The Afterparty Season 2 Finale: Wow.

The Afterparty S2E10: Vivian (Vivian Wu) facing camera in her 80s soap opera short
The Afterparty S2E10: Vivian Wu as Vivian. Image Courtesy of Apple TV+.

This review contains spoilers for The Afterparty S2E8 (“Feng”), S2E9 (“Isabel”) and the Season 2 finale, S2E10 (“Vivian and Zoe”) 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.

I’m stunned. The Afterparty Season 2 finale was incredible. I had predicted in my last review of Episodes 5-7 that Edgar’s (Zach Woods) death may have been accidental, but I am shocked that the accident was that the murder whisky was meant for another wedding guest.

Perhaps I need to read more Agatha Christie to become a true murder mystery aficionado and dissect the plot structure and hidden clues throughout this season of The Afterparty. I did not see this twist coming. I was clinging to the wrong clues and fixating so much on Edgar that I missed seeing how far Ulysses (John Cho) was willing to go for Vivian (Vivian Wu).

But I’m getting ahead of myself; let’s walk it back to the episodes before the finale that distracted us from the confusion and lies from Episode 7, “Ulysses.” Episode 8, “Feng,” was a curious way of integrating “real footage” of the wedding night to refute and confirm elements from all the characters’ “mind movies,” as Detective Danner (Tiffany Haddish) calls them. Therefore, the episode didn’t take on any genre, per se. Still, we spent most of the episode in vertical smartphone dimensions watching the chaos unfold with supposed TikTok filters and added commentary from Kyler (Zack Calderon).

Again, it seemed we were in for a lacklustre episode as a diversion from the real questions we (me) had about those who appeared to be the obvious suspects: Sebastian (Jack Whitehall) and Isabel (Elizabeth Perkins).

The Afterparty S2E9, Isabel (Elizabeth Perkins) standing toward camera holding a sword and Hannah (Anne Konkle) standing to the left behind her.
The Afterparty S2E9: L-R, Anne Konkle as Hannah and Elizabeth Perkins as Isabel. Image Courtesy of Apple TV+

In Episode 9, “Isabel,” I was looking for answers and boy did I get them. The episode played into a 1950s psychological melodrama. I found Elizabeth Perkins’s performance bewildering; she was genuine yet exaggerated and perfect in every way, blending seamlessly into the intended genre. I’ve fallen in love with Elizabeth Perkins in the past few months, not only from her performance in The Afterparty but also from her role in Minx. This woman is a powerhouse who exudes the privileged white woman we simultaneously hate and want to be. She drips of Old Money confidence and class, her fearsome side ready to pounce. In The Afterparty, her performance of this woman is confuddled by the psychological attack on her, but that same pretentious poise is evident, and her presence makes everyone else shrink. I’m at the point where I may turn her IMDb credits into my new watchlist; I’m so obsessed.

This episode (9), most of all, solidified Edgar’s vilification; yet again, Zach Woods did not disappoint in his coy, villainous, hushed conversations with the mother he wished to destroy. I had clung so tightly to the romanticised version of Edgar from Episode 2, “Grace,” that every chip at Edgar’s character perplexed my understanding of The Afterparty’s victim.

However, when I think about the hypothetical wealth Edgar grew up with in this fictional world where he inflated his own bitcoin, practically ignored his fiancé, fired his best friend, attempted to commit his mother to a psychiatric hospital to gain control of her assets, and treated his lizard better than his family and friends: Clearly, this character is an asshole. However, I want to note that there were elements to Edgar’s blunt deliveries and confusions in specific social scenarios which were neurodivergent coded. By no way am I vilifying that aspect of his performance.

The finale, where the truth is revealed, breaks the formula by including multiple “mind movies” from Vivian and Zoe (Zoe Chao). Each is short and sweet, rushing us to the finish line with their alibis. Zoe’s campy horror short with the dog that can’t die was funny, off-putting, and an enjoyable side quest. Vivian’s ’80s soap opera short where she met Ulysses under a tree, and he professed his undying love for her, was just as campy as the first and perfectly executed.

The Afterparty S2E10: Zoe (Zoe Chao) being attacked by a dog in Edgar and Grace's room.
The Afterparty S2E10: Zoe Chao as Zoe. Image Courtesy of Apple TV+

Of course, the most exciting piece of the episode is when Aniq (Sam Richardson) and Detective Danner unload their circumstantial evidence onto the sheriff, who arrives because Sebastian saw fit to report Edgar’s death, having concluded his business finally. The unravelling of all the clues and suspected methods was fascinating and had me on the edge of my seat. Brilliantly, the confession of Ulysses came down to the dazzling chemistry between John Cho and Vivian Wu.

And so happy endings ensue. Zoe and Grace finally makeup, and trust is restored. Travis (Paul Walter Hauser) makes his big play and screws Sebastian out of money due to the surge in Edgar’s bitcoin following the announcement of the mogul’s death—he’s no longer the bumbling conspiracy theorist but a player in the bigger game. Grace can give Feng money to restore his business. Isabel gets to retain her assets. Hannah and Grace are finally openly together. Zoe and Aniq get engaged because they propose to each other. And Detective Danner makes a movie instead of writing a book, solving her writer’s block.

Compared to Season 1’s novelty, I think Season 2 of The Afterparty is a great sequel. The ingenuity continues. The structure and format work well. I found this season comforting and exciting; there’s an element of knowing what to expect while simultaneously being anxious for the next plot twist. It’s a fine line that The Afterparty straddles, but they do it well.

From the murder mystery boom with Only Murders in the Building, Kenneth Branagh’s Periot reboot, Rian Johnson’s Knives Out franchise and more, The Afterparty finds a unique niche in the genre where it plays with the viewer through meta satire. I also find that despite other stories being present-day, The Afterparty feels the most modern in its comedic styling.

Written by Isobel Grieve

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