鈥淒enial,鈥 the first of Search Party鈥檚 two episodes on Sunday, December 10, isn鈥檛 the show鈥檚 strongest. There鈥檚 a lot of wheel-spinning with only one really solid storyline (which I鈥檒l get to because it鈥檚 awesome). But the second ep, titled 鈥淗ysteria,鈥 brings back Detective Joy Hartman (Tymberlee Hall), and with her comes the show鈥檚 mojo.

First, however, we have to sit through Drew (John Reynolds) telling Dory (Alia Shawkat) about the threatening flowers he received; Portia (Meredith Hagner) cutting her mom out of her life, at the advice of her director, Elijah (Jay Duplass); Dory going to a funeral for Keith (Ron Livingston) and meeting his daughter; and Julian (Brandon Micheal Hall) being branded a woman-hating abuse-denier because he accuses Chantal (Clare McNulty) of making up her story about her abusive boyfriend and the motel. Then Mary, the woman whose campaign Julian is working for, starts to sexually harass him because she knows he can鈥檛 get a job anywhere else.

None of these story lines are terribly interesting. The Julian story line would be interesting if it pertained to the overall plot more, but as it stands, it feels like a waste of time. Yes, his female colleagues yelling at him for not believing Chantal is darkly funny, and the sexual harassment is certainly an on-the-nose plot, but it just doesn鈥檛 seem to fit in with the rest of the show, so I find myself impatiently running out the clock on those scenes so we can get back to the rest of the story.

Nothing against Hall, though. He鈥檚 great 鈥 if you aren鈥檛 watching him on ABC鈥檚 The Mayor, you should be.

The first episode of the night does have one shining star: Elliott (John Early) in rehab. And predictably, it is amazing. Elliott is being held captive with a bunch of other pseudo-Elliotts, but don鈥檛 tell him that. He all but confesses to Keith鈥檚 murder to his therapist, though in his telling of it, Keith is now a seal that they had to club to death. Oh, Elliott.

But the second episode is where the show really gets going this week. In it, Joy is back, and she knows that Dory and Drew are totally full of crap regarding Keith. Dory keeps spinning her lies about 鈥淔at Frankie,鈥 whom Joy doesn鈥檛 think is a real person.

There is also the sticky situation of Drew and Dory finding out who is threatening Drew. It鈥檚 his crazy neighbor, April (Phoebe Tyers), who has sussed out the situation because she can hear everything when he and Dory fight in his apartment. Ruh roh. What do you think it鈥檒l take to shut her up?

Meanwhile, Crystal (Jessica Chaffin), girlfriend to Keith鈥檚 ex-wife Deb (Judy Reyes), inadvertently saves the day when she tells Joy she thinks she knows who Fat Frankie is. His name is Frank Medici and he鈥檚 a shady mob guy who does business in Canada.

So perhaps that will put Joy off Dory鈥檚 scent, but something tells me that probably won鈥檛 happen.

Oh, and Portia鈥檚 play debuts and she鈥檚 fantastic in it, even if her murderous rage causes Dory to freak out in the theater. And Elliott has decided he just doesn鈥檛 want to work anymore. Ever. It鈥檚 so great.

Odds and Ends

John Early is so, so great as Elliott. The scene where Elliott starts crying at lunch about how scared he is and about all the terrible things he鈥檚 done and how full of crap he is? Outstanding.

Elliott: 鈥淲orking feels bad and I don鈥檛 ever want to work one more day in my entire life.鈥

Joy: 鈥淭hese hipster kids did it! They are full of sh*t and they鈥檙e hiding something. There鈥檚, like, too many coincidences. And you know what else I noticed? That both of them are scared of me and that means something!鈥

(photos via TBS)