Search Party is back from the dead, and so is Dory. Hello, all. My name is Bethy, and I’ll be recapping this final season of Millennial Narc Theater. Will Dory’s narcissism actually end the world? Also, should the world maybe end? At Vulturefest, John Early said that Search Party is the only show that acknowledges that we live in hell. If the hell-world of Search Party ends, it might be a big relief for those consigned to it.
We start where season four ended: Dory waking up from her death/fantasy funeral. Dory was dead for 37 seconds, and now she thinks she has perfect clarity on all things. Drew, Elliott, and Portia join her in her hospital room “almost as soon as we heard,” as Portia says. Dory says that she needs to spread her message of love and cherishing life, which wigs out her friends entirely. The only thing that is intolerable to the gang at this point is a positive mindset, so they have Dory 5150’d. Only Drew really voices that they’re doing it not for her own good but so they can all get out of her gravitational pull.
With the most eventful chapter of their lives seemingly closed, the remaining three friends decide to settle into adult torpor. Drew and Portia settle for each other, and it is gross. Elliott goes once again back to Marc, sure that they can make it work this time if they are better at communicating their toxic needs. Elliott says he needs to be able to ignore Marc for days on end, and Marc says he needs to get hurt by Elliott. But, like, organically. Don’t try to force it because then the magic is gone. This is a fascinating relationship approach, and I would read Elliott’s self-help book on the matter. Because, really, it’s not like people ever fix themselves enough to be 24/7 loving and stable partners. Better to telegraph your punches, so the person you claim to love can dodge them, right? Something to think about.
Six months later, and everyone is still in their weird holding patterns. Dory seems to be thriving at the hospital, Portia and Drew are still hooking up (yuck), and Elliot and Marc are trying for a baby. They visit a concierge adoption service called Kiddos, which seems to genetically engineer children for the Über-wealthy. Kiddos’ front man is played by John Waters, and I hope he comes back. Who doesn’t want more John Waters? The baby they want to design is too complicated for even Kiddos’ very fancy gene-splicing system. There are lots of insane asks they make, but here are my fave two: Marc wants a kid with heterochromia like David Bowie. And Elliott wants a son that feels like a dad, one that will parent his fathers. Dr. John Waters recommends their first-ever “bio-breed” child, 9-year-old Aspen. They add him to their shopping cart. And with that, become parents.
Watching these dummies try and rebuild their lives post-Dory, I am struck by one question: How on earth are their lives worse without her? For Drew, at least, Dory seemed to be the worst thing that ever happened to him. But now that she’s been excised from his life, he’s hawking an app that helps businesses use eminent domain to kick people out of their homes. From a sad pawn to a proactive ghoul: What kind of progress is that? And Portia has gotten lowlights! Honey-colored toning on her once ingenue blonde. It’s almost more upsetting than her day drinking. Portia has become one of those acting teachers, the vicariously-living-through-their-students type. She advises her pupils to quit before they know true rejection. It’s very sad that, since the funeral was all a dream or an alternate universe, depending on who you believe, Portia never got to reconcile and do shrooms with her mom. Dear God, she needs to be someone’s favorite person, stat.
Portia and Drew go over to Elliott and Marc’s new place to meet little Aspen. He is a full Omen kid, making prolonged eye contact with Drew and smiling as he pisses himself. If Dory is right, and the apocalypse is coming, we have ourselves an Antichrist in Aspen. Drew and Portia keep their thing secret, seemingly because Portia is ashamed. But Aspen can smell them on each other. Troubling!
At this sad little dinner, Drew, Elliott, Marc, and Portia congratulate themselves on growing up and giving up on changing the world. “We’re adults,” Drew says, “and adults don’t care about making a difference!” They actually toast to giving up on their ideals. Right now I feel I should mention that this whole “you get more conservative as you get older” thing doesn’t bear fruit anymore. Traditionally, generations got more conservative as they aged because the radical ones were more likely to be poor and thus die younger. Those that survived acquired more wealth and the politics to maintain that wealth. But no one is making money anymore, so we will probably see more Rad Olds in the coming years. But the Search Party crew has always been just rich enough not to have souls, so of course they “wall off in comfort,” as Elliott puts it.
Dory isn’t giving up on the world, however. She wants to get out of the hospital to spread her message to the people. Months after her near-death experience, and she still believes that the world is a beautiful place of timeless oneness or whatever. The realization that she has come to is comically vague. Dory tells her doctors that she “finally has a purpose,” which is a bone-chilling statement coming from her. At least one doctor, Dr. Lombardo, believes in her mission. Right now I feel I should mention that some people believe narcissists shouldn’t do therapy, as they mainly gain the tools to better fool and manipulate people.
Dr. Lombardo, convinced as he is, isn’t at her sanity hearing, and Dory is remanded to the state’s care once again. (He may be a figment of her imagination? Stay tuned.) Trapped once again in the hospital, Dory has a vision/hallucination/delusion of dozens of dead bodies on the ground. Portia is screaming that everyone is dead, and the ceiling is bleeding. And yet I’d still rather be her than Drew at this point. Bummer.
Stray Pages From the Book of Dory
• Dory tells Dr. Lombardo, “I put my soul through so much over the years,” which is an insane way to describe the events of the past four seasons of Search Party.
• Kiddos is a little Black Mirror instead of Search Party, no? The show has always had a tinge of surreality but usually with hallucinating Ron Livingston, not sci-fi elements. But if last year’s billionaire rocket race taught us anything, it’s that rich people’s reality is indistinguishable from poor people’s science fiction.
• Where is Kathy Griffin? I was promised Kathy Griffin.
• I love how the sound designers always layer in “Obedear” whenever Dory is giving in to her worst impulses. It is her siren song of having a purpose, and it’s always a fucking liar.