The Afterparty S2E3 & S2E4 Review: The Mystery Continues…

Hannah wears a beret and holds binoculars to her eyes in The Afterparty S2E4
Courtesy of Apple TV+

The following review contains spoilers for The Afterparty S2E3, “Travis” & S2E4, “Hannah,” on Apple TV+

Editor’s Note: This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the series being covered here wouldn’t exist.

In the two most recent episodes of The Afterparty Season 2, we’re shown the wedding weekend through Travis’s (Paul Walter Hauser) and Hannah’s (Anna Konkle) eyes. Episode 3 (“Travis”) is a spoof and spin on the old film noir detective genre, and Episode 4 (“Hannah”) follows the direction and formula of a Wes Anderson film nearly perfectly, reminding me most of Moonrise Kingdom, with other hints and influences of the 2010 indie romcom vibe and soundtrack; something like 500 Days of Summer or ABC’s TV series, Pushing Daisies.

The two genres were well depicted in their parodies and particularly well-matched to their characters. “Travis” felt a little more familiar as a parody. I think the detective film noir has been a go-to genre for parody for years; it’s highly recognisable and easy to follow. Yet, the adolescent humour thrown in throughout gave the narration an unexpected twist which was a little different.

The Afterparty S2E3: L-R Sebastian (Jack Whitehall) and Travis (Paul Walter Hauser) standing in Edgar's office.
The Afterparty S2E3: L-R Sebastian (Jack Whitehall) and Travis (Paul Walter Hauser). Now streaming on Apple TV+.

I particularly enjoyed Episode 4, “Hannah.” I’m a fan of Wes Anderson’s work, and something about the episode also felt nostalgic. It was also incredibly on trend with the influx of Wes Anderson-inspired TikToks and AI videos that have been making waves on the internet lately. His genius seems to be particularly present in the zeitgeist. The big reveal of The Afterparty S2E4 is the romance between Hannah and Grace (Poppy Liu). It was fun; it made me giggle a few times. The chemistry between Anna Konkle and Poppy Liu is undoubtedly stronger than that between Liu and Zach Woods, although I think that’s also due to the nature of Woods’ character. However, more on all that later.

Let’s talk suspects…

From the first season of The Afterparty, we know that these stylised episodes offer not only a meta-perspective on genre, but an elaborate way to establish facts, alibis, motives and character development. However, with the oversaturation of perspectives, plenty of red herrings are planted along the way.

“Travis” and “Hannah” had arrows pointing at different people. In particular, some moments make Sebastian (Jack Whitehall) look like a scheming, backstabbing business partner. Of course, his episode will premiere next week on Apple TV+, and we’ll finally get his side of the story on why Edgar fired him, why he’s stealing money, and so on.

However, I don’t think he killed Edgar; Edgar and Sebastian have been friends since childhood, which has to count for something. Then again, we know from Season 1 that personal history meant nothing in the writer’s room when Yasper (Ben Schwartz) killed Xavier (Dave Franco) over a garage band backing track to Xavier’s debut hit single. The Afterparty isn’t afraid of killing their victims over the petty little details, and for that, I love them.

The Afterparty S2E4: L-R Isabel (Elizabeth Perkins) standing by the bathtub, Hannah (Anna Konkle) in the bathtub.
The Afterparty S2E4: L-R Isabel (Elizabeth Perkins) and Hannah (Anna Konkle). Now streaming on Apple TV+

On another note, I think there haven’t been nearly enough eyes on Isabel (Elizabeth Perkins), the mother of the deceased, throughout the past four episodes. She was the first to point the finger at Grace. Despite being painted as not entirely cognitively efficient, she’s peeved about whom her son married, resentful of her dead husband, and has had multiple whispered conversations with sketch lord Sebastian; she also somehow has the expertise to disappear suddenly with no trace across the estate.

Yes, Isabel is Edgar’s mother, but think again about Yasper and Xavier. There’s a strong possibility she could be liable for her son’s death either on purpose or in a mother-smother way.

But maybe we’re missing something…

In S2E3, Travis claims to be hit in the back of the head with a shovel. Aniq (Sam Richardson) interprets this as Travis falling unprovoked, but that still leaves a gap in the novice detective’s story, with the possibility that he may be hiding something or that someone in this group of suspects is capable of hitting a person over the head with a shovel. I sincerely hope something comes of this plot hole. I want to understand what happened, and I hope it’s not dropped. If it acts as just a way for the writers to keep Travis out of the story for a few hours and nothing more, it would be pretty lazy on their part, but I think there must be more to this moment than our understanding so far.

The Afterparty S2E4: L-R Isabel (Elizabeth Perkins), Edgar (Zach Woods), Grace (Poppy Liu), Vivian (Vivian Wu), Feng (Ken Jeong), Zoe (Zoe Chao) and Aniq (Sam Richardson) sitting around a dinner table looking directly to the camera, i.e. Hannah's perspective.
The Afterparty S2E4: L-R Isabel (Elizabeth Perkins), Edgar (Zach Woods), Grace (Poppy Liu), Vivian (Vivian Wu), Feng (Ken Jeong), Zoe (Zoe Chao) and Aniq (Sam Richardson). Now streaming on Apple TV+

From the get-go, I suspected Hannah might have feelings for Grace, but I had not anticipated that they were having an affair behind Edgar’s back the whole time. And, if anything, I think this makes Edgar look the worst out of this love triangle. How had he never noticed? Why did he never show up when he said he would for Grace? Look, cheating isn’t cool, and don’t go cheating on your partner with their sister! And I’m certainly not trying to blame the infidelity entirely on the deceased, but I have to say that this scenario raises questions about Edgar’s character. And I’m not happy about it; from Aniq and Grace’s perspective in Episodes 1 and 2, I’d concluded that Edgar was a genuine sweetheart. This whole thing makes me somewhat suspicious that he may have actually known all about the affair, and that somewhere down the line, we’ll see a note to Hannah and Grace from Edgar giving the sapphic lovebirds his blessing—but I’m a hopeless romantic.

I have to say I was worried The Afterparty Season 2 wouldn’t be able to hold a candle to Season 1. I was unsure how the writers would be able to carry the story forward. We saw in the first episode how they drew us back in with a couple of returning characters, but how would their dynamic play out in different surroundings? The element of Zoe (Zoe Chao) doing her own investigation on the side while Aniq and Detective Danner (Tiffany Haddish) conduct the interviews rings closely to how Aniq behaved in the first season, but it doesn’t feel repetitive. Interestingly, Aniq seems less involved in the investigation than in Season 1 due to his involvement in the interviews; he’s more passing judgements than picking up clues. Still familiar, but not at all the same as before.

Written by Isobel Grieve

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