This post contains spoilers for Mythic Quest.
The Mythic Quest team has returned to the office and after the excellent “Everlight” special it is business as usual for the video game creatives. Last season debuted all at once, but Apple TV+ is opting for a weekly rollout for the sophomore outing, which sees the first two episodes debut today (May 7). This method is becoming a streaming norm (well, for anyone who isn’t Netflix) and it means you can savor the antics at MQ rather than binging it in one sitting. As co-creator Megan Gantz mentioned in a recent conversation with What to Watch, the gang was initially meant to be going to the video game trade event E3 in the opening installment. However, this annual expo was canceled in the real world, and this storyline was subsequently ditched for a premiere that focuses on the office environment. The “Everlight” special was a bridge to normalcy after the groundbreaking remotely shot “Quarantine” last May. Welcoming the characters and audience back with a hopeful message doesn’t exclude the biting comedy, and it also reintroduced various conflicts.
The potential issues with Ian (Rob McElhenney) and Poppy (Charlotte Nicdao) sharing the creative director title are quick to form as they struggle to agree on a concept for the new expansion beyond the “Titans' Rift” moniker. “If they're both in charge, then no one has the final say,” Nicdao told What to Watch during a recent video call. Joining Nicdao in separate conversations to discuss coming back after the “Quarantine” special is Ashly Burch, Imani Hakim, F. Murray Abraham, David Hornsby, and Jessie Ennis. As well as playing Rachel and David, Burch and Hornsby are also writers on the series and they talked about the creative changes and challenges caused by the pandemic and the “emotional catharsis” of “Everlight.” Other topics include what it was like to return to set after lockdown, the major arcs of the season, the importance of backstory, romance on Mythic Quest, and the relationships off-screen.
Mythic Quest Season 2: Returning to Work
“I remember being scared and nervous about this new way that we would be shooting, and I was concerned that maybe all these new protocols would feel distracting,” Ennis who plays the fearsome assistant Jo recalls. The unknown element elevated those worries, but she was “pleasantly surprised” by the results. “It felt far more streamlined. It felt like we had eliminated all these distractions and everyone showing up had unified, collaborative energy,” she says. “The masks and the shields made it so that we could do it safely. It's wonderful and I'm so proud of it.”
The decision to address the pandemic, while offering up a slice of escapism factored in the restructuring and rewriting of the seasons. “At the end of the day, we're an office comedy and people want to watch television to escape and to enjoy the office dynamics,” says Hornsby. “So we decided to do “Everlight” as a bridge into putting this chapter of this pandemic and this year behind us, and having a hopeful episode that helps us move forward with the story.” Burch wrote “Everlight” and she mentions it was scheduled for much later in the episode order before production shut down. “It was the same basic concept, but with a totally different purpose in the arc of the season,” she says. “It's cool to think about that this thing that originally was the eighth or the ninth episode, being reformed and rethought and reworked to now being something even more effective and even more compelling.” A general consensus among the cast is how emotional it felt being back on set after this period of uncertainty. “I hope that people get that feeling when they watch the episode because it does represent this lightness, hopefulness, and optimism. It felt that way filming that episode,” recalls Hakim. Fight training and wearing fantasy costumes was a deviation from a typical Mythic Quest scenario. Shooting the episode toward the end of October was a bonus for another reason that Hakim explains, “Because we couldn't dress up on our own time we used “Everlight” as our celebration of Halloween.”
Mythic Quest Season 2: Assistant Wars
“Jo's drawn to power, she's like a moth to the flame, and she's abandoning the flickering light that is David Brittlesbee and moving towards the inferno that is Brad Bakshi (Danny Pudi). It's really fun to see how she gets burned,” Ennis comments about her new assistant position. Teaming up in “Everlight” was just the beginning and Jo is now Brad’s assistant, which has led to tension in the MQ office. “We have David who's been scorned and then Jo who's moved on, and so it was fun to play the exes running into each other, who have to share the same bit of carpet in this office,” Hornsby says. But David is also finding actual romance outside of the office even if he has to travel a considerable distance. “Jo finds her new man right there at the office. But it gets a little trickier than she was hoping,” Hornsby teases about the assistant’s choice to choose scheming over affable. However, David and Brad better watch out as Charlotte Nicdao has a Season 3 suggestion that she has discussed with Ennis. “We would love for one day Jo to be Poppy's assistant, and they just would hate each other but be an incredible team.”
While David and Jo flamed out as partners in “Everlight,” Ennis thinks they would make the ideal pair IRL. “The two of us have theater background or we've studied stage combat and I think it does translate to actual fighting sometimes. So I think I'd picked David Hornsby and the two of us would slay,” she said. For “Everlight,” Ennis was concerned that an old knee injury might cause issues and when she told McElehenny he hooked her up with his trainer. This made Ennis “feel prepared and strong, and like I could throw myself into these fight scenes without worrying about my body. It was really empowering and fun.”
