One of the reasons why I don’t watch Westworld is because I’m allergic to fan theories. I prefer to let a show take me where it wants, without constantly looking for hidden meanings and clues. It’s a bit of a stretch to say that Search Party is a condemnation of the culture of fan theories, but isn’t that exactly what Dory is doing? Seeing what she wants to see? Making connections that aren’t there? To go even further, isn’t that what most of us do in our daily lives? We try to find meaning and create self-narratives that give us a sense of purpose.
It turns out those mini-cassettes were actually surveillance footage of the Chinese restaurant, which yield absolutely nothing until Dory spots … Agnes Cho? If I’d known she was going to be important, I might’ve paid more attention to her. (Just to jog your memories: Agnes was the girl at the vigil who acted like she was Dian Fossey.) Dory confronts Agnes, who first denies that she knows anything, then says she’ll tell Dory where Chantal is for the cool sum of $5,000 — for the apes, of course.
Dory asks Portia and Elliott for the money and they run off to deliberate in a closet. (They’re besties again, by the way, so all is right in the world.) They emerge as a united front: “We’re not giving our best friend a dime.” From there, the Scooby Gang puts two separate plans in motion: Drew and Portia try to blackmail pervy Nanny Daddy (whose real name is Chuck), and Elliott and Dory make an appeal to Chantal’s family, who are in town for a dress fitting.
Portia lures Chuck to her apartment with slightly dominatrix-y text messages. When he arrives — and immediately drops trou — she demands the money and Drew acts as the muscle, making vague threats about the dark web. Somehow, it works.
Meanwhile, at the dress shop, Elliott make his overconfident pitch to the family. Naturally, they think he’s insane. Dory emerges from her hiding place and Chantal’s sister is all, “Hey, you’re the girl who put on my sweater!” and Dory tries to explain that she’s not trying to scam them and that she’s totally legit. She says that she’s working with Keith to find Chantal and the family says, “Who?”
Whoa, I did not see that coming.
The cutest thing in the world is Portia’s happy “Mama got the money” dance when Elliott and Dory return home empty-handed. (Portia is in a completely different episode from the rest of her friends and I’m totally here for it.) Cash in hand, Agnes tells them that Chantal is in Montreal and even gives them an address. Then Dory borrows a car from an extremely stoned Gail and tells Keith that Chantal is in Miami to throw him off the trail, but only after allowing him to blubber about how much he loves her.
In the car, Drew is still mulling over Dory’s lie about where she spent the night: She claimed she’d been at a sleepover at the Museum of Natural History with Elliott, curiously sans sleeping bag. “Did you bring a sleeping bag?” Drew asks. “Of course!” Elliott says, cluelessly.
Cut to Drew and Dory having a huge fight along the side of the road, as Elliott rolls his eyes: “I’m sorry. I cannot take straight couples fighting seriously. It’s like, get over yourself.”
This fight is a doozy. Dory apparently confesses to Drew that she slept with Keith, and then he drops his own bombshell — he was the one who ransacked her Wall of Obsession and left the note to stop looking for Chantal. I did not see that coming, part deux.
Both Dory and Drew say hurtful things to each other and break up. I am very distraught.
The gang heads to a restaurant in Montreal where Drew sulks at the bar while Elliott, Chantal, and Dory brainstorm by drawing color-coded charts on the table. (“We have crayons and we’re smart!” Portia says.) Their conclusion: Keith was working with the cult, possibly to impregnate random women, and he’s the father of Chantal’s child. Also, Lorraine knew too much and Keith killed her.
While in town, Portia locks eyes with a dreamy guy named Matthieu and they exchange numbers. Meanwhile, Drew smokes now. Poor Drew.
In the final episode, the gang arrives to the address where Chantal is supposedly staying. It’s a big, empty vacation house. Chantal’s not there, but they find the Spartan room she’s been living in. Portia, who thinks this whole thing is just a fun game, begs Drew to take her back to town to meet up with Matthieu, and he agrees, leaving Dory alone with Elliott. Dory is in the middle of complaining that no one is taking their mission seriously when Elliott gets a call from his publisher and scampers off to take it. That’s when the door jiggles, gets smashed open, and none other than Keith appears.
Dory grabs Drew’s taser and tells Keith to stay away. She knows he wasn’t working for the Witherbottoms and that he is the father of Chantal’s baby. Dumbfounded, he denies it all — he loves her and planned to split the reward money with her and would she please put that thing down? She tases him and hits his head on the edge of the kitchen island — which is always TV code for “uh oh, you’re dead.” Except he’s not dead! His eyes pop open, but he’s got a pretty big gash on his head and he lunges at Dory. At that exact moment, Drew walks in and sees Dory struggling. He grabs a candlestick and wallops Keith squarely in the head. This time, blood is everywhere and Keith does not resemble a living person.
