The article below — part of a series of recaps for the new HBO series “Looking” — contains spoilers for “Looking For Your $220/Hour” — the February 9th episode.
San Francisco’s Folsom Street Fair came to “Looking” last night, which certainly helped offer a highlight for the many among us with Jonathan Groff crushes: His Patrick spent the better half of episode walking around in a tight leather vest that showed off Groff’s fairly epic pecs. But here’s the thing: It was a vest Patrick was apparently to insecure to even put on. In a leather shop with Agustín (ugh), Doris (yay!) and Hugo (Dom’s co-worker from the pilot), Patrick is encouraged to get in a Folsom festive spirit.
“I wish I was one of those people would could wear one of those and not give a shit,” he says before putting on a leather vest over t-shirt. Doris thankfully tells him he looks like “her Uncle Thomas from Reno,” and off it comes revealing that Patrick has absolutely no reason whatsoever to be insecure about any absence of clothing. What gives, exactly? Was he a teenage fat kid? Did he have some awful emotionally abusive first boyfriend? I mean, he certainly lets Agustín push him around. When the two of them are sitting in Patrick’s office (which Agustín demanded they head to mid-Folsom because he got the runs from trying to impress his new sex worker friend by… being a vegetarian who will sometimes eat meat?), Agustín takes every chance he has to put Patrick down: “What do you know about intimacy?” “All you do is compromise.” “You’re having a fantasy relationship with your boss.”
Some or perhaps all of these things may be true, but Agustín is a not a good friend for saying them for no constructive reason, especially just after Patrick saved him from shitting his (leather) pants in public. But Patrick also needs to just stop taking Agustín’s shit. And, as Agustín does rightfully point out, his boss’s. A “fantasy relationship” might be a bit extreme, but Patrick does spend a lot of this episode bowing down to his new, hot, British, boyfriended boss Kevin — though I suspect I probably would as well.
Kevin asks Patrick to work on a Sunday, even though all of his friends are out and about at Folsom. But it doesn’t seem like they really do any work. They mostly flirt with each other and talk about how they aren’t really into leather (a little over condescendingly, I might add), and about Kevin’s long distance boyfriend — who inadvertently comes to Patrick’s rescue by arriving at San Francisco airport early and asking Kevin to come meet him. Kevin says he’ll be back at work shortly, but Patrick insists he go spend the day with his boyfriend. And then uses the opportunity to take off to meet his friends down at the fair.
They run into CJ, the sex worker Agustín took up a questionable and probably insincere interest during the last episode. Agustín says a bunch of idiotic things to CJ (“What do most people want?” “You’re like a therapist!”) while Patrick sits all doe-eyed, as seemingly its the first time he’s ever been in the presence of a sex worker. And then Agustín — still unemployed — decides to ask CJ if he can do some sort of art project with him, though never makes it clear what that is exactly because he probably doesn’t know himself. CJ’s cool with it, but only if Agustín pays him the same rate as his clients for his time (hence the $220/hour of the episode’s title).
Dom, meanwhile, sits Folsom out to go find Lynn, who he also met in the previous episode, and also wants to essentially use for professional gain. Though he sure goes about it more charmingly than Agustín. They go out to eat, and Lynn — who is under the impression they’re on a date (because Dom has really given no reason for him to think otherwise) — quickly learns what Dom really wants is business advice for his new chicken restaurant (which becomes a somewhat more endearing idea after we find out it’s inspired by a restaurant his late father ran when he was a teenager). Though clearly a bit disappointed, Lynn hides it and decides to help Dom along, but draws the line when Dom asks if he can make him dinner that night: “What are you doing? You’re not interested in me, remember,” he says. Though it’s beginning to seem like Dom isn’t quite so sure of that (and I say go for it).
Patrick similarly calls out Kevin on his questionable interest in a conversation also oddly about chicken (this episode should have been called “Looking for Chicken”?). Kevin comes back to the office, interrupting Patrick and his leather-clad gang. Patrick decides to stay and help him with work, though this quickly evolves back into their little flirtation game. Kevin asks Patrick if they should order take out, specifically fried chicken because his boyfriend “doesn’t allow it at home.” Patrick seems to finally see Kevin’s perhaps harmless, perhaps not little game, and finally doesn’t act like a pushover by turning down Kevin’s chicken offer and heading back out to meet his friends at the leather bar Stud.
It’s here that people finally seem to be having some Folsom-themed fun, with Doris excitedly leading the way to the dance floor, and Patrick running into Richie, the boy he met in the pilot who has rightfully been ignoring Patrick’s texts ever since he showed some racist tendencies in bed by announcing how surprised he was to find the Latino Richie had a cut cock.
“I’ve been alright. Still cut,” Richie reasonably says when Patrick asks him how’s been doing. But Patrick continues with a sort of apology — “That wasn’t me the other night. What you thought that I was trying to go for, I’m not looking for that kind of thing.” — and Richie buys it, allowing the episode to end off with the two of them dancing and making out. Which hopefully evolves into something that helps Patrick — who I still genuinely believe means well — come out of his fucking shell.