‘Search Party’ Season 5, Episode 10 Recap: Revealed
Photo: Jon Pack/HBOMax
Psychology has this concept of the hedonic treadmill. The theory is basically this: every human being has an average level of happiness. Some people are high-spirited; some people are austere. Big changes in a person’s life will affect their happiness for better or for worse, but they will eventually reach their standard level of happiness. Research group was, in some ways, a show on the hedonic treadmill. Throw the craziest shit at these four people and they will return to their base level. Even the end of the world will not have a lasting effect.
Incredibly, Dory and company manage to escape blame once again. They cause the end of humanity (at least for the Americas), but it happens so quickly that no one ever connects the zombie apocalypse to Lyte pills. Most people go to their Dory-inflicted death thinking she died four days before shit really hit the fan.
We start the episode halfway. Thanks to this scene, I have a new phobia: crowd surfing while the crowd undergoes zombification. Not since Return of the Living Dead 5: Rave in the Grave the atmosphere has been brutally hardened. Elliott and Portia find Drew and Dory, explain the jelly-bean switcheroo (“My egomania saved our lives!” Elliott shouts) as well as what happened to the rest of the disciples. “You did it again,” Portia told Dory.
They all flee to Marc and Elliott, where they find that Marc has moved on to a new guy. Well, he thought Elliott was dead. They kick this new guy out, presumably only to die at the hands of the zombies they created. Truly amazing how little anyone changes in the face of these dire circumstances. The four are insular, emotionally incestuous to the point of killing people around them. No one explains the candy to Marc, who eats some that falls from Elliott’s pockets. Beautiful acting from Elliott, who expresses no love or remorse verbally but still looks very fondly at Marc as he begins zombification.
Marc takes his impending death badly. “I was going to go back to school!” he laments. He also takes a moment to call out Elliott and his friends for emotionally holding themselves back and not letting him into the group. “It’s okay not to let your friends’ partners feel included!” Drew yells at a dying Marc. Before he can inflict any damage, zombie Marc is hit by the self-driving police car full of cultists-turned-zombies. Hey, the best! Happy to see you again. Faced with the consequences of their actions, the crew flees.
Approaching the Williamsburg Bridge, the gang spots Gavin, Chantal’s ex. They avoid eye contact as they walk through the visual inspection checkpoint to exit Brooklyn. Again, it’s amazing how the writers give the apocalypse the same motives as a party: big fights with your partner, avoiding people you don’t like, and eventually the desperate need to run away. with your closest friends.
Portia has a scratch, which the military says means she’s infected. “This woman has no brains!” shouts a soldier, to which Portia responds, “I’m just leggy.” When it looks like Portia – the heart of the gang – is going to be left behind, it’s devastating. Dory eventually decides that, rather than leaving any of the main four behind, they are going to make do in Brooklyn together. It’s the whole end of 1978 Dawn of the Dead. A moment of despair, a decision to stay together rather than die apart, and little hope of ever getting out of it. Only they are saved! By Chantale.
As we guessed, Chantal used her wife’s legacy to become a zombie hunter. The ancient key given to him in the previous episode was to a series of underground tunnels, the best place to time travel and exit. As Chantal explains, time travel is made more difficult by construction. You don’t want to spawn inside a wall, so better travel through those disused tunnels that will never change. However, it remains a geocentric model of time travel. Earth revolves around the sun, the solar system travels through the Milky Way, and the universe continues to expand ad infinitum. Theoretically, if you time travel to a fixed location in space, you’ll almost always appear in the freezing vacuum of space. But hi! At least the Liquorice prep crap is useful. Who doesn’t love Kind bars?
After being saved by Chantal, Dory has a brief moment to come to terms with the guilt of ending the world. She confesses to Chantal that the zombie apocalypse is entirely her fault, but she falls on delirious ears. She even tries to explain why it all happened, but all she can say is “I just wanted to”. And it always has been, hasn’t it? Dory sees her desire as the dominant force in the universe. She wants a goal; she wants excitement; she wants to be at the center of things; she wants to be a good person; she wants to enlighten the world. Wanting without borders, wanting without logic. She wanted candy to work, so she didn’t listen to the scientists who said it was impossible. And now those scientists are dead, and she’s still alive because she’s Teflon.
Let’s do a quick check-in with where Research group left its players:
• Dr. Benny: zombie
• The coroners: probably deceased
• Gemini the rat: on the loose
• Influencers: zombies
• Quinn Tunnel: Probably hiding in a bunker somewhere safe
• Marc: zombie!
• Aspen: weird little zombie
• Gavin: Last seen shouting “Men first” at the checkpoint, so probably dead
• Chantal: braver and more efficient than the troops
• Gail: zombie
We don’t see zombie Gail until the flash-forward, once the hedonic treadmill has really kicked off. New York is everything Life after people, and Drew and Dory got married. It seems their lives are spent stepping into fanciful places in the world before and ignoring all the death and devastation that surrounds them. Survivor guilt? Certainly not. The group had already started erecting mental barriers between themselves and the havoc they caused three minutes after being saved by Chantal.
Elliott talks about moving to Los Angeles, which has about 11,000 people. As they talk lazily, they pass a wall full of missing posters. Dory stops, looks and can finally look away. Nice little parallel with the pilot. If she could have overlooked a missing poster, this wall wouldn’t be covered with it now. Bye, Research group. You were real even when you were incredibly fake.
• No, but for real, what do we all think of the sci-fi-horror turn of this last season? I had fun the whole time, but I’m afraid we’ve lost something by going this far into speculative fiction. Research group started out somewhat entrenched, then escalated more and more. But even in season four’s kidnapping and gun factories, it was still a world that could happen. Does the show lose some of its specificity by moving so far from our experience? Or going deeper into the apocalypse, does Research group itself future-proof? The real world is becoming less and less believable. Maybe it will look like a documentary by next year.
• The moment when Elliott sees an acquaintance in Chantal’s bunker and lies about the fact that he will finally be able to have a coffee soon? Devastating. I really hope we’re not planning on making plans yet when we’re in the bunkers.
• If this was real life (LOL), there would have been FBI operations among the grieving hippies gathered at Lyte. They should have wrapped and labeled Dory before she could hand out a candy.
• The news calls zombification an “unidentified contagious personality disorder”, which is really a gag.
• Show character co-creator Charles Rogers is referred to as Befuddled Ninny in the credits, and I’m LOLing.