Search Party Recap: Back to Brooklyn

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Photo: Steven Lippman/Turner Entertainment Networks.
Search Party

Search Party

Paralysis; Suspicion Season 2 Episodes 3 and 4
Editor's Rating 3 stars

In the opening of “Paralysis,” Dory finds herself in the grip of a violent hallucination: Bloody Keith is on top of her once again, screaming out his love for her in his final seconds of life. Over brunch, Dory tries to talk about her trouble “readjusting,” as though murdering Keith was just one more life change that she’ll have to come to terms with, like graduating from college or losing a job. Elliott and Portia aren’t interested. “I read online that it takes years to get over killing someone, so the best we can do is just carry on,” Elliott offers casually.

Elliott at least has a reason to carry on: His publishing team is considering turning his life into a board game! Dory has nothing. No relationship. No job. “I literally have less than I had before I started looking for Chantal,” she says.

“To look on the bright side,” Portia counters, with a brilliant smile, “You found her!”

“Yeah. Thanks for that,” Elliott says icily, the way you might thank an ex who gave you herpes. Chantal might be just as difficult to get rid of. Later that day, while Drew is in the men’s room at work investigating the possibility of applying for a job in Shanghai — does China have an extradition treaty? — his phone buzzes with a text from Chantal. She needs to talk to him in person.

When Chantal shows up at his apartment, she tells Drew that she “saw something” in Montreal that she needs to talk about. Does she know about the murder? It’s still unclear, but Drew assumes the worst and tries to explain it away. Turns out she just meant that she noticed Drew was hot. Drew catches on and sits down next to her.

“You know that this would really hurt Dory a lot, right?” he murmurs, obviously aroused at the thought. “Like if we do this, this is the worst thing possible.”

Chantal smiles coyly up at him: “That doesn’t affect me at all.”

Drew is just learning how to be an asshole, but Elliott is already an expert, and he’s trying to turn that expertise into fame and profit. At a meeting with his publishing team, he speaks with unironic passion about giving a voice to “the many complicated liars out there,” but when his editor (played by John Early’s real-life bestie Kate Berlant) ruffles his hair, she accidentally pulls away a handful of Elliott’s blond locks. Murdering someone and covering it up is hell on your follicles.

Speaking of profit, Search Party never addresses how Dory and her friends manage to afford their New York lives. Portia occasionally acts in something; Drew is an unpaid intern. And now Dory’s rich lady Gail won’t take her back. She calls her ex Julian to ask for help getting tutoring jobs, but he’s out of the game. The service he used to work for got shut down after the guy who owned it tried to turn it into a “preteen matchmaking service.” Julian is glad Dory called, though, because he wants to write an article about Dory’s successful search for Chantal — “a young hero’s profile.” A young hero was exactly what she wanted to be when she set off on the search, but now that kind of attention is the last thing she needs. When they get off the phone, she falls to her hands and knees in Washington Square Park. Panic is setting in.

The irony is that Dory is desperate to talk about what happened in Montreal. She attempts to talk to Drew, but he shuts the door in her face. While Drew is distracted, Chantal, rummaging in the kitchen for s’more supplies, stumbles upon the broken interior-design award — a.k.a. the murder weapon — that Drew impulsively snatched from the house in Montreal. He dredges up an excuse and Chantal seems to buy it, for now at least.

Rejected, Dory heads back to Gail’s, where she finds her former employer tucked in bed. Dory climbs between Gail’s green silk sheets and and finally confesses her crime. “What’s going to happen to me?” she whispers, but Gail is zonked out on sleeping pills.

In the first season, Drew rarely stood up for himself. He let Dory and others drag him around. But in season two, he’s trying to take control over his life. As “Suspicion” opens, he heads out to an empty field to bury the interior-design award. Now all he has to do is secure that job in Shanghai and he’ll be safe. His main competitor for the job is a Chinese colleague named Alan whose main advantage is an ability to actually speak Chinese. He tries to undermine Alan by suggesting to him that their boss is having an affair with Alan’s wife. “I’ve heard he’s just got a huge dick,” Drew says, with a creepy smile. He’s really getting the hang of being an asshole.

Meanwhile, Elliott’s professional life is heading into Kubrick territory. Instead of writing the book that’s supposed to make him rich, he’s sitting at home with his laptop typing the word “book” over and over again. The pressure is getting to him, but what’s causing it? The coverup, or the reality of having to actually write the thing? Elliott insists that it’s the latter. When Mark expresses concern, Elliott explodes. “It’s called having a book deal by the age of 28!”

Mark is not convinced. Does this have anything to do with a man named Keith, he wants to know? Elliott freezes in fear. Despite Elliott’s advice to Dory to move on, he hasn’t — at least, his subconscious hasn’t. He’s been saying Keith’s name in his sleep every night. Mark assumes Elliott is cheating, but Elliott, doing what he does best, quickly comes up with a lie: Dr. Keith was the conversion therapist that Elliott’s parents forced him to see when he was five years old.

“Oh my God! But your parents are so liberal,” says Mark, horrified. As he fetches Elliott some Benadryl for the hives now covering his body, Elliott smashes his computer over the back of a chair.

In Search Party, everyone lies and everyone is cruel, but the moral isn’t that it’s good to be honest. The show is too funny and cynical to care much about morals, and Portia’s story line reminds us that honesty can be just as cruel as deception. At an audition for a play inspired by Charles Manson, the director (an especially creepy Jay Duplass) asks Portia to bitch about a woman she once worked with on a web series, then suggests she call the woman up and tell her everything she just told him. “Great artists tell the truth,” he says, expertly tapping into Portia’s desire to see herself as one. So Portia tells her former collaborator that she is “secretly old” and that her areolas “are huge.”

The collaborator, for her part, is just as petty. She only has one question for Portia: “Who told you about my areolas?”

Chantal agrees to do an interview with Julian. Over oysters and ice cream, she describes the horrors that her supposed abuser put her through in that fictional hotel room in New Hampshire. Chantal’s imagination is not as strong as Elliott’s, though. When Julian asks for an example of the abuse, she tells him that once she had to wait for four hours in the rain and got a cold. “Have you ever even heard of anything like this?” Chantal whines. Julian shakes his head. “But this is interesting,” he says, smelling a ruse.

Dory has to make up a story of her own when Keith’s ex-wife confronts her on the street. They go to a bar, where Dory says that Keith was afraid of someone. She picks a generic mobster name out of hat: “Fat Frankie.” The ex is eventually convinced, but Dory isn’t relieved for long. On her way out of the bar, Keith’s ex drops a bomb: If she doesn’t hear from him by tomorrow, she’s going to call the police.

Dory attempts to head off this possibility by sneaking into Keith’s apartment and sending an email to the ex from Keith’s computer. She writes that he got stuck out of town following a lead on a case. Of all Dory’s bad ideas, this one might be the worst. She doesn’t even put on gloves before sitting down at the computer. And what if the body turns up? It will be obvious that Keith had already been dead for days by the time the email went out.

As soon as Dory sends the email, the bloody hallucination of Keith reappears. “Would you ever consider joining me full time?” Dory may not be ready to take responsibility for what she’s done, but she also can’t come to terms with it. Even if she does end up evading justice, she might accept Keith’s invitation. Maybe, like Elliott said, it will just take her a few years to get over the murder. But I doubt it.

Search Party Recap: Back to Brooklyn