Film and TV | Frankie J. Alvarez | Jonathan Groff | Looking | Murray Bartlett | Television

'Looking' Back: Episode 6, 'Looking In the Mirror'


At this point, you're either on board with Looking, or you're not. The last few weeks have inspired spirited debate about the show's success, but, with six episodes aired and two remaining this season, there's little time to change minds. If you're still not sold on Looking's understated touch, you know it by now.

The show's writers and actors have been combating criticism that the show is 'boring.' As someone who initially found the series boring myself, I have to say that the last two installments have won me over. Last week's intimate adventure with Patrick (Jonathan Groff) and Richie (Raúl Castillo) was exceptional, and it showed what this series is capable of at its best. This week's episode, "Looking In the Mirror," brought Dom (Murray Bartlett) and Agustín (Frankie J. Alvarez) back into view. While not as developed as Patrick's story, the other guys' plots are at least progressing, further introducing complications into Agustín's and Dom's lives.

Let's unpack the latest developments and chat about the most recent episode, 

  • I'm not sure if the most recent plot developments should be called "predictable" or "natural." Of course Dom doesn't know how to relate to Lynn (Scott Bakula) without sex. Of course Agustín can't resist the temptation of C.J. (T.J. Linnard). Of course Patrick isn't nearly as comfortable being Richie's boyfriend as he'd like to be. On the one hand, any viewer could've smelled any of these happening from miles away. But, on the other hand, good writing doesn't mean always pulling the rug out from under your viewers. (Are you listening, Ryan Murphy?)
  • Thematically, I like how these three stories all confronted this idea of what happens when you get what you think you want. While Agustín's was the most obvious example, even Dom had initially set out to have a platonic business deal with Lynn. Patrick and Richie's argument after Dom's party was one of the best scenes so far, but, as he stood toying with his scapular, I couldn't help but wonder if Patrick is regretting that invite to his sister's wedding.
  • Doris (Lauren Weedman) is still the best. "You are so gay-fired" is my new favorite Doris-ism.
  • Is it just me, or has Agustín become the most unlikable character? His tantrum over his art project was insufferable. His outburst targeted at Richie was completely out of line. And the way he treats his adorable boyfriend (O.T. Fagbenle) makes no sense. While Patrick is attempting to grow, Agustín is running out time to hit the road to redemption.

What did you think of the episode?

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  1. I think this show is getting better. Tho, living in San Francisco I have encountered the film crew on various location shoots and find them pushy and rude. I also like to play "guess how much their apartments cost".

    Posted by: mymy | Feb 24, 2014 8:08:50 AM

  2. I think the major problem with this show is the short running time. Both the short 22 minute episodes and then only 8 episodes in total. That's just under 3 hours total time. You can't really tell 3 complete stories in that amount of time.

    Posted by: anon | Feb 24, 2014 8:28:01 AM

  3. I am hooked -- but I was never of the opinion that the show was boring, not from the beginning. As the plot progresses, I become more engrossed. And I agree that Augustin has become insufferable. He didn't seem so thrilled with his decisions in that last scene as he videotaped his boyfriend and CJ... That said, I can't believe there are only 2 episodes left this season! Hopefully next time around HBO will order more, because this is just a tease.

    Posted by: Graham | Feb 24, 2014 8:31:54 AM

  4. The story lines are getting better, agreed. The show is still insufferably short with only incremental story development. Its like trying to watch a movie in nothing but previews. Its a waste of incredible talent.

    If it survives into a second season, the show runners need to be scrapped and replaced with people who know what they are doing.

    Posted by: Robert Rhea | Feb 24, 2014 8:32:16 AM

  5. I think the show is wonderful. I get that some folks might not be into it, but I don't get the absolute bile that's been tossed around about the show. We really have a knack for being the most vicious to our own.

