We're now halfway through the first season of HBO's Looking. Sunday's episode "Looking For $220/Hour" introduced some soapier elements and (finally) some real conflict for our leads. It's the best writing we've seen on the show yet, and, if the back half of the season continues the momentum, it could salvage the show and keep me interested in a second season.
Four episodes deep may not be the best time to start getting interesting, but I'm glad to see the show's principle stories finally picking up some steam.
For many viewers, it may just be too little, too late. That's a shame, because I think tonight's episode finally struck the right balance between the show's much-touted realism (some might call it "overly-touted") and some really nice storytelling.
Let's dive deeper into what made last night's installment work, AFTER THE JUMP …
- Dom (Murray Bartlett)'s lunch with Lynn (Scott Bakula) hit like a punch to the gut. You could feel the gravity around that table change once Lynn realized this wasn't a date. The pangs of discomfort surfaced again when Lynn called him out for his flirty dinner date suggestion. It's hard not to compare their dynamic with Patrick (Jonathan Groff)'s failed efforts in previous dates. Whereas Patrick's persistent inability to keep his foot out of his mouth made those scenes frustrating, these moments with Dom were hard to watch because they were so much more relatable, so easily understood.
- Agustín (Frankie J. Alvarez)'s little white lie about CJ (T.J. Linnard)'s interest in his project is the kind of thread that you just know is the first to be pulled as his relationship comes apart. It's the kind of non-truth that has the potential to snowball into grander and grander deception, but, for now, it was just an off-handed fib in a bar. Without a dramatic close-up or change in soundtrack to cue us in to THIS IS A THING THAT WILL BE IMPORTANT LATER, the show uses it's understated approach to trust viewers to make these connections.
- Is it just me, or does it feel like there's no good way for this to end for Richie (Raul Castillo)? Patrick seemed like he was more motivated to atone for his atrocious date than he was pursuing a genuine attraction or connection to Richie. It feels much less likely that Patrick genuinely falls for Richie than it does he'll stick with him long enough to convince Richie he's a good person, before realizing they wouldn't work together in the long term. Patrick has revealed himself to be pretty self-absorbed, so it wouldn't surprise me to see Richie become collateral damage on his journey of self-discovery.
- I really enjoyed how meat was used throughout the episode to represent temptation. Agustín took a bite out of his Rentboy's bratwurst, despite being a vegetarian, before hiring him for his art project. Dom offered Lynn a taste of his chicken. And, most notably, it was Kevin (Russell Tovey)'s request to indulge in the fried chicken his partner never lets him have that finally made it clear to Patrick that, while he's asking about chicken, what Kevin really wants is a surrogate to play out the things he isn't getting at home. It's things like this that never line up so neatly in real life, and that's exactly the sort of writing magic that I've been eager to see more of among the "realism."
I'm committed to seeing how the series shakes out over the next few episodes, and I'm feeling optimistic about where it's heading.
What did you think of the episode?