Photo: HBO/John P. Johnson.
Well folks, we made it. Our time in San Francisco is over (unless you live there, obviously), and what better way to leave than with a bang. Actually, let's make that three bangs: Agustín head-bangs, Dom bangs some pans, and Patrick gets banged — in that order, too.
Let's start with Agustín since he's the one that gets the ball rolling, so to speak. He finds some MDMA in a nightstand, steals it, and proceeds to pop it after Frank calls him out on his B.S. (Speaking of which, if I were to ever have someone tell me I wasn't going to be what I wanted to be, I'd be furious.) The artist whose work is just "musings of a bored rich kid" meets Patrick at Dom's pop-up restaurant, high as a kite.
Inside, Doris has put on her pretty face and taken a shot of sass before we meet her because she's on fire tonight (except when she tries to convince Lynn to date Dom). "Another gay man in my life. Good." Praise you, Doris. Praise you. Anyway, Dom's stressing and banging pans over a potato. Lynn's brought his pretty man friend and the potatoes are being served wrong; #drama. Thank god Agustín didn't have any Molly left because that would've swiftly become a function that no one has time for.
Meanwhile, Richie asks for space and Patrick naturally wallows. My wannabe boyfriend Kevin keeps texting him and Patrick eventually meets him at the office because Agustín said what Patrick's been thinking this entire season; that he wants to have a thing with Kevin. (Um, hi? Me too). Kevin's persistent efforts to talk about their kiss last episode are endearing. I have to hand it to him — I would've taken the "let's not talk about it, ever" road within minutes of the actual happening. Well, Kevin basically says he's been jonesin' for Patrick and they do it on the floor. A quick butt shot later, and Patrick's letting Kevin travel down roads he and Richie only ever talked about. Patrick asks the "what now" question, and Kevin's says, in a shallow tone, that he doesn't know if he'd be offended by it had he been in Patrick's position.
That's the thing about this episode. Everyone — well, if you ignore Agustín's predicament — got what they wanted. It's a weird feeling when what you want is what you get. It's not surreal. It's a step above bittersweet. You can't believe it's happening. You're thrilled it's happening, but then the question of "what now" begins to loom in the distance and suddenly the wine you're drinking doesn't taste as good.
Alan Downs writes in The Velvet Rage that all gay men are searching for authenticity. The one thing he doesn't elaborate on is what happens after one achieves authenticity. I have a feeling that Dom's going to pass the threshold of searching for validation and into authenticity next season. Patrick and Agustín, however, are still in the midst of it. But, this episode showed they're not doomed. They're willing to face their truths where, say, someone who's just begun the search for validation after being in a state of denial won't. But, that moment when the search begins is a blissful one. Agustín's nostalgic trip to the "good ol' days" is a means of tapping into the days where innocence was not all lost, and everything was new. What worked then that isn't working now, and how do you fix it so it does? I had a thought when I wrote that note down that Looking should come with a subtitle that reads (For Authenticity).
Anyhow, there are two great things about this show: one being it humanizes The Gay Experience. Before the premiere, I was nervous the gay show would actually turn out to be a gay show. Instead our protagonist's sexualities aren't characters, they're just character traits. And, the second being how there isn't a selfish character on the show. There's no Hannah Horvath. There's no Carrie Bradshaw. There's just three honest and real guys. And, at first, I was turned off by that because why watch a version of yourself when you can just go live it? But, then I realized the importance of this show. Yes, it definitely, like I said above, humanizes The Gay Experience, but that will probably be read as humanizing for heterosexuals. Really, though, it does so for everyone — gay men included. It offers a space for reflection that is too often prevented by our pride. Look, here's three men talking about the things you talk about, avoiding the things you should talk about the way you avoid the things you should talk about, screwing up, and just plain living like you. Learn from them. I sure have.