'Search Party' Season 3: Dory's descent into madness is played to terrifying perfection by Alia Shawkat
With her innocent and trusting face, a point that the persecution made several times, she literally played the jury into acquitting her and Drew of all charges
Spoilers for 'Search Party' Season 3
'Search Party' concluded its second season in 2017, it left a hole in the heart of its fan base. Crested by Charles Rogers, Sarah-Violet Bliss and Michael Showalter, 'Search Party' follows a group of entitled, rich and privileged Millenials on their quest for a missing person which goes awfully wrong. Over the course of the first two seasons, the story goes from the gang looking for an old friend to a highly messed up series of accounts that are seemingly unreal to wholly possible decisions taken under pressure and whatnot.
When Dory Sief (Alia Shawkat) first started looking for her missing college friend Chantal Witherbottom (Clare McNulty), she took little time in pursuing her friends to help her too. And so her then-boyfriend Drew Gardener (John Reynolds), and two of her best friends Portia Davenport (Meredith Hagener) and Elliott Goss (John Early) set out along with Dory — not because they're worried about the missing girl but of Dory.
Early on, Dory sees herself in Chantal — if she is to go missing overnight, who will come looking for her? Someone needs to continue the search for her else she will simply be forgotten — her existence, life, relationships, everything will be tainted by that disappearance. And so she moves heaven and earth for this girl. In season 3, Dory is not the same person anymore. In fact, she seems to have never been the person we had met in Season 1.
Although we have had to wait three long years for a new season, the timeline on the show seems rather crisp as each instalment picks up the story immediately after the events of the previous one. After the murder of Keith Powell (Ron Livingston), the gang spends most of Season 2 covering their actions. In this process, their crime is discovered by April (Phoebe Tyers) who then makes it all her business.
April wastes no time in blackmailing the gang. Although rich and privileged, they don't have the $60,000 that she is demanding, which then increases to $100,000 after one of their gaffes. With the pressure on them increasing by each day, Dory finally manages to find a way out for the gang. But something instinctual clicks in and when she goes to meet April, she kills her by shoving her off the ferry into the river. And now Dory has two murders on her hands.
Season 3 revolves around the murder trial of Keith Powell. Dory is represented by Cassidy Diamonds (Shalita Grant) and Drew by Bob (the iconic Louie Anderson). After a rather decent run, she fires her lawyer because Cassidy doesn't believe Dory's innocence one bit — on the day of the closing statements! Despite Dory's repeated claims, Cassidy is doubtful of Dory's account of what happened the day Keith died. And rightly so — Dory's demeanour is suspiciously calm for someone who is accused of such a heinous crime. Not to mention the fact that Dory is always hiding something or the other from Cassidy.
It is during the closing statements of the case when Dory's true self is revealed. With her innocent and trusting face, a point that the persecution made several times, she literally played the jury into acquitting her and Drew of all charges. Previously, when making an appearance on a popular chat show with her parents, the trio delivers a first-class performance of the ideal family, which they are absolutely not. When the public opinion is (somewhat) changed in her favour as a result of this interview, she uses pretty much the same tactics in court during her closing statements.
Is Dory is a murderer? Yes. But is Dory a murderer? No.
In season 3 of 'Search Party', Alia Shawkat plays Dory's descent into madness with terrifying perfection. She had long convinced herself that she has not committed any crime — she doesn't know how her fingerprints landed up on suitcase, or on Keith, she doesn't know why she and the love of her life are embroiled in this. All she knows is that she is innocent and wants to go home.
It is in between the scenes when we see the hipster Dory change into the morbid character. Drew's issue with Dory is that she shows no remorse while he (and the rest of them) wither in guilt.
Even when the gang just gets to discuss their crimes, Dory refuses any conversation because she hasn't committed any crime whatsoever. Dory fools herself into believing the lie she created for the world. Drew rues how she doesn't even talk about the murder — bear in mind they still have no idea that she has killed April as well — even in the privacy of their homes. Which leads him to completely mistrust Dory.
At the end of the court case, he simply walks off, as if more relieved by having gotten rid of Dory than the murder charges. All episodes of 'Search Party' Season 3 are currently streaming on HBO Max.