JUST "LOOKING"

Looking at “Looking”: Season 2, Episode 7

A mainstay of the episodic television format is the second season episode dedicated to a side character. The world has been built, the main characters have been defined, the plot arcs are all set in motion; now it’s time to flesh out the map by exploring the side roads. That means that Doris, previously a brief, silly footnote in the main trio’s lives, is finally featured as the leading lady.

s2e07 01We begin in a diner the morning after Halloween. Patrick has been made aware of last night’s supremely embarrassing outburst, but at least has the decency to be supremely embarrassed about it. Doris is so over it that she’s not even joining Dom and Ag in mocking the poor bastard, she’s just texting her boob to Malik. But the holy sanctity of gay brunch is abruptly dispelled when her phone buzzes not with a response from her boyfriend (if they’ve dropped the b word yet, who knows?), but a notification from her aunt that her father has died. (Side note: who sends that kind of information via text? Her aunt is a straight-up jerk.)

An immediate road trip to Modesto is in order. Dom drives because he is a functional adult, but also because the deceased wanted him for a son-in-law. Despite his lack of connection to the family or the situation or to human interaction in general, Patrick tags along. From now on, whenever you watch, pretend that he’s a transfer student from another galaxy. The show makes a surprising amount of sense as a gritty Mork & Mindy reboot.

Sorry, mental detour. Next stop is a visit to the funeral home, where Doris has to confront reality and see her father’s body. Attempts at humor in this situation would only be appropriate from an exceptionally close friend, so the fact that Dom can make a crack about her dad’s drag queen paint job without getting decked shows what kind of bond they share. The Challenging Closure ’14 Tour continues when Dom heads to the site of his father’s diner, which now proudly serves the best apple fritters in Modesto 10 years running. Viewers always talk about how relatable Patrick is, but I never truly understood it until he broke into a sprint to buy a half dozen pastries.

s2e07 03Back at the hotel, they blow off some steam with a swim. More than half an hour later I hope, because cramps. Patrick pries into Dom and Doris’ teenage sex life, which it turns out was only satisfying for the Closeted Crusader. Good thing they didn’t keep trying to make that happen! Since dealing with death still isn’t really on anyone’s agenda, they pursue other vices, like fried chicken, booze and mocking small town gay bars. There’s lots of dancing to bad music and, in Patrick’s case, lots of longing for a partner. Any partner. Because even though Dom just ended a relationship and is still managing to keep it together because he knows that today is not about him, Pat can’t help but focus on how it’s been like a week since he got some play. Unless we count his low-level sexual assault of a man in an elf costume, in which case it has literally been less than 24 hours.

That fact really gets to him at the funeral the next day, when he openly weeps for himself while the people around him respectfully mourn the loss of a good man. His later explanation that it was his first funeral doesn’t seem likely (unless we go back to the alien hypothesis, in which case: sure), but the point is that people should probably stop bringing Patrick places because he’s developing a pretty solid track record of messing things up.

Case in point: he gets into a car accident at the cemetery where Dom’s dad is buried. And sure, it wasn’t his fault entirely, the other guy was driving pretty fast. And he was trying to create a nice moment where Dom could come out to his dad even though he couldn’t find the specific tombstone. (And don’t judge Dom for that. Speaking from experience, it can be really hard to remember where someone is buried.) So is it fair to say that Pat ruined two experiences involving dead relatives in one day? Absolutely not. Am I going to say it anyway? You betcha.

s2e07 06At least his ineptitude paves the way for some really wonderful moments in the hospital waiting room. First, Doris gets to give her inheritance to Dom so he can complete his chicken window. Saying chicken window aloud is part of the grieving process because it is physically impossible to be unhappy while saying chicken window. She’s investing in her own future with that one for sure. And second, Malik comes and gives his girlfriend (you know he says it even if she doesn’t) a great big hug and she sobs and sobs in a way that she didn’t with anyone else including her own family, and it says so much about their relationship that this is the moment where she feels safe to empty the tank like that.

Since Dom’s vehicle situation is compromised, Malik also drives everyone home. I like this guy. First stop is Patrick’s place because really though why did he even come in the first place? And who is outside waiting for him but Kevin. Pat seems fine with it, but I’m more than a little unnerved. Like, how long have you been standing there, bud? Luckily, alien life forms don’t know about our human dating norms, so when Kevin is all “I left my long-term partner to take you on as my lover-slash-employee and then camped in front of your living space like a creep even though last time I saw you, you were a drunken train wreck,” Pat responds with sloppy make-outs. Theirs is truly a solid love, guaranteed to stand the test of time.