Dory Sief may have escaped a jail sentence, but in Search Party Season 4, she finds herself in a very different kind of prison. Karma? We think so.
Drew and Dory’s not-guilty verdict rang loud and clear in the HBO Max series’ Season 3 finale — loudly enough, in fact, for Dory’s very-alive stalker to hear. Season 4 finds Dory exactly where we left her (chained up to a chair in the weirdo’s sketchy basement), leaving Drew, Elliott and Portia to ponder her whereabouts and take stock of the group’s complicated, problematic, yet still very funny friendship.
The first three episodes of Season 4 will launch Thursday, followed by another three on Jan. 21 and wrapping with the final four on Jan. 28. Here, EPs/co-creators Charles Rogers and Sarah-Violet Bliss talk to TVLine to tee up the “torture and psychological trauma” ahead for Dory, Susan Sarandon’s radiant guest-starring role and the return of a “thorn” in everyone’s side.
TVLINE | This season feels way darker than anything you’ve done before. Was there any discussion before you started writing about exactly how dismal you wanted things to get?
ROGERS | We knew it was definitely going to get dark and disturbing no matter what. The key for us in the writers’ room, this time around, was trying to figure out what the fun spin could be on all of the torture and psychological trauma that Dory was going to experience this season. It was like, “OK, well it’s definitely going to go to that extreme place, so how do we still make sure it’s funny?” That was our biggest concern.
TVLINE | Dory gets very psychologically damaged this season. Can you tease the horror that awaits her?
ROGERS | This season, Dory is held captive by her stalker named Chip, and the only clues he’s left us with at the end of Season 3 is that he considers Dory and him to be best friends. Going into Season 4, he feels he’s a better friend than her friends are, and that she needs to be held captive until she comes to her own realization of that truth. So Dory lives in this weird, DIY, felt- and craft-created space that’s a smaller version of her apartment in this sort of Misery/Silence of the Lambs horror experience.
TVLINE | At the top of the season, what is Portia, Drew and Elliott’s relationship to Dory like? What pent-up feelings do they have following the trial?
BLISS | It’s a mixed bag of emotions. They’re relieved to have gotten off, and try to navigate how to celebrate that, but also how to keep up appearances. Then, in the first episode, they are left with this confusing note from Dory basically saying, “You guys betrayed me,” and that sends them into a fit of like, “OK, she’s really the worst person ever, and never again are we going to fall for her psychotic behavior.” She’s really put them in a terrible position.
TVLINE | Once again, you have a stellar lineup of guest stars. How did Susan Sarandon get involved, and who will she play?
ROGERS | Sarah-Violet and I are friends with Susan’s son, Jack, who’s a really great guy and a very talented filmmaker in his own right. Early on, we were like, “OK, whoever plays Lylah has to be the most exciting and incredible casting you can imagine.” We had a personal connection to her through Jack, and she was so game and really enjoyed being a part of the whole experience. Everyone was so thrilled and reverent of her joining, and she was immediately palling around with everybody. It was really fun.
Her character, Lylah, is Chip’s aunt, and in the first half of the season, Chip goes into town dressed as her because he’s secretly staying in her house. By his logic, it makes sense to dress up as her when he goes out and about. The lore of Lylah hangs over the season for quite a while until she’s finally summoned into the narrative. Then, she gets to have some very fun and crazy scenes in the second half of the season.
TVLINE | I was a little surprised to see Chantal back! Can you tease her role in this whole kidnapping storyline?
ROGERS | I think it’s safe to say that we purposefully withheld Chantal from a majority of this season, but when you finally touch base with her, you get all the Chantal you could ever ask for. [Laughs]
BLISS | She’s yet again a thorn in Dory’s side.
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