What to Watch Verdict
An exciting finale that propels every character into new territory and leaves the story wide open for Season 3.
⚔️Poppy and Ian's conflict has been resolved and it is fun to see them as a team again.
⚔️All the various threads lead to big payoffs for each character.
⚔️Brad's perp walk.
⚔️Rachel and Dana's ambitions and their fulfilling arc.
⚔️Still not enough Carol.
⚔️The payoff was good but some of the Brad/Jo/David dynamic jokes don't all land.
Creative conflict has been at the heart of Mythic Quest throughout its excellent second season, which pushed Ian (Rob McElhenney) and Poppy (Charlotte Nicdao) to the brink of dissolving their partnership before bringing them back together in the penultimate episode. Dividing the MQ expansion into two distinct halves was a futile exercise for the pair, but one they had to undergo to understand that this is the end of the road for MQ. All they are left with are soulless money-making options like battle royale, the launch of the mobile platform, derivative concepts, and an impossible (but genius) idea. The reason why they are struggling isn’t that they were locked in a power vacuum (though it didn’t help), rather, it is because they are working with scraps. Raven’s Banquet is their masterpiece and there is nowhere left to go within this framework.
Neither Poppy and Ian come to this conclusion and it takes seasoned storyteller C.W (F. Murray Abraham) to figure out that the problem isn’t them but MQ. Poppy asked the art department to grab all the old concept art, sketches, and props from the archive — the art department having to bend to their every demand no matter the hour is one of the best running jokes of the season — and create a literal walk down memory lane. C.W. is in awe, comparing it to looking at the life of a child from birth to adulthood. He has spent months waiting for them to come up with something that he can put his words to and he has an epiphany regarding why they are blocked. Considering C.W. is incapable of finishing his own trilogy it might be considered ironic that he is the one to land on this conclusion theory. Rather, it demonstrates that his recent experience with Peter (William Hurt) has given him newfound clarity. Closure is something he has lacked over the last 40-plus years, but making peace with his past has opened his eyes. This isn’t to say that C.W. is going to finally deliver his novel, however, he can recognize when another person’s story has come to a natural end. He is also still not above making creepy comments, and he notes that Mythic Quest is legal now, much to Poppy’s disgust.
The reason why Hera is impossible is due to how advanced the idea is and its incompatibility with the framework Poppy is working within. Ian compares it to rebuilding the foundation of a skyscraper while it still stands — yes, it is as impossible as Anthony keeps reminding his boss. It is an awesome concept and one that might thrive in a different setting. Rather than argue their way through the expansion, they make the decision to leave MQ and start fresh. This bombshell has huge ramifications for next season (not to mention some of the other monumental character shifts) and is an exciting direction to take the workplace comedy in. It is unlikely that the name of the show will change as ditching the Raven’s Banquet from the first season title doesn’t diminish brand recognition, but if it was to be called Hera for the third season it might get a bit confusing. Either way, the Mythic Quest creative team is taking an impressive swing with this narrative shift.
Poppy and Ian being on the same page is perhaps more terrifying than when they are barely talking as they almost occupy the same brain space. This is no more apparent than when they are both yelling at Anthony (Mort Burke) or trying to figure out what Dana’s (Imani Hakim) game concept is. As I discussed in previous reviews this season, Poppy is a terrible boss but Ian is not much better in terms of appropriate personal skills with their employees. An HR nightmare, no wonder Carol (Naomi Ekperigin) is always frazzled — though the episode could do with more from the HR manager. While Grouchy Goat has long been forgotten by most, Dana has spent all season working on the project that finally gave her a tangible career dream. On another show, Poppy would have mentored Dana into turning this mobile character into a hit, but Mythic Quest is thankfully interested in a different kind of narrative. Poppy was so consumed by Hera that she gave little to no useful advice and Grouchy Goat’s progress has been slow. Dana assumed she would get into Berkeley and quit her tester job before she heard if she had been accepted. While girlfriend Rachel (Ashly Burch) has a place on a writing course, Dana’s academic hopes are dashed when they pass on her application.
