Where 'Search Party' Is Heading After the Season 3 Cliffhanger

Alia Shawkat teases Season 4, which has already been filmed.

search party

Warning: This article contains major spoilers for all three seasons of the HBO Max series Search Party. Proceed with caution. You can also read a recap of where Season 2 left off.

There are two surprises at the end of the third season of Search Party. The first? Dory (Alia Shawkat) and Drew (John Reynolds) are acquitted of a murder they clearly committed and covered up. The second: Dory is kidnapped by her stalker (comedian Cole Escola). The last we see of her, she's chained to a chair and her head is shaved. For the audience, the cliffhanger means a long wait until HBO Max decides to drop more episodes of the series. But the actors are already know where the show is going: They've already filmed season four.

"Cole Escola is definitely a big part of season four and he is a goddamn genius and he's amazing," Shawkat explains in an interview. "It goes into a whole other layered world."

Shawkat was also keen to point out the symbolic relevance of the season's conclusion. Right before Dory is taken, we see her staring at herself in a mirror, an echo of earlier moments of self-consideration. "What I love thematically about the show is that the season ends on this reflection of herself," Shawkat says. "The first season ends on her seeing herself in the mirror right after she killed Keith and realizing it's all been a lie that she wanted to believe. Second season [she looks at] the cracked mirror [of the cop car]. And then the third season she looks at herself in the mirror and she's totally transformed. She's like, 'Oh I like this person I've become. I don't even see the old Dory anymore.' And then right then she gets kidnapped and knocked out. It's like the phases of self-discovery, if you will. Fourth season is really about her facing herself in like the deepest sense of it."

As for Dory's acquittal, despite the stacks of evidence against her, Shawkat was more surprised by the way it happens than the fact that it does. Dory delivers her own closing argument, giving a tearful performance like something out of an Academy Award nominated drama. She frames herself as the victim, falsely pledging her love to Drew. "The fact that Dory fires [her lawyer] and just doubles down on the lying and represents herself," Shawkat says. "That was even more surprising to me than the fact they got off."

John Early, who plays Dory's friend and accomplice Elliott, was concerned that the verdict might be seen as insensitive in this moment when the true injustices of the legal system are being exposed during the Black Lives Matter protests. But then he realized the conclusion was actually just realistic. "It's just more true. That just is what happens," he says. "Of course they got off. Of course they got let go. I think there is, of course, argument to be made that it may have been cathartic to watch them be punished more formally but I think the show does a really good job of making sure they are always followed by punishment even if it's not in this case legal. They are always going to be followed by what they did."

As for just what exactly that punishment is? You'll have to wait until HBO Max releases the next season.

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