With a sweep like that, “Looking For Results” could be called Gayhood. It’s a day in the life of one young gay man in particular, Patrick Murray, currently sliding down a shame spiral over his affair and positive he has AIDS as karma. But what happens throughout that day—which starts in the middle of a chat between Patrick and Kevin one afternoon and ends in the middle of another the next—passes through a whole network of people. Patrick, Agustín, Dom, and Doris spread out and bump into old friends. New characters are introduced. One recurring character never shows, and another is only talked about. It’s an episode of historical revisionism and hypothetical timelines. Formative history bumps into future dreams. Even the present is a bunch of branches off the same tree, that moment in childhood where you knew you were gay and suddenly became alone. “Looking For Results” is a day in the life of a gay community. Two episodes in and season two already has its “Looking For The Future.”

At first I thought it might be a spitting image of that episode, only with Patrick and Kevin. It opens at a motel in the middle of the day, both of them naked in bed, one of them proving it, lost in airtight pillow talk, the whole scene playing out in an absorbing long take (two minutes plus—that’s TV-long). Nobody writes naturalistic dialogue like creator Michael Lannan and company. Poor Togetherness having to sit side-by-side with Looking. Patrick’s telling Kevin a childhood story about how whenever his dad’s best friend would come over, he would suddenly get the urge to dance his Solid Gold dance moves. His dad just wanted him to stop dancing, at which Kevin finally breaks from mock-judgment to a quiet impression of Mr. Murray—“Shut the fuck up!”—and then laughter. Until that moment, there’s a sense of Patrick being way more into it, “it” being the conversation and by extension their relationship. Kevin’s recuperating as it turns out, but it feels like he’s making Patrick impress him. But for one thing, Kevin just isn’t as expressive as Patrick, and for another, he’s thinking about his own childhood, which brings up a story, well, a childhood dance he’s too embarrassed to perform. It sets up a whole episode of shame and flux, the difference between how you are and how you’d like to be. Patrick adorably sums up his story: “I had a huge crush on my dad’s best friend Tony, and I just needed to dance.” When you’re a kid, you don’t know why you feel a certain way. You just do.

Time is elliptical in “Looking For Results,” most obviously in two transitions. The first is the cut from Patrick and Kevin in the hotel to them in the back of the bus, still carrying on the same conversation about British card game Top Trumps. That’s partly to get through the timespan. We’ve gotta squeeze this whole day into these size-26 jeans. It also, in this scene, gives a sense of romance, like Patrick’s so in the clouds he doesn’t even notice what happened between the hotel and the bus. But time just moves differently in “Looking For Results.” It skips, it forks, it loops back around on itself. Everything that has happened or could happen is fighting to affect what is happening.

More tangibly, the episode is a map of the gay community, well, a gay community, anyway. In my experience, the gay community is just something straight people talk about. It starts with Kevin and Patrick, who go to work, where Patrick reconnects with Owen, who gets Patrick fired up with bedbug anxiety, one of several potential futures Patrick entertains. Then Patrick, Dom, and Agustín have dinner and go visit a potential site of Dom’s future restaurant in an up-and-coming neighborhood. Patrick takes a photo to memorialize the occasion. They meet Doris for drinks, and she meets a man, well, re-meets him maybe? He claims to remember her from last year at Marienbad or something. Dom goes home to Lynn, who’s been chatting Dom up to some investor all evening. Agustín goes looking for Eddie but instead finds Scotty, the guy from the threesome in the pilot. Left alone with his thoughts, Patrick spirals about all the AIDS he must have. Probably hundreds of AIDS by now, I’m guessing. We catch up to Agustín asleep on the sidewalk, and we hear that voice before we see Richie again for the first time in a year. Richie brings us back to Patrick, who reconnects with Kevin the next day. It’s a cycle, which is also how Dom describes Patrick’s little meltdown. Just gotta let him cycle out.

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It’s not just about connections. It’s about what that network entails. The most obvious thing is gossip. After their afternoon delight, Kevin and Patrick walk from the bus stop to work. They’re talking about a gay version of Top Trumps that Patrick wants their company to produce. Kevin okays it, but he’s worried about the higher-ups nixing the idea early, so he tells Patrick to keep it a secret for now, which, he chuckles to Patrick in a cringeworthy moment, he knows he can do. He realizes immediately what he’s done, which is remind Patrick that he’s a mistress, but in actuality, Patrick looks upset because he has something to confess: He’s already told Agustín and Dom about Kevin. Check out Kevin’s first reaction: They probably think Kevin’s a prick, don’t they? What a relief to know that deep down, at least, Kevin does see things clearly. He is a prick in this relationship, and not just because he’s Patrick’s boss. At the end of the episode, Kevin performs an embarrassing dance for all to see, which is a sweet moment of support for Patrick and a stand against the gossip of the fishbowl. But afterward he leaves us with this final line: “God, I feel like a total dick.” You don’t say!

