Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Mythic Quest 2x01 and 2x02 Review: “Titans’ Rift” & “Grouchy Goat” (New Complexities and Ego Clashes) [Contributor: Jenn]

“Titans’ Rift” & “Grouchy Goat”
Original Airdate: May 7, 2021

I’m so happy that Mythic Quest is back, everyone! Season one was a perfect mix of hilarity and heart, introduced us to really fun and complex characters — including so many incredible women. Season two is already off to a hilarious start, with new power dynamics and character interactions. And I can’t wait to talk all about this show throughout the remainder of the summer!

“Titans’ Rift”

Here’s the plot of the season premiere: Poppy and Ian immediately disagree about the new expansion, so Ian takes off to the desert leaving Poppy to make the decisions (but she’s struggling because she’s having intimate dreams about Ian). Rachel and Dana, meanwhile, are trying to navigate their new relationship by talking to everyone but each other. Elsewhere, Jo has abandoned David for Brad.

The main struggle in this episode is Poppy learning how to assert her power and make decisions. As we saw at the end of last season, Ian and Poppy are now co-creative directors. Poppy no longer has to ask for permission but has the power to make her own choices.

Or so she thinks.

As Dana notes, Poppy’s intimate dreams about Ian aren’t about attraction but power; she needs to find a way to assert her dominance and reclaim the power she lost. And that’s what I love so much about Poppy Li as a character. We’re typically primed to think that Ian has a huge ego and Poppy doesn’t. But the only difference between the two is that Poppy’s ego presents itself in different ways than Ian’s. Charlotte Nicdao said it best in our interview where she said that the character dynamic is this — Ian is a man who’s been told his whole life that he’s brilliant and he’s behaved accordingly. Poppy, as a woman, has been told her whole life to shrink down and be quiet. What happens when she’s allowed permission to have an ego and given power? (We’ll see more of that in “Grouchy Goat,” don’t worry).

What’s really great about the season opener is that it sets up a really fun trajectory for Poppy as a boss. In season one, she was uncertain and often being given orders. What happens to the woman who now has the authority to give orders and make decisions? We see that Poppy doubts her first instinct to name the expansion “Sea of Ashes.” But she soon retracts the title and tells David that she can do better. 

(Ultimately, this story is paralleled with David’s as he tries to assert his authority over everyone as their boss. No one believes he’s the boss.)

Their story is resolved when David and Poppy realize that they actually need Ian. They’d never admit that to him, of course, but it’s a fun realization to come to. They don’t need Ian to boss them around, but he does add value to Mythic Quest and even in the weirdest possible way, he helped them come up with the new expansion title.

Meanwhile the cutest thing ever is the Rachel/Dana relationship. After feeling a sense of awkwardness around each other once Dana confesses she’s had intimate dreams before about Ian — and confiding this in Carol instead of each other — Rachel schedules a vague meeting with Dana and comes incredibly prepared with brochures and literature to talk about their relationship. But then Dana just kisses her and it’s all that Rachel needs as an answer for how she and Dana are.

It’s so pure and sweet but don’t worry, we’ll get some more Rachel/Dana conflict in the next episode!

“Grouchy Goat”

It’s a clash of egos and a masterclass in emotional manipulation between Ian and Poppy in “Grouchy Goat” and it’s incredible. But before we get there, let’s talk a little bit about the hilarious Jo/Rachel/Dana story! Jo’s now Brad’s new assistant and he tasks her with being the producer for a mobile video game that Rachel and Dana are assigned to come up with. Dana wants something incredibly simple and fun, centering around a goat. But because Rachel is insistent that the video game actually has a message, the two women clash. And Jo clashes with them because she doesn’t like Rachel and Dana or doing group projects.

I like the idea that Rachel and Dana’s conflict will be about work-related things and their personalities. Dana is so incredibly chill most of the time. She loves gaming and she knows what gamers want. She also knows what will be successful. From the get-go, Dana tells Rachel that a mobile game needs to be simple: simple characters, simple stories. Rachel, of course, is concerned with what is “right.” In a lot of ways, she reminds me of Britta Perry from Community — someone who insists on doing what is right and fighting for causes that are just. It overrides the ability for her to see anything else though. And in this episode, it’ll be her and Dana’s downfall.

