There’s a moment in “The Rookie Lawyer,” when Michaela Watkins’s Polly Danziger holds up photos of Drew and Dory and makes fun of them as jackass millennials. Her colleague points out that people don’t really care about millennials anymore, “that kind of talk has died down, actually.” Three years ago, when the show’s second season aired, Search Party was a clever murder mystery that poked fun at the eager neediness and desperation of millennials. The moment is a small nod to the passage of time that isn’t present in the season’s story line. We’ve picked up exactly where the second season left off, but Search Party knows it’s not a quaint mystery about hipsters looking for a missing girl anymore. While the premiere, “The Accused Woman,” focused on Dory, “The Rookie Lawyer” takes a step back to remind us how these jackasses even got in this mess.
Luckily, this means the return of Chantal, who is one of Search Party’s best jackasses. Even though her decision to run away set the show in motion, she’s a useless and unremarkable person. One of the second season’s greatest jokes is that Dory worked so hard to find someone who turned out to be so annoying. As everyone tries to figure out who tipped off the police, no one even thinks to talk to Chantal. They don’t even mention her. When Chantal finally learns that Drew and Dory have been arrested from the news, she can only ask, “What does this mean for me?” Well, Chantal, probably nothing. Dory never really cared about Chantal and now that the world knows she wasn’t “hiding inside one of her poems,” she’s lost all sympathy. Things have moved so far beyond Chantal at this point, it’s hilarious that she calls her probable connection to a murder a simple “mix-up.”
Chantal doesn’t realize things have moved into much more dangerous territory, and neither do Portia and Elliott. The episode ends with them shouting, “The truth will set us free!” But they don’t know Dory has already set another lie in motion. While Drew, Portia, and Elliott all realize self-defense is the clear answer, Dory still can’t accept the truth. When she finally gets a chance to make a statement, she swears she’s innocent and had nothing to do with Keith’s murder. This is after her lawyer, Cassidy Diamond, walks her through three pretty solid options. She can accept a plea deal, claim self-defense, or plead insanity. Also, she shouldn’t say anything to anyone. Dory doesn’t consider any of this. Instead, she goes with the option that makes her look innocent in the press and throws her friends under the bus.
Shalita Grant brings a wonderful energy to the role of Cassidy, the episode’s rookie lawyer. Cassidy fits right into Search Party’s world as a clueless, overconfident millennial lawyer. It’s exactly what Dory deserves to deal with. Cassidy’s mom even has to text her to tell her about a press conference involving her own case. She may not be the best defense attorney, but she still seems more in touch with reality than Dory. She doesn’t even ask to hear Dory’s explanation because she knows there are really only three options at this point. All the evidence is out there, people know Dory and Keith slept together. They know Keith was tracking her phone. There’s no way Dory can get away with saying she’s totally innocent. If she were thinking about Drew, she’d realize self-defense is the best way to save him, since it is his truth. He saw Keith on top of Dory and assumed she was being attacked, so he tried to save her. That no other truth matters to Dory but her own will inevitably force Drew to turn against her.
Oh, my sweet, precious, Midwest King, Drew. He really doesn’t stand a chance against Dory, does he? He finally mumbles the truth to his dad, but he still lets Dory’s giant image on the TV overpower him. She says they had nothing to do with it and his parents are eager to believe her, so he just goes along with it. His perfect Chicago parents are there to support him and his brothers offer advice like, “don’t yell, it makes you look like a killer,” but Drew still puts his faith in Dory for some unknown reason. I don’t think Drew still loves Dory, but I do think he believes in her. There’s something about her that convinces him she might have this all figured out. I hope she does, because I also don’t have faith in the lawyer Drew’s dad hired. “The best defense attorney on the east side of Chicago” isn’t exactly glowing praise in a city whose east side is primarily made up of Lake Michigan.
Elliott and Portia have never really had trust in Dory. They only consider that she might do the smart thing and say self-defense when they’ve given up on all their other options. They run away and dye their hair, but quickly realize there’s no way they can hide. Elliott’s lover’s time-share is occupied and now they’re stuck watching rich kids who won’t listen to them. John Early and Meredith Hagner do some of their best work as they quickly shift from blonde criminal masterminds to exhausted brunette babysitters. Portia and Elliott have the best chemistry on the show and it’s hilarious how quickly they jump into their next big lie. Without a moment of hesitation, they plan an entire itinerary for those kids, and I truly believed they were going to dig for hermit crabs. Dory might not be able to sell a lie, but these two can.
“The Rookie Lawyer” introduces some amazing new characters like Polly and Cassidy to the Search Party universe, but it also shows us what’s at stake beyond Dory’s soul. As Polly says multiple times, Keith was a father and his family deserves justice. Drew has a family that doesn’t want to see him spend his life in jail. Portia’s career has already been affected, as her name comes up in Google alerts along with doing “weird sex stuff to the body.” Elliott has Marc and a wedding to plan. Dory is the only one who doesn’t have anything to lose, and they’re all counting on her to do the right thing.
• Shalita Grant deserves another shout-out for her introduction as Cassidy Diamond. I’ve never fallen in love with a TV character so quickly.
• Michaela Watkins as federal prosecutor Polly Danziger is also perfect casting. Cassidy’s summary of her seems accurate: “She grew up in a generation that was like, ‘You gotta be a man to get ahead.’ Like, bitch, just admit you like to shop.” I can’t wait to see Polly go up against Dory.
• I loved Elliott’s explanation for having a van: He used it to move his water bottles and then the guy died and no one ever asked for it back.
• The mystery of who called in the tip is immediately cleared up. It was Meg! Portia’s instincts were right. Of course Elijah’s weird doublespeak last episode was a lie. He’s a jerk and “nobody” meant his stagehand. I’m glad they cleared this up. It would’ve felt like time wasted to have Elliott, Portia, Drew, and Dory continue to suspect each other of snitching. Like Polly said, there’s a mountain of evidence against them. If it hadn’t been Meg it would’ve been something or someone else.
• Dory might still be seeing April’s ghost, but that doesn’t mean she’s dead.