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Looking, Ep. 1.08: “Looking Glass” is more than half empty

Looking, Ep. 1.08: “Looking Glass” is more than half empty


Looking, Season 1, Episode 8: “Looking Glass”
Directed by Andrew Haigh
Written by Michael Lannon & Tanya Saracho
Airs Sundays at 10:30 PM on HBO

Looking’s season finale ends where it all began, with Patrick and Richie living together as roommates, watching The Golden Girls on their laptop in bed. For a relationship that has been framed as the central one of the show, the writers seem not to be very interested in it. Patrick’s season long arc was to get himself into a half-hearted love triangle with a hot British video game designer and an even hotter Mexican barber. Agustín spent most of the season moping around and being casually racist before being brutally dumped by a blank slate of a character whom I’ve just now learned is named Frank. It would have really served the show to focus just one episode on Patrick and Agustín’s friendship, if that is the relationship the viewers are ultimately supposed to be invested in.

The plot machinations in “Looking Glass” are weirdly forced, especially those concerning Patrick and Richie’s on again off again romance. Richie, always one to want to talk about his feelings, spends just enough time silent and hurt for Patrick to hook up with Kevin. And Kevin, who was initially introduced as being a professional, reasonably intelligent person, risks both his job and his own relationship to have sex with Patrick at their office. Agustín’s drug-fueled class action lawsuit fantasy is ridiculous, but Kevin is at least at risk of a stern talking to from the HR department if Patrick chooses to say anything.

Even more perplexing is the abrupt end to Agustín and Frank’s cohabitation. I wish we had previously seen even a hint of the contempt Frank exhibits for his long-term boyfriend, but up until now he’s seemed supportive of Agustín’s art and unconcerned with his lack of ambition. The impetus for his sudden change of heart, feeling betrayed that Agustín hired an escort for his photography project, is so completely random – like something the writer’s room desperately came up with at a pitch meeting right before their deadline. Anyway, this seems to be the last we’ll see of Frank and his colorful shirts.

At least we finally get to experience Dom’s famous peri peri, a chicken so succulent that Lynn’s posse of judgmental bears are satisfied even after being served only half a potato each. Murray Bartlett and Scott Bakula have a nice chemistry and really sell their scenes together, and the great Lauren Weedman deserves so much more than what she’s been given to do. Doris’s short conversation with Lynn, where she asks him to give Dom a second chance, is a highlight of this episode if not the entire show.

The season ends with Patrick tucking in a passed out Agustín, a superficially sweet coda to a low-key series. But maybe the creators want the viewers to think their friendship is codependent and toxic. Most times we’ve seen them together Agustín is undermining Patrick’s relationship prospects and Patrick is enabling Agustín’s lethargy, lack of ambition, and self-satisfaction. But either way, whether the shot of them cuddling in bed is supposed to be a happy ending or a sad regression, the viewers are left shrugging their collective shoulders, wishing they too were watching an episode of The Golden Girls, a show that knew its characters and what motivated them.

HBO has given Looking a second season, which is a nice vote of confidence for a struggling show. But if Michael Lannon is still at the helm come next year, there is little reason to expect much improvement.

Other thoughts:

Those pills Agustin took look exactly like my probiotics.

It seems somehow significant that Patrick bottoms for Kevin when he wouldn’t for Richie, but exploring that topic is probably for a different type of website.

It’s not that the gay/Golden Girls thing is incorrect, it’s just a cliché by now. May I suggest Melrose Place for future bonding moments.

“Let’s be honest. You’re never going to be an artist, and if you ever do follow through with something it’s going to be mediocre at best.” – Literally the meanest thing you can say to a significant other.

“Alright, are we having a potato crisis? What’s happening?”

Though I can’t say I enjoyed every moment of Looking, I really liked writing these reviews. Hopefully I’ll pop up on SoundOnSight again soon!