A funeral brings Doris and Dom back to their hometown. (Oh, and Patrick comes, too.)
After Patrick’s karaoke meltdown, the gang try to redeem their livers at brunch where, thankfully, nobody is holding a grudge against a very hungover and apologetic Patrick, who shared much more about Dom’s chicken window and Agustin’s sobriety than he probably should have. At the table, Doris gets a text from Malik, who’s not shy about sexting in the morning, but when her phone buzzes a second time, it’s her Aunt Sarah—informing her that her father has died.
Suddenly we’re in a car on the way to Modesto, with Dom at the wheel as he takes Doris back to their childhood hometown. Patrick, as he is wont to do, is inexplicably tagging along for the ride. On the drive home, Doris and Dom recall memories of how Doris’ father, George, always wanted Dom to marry Doris, even after he came out. At a rest stop, Doris shares scenes from her childhood, where she’d escape into a truck with her dad as they’d wait for her alcoholic mother to fall asleep. A lovely bit of character development here is revealed: Doris’s bad childhood gave her that biting sense of humor and encouraged her to go into nursing.
Despite the allure of her father’s home, Doris insists that they stay at a hotel she’s always admired, but rather than check in and get settled, she wants to go to the funeral home immediately. Once there, Doris decides she doesn’t want to look at her father’s body after all, but Dom tells her he’s always regretted not seeing his own father one last time, and so Doris goes through with it. In the viewing room, grief overwhelms her, though it’s alleviated by sharing the space—and jokes—with Dom.
Back outside in the car, Patrick makes himself useful by giving neck rubs. Dom decides he wants to take Patrick and Doris to visit his father’s old restaurant—the same one that inspired him to go into the food business—but to his distress, it’s been sold and turned into a thriving donut shop. Dom’s memory of his father’s legacy is not shattered, but we sense there’s another crack in the glass.
After spending the dwindling afternoon hours lingering in the hotel pool and eating literal buckets of KFC, Doris decides she wants to go out and have fun instead of visit family members. Patrick immediately jumps in on the opportunity: “Is there any chance there’s a gay bar around here? Or at least a Pinkberry, where I can get some gay toppings? Basically anything gay?” Dom knows one place, and so they go to the very low-key gay pool bar The Brave Bull. It’s bleak, except for one hottie at the end of the bar with whom Patrick briefly feels a kinship before he realizes that this man is also in a relationship. Patrick, lonelier than ever, has nothing left to do but hit the dance floor with Dom and Doris before a drag act named Kitty Leukemia takes the stage.
And suddenly, the funeral is in full swing. Aunt Sarah beautifully eulogizes Doris’ father with stories of little Doris’ swim meets. It’s all overwhelming for Patrick, whose languished cries at the back of the congregation interrupt the ceremony—which, for what it’s worth, is handled beautifully. Doris is back and forth between total mess and composed poker face, and both are equally heart-wrenching.
The post-funeral reception is filled with family members who are mildly interested in Doris but overtly in awe of Dom, whose 20-year absence means he has to be escorted around the room to explain to everyone what he has—or hasn’t—done with his life. One such interviewer is a childhood friend, now married with kids, who is surprised to find out that Dom is gay. (Dom’s surprising relationship with his hometown self is an exceptionally interesting dynamic that, truly, I never really contemplated before.)
Unlike nostalgia for He-Man or Lunchables, Dom’s memories of Modesto are biting away at him, each one reminding him why he left in the first place. “If you would have stayed here, your soul would have died,” Doris reassures him. “And the only thing you’d have to look forward to is drag night with Kitty Leukemia,” Patrick adds, helpfully.
Meanwhile, Patrick and Doris have been at the reception bar when Patrick receives a phone call from Kevin. He ignores it.
Before they head home for good, Dom decides he wants to stop by his father’s grave. But he’s dismayed when they begin searching through the cemetery for it and can’t locate it. “What does it mean if you can’t find your own dad’s grave?” Dom laments, and it’s here we learn that Dom never got to come out to his father. Therein is the explanation for the whole episode, although that’s not to detract from Doris’ tremendous character work, finally explaining what makes this brassy woman tick.
Patrick, for once, has a good idea—well, good being relative—and they drive through the graveyard, Dom’s head leaning out the window like an eager puppy as he shouts “I’m gay! I’m gay, dad!” to any headstone that will hear him. It seems to lift a huge weight off Dom, and happily so, although the elation quickly evaporates when OH MY GOD. A car crash, out of nowhere, as Patrick gets side-swiped and we sit lingering on the shot of the smoking car, wondering whether Looking just did something truly shocking to its main characters.
But no, nothing that shocking. Everyone’s alive—a little banged up, as we learn when Dom and Doris are waiting in the hospital for Patrick’s arm to be tended to. As Dom and Doris finally sit alone together, processing the weekend’s events, Doris reveals that her dad left her money, which she wants Dom to have for his chicken window. “There’s nobody I’d rather invest in more than you, because you’re my family,” Doris says. And the resulting moment wherein Dom accepts the money says more about the nature of these characters than any other pair on the show. Malik arrives at the hospital, and after 36 hours of pushing him away, Doris breaks down in his arms—it’s a hybrid of laughter and tears, but, well, mainly tears. It’s beautiful.
Malik drives everyone home, and Patrick (now with a broken arm) walks up to his front door and is shocked to see Kevin standing there. “I’ve left John,” he spills. “I’m completely f—king in love with you, and I want to know, do you want to give this a shot, just the two of us, together?”
“Yes,” Patrick immediately responds, because how dare there be an episode devoted to Dom and Doris without Patrick and Kevin attempting to steal the spotlight. But this time, despite this big victory in Patrick’s season-long life, it’s still Doris who has won the day.