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Every Episode Of Looking Ranked

Before its premiere, it seemed like "Looking" was HBO's attempt at a gay version of Lena Dunham's "Girls." But a few scenes into the pilot episode, "Looking for Now," director Andrew Haigh's naturalistic vision and handheld, intimate camerawork make it clear we're in for something quite different. Aesthetically, the show has more in common with independent film than any of its HBO comedy series peers. Created by Michael Lannan, "Looking" follows Patrick (Jonathan Groff), Agustín (Frankie J. Alvarez), and Dom (Murray Bartlett), three gay men in San Francisco juggling work, friendships, and various relationships.

Almost nine years after its first season premiere in January 2014, "Looking" remains an outlier in the landscape of television, which — despite improvements in representation and an ever-expanding repertoire of beloved LGBTQ+ characters on television — is still sorely lacking in series focused on gay characters. "Looking" is worth checking out or revisiting for its strong ensemble cast, and frank and honest portrayal of gay relationships and friendships. Here are all the episodes of "Looking" ranked.

Warning: spoilers ahead.

18. Season 2, Episode 2: Looking for Results

"Looking" tends to privilege character development over plot, striving for authenticity rather than abiding by structure, which is both the show's blessing and a curse. Unfortunately for the languidly paced "Looking for Results," it is mostly the latter, leaving the viewer yearning for some dramatic action. Instead of progressing any of the storylines, this episode spins its wheels, largely repeating themes from the second season's premiere "Looking for Promised Land."

Patrick is deep in denial, desperately trying to replicate his love for Richie (Raúl Castillo) in his affair with Kevin (Russell Tovey). The two seem to derive more pleasure from the affair's innate seediness rather than from one another. Patrick's anxiety manifests in the form of a rash that he wrongfully grows convinced is an STI. Even Agustín is wise to the affair's inevitable doom. Although this is the weakest chapter of "Looking," the episode does feature a delicious slice of karmic retribution when Richie finds drugged-out Agustín on the street and brings him to Patrick.

17. Season 1, Episode 2: Looking for Uncut

"Looking for Uncut" finds Agustín breaking up with Patrick after eight years as roommates and moving in with his boyfriend Frank. Dom and Patrick team up to help Agustín make the trek across the San Francisco Bay to his new home in Oakland. They reminisce about their past hijinks, driving past old haunts long forgotten, and lament how the city is changing thanks to the influx of tech money.

While loading all of his belongings into Frank's apartment, Agustín and Patrick have a spirited, if slightly heavy-handed, conversation about the differences between sex and intimacy. "Looking" is at its strongest when it illustrates these conflicts in action between characters rather than spending too much time waxing poetic. "Looking for Uncut" proves this in subsequent scenes when Dom meets up with his manipulative, now super-successful ex-boyfriend Ethan (Derek Ray) to discuss business and settle some outstanding financial scores. Meanwhile, Determined to prove his sexual interest in Richie, Patrick goes overboard on their date, stepping into icky fetishization territory.

16. Season 2, Episode 9: Looking for Sanctuary

"Looking for Sanctuary" feels like an anomaly of an episode for "Looking," as it goes against many of the series' sensibilities — specifically, the pacing. As the penultimate episode of the series, it makes sense for the show's creators to steer Patrick, Agustín, and Dom's storylines toward the path of conclusion. But in execution, "Looking for Sanctuary" feels hurried and scattershot. The introduction of Patrick's mother Dana (Julia Duffy) and sister Megan (Kelli Garner) in particular almost swallows the story whole with their tense, prickly scenes chiding Patrick for his role in ending Kevin and John's relationship.

Meanwhile, Dom has an ugly blowout of a fight with Doris when she confesses her aunt is contesting her father's will and consequently the money she promised him to start his restaurant. The scene is well-acted and heartbreaking, but would have been more effective if had happened sooner than the penultimate episode of the series. Like Patrick potentially moving in with Kevin, "Looking for Sanctuary" finds all its characters hurdling toward life-changing decisions. However exciting that may be, it does feel a little too much like a set-up for the series finale — if only because it's out of step with the series' established tone.

