Russell Tovey in "Looking"
Russell Tovey in "Looking"

With the season's strong conclusion -- the penultimate episode's bracing triptych of fuck-ups, deftly mirrored by the moving finale's interwoven tales of forgiveness sought, given and withheld -- "Looking" can no longer be considered just a fount of untapped potential. Though I hope Lannan and Haigh shift the series' center of gravity in the future, letting Dom or Agustin steer the ship, for now "Looking" ends where it began: with Patrick.

Seduced by his boss, Kevin (Russell Tovey), into a steamy office dalliance, Patrick finds himself searching once again for the stranger's kiss. "So now what?" he asks. "I don't know, Patrick," Kevin replies gruffly, and as Patrick dresses he discovers the scapular Richie gifted him, tangled in his shirt.

He returns home in a daze to find Richie waiting on his doorstep, but as befits the series' fine, messy naturalism, the news is anything but clear. "I am this close to falling in love with you, but I'm not going to do that to myself, and you're not ready," Richie says. "I don't think you're ready."

With admirably precise detail, "Looking," as its title suggests, illustrates how common it is to mistake sex for intimacy, romance for love, satisfaction for contentment -- blind spots that follow no type. Indeed, it was in the midst of this sequence that I finally stopped worrying if my love of "Looking" was simple identification, a way of seeing myself. We're all just looking for the future, and it promises to be anything but boring.

HBO has picked up "Looking" for a second season, slated to begin production in San Francisco later this year. Season One is available on HBO On Demand and HBO GO.