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Search Party - Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity-Jig/Doctor Mindbender/The Thoughtless Woman - Review

As Dory continues to suffer at the hands of Chip in this batch of season four episodes – “Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity-Jig,” “Doctor Mindbender,” and “The Thoughtless Woman” – her friends form a “Search Party” of their own to find her.

Things start off on a lighter note, though, as “Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity-Jig” opens with Portia sporting a ridiculous brunette Annie wig on the set of “Savage: The Dory Sief Story.” There’s a lot of fun meta touches in this subplot. Busy Philipps (“Dawson’s Creek”) is so fantastic as the actress playing Portia, who thinks the key to the character is chewing gum. Portia declares it “so cool” that the production has cast an African-American actor to play Drew (I would have loved a more explicit comment about this creating a Drew/Julian amalgamation, but I guess Julian’s not really part of the narrative anymore). And Chantal is being depicted as a gorgeous big woman on campus versus the goober we know she is. Portia is clearly unsettled by the Hollywoodization of her real life, and is unable to give her disdainful director what she wants from her performance as Dory. “Even after everything she did, I still don’t know why she did it,” Portia admits.

That’s something Dory is struggling with herself. Having been recaptured by Chip, she’s so bereft that she contemplates suicide. Even the presence of someone to talk to in her cell – Chip is forced to lock up Ann Dowd’s noisy neighbor Paula Jo when she spots the disoriented Dory in his car – sours when she’s recognized as that “killer” from the news. When Paula Jo speaks ill of Dory to Chip, that signs her death warrant as a furious Chip shoves a chicken nugget cooked in peanut oil down the allergic woman’s throat. Horrified as she watches Paula Jo die in front of her, Dory snaps and loses it on Chip, confessing to killing Keith AND April. “I’m a psycho. What you really like about me is that I can manipulate people into thinking that I’m not,” she snarls at a shocked Chip. “You don’t wanna be my friend. I’m not worth it.” As she breaks down in sobs, I applaud an absolutely bravura performance from Alia Shawkat.

Her actual friends, though, decide she is worth it. Drew heads back to NYC and shows Portia and Elliott that he’s still in possession of the sweater Dory’s wearing in the photoshopped social media picture. And that’s when self-centered Elliott remembers to tell them about Dory’s twink stalker still being alive. “I mean, we don’t owe her this,” Drew admits, “but...like maybe we look into it?” And Portia and Elliott agree.


As they start their search in “Doctor Mindbender,” though, they hit a snag immediately because Chip thought ahead and cut them off at the pass with the police, who received a charming letter from “Dory” basically asking for an “unofficial restraining order.” On their own, the three track down who they think is the twink who attached Portia at the wedding, but quickly put together that Chip stole this guy’s identity and used it to crash the party. After a pointless subplot where they get robbed and abandoned in the woods, they crazily end up with a big clue when, after they stumble into a convenience store for help, Portia spots Chip’s face on the packaging of a pastry product. I do like this return to the series’ roots, the millennial mystery solving.

The title of the episode, however, refers to Chip’s latest machinations with Dory. Between her probable concussion and the drugs he’s pumping into her arm, he has his “best friend” in a suggestible mental state. And that’s when Chip basically starts brainwashing her, using manipulative coaching and his dollies to get Dory to start questioning what happened the night Keith was killed, naturally shifting the blame onto “the gang.” Chip even convinces her that April is alive on a Fiji beach versus dead at the bottom of the Hudson. And, in a real twist of the knife, he helps sell his version of events by playing Dory the nasty voicemail Drew, Portia, and Elliott left her in the season premiere. This story turn is super unsettling, more so than the other physical and psychological abuse Chip has put her through, just how vulnerable Dory is, and how completely at his mercy she is. And Shawkat gives another amazing performance, playing Dory as recognizing the facts amidst the fog, but also feeling relief about being presented with a “reality” where she’s not a murderer or a monster.


Chip’s brainwashing has worked so well in fact that, when we rejoin her in “The Thoughtless Woman,” Dory has free range, breezily walking out of her cell, easily unlocking the coded steel door, and cheerily sitting down for blintzes with her captor. “I know this sounds strange, but I just feel like a completely different person,” Dory admits to him, in an airy, detached voice. And she embraces that literally, donning a blonde bob wig belonging to Chip’s aunt, thinking up a new name, and even resisting several opportunities to run when she and Chip go into town for ice cream. Chip seems to have succeeded in turning Dory into a perfect plastic doll of a best friend, though there is a hint that he’s disappointed she’s no longer the messy bitch who loves drama he first idolized.

Meanwhile, Elliott uses his celebrity clout on Twitter to get him, Portia, and Drew an invitation to the Lil Sticky’s flagship location in New Jersey so they can investigate the face on the logo. There, they meet Richard and Gertrude Wreck, played with eccentric gusto by Griffin Dunne (“This Is Us”) and Deborah Rush (“Orange Is the New Black”). The heads of the conglomerate that owns Lil Sticky’s, they put on a song and dance about the logo being based on a historical photo of a now-elderly man. But once they’ve sent the befuddled friends on their way, the audience learns they’re actually Chip’s parents (which, snerk, means his full name is Chip Wreck). Concerned about what he’s up to, they start trying to track down his whereabouts.

But then, just like that, the search is over! Because while momentarily alone, blissed out eating her ice cream, Dory is approached by...Marc, Elliott’s ex-fiancĂ©! Dory isn’t cognitively together enough to ask for help and Marc is, natch, too self-absorbed to truly appreciate how weird Dory is acting. But he does take a selfie of them together and posts it online, and the episode ends on Elliott, Portia, and Drew seeing it. With four episodes still to go in the season, I’m very curious to see what happens next.

That’s my take on the middle swatch of “Search Party’s” fourth season. Which episode shocked you the most – “Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity-Jig,” “Doctor Mindbender,” or “The Thoughtless Woman?” And, seriously, how good is Alia Shawkat! Search out the comments section and share your thoughts.

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