Once again Patrick says the wrong thing, several times, but not only do we get our first bare ass shot in this episode, we also get to see a very sweet day-long date across our pretty city.
Things open with Patrick waking up next to Richie, in Richie's bed, after what's apparently their fourth or fifth date. Jonathan Groff shows us his butt before pulling on some underwear, which he does, oddly, right before getting in the shower. And we see him do that morning-after-in-a-strange-apartment thing where you brush your teeth with toothpaste on your finger, which, by the way, is a useless exercise. Then he's greeted to a song by Richie, who we learn plays the bass. "The instrument of love," he says, but I've never heard it called that. I just thought it was the instrument of lesser talented guitarists.
They start making out and fooling around again after Patrick's fully dressed, and he keeps saying he's late to work. He even gets all the way out the door before he decides to turn back and have more sex, and call in sick.
The episode turns out to be all about this day they have together, and while the frustration about the show's pacing remains with a mere three episodes to go it feels like we still barely know these people and they're not even half way from A to B in their story arcs it is sweet and intimate and evocative, much in the languid style of director Andrew Haigh's acclaimed film Weekend.
There are a few things that happen in this episode that have never, to my knowledge, happened on a TV show before. 1) a very realistic gay blowjob that we see most of, through some clever camera angles, without seeing actual penis; 2) a discussion of dating someone HIV positive when one is HIV negative (Patrick also asks Richie if he swallows cum "a lot," as if this is something a polite person would ask); 3) a frank discussion of bottoming, topping, versatility, and "bottom shame," none of which has been tackled this concisely in film even; 4) someone doing a spot-on impression of Chunk from The Goonies.
Patrick finds some Goonies trading cards at St. Francis Fountain, which would be awesome if it were based in reality, and he admits it is is his favorite movie of all time. He also admits something that many gay men of his generation can probably relate to, which is having a childhood crush on a tween Sean Astin in braces. Then they take the J train from the Mission to Stanyan Street (don't even start), and they walk through the park to go to the planetarium at the Academy of Sciences. It's here that they have a talk about who's the top and who's the bottom, using Ross and Rachel from Friends as stand-ins. (Rachel is the top, obvi.) Patrick admits that he's mostly a top because he just doesn't like bottoming that much, which is "kind of a surprise, to be honest" to Richie and everyone watching the show. And Richie suggests that Patrick may have a bit of "bottom shame," asking, "Do you think you'd be embarrassed if your parents thought you were a bottom?" Now, this is a question every gay man can relate to.
Also, Richie turns out to be more insightful and multi-dimensional than I thought at first, saying that the terms "top" and "bottom" are "terms for guys on websites," and "How do you know what you're into sexually with someone until you're with them?"
I've heard it said that one advantage gay people have in dating is being able to share coming out stories. It happens usually in the first few dates, and it's something all gay people share, and one's story usually ends up being fairly telling about one's family and upbringing, etc. Patrick and Richie share theirs, and then they talk about the idea of marriage and how they feel about it before sitting out at Land's End overlooking the ruins of the Sutro Baths. Then we get this weird, kind of classist moment when Richie says that all he worries about is getting his paycheck and paying his rent, suggesting that Patrick's neuroses are some kind of privileged, bourgeois thing. And he brings up his "señora," a fortuneteller whom they then go see, but they end up leaving before Patrick gets his fortune told because he freaks out, and because he doesn't speak Spanish.
In the end, Patrick says he wants to bottom, but not today, and we close on a shot of him in bed getting ready to top again, having a condom thrown at his face as Morrissey's "Every Day Is Like Sunday" comes on over the credits. (Did anybody else find themselves wondering how much Morrissey charges for the rights to his songs these days?) So, yes, the episode is sweet, and quietly groundbreaking in its off-hand approach to gay sex. But is this the last we'll see of naked Patrick this season? Stay tuned.