'Looking' finale recap, 'Looking Glass'

  • L-R: Jonathan Groff, Murray Bartlett and Frankie Alvare on the season finale of "Looking."
L-R: Jonathan Groff, Murray Bartlett and Frankie Alvare on… (Phil Bray / HBO )
March 10, 2014|By Michael Gold | The Baltimore Sun

What a relief "Looking" is getting another season. Because while "Looking Glass" satisfyingly hints at where Patrick, Dom and Agustin's lives might be going, nothing feels totally finished. Every episode of "Looking" has followed much the same pattern, with forward-leaning final scenes pushing viewers toward what's next. What an apt way to close out the season, especially given how often characters in "Looking" keep scanning for the future as well.

What an apt episode name too, with its clear allusion to "Alice in Wonderland." Lewis Carroll's young protagonist wanders through an unfamiliar world, lost and lonely. Eventually, she figures out her own identity, casts off her fantasy world and returns to reality. Then, six months later, she ends up in a slightly askew version of where she started. That's essentially what happens to Patrick over the course of eight episodes. 

At the start of "Looking Glass," Patrick tries to atone for pushing Richie away. He heads to Richie's turf, tracks him down at the barber shop and tries to apologize. Richie isn't having it and asks for some space. The camera stays on Patrick's face as he figures out how badly he has screwed up. That he has lost Richie seems unthinkable.

Kevin goes through a pretty similar realization. Patrick makes every effort to keep his distance after rejecting his boss' advance, a point driven home by the isolating long-shot of the pair on the roof. But Kevin is determined to find some closure after his inappropriate drunken kiss, and he's incredibly awkward about it. Both he and Patrick try to act like things are normal, so much so that Patrick won't even let him apologize. "You really don't need to say anything," Patrick says, apparently having not learned anything about the price of silence from Agustin's downfall.

But Kevin's suppressed thoughts eventually come out in "Looking Glass" — as do nearly everyone else's. Richie finally voices things to Patrick he'd been leaving unsaid. Doris speaks her mind to Lynn, and so does Dom. Agustin and Frank have it out in an ugly, painful confrontation. After spending last week with Patrick's constant monologuing, he's uncharacteristically quiet during "Looking Glass." Instead, his actions (and Jonathan Groff's expressive face) do most of the talking. Dom and Agustin finally get a bigger share of the spotlight. 

Which actually makes for compelling television. After weeks of masking his feelings by pointing fingers, Agustin finally names his sin, admitting that paying CJ and lying to his boyfriend were wrong in every way. Last week, Agustin seemed to regret the inevitable fallout of his decisions more than the decisions themselves. But once he is faced with the possibility of losing Frank, he seems to be contrite.

Too bad Frank doesn't want to here it. In an argument that's painful to watch, he cuts Agustin deep, rubbing salt into every wound. "You don't know what you've been, because you don't know who the [f--k] you are," Frank says. What a perfect summation of an artist who doesn't make art and a boyfriend who made a commitment without really committing.

Whether Agustin truly understands what Frank means is dubious. Rather than deal with his issues, he tears down the unicorn painting that was a clear symbol of Frank's support for him and gets high. At Dom's pop-up, he begs a concerned Patrick to let him go back to the good ol' days before boyfriends and complications. (Who knew Agustin was so co-dependent?) That Patrick hedges on an answer to Agustin's request shows how much Patrick thinks he has grown and how much Agustin clearly hasn't.

It looks like Dom has matured too. Hours before Dom's peri-peri pop-up debut, Lynn is nowhere to be found. But his presence certainly is. Lynn's flower arrangements offer a visible reminder that, fight aside, he and Dom are still business partners. That Dom accedes to Lynn's suggestion and stays in the front of the house even shows that Dom wants their relationship repaired.

Then, when Lynn finally shows up on the later side, he has a date. Dom goes from relieved to deflated in an instant when he meets Lynn's companion. Somehow, in the midst of a night during which his business venture will live or die, it's losing Lynn that finally sends Dom into a frustrated tizzy. That's when Doris steps in, going from busy worker bee to well-intentioned busybody.

(An aside: Lauren Weedman, even at the periphery of "Looking," has brought delightful comic energy to an often muted show. Her promotion to series regular in Season 2 is a welcome development, and Doris' refusal to let Lynn brush her off, her forceful assertion that "Dom's worth it," proves exactly why. But when she points out that Dom was at the front of the house all night, I groaned. Some things ought to stay as show-don't-tell moments.) 

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