    Posted by: IJelly | Feb 24, 2014 8:54:31 AM

  6. @ANON I think you've nailed the problem. Most series on HBO or SHO generally get the 52-minute treatment. Time for plot set-ups, character development, the usual things that make a series interesting. Of course, let's first understand that most gay men ARE boring and their lives ARE boring and that if you are going to make a series with impact and interest, you've got to have something in the plot that at least promises a bit of drama. Unfortunately, "Looking" thinks that just showing gay men living their lives in San Francisco should be enough to draw anyone's interest. Well, in case anyone hasn't been paying attention, SF isn't all that interesting, gay-wise, anymore and in about ten more years, SF's fabled gay presence will have been forcibly dispersed on the winds of heterosexual dominance.

    Posted by: jamal49 | Feb 24, 2014 9:02:51 AM

  7. Wonderful show. Love it. This episode was amazing. I hope it sticks.

    Posted by: Mitch | Feb 24, 2014 9:03:53 AM

  8. 30 minutes is short, BUT I'LL TAKE IT!

    Each year the next crop of network TV shows shows up and throws up: overdressed, painfully made-up and muscled-up casts of cops with only one case to work, vampires and zombies whose next acting job for their marginal skills will be porn, and leftovers from last century's sitcoms trying to make a comeback.

    I like how LOOKING's characters are fallible, susceptible, regretful, sometimes oblivious, and very often reminiscent of people I've known. They also have rusty sinks, dirty dishes, and live in a real world that seems not too far out of reach.

    LOOKING is awesome soup served in portions that are too damn small, but still delicious.

    Posted by: SteveDenver | Feb 24, 2014 9:11:35 AM

  9. Overall, I love this show. Not every tv show has to have explosions, car chases, etc. The characters are human, and for me, lovable, and interesting.
    My only criticism is the length of the eps. Shows like this need a full hour to get going. And definitely I'd love to see more eps to the season.

    Posted by: Reggie777 | Feb 24, 2014 9:37:44 AM

  10. Right from episode one, Looking has been the most honest and naturalistic representation of gay men and their relationships that I have ever seen on TV. It a shame the subtlety has gone over the heads of the vocal detractors. I've been flummoxed by the accusations of it being 'boring', and could hardly believe we were watching the same show. But as my Dad always drilled into me, only boring people get bored.

    Posted by: Samuel | Feb 24, 2014 9:53:33 AM

  11. The characters are vapid and talk like Valley girls.

    Posted by: MARCUS BACHMANN | Feb 24, 2014 10:08:16 AM

  12. I liked last night's episode. Gay life in SF can be" boring." I know, I lived there 20 years. Get up, go to work, friend's birthday party in a park, another friend being a jerk to your new boyfriend, etc. All rather mundane.

    Posted by: Michael Wright | Feb 24, 2014 10:43:01 AM

  13. Is anybody else hooked on True Detective? that show is awesome.

    Posted by: Jay | Feb 24, 2014 10:56:05 AM

  14. I've watched each episode so far, and I've really been rooting for the show, because I REALLY want it to be good, but I was also in the "this show is slow and boring" camp ill the excellent "Before Sunrise"-esque episode 5 with Patrick and Richie

    it's like the set up is there, the issues of modern gay living in a major US city, its there, but that its just not gelling.

    Perhaps it is the 1/2 hour runtime that's shooting it in the foot, since it never gets to establish itself.

    It's like its almost TOO laid back..I mean most don't watch tv for documentaries..its mostly for some comedy or drama or some sort of escapism.

    Posted by: Astro | Feb 24, 2014 11:18:41 AM

  15. If I hear peri peri chicken one more time...

    Posted by: Bob | Feb 24, 2014 11:27:59 AM

  16. The latest episode hit a nerve in that it brought up the uncomfortable reality of race & class. I think many of us have been there, dealing with that awkward moment of either confronting the "other" as a group or being the "other". Subtle but strong stuff and important because it leads to introspection & questions.

