Search Party Recap: Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?

Search Party

The Night of One Hundred Candles; The Captive Dinner Guest
Season 1 Episodes 3 and 4
Editor’s Rating 4 stars
Alia Shawkat as Dory, John Reynolds as Drew.

Search Party

The Night of One Hundred Candles; The Captive Dinner Guest
Season 1 Episodes 3 and 4
Editor’s Rating 4 stars
Alia Shawkat as Dory, John Reynolds as Drew. Photo: TBS

How can Dory’s friends not see that going to a candlelight vigil at Chantal’s family home is a very bad, no good, totally rotten idea? Of course, they all have their own motives for attending. Elliott wants to claim the 20 bucks that some girl named Leslie owes him. Portia wants everyone to find out about her new acting gig. Drew wants to be supportive. And Dory — oh, Dory, whyyyy? — wants to confront Chantal’s parents and scope out her house for clues.

With that, Drew and Dory borrow a car from Dory’s boss and pick up Elliott and Portia, who are dressed in their very best vigil fabulous. “You guys know this isn’t a fancy cocktail party, right?” Dory asks. “Look me in the eye and tell me you know what to wear to a vigil,” Elliott replies.

They arrive to Chantal’s house and everyone has fake candles and buttons that say #IAmChantal — or, as Chantal’s father says tearfully, “Pound sign, I am Chantal.” An air of fake solemnity permeates the crowd, except for Elliott, who keeps speculating as to the identity of Chantal’s murderer. With a captive audience watching, Chantal’s college a cappella group — Choral Fixation (!) — sings a song in her honor: “Since U Been Gone (Chantal).”

“Uh-uh,” Elliott murmurs. “Nooooo.”

After that atrocity, everyone shuffles inside for food and awkward small talk. Elliott talks up his latest venture — it involves donating water bottles (but not actual water) to starving children in Africa — and Portia is hit on by some skeevy older dude who hired Chantal as a babysitter. For some reason, Julian is also there; he says he’s merely supporting a distraught friend, but maybe he also still has feelings for Dory? Hmm.

Dory finds Chantal’s mother alone in the kitchen — chasing pills with liquor, so she’s obviously in a great place — and decides this is the perfect time to reveal that she saw her daughter. At first, Mrs. Witherbottom is confused. Was this something that happened during college? Then she realizes what Dory is saying and totally freaks out and starts crying and screaming and she needs to be consoled and it’s a whole mess of a thing. Chantal’s brother-in-law yells at Dory for her insensitivity. “I was just trying to help,” Dory says. “If you want to help, why not go around and clean up some disposable plates,” he scolds.

At this point, Drew is very ready to leave, but Dory wants to stick around for a few more minutes. Mistake No. 1: She creeps upstairs, sneaks into Chantal’s (alarmingly pink) bedroom, and starts to snoop around. Mistake No. 2: She smells Chantal’s sweater, then puts it on, trying to channel her or something, and says, dramatically, into the mirror, “Chantal, where are you?”

“What are you doing in my room?” says Catherine, Chantal’s sister. Dear reader, I did a spit take.

So, yeah, oops. You might think that the mistaken room identity plus the earlier kitchen meltdown would give our heroine pause, but in that case, you don’t know Dory. She waits a few minutes, then ambles into Chantal’s actual, far-less-pink room to snoop around.

Meanwhile, Drew is out back with Gavin (Griffin Newman), Chantal’s bitter, twitchy, creepy-as-hell ex-boyfriend. The thing about Gavin is, he knows he’s a prime suspect — and that makes him even more bitter. “What’s your proof, huh — huh?” he shouts to no one in particular.

“Good stuff, man,” Drew says, awkwardly backing away. I can’t tell if they decided to make Drew a little more appealing in this episode or if he’s actually growing on me. Thoughts?

Back to Chantal’s room. In a jewelry box, Dory finds a strip of photos of Gavin and Chantal — and a folded-up sonogram. Chantal was pregnant. Whoa.

In the next episode, Dory’s pattern of making really bad decisions leads her to invites Gavin and Portia to a dinner party. Her plan is to get Gavin drunk enough that he spills his guts, and she invites Portia because she’s good at parties. Drew, naturally, is skeptical. “Fifty bucks says he guns us down,” he says.

