Looking at “Looking”: Season 2, Episode 2

s2e02 01A few days ago in the sex forest, Patrick and Kevin hoped that they’d one day lie next to each other in bed. This week’s episode begins by teasing us with a fulfillment of that wish, but like all things that seem too good to be true, it is. In fact, this entire half-hour is a reminder that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Their trip into the woods was about as transformative as seeing Into the Woods; it’s two hours later and you’re $20 poorer, but you’ve still got to get back to your routine.

See, Pat isn’t snuggling cozily with his boyfriend: he’s engaging in a little post-prandial banter with his partnered boss in a motel so sleazy that even Agustin wouldn’t touch it. The soft golden glow that they’re basking in isn’t the rising sun, but the glare of the sky during lunch break filtered through curtains that need the regret scrubbed out of them.

As they take the bus back to work, Patrick makes a proposal for a scene queen iOS game that involves him actually rattling off a gay checklist. Seriously, for the next episode to get more meta, someone would have to read reviews of Looking aloud. Kevin is lukewarm on the app, but totally sold on the idea of NEVER MENTIONING THIS TO ANYONE EVER NO REALLY THOUGH. The secrecy freakout is a little hypocritical from man who spends his afternoons nuzzled closely to his fuckbuddy employee on public transit in broad daylight.

s2e02 02After work, the main characters head out to the bar and we learn that interpreting signs is not a skill of Patrick’s. For instance, he doesn’t make the connection between “drinking lots of margaritas” and “being in a state of persistent denial of one’s emotions.” Also, everything about his situation says “affair” (including his friends, who literally say it aloud), but he actively recoils from the word. He is also unable to pursue the physical, written sign advertising rapid testing. But those red dots on his abdomen? Totes terminal. For sure. Like, Doris might have met a guy at the bar, but we don’t even find out how that situation resolves because we’re in the bathroom looking at a skin condition.

Elsewhere, Agustin is back on the disaster train. After his heavy tequila consumption, he goes hunting for Eddie. They didn’t have plans, but he’s sure they’ll meet up at one particular loud-ass club. And really, I can understand his certainty: if there’s one thing we can say about Ag, it’s that things always go his way. If my life were a constant litany of blessings and successes like his, I’d be optimistic, too! Instead of finding his big bearded beau, however, he stumbles across Scotty, the man he and his ex had a wild threesome with.

s2e02 05This, to Ag, seems like a great opportunity to play to his strengths, so he tells a bunch of lies and then does ill-advised drugs. An unspecified amount of shirtless montage time later, he’s sprawled on the street mumbling incoherently and mashing food truck delicacies into his beard. And just like that, his luck does kick in: spurned barber Richie appears from the mist and corrals him home. Patrick lets the two in and then repeatedly asserts how awesome it would be to go on a lunch date, but like not a date, but no really let’s have lunch. Sadly for him, Richie does not negotiate with delegates from the Desperation Nation and makes sure to peace out without committing to anything.

s2e02 04Dom is back to his sure-fire plan of cooking chicken and only chicken, though he’s scaled back and decided to do a sort of drive-thru-without-the-car rather than a full restaurant. The building he’s chosen is perfect, except that it’s overpriced, doesn’t have a kitchen, and currently appears to be the hot-spot for drunken hobo urination. At least Lynn is as supportive as ever. At home, they drink wine and celebrate how open their relationship is while pointedly not talking about Lynn’s dead ex. Dom notices they’re not talking about it and decides to not talk about how they’re not talking about it, and then the camera cuts away before their night devolves into silent, emotionless, glassy-eyed staring into space.

s2e02 06Eventually Pat bites the bullet and pricks the finger, and of course everything’s fine. (Though I have to say, after Eddie revealed his status last week, part of me would have been really impressed if the show had doubled down and made two more of its characters positive.) He flips out to Kevin, who tells him that next time they should just talk instead of getting an AIDS test. But like, no. First off, no one calls it an “AIDS test,” and secondly,  it is a good idea to get tested! Know your status, kids. For reals. Their story ends with Boss Man doing a dance routine for Patrick in his glass office, which is only slightly subtler than sending a company-wide newsletter that just says “we bone all the time.” They’re probably saving that for next week.