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‘Looking’ Back: Reviewing The Entire Second Season, Episode By Episode

'Looking' Back: Reviewing The Entire Second Season, Episode By Episode

“Looking” has always been a bright spot on my Sunday night
viewing schedule (it and “Bob’s Burgers” make
an unstoppable power hour of awkward laughs and pop culture references). With
the anticipation of HBO’s decision of whether or not to renew the series, I
decided to compose a brief recap of each episode of this season. Some recaps
are more substantial and have more weight, while others focus more on themes
and motifs rather than recounting the plot. Enjoy!

1: “Looking for the Promised Land”

Airdate January 11, 2015

The season premiere is an escapist story,
one that transports its characters away from their normal surroundings and into
a cabin by the Russian River. Each character indulges in his or her (Doris
sneaks her way into the trip) excesses, but they also realize that the past is
still a hurdle that they need to overcome: Patrick is still sneaking around
with Kevin, who he calls to fuck him in the woods; Dom realizes that Lynn (his
“boyfriend” with whom he has an open relationship) cluttered his cabin with
memories of a past relationship; while Agustin tries to become a better person
and embrace a relationship with HIV-positive bear named Eddie (Daniel Franzese).
The episode echoes a similar episode from Please
Like Me
(“Scroggin” for those of you who watch the show), but whereas Josh
Thomas wrote “Scroggin” as a temporary pause from emotional whirlwind
surrounding his characters, Andrew Haigh wrote “Looking for the Promised Land”
as an episode in which those problems still seep into the narrative and, in
many ways, affect the characters actions and outlook.



2: “Looking for Results” 

Airdate January 18, 2015

Much like Raskolnikov in Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment – or Hannah in the
“Vagina Panic” episode of Girls
“Looking for Results” uses elements of body horror to highlight the fear of
intimacy that each character has. The victim of this bodily manifestation of
guilt is Patrick who – still sneaking around with Kevin – fears that he may
have contracted an STD. At some point during Patrick’s constant hypochondria,
Richie (a welcome presence) finds Agustin strung out by a pupusa stand and
takes him back to Patrick’s apartment. Their interaction is brief and hesitant,
as the two try to talk normally to one another after so much time apart. After
an awkward reconciliation between Patrick and Richie, Patrick ventures out the
next day to Out of the Closet to get an HIV test. The result is negative, but
the effects of lying and cheating still hound him. He confronts Kevin, who
reveals his own physical reactions (he has been having terrible headaches). The
episode uses these neuroses, which we have all felt at one point or another,
but amps them up due to the messy situations in which all the characters find
themselves (Agustin’s terrible past, Kevin and Patrick’s cheating, Dom’s open
relationship, etc).



3: “Looking Top to Bottom” 

Airdate January 25, 2015

Focusing on appearances/facades, “Looking
Top to Bottom” shows the characters trying to make themselves seem flawless or
better than they consider themselves. The catalyst for these facades is Patrick
who, realizing that Kevin is free for an entire weekend, decides to sanitize
the apartment, as well as his anus (he has Agustin help him buy an enema so he
can properly bottom for Kevin). Agustin tries to become a better person by
making amends with Richie, as well as letting Richie trim his beard (a sign of
his maturation and growth). Meanwhile, Dom – who envisions himself as the owner
of his own “Chicken Window” – resents Lynn for selling him as a manager rather
than an entrepreneur (the two fight after Dom’s rugby game, causing a rupture
in their relationship). Each character in the episode tries to be his idealized
self, but their self-images clash with the reality of their circumstances, or
with the thoughts and opinions that others have of them. In the end, the
relationships each one forges are left in limbo as Patrick is still the “other
man,” Lynn still sees Dom as “less than,” and Agustin is still trying to figure
out exactly what he wants.


