'Looking' Recap: A Wedding to Remember...For All the Wrong Reasons

Richie runs for the hills while Patrick attends his sister's wedding (with a surprise guest); Agustin hits rock-bottom and Dom's pop-up resto is underway.
Courtesy of John P. Johnson/HBO

[Warning: spoilers ahead for this week's episode of Looking, "Looking for Plus-One."]

When Agustin (Frankie J. Alvarez) presents his final art piece, prominently featuring CJ (T.J. Linnard) getting down with Frank (O-T Fagbenle), the other guys don't know what to say. "We're your friends," Patrick (Jonathan Groff) says to him. "What do you expect us to say?" Agustin, in line with his increasingly selfish ways, argues they're just projecting their own life drama onto him: Dom (Murray Barlett) being nervous about his restaurant pop-up and Patrick being nervous about bringing Richie (Raul Castillo) to his sister's wedding.

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Agustin sort of sets up the three tracts we follow this episode, which includes his own realization that he's been treating his boyfriend like garbage. Most prominent, however, in "Looking for Plus-One," is the wedding. It serves as a catalyst for Patrick, unveiling the core problem with his mother (Julia Duffy) and therefore Richie, and the skewed view he has of himself, not to mention the immense pressure he places on his relationships. And it's all summed up in one conversation with his mother, who we finally meet. More on that later.

The episode, written by John Hoffman and directed by Jamie Babbit, feels notably special and momentum-pushing for the show in lieu of the recent pick-up announcement.

Patrick is frazzled, dressing for the wedding while simultaneously Skyping with his mom, who's panicking about losing her phone. Like mother, like son. "We're really excited to meet your...friend," she hesitantly tells Patrick about him bringing Richie. And then there's Richie, being a great sport and showing up clean-shaven (but with a giant coffee stain on his shirt). Richie already knows Patrick well, picking up immediately on how anxious he is. "You say 'totally' a lot when you're nervous," he tells him.

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Getting a ticket for turning his wheels the wrong way, not being able to find his mom's phone at the hotel where she left it and getting frustrated when Richie tries to fix his bowtie while driving, Patrick loses it and flips out. It's not entirely intentional; he's hopped up on nerves, dwelling on the thought of his mom meeting anyone new in his life. And when Richie asks him to pull over, tells him to smoke a joint to calm down and that he'll drive the rest of the way, that doesn't sit well with Patrick either. "You brought pot to my sister's wedding to meet my family?" Richie gives up and walks off. "I'm not gonna follow you; we're already late!" Patrick shouts after him.

It's such a telling moment for their dynamic, even more than the previous episode. Patrick is inhibited by something, clearly, and that something is himself, which brings us to that mom conversation:

After making up an excuse that Richie was sick, Patrick tells the truth. "You're the real reason he's not here tonight. Because I know he's not the kind of person you want me to be with." He goes on: "Every guy I've ever been on a date with, I judge him based on what you're gonna think of him, and it's really f--king me up." The anger and resentment Patrick holds toward his mother borders on unfounded and comes from within. She admits to not reacting the best way she could've when he first came out to her, which is likely what drove Patrick away, but she notes she's come a long way since then. And it's Patrick who never returned to her.

Patrick's mom may be a little stuck-up and have high standards, but she's far from a bad parent. But a woman like her, you wouldn't expect to pull out a pot-filled Rice Krispies treat to calm herself, but she does. It's because she's off her Lexapro. This all stuns Patrick, who didn't even know his mom was on any meds to begin with. "If you asked me how I was doing every now and then, you'd know." Opening up to each other is a two-way street, Patrick learns.

Patrick also gives a less-than-stellar description of Richie to his mom, suggesting she'd probably prefer him to end up with someone like Kevin or Jon. "What's wrong with that?" she asks. "They seem lovely. They seem just like you." And how does she even know about them? Well, Kevin's boyfriend, Jon (Joseph Williamson), is apparently best buds with the groom. Kevin, of course, arrives on the scene charming as ever and ties Patrick's bowtie with ease. What a coincidentally perfect fill-in for Richie.

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Taking his friends' advice, Agustin pulls out of the art show. The thing is, Frank is the one who made it happen and practically begged his boss to get him in. While it's actually the best thing for Agustin to do, Frank wouldn't see it that way considering he doesn't know the art is a result of him getting whored out. "You needed help; you were stuck," Frank yells at Agustin. It forces Agustin to give in: "I paid him." Frank is understandably infuriated, feels betrayed, lied to and demands that Agustin moves out. Agustin's arc has really hit rock-bottom, and we can only see him go up and better himself from here.

Like Patrick, Dom buckles under stress, but for him it's pulling together his pop-up restaurant in a space that could certainly use more than some Swiffers. Lynn (Scott Bakula) and Doris (Lauren Weedman) are there to help, but Dom unintentionally pushes the former away with his intensity and one remark in particular: "I don't need you watching over me like I'm some teenager." Lynn responds accordingly, down-talking Dom like a father. It's another jab from Dom at Lynn's age, and we feel the sting just as he does. "I am your partner," he hesitates, "in this." Foreshadowing that he's only going to get hurt in this scenario, Lynn leaves.

And then there's the kiss; the drunken kiss Kevin plants on Patrick, leaving a spark of heat but mostly confusion in its wake. Before this, probably to cleanse himself of the Kevin saturation going on at the wedding, Patrick leaves Richie a voicemail. He ends with, "Call me if you want." It's not the most sincere thing in the world. And a sloppy Kevin getting way too close to Patrick's face and landing a kiss, well, that only complicates things further.

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