Search Party: “Frenzy” / “Psychosis” Season 2 Episodes 9 and 10 Review

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Search Party closes out its second season on a high note, with a pair of episodes that see Dory go from reluctant antihero to straight-up villain.

Were they played by a group of less-skilled actors, the main characters on Search Party could easily have been detestable. In a way, they kind of still are, but the magic of the show is that we still feel for them anyway. Alia Shawkat is an alluring lead. Even though her character has made some truly horrific decisions this season, her earnest, wide-eyed delivery is able to garner sympathy. The same can be said for Meredith Hagner and John Early, who have taken what could’ve been one-note sassy sidekick roles, and developed them into something much more alluring (and scene-stealing).

It might be difficult to realize it episode-to-episode, but Dory has actually exhibited classic antihero behavior this entire season. Her increasing paranoia, might make you think that she’s simply just a girl with bad luck who’s in over her head—and she is—but she also has continually made ill-advised decisions based solely on self-survival. Sure, she has guilt about it, but she hasn’t let that stop her from continuing down the same path.

This is most apparent in the season’s final two episodes, a one-two punch in which everything unravels in a very dynamic way. In “Frenzy,” Dory and the gang meet with April to find out how to get a tape recording she has of them admitting to Keith’s murder. The sequence is indicative of how Dory has been acting all season long. She thinks she has what it takes to stop April in her tracks, and isn’t prepared for the magnitude of how truly powerless they all are. Dory has been moving from moment to moment on impulse, only able to think about one step ahead so she can get out of her current situation and into the next one. Of course, with every step she takes, she’s making things worse for the people around her. And now, everyone is in the hole for $60,000.

The rest of “Frenzy” plays out like a hilarious heist film, with Dory and the gang staking out April’s apartment so they can break in once she leaves. Elliott and Portia follow April around the city, while Drew and Dory do the dirty work. Both narratives play out simultaneously, and there’s so much to love about each of them.

For one, major props to the show’s set designers for creating the truly bizarre and slightly terrifying look of April’s apartment. It’s just as crazy and mismatched as you think it would be, as it becomes clear that she’s a hoarder of a very random assortment of things, like VHS tapes and those golden cat figurines that wave at you. Drew and Dory sift through piles of junk and eventually discover her safe. One thing about risk taking is that it’s certainly a great way to rekindle a lost romance. From the moment they set foot in the apartment it becomes clear that Drew is falling for Dory once again.

Elliott and Portia, meanwhile, follow an uncharacteristically happy April to a weird discount clothing store, both amazed by her skipping, public singing, and generally cheery demeanor. The best part of their spying is when they get distracted by two mannequins in the store that are dressed very similarly to them. This is, of course, when April approaches them and they learn that she’s not actually April. She’s her twin, June.

Despite their best efforts to warn Dory and Drew about this “twin-based emergency,” they can’t reach them in time before the real April returns to the apartment and catches them in the act. Phoebe Tyers, who plays both twins, does a great job contrasting how night and day they are. June is all unabashed giggles and smiles and singing and compliments, while April is seething ball of anger, ready to be tested. Her freakout at Dory and Drew is masterful, and ends with her upping the price for the return of the tape to $100,000.

Drew and Dory are rattled as they flee to a hotel. Part of the reason it can often be difficult to see Dory as an antihero is that she’ll say things like “I can’t be the reason all my friends go to jail” and Shawkat’s delivery is so sincere and apologetic that you genuinely forget all of her selfish and impulsive actions.

Still, it’s telling that when she asks Drew to tell her that everything is going to work out, it feels like she’s asking him to tell her that this isn’t all her fault. Drew can’t bring himself to say what she wants to hear, but after an afternoon of breaking and entering, tensions are running high. So they do what anyone who might be about to go to jail for murder would do and have sex. I have to say, in comparison to their dismal sex scene in the show’s pilot, this one is…well…pretty sexy. Nothing like the prospect of impending doom to set the mood.

Interestingly enough, “Frenzy” actually leads us to believe that a deus ex machina is going to save Dory and her crew from themselves. While the plan to get the tape from April is happening, Detective Hartman tracks down a lead on Fat Franky that she receives from Keith’s ex wife’s new girlfriend. As it turns out, Fat Franky is a real person, though I highly doubt he even knows who Keith Powell is. Unfortunately, there’s really no way to know what he knows for sure, because Hartman accidentally shoots him and then shoots herself in the arm to make it look like self-defense.

This subplot is a little jarring, if only because Hartman seemed initially jumpy and anxious, and then seemed very focused and proficient during her interrogation of Dory and Drew, and now she’s back to being jumpy…so much so that she jumped and accidentally killed someone.

I’m also not a huge fan of everyone being saved by some unforeseen circumstances that will take the heat off their case. It feels a bit lazy for everything to just work itself out like that. Dory asks Drew to tell her that everything is going to be ok, but in that moment I think he and the audience both knew that it wasn’t. Luckily, the season finale proved that this was just a red herring.

In “Psychosis,” a gripping half-hour of thrills and suspense, Dory’s comeuppance finally arrives. This is not before she does her most daring act yet, fully crossing the threshold between antiheroism and full-on villainy.

But we’ll get to that in a minute. First, Dory gets chewed out by her friends for digging them into a deeper hole they know they won’t be able to get out of. Elliott suggests that everyone goes to sort out their own affairs in the event that this is the end. For Elliott, this means proposing to Marc in a grocery story in front of his new boyfriend (lol). For Portia, this means trying to get out of doing her play, but having weird sex with Elijah where they don’t kiss instead (gross). For Drew, this means a last-ditch attempt to get the Shanghai job by orchestrating a physical fight between his co-worker and his boss and then having it backfire and result in him losing his job all together (yikes).

That leaves Dory to figure out how in the hell to get $100,000 by the end of the day. An opportunity falls into her lap when Julian confides in her about Mary’s harrassment against him. She knows Mary is about to start a career as a senator and realizes this is a great way to get the money she needs.

It’s already pretty bad that Dory has decided to ruin two more lives for her own personal gain—although, it could be argued that Mary kinda deserves it—but once again, she proves to be lacking some critical thinking skills. She steals Julian’s phone, which has incriminating evidence on it, but then doesn’t do any of the blackmailing herself. Instead, she meets April on the Staten Island Ferry with the phone in hand and instructions on how to use it to get what she wants.

Here’s the thing, though. In “Frenzy,” Portia asks April why she’s doing this to them, and she responds with the excellent line, “because I don’t like how you guys carry yourselves…and I don’t think you should kill people.” April is menacingly angry, likely mentally unstable, and has a serious hoarding problem, but, like Julian, she also is an outsider looking in who’s able to cut through this group of people’s bullshit. She sees Dory and Drew and Elliott and Portia for the priveledged, vapid people that they are, and this is her chance to make them really confront themselves. Dory coming to her with another devious plan to get the cash—instead of just having the cash—is a bad move from the start.

This leads to the season’s—and maybe the series’—most shocking scene, but it’s not one that comes out of nowhere. I suggested with last week’s episodes that Dory might go so far down the rabbit hole that she’ll have to commit another crime in order to offset her first one. Even though she continually states that she’s trying to do right by her friends, her actions have proven to only benefit herself. Dory believes she can make things right again, but at her core she will do whatever it takes in order to avoid jail time.

This is why when April says, “if your conscious doesn’t haunt you, I will forever,” I knew what was coming. Like Frank Underwood and Walter White before her, Dory goes down the path of no return and pushes April off the ferry. The most chilling part of this scene isn’t the act itself, but rather Shawkat’s facial expression before and after she does it. Gone is the fearful, harried look of uncertainty. All that’s left is cool, steely determination. It could be argued that Dory was merely an accessory to the crime of Keith’s murder since she wasn’t the one to physically kill him. Yet, with April, there’s no denying it. She now has blood on her hands.

Search Party‘s third season hasn’t been confirmed yet, but the finale has already left some dangling threads for a continued narrative next year. For one thing, Detective Hartman signs an official police statement saying that she shot Keith Powell’s killer in self-defense, only for Chantal to come in and confess that she made up the entire New Hampshire story. For another, we don’t really know the fates of Elliott, Portia, and Drew after they all tended to their affairs.

We do know the fate of Dory, though, and boy is it a doozy. She attends Mary’s senatorial victory party and tries to play off like she didn’t just push someone over the side of a large boat, but this is short-lived as she’s soon taken away in handcuffs. All of Dory’s scheming and self-preserving decisions turned out to be for nothing. She is undone by a simple anonymous tip.

This obviously begs the question, who called the tip in? There are a number of possible suspects, but I have a feeling that the reveal will surprise us in a way that only this show can get away with. Until then, we’ll just have to do with the final image of Dory getting put in a cop car while in a stunning red floral print dress. What in the world is she going to do now? “Frenzy” Grade: B+ / “Psychosis” Grade: A / Season 2 Grade: A-


Some Other Notes:

  • That’s a wrap on season 2 of Search Party! Thanks for sticking with me throughout these reviews. This show continues to be a gem, and I like that it still was able to utilize its unique sense of humor even as the plot got darker and darker. The cast continued to be superb, and I think the transition of the show from lighthearted mystery to frenzied thriller worked really well. Certain plotlines worked better than others—I wish we got to spend a little more time with Elliott and Portia—but overall this was another really fantastic entry for the show. I hope that season 3 gets pick up soon, because I have a lot of questions!
  • Seriously, though, how amazing was Dory’s red dress. If you’re going to turn into a stone-cold killer, you should at least look fabulous while doing it.
  • Also, really liked Portia’s cute rainbow sweater at the beginning of the finale. The costume design this season has been wonderful all around.
  • There were some great sight gags in both of these episodes. I loved when the gang all ducks down in the pet store and then the store worker ducks down as well. In “Psychosis,” I love that everyone claps for Detective Hartman as she walks into the station…even a prostitute who’s there in handcuffs.
  • The whole scene under the train tracks is fantastic, especially with Portia not being able to hear anything. Once again, Meredith Hagner really nails her comedic beats.
  • I used to feel bad for Mark, but now I think he’s kinda spineless. You know this marriage with Elliott is going to blow up in his face.
  • I love that Chantal bought a sailboat with her reward money.


By Mike Papirmeister

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