And… maybe… a point.
The third episode of HBO’s much-discussed Looking introduces two new characters and decides it’s time for things to finally happen to the ones we’ve already met. It’s probably the strongest episode of the initial trio. In “Looking At Your Browser History,” Patrick, Augustin, and Dom all find their jobs in various states of jeopardy. Dom’s looking to quit his waiting gig and open a chicken place (okay…), Augustin gets fired for poor performance, and Patrick hits on his boss before he knows he’s his boss and then catches flack for using OKCupid and Manhunt at work. (Who does that? How is he not aware that employers monitor internet usage?)
While we’re on the subject of Patrick, allow me to say that he is one of the more inconsistent characters this side of American Horror Story. Sometimes he’s shy and demure, and sometimes he’s leering at men in sailor costumes to their faces. He’s never seen an uncut penis, but he’s on Manhunt. He fairly brazenly hits on the handsome British man who seems out of his league, but also feels undateable and aloof. He’s constantly eating and even makes a joke about his big thighs, but he’s Jonathan Groff. What gives? My biggest problem with Looking remains that I still don’t really know who our protagonist is, and I’m not sure the writers do either. Maybe every writer in the room has a slightly different take on their lead character. Maybe they don’t want him to be a “type.” I suppose you could admire that, but it’s also frustrating when you’re trying to latch onto an anchor in this series, and Patrick remains so elusive.
Though Patrick remains a bit of an anomaly, his would-be dalliances remain awkward and entertaining. Patrick’s new-boss relationship with Kevin could have been predictable if there was an actual threat of romance between them, but instead it’s one-sided and pleasantly uncomfortable (for us).
The biggest revelation in “Looking At Your Browser History,” though, is the arrival of Scott Bakula as Lynn, who meets Dom in a bathhouse shortly before Dom jaunts off to hook up with a stranger. I’ll set aside my criticism of the bathhouse scene itself (but really?), since in his few minutes of screen time, Lynn already has more depth and gravitas than any of the show’s leads. I’m not sure what happened there, but it’s nice to contrast the way things used to be with the way things are, and the episode actually makes a poignant point. (“We still had sex, but it was friendlier,” Lynn says of the past.)
Less promising is Augustin’s post-firing flirtation with CJ, a cocky hooker who claims he’s great in bed and not ashamed to make a living at it. Either Augustin is contemplating a career change or he’s about to cheat on his boyfriend with a prostitute, neither of which is an entirely promising storyline. Both Augustin and Patrick are still rather elusive as characters, without many defining qualities. (At least, defining qualities that they don’t contradict a scene or two later.) With its lead characters still so hit-or-miss, it’s nice to have some promising fresh blood on Looking, though now I kind of just want a whole show about Scott Bakula.
Whatever he’s lived through, it sounds a lot more interesting than what Patrick and friends are going through now…