Looking, Ep. 2.07: “Looking for a Plot” is a showcase for Lauren Weedman

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Looking, Season 2, Episode 7: “Looking for a Plot”
Directed by Andrew Haigh
Written by Jhoni Marchinko
Airs Sundays at 10 PM on HBO

At this point, how are Patrick Murray’s friends not completely fed up with him? After he drunkenly insults everyone in his life at his own terrible party, he tags along to Doris’s father’s funeral in Modesto and makes the weekend all about him. He mawkishly sobs at the service, continually tries to one up Doris in the “I had an unhappy childhood” department, and ends up totaling Dom’s car and sending all three of them to the hospital. Doris, bless her heart, is nothing but kind and patient in response to Patrick’s appalling behavior. Dom mostly ignores him, instead focusing his energy on trying be there for Doris while dealing with his ambivalence towards Modesto and his own father. Patrick goes through the motions of being a good friend, listening when appropriate and offering back rubs, but he has neither the emotional maturity nor the capacity for empathy to think about anyone other than himself.

“Looking for a Plot” is a standout episode for Lauren Weedman, featuring the kind of performance that would win Emmys if Emmy voters knew what Looking was. Grief is an especially complicated emotion to play, and Weedman – with help from writer Jhoni Marchinko – nails the nuances. The inappropriate laughter, the waves of anger, the second-guessing one’s own feelings, they’re all part of grieving for a parent, and Weedman’s face registers every bit of it.

The richness of her performance exposes the comparative limitations of Murray Bartlett as an actor and Dom as a character. The episode gives a little more insight into Dom’s past, his relationship with his father and his friendship with Doris, but it does little to clarify who Dom is as a person. Aside from wanting to open his chicken restaurant, and being scared of his theoretical chicken restaurant failing, what else do viewers know about Dom? Has he ever cracked a joke, or mentioned a movie he likes, or talked about a place he wants to travel to? These little pieces of information, unexpected opinions or passions, are what makes people fall in love with a television character and want to peer into his life. For someone as quiet as Dom, played by an actor as internal as Bartlett, the inscrutability is beginning to feel like dullness.

But who comes out of this smelling like a rose? Malik, the man Doris has been dating, handles a delicate situation perfectly. He asks if Doris would like him to go with her to the funeral, he doesn’t take it personally when she says no, and still drives down to Modesto to pick her and her friends up from the hospital and drive them back to the city. And when Doris finally sees him, she runs into his arms and cries the way she’d been expecting to all weekend. She’s slowly beginning to trust Malik, to let herself fall for him, and to realize that though her friendship with Dom is valuable, she can do better.

Other thoughts:

Though I did miss Agustin and Eddie, this was still the best episode of the season.

You know who I wasn’t excited to see? Kevin. Ugh.

Mary Kay Place, where have you been girl?

Small town gay bars are 1000000 times better than big city gay bars.

Patrick is 30 and has never been to a funeral before. That says a lot.

Charlyne Yi as the world’s proudest donut shop clerk was hilarious and perfect.

“I’m always interested in hearing about someone else’s childhood that was potentially worse than mine.”

“Your mom is alive.” “Oh yeah.”

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