4: “Looking Down the Road” 

Airdate February 8, 2015

Triangles and triangular relationships are
an integral thematic motif of “Looking Down the Road,” which complicates the
ideas of platonic friendships and healthy relationships. Patrick and Dom are
the main victims of this triangulation as they try to navigate their various
interpersonal relationships (Patrick tries to normalize his friendship with
Richie, then later freaks out after he sees Kevin with Jon; Dom finds himself
in a three way with Lynn and a rugby player). The problem with these
relationships is that one person is complacent with things the way they are,
while another is ignorant of the circumstances, and the third is longing for
something heteronormative. Ultimately, the characters find heartache as they
realize their “significant others” have either moved on or are unwilling to
change their circumstances. Richie introduces Patrick to Brady, the hot ginger
he is dating, while drunk Kevin tells Patrick that he couldn’t confess the
infidelity to Jon. Dom realizes that Lynn will only ever see him as a temporary
fling and the two break up. This theme really hits home during the final scene
when Patrick walks home, unknowingly trailed by a happy couple (a visual metaphor
of what he longs for/what he cannot have).



5: “Looking for Truth”  

Airdate February 15, 2015

A mirror image of last season’s “Looking
for the Future,” “Looking for Truth” delivers exactly what its title implies.
Following his break-up with Kevin, Patrick escorts Richie back to his hometown
to pick up an ice cream truck. Simultaneously, Agustin tries to take care of
“sick” Eddie, only to realize that Eddie is actually playing hooky from work.
By exploring Richie’s hometown and Eddie’s apartment, the characters are able
to see stories from a different perspective: Patrick learns about Richie’s
terrible relationship with his father, as well as Richie’s infatuation with
Patrick when they were dating; while Agustin tries to lower Eddie’s defenses
and make a move. It is an intimate episode that complicates our views of
certain characters by filling in the gaps that were created by narrative
ellipses. It gives us a perspective that was withheld from us, allowing us to
see both Richie and Eddie as more vulnerable than they like to be.



6: “Looking for Gordon Freeman” 

Airdate February 22, 2015

Embarrassment doesn’t even begin to cover
the emotions I had during this episode. I was mortified, not because it was a
bad episode (it was very well-written), but because of Patrick’s embarrassing antics
as the “fun gay” trying to host a Halloween costume party. Each character is
clad as a hero or heroine (Cher, He-Man, Bilbo Baggins, Gordon Freeman, Max
from Where the Wild Things Are), but
these alter egos don’t give them enough power to hide their true feelings.
Agustin chases after Eddie, Dom deals with being solo, and Doris has to
confront the seriousness of her relationship (and her couple’s costume) with
Malik. Meanwhile, all of Patrick’s bottled emotions erupt in a volcanic
explosion of word vomit. He criticizes his friends, mocks his love interests,
and nearly confesses his cheating with Kevin (in front of Kevin and Jon).
Fortunately, his friends are able to silence him (I could only silence Patrick
with my remote and cringe as his speech continued). His friends try to pick up
the metaphorical pieces and manage to salvage the remains of the disastrous party,
leading to a touching moment of Patrick lying on the couch while watching his
friends dance.



7: “Looking for a Plot” 

Airdate March 1, 2015

This is arguably the best episode of the
season (I would say series, but “Looking for the Future” is still my favorite).
Patrick, Dom, and Doris travel to Modesto to attend Doris’ father’s funeral.
While in Dom and Doris’ hometown, the two begin to evaluate how their lives are
compared to how their lives once were. They embark on a variety of outings
(donut shops, run down clubs, swimming pools) to make themselves feel as though
they are moving forward, but they still feel stuck. It isn’t until a truck
crashes into their car that they begin to take action and actually move
forward: Doris gives Dom her inheritance to help with his Chicken Window; Doris
grows closer to Malik; and Patrick finds Kevin on his stoop waiting to tell him
that he broke up with Jon. The last five minutes of the episode will draw some
sort of emotion out of you (hopefully the more positive emotions).



