“I really think that this weekend should be about the three of us hanging out together, not us and 200 naked homos crammed in a pool.”
And so begins Looking, season 2. It’s a noticeably funnier, lighter return for the show that was once pre-hyped as “the gay Girls” before it quickly proved itself to be absolutely not that. But season 1, for its admirable truths about modern gay life, was also just a little bleak, with few shining moments of friendship offering the only bright spots in a serious narrative of breakups and self-doubt. (Does any TV character have a worse self-confidence-to-looks ratio than Patrick?)
Well, during the hiatus between seasons, it seems the writers have figured out what’s on their hands and endeavored to lighten things up all around. Season 2’s premiere immediately feels a little bit more upbeat, as evidenced by the literal sunshine of the boys’ trip up to the Russian River.
In order to get away, Dom (the hottest thing with a mustache on premium cable) has been granted usage of Lynn’s nondescript cabin in the woods, which from the outside looks like a timeless forest retreat but inside contains a time warp to an age of sepia tones and phones with gigantic antennae. There’s also a bizarre illustrated portrait of Lynn with curly hair, as if Lynn specially commissioned an artist for a late-in-life bar mitzvah. Dom is particularly alacritous to be at the house so he can dive into Lynn’s photo albums and find out more about his aloof beau; the two are now an official-yet-unofficial item, although the exact definition of their coupling seems to be TBD. Dom doesn’t know whether or not to call them boyfriends, so for now, they exist in an undefined purgatory otherwise known as “an open relationship” (where privileges include strange hook-ups and cabin access).
So the boys drive up, and the relaxing weekend immediately gets off to a tense start when Agustin wants to add vodka to their iced teas. Patrick insists on a sober weekend meant for reconnecting and relaxation, but his refusal to imbibe leads Agustin to believe that the weekend was planned as a sort of intervention for him (remember, we recently saw Agustin get completely obliterated and show up at Patrick’s apartment after breaking up with What’s-His-Name last season. No, seriously, what’s his name?). Patrick does a particularly unconvincing job of denying any intervention-like plans, so Agustin lashes out about Patrick’s own self-wallowing since his break-up with Richie. “Should I call Richie? Should I text Richie? Should I Instagram Richie?” There are clearly a number of fighting points just simmering on the tips of both Agustin and Patrick’s tongues, but Dom breaks up any continuation of the fight, because they’re in nature and the only things that should fight in nature are squirrels and people on MTV’s The Challenge.
They have a nice day of sober fun, which includes Monopoly and a woodland hike to a gigantic tree that Patrick’s researched (“This would be a great tree to get f–ked against,” says Grindr-withdrawal Agustin, because foreshadowing). In the quiet, non-hiking moments in the cabin, Agustin secretly lights up a joint while Patrick mulls calling Richie. Dom notices that something about Patrick seems off, but what Patrick doesn’t reveal is that his dalliance with his committed boss Kevin is gnawing at his morality. He’s reluctantly keeping the sinful news to himself, even though he’s obviously eager to get it off his chest. Maybe the only reason he can’t is because there’s no proper outlet for revelations during a fourth round of Parcheesi.
Kayaking the next day proves to be infinitely more interesting, as our three now-shirtless heroes row row row their boat gently past a festive beach filled with revelers and vacationers pretending to read The Goldfinch. Enter: The Bear, a convivial socialite named Eddie (played by Mean Girls’ erstwhile Damian, Daniel Franzese) who calls out to Agustin as the guys kayak past. Agustin wants to stop and Dom wouldn’t mind indulging himself, but Patrick refuses to stop the kayak because of his mission to avoid any vices whatsoever (and a big gay beach seems like the first place to find them), so Eddie yells out an invitation to the boys to return to a party that night “in the woods.” Just your average, nondescript “in the woods” party. No directions, just “in the woods.” Casual. He calls Patrick a seal pup, and the boys row off with dubious intentions about returning.
But who’s waiting back at the cabin? New series regular Doris! Who has, in fact, showed up at the house uninvited and already unlocked Lynn’s liquor cabinet, much to Agustin’s—and, let’s be honest, Dom’s—thirsty relief. Patrick, in trying to remain sex-, drug- and rock-and-roll-free, wants to sit and play more board games, but party girl Doris refuses to stay cooped up that night. They’re going OUT. But if only there was a party that they could go to?!?
NEXT: Into the woods without delay, but careful not to lose the gay