In Patrick and Kevin’s case, their blissful union is rocked with a narrative device that plants Looking firmly in 2015. Whereas some of the show’s detractors have referenced its aesthetic minimalism and age-old conflicts as things which fail to anchor the show in contemporary culture, when Patrick uncovers one of Kevin’s sort-of secrets, it doesn’t come from rifling through his antique roll-top secretary for correspondence with a hidden lover, or as a result of stalking him amidst the San Francisco streets. It’s achieved through utterly modern means; an online dating profile. The Interwebs can bring you instant gratification and it can take it away just as fast.
That discovery disrupts an otherwise buzzy first night for the couple in their new abode, which itself is housed in an apartment block that’s seemingly populated by other attractive gay couples. That dream is turned on its head and transforms into one of Patrick’s worst nightmares. It’s with all of the cards on the table and the truth unavoidable that the happy couple face their first proper fight. And it’s one based around facts which were glaringly obvious all season long, but ignored in light of wanting to see the best in a situation. You can’t blame Patrick for his expectations, because they’re rightly his to own, but it’s heart-breaking to witness him apply them to a situation which he should have assessed much, much earlier on in his relationship.
The upside of this anguish is that Jonathan Groff and Russell Tovey kick out some of the chewiest, juiciest barbs the season’s seen to date (yep, some from Tovey even rival Doris at the height of her brilliance). Groff fully embraces his character’s almost-embarrassing naivete. Heartfelt deliveries of Patrick’s teenage observations (upon noticing Kevin’s belongings: “I just realized… I don’t know your stuff.”) are expertly handled. Soul-crushing desperation nearly breaks him as the prospect of Patty’s future, an idealized picture that undergoes a 180 in the space of a few hours, begins to crumble.
Similarly, Tovey absolutely shines because even though Patrick is devastated, he portrays Kevin without an ounce of shame or imposed villainy. His own self-worth and love for Patrick are of equal balance, and neither will be moved. It would have been easy and straightforward to paint Patrick as the saint and Kevin as the evil bastard who stomped all over his dreams! But life just isn’t that simple and neither are these two lovebirds. The grass ain’t always green and it’s definitely not black or white, a distinction that also applies to Dom and Doris’s friendship. Strife comes for this pair as a result of their joint realization; the brutal truth of growing up together and deciding to grow old apart.
Looking’s season finale is the perfect end note to an imperfect season. Luckily, the highs have outweighed the lows thanks to an outstanding team of writers, actors and directors. In many ways, the trajectory of the series’ has been largely guided by a much bigger game plan that’s kept bubbling away in the background throughout the season. Ending on one of those highs that forgives earlier misfires, “Looking For Home” delivers a shot of adrenaline that’s hopefully enough to secure a season 3 commission. Because come on, who doesn’t want to see Patrick’s new buzzcut?