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'Looking' Recap: Working (and Wearing Leather) on the Weekend

Does Agustin want to become a sex worker? Patrick owns a pair of assless chaps? Anything goes when San Francisco's Folsom Street Fair is in the mix.

Looking Episode 4 Still - H 2014
HBO

[Warning: spoilers ahead for this week's episode of Looking, "Looking for $220/Hour."]

In arguably the most dynamic Looking episode yet, "Looking for $220/Hour," the gang takes on San Francisco's Folsom Street Fair, which was filmed on location with director Ryan Fleck (of Half Nelson) during the actual leather-bound event.

Patrick (Jonathan Groff) is holed up at the office with Kevin (Russell Tovey) on a Sunday, cramming in work to prepare for a presentation the next day. Kevin apologizes repeatedly, but Patrick assures him he wanted to come in and help. Taking a peek outside into the festivities -- assless chaps abound, with Patrick joking he owns a pair -- Kevin labels what he sees as "a gay national holiday." Patrick corrects him: "It's more leather than gay." 

We learn more about Kevin's boyfriend, a relationship that, the more he talks about it, appears to be not the most ideal situation. First off, it's long distance (the boyfriend lives in Seattle), and secondly, sounds like the boyfriend doesn't appreciate how much Kevin spends working. "You have to find someone who understands what you do," Kevin says to Patrick, giving him a knowingly long glance that's not on accident.

Just as we're relishing in this chemistry-filled moment, Kevin is whisked off to pick up the boyfriend from the airport. Patrick gets a call from a leather, spiked choker-wearing Agustin (Frankie J. Alvarez) who's at the fair with Doris (Lauren Weedman) and Hugo (Ptolemy Slocum) -- only introduced just now.

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Coerced into joining them at the fair, Patrick and the group stop into a leather shop. The never-not shy and awkward Patrick selects a leather vest without buttons, nearly wears it on top of his polo before getting reprimanded by Doris and then spends the rest of the afternoon uncomfortably tugging it closed against his chest. Par for the course.

Agustin takes no time in poking fun at Patrick's relationship with his boss, suggesting he wants to have sex with him, hence his reason for being there on the weekend. "You're jealous I'm finally fulfilled at work," Patrick returns, making a perfectly valid point. Great timing, too, as they're walking over to the fair's Manhunt booth where, among the male escorts congregating is the same brawny bearded man from last week's episode, CJ (T.J. Linnard).

The aimless Agustin wants to work with CJ; not for sex, but some sort of art project with him. It's unclear exactly what it would entail (filming/photographing him during the act?), but CJ immediately reminds Agustin of his $220 per hour rate no matter what it is they do together. "You are aware you just hired a prostitute, right?" a skeptical Patrick asks Agustin as they walk away.

The conversation on intimacy vs. sex from the second episode rears its head again when Agustin has to make an emergency stop in Patrick's bathroom thanks to an ill-advised bite of meat. After the vegetarian is done taking care of business, he tries to reason with Patrick, telling him what CJ does as work is the most intimate of all. He gets to do the sexual things with guys they're otherwise too shy to do with their real partners. Patrick wholly disagrees: "Intimacy is me in that bathroom smelling your shit."

Patrick defends his lack of boyfriends ("I haven't met the right person yet, and I don't want to compromise") while Agustin knocks him down for the fantasy relationship he's creating with his boss. Here we get a full portrait of Agustin and Patrick's relationship; they're hard on each other but at the same time seem to have good insight as to what may be best for the other. That's what a friendship bloomed out of college will become, and it's filled out in the interactions we've seen so far between Agustin and Patrick.

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While Patrick and his friends are all sprawled out playing video games in his office, Kevin unexpectedly returns. The friends depart, leaving the two co-workers to bond some more. The fact that Kevin willingly comes back to the office when his boyfriend is in town certainly shows something (it's not just the impending presentation tomorrow), and Patrick seems to be aware of what's going on.

When Kevin offers to get them food, specifically begging for fried chicken, something his boyfriend would never allow, Patrick sees it as the definitive red flag -- and maybe that Agustin is actually right. Patrick excuses himself to meet up with everyone else at The Stud, and the disappointment that falls across Kevin's face is palpable.

And where is Dom (Murray Bartlett) this episode? Missing out on the Folsom Street Fair, he's instead busy having a lunch date with Lynn (Scott Bakula) from the steam room. He feels out for any advice Lynn might have on how to open his Portuguese chicken restaurant, and once Lynn catches wind of his motive, he pokes a hole in it suggesting he thought it was a date. Dom gets visibly uncomfortable before Lynn jokingly defuses. Dom quite honestly deserved the jab, especially when he then invites Lynn to dinner. "What are you doing?" he asks. "You're not interested in me, remember?" He suggests Dom show him a business plan and departs.

At The Stud, Frank (O-T Fagbenle) asks Agustin about CJ being into his art concept -- talk about being open with each other -- but when asked how Agustin got him to agree, he leaves out the payment part. Patrick spots Richie (Raul Castillo) on the dance floor and hesitantly approaches him. "Still cut," Richie says after Patrick asks him how he's been. Ouch. Patrick clumsily tries to explain himself, Richie seems to accept the apology and we close on them moving in for a kiss while dancing together. Points for Patrick in bailing on becoming "the other guy" in what's supposed to be a work-only relationship with Kevin.

Email: brandon.kirby@thr.com
Twitter: @bkkirby