'Looking' Recap: Fresh Faces, New Jobs, and Playing Games

The HBO dramedy's third episode introduces Scott Bakula and Russell Tovey as new players in the lives of Patrick and Dom.
John P. Johnson/HBO
Jonathan Groff and Russell Tovey in "Looking"

[Warning: spoilers ahead for this week's episode of Looking, "Looking at Your Browser History."]

Three episodes in, and the introduction of two new characters — who will hopefully stick around — is an injection of energy and possibility for new plot directions.

"Looking at Your Browser History" reveals Patrick's working world as a video game designer, something that was shown only briefly in the show's premiere. Patrick (Jonathan Groff) and his coworker Owen (Andrew Law) attend the wrap party for the game they'd been working on, something called Naval Destroyer. Side note: A later glimpse of the game makes it look like a weird, low-graphics sailor arm wrestling game. Isn't this game development of the present day?

At the party, which is held onboard a real battleship of some sort, Patrick takes a jab at the gaming industry's underrepresentation of women, noting that he plays as female characters whenever possible. When asked by a British guy, Kevin (Russell Tovey), why he does that, Patrick responds: "Women are the outsiders in games, and I relate to that." A smart response, but the sassy tone that accompanied it sends Kevin walking.

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After a few more drinks — Patrick sure does like to drink — he bets Owen that this newfound Kevin guy is gay, judging by his "very gay laugh" heard from afar. Patrick follows him into a back room where he's playing the newly finished game and joins in, straddling a torpedo to boot. He casually asks Kevin if he believes in his theory on playing a female character in games, basically his way of asking him if he's gay. Kevin catches on. And just as Patrick's about to go further, Kevin drops the "I have a boyfriend" line, followed by announcing his new position within the company, which makes him Patrick's new boss. Oops.

As predicted, confronting Ethan (Derek Ray) has revitalized Dom (Murray Bartlett), much to the confusion of roommate Doris (Lauren Weedman), who's taken aback by Dom's summery mood. While bouncing around in a Zumba class, Dom announces to Doris that he plans on finally opening his restaurant.

Just as we see more of Patrick's work, same goes for Agustin (Frankie J. Alvarez). Frank (O-T Fagbenle) pushes him to work on his art more only for the suggestion to be brushed off. Then, at work, as Agustin dismantles the furniture tower monstrosity of the artist he works for, he has no qualms about telling her he doesn't like it. A millisecond later, she lets him go.

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Meanwhile, we see the opposite coming from Patrick: pure ambition toward his job. He marches into Kevin's office and pitches himself and Owen to be on his team for the new video game. Even faced with around-the-clock work, Patrick says he's up for the job. Kevin politely nods and then brings up Patrick's Internet activity at work, which contains sites like Manhunt and OKCupid (we later see Patrick deleting his OKCupid account). "Be careful what you look at during work hours," Kevin says.

Playful or no? Dom thinks the former, reminding Patrick that Kevin took the time to look up his Internet browsing history. He should be flattered. Patrick, still frustrated, delivers the most memorable line from Looking's original trailer: "What's wrong with having a life outside work? If I didn't want to have a life, I'd move to L.A."

Agustin, jobless, avoiding Franklin's calls and eating cake with a glass of milk in a cafe, sits next to a brawny, bearded guy who has an interesting phone conversation that includes the line "$220 per hour." Agustin's intrigued by the hefty hourly wage, and it turns out the guy is a self-proclaimed sex worker.

Later, Patrick and Agustin have some BFF catch-up time back at the apartment, where Patrick lays out his work woes. Agustin takes his time revealing he lost his job only to then shrug off Patrick when he tries to pry for more information. There seems to be an understanding among those close to Agustin that you don't pressure him about his career aspirations. Agustin does, however, bring up the sex worker. His interest in this guy doesn't stem from wanting to become a prostitute, escort or whatever he'd call himself; it's more so admiring the pride he takes in his work, something Agustin can't say for himself.

"I can't call myself an artist because I don't do shit," he tells Patrick. "I don't know if either of us are very good at being who we think we are," Patrick responds, noting that it seems all he does lately is give guys the wrong impression, his boss Kevin included.

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Dom visits a steam room where he immediately gets eyed by a younger guy but is then chatted up by the older Lynn (Scott Bakula). He runs local flower shop mainstay Buds, and after Dom's hesitancy at first (and unintentionally aging Lynn by suggesting what San Francisco must've been like "back then"), they share an easy chemistry. Dom remains oblivious to it and instead goes to hook up with the younger guy courting him earlier. Portrayed by Bakula, Lynn is left with the look of a guy who's probably more familiar with such such a situation than he'd like to be.

Back at work, Patrick confronts Kevin a second time about being recruited for the new team. Kevin admits to messing with him earlier -- Dom was right! -- and Patrick's job is secured. "Let's play," Kevin slyly says to Patrick.

We see both Patrick and Dom with guys who take subtle interest in them, but something about each makes them appear undesirable. First is Dom's apparent blindness to older guys, taking into account accepting the courting of the younger guy in the steam room, not to mention his sprightly Grindr hookup from last week's episode. For Patrick, it's Kevin's obtuse method of flirting(?) and, of course, the fact that he (a) is his boss, and (b) has a boyfriend.

But in both instances, we sure wouldn't mind them getting together, would we?

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