15. Season 1, Episode 3: Looking at Your Browser History

"Looking at Your Browser History" gives us our first look into Patrick's professional life as a video game designer at Most Dangerous Games when he and his coworkers party on a naval ship. Patrick and the rest of the Most Dangerous Games team are celebrating the completion of its latest game, "Naval Destroyers." Three episodes into "Looking," it's a matter of when, not if, Patrick will stick his foot in his mouth. Sure enough, he delivers in spades after a few cocktails when he rants about the lack of female characters in "Naval Destroyers." When pressed to clarify his feminist opinion by Kevin Matheson (Russell Tovey), Patrick playfully mocks his British accent, unaware that Kevin is poised to become his boss.

In the episode's best scenes, Patrick makes nice with Kevin, who is also gay, but taken. Still, they share a spark. Elsewhere, Agustín sabotages his career with excessive candor about his boss's art project and Patrick strikes up a kinship with charming florist Lynn (Scott Bakula).

14. Season 2, Episode 3: Looking Top to Bottom

With John out of town on business, Patrick takes a serious step with Kevin and brings him along to Dom's gay rugby match. The scene feels poised for fireworks, but everyone is on their best behavior except Dom, who blows up at Lynn when he learns that Lynn has secretly been referring Dom for managerial positions at his friends' restaurants. Dom interprets Lynn's well-intentioned help as a display of his lack of confidence in Dom's capacity as a restaurateur.

"Looking Top to Bottom" isn't one of the second season's strongest outings, but is commendable if only for giving Agustín some much-needed dimensionality. In arguably his first act of selflessness on "Looking," Agustín goes to Richie's barbershop to thank him for retrieving him from the street and bringing him to Patrick's in "Looking for Results." Richie is wryly forgiving, clearly enjoying seeing Agustín humbled. It's unclear what motivated Agustín's apology — possibly his budding relationship with Eddie (Daniel Frenzies) — but, regardless, it's a long-overdue softening for the prickly character.

13. Season 2, Episode 4: Looking Down the Road

"Looking Down the Road" is another unhurried episode that begins the morning after "Looking Top to Bottom." Patrick takes a clandestine call while Kevin cooks them breakfast. It's later revealed that Patrick was on the phone with Richie, whom he arranges to meet. As in all their interactions, their romantic past looms large, but the exes are more interested in trying to cut it as friends than in rekindling their passion. Richie tells Patrick about Brady (Chris Perfetti), the new guy he's been dating, and Patrick comes clean about his affair with Kevin (sort of; he neglects to mention that his and Kevin's sexual history pre-dated their breakup). Meanwhile, Agustín and Dom's relationships lurch forward and backward, respectively, as Agustín and Eddie grow closer while Dom and Lynn start to drift apart.

Likely inspired by his talk with Richie, Patrick tries to level with Kevin about where their relationship is headed and Kevin agrees to tell John the truth. "Looking Down the Road" ends on a somber note when Kevin joins Patrick and company for drinks later that night and confesses to a heartbroken Patrick that he was unable to make good on his word.

12. Season 2, Episode 6: Looking for Gordon Freeman

"Looking for Gordon Freeman" finds Patrick and Agustín throwing a Halloween party at their apartment that starts out fun, but sours into misery by the time the credits roll. Patrick's self-sabotaging behavior spoils practically all of the goodwill Patrick seemed to earn from his humbling day spent with Richie in the previous episode, "Looking for Truth." As he, Agustín, and Dom peruse a Halloween store for costumes, Patrick keeps rambling about his determination to prove to everyone that he is a "fun gay."

Sadly, Patrick's plans backfire at the party. He's miserable to find himself surrounded by happy couples — Kevin and John, Agustín and Eddie, Richie and Brady. Patrick interrupts the shindig by going on a drunken tirade in which he lashes out at his closest friends and even goes so far as to almost reveal the truth of his affair with Kevin. "Looking for Gordon Freeman" features Patrick at his messiest, which makes for some uncomfortable viewing but a necessary emotional rock bottom for his character. The episode lets Groff flex the dramatic muscles that he'd rely on years later in Netflix's serial killer drama "Mindhunter."

