After the stunning "Quarantine" remotely filmed special, "Everlight" sets the tone for Season 2 and offers up hope.
- ⚔️Funny and heartwarming.
- ⚔️Out of this world production design and costumes.
- ⚔️A good mix of visual effects and LARP fight sequences.
- ⚔️Rachel and Dana's "will they/won't they" edge closer to they will.
- ⚔️The choice to move past the pandemic.
- ⚔️Carol is always a scene-stealer and this episode could do with more from the "Mistress in the Marsh."
This post contains spoilers for Mythic Quest
Making a TV show in 2021 requires not only Covid protocols to ensure a safe working environment, but if it is a contemporary set series the writers also have to figure out whether to incorporate the pandemic or an alt mask-free timeline. Some network procedurals, dramas, and comedies have embraced reality with varying results, and it is impossible for lines of dialogue about traveling, vaccines, and masks to not be a little clunky. TV is also a form of escape so it is understandable why viewers might want to switch off from the pandemic and fall into a timeline that doesn’t mirror current circumstances. Mythic Quest is in an interesting position upon its return as it was one of the first to produce a remotely filmed episode last spring, which captured the quarantine isolation and the abrupt transition from working in an office to at home. Rather than diving straight back into Season 2 (premiering on Apple TV+ on May 7), “Everlight” acts as a bookend to the excellent “Quarantine” and immediately sets the tone regarding banishing the darkness of this dumpster fire year.
Hope has been in short supply and the reason why “Quarantine” was so special isn’t that it was the first comedy to release a remotely filmed episode, rather it was the centering of mental health and the very real struggle the characters (and viewers) were feeling during those early months of lockdown solitude. It was also very funny without relying on heavy-handed Zoom jokes and it made sense that C.W. (F Murray Abraham) was the choice for organic tech problems. It should also be noted that C.W. gets stuck with a panda head graphic long before the lawyer cat became a very real remote working mishap. The payoff in the Rube Goldberg machine sequence is high and the moment the fantasy writer appears is pure elation (even after multiple views). And while “Everlight” doesn’t quite hit those emotional highs, it is still a very satisfying and resonant 30 minutes of television to match the current mood.
In the Mythic Quest episode written by Ashly Burch (aka tester Rachel), the pandemic is only alluded to via references to the “shit year” and C.W. appearing remotely because his ego is stronger than his immune system. It is still going to be a while before people can return to a regular office environment, but entertainment does not need to match the real world, and masks are absent from this arena. Hope has been in short supply and the moment Ian (Rob McElhenney) leaves his compound to see Poppy (Charlotte Nicdao) in “Quarantine” was a reminder that no matter how much this pair squabbles in their new shared creative director role, they ultimately have each other’s backs. “Everlight” builds on this dynamic, which sees them presiding over the LARP (live-action role-playing) tournament being hosted as a welcome back celebration.
The game itself is a metaphor nodding to the darkness that has taken hold with featuring Academy Award-winner (and IRL knight) Anthony Hopkins providing the game narration along with graphics that stray from the Mythic Quest gameplay aesthetic. The latter emphasizes this is not an expansion of the regular game and the one-off nature of the episode. Instilling magic includes costumes and an impressive woodland transformation to an area usually filled with desks. Everyone has a role to play from C.W. as the remote master of ceremony yelling “Huzzah” and announcing the winners of the individual bouts, Poppy and Ian as the King and Queen and HR maven Carol (Naomi Ekperigin) as the “Mistress of the Marsh.” The latter spends her time getting drunk and yelling insults at the players and this episode could do with more Carol. Reestablishing the characters and proving quarantine hasn’t changed things too much, Brad (Danny Pudi) is the only employee dressed in regular attire vocally noting his distaste for the fantasy shenanigans. Jo (Jessie Ennis) as the newest MQ employee rocks up to work as an executioner without knowing there was a LARP element but is thrilled by the prospect of getting to fight her co-workers. David (David Hornsby). much to her surprise is the reigning champion and of course, he won’t shut up about his victor status. Completely unknown to him, Ian has been fixing this tournament for years so the least likely player would win to match the story he created.
Jo’s over-enthusiastic response is matched by her skill in the match-ups. “I can bathe in the blood of my enemies?” she asks Ian when she discovers the rule change has paired her up with David. That’s right, the single-player format is scrapped when Ian realizes his plan to have a tester win (who is not Rachel) is in jeopardy. The will they/won’t they romance between Rachel and Dana (Imani Hakim) edges closer to reality. Dana has come to this event dressed as a cleric and didn’t plan on fighting but Rachel helps bring out her confidence. Now the pair have to talk to each other rather than dancing around the matter at hand.
After David has been beaten up by his partner as much as their opponents, he forfeits his position in the finale, and rather than ending this celebration with a surrender, Poppy and Ian resort to Brad. Of course, Brad needs something in return for his participation, and in this case, he wants Everlight permanently canceled. Jo and Brad could be an unstoppable force but Rachel gets the better of the executioner and gives Jo the platform to deliver a pitch-perfect death reaction. The final Dana/Brad match-up involves Dana pulling an Arya Stark against the Night King move, but she cannot finish the event before Brad plays dirty. The darkness has won and a new day won’t dawn unless someone can step in and be the hero.
Not one but two fighters are required, which sees Poppy and Ian step down from their thrones to save the day. Throughout the episode, Ian has made references to Rudy and Kerri Strug to his oblivious partner but they are in sync during the battle. The action shifts from the decorated office to costumes, effects, and production design straight out of a fantasy. For those eagle-eyed viewers and Wrexham AFC supporters (the soccer team McElhenney bought with Ryan Reynolds last year), Ian’s shield is the Wrexham badge. The dragons make it ideal for the Everlight world. This episode is a triumph for each creative department and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention production designer Valdar Wilt and costume designer Sabrina Rosen for the immersive visuals and garments — both in the real world version of Everlight and when the visual effects sequence kicks in.
Brad becomes the literal darkness before Poppy can finally use fireball to great effect. Blending reality with fantasy gets to the heart of Ian’s mission for this day and why it is ultimately okay for the bosses to take down Brad’s attempt at killing this team activity. It also reinforces the notion that Poppy and Ian can share the co-creator but only when they listen to each other. Celebrations set to “We Drink Light” by Packwood are a reminder that good does still happen even if Anthony Hopkins' narration warns the audience that the darkness can and will return. The MQ office is back in full swing but that doesn’t mean Season 2 won’t be without its struggles. Mirroring “Quarantine” with a shared victory sets the tone and reminds us that one day we will be without masks, sanitizer stations, and social distancing. For now, we can live out the “Everlight” reverie instead.
Mythic Quest is available exclusively on Apple TV+
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