Search Party Season 5 Trailer: Dory's Got A Messiah Complex

Few shows have rebooted their core premise as many times as "Search Party," and in the trailer for the series' final season, the show is reinventing itself again. The Alia Shawkat-led comedy will return on HBO Max on January 7, and it looks like it's ready to go out in a blaze of glory.

"Search Party" has worn several different hats over its run; the show began with a group of hipster New Yorkers, led by self-important Dory (Shawkat), looking for a college classmate who went missing. The second and third seasons dealt with the fallout of a major crime the group commits while on their misguided search, while Season 4 saw Dory kidnapped by an unstable "fan" named Chip (Cole Escola). Now, the new season trailer shows Dory starting a cult based on knowledge she gained during her near-death experience.

The Gang Starts A Cult

The show's uneven fourth season ended with a genuinely touching scene, in which Dory envisioned a future after her death while trapped in a burning house. She watched her friends attend her memorial, then saw the group discover a pre-recorded message she made before her death. None of this really happened, but it's likely the inspiration for her newfound, prophet-like confidence.

When the trailer opens, Dory is telling a panel of what appear to be doctors that she "has to save everyone from their pain." She seems to spend part of the season in some kind of care facility, but we also see her up on stage, talking about love while dressed in elaborate golden clothing. Dory's always had a penchant for near-delusional self-absorption, and it's a thread the satirical series seems poised to pull until it completely unravels. With the backing of a tech billionaire played by none other than Jeff Goldblum, Dory starts on a very public path to enlightenment that will surely have unintended consequences. Along with Goldblum, Kathy Griffin and John Waters also make surprise appearances in the trailer, though they're so brief it's impossible to tell who they'll be playing.

Less Dory, More Elliott, Please

I'll be the first to admit, this trailer has me apprehensive for the show's final season. The first three seasons of "Search Party" were fantastic, and few recent TV twists can beat the surprise at the end of its very first season. Yet the show we see in this trailer bears little resemblance to the one we've seen before. Sure, "Search Party" has always satirized the trend-chasing, shallow Millennial friend group at its center, but Dory's pathological selfishness has also always been its most frustrating, unpleasant preoccupation. The show might technically be about Dory, but it's at its best when focusing on her vapid, insecure friends. In the new footage, we see what they make of her journey towards becoming a guru. Portia (Merideth Hagner) seems to be on board for Dory's latest transformation, while Drew (John Reynolds) and Elliott (John Early) definitely aren't buying it.

The show's secret weapon has always been Early, and he's a scene-stealing standout in the season 5 trailer, too. Somehow, shallow Elliott and boyfriend Marc (Jeffery Self) end up in the same room as a sweater-vest-wearing red-headed child who eerily pours a huge glass of milk as they look on. Elliott is frozen in a look of deep discomfort that's more hilarious than anything else in the trailer, despite taking up all of one second. I could take or leave Dory's new plot, but I genuinely can't wait to see what's going on with Elliott and the weird milk kid.

"Search Party" returns on HBO Max on January 7, 2022.