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[Warning: spoilers ahead for this week’s episode of Looking, “Looking for the Future.”]
Written and directed by Andrew Haigh, “Looking for the Future” is a bottle episode in a sense, contained within a single date, and one continuous conversation, between Patrick (Jonathan Groff) and Richie (Raul Castillo). There’s no Dom (Murray Bartlett), no Agustin (Frankie J. Alvarez) and no Kevin (Russell Tovey) because Patrick blows off going into work to spend the day with Richie. It’s a testament to the episode’s writing how the momentum of this date is sustained through the full 25 minutes. It’s all them all the time and gives us a chance to eavesdrop in as they learn more about each other. Here are the notable takeaways from this fifth episode:
1. Friends can (apparently) be used as a useful metaphor for sex.
For those complaining Looking so far has been a bit too chaste, there’s an early scene here that should wet those appetites. Flash forwarding a bit from when we last left them on the dance floor, at this point Patrick and Richie have spent a few nights together. While at Morrison Planetarium with only their faces dimly illuminated blue, Richie says their date is like Ross and Rachel from Friends. Patrick says he’s the geek like Ross, but Richie notes Rachel is kind of like the boss, kind of like the top. “Yeah, I want to be her,” Patrick responds. Why? Richie identifies it as bottom shame, mainly from Patrick being self-conscious about himself (see No. 4).
2. Richie is closely tied to his Mexican heritage.
There’s a lot about Richie that ties him to his roots, not only when he sits in his underwear slapping a bass and singing Spanish to Patrick. He reveals that his mother sent him back to Mexico as a child (“She thought it would be good for me, but it wasn’t”) and that he has a spirit guide of sorts, or perhaps a life coach, who he calls his señora. She rubs eggs over his body, cracks them into a bowl and from the yolk predicts his future path. “Does she supply her own eggs?” Patrick asks, not quite taking Richie seriously. The answer is “yes,” and next thing we know, Patrick is rolling two eggs in his hands waiting for Richie’s señora; that is, until he finds out she only speaks Spanish, and Richie would have to hear everything first and translate it to Patrick. They bail.
3. Patrick is kind of a control freak.
After hearing that Richie’s ex-boyfriend was HIV-positive, Patrick reveals he’s totally paranoid about STDs and anything of the sort and gets frequently tested. “I sneeze, and I think I have HIV,” he says. OK, that’s more about being overly cautious than a control freak, but get this: later Patrick says he’s not good with silences and then he tries to guess every single possible place Richie is taking them on their date and that it better be worth it because he took off work. Easy there! Of course it’s him being cute and joking, but Patrick sure does harbor lots of nervousness and likes to take to try taking the reigns on situations. Richie later tells Patrick he worries about so much. This also comes into play when Richie brings up his señora; Patrick says going to her takes responsibility out of Richie’s hands.
4. Patrick’s mommy issues are confirmed.
Previous episodes only alluded to Patrick’s mom, how she appears to be a constant presence in the back of his mind when it comes to guys, and here he unveils his feelings about her with Richie. He made the conscious decision of coming out to his mom in the car. “Because I thought if we were in the car, she wouldn’t have to look me in he eye,” he explains. He then notes how she managed to make his coming out all about her: how Patrick’s dad would react, how their neighbor would react. Patrick and his mom have never talked about it since. There’s more to this mother-son relationship that hasn’t been plumbed yet, and it’ll be interesting to see when that happens. A lot of it, so far at least, seems to be Patrick’s own issues in his head. For example, Richie has to remind him, “Your parents meeting one of your boyfriends isn’t about your sex life.” But Patrick can’t help but wonder if coming out to your parents means they immediately think: “Oh, so you’re buttf–king now.”
5. This show is going to bask in the smaller moments, so get used to it.
When Looking pulls off an episode such as this — listening in on first times, coming-out stories and more — it affirms what the show is all about: portraying real lives and opting for organic, natural situations.
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