Search Party season 4, episode 8 recap – “The Imposter”

January 28, 2021
Cole Sansom 0
HBO Max, Weekly TV


Chantal leaves prison and finds a chance at success in her own episode.

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Chantal leaves prison and finds a chance at success in her own episode.

This recap of Search Party season 4, episode 8, “The Imposter”, contains spoilers.

The great twist of Search Party’s first season was that the subject of the search was not only not in any form of danger, but was in fact the most annoying person alive. Since then, the show has struggled to use Chantal, inserting her into C-plots that drag on the main storyline and never become more than “Chantal is annoying and dumb.”

In a genius move, the fourth season ditched Chantal entirely, up to now, where she gets her own episode which not only puts the character to good use in a hilarious story but works to solve the central conflict of the main storyline. 

She begins the episode in prison after her misdeeds with Wallace Shawn went awry. Her lawyer brings up an archaic “ineptitude law” that Chantal struggles to understand, and even hesitates a the thought of release.“Things are moving really fast,” she says, “I just got used to it…The food here is legit yummy and the girls here think it’s really cool that I did those crimes.” Oh, Chantal.

When she gets out, Chantal finds that her family has all been fired from their jobs and forced to downsize to a tiny apartment due to her legal fees, a development that she hates but rolls her eyes when her sister blames their misfortune on her. They’re all working to support the family (“Linda found a way to make money off of emails”), except for Ted, who isn’t selling drugs, but microdosing LSC; “believe me when I tell you that I will invent something that will save our family.” Chantal is having none of it, screaming “this isn’t Witherbottom, it’s rock bottom,” and storming out.

Taking one of Ted’s tabs, she is whirled into a vision of a table of dead authors who proclaim to fawn over her poems (Maya Angelou claims she has thrown out everything else). And they tell her it’s her mission to write a novel. Chantal spends day and night putting pen to paper, ignoring everything else around her until her masterwork is completed.

Presenting the leather-bound book to Elliott’s former editor, Nia (Kate Berlant), she is disappointed to hear criticism. “It took me eight minutes to open the lock,” Nia says, before railing about the heaviness of the book and then how nonsensical it is (explaining the title, Perfect 10, Chantal says that “even though the common person might think that I am a perfect 10 I am still flawed”). “If I were to publish this, people would freak out. It would make the world a worse place.”

Furious with herself, she throws the extremely heavy book off the roof (which explains Charlie’s accident earlier in the season) and it’s soon picked up by Wilma, (broadway legend Lillias White) an Oprah analog who devours the book and exports its author’s genius. The only catch is that Wilma interprets the title literally, and believes Chantal to be an actual ten-year-old. 

This leads to a hilarious parody of Search Party’s opening scene, right down to the music and framing. Chantal, walking down the street, sees a poster that catches her eye. It’s a missing poster for Dory. But it turns out that the poster that caught her eye is one distributed by Wilma, searching for the author of Imperfect 10. 

Overjoyed, she rings up Wilma and tries to correct her. Wilma cuts her off, and Chantal thereon is invited to appear on her show. Arriving at the studio, Chantal causes the production assistants to fly into a panic, but nevertheless, Chantal hesitantly goes on stage. Wilma’s kind act is dropped. “F**k you,” she tells Chantal, who promptly apologizes and explains that she was just trying to find meaning in her life. The audience burst into applause, less to do with Chantal’s expression of honesty and more to do with the fact that the backstage tech was eating a Sticky’s bun and the syrup got caught on the “APPLAUSE” button.

“Who do you think you are?” Wilma asks, and Chantal, feeling at home finally, says, “Myself.” And in one final brilliant twist, it turns out that Dory is watching from her bed (where she’s tied up), and Chantal’s self-declaration causes it all to come back to her.

Search Party season 4, episode 8, “The Imposter” notes:

  • That’s showrunner Charles Rogers as F. Scott Fitzgerald and R. L. Stine as himself (who is apparently dead? spooky!).
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