    Posted by: Dimitri | Feb 24, 2014 11:36:38 AM

  17. The main character in the director's breakthrough film couldn't have been more boring. Lived in a provincial city in a council flat, had the same lifeguard job he probably got after high school, and had straight married friends with kids probably from high school. His idea of home decor was postcards thumbtacked to the wall, and his idea of entertaining was instant coffee. But it was mesmerizing.

    Of course, he was really Lord Gillingham.

    Posted by: emjayay | Feb 24, 2014 12:23:43 PM

  18. Whoa! Was that an actual moment of conflict, i.e., drama, on a television show - when Augustin dissed Patrick and Richie in disgusting fashion and opened up a riff between the new boyfriends? How un-Looking-like of this show, which has avoided any kind of conflict or bad guy in search of being oh-so-natural that it lacks any freaking DRAMA.

    I don't hate the show, but it's meandering slavishness to naturalism is bothersome and has not exactly hooked me. And the characters are just annoying me. Patrick is goofy adorkable, but HE's the one who's insufferable, while Augustin is just a plain jerkwad who is totally and utterly unlikable.

    At this pace and style, this show is not getting anywhere with a paltry 8-episode run. If it's renewed and somehow succeeds, this season will be just another one of those awkward first seasons it's bizarre to look back on before a show found its footing. But I don't see how another paltry 3-hour season can bring it anywhere interesting even if the entire show is revamped.

    Posted by: Zlick | Feb 24, 2014 12:36:39 PM

  19. I second what many have said in the comments. The biggest problem is how short the episodes are. With that being said I find the show very natural and an accurate portrayal of people. I'm not saying it represents the gay community. No show represents its audience.
    Desperate Housewives does't represent suburban housewives and Glee doesn't represent the typical high school kid, etc. The idea isn't for a show to speak for a group, it's to highlight both the good and bad characteristics we find in certain pockets of people.

    It's interesting all the comments about Agustín - I agree for one - but again, isn't it just an accurate reflection? We all have that friend who is creative and obnoxious. If everyone was educated, well-spoken and caring to their partners there wouldn't be much to go on.

    All in all I really do love the show and I give credit to all those involved. HBO needs to renew and order hour long episodes though!

    Posted by: Kevin | Feb 24, 2014 12:59:26 PM

  20. given this is a show set in SF, is there any asian representation in the mix?

    Posted by: quick question | Feb 24, 2014 1:26:36 PM

  21. 22mins??? Even HBO's "Sex and the City" was a full 30mins long for each episode...they had to edit them down to 22mins for regular tv syndication repeats. So is HBO already forcing a 22min time limit? If they can't give us a full hour at least give us the full 30mins. There is a lot you could do in 7 more minutes with this show.

    Posted by: tsk tsk tsk | Feb 24, 2014 1:30:23 PM

  22. Terrible ratings that continue to drop. Say good bye to this show after this season's last episode.

    Posted by: Perry | Feb 24, 2014 1:34:17 PM

  23. With all the criticism of "Looking", it's ironic this episode featured a piñata in the park. Unfortunately, with the show, there are no goodies inside.

    The hint of action & conflict among the characters last night was contrived. At this point, who cares about any of them?

    The sad fact is that the writing of the series has been consistently lame. It would take a miracle to turn this series around in its final two episodes.

    Sunday nights have been epic in the history of HBO programming. With "Looking" in the lineup, the audience gets a bucket of cold water thrown upon them. The premium channels get thousands of pitches every season. Hopefully, the next gay-themed series greenlighted will get greater scrutiny for quality & not just check-off the box for targeting a specific demographic known for high disposal income.

    Posted by: JonnyNYNY2FLFL | Feb 24, 2014 1:37:36 PM

  24. Well, the positive comments were nice until the weekly trolls showed up.

    Posted by: crispy | Feb 24, 2014 1:48:04 PM

  25. "Terrible ratings that continue to drop."

    Wrong again. The ratings increase each week.

    Posted by: crispy | Feb 24, 2014 1:58:54 PM

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