11. Season 1, Episode 6: Looking in the Mirror

"Looking for the Future" proved to be the calm before the storm that is "Looking in the Mirror," an episode fraught with dramatic confrontations — mostly thanks to a miserable Agustín.

Riding high off his love cocoon date with Richie, Patrick decides he's ready to introduce Richie to his friends on the night of Dom's 40th birthday picnic. When Patrick frets, warning Richie how Agustín is often honest to a fault, he accidentally refers to Richie as his boyfriend. Richie teases Patrick for knighting him with the label, but is also genuinely touched, and consummates their relationship by giving Patrick his good luck escapulario necklace. Patrick wears the gift with pride to the picnic, only for Agustín to mock him about it. Tensions are heightened when Kevin, accompanied by his boyfriend John, stumbles upon the party and disparages Richie's job as a barber. An embittered Agustín piles on, chastising Patrick for his relationship with Richie and delivering one of the show's wickedest barbs: "You're slumming, and it ain't cute."

This episode is a particularly hard watch for fans of Richie, who is thoroughly raked over the coals. Patrick does little to help matters. Thankfully, the rough day forces the couple to have a necessary conversation about support, and they make amends. The episode ends with an invitation to Patrick's sister's upcoming wedding, then, thankfully, bed.

10. Season 2, Episode 8: Looking for Glory

The previous episode "Looking for a Plot" ends with Patrick returning home to find Kevin waiting for him, leading Kevin to reveal he left John because he loves Patrick and wants to be with him. "Looking for Glory" finds the two men giving their relationship a real go without all the secrecy and lies, leading to leisurely, sexy domestic scenes between Patrick and Kevin, then more contentious ones at work when Patrick betrays Kevin's wishes and announces to their co-workers that they are together. Patrick keeps on spreading the news later when he and Kevin work a booth to promote the company at a video game convention, crossing paths with Richie and Brady.

In this heightened work atmosphere, Patrick and Kevin just cannot seem to gel, tripping over each others' words and protesting too much regarding their happiness as a couple. It is made painfully clear how forced this is for Patrick in particular toward the end of the episode during a post-convention dance party. He and Richie share a fleeting look of longing that suggests unfinished business.

9. Season 1, Episode 1: Looking for Now

"Looking for Now" is an effective pilot that wisely introduces the ensemble cast by throwing the viewer right into the middle of the action with the guys. The opening scene of the series serves as the perfect introduction to our frazzled protagonist Patrick as he unwittingly tries to cruise for casual sex in a wooded park. When he strays from Dom and Agustín, he finds a very forward, older bearded gentleman. Patrick's neuroses get the best of him and an unexpected call from his mother spoils the hookup.

The episode establishes the individual conflicts that will push and plague our main trio throughout the rest of the series: Agustín and monogamy, Dom and aging, and Patrick's preoccupation with fulfilling the expectations of others versus pursuing what he wants for himself. We get a glimpse into the depths of Patrick's self-loathing when he goes on a date with doctor Benjamin (Matthew Wilkas), the exact type of arrogant, but accomplished jerk Patrick thinks he deserves.

"Looking for Now" peaks during Richie and Patrick's kinetic first meeting on the Muni tram, a charming, sexy scene that leaves you eager for the next episode.

8. Season 2, Episode 5: Looking for Truth

After a nasty spat with Kevin at a work party, Patrick heads home early. Demonstrating his lingering feelings for Richie, Patrick copes with his conflict with Kevin by scrolling through Richie's Facebook page. Richie's most recent post requests help driving a truck and Patrick volunteers to help. This framing is an admittedly far-fetched approach to reuniting Patrick and Richie, but once they're alone together again, it doesn't matter. The spark Raúl Castillo and Jonathan Groff share has been undeniable since their respective characters first met. Here, their connection is heightened by the episode's sheer unpredictability, taking a much-needed detour from Patrick's relationship with Kevin.

