PATRICK AND KEVIN
Well, it’s official—San Francisco’s most famous video game designing couple is officially co-habitating. Patrick’s barely in the apartment for a minute before he’s already declaring how little he actually knows about Kevin (they’ve only spent a handful of months in each other’s actual apartments instead of shady motel rooms). A Field of Dreams poster suggests exactly how much there is to know about Kevin that Patrick doesn’t even understand…but fortunately, Pat is a little less concerned about the existential woes of life now that his mother has imploded his family and he doesn’t have anything to live up to anymore.
Elsewhere in the building, Patrick meets a very overly touchy pair of neighbors, Jake and Milo, who later return to invite an all-too-eager Kevin to their Christmas “drink thing” (causing them to postpone plans to go to Agustin’s “mural thing,” because apparently nobody remembers how to describe events with real words). The party is overwhelmingly white and excessively sexy, with Patrick and Kevin being passed around the friendly fete as “new meat.” One reveler tells them not to be intimidated: “We’re fun, and as the night goes on, we get a little bit wild. So drink up, boys.”
In the bathroom, Kevin and Patrick giddily wonder if they’ve been selected for an orgy in some bizarre Hogwartsian form of invitation. Kevin reads Patrick’s anxiousness and asks if he wants to leave, but it’s Patrick who drunkenly insists they stay. Patrick emerges back into the living room and joins a group that’s prowling Grindr and judging profiles. They mention one anonymous nearby user named “Romford,” and Patrick’s heart sinks—and he immediately forces Kevin to leave.
“Are you Romford?” Patrick asks as soon as they get into the elevator, and Kevin says he innocently browsed, just to see who else was in the building. He encourages Patrick to check his phone—Romford has no chats, no pictures, no messages…nothing that would suggest a betrayal has happened. “Just please tell me I didn’t move in with a sex addict,” says Patrick. (A brief phone exchange with Agustin warns Patrick that “everybody’s got the app, but it’s what you do with it that matters.”)
The fight, it seems, is far from over. Patrick inquires about Kevin’s history with John, and whether he ever strayed (beyond, you know, the whole SLEEPING WITH PATRICK thing). Kevin reveals his stance that little things don’t count, but that makes way for the big discovery here: Kevin brings up the idea of an open relationship, and Patrick is utterly furious.
Kev wants it. Pat doesn’t. Pat’s mad. Pat’s confused. He assumed they’d be exclusive, and now he’s shocked to find out on the very day they move in together that Kevin seemingly doesn’t even want to attempt to monogamy. Kevin sees a dalliance as a slip-up, or a once-in-a-lifetime temptation; Patrick insists that it’s a hall pass, a quick thrill.
They’ve moved their argument to a parking garage for one genius tracking shot (True Detective: San Francisco) and Patrick continues dumping out his feelings. “All I can hear right now is that you want to f— other people” and “You’re such a good liar, Kevin, I’ve seen you do it.” At this point, it’s turned into a personality hit, so Kevin wonders, “Is this fight to break us apart or keep us together?” And truly, who even knows?
Hours go by.
On the rooftop, Patrick compares their relationship to the differences in their mattress sleep numbers (a classic, awful Patrick move). Patrick contemplates whether the fundamentals of their hearts operate differently, but Kevin promises that they’ll figure out a way to work it out. “You just have to trust me,” he pleads, but it’s like telling the passengers on the Titanic that they “just have to get off the boat.”
Still, they go to bed together. In the morning, a restless Patrick wakes up and walks the apartment. He spies the Field of Dreams poster listlessly. In his box of valuables, he pulls out photos of his friends—and a necklace that screams Richie. Richie, his first love. Richie, who values family and loyalty and fidelity. Richie, who would put his relationship above all other temptations.
Suddenly, Patrick’s at Richie’s barber shop. He’s called ahead, but hasn’t explained why he’s dropping by. He’s a mess at this point, but he doesn’t want to talk about anything—he just wants a haircut. In fact, he wants it all buzzed off. Richie, in that silent, serious way of his, doesn’t need to say much, yet makes it clear that he’s there for Patrick with no judgment and no conflict.
“I finally get to cut your hair,” gushes Richie. “You ready?”
And in just an instant, Patrick has chosen.
There’s not much here to say about Agustin except that he has started PrEP and is merrily happy with Eddie. The struggle of their relationship was addressed last week, but they’re deciding to make an official go of things and navigate the waters of mixed-status romance as best they can.
DOM AND DORIS
It’s been a while since Dom and Doris have talked, but there’s finally a shot at reconciliation when Malik encounters Dom at city hall—where Dom is getting a permit for the chicken window.
Doris, it seems, has been miserable in Dom’s absence, throwing herself into unnecessary cleaning around the apartment and going full OCD. Malik encourages Dom to make peace and go for a walk with Doris, because Malik is basically perfect and even Dom knows it. “You love her, right?” he asks, and Malik nods. “Good,” says Dom. “Just making sure.”
Dom arrives that night to take Doris out for a Christmastime walk, and almost immediately, they’re both apologizing, although in typical Dom-Doris fashion, it’s perhaps the most realistic and grippingly mature apology conversation that I can fathom. The proof is in Dom saying that he doesn’t want to ignore everything Doris said in the heat of the argument, nor does she want him to. The sadness arrives when Doris asks if they can go back to before, but Dom insists that they “do kind of need to break up, Dor. We do. You did the most generous thing that anyone’s ever done for me, but I really need to try this on my own. However I can.”
If Dom fails, he wants Doris there to get hammered with him, but for now, she needs to focus on making herself and Malik happy. Dom will be fine–and Doris knows that, too.
Dom visits his chicken window that night—alone—and sips a beer while admiring the brand new sign that he’s just turned on. A luminous blue sign reads dom’s chicken, and he breathes in.
Obviously, much has been made of HBO’s silence on whether Looking has earned a third season renewal. At the moment of this recap, the future is unclear—and it very well may be that Patrick, Dom, and Agustin’s stories end here. But shouldn’t we be so thrilled at where they’ve arrived?
Patrick was looking for a relationship, and in doing so, he found self-worth—he picked Richie and in a sense, picked himself. Agustin bounced back from darkness and is now someone else’s light, finding someone who loves him for his mistakes and finding a fulfilling career that lets him continue his art. Dom has found independence, eschewing even his dearest friend for a shot at making it on his own.
These characters are flawed and perhaps full of occasionally misguided choices (hey, Patrick), but should Looking end tonight, take comfort that they have found it.