This fourth season of Search Party has been an odd old beast, sometimes working effectively and sometimes seeming like it had gone too far, that certain plot developments were too unbelievable even for a show like this one which has explored the lives of these very self-centred and very selfish millennials. But with this latest season finale it has done something which I feel strongly frustrated by, to the extent that if there is a fifth season I’m not sure I’ll be watching it.
Toying with the audience is a device it’s often used to slightly annoying effect this year, when Dory (Alia Shawkat) was rescued from her obsessive stalker Chip (Cole Escola) but still appeared to be brainwashed the following episode then followed Chantal (Clare McNulty) around for the first time this year. There was a reason for this, as after a very contrived storyline involving her writing a book which was not only responsible for putting Charlie Feeny (Chloe Fineman) in to a coma but also making her famous, an appearance on television led to Dory regaining her memory and awareness of who she really was, but I’m not certain an entire episode devoted to the storyline was needed and an acid trip sequence was pretty silly, and not in a good way.
Then after spending some time with Drew (John Reynolds), Elliott (John Early) and Portia (Meredith Hagner) and questioning the meaning of life Dory returned to Chip, desperately wanting to be brainwashed again. At least during this scene it revealed that Chip had no idea how he’d really done it before, which was pleasing as the original brainwashing had felt far too simplistic to be real and it cemented the idea that it was more due to Dory wanting to no longer be herself that it worked more than anything else.
But at the end of the ninth episode after Chip’s mother Lyla (Susan Sarandon, amazing throughout) kicked her down the stairs back in to the basement she’d previously been trapped in and paid some teenagers to burn down the house, it looked like Dory’s days were numbered. That seemed to be confirmed by the fact that this season finale began at Dory’s funeral, with her friends giving speeches about their relationship with her, before they headed home and fantasised about what a happy ending for Dory might have looked like.
The problem was that the whole time I wasn’t buying in to it, and doubted it was actually happening. The appearance of four different versions of Dory at her own funeral suggested something odd was happening, and then in the very final seconds we witnessed Dory waking up in the ambulance having been rescued from the fire, and the whole episode was a dream. Because I doubted any of this was happening it wasn’t a surprise at all, but it just did not work for me in the slightest and was not only a weak twist but the culmination of an episode which didn’t really have anything new to say.
Sure, at Dory’s dream funeral her friends gave speeches which were all about themselves, and it confirmed once again that these are deeply narcissistic characters, but we knew that, there was nothing original being said. And that was a problem with the whole episode now that we know it wasn’t real, as Dory’s view of her friends didn’t offer up any new insights, these are shitty people a lot of the time, that’s been an ongoing theme of the whole series, and though it showed them occasionally in a good light it wasn’t in an interesting manner.
Dory dying was an easy out for the series, a way for her to finally face some kind of justice for killing April, so on that front I am glad that they didn’t go down that road. But spending an entire episode tricking the audience, and doing so in such a dull, bland manner meant it was a season finale that made me question whether the writers are capable of creating a satisfying ending to Dory, Drew, Portia and Elliott’s story, and along with some of the odder choices made this season it means I really don’t know if I want to sit through another ten episodes to find out.
Episode Rating: ★1/2
Season Rating: ★★★