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Search Party star Alia Shawkat says season 2 is all about 'paranoia and fear'

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TBS

The search may be over, but the complications have just begun. Starting with that dead body in the closet that needs to be buried.

TBS’ offbeat mystery-comedy — about a rudderless millennial named Dory (Alia Shawkat) who drags her friends into her mission to track down a former classmate who’s disappeared — ended its first season with the shocking revelation that… there was no mystery. Chantal (Clare McNulty) simply got dumped by the married man she was dating and sought refuge at her friend’s summer home. But at that house, Dory & Co. were surprised by opportunist-turned-PI Keith (Ron Livingston), and after a scuffle, he was killed, leaving the quartet — including Drew (John Reynolds), Portia (Meredith Hagner), and Elliott (John Early) — with a very real-world problem on their hands.

So season 2 resumes with the fearful foursome figuring out how to keep Keith’s corpse concealed. “They’re hiding any evidence as best they can, and each step of the way realizing they f—ed up,” Shawkat tells EW with a laugh. “They’re like, ‘Wait, what about fingerprints?’ ‘Wait, what about this, what about that?’ It’s almost the YouTube version of ‘How do you bury a body?’”

They will be flying blind, too, on how to deal with Chantal, whom they are keeping in the dark about Keith’s demise. And she, in turn, is not telling the truth about her disappearance to her parents and friends when they all return back home. “Chantal is my favorite character,” says Shawkat. “She is just the strangest, most annoying, un-self-aware person there is. She isn’t aware of the truth of the scenario, but obviously, the group is. It becomes [about] trying to figure out how to control her, because in a way she could be their unraveling… [It’s] really funny in the first couple of episodes how she responds to the attention of being home and how the gang has to be around this and watching it, knowing the actual truth.”

This season’s story also involves an activist-turned-Senate hopeful, Mary (J. Smith-Cameron), whose campaign Dory and her ex Julian (Brandon Micheal Hall) join. (Mary winds up presenting Dory with an award for finding Chantal. “She is a huge character this season,” says Shawkat. “She’s someone who comes off as one thing and is actually another.”) Other new faces include a sweet, insecure cop (Tymberlee Hill), a manipulative director (Jay Duplass) who crosses paths with Portia, and Keith’s ex-wife (Judy Reyes). “She thinks that Dory is Keith’s new lover,” says Shawkat of the latter, “so she hunts me down and tries to find information. She’s kind of like a trashy Jersey woman with a good heart.”

After Dory and the rest of the crew return home, they hope to get back to their more innocent brunching ways, but things are far from the same, and Dory wishes she had never pried open this mystery box. “She was finding passion when she was hanging out with Keith and getting excited and turned on by the adventure,” notes Shawkat. “Now it’s an adventure she doesn’t want to be a part of — but she’s already in it.”

And as the tone has darkened, the stakes have escalated. “The first season, Nancy Drew was the stylistic choice, and this one is more of a Hitchcock style, where it’s paranoia and fear,” she sums up. “But there’s definitely something attacking them at all points.” Keep an eye out the window — especially the rear one.