Entertainment

HBO Max's 'Search Party' Ends Season 4 With the Most Shocking Cliffhanger Yet

Series co-creators Sarah-Violet Bliss and Charles Rogers get into the decisions behind the jolting and emotional season finale.

HBO Max
HBO Max
HBO Max

To find out what platform these movies are streaming on in Australia, head to flicks.com.au.

This article contains spoilers for the Season 4 finale of HBO Max’s Search Party.

The last episode of the fourth season of Search Party would, frankly, make for a very good series finale. Anti-heroine Dory (Alia Shawkat) appears to have been burned alive in the house of her captor the Twink, aka Chip Wreck (Cole Escola), heir to a snack cake empire. Her friends Drew (John Reynolds), Elliott (John Early), and Portia (Meredith Hagner) all gather for a ludicrously attired, but surprisingly emotional funeral also attended by the spectre of Dory. Over the course of the event, the various incarnations of Dory that have appeared in the show-captive Dory, sociopathic trial Dory, murderer Dory, and naive Dory-wander in and sit in the back row.

Seems like that’s where we’ll leave her, right? Not exactly. In the last moments of the episode, Dory, rescued, springs back to life. So this isn’t the end after all. “We loved the experience of sitting through Dory’s funeral, seeing what the friends were really made of when it came to their feelings about Dory and when you are at a funeral the kind of bygones that you let wash away to really zero in on the soul level connection they had,” co-creator Charles Rogers says. He laughs and pauses. “And then in terms of the final, final moment, it’s unconfirmed whether or not there’s a fifth season, and we wanted to write something that followed in the tradition of the previous seasons where you leave off on something closure-y yet cliffhanger-y at the same time.”

HBO Max
HBO Max
HBO Max

The latest batch of Search Party episodes return the show to its original premise with a new spin that’s both more absurd and more terrifying than what came before. What began as a show about an aimless hipster who decides to devote herself to finding a missing college acquaintance is now about that aimless hipster, who is also an acquitted murderer, having been kidnapped. Dory is imprisoned in a felt version of her Brooklyn apartment in a Massachusetts basement by Chip, a lonely psychopath who believes he can be her best friend. Her actual friends are now tasked with finding her and, despite everything they have been through, their efforts are somewhat half-hearted.

“I just felt like especially after the courtroom season, which got caught up in so many details, that there would be something about coming back to the basics of the show and then coming full circle. This time the search is for Dory but they’ve all changed so much, and the tone of the season is more extreme and a little bit more farcical,” Rogers says.

At this point, Drew has been working at a theme park, trying to escape his guilt; Portia is starring as Dory in a movie; and Elliott has sold his soul to become a right-wing talking head. They find her, brainwashed, and even after she snaps out of Chip’s trance, she escapes their care, running back to Chip in a Stockholm Syndrome haze. That’s when he traps her in a burning building and she screams to them for help, except her friends have decided she doesn’t really want to be saved. “They abandon ship, and are doing so because they are telling themselves she doesn’t want it,” co-creator Sarah-Violet Bliss explains. “But it’s also of her own making. She manifested this.”

HBO Max
HBO Max
HBO Max

Despite the truly heinous actions Dory has engaged in over the course of the series-and the fact that Drew, Portia, and Elliott manage to make everything about themselves-the funeral is surprisingly touching. Rogers says that he and Bliss were aware that by the end of Season 3, the audience that started out strongly identifying with Dory had drifted away from her. They wanted to explore the idea of people who had a “white light” experience and bring the audience back into Dory’s point of view as she battles for her life.

“At the end of the day, Chip does wear her down so severely, between brainwashing her and torturing her, that she ends up actually able to admit things about herself,” Rogers says. So by the time you get to Elliott turning her eulogy into a stump speech while wearing a tent-like puffer jacket, you can’t help but feel a wave of sorrow for this woman who tanked her own life and her friends who lost her along the way.

But Dory appears to not actually be dead. So where does that leave a potential Season 5, if the HBO series were to be renewed? “We think that there’s a lot to mine about what it would be like on the other side of death,” Rogers says.

Esther Zuckerman is a senior entertainment writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @ezwrites.

Entertainment

Where to Celebrate Lunar New Year 2023 in Australia

And what it means to be in the year of the Rabbit.

where to celebrate lunar new year australia

Starting with the new moon on Sunday, January 22, this Lunar New Year ushers in the year of the Rabbit. We’ve put together a guide on celebrating the Lunar New Year in Australia.

What is special about the year of the Rabbit?

As you might know, each year has an animal sign in the Chinese Zodiac, which is based on the moon and has a 12-year cycle. This year, we celebrate the year of the rabbit, known to be the luckiest out of all twelve animals. It symbolises mercy, elegance, and beauty.

What celebrations are taking place and how can I get involved?

There are plenty of festivals happening all around the country which you can get involved with. Here they are per state.

New South Wales

Darling Harbour Fireworks
When: Every year, Sydney puts on a fireworks show, and this year, you can catch it on January 28 and February 4 at 9 pm in Darling Harbour.

Dragon Boat Races
When: Witness three days of dragon boat races and entertainment on Cockle Bay to usher in the Lunar New Year. The races will commence on January 27 and finish on January 29.

Lion Dances
When: Catch a traditional Lion Dance moving to the beat of a vigorous drum bringing good luck and fortune for the Lunar New Year. The dance performances will happen across Darling Harbour on Saturday, January 21, Sunday, January 22, and Sunday, February 4 and 5, around 6 pm and 9 pm.

Lunar New Year at Cirrus Dining
When: Barangaroo’s waterfront seafood restaurant, Cirrus, is celebrating the Year of the Rabbit with a special feast menu. Cirrus’ LNY menu is $128pp with optional wine pairing and is available from Saturday, January 21, to Sunday, February 5.

Auntie Philter
When: Hello Auntie’s owner and executive chef, Cuong Nguyen will be dishing out some of the most classic Vietnamese street foods with his mum, Linda. All of Philter’s favourites will be on offer, as well as Raspberry Pash Beer Slushies and other cocktails being served at the Philter Brewing rooftop bar on Sunday, January 22 and Sunday, January 29.

Victoria

Lunar New Year Festival
When: Ring in the Lunar New Year with food, music, arts, and more on Sunday, January 22, from 10 am to 9 pm.

Lunar New Year at the National Gallery of Victoria
When: Celebrate the year of the rabbit at the National Gallery of Victoria’s festival of art, food, and art-making activities for everyone from 10 am-5 pm.

Queensland

BriAsia Festival
When: From February 1-19, Brisbane will come alive with performances, including lion dances and martial arts displays. There will be street food, workshops, comedy and more.

South Australia

Chinatown Adelaide Street Party
When: Adelaide is set to hose a fun-filled day celebrating the Chinese New Year on Saturday, January 28, from 12 pm to 9 pm.

Western Australia

Crown Perth
When: Across January and February, Crown Perth hosts free live entertainment, including colourful lion dances, roving mascots, and drumming performances. The restaurants will also throw banquets and menus dedicated to the Lunar New Year.

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