A return to normalcy at the office but with a few key changes moves the 'Mythic Quest' story forward .
- ⚔️Poppy's leadership journey and all her flaws.
- ⚔️Dana and Rachel's romance.
- ⚔️The "Grouchy Goat" team-up.
- ⚔️The repeat gags depicting a suffering art department.
- ⚔️Sometimes the David bashing is too mean.
- ⚔️The first episode is a bit of a table-setter but with solid moments.
This post contains spoilers for Mythic Quest.
Leading a successful company requires a certain set of skills and the second season of Mythic Quest kicks off with an exploration of what it takes to be a boss. After defeating the darkness in the “Everlight” special, a new day has dawned in the MQ office, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t teething problems with the new co-creative directors. The first two episodes are relatively low on the Poppy (Charlotte Nicdao) and Ian (Rob McElhenney) conflict scale, instead, Poppy’s dilemma centers on asserting her dominance in this new role — and convincing herself in the process. Sex dreams, unapologetic behavior, and a messy twist on “Leaning In” all add up to a strong start to Season 2.
Ian and Poppy’s approach to work are polar opposites and coming up with a new expansion idea is one major hurdle to overcome. Instead of staring at the very blank whiteboard, Ian’s process involves going out to the desert to “reconnect with his physical form.” Of course, Poppy immediately mocks this choice and later refers to this sabbatical as a “sleepaway camp for 40-year-old men.” Usually, he would shut the entire office down, but with Poppy sharing responsibilities he doesn’t have to pull this extreme move so soon after they have all come back to the office. “I don’t need you,” Poppy tells her former boss and while she proves this to be true in the second episode, her subconscious has a more graphic way to challenge this notion in the premiere. What follows is a crisis of confidence caused by some unexpected dreams featuring Ian that are less about sex and more about power.
The dynamic between the co-creative directors is far from sexual and the horny factor is dialed down in these dreams, in part, thanks to Ian telling Poppy she is terrible in bed (“I am super good at sex” she protests when she is awake). Poppy’s horror at who is in her bed, and the inclusion of C.W. (F. Murray Abraham) as a spectator also ensures the viewer knows this is not meant to be a hot and heavy fantasy scenario. Against my better judgment, I find myself occasionally shipping the pair but Poppy’s nightmare vision is a reminder that this pairing would be a very bad idea if it ever became a reality. It is a testament to Nicdao and McElhenney’s chemistry that I have these thoughts in the first place, but the show is in no way endorsing a will-they-won’t-they in this section of the office.
Poppy’s lack of close confidants means she forces testers Rachel (Ashly Burch) and Dana (Imani Hakim) to hear her dilemma under the guise of mandatory “girl chat.” Dana immediately guesses a sex dream is causing Poppy’s spiral and points out that it isn’t uncommon to experience this kind of nocturnal imagery about your boss. The issue here is that Ian is no longer Poppy’s superior but her unconscious mind is still working through this promotion. To make her feel better, Dana comments that she has also had a sex dream about Ian, the difference being there were zero quibbles about performance. Dana’s attempt to placate Poppy has the opposite effect while also setting off Rachel’s alarms about her crush’s sexuality.
Before Mythic Quest continues on the Poppy leadership journey, now is a good time to address the fact that Rachel and Dana finally kissed. After spending a season flirting it up a storm as they sat side by side, the pair tip into long overdue dating territory. When Poppy entered their enclave, it looked like something was about to happen as they basked in the afterglow of “Everlight,” and my worry was that this will-they-won’t-they would keep stalling. A very reluctant Carol (Naomi Ekperigin) helps facilitate this romantic declaration after Rachel thinks she needs to talk more so she doesn’t offend Dana. “I don’t want to see you or hear you,” is Carol’s response to Rachel saying she feels “seen and heard,” and the HR maven continues to be the voice of reason (and the one employee who wishes she was still working from home). The parking garage moment is very sweet and Rachel is so taken back she remarks that she wants to make sure she isn’t dreaming. “Don’t fuck in the office,” Carol reminds them as she drives by.
