Search Party season 4, episode 3 recap – “Escape to Nowhere”

January 14, 2021
Cole Sansom 0
HBO Max, Weekly TV


Dory makes a break for it while the gang starts to catch on to her disappearance.

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Dory makes a break for it while the gang starts to catch on to her disappearance.

This recap of Search Party season 4, episode 3, “Escape to Nowhere”, contains spoilers. Our spoiler-free season review is here.

The central question driving Search Party’s first season (or at least driving Dory) was: if you went missing, who would search for you? This fourth season has cleverly shifted things so that the season can be seen thematically as a dark mirror of the first. The question explored here is: if you went missing, would anybody know you were gone? The show’s previous seasons have done an excellent job working to the point where her friends are so mad at her actions that they simply do not care to question her absence, making her nightmare all the more horrifying.

For a moment it seemed like she might somehow get out of this mess. When a car shows up and she gets in, it seems like Dory might be free of Chip. Of course, this is Search Party, so nothing goes quite as expected. The driver, excited to have recognized the media sensation in his car, veers off the road, where a glammed up Chip finds them in the morning.

Beforehand, she manages to escape through sheer force of emotional manipulation (although this time with a more than deserving subject). Guilt-tripping Chip by saying they missed their “three-month friend-iversary,” she finds herself enjoying a somewhat fancy meal. “I’m so happy you’re finally acknowledging we’re friends,” says Chip, as he brings her a fancy dress.

“Every friendship has a food fight,” Dory says, taking advantage of her captor’s clear lack of socialization. When all’s thrown, she pretends to be upset — “Chip, you got too carried away” — allowing her to take advantage of the sharp bone she scored the last episode to scrape away the paint on the bathroom window, allowing it to open.

That she gets away is only to do the fortuitous appearance of acclaimed character actor Ann Dowd (Ann Dowd!) who spins a yarn about wanting to put Christmas decorations on the house. Like a Gilmore Girls character in a David Lynch film, she explains the burden she’s put upon herself to decorate Chip’s Aunt’s house every (“I sent an email four years ago and got an out of office reply”), mercifully distracting Chip so that Dory has enough time to shimmy down the drainpipe and into the woods.

Soon she finds an abandoned building that seems to have a broadcasting station, but just to her luck, the only one listening is a child who screams “F*ck You” at her. All seems lost, and she has a cold-induced dream of her friends trying to help her, including Portia picking up the radio transmitter to say “This is the Dory needs help show.”

As it happens, some of her friends seem to be catching on to her disappearance (took them long enough!) Elliott opens an episode of his show, “Right is Right”, with a prayer that he claims is to get rid of the gays. “I hate gay people and I’m allowed to hate myself,” he says, harping on gay marriage and mentioning that someone died at his gay wedding.

On this particular point, he’s offered a correction. As protesters and counter-protestors await Elliott on his way to work, the two wedding planners from last season are there. They slam his bigotry and say “nobody died at your wedding.” “The twink (who we know as Chip) did not even work for us — he lied about everything.” For the moment it’s unclear whether this will get Elliott moving, but it’s a start.

Much more promising is Drew, whose princess (playing) girlfriend has done some googling and caught up with the show’s plot: “I learned that you’re not from South Africa; you’re from Chicago! And, you need glasses!” Drew responds in an all-timer Drew mumble, “Um, is this about my murder trial?”

The reminder of his past leads Drew to do that thing we’ve all done at some point — look at your ex’s social media! He finds one of Chip’s crudely photoshopped “vacation” pictures, and notices something unusual — Dory is wearing his sweater!

Notes from Search Party season 4, episode 3:

  • While it’s plausible her friends might not notice her absence, it’s a little odd that her family doesn’t (although I’m sure this could be explained as a fallout from the trial).
  • Portia gets a fun scene talking to the director of ‘Savage: the Dory Seif Story.’ Seeing the negative portrayal of Dory, she asks, “Is it too late to rewrite the scene where she takes out a  cigarette and puts it out on a little squirrel.” The director responds by discussing her previous hit “Einstein in Miami,” which is exactly the right level of ridiculousness a fake movie name should have
  • Drew on how he got hired at the theme park: “I have to fill out a bunch of weekly reports and they pay me half as much.”
  • After learning of Drew’s past, his girlfriend tells some wild story involving the mayor’s baby, roller skates, and a gutter, as some sort of show of mutual honesty.
  • While Chip “I actually invented a very powerful stain removal 6 years ago. I didn’t even need to, I was just messing around with some chemicals to remind myself of my time at MIT.” Also, it’s also a cure for lupus? What can’t Chip do! (besides not be a sociopath).
  • “It’s cold out here and These muffins are really heavy”
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