The kids rebel in typically stupid ways in “are you looking?”, as deeper conflicts than just the virus emerge.
This recap of Kissing Game season 1, episode 4, “are you looking?”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
Kissing Game episode 4 opens with Fran in the isolation wing of the hospital, looking a little worse for wear. Chico and Alex go to see her on the basis of a head wound, and when they’re interrogated at reception about whether they’ve had any fevers or blurred vision recently, it’s hard not to be reminded of our current pandemic. “are you looking?”, and frankly all of the episodes thus far, have benefitted mightily from this topicality. Fran’s mother gets both of the boys inside to see Fran, who collapses in front of the glass panel that they’re forced to view her through.
The mood is definitely more downbeat here, not that it was particularly happy-go-lucky, to begin with. And the question of where Manu is begins to emerge as an important subplot, with Chico revealing some photographic trickery to her mother, as does another rave, which seems a bad idea, but of course teenagers are full of those.
Scenes of the kids sneaking out in “are you looking?” are interspersed with those of their parents working out; the adults preparing themselves to fight against the horrors that are sure to be brought home with this level of irresponsibility. Fittingly, the gold-painted patient zero is in attendance at the woodland rave, offering guests a sample of the same drug Alex gave to Bel, dripped into their mouths with a pipette. Attendees have at least taken some measures at the party, covering their mouths with plasticky protection, which should be right up Alex’s street, and is especially odd given the on-going raging debate over the use of masks while out in public.
As the weirdness is scaled up in some quarters of Kissing Game episode 4, so is the humanity in others. Fran’s mother regales her with a touching story of her and her sister’s birth, explaining how she thinks there is a place inside her where Aline lives on. She tearfully begs Fran not to move on and take her sister with her.
The aural motif of “are you looking?”, a far cry from the pounding house and techno of the party scenes, is a soft humming, although we do keep returning to the harsher rhythms of the rave, where Chico is off his bonce. These drugged-up sequences border on the surreal and the gold-painted man looms over them like some kind of mischief deity. Chico has another encounter with Guilherme — “Don’t worry, we have protection,” how subtle — but backs out apologetically.
And then there’s Manu, isolating away from the city with some rather unspecific illness, harboring information that could presumably help those in the hospital. Alex, rather stupidly, just can’t help himself. The trippy tone and aesthetic of this installment let the flights of fancy rub up too close to legitimate plot progression, I think. There’s ambiguity in some sequences that I don’t think is intentional. Or perhaps that’s just me. Alex and Manu have some gaudily-lit sex in a bunch of plastic while Chico and his Grindr guy have sex in the back of his truck. Kids will be kids, I suppose, even in the worst of circumstances.
The question of whether those circumstances might get even worse is presented by the episode’s end, and it’s easy to think they will. With a clear conflict between “the city” and “the village”, as has been expressed all throughout the first half of the season, there’s clearly a border issue at play here, playing into themes of judgment, ostracisation, and isolation that isn’t contained to a medical context. This weird, trippy town has much more to worry about than just a virus.