Mythic Quest Season 2: Zoom Rehersals
Ennis talks about how thrilled she was to work with Birch and Hakim on the second episode, and that when the initial shutdown happened in March they already had this script. The shutdown lasted for five months and in this time they continued to work on “Grouchy Goat” over Zoom. Everything was up in the air about when they would come back (and what it would look like) but this script became a lifeline of sorts that they could rehearse remotely. “The one thing we can do is prepare and so we ran those scenes hundreds of times. And by the time it came to actually perform them, I remember feeling like we were flying and soaring,” Ennis describes. “There was no moment to even think about the words because we were so prepared and it was really fun.” Likening to preparation for a play, Ennis adds, “You never get that much time with a script for TV. I love those scenes and I love that episode and it was a thrill.”
Having bonded as a cast in the first season, Nicdao also spoke about their experiences together during the months when everything was shut down. “We had this incredible experience where we were all connecting with each other on Zoom during this period that was really challenging, and then we all get to come back to work together,” she remembers. Nicdao also mentions an ongoing text message thread with the other actresses called “The Perpetual Conversation,” and suffice to say they are close. “Not one day goes by that we're not updating each other so the four of us would be a really good team,” she adds about who she would pick to slay with if they were to take part in a real-life version of “Everlight.”
Mythic Quest Season 2: Poppy and Ian
“It was really fun to get to explore this idea of success,” Nicdao says about Poppy’s new elevated position. Not only does she have to deal with Ian in a new capacity, but she also has to lead multiple departments and her people skills are lacking. “Getting everything you've ever wished for is never what it's cracked up to be, and so now she has all these new hurdles to get over,” she says. In the second episode, Poppy’s disdain for the “Women and Gaming” luncheon is indicative of how little she cares about leaning in, Girlboss personas, or any kind of feminism (performative or not). Nicdao says Poppy's flaws are fun to play with — she also points out this is not her personal feminist outlook or one people should emulate — and this has always been an important part of this character “I think so often when we see women in positions of leadership — especially in television and film — we want them to be perfect,” she says. “We want to be able to point to them and say 'See! This is how you do it.’” With Poppy, the opposite is true and she rejects the role of mentor. “She's not the best boss, she's not the best leader. She's got a big ego, and she treats the people around her pretty badly a lot of the time,” explains Nicdao.
“Unless it's going to benefit her she doesn't see any reason to be an advocate for anything else, which is deplorable but funny,” Nicdao says about Poppy’s lack of feminism or desire to nurture the next generation. This will be put to the test when Dana asks for career assistance. The relationship that prompts the most visceral reaction is with Ian, but are the sex dreams in the premiere a sign that something romantic is going to occur? “I'll say their relationship is platonic. I don't even know if Poppy has got sexual interest in anyone. I think Poppy is married to her job and that's probably the way it's always gonna be,” she comments. “I think Rob and I have so much fun working together, and we really love bouncing off of each other. So it's nice that people are picking up on that.” She also understands that while fans might ship these characters, it might be a different reaction if those dreams (or nightmares) became a reality. “It's one of those relationships where you can ship it but if it ever actually happened, you'd be like, Noooooooo!”
Mythic Quest Season 2: C.W.'s Backstory
Not quite everyone is back in the MQ office, and there is a logistical reason why C.W. is still appearing remotely. “Because I am of a certain age, Rob thought it was a little bit dangerous to have this old man flying around,” Abraham explains from his New York home. “So he said we're going to do it all from there or we're going to fly you out in a private plane (or both).” The Oscar-winner admitted that he was sad to be away from the cast when they returned for “Everlight,” however, he is thrilled C.W. has a role in the office antics. “I was really glad to still be included even though it was so far away. I thought that was very touching to me. I still went through all the testing — the COVID stuff, even though I was long-distance,” he explains.
While the remote scenes are funny — including developing a mobile game with Jo, Rachel, and Dana, in Episode 2 — the fantasy author’s emotional core is slowly being revealed. We will find out about an important moment in his life including (spoilers!) an episode dedicated to his character in the 1970s. “It's really funny to watch the story of your own life as performed by someone else. It's unreal,” Abraham says about the episode he isn’t in. “It's almost like how much you lie to yourself about your own memories, you make the memories fit, you pair them, and you tailor them to suit yourself.” “Backstory” was written by Craig Mazin and was a great source for the actor, “It was very informative by the way. It helped a lot when I went to do that other segment with Bill [William] Hurt.”
Mythic Quest Season 2: Rachel and Dana
After a year of testers Rachel and Dana flirting it up a storm, the big will-they-won’t-they storyline tipped into smooching territory in the premiere. “I think It means a lot to people because it's representation. Simple point, we are the romantic storyline on the show,” says Hakim. “It's two women — and women of color — and they're gamers. So it's a very niche pocket to be in.” Burch also comments that even though it is niche, it is also “completely universal and relatable in every other way.” She adds “What's so lovely about our storyline is that we don't ignore the fact that they're both women entirely, but it's also not the point because they just are two people that care about each other.”
Now that they are together, Burch says the pair will explore the “struggles of being in a relationship.” Rachel and Dana are also co-workers, and their respective career aspirations throw up some curveballs that exist outside this romance. “It sets it up to get to know these characters individually outside of their romantic connection,” says Hakim. “We get to see Dana with her own ambition, and we see Rachel having this inner struggle of her desire for Dana and then her discovering what her life looks like outside of that.”
Season 2 of Mythic Quest premieres on Apple TV+ on Friday, May 7.
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