In contrast to film, television and its episodic delivery system enables a long-term style of storytelling to present over the course of several months. Plots unravel. Characters subtly shift. Themes emerge. Designing a season’s worth of material around those assumptions allows creators the chance to build a fully-realized world with fleshed-out inhabitants whose journeys are depicted in a way that approaches a ‘real-time’ perspective. This mode has been a rigid framework for HBO’s Looking, which thus far in its sophomore season has dedicated most of its weekly 30-minute chunks to the relationship struggles of its leading man Patrick. The cute video game designer’s romantic dilemmas have surpassed the experiences of his two co-stars, driving the show’s second season all the way to its conclusion.
To call “Looking For Home” an aggressive finish would be the wrong type of descriptor for a show that’s anything but. Whereas previously the season highlights have come when the spotlight shifts away from Patrick’s introspection (his drunken Halloween rant, the Doris spinoff episode, the trip to Russian River), the closing episode gathers together every shred of his self-doubt and flings it back at us. All is forgiven for not dedicating enough time to Dom and Doris and Agustin and Eddie. Well, not quite ALL, but damn if this episode doesn’t try its hardest to make amends. The long, slow build-up of Patrick’s fragile, over-analyzed world is paid off in one hell of a compelling finale.
The show’s dedication to crafting a fully-rounded leading man, replete with perfections and imperfections, has led to the point when Patrick takes the plunge and moves in with Kevin. An achingly long process in the real world, it seems to have all come together rather quickly for the pair. Only two episodes ago they were finished and here they are, eager to take another leap into the commitment abyss. And for poor Patrick it truly is the darkest abyss imaginable. In spite of his somewhat self-involved world view, he’s strived to make honest connections, build solid friendships and take stock of what it is he’s trying to achieve in this life. In doing so his rose-tinted glasses have remained firmly wedged on the bridge of his nose – until now, when they’re smashed underfoot by the onslaught of Kevin’s truth-telling.
Overall, the approach to Kevin’s big bombshell is a little heavy-handed in its purpose (Patrick you jumped in too fast! You shouldn’t have taken a chance!), but it’s the execution and aftermath that overrides it. Because when Looking brings out the big guns – it hunkers down for the long haul and never stops firing. Every one of the show’s established relationships comes under assault and are throughly shredded in just under 30 minutes. A running time that often feels much longer due to the show’s typical pace, this week’s half an hour zips past. It puts all of the dawdling, lingering moments that struck mid-season into perspective as necessary elements. Sure, it would have been nice to have had more dynamism earlier on, but the show stuck to its mission; a cheeky flash of buttock before going full frontal (ahem, perhaps not the best analogy for this show).