From that first chat about gossip comes a number of funny revelations about just how far that knowledge has spread. The first words out of Doris’ mouth are, “So, Patrick, how’s the affair?” He just looks at Dom and says, “Really?” Dom protests, “I didn’t know it was a secret until just now.” Patrick screams, “It’s an affair!” Lynn knows about it too, apparently, and Owen doesn’t, although Kevin assumes Patrick told him and freaks out. Later Patrick and Agustín walk out of the bar badmouthing Doris, and Dom complains about Patrick to Lynn. Scotty provides a conduit to Frank, so Agustín plants a fake story about how great he’s doing on him. What else flows through this system? Support first and foremost. Before all the gossip, Kevin’s there for Patrick, Dom reassures Patrick about his phantom AIDS mark, Agustín and Patrick say the right things about Dom’s restaurant. Scotty also provides GHB, hence Agustin’s nap, and that’s on top of all the alcohol. “Looking For Results” shows the gay community as a system of support and gossip and drugs and potential disease, four of the five major gay commodities along with dick pics.

Richie’s appearance at Patrick’s doorstep with his wavy new hairdo brings the other obvious elliptical cut, the big cinematic moment of the week. It’s in this sequence that the timeline just goes nuts. Richie’ll do that to you. Just look at him. So Patrick’s on the phone with one of several hotlines I assume he has on speed-dial when he gets a buzz at the door. He heads downstairs in his underwear to find Richie there. Because of the editing—the last we saw of Agustín, he was lying on the sidewalk as Richie walked off with his friends—we don’t know he has Agustín in tow. Maybe seeing Agustín made Richie think of Patrick, so he decided to stop by. The blocking reverses the final scene of the pilot as Patrick goes deeper into the frame, rather than coming toward it, to hit his mark in a doorway opposite Richie. True Detective might be HBO’s big show about time, but its twin is right here. We’re all just going in circles. Does the blocking symbolize a blossoming romance again? No. Richie’s just delivering a lost drunk.

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They pour him into bed, and Agustín speaks Spanish to Richie. I couldn’t catch most of it, but Agustín calls Richie “querido,” which Google translate tells me means “dear,” and which my brain tells me is what Jack Donaghy called Salma Hayek’s Elisa when they were together. The Spanish is a tell. Someone’s embarrassed about how they behaved at that picnic in season one.

As Agustín dozes off, Patrick asks Richie how his shop is doing, and the two of them are in the kitchen, drinking tea, Patrick clothed, when Richie answers. That’s the big elliptical cut, a mirror of the earlier one with Kevin. It’s like The Bride and Bill talking about Superman, only instead of comics, it’s awkward chit-chat. Even Father Time is uncomfortable. Patrick starts talking about his new standing desk, to which Richie has a good comeback: Now they both work on their feet. Patrick is a god-level repressed WASP, and Kevin and Richie just blithely walk in and greet the elephants in the room, in this case the class issues that contributed to Patrick and Richie’s break-up. Then Patrick asks if he’s seeing anyone and immediately backtracks. Asking questions you don’t want to know the answer to is a running theme. It’s fear of the future, and it’s part of why scenes like this are suspended in flux. By asking the question but not answering, the cat is and is not in the box. Richie has no problem asking Patrick the same question, though, and Patrick says, “Not really.” That is, Patrick is and isn’t seeing someone. He’s both seeing Kevin and open to Richie if Richie were interested, not that he’s asking, mind you, just talking out loud here. Patrick’s good at postponing. As soon as he defines himself, he’s closing himself off to possible identities. He’s afraid to confront who he is. That he might not be healthy. That he might be ashamed. That he might not be a good person.

That sounds heavy, but that’s all buried underneath one of the most effervescent TV episodes this side of Adventure Time. It’s soft and colorful, it flies from scene to scene, and there’s always something else to giggle about. Like “Looking For The Future,” “Looking For Results” is one of the most life-affirming gay movies I’ve seen. It’s rare to watch gay cinema that suggests everything’s going to be okay and believe it.

