & Patrick have the streets -- and the bars!-- (busy, jostling, open and inviting). It's no surprise Patrick flips when seeing Kevin and John in the light of day; theirs is a relationship kindled in furtive glances and stowaway spaces (the bathroom, the closed office). I want to toss Looking as a Hit Me With Your Best Shot contender as Nat revvs up the new season; so many scenes are so beautifully framed and lit!

- Can we talk about Looking's insistence on the thrillingly mundane details of the boys' sexual history? There's a frankness to the depiction (and discussion) of gay sex in the show that, while not breaking new ground, feels delightfully welcome especially as every sex scene this season has been used as a pointed pivot point: Dom, Lynn & Michael's threesome eventually leads to the implosion of their carefully constructed dynamic while Kevin's insistence that the great sex he had with Patrick is nowhere to be found with John ends up sounding both hollow yet truthful even if he may have finally admitted to himself that that's not enough for him to throw his boyfriend under the bus.

Best line of the episode I wish I could off-handedly use:

"No, I heart anal, too.”

Best gif-worthy moment:  Richie’s “are you listening to yourself?” side-eye as Patrick explains his “weird” relationship status with Kevin.

Best Doris moment: “Not me. Was just getting us beers for me and Dom!”

Previously:  2.1 Looking for the Promised Land2.2 Looking for Returns2.3 Looking Top to Bottom

Did everyone feel they were watching a conscious reset button with new characters taking center stage and old ones being shuffled to the side (here's hoping Bakula will return soon)? Are you excited to see what other gay tropes will crop up next to Eddie Bear, Cute "over average girth" Matthew & Sexy Ginge?

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Reader Comments (22)

I too loved this episode. I loved how matter-of-fact Dom and Lynn's break-up was. It was a devastating moment for Dom, but it didn't play as some hugely dramatic scene, which is how life usually is. And I loved Kevin and Richie at the park. They both played that scene perfectly-- Jonathan Groff's insecure earnestness and Raul's subtle doubt. When Jonathan Groff isn't playing Iraq War vets, he really is excellent, isn't he?

The one storyline I'm not sure I'm up for is Augustin at the trans shelter. It has the potential to get very corny as some sort of means for his transformation into a better person. But also, in real life, somebody probably would have told him that you can't just work in a shelter for needy children because you've got nothing else better to do, particularly if you're likely to quit the first chance some other opportunity comes along. These kids need stability in their lives.

(Also, it's Matthew, not Michael. And I keep wondering why the actor is always smirking.)

February 9, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

Looking as a HMWYBS pick might actually be kind of awesome.

But geez, I understand where Lynn is coming from but Dom needed to break up with him. I can't imagine someone who i'm in a relationship with tell me that "i can only love you so much, i will never love you as much as I did with someone else, you'll have to settle with the scraps I give you and I hope someday you can find someone who can really make you happy."

Hell frigging no. I guess Dom should have seen it coming but damn if i didn't feel for him. It's hard to be in a relationship with someone who doesn't make you feel special and loved. Maybe Dom expected too much? I don't know but he's better off without Lynn who has stopped trying.

and Richie is just so perfect. *swoon*. I like how he's still somewhat frosty with Patrick.

The less said about Pat and Kevin the better. Even if Kevin/Russell is delightful, Patrick got EXACTLY what was coming to him. Richie better not take him back.

February 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDerreck.

You're so right about the casual nature of the show. That's what I like about it. While nothing in the show has personally happened between my circle of friends (of which Manuel is obvious a member), these characters interact in many of the ways that I and my friends do. I like seeing that portrayed. I don't care if they're not exciting enough, or that they talk about sex too much (should they talk about game coding or recipes?)... that very lived in, real to life atmosphere is the best thing the show does.

I loved the look on Russell Tovey's face in that final scene as well as Dom and Doris' tender moment. It's just so good.

February 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn Dunks

I finally caught up with the second season tonight (i was very behind due to travels) and it's so much more confident than Season 1 (which was already special though people acted as if it was lame - sigh) and the expansion to include a larger community around the guys has really helped it feel richer.

god the precision with which they detail breakups and relationship doubts it really something

February 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I'm sure I'm in the minority here, but I have really enjoyed watching and was subsequently quite devastated by the Pat/Kevin don't-call-it-an-affair affair. Of course, Tevey is gorgeous, but I was struck by its naive simplicity. For all of its potential to fall into various cliches, the whole plot line felt surprisingly natural and lived-in. On the other hand, I've never been as Pro-Ricky as I imagine must people are - largely because I can feel the showing trying to push me toward adoring him and just can't help but resist.