Richie opens up to Patrick, sharing how hard he took their breakup and how his family is still struggling to accept his sexuality, as he first revealed in "Looking for the Future." "Looking for Truth" breathes new life into the second season. Above all, it is a tremendous acting showcase for Castillo, who arrives late in the series' run.

7. Season 1, Episode 4: Looking for $220/Hour

After a couple of leisurely, introspective episodes, "Looking" revs up and pushes the boundaries with the sexiest, tensest episode of the first season. "Looking for $220/Hour" is an excellent exercise in contrasts, set in two locations that could not be more different: the empty Most Dangerous Games offices on a Sunday afternoon and San Francisco's Folsom Street Fair.

The first half of the episode finds Patrick and Kevin at the office working on the finishing touches of the "Naval Destroyers" presentation before its release. The two banter over topics that would make their Human Resources department blush, discussing their sexual proclivities and the revelers from the BDSM and leather communities partying downstairs on the street.

Just when it appears Patrick and Kevin are about to cross a line, Kevin is called away to retrieve his boyfriend from the airport. Agustín peer-pressures Patrick into taking a break and joins Dom, Frank, and Doris (Lauren Weedman) at Folsom. "Looking for $220/Hour" is a joyful episode that affords us the chance to enjoy the whole ensemble before things start to go awry.

6. Season 1, Episode 8: Looking Glass

The first season of "Looking" comes to a dramatic close with "Looking Glass," the series' most emotional outing since the poignant Patrick/Richie two-hander "Looking for the Future." The season finale opens with Patrick trying to reconcile with Richie, who, to Patrick's chagrin, needs time and space to process. The debut of Dom's Peruvian chicken pop-up restaurant fosters a nicely calibrated, organic reunion for Patrick, Agustín, Doris, and Dom. "Looking Glass" is a particularly lovely showcase for Doris, whose vulnerability is often shrouded by her hysterical one-liners, to display her unconditional love for Dom on his big night. Murray Bartlett delivers some of his most touching work here, tinged with the same live-wire emotional rawness he later displayed in his performance on HBO's "White Lotus." Doris and Dom's scenes are so touching that Agustín and Patrick seem to take note, settling their beef over Richie.

The episode's warm, fuzzy tone turns dark when Kevin calls Patrick into work late and drunkenly confirms what the spontaneous kiss at the wedding suggested. Kevin and Patrick have sex, which ends on a cold note neither party anticipated. The dissatisfying encounter worsens when Patrick almost immediately runs into Richie, who admits he's close to falling in love with Patrick but is frightened to take the next step.

5. Season 2, Episode 1: Looking for Promised Land

The second season premiere of "Looking" takes its first departure from San Francisco. Patrick, Agustín, and Dom travel to the Russian River for a boys' trip at Lynn's vacation home in the woods. In the world of "Looking," two months have passed since the first season's finale, but, as we quickly learn in "Looking for Promised Land," not a ton has changed in the interlude. Agustín is still confrontational and solely interested in partying, despite scaling back his drinking; Patrick is still hung up on Richie; Dom is still within Lynn's graces. When Doris arrives, the group stumbles upon a party and takes Molly-adjacent pills that fuel a wild night of dancing in the woods.

"Looking for Promised Land" is light on conflict until its surprising final moments, but it's a lark to see our main characters — including Doris, who plays a more prominent role in the second season — out of their element. The episode takes a turn when Patrick finally arrives on drug-fueled cloud nine and asks Kevin to drive out to be with him. This leads to another round of physically charged, but emotionless sex between boss and employee, suggesting the forecast for Patrick's second season looks even messier than his first.

4. Season 1, Episode 7: Looking for a Plus-One

After Dom's contentious birthday picnic, Patrick voices his concern about the content of Agustín's photography — primarily images of Frank having sex with rent boy C.J. — that he's exhibiting in an upcoming group show. Naturally, Agustín lashes out and tries to put Patrick in the hot seat, asking if he's worried about how Richie will be received by his mother at his sister's wedding. Patrick finally steps in and defends Richie, reminding Agustín they agreed he'd let up on dogging his boyfriend. Agustín is so miserable at this point in the season that you'll cheer when Frank finally dumps him by the episode's end.

