You’ll get no judgment from me if — after watching Looking: The Movie — you’re overcome by the urge to gather your closest friends and/or significant other at the nearest greasy spoon to scarf down runny eggs and weak coffee and whatever else you might need to fend off a Sunday-morning hangover.
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Oh, sure, the wrapup of HBO’s sometimes charming, sometimes maddening dramedy — essentially a third season packed into a tidy 90 minutes — features one too many Unsubtle One-Liners to Underscore the Big Themes (“Sometimes you’ve got to leave things behind to move forward”? Uff da!). But ultimately, the intimate scope of the story and impressive commitment to the truth of its characters makes for a satisfying finish.
Set some nine months after the Season 2 finale, Looking: The Movie kicks off with Jonathan Groff’s Patrick returning to San Francisco for the wedding of BFF Agustin and his delightfully brash love Eddie. We quickly learn that, after his split from boyfriend Kevin, Patrick retreated to Denver — and that he hasn’t exactly been in close communication with his core group since the abrupt move to the Rockies.
Over the course of the next 72 hours — with pre- and post-wedding festivities as the backdrop — creators Andrew Haigh and Michael Lannan conclue the story of Three Gays and a Brassy Lady. (Yes, Doris, I think I’ll miss you most of all.) Let’s recap!
AGUSTIN & EDDIE | Agustin, you’ve come a long way, baby. The guy who was so insufferable in Season 1 — “I used to say ‘love is a social construct that doesn’t really exist,” he says to Patrick, drawing one final and very deep eye roll from me — gets a case of cold feet on the eve of his nuptials. But what’s ultimately plaguing him is the question of “What happens if I hurt Eddie?” (If Dom or Patrick had any presence of mind, they’d have discouraged Agustin from inviting his jilted ex Frank — with his hostile/joking “stay away from rent boys” admonishments — to his bachelor party, no?) Eddie gets wary at the last minute, too, but all’s well that ends with Tyne Daly playing the justice of the peace. “This marriage can be whatever we want it to be,” Agustin decides, and damn if those fellas don’t look blissfully in love as they smooch at the end of their vows. Somebody, please forward the scene to Mike Pence. K? Thanks.
DORIS & DOM | There’s an air of tension between the former roommates, as Doris discusses her life of couples massages and wine tastings and dinner parties with Malik (who barely utters a word in this finale… peculiar, no?). She’s worried Dom’s neglecting his personal life in favor of his chicken restaurant, but if she doesn’t want to sound like some “gross coupled-up relationship evangelist,” why isn’t she inviting him to those aforementioned suburban soireés? “You’re not gonna f–k it up. It’s not gonna suddenly turn to s–t. I’m not my mom. You’re not your dad,” she tells Dom. But by the end of the movie, we learn Doris has been keeping Dom at arm’s length because she and Malik are discussing getting pregnant. “I always thought I’d be having one with you,” she tells Dom, teary-eyed with guilt. But Dom’s crying, too — tears of joy. He’s thrilled for his longtime gal pal — and you can tell everything’s gonna be all right. Did I mention I’m dabbing at the corners of my eyes with a tissue, too? How about you?
Side note: Why isn’t Lauren Weedman’s IMDB page filled with a dozen post-Looking TV credits? Her wit, her authenticity and charisma are in such abundance, they practically crawl out of my TV screen, Ringu-style. Shonda Rhimes and other TV producers, take note!
DOM & PATRICK | Ummmm… yikes! The brotherly duo share an ill-advised, marijuana-infused kiss — just to make sure they weren’t supposed to end up together. Fortunately, they don’t ultimately recreate the awkward sexual encounter of their first meeting — “licking the side but refusing to put the tip in”… ha! — and they do end the scene howling at how ridiculous it all is. Crisis averted! (That second kiss by Dom, though, did make me feel some type of way. Not that I feel right about it!)
PATRICK & KEVIN | I’m completely Team Dom that Patrick should just pretend his ex Kevin has gained weight, lost his charm and is living under a bridge like a heinous storybook troll*. (*Not Dom’s words, but I can embellish, right?) Yet after a casual (and unflinchingly filmed) hookup with a young and very cute software developer (who once interviewed with Kevin!), Patrick confronts the question of whether hitting the reset button and moving to Denver made him any happier.
And thus, he winds up texting Kevin, meeting for coffee, and having the most uncomfortably raw conversation that neither of ’em probably expected to have. It all goes as sour as a carton of milk left on an NYC subway platform in August when Patrick boneheadedly says he texted because he wanted to see if they could move forward, if they could somehow still be friends. (Season 3 Patrick, c’mon, you’re not young enough to be this naive, are you?) But Kevin lays into him: “You’re a coward,” he seethes, pointing out (correctly, though with no admission whatsoever of his own wandering eye) that Patrick gave up on their love at the first sign of trouble. They’re both stung by the words that buzz around their heads, but the kicker comes when Patrick asks, incredulously, “Do you honestly think we would’ve worked?” Kevin’s response — “I’d like to have given it a try” — hints that there are still romantic feelings percolating just below the surface, but he’s back together with his ex now, planning to relocate to London. And thus, he gives Patrick one final slow and sensuous peck on the lips, pats his cheek and walks away. That gesture may be the end of their connection, but it unlocks a door to another possible happy ending…
PATRICK & RICHIE | Turns out Richie is close enough now with Agustin that he’s hanging with the guys during their pre-wedding festivities. Richie’s reeling from another rejection of his olive branch by his dad, and admits he’s got fantasies of taking his barber-shop truck to Reno. He’s still with Brady, but dang, he keeps eyeing Patrick like an Atkins dieter staring down a tube of Pringles. “It took guts and it’s done you a lot of good,” he says to Patrick about his ex’s move to Denver.
After the wedding though, fueled by drugs and alcohol, Patrick gets emotional about all the progress the country has made in terms of same-sex marriage — and how Agustin and Eddie’s wedding has crystalized the idea. “I can’t help but feel validated — even though I shouldn’t need it,” he says. To which Richie replies, “Just because you don’t feel you should need something doesn’t mean you don’t.” And then, he swallows so meaningfully, it gets me weak in the knees.
Predictably, Brady (who’s not blind to all the furtive eyelash fluttering) picks a fight with Patrick, and it’d all be terrible if not for Doris’ color commentary (“I love it when gays argue with other gays about being gays!”). And thus, Richie and Brady break up, Richie returns to the bar and kisses Patrick, and then Richie says… he wants to leave San Francisco and spend time alone?!
Um, no. “Wouldn’t you like to be with someone while you work through your s–t?” Patrick asks. The thing is, Patrick has finally gone from Pinocchio to a real live adult. He’s not going to lose the romantic thing when he sobers up. He’s not going to run to the airport and CTRL+ALT+DEL at the first sign of discord. Or at least he hopes he won’t. “If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out. At least we tried,” he tells Richie, and it seems like he means it when he says he doesn’t need to be taken care of (and by inference, that he’s ready to take care of Richie if need be). The wry, meaningful grin the guys share at the diner says it all: Whether it’s in Texas or Reno or places unmentioned, at least they’ll have tried.