8: “Looking for Glory” 

Airdate March 8, 2015

This episode focuses on the vulnerability
of its characters, who try to perfect their relationships by publicizing them
or by becoming more intimate. Patrick and Kevin finally reveal their
relationship to their coworkers, right before they leave for GaymerX to
showcase their latest app (a RPG game that pits gay stereotypes against one
another). Agustin tries to rationalize his emotions after he freaks out when
Eddie accidentally ejaculates in his eye. Dom, who finally bought a property
for his chicken window, fears that Doris is replacing him with Malik and tries
his best to be happy for her. Each character becomes vulnerable in front of
another, but each realizes that this vulnerability can be both a good and bad
thing. Patrick accidentally confesses that he loves Kevin, but doesn’t take it
back because he actually means it. Agustin assures Eddie that he will deal with
his feelings and that he still really likes him. Dom realizes that Doris has
her own needs and that she is prioritizing her relationship to Malik over her
friendship with Dom. It’s an eventful night of epiphanies for all the
characters, making the last two episodes all the more worrisome (you can’t
leave things on that good of a note)



9: “Looking for Sanctuary” 

Airdate March 15, 2015

“Looking for Sanctuary” examines ruptures
and new beginnings. Patrick’s new beginnings lead him to introduce Kevin to his
mother (the fabulous Julia Duffy), but the new relationship creates a wedge
between Patrick and his sister, Megan (whose husband is best friends with
Kevin’s ex, Jon). A trip to the zoo between the two siblings and their mother
leads not only to a verbal fight over Megan’s allegations that Patrick gets a
free pass for being gay (she really tested my feminism with her detestable
statements), but also to Patrick’s mother confessing that she is leaving her
husband to pursue an emotional affair she began with a friend. Dealing with the
emotional weight of his sister’s opinions, his mother’s decisions, and his past
indiscretions, Patrick takes a leap of faith and decides that his next best
step is to move in with Kevin. Elsewhere, a meeting between Agustin and his ex,
Frank, results in an emotional reaction from Eddie, who – though declaring he
doesn’t want anything serious – wants to be more serious with Agustin. The two
finally come to terms with their intimacy and Eddie asks Agustin to be his
boyfriend. Finally, Dom and Doris have a blow out over the inheritance money
and Doris admits something that is hard for both of them to take: they rely on
each other too much and cannot create any meaningful relationships with anyone
else. The episode highlights the important steps each character is taking to
try to secure their own bit of happiness, but reveals all the obstacles and
emotional baggage that are still in their way.



10: “Looking for Home” 

Airdate March 22, 2015

And then we reach the end of the finish
line. Not knowing whether this will be the season finale or the series finale,
the episode wraps things in a satisfying bow, leaving some loose ends to
attract a third season, but not enough that fans would be upset if it were the
last episode. Patrick and Kevin finally move in together and decide to attend
one of their neighbor’s Christmas parties. The primarily gay party brings out
the flirtatious side of all its attendees, whose predilection for Grindr
reveals an important fact: Kevin still has his Grindr account. The revelation
sends Patrick into a tailspin and he confronts Kevin about everything (past
indiscretions, monogamy, sex, desire, heteronormative relationships, longevity,
etc). As they rush through the endless labyrinth of their apartment complex
(the setting is a visual metaphor for their fight), Patrick and Kevin have to
make a decision about what to do next. Kevin wants a quasi-open relationship,
while Patrick takes it as a sign that Kevin wants to cheat. Their relationship
is in an endless limbo and they never seem to get out of their own apartment
complex. Elsewhere, Dom must make a similar decision about his relationship
with Doris, who is also dealing with the results of their fight. The decision
here is clear for Dom: they can be friends, but they can’t be their only source
of support. He makes a declaration that Doris can’t help him financially, but
she can help him by drinking a beer with him or hanging out. Patrick seemingly
makes a similar decision in regards to his relationship, though it is ambiguous
what he has decided. The final scene shows him asking Richie to shave off all
his hair. When Richie asks him if he is ready, Patrick tells him that he is
(referencing not only his preparation for a new hairstyle, but also the season
finale of the first season in which Richie says that Patrick isn’t ready for a
relationship). It is a fitting finale that allows its characters to grow
independently, even if they don’t know what comes next.


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