The strongest storyline here is Patrick and Richie's giant step backward. "Looking" mostly plays Patrick's anxiety for laughs, but "Looking for a Plus-One" forces Richie to bear witness to its darker side. Tensions escalate as Patrick gets a parking ticket and fails to procure the phone his mom requested. Things come to a head when Patrick loses his cool, abruptly pulling over by the Golden Gate Bridge. Richie tries to calm him down, but Patrick lashes out; Richie then ditches the wedding, leaving Patrick to attend alone.

In a twisted moment of fate, Patrick finds Kevin and John are in attendance. After a few too many drinks, Kevin makes a move on Patrick, who rebukes the advance and finds himself alone, a mess of emotion.

3. Season 2, Episode 10: Looking for Home

After a step back with Season 2's penultimate episode "Looking for Sanctuary," "Looking" comes back in full force with a soulful knockout of a series finale in "Looking for Home." The episode begins with Patrick moving into Kevin's recently acquired apartment, a decision that feels fraught with doom even in its mise en scène. The episode features lots of long shots of the couple in the cold space with blown-out lighting — quite the visual antithesis to the series' usual close-up–heavy, warmly toned, and shadowy aesthetic.

Patrick and Kevin are invited to a neighbor's bustling party teeming with the building's tenants — all of whom are buff, beautiful, and superficial gay white men. This is Kevin's version of heaven, but Patrick's hell. Things come to a head when Patrick discovers that, despite their relationship and cohabitation, Kevin is still active on Grindr. This devastating blow to Patrick prompts him to pick a brutal fight with Kevin through the sterile, gray hallways of the apartment building, ending in their breakup. The finale ends on a beautifully restrained scene the following day when Patrick visits Richie at work for a haircut, suggesting where Patrick's heart has been all along.

2. Season 2, Episode 7: Looking for a Plot

"Looking for a Plot" picks up the morning after the climactic Halloween party in "Looking for Gordon Freeman" with Agustín, Patrick, Dom, and Doris having a hangover brunch at their go-to diner. The congenial atmosphere takes a sobering turn when Doris receives a text announcing her father has passed away.

In the second departure from San Francisco, "Looking for a Plot" centers on Dom and Patrick accompanying Doris to her father's funeral. The road trip back to Dom and Doris's hometown of Modesto gives "Looking" an opportunity to color in some of the blank space for these two characters' pasts, their surprising romantic background, and what led them to move to San Francisco. Doris usually communicates exclusively in effacing zingers and Dom tends to play listener to chatterboxes Patrick and Agustín, so the intimacy this episode affords the viewer is exciting. Funeral storylines can often feel rote, but "Looking" retains its sense of humor, finding earned opportunities for laughs that stay true to character, like the emotionally messy Patrick weeping the loudest during the burial.

1. Season 1, Episode 5: Looking for the Future

Less is truly more on "Looking." Whenever the series strains to encompass the entire ensemble cast, the supporting characters usually get saddled with one-note storylines. "Looking for the Future" instead only focuses on Richie and Patrick, whom we first meet in the morning at Richie's apartment.

Patrick finally summons the will to leave Richie's bed, but barely makes it a couple of blocks on his route to work before stopping, looking back, and returning. After breakfast at a nearby diner, Patrick fully commits to playing hooky for the day. He and Richie venture out on a beautiful weekday date around San Francisco. They visit Golden Gate Park, Morrison Planetarium, and a fortune teller, swapping war stories about their first hookups and coming out to their families.

"Looking for the Future" is, like most of the show's best episodes, directed by Andrew Haigh. He lends the episode an intimately romantic, unhurried, and talky episode that recalls his achingly authentic romantic dramedy "Weekend." In retrospect, it may seem strange that "Looking" effectively peaked barely a quarter into its series run. Between the insightful writing, delicate direction, and intoxicating chemistry between Castillo and Groff, "Looking for the Future" is a love letter to San Francisco and easily the series' finest episode.