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Part of the reason the writers are so good at date dialogue is they always come back to two topics: sexy stories and the funny things that happen in a gay person’s childhood, both of which both partners can relate to and appreciate in the same way. Jim doesn’t get Pam’s attraction to Roy the way Kevin gets Patrick’s crush on his dad’s best friend. The episode is deeply rooted in history, particularly this universal gay formative experience of knowing you have to keep a secret before you even understand what it is. Gay people start out alone in a way. They start out apart from community.

What we’re seeing here is the society they’ve carved out for themselves a couple decades on. There’s the safe space of a gay club, one of the only places you can go to be surrounded by gay people. Even at the non-gay bar, Doris assumes the guy staring at them is interested in the boys. That’s how dedicated this community is to gay social equality. Then there’s the video game Patrick wants to make. His argument is ethical. Why are they spending their lives making first-person shooters for straight guys without even trying to make a game for gay kids?

The skeleton structure within the community is the series of STI clinics, and they’re always there to help, even for well-off white guys who are only infected with self-absorption. First there’s the woman giving up her drinking night to stand outside the trailer helping people get tested. Then there’s the Angela-Lansbury-sounding Noel on the other end of a hotline. She sounds deliciously impatient with Patrick at first (“Greeeaaat”), but she sticks around and even makes conversation. Finally there’s that beautiful moment at the end, when Patrick does get tested. The reason he’s so anxious is he actually has had unprotected sex. There goes that version of Patrick who would never. He apologizes to the guy taking his blood. “I’m sorry. I don’t know why I did it.” He’s talking about lying on the form, but it plays like he’s apologizing for not using a condom. Patrick’s desperate for absolution. The tester doesn’t skip a beat. “People make mistakes.” And that’s that. No stigma. There’s been enough shame and judgment in gay life. “Looking For Results” is a celebration of community. That’s what got Patrick to quit freaking out, that’s what got Agustín home safe, and that’s what’s going to get Dom that chicken window. Kevin says it all. “You’re not alone in this.”

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Stray observations:

  • Credits music: Pet Shop Boys’ “Thursday.”
  • Kevin had a formative experience with Take That’s music video for “Do What U Like,” which he describes like so: “Looking back, it’s literally the gayest thing ever.” Yeah, I think we have a winner:

  • Patrick comes up with a bunch of gay Top Trumps cards, like The Hot Jock and The Gay For Pay, but Kevin doesn’t think this idea would sell as well as their violent games. Patrick whines, “Is this really the reason we got into this industry?” “I don’t think gay novelty games is the reason either.” Suddenly Patrick makes a pouty face and then says supportively, “Aw, The Ashamed Gay.” Not to stereotype, but this show can seriously dance.
  • AgustĂ­n, I know “whatever” is your whole thing, and you’ve truly taken it to some majestic lows, but take your goddamn feet off the counter where Patrick is doing the dishes.
  • As the guys walk down a street to see Dom’s potential future restaurant, suddenly a man who I thought was a cigar store Indian and who is credited as Eccentric shouts, “Confess your sins!” scaring the bejeezus out of them. Dom tells the guys, “He’s gonna work for me.”
  • The eccentric keeps shouting at them to confess, so AgustĂ­n tattles on Patrick. Patrick asks, “What are you doing?” “Confessing your sins.” “You can’t do that. Homeless people have Twitter accounts.”
  • “WTF, Patrick?!” tally: It’s a loving count, not like a Dawson Leery thing, but “Looking For Results” has earned Patrick five separate, giggly What The Fucks, one of which is for that Google Image search of skin-related expressions of AIDS.
  • The man who hits on Doris is Malik (Bashir Salahuddin), the first of the new recurring characters in the episode.
  • Patrick tells AgustĂ­n about Kevin, “Technically, he’s having an affair. Not me.”
  • In contrast to all the “I don’t want to know” flooding the episode, Lynn genuinely does want to know what Dom got up to at the Russian River as well as upon which expensive bedspread he got up to it.
  • Richie’s drunk friends talk about AgustĂ­n as they walk off. Kyah (Jennifer Foster): “I know that guy.” Brady (Chris Perfetti): “You do not, Kyah.” “I fuckin’ know that guy. He works at the Chipotle by the mall.” “You think everyone works at that Chipotle.”
  • Patrick asks Richie, “Can we get lunch some time?” Richie’s answer is as frosty as his demeanor. “Uh, no, but thanks for the offer. I should go. My friends are waiting for me.” Patrick does talk him down to an “I’ll think about it,” so I’m calling that a victory.
  • Patrick’s pretty sure he’s neg because Kevin pulled out: “He didn’t come…in myself.”

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