I know that not everyone enjoys or attends Folsom Street Fair, but HBO and Looking creator Michael Lannan teased us for months with images of Jonathan Groff in his leather vest only to give us a Folsom episode that barely went to Folsom.
OK, sure. This is still just a half-hour show and they're still trying to gain mainstream appeal, so maybe I'm supposed to be satisfied that Groff's character Patrick makes a passing reference to a Catherine wheel and wanting to Scotch-guard his leather vest "in case I get ejaculated on." But all we get of Folsom is a single crowd shot (no whips, no urine, no naked Twister), a brief scene at Mr. S Leather, a walk by the Rentboy booth, and another very brief scene later on at The Stud. And Patrick spends most of his day at the office pretending to work while he's basically just flirting with Kevin, his new British boss, who has a boyfriend, and who ultimately leaves the office to pick up said boyfriend at the airport we now learn that they're long-distance, with the boyfriend in Seattle, so maybe there's a window of opportunity for Patrick there after all.
Meanwhile, in a move that is just plain unbelievable on the writers' part, Dom skips Folsom completely to go hunt down Lynn (Scott Bakula) at his flower shop in the Castro. And even though bathhouse-loving Lynn and whorey Dom would obviously never conceivably skip Folsom Street Fair IRL, that's what they do. They have lunch instead, and discuss Dom's business idea, the peri peri chicken restaurant. It's as if they're not even gay.
Back in SoMa, Patrick does finally get lured out to the fair to "have lunch" with Agustin and Doris (played by the still very funny Lauren Weedman) and this other random character Hugo who might be Doris's boyfriend. They go to Mr. S to outfit Patrick with his vest, which he looks very good in even though he acts like this is so weird and wacky and in his eight years in San Francisco this is the first time he's ever tried on such an item. And Agustin runs into the hooker he met in the previous episode, C.J., who he wanted to ask about modeling for him or something. C.J. tells him this isn't the first time an "artist" wanted him to "model," and it'll still be $220 an hour. Bonus: We do get a shot of a female extra's bare nipples sticking out of a bustier in the background.
The gang ends up back at Patrick's office because Agustin, in a flirtatious moment with C.J., eats a piece of sausage, even though he's vegetarian, and this suddenly wreaks havoc on his digestive system. And obviously he couldn't wait in line for the porta-potties. Just when I thought no one drank on this show, Doris is at least seen carrying a beer into the office. After Patrick suggests that Agustin's bathroom break is "God's punishment for hiring a hooker," we get the best line of the episode, from Agustin: "If God exists, I hope she has better things to do than give people the explosive shits."
Anyway, Kevin comes back to the office (surprise!) and gets to see Patrick in his vest, and Agustin and Doris leave them alone to have an awkward moment in which Kevin suggests they get fried chicken for dinner because he isn't allowed it at home. Now, he says this even though he's essentially alone most of the time, with the boyfriend in another city, and perfectly able to get himself fried chicken most nights of the week, but I digress. Patrick rightly hears some flirtation in this, says he isn't hungry, and manages to get Kevin to agree to let him leave so he can finally go party at The Stud.
HBO gives a brief moment of glory to local drag queen Honey Mahogany, who's on stage singing when Patrick arrives at the party. And then he runs into Richie. Richie, the guy who in Episode Two ran away all pissed off because Patrick seemed to be fetishizing him for his Latino-ness. "I'm still cut," he says, referring to Patrick's assumption that he wasn't circumcised, but Patrick manages to win him over with a combination of awkwardness and that vest, and we're left with a shot of them about to make out on the dancefloor, to the sounds of disco.
Takeaways from Episode Four: Doris remains the best character ("Are we here to talk? Or are we here to dance?"); Agustin annoys me; Dom and Lynn are clearly going to fuck; and this episode returned to the glacial pacing of the first couple of episodes, with what felt like just five or six scenes and a lot of languid pauses. I'll reiterate that this is a TV show, and we're just not getting enough squeezed into those 30 minutes. Girls, which I also watched last night, seemed to fit twice as many scenes into the same timeframe, if not three times as many. And I can't even blame series director Andrew Haigh because this episode was directed by someone else, Ryan Fleck. Speed it up kids. This shouldn't feel like a four-hour indie film that was chopped into eight half hours.