'Search Party' Season 5 Totally Loses the Plot, in a Good Way

Created by Sarah-Violet Bliss, Charles Rogers and Michael Showalter

Starring Alia Shawkat, John Reynolds, John Early, Meredith Hagner, Clare McNulty, Jeff Goldblum, Kathy Griffin

BY Alex HudsonPublished Jan 31, 2022

Search Party has travelled a hell of a lot of ground in five seasons, beginning as a mystery before turning into a crime drama and then a scary abduction thriller. In the show's fifth and final season, it goes totally off the rails — in a good way — while still somehow remaining a cheeky parody of millennial apathy, self-absorption and entitlement.

This time around, Dory (Alia Shawkat) has an epiphany following a near-death experience. Locked in a psychiatric hospital and convinced that she now understands the true meaning of life, she escapes the facility and — with a little help from Instagram — fashions herself into a deranged new age guru obsessed with the cleansing power of death.

Her usual gang of buddies — Drew (John Reynolds), Elliott (John Early) and Portia (Meredith Hagner) — become her cultish acolytes, while Jeff Goldblum joins the cast as Tunnel Quinn, an eccentric billionaire looking to exploit Dory's newfound power for profit. She recruits a gang of IG influencers, literally referred to as "disciples," to help her spread the good word about a pill called Enlightenment that will supposedly end world pain.

In both plot and and tone, this fifth season is almost an entirely different show from past seasons. The disappearances and murders that occupied past seasons are forgotten, and this comedy show's slow descent into horror becomes complete by the final couple of episodes.

It riffs on several cultural trends — namely, cults and zombie apocalypses — but the targets of its satire are still largely the same. Dory's delusion that she is a messiah-like prophet is the ultimate expression of Search Party's parody of 20-something solipsism, while Elliott adopts the very creepy child Aspen (Kayden Alexander Koshelev) in an exercise of pure vanity. Even when the plot gets freaky, Search Party retains its thematic core.

It's a bizarre, totally bonkers season that keeps on upping the ante of ridiculousness. Ruthless toward its own characters and completely fearless with outlandish plot twists, it's an unexpected but fittingly brilliant end for one of the most darkly funny shows on TV.

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