After sobbing it out, she doesn’t give up and presents Grouchy Goat in all his janky glory to Ian and Poppy. Unfortunately, they agree her game is terrible (and think it is meant to be a dog), but the co-creative directors are taken by Dana’s tenacity (Ian goes for grit, Poppy says balls) and refusal to give up. Ian has already lectured Rachel earlier this season about her ambition (or lack of direction) and he is equally dismissive of Dana’s feelings. However, he sees potential and explains that having the guts to carry on after rejection is more valuable than creative talent. Failure (or rather the fear of failing) has also been a theme this season, and both Poppy and Ian recognize that Dana is someone they should hang onto. They explain they will put her through school (though not Berkeley) and keep her on contract so she can’t leave when she graduates. This occurs before the pair make the decision to leave so does this mean she is stuck at MQ?
The assumption is that because Dana is staying so will Rachel, but Rachel's plan to try more new things has not been ruined by the recent nightmare experience with C.W. because she is still going to Berkeley. It is too good an opportunity and this is the path she has chosen for herself. Fans of this couple shouldn’t worry too much, as they have committed to long-distance (if anyone can do it it is them), and it is Dana who spirals this time before a smooch reassures her. It is a sweet scene and one of my favorite arcs this season has been watching this couple figure out their career aspirations. Being cocooned in that room with unshared feelings was holding them back and taking a romantic leap in the first episode allowed their professional dreams to be set free too.
One person out of luck in love is David (David Hornsby): he asked his girlfriend to move in and when she said no, he proposed marriage (also a pass) before begging for her to stay with him. It probably doesn’t help that she is still referred to as the widow and David’s storyline sometimes swings into too pathetic. Sure, his role as the office punching bag is well defined, however, it doesn’t always sit well with me. At the start of the episode Poppy and Ian promise they aren’t going anywhere and then show no concern for his feelings when they quit, which is inherently funny and sad. This occurs after Rachel and Dana have quit and Brad (Danny Pudi) has been arrested, which adds to the dark humor but some of the more personal jokes about David err on the side of going too far. The way his relationship with Jo (Jessie Ennis) and Brad is portrayed as awkward exes has been pretty hit and miss for the majority of the season but the payoff on the roof is worth it — again, it is super dark.
Most of the characters are moving on, whether it is Poppy and Ian leaving MQ or Rachel and Dana’s academic path to bolster their careers. Even Brad is getting a change of location after he takes the blame for Jo regarding the federal crime she accidentally committed, in what he claims will be a boost for his street cred. His reputation has taken a hit this season as people are beginning to view him as a nice guy, and he believes this will restore his shark status. Jo thanks him for the gesture and in return she places her cardigan over his wrists to make it look like the federal agents have handcuffed him (they have not). Drawing attention to his departure, Jo makes sure the whole thing is witnessed by the MQ employees. What this means for the future of MQ is also unclear and whether his brother will swoop in to buy the stock he has manipulated. Earlier in the episode, Jo has tried to trick Zack (Parvesh Cheena) into confessing — with the help of C.W. — but fails in this endeavor. She is addicted to power, so in order to counter this issue she returns to David as his assistant at the time he needed someone the most.
In fact, Poppy and Ian are also going back to their beginning and the bar in which they first collaborated on an idea — that was inspired by many margaritas. One of Mythic Quest’s major strengths is in the details and Casa Vega is the bar where young Carl Longbottom (Josh Brener) gets drunk in “Backstory!” before he has his Pong-inspired videogame epiphany. The child analogy continues regarding this next creation and while there is a little bit of back and forth about who really conceived Hera, Season 2 ends on a warm note. This is in contrast to the bickering phone calls to David that ended the first year, and the possibilities are endless. Sex dreams aside, this pairing so far exists outside of a romantic dynamic — Nicdao views it is as completely platonic — and I am eager to see how far along Hera’s gestation will be when they return.
Rather than settle into an easy rhythm, creators Rob McElhenney, Megan Ganz and Charlie Day have pushed the ensemble cast into different pairings and explored the fragile nature of creative partnerships and how these can thrive or crumble. The future of Mythic Quest the game is unclear but this Apple TV+ comedy is one of this year’s best.
Emma Fraser spends most of her time writing about TV, fashion, and costume design; Dana Scully is the reason she loves a pantsuit. Words can also be found at Vulture, Elle, Primetimer, Collider, Little White Lies, Observer, and Girls on Tops. Emma has a Master’s in Film and Television, started a (defunct) blog that mainly focused on Mad Men in 2010, and has been getting paid to write about TV since 2015. It goes back way further as she got her big start making observations in her diary about My So-Called Life’s Angela Chase (and her style) at 14.
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