They’re discussing the guy’s murder-y nature when they open the door and find Gavin, sitting there, waiting to knock because he’s early. Dory rushes out to get wine for dinner, leaving Drew alone to deal with Gavin. It is awkward.

“What kind of porn are you into?” Gavin asks, as one does. “Uh, just the regular kind,” Drew says, feeling uncomfortable. (Side note: I have already created a backstory on Drew. He was raised by two moms in Portland, Oregon. They talk on the phone every Sunday.)

Portia calls Dory and says she has misgivings about the party, but Dory begs her to show up, noting how great and useful she is at social functions. Portia, who is easily flattered, agrees to come.

When Dory leaves the wine store, she sees a tall man across the street, dressed in a dark jacket and cap, who seems to be looking right at her. A car passes, and the man is gone.

When she gets home, Gavin has discovered her copy of Anna Karenina. Or rather, Chantal’s copy of Anna Karenina. “Where did you find this?” he demands. “I don’t know … I’ve, like, had it forever,” Dory lies. “Chantal was reading this book when we broke up. This exact edition, in fact,” Gavin says. “Weird,” Dory responds.

Portia arrives in the nick of time, and Gavin immediately thinks it’s a setup for a blind date, which Drew inexplicably confirms. They have a tense dinner, during which Gavin insists that everyone make eye contact when they toast, otherwise they’ll all suffer “seven years bad sex.” (It’s a real thing. I looked it up.)

Dory keeps trying to get Gavin to open up about Chantal, but he just grows increasingly agitated. Finally, when Gavin goes to the bathroom — “Jiggle the handle,” Portia suggests; “You don’t have to jiggle the handle,” Drew counters (yes, I have a weird fondness for throwaway jokes like this) — Dory steals his phone and grabs Drew to help her scope it out, leaving poor Portia alone with Gavin. Within moments, he hits on her and tries to kiss her. “I’ll take it real slow,” he says, drumming his fingers against her arm like a piano. “Right down to Kokomo.” Shudder.

In the bedroom, Dory and Drew are somehow able to open Gavin’s phone without a passcode. They discover that it’s filled with hundreds of emails to Chantal, which Dory hastily forwards to Drew’s phone, which then starts beeping frantically, disrupting Gavin’s failed seduction. Drew runs out to collect his phone and Portia feigns an illness — or maybe she’s really sick, what with the wine and the forced kiss and the scarring-for-life Kokomo bit — and promptly leaves. That’s when Gavin realizes he doesn’t have his phone and totally has a cow.

“Have you tried your jacket pocket?” Dory says helpfully, since that’s where she put it. Of course, Gavin is the kind of person who knows for sure he didn’t leave it there. This makes him freak out even more, saying, “How would you like it if I put my greasy paws all over your stuff?” He goes into full-on meltdown mode, knocking over bookcases and kicking furniture. It’s at this inopportune moment that Dory decides to tell him what she learned.

“Did you know Chantal was pregnant?” she says, wielding the sonogram accusingly. “I thought that you might be the father.”

“No, because she was cheating on me,” Gavin says.

“With who?” Dory asks — and Gavin proceeds to projectile vomit marinara sauce and red wine all over the floor. I guess he did spill his guts, after all.

“Oh, Gavin,” Drew says, not without compassion. “Oh, buddy,” Dory adds. It’s funny and somewhat sweet that Dory and Drew see Gavin as annoying and ragey and weird, but not really threatening. They even feel a little sorry for him!

In the next scene, Dory is putting Gavin in a cab and making one last-ditch attempt to find out whom Chantal was cheating with. “Even if I knew that, I feel like it wouldn’t make that much sense for me to confide in you,” he says. “Right, yeah,” Dory says, all but conceding the point.

At the end of the episode, Dory takes out the trash and sees the mysterious tall man from the wine store staring at her.

“Who are you? What do you want?” she screams. He looks at her, his face seeming to acknowledge that her suspicions are right — and then slowly walks away.

I don’t have a good feeling about this.

Search Party Recap: Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner