It’s been a hectic five weeks for Search Party fans, and the series’ two-part season finale proved to be just as stress inducing as the eight episodes that preceded it. “Frenzy” and “Psychosis” were both dark, surprising episodes that wrapped up a thought provoking narrative and sent the series off into uncharted territory for a (yet to be confirmed) third season. In fact, so much was right about Search Party’s finale that dwelling on the wrong feels particularly difficult. So let’s get that out of the way first.
As mentioned in last week’s recap, Search Party entered a hot-button social debate in their eighth episode when Julian (Brandon Michael Hall) became the victim of workplace sexual harassment. This week, they double downed on this horribly timed and poorly handled subplot by tying it into the main narrative and involving Dory, a creative decision that ultimately proved unnecessary as the story reached its conclusion. Meanwhile, another subplot involved a cop shooting an innocent man and then attempting to cover-up their actions, calling to mind yet another controversial topic of conversation in 2017.
Now, there certainly isn’t anything wrong with a comedy addressing heated political issues – just this year alone, Bojack Horseman delved into the gun control debate, Glow sensitively discussed abortion, and Jane the Virgin examined the rise in racism against Latinx people in Trump’s America. But those shows all took a stance on the issue they depicted – Search Party, essentially, gives a shout-out to the topic, but brings nothing to the conversation. In 2017, when so many writers are attempting to use their platforms to create discussion amongst viewers, simply acknowledging a problem won’t suffice and, in a way, feels cheap and mildly offensive. Search Party should either explicitly make a statement on these issues, or completely stay out of them.
There are some other, non-political, issues here as well. Namely, one climatic moment in the finale’s first part involves two characters hooking up, a development that feels rushed and a bit over the top. For a show that has gone out of its way to make sex look awkward and realistic, this scene was like something from a different series. Meanwhile, Julian was (once again) given the short end of the narrative shtick, with his character reacting to some third-act revelations in an uncharacteristic way. If the show is renewed for a third season, the writers need to develop his character. And, finally, the resolution to the black mail subplot set up last week was a tiny bit anticlimactic, and hugely predictable.
But credit must be given to Search Party for sticking with the season’s psychological thriller tone the whole way through, right down to the very intense last half-hour. Thrillingly enough, “Psychosis” didn’t really involve plot twists or suspense and, instead, provided viewer with dark questions to ponder. Are Dory and her friends terrible people who deserve the trouble they’ve gotten themselves into? Or, are they just good people caught up in a horrible situation? Do these four characters use their misfortunes to justify their terrible actions? And, perhaps most importantly, what does it mean that many millennials can relate to these four?
Sure, most twenty-somethings haven’t murdered anybody, but many are unfulfilled with their day jobs, confused about their love life, and wander around their home in search of meaning – just like Dory did when she set out to solve the mystery of Chantal’s disappearance. This episode, which followed the primary quartet as they go sort out their affairs as they wait to learn about their fate, provides some of the most in-depth character development of the series so far, and helped drive the season’s thesis home. It’s hard to make an entire season of television hinge on philosophical dilemmas but, in the end, the creators of Search Party did just that.
Other highlights from the two-parter include one of the most hilarious proposal scenes in recent memory, an intensely uncomfortable but humorous sex scene, another stellar supporting turn from Clare McNulty, and a unique cliffhanger ending. Some of the subplots need work, and the show’s messy politics have to go. But Search Party’s second season has been largely unique and suspenseful, with a finale that leaves the viewer with enough food-for-thought to make a term paper out of.
Let’s hope TBS is aware of the gem they have in their lineup and renew the series for another season.
Search Party Season 2 Finale Overall rating: 8 out of 10