After taking so long to get together, Rachel and Dana think that they need to tell their co-workers they are now dating in the right way but as is often the case, the only people who care about them being together are themselves. It doesn’t help that the first person who finds out is Jo (Jessie Ennis), followed by Brad (Danny Pudi) and their disdain is loud and clear. The one co-worker who finds it particularly groovy is C.W. — who is still on a remote video link — and his positivity is tinged with creepy vibes. The latter is not back in the office and this is one reminder that the pandemic is still raging in the real world. Actor F. Murray Abraham lives in New York and he explained in a conversation with What to Watch that McElhenney did not want him to travel while it was still dangerous. (The number of outdoor locations in these two episodes is more than usual, which is likely due to the pandemic) They have found a smart way to work around his physical absence and there are plenty of jokes in their arsenal regarding the octogenarian communicating remotely. Rather than simply rely on his inability to use technology after his mishaps in “Quarantine,” these gags have evolved. Teaming him up with Rachel, Dana, and Jo in “Grouchy Goat” leads to a lot of very funny moments in the second episode and Mythic Quest’s strength is that any combination of the ensemble works.
Pairing Jo with the sincere Rachel and Dana opens up a new side of the blunt assistant. In the first episode, we find out that she has ditched the mild-mannered David (David Hornsby) for evil mastermind Brad, which is a terrifying prospect for anyone in the office. Tension with David has the side effect of making me feel sorry for the ineffectual boss and while the gag is that no one respects him, sometimes this goes too far. A punching bag character in a sitcom is pretty standard (think Jerry/Garry in Parks & Rec) and while Mythic Quest doesn’t step over the line too often, there are a few moments in the Season 2 premiere that made me wince rather than laugh. Although, the sight of David channeling Ian by wearing his rings and black tank is objectively hilarious. Yes, David does successfully obtain a great title from Poppy and he even played a role in choosing "Titans' Rift" as the next expansion moniker (via Poppy's sleeping state). Of course, Ian also has a sex dream, and the egocentric boss hooks up with himself. Rather than being horrified when he wakes up, he looks pretty satisfied with his choice of fantasy partner. It is off-kilter credits scenes like this that make Mythic Quest more than just your average workplace sitcom.
Originally Mythic Quest's first episode back was set at the E3 expo and “Titans’ Rift” is a more low-key table-setting episode. Poppy’s appearance at the Women in Gaming (aka WiG) event feels like it was maybe originally going to feature in the premiere, but the transition from questioning herself into manipulating both Ian and David is a strong choice. Ian is great with the pomp and ceremony, which includes him turning the concept of substances such as caulk into an inspirational moment. When talking to the art department, Poppy’s inability to charm is highlighted and she doesn’t have the same presence as her partner. She doesn’t bother to learn anyone’s name and her people skills are limited. (One of the best repeat gags in this episode is how the art department are expected to “work their magic” with the long list of requests and they are barely given any credit for the long hours they put in) She is not the type to talk in buzz words or succumb to the image of what a boss (or even Girlboss) typically looks like. This rejection is what makes Poppy so much fun to watch and while she would be a nightmare if she was in charge of your department, it is refreshing to see that she doesn’t have to lose her messiness to succeed.
Wearing a tight sequin dress, makeup, and no glasses is akin to a She’s All That moment, but instead of playing up to this image of perfection, she takes her shoes off at the podium and unzips her dress. What follows is a speech that is not your classic inspirational platitudes and the rambling includes her saying she is “sick of apologizing.” She’s not an alpha or a runway model (side note, she does look amazing in this dress) and it is a wonderful terrible speech. Of course, she gets a standing ovation for her honesty, and the way she emotionally manipulates both Ian and David is inspirational to her co-creative director. “That little mess of a human being is a boss,” Ian remarks in awe and I wouldn’t want her any other way. At the moment, Ian and Poppy are on solid ground, however, their different approaches will no doubt cause a rift that goes beyond the new expansion title.
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