February 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterTom

Russell Tovey and Scott Bakula were the smartest casting choices they made among the male cast members...as far I'm concerned. The characters are complicated and not always sympathetic, but the two actors are always watchable, in more ways than one. This was another good episode for both of them.

February 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

The breakup scene between Lyn and Dom was really well written and poignant without being tear-jerky. I hope they let Lyn fade away and give Dom a new storyline. The character is the least vivid of any of them; he seems to coast on his amazing studliness without ever really being challenged by the world. I much prefer Augustin at rock-bottom or Patrick's self-delusion to poor Dom who can't make it happen despite having pretty much every opportunity available to him. And of course the comedy that Eddie and Doris bring to the show is really necessary -- the writers should keep pushing for humor amid the all to real realness of real-life relationships.

Yes to a Best Shot!

February 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSan FranCinema

So glad Richie is back as a friend! And partially thanks to Agustin, which feels like something true to life in a weird way. Patrick's constant confusion seems to be screwing up his relationships in a predictable way but I like that he seems to be pushing through to some kind of clarity. I hope the writers don't just throw him back at Richie. They might actually be better as friends for a while. Then if things change, it might make more sense.

February 10, 2015 | Unregistered Commentereurocheese

I loved this episode, I feel like we're finally getting somewhere.

I'm already #TeamRichie, not because Patrick deserves him, but I can't help but love him, but when he said "So you're a home wrecker now, Patrick?" I was like "YEEEEESSSS"

Finally. Someone is not putting up with Patrick's bs. Break his naiveté and delusion. I loved his reaction to that.

Richie and his ginger boy are super cute, but I want him back with Patrick just so I could live vicariously through Patrick. Haha. When he said "U ok??" at the club my heart melted again.

I agree with whoever said they hope that's the end of Lyn... let's send Dom in a new direction. I enjoyed seeing him with Doris and a more real moment from her. She could really pack an emotional punch if she wanted because she's usually just cracking jokes.

Augustin is interesting...but I don't think he deserved that job at all. I mean, obviously. But let's hope he "becomes a better person" in a non-forced/cliche way. Idk how I feel about it. But I don't hate him anymore. He's got more to do this season than just pity himself, lol.

Idk it's late and I'm rambling but I just watched the episode so I wanted to share my thoughts :p

February 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip H.

Just as Philip H mentioned above me, the moment when Richie mouthed "You okay?" at the club towards the end of the episode filled me with tenderness and evoked that certain bond one shares with an ex, no matter how the break up went. There's a certain layer of protection and care that exes always feel towards one another, and the show is delicately displaying that fragile dynamic so well and so honestly.

February 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAdam

Tom - THANK YOU. I thought i was the only one resisting Richie. There's something about his simplicity and earnestness as a character construction that I honestly think makes him better as a failed relationship regret than he'd be as a full "boyfriend" character. He's the settling down kind and I think the show needs Patrick a little unsettled.

February 10, 2015 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

What was the song playing over the closing credits?

February 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJon

A little awkward that I misspelled both Tovey and Richie... But anyway, I'm glad I'm not the only one, Nathaniel. I think Richie works better as an occasional foible and wistful regret than as a central member of the group. As you pointed out, he doesn't offer a huge amount of conflict for Patrick to push back against, and I don't find him as dynamic or interesting to watch as the rest of the flawed but generally interesting cast of characters.

February 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterTom

This episode gave me all the feels. ALL of them. In its quiet, subtle way, Looking has wormed its way into my soul, knowing exactly which buttons to push and how to push them. Everything said here is true - the way it centers around little details and tiny moments that in any other show would be just background noise allows it to have a far greater impact. Everything about the last, what, 5 minutes or so (at the club closing down) was PERFECTION on every level. And damn you, Russell Tovey. You can see it's killing him to do what he's doing. Kevin could have been such a hateful character, and Tovey has infused him with just as much life and warmth as any of the main cast. He may still be hateful, but he's also very clearly human.

