This week’s Looking would have been THE perfect opportunity for Patrick to throw a low-key – yet stylish – pity party after his drunken Halloween histrionics. For a drama that’s not concerned itself thus far with souped-up grabs at ratings, last week was a fun meander into soapy territory; a theme that’s partly continued in this latest episode, “Looking for A Plot.” The territory ventured into, however, isn’t Patrick’s tormented emotional landscape, but Dom and Doris’ hometown of Modesto.
What is perhaps this writer’s favorite episode this season comes with its price; Patrick takes a back seat. Literally. As the episode opens on the gang – Patrick, Agustin, Dom and Doris – all partaking in a post-party booze soak-up at a local diner, Doris learns that her father has passed away. The moment segues into a boxy car trundling down the highway as Doris, Dom and Patty hit the road for his funeral.
Choosing to flee the repercussions of Patrick’s outbursts is a clever move. By diverting attention away from his introspection – which he still wallows in during the episode’s opening scene – there’s a sense that the writers know what we know. A break from the norm is oft-times a beneficial experience, in order to gain perspective and up the sheer enjoyment that’s to be had from the show. There’s no question about it; this is Patrick’s story. Across two seasons the series has chronicled his life above Agustin and Dom’s. But, it’s a refreshing change for the story to veer away and shine a spotlight on a much-loved supporting character. And interestingly enough, the leading lad becomes all the more likeable for it.
After paying their respects to Doris’ dad at the funeral home – where Dom describes him as looking “kind of like a drag queen” – the three begin to wax about their younger years. For Dom and Doris this is a moment of realization, their own time to take a step back and acknowledge the distance they’ve traveled – literally and figuratively. In Dom’s case, he harbors doubt over his decision to leave Modesto for San Francisco. Talking to an old high school acquaintance, now happily-married with kids, raises the question: was it the right move to up sticks considering he doesn’t detest the place as much as he once did? For Doris, her return is a confirmation that the bright lights of the big city are the best place for her. It’s while reaching that conclusion that the outer toughnut layer of the gang’s quick-witted sidekick peels away. Turns out the ‘inner, vulnerable’ Doris isn’t too dissimilar to her regular self. Still quick to whip out a cheeky turn of phrase, she exposes a glint at her soft underbelly in a moment of weakness when her new beau, Malik, arrives. Understandably so, as she’s just laid her father to rest.
The shunt to the episode’s emotional weight arrives unexpectedly when the gang decide to visit Dom’s dad’s grave. Thing is, he can’t remember whereabouts his father is buried. In order to achieve some form of catharsis, Patrick suggests they drive through the cemetery while Dom shouts out the window at the passing gravestones “I’m gay, dad!” A sweet moment to counteract the bitterness of Doris’ loss is suddenly sideswiped, literally, when a truck slams into their car, jerking them back to the moment.
Their brush with death sees the trio in the hospital nursing minor injuries, and spurs on Doris’ decision to give Dom her inheritance for his ‘chicken window.’ It’s a grand gesture that further reinforces their bond, which, as we see in this episode, has persisted for over twenty years. While she offers to invest in his business, the best outcome would be if the pair embarked on the business venture together. Kitted out in uniform and armed with her trademark sense of humor, Doris would be a brilliant chicken window server. It’s unlikely that she’d trade her job as a nurse to sling chuck, but here’s hoping.
Looping back to the episode’s opening scene, “Looking For A Plot” closes out on Patrick as he’s dropped off outside his apartment. Who should be waiting for him? Kevin, who’s newly single and offering himself up to Patrick on a platter. This not wholly-unexpected development almost certainly guarantees next week will be business as usual, but for now, let’s revel in the brilliance of Doris’ spinoff episode, which is arguably the season’s best.