“I love my publishing company!” Elliott squees, coming in from outside. He takes in the horrible tableaux — Drew consoling Dory, who’s covered in blood, with Keith lying motionless on the kitchen floor — and his mouth drops open. Boy Scout Drew wants to call the police, but Elliott objects. “You don’t call the police when you killed somebody! He is dead and we are not!”
“It was self-defense,” Dory says, halfheartedly. “Was it?” Elliott screams.
Suddenly, we hear Portia’s giddy voice: “Guys, I found Chantal!” There’s a flurry of activity as Drew, Dory, and Elliott try clean up the crime scene. They drag Keith’s body into a closet and, in a panic, Elliott puts the candlestick in the refrigerator. Then Portia steps into the kitchen with Matthieu … and Chantal. “Hi guys,” she says.
Tearfully, Chantal tells her story. She was dating a married guy named Farley who broke up with her and she was super-bummed about it, so her friend Agnes let her stay at her summer house and … that’s it. Oh, the glory of Alia Shawkat’s face in this moment: confusion, dismay, with just a soupçon of panic. (At one point, she literally begins backing away from Chantal.)
“It’s weird because I’m scared … ” Chantal continues, as Dory briefly perks up, ” … that someone’s going to come to the house to clean, or like sublet at any moment so I’m sleeping in this storage room upstairs.”
“Isn’t this hilarious you guys?” Portia says. “Like, nothing happened! We literally thought all these crazy bad things and literally nothing happened.”
“I mean, my heart got broken. That’s not nothing,” Chantal says.
Grabbing Chantal’s hand a little too tightly, Dory begins to grill her. But what about the sonogram? It belonged to Chantal’s sister. The Bellow & Hare wolf’s tooth? A bridesmaid gift from Catherine’s wedding. Lorraine? “Who’s that?” Chantal says, as we cut to a flashback of Lorraine crossing herself before jumping in front of a train.
“Keith pushed her in front of the train,” Dory sputters. “Who’s Keith?” Chantal says. Cue a brief flashback to Keith, eating a sandwich on a stakeout, as he spots a sign offering a $250,000 reward for Chantal’s return and rips it off the wall.
At this point, Drew and Elliott get it. There’s no conspiracy, no secret plot, the whole thing was a horrible, horrible misunderstanding gone awry. But Dory refuses to believe.
“What about the bloody blouse in the woods?” she demands. Flashback to Farley and Chantal having a post-coital fight in the woods. Chantal trips on a wine glass, cutting her hand as she falls, and dopey Farley uses her blouse to sop up the blood.
But … but … the Chinese restaurant! Chantal definitely ran away from Dory at the restaurant! Turns out, Chantal was getting a fake passport from Agnes’s cousin and — the final indignity — she couldn’t place Dory’s face. She actually thought Dory was a cop.
“Who are you hiding from?” Dory yells, actually shaking her.
“Honestly?” Chantal says. “Myself.”
There you have it! This is like the end of an Agatha Christie murder mystery, except the complete opposite. Everything is banal. There is no grand reveal. The big revelation is there is no revelation. Oh, and also? Keith is probably dead.
(Real quick: Can we acknowledge the genius of Chantal just being another self-absorbed New Yorker who thinks everything is about her personal journey and doesn’t comprehend the consequences of her actions? This show, man.)
As the realness of everything hits her, Dory runs to the bathroom to vomit. The last shot of the series is her face, filled with dread, staring at herself in the mirror. The horror.
Remember how much I hate fan theories? There’s something else I hate nearly as much: People who can’t leave perfection alone. Search Party was perfection. It was smart and assured and brilliantly acted and wildly entertaining and a true gift. It started good, got better and better, and crested with an existential finale that felt both surprising and completely inevitable. It was a self-contained gem.
But here’s the thing: I need more Search Party in my life. I’m sorry, it’s just the way it is. That means Keith really needs to be not dead — this is nonnegotiable — because Dory and Drew in jail would probably not make for great television. Besides that little obstacle, the sky’s the limit, TBS! Dory can open a detective agency. Or become a graphic designer. Or join that weird baby cult. Who am I to judge? Anything so I can spend more time with Dory and her friends and their world. Is that too much to ask?