February 10, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

So glad this episode resonated with everyone else as much as it did for me. The "smallness" of the show is precisely what makes it so endlessly fascinating to me and while I can still see some plot wheels turning (groan Agustin's redemption), I have nothing but respect for the way the Kevin/Patrick and Dom/Lynn storyline were handled.

I wonder how much different the writing around Kevin would be without Tovey's magnetic charisma. I really hope the rest of the season/series won't set up Kevin as Patrick's "Mr Big" and instead push him towards someone else (I agree with Nat and Tom that Richie is a great peripheral force but would dull the edges that Patrick has been developing by being 'the other man.')

Jon: The song at the end of the credits is "So this is goodbye" by The Junior Boys.

February 10, 2015 | Registered CommenterManuel Betancourt

Tom/Nathaniel, I am the same about Ritchie. Not just because I find him less sexually attractive than both Groff and Tovey, but I find the continued way he's written as the perfect guy somewhat strange for a show that is trying hard to point out how silly such a notion is. Maybe because he never seems to laugh and I think being able to laugh and laugh with is so important? I feel like I'd find him impossible to read and would find myself questioning what the hell was happening every day.

February 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn Dunks

I think you guys are selling Richie's storyline a little short. This is a story about three anti-heroes, the most central of whom (Patrick) struggles to be a better person. Richie is a major factor in that struggle, encouraging him to leave his hang-ups behind and hold himself to a higher standard.

But also-- and maybe we've forgotten this because we're in the reflective, looking-through-rose-colored glasses portion of their friendship now-- he challenges Patrick's view of what he always thought he'd want in a partner. Patrick is upper class, he went to an elite college (as did his only non-white close friend, who was a "Coral Gables Princess"), and he works for a tech start-up. Richie is a barber in The Mission, is unabashedly unashamed of this fact, and is not particularly ambitious to have more for himself. Patrick initially brushes him off on the subway because he seems like just another one of the rabble and is embarrassed about him around his parents. He's the only bit of culture clash in this otherwise very gay yuppie (guppy?) drama.

February 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

Evan, I wouldn't call Looking a "guppie" drama/dramedy because Patrick's the only near-guppie among the protagonists. Dom is already too old for that designation, and he's a waiter who wants to be a chef, and Agustin is a failed artist hipster; neither are white collar or upwardly mobile in the traditional sense, and not even Patrick seems to be living in guppie splendour.

I told Michael Lannan at a BBQ a few months ago that the show needed a lot more edge and color if they were going to maintain an entitled, "sweet" white boy as the main character. While he agreed, he didn't mention any quick fixes on the horizon. I don't necessarily see Doris' black fling as a solution in any case.

February 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

I'm just saying they could have spent more time continuing the hot tub scene, and I would not have minded.

February 10, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterforever1267

Matthew Ritch, who plays hot tub Matthew here, is also really good as the second lead in TEST.

February 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSan FranCinema

I just didn't see what you all saw.

People swear up and down that the humanity of the characters is so strong on this show and that the tenderness of that last scene was perfection but all I see is a bunch of dudes being assholes to each other and getting what they deserve. The show assumes I'm supposed to be sad for Groff's character or the Dom guy when they were AWFUL getting in and out of those relationships they subsequently felt entitled to. And you can see the Augustine redemption being telegraphed for the end of the season when he has his Short Term 12 moment with the kids being so much less fortunate than him and he realizes how small his problems are. Fuck that. The poz bear storyline is interesting but let's be real, we all know how that's ending: in tears and with someone leaving the shelter.

They only real characters are Ritchie and Doris (and the poz bear) and that has everything to do with those characters owning themselves and being a marriage of actor and role. Tovey and Bakula give it their all but even they are let down by the writing which box them off in a corner. What the show needs is for the three leads to stop pretending they are anything else than terrible people and to have true moments of introspection. They can keep pretending that having their hearts stomped on earns this emotional realism but what I keep seeing are writers who want to continually prove how much of an asshole gay men can be and still form a dramatic show around it. It's like, "LOL we're all so complicated and we're gay and that's okay". Um, no, you're all assholes and have terrible and rude interactions with each other and you'd still be total jerks if you were straight.

Then again, I find Groff emotionally bankrupt in this role and totally with a smarmy look on his face in every scene.

February 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMark The First

Some people's definition of "awful people" is clearly way different to mine. Or the concept that awful people can't be the center of a show.

February 11, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn Dunks

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