Rather than stick to the simplistic idea of a grouchy goat, Rachel insists the game needs a message and that it needs to say something. It has to be about something deep and profound and reference a cause that people can get behind. There needs to be a story for the goat too. So the group ropes in C.W. to craft a narrative for them. In the end, Rachel asks Dana to trust her about the necessity of this and Dana does… only to get their proposal immediately rejected by Brad. And while Dana tells Rachel that it’s okay, you can tell how heartbroken she is that something she’s created from scratch fell apart because she let Rachel make a decision. I’m interested to see what other kinds of conflicts these two will experience as the season goes on because I really liked this one. It makes total sense for their characters and it may force Rachel to think about her priorities — Dana or being “right” all the time.

Jo is a star of this episode because Jessie Ennis’ scenes are hysterical. When Rachel and Dana get really mad at Jo for not taking the project seriously and just mocking them the whole time, Jo actually does express remorse and then decides to help the group. Her breakdowns are laugh-out-loud funny, and the moment she expresses sincerity to Rachel and Dana is fantastic. They’re so surprised they literally don’t know what to do. But then, on a dime, Jo turns and blames the girls for the project’s failure. Brad, of course, isn’t mad at her for this. He’s proud. And thus, the happy little Jo/Rachel/Dana story comes to an end.

Meanwhile, Poppy and Ian work with the art department to try and come up with a concept and settings for their new expansion. Ian is the kind of guy who walks into a room, comes up with a rousing speech, and then inspires the artists to create incredible settings. Poppy just doesn’t want to do all of that work; she just thinks the artists should create bricks and walls and caulk. Ian tries to tell Poppy that people want inspiration and they respond well to someone who motivates them. Poppy thinks that the teams just do whatever Ian says because that’s how it’s always been.

Poppy asks David for a team of people who will do exactly what she wants, and Ian tells David that it’ll never happen because Poppy can’t inspire people like he can (see: emotionally manipulate). David tells Poppy that she’s supposed to give a speech at a Women in Gaming luncheon, and Ian takes it upon himself to help Poppy “inspire a room.” What’s fun is that this whole episode is subtly about how Poppy can emotionally manipulate people just as much as Ian can — the only difference is that since she’s a woman, she does it in other ways.

By the time we get to the Women in Gaming luncheon, it seems like Ian has coached Poppy into becoming an inspirational woman. He’s prepared a speech for her, but she doesn’t read it on stage; she improvises something funny and heartfelt and relatable. And then it’s revealed that she actually did the EXACT speech Ian gave her, but ended up manipulating him into writing it for her and manipulating David into giving her an art team if she did the Women in Gaming luncheon. Poppy knew what she wanted from the start and decided to make sure the men in leadership bent to her whims, not the other way around. 

I kind of love the idea that Ian saw Poppy as a hapless female leader and Poppy used that to her advantage to get him and David to do whatever she wanted them to do. And while David says that Poppy manipulated them, not inspired them, Ian still gets goosebumps.

I’m so glad this show is back and for the way the episode ends: “That little mess of a human being is a boss.”

Notes and quotes:

  • Charlotte’s horrified scream as Poppy over her dreams is hilarious.
  • “Ian, I don’t know anyone who’s more connected to their physical form than you.” “Thank you.” “That wasn’t a compliment.”
  • “Does your girl talk always involve veiled threats?”
  • Carol doesn’t get enough credit because she’s perfect.
  • Jo throwing her laptop into the trashcan as she walked by is so subtly funny.
  • Poppy and David bonding over Ian’s quirks, especially his rings, was delightful.
  • Do we know what a Brad/Jo team-up could possibly do for… you know, the fate of the world? Because I worry they have too much awesome power.
  • “God, I miss remote working.”
  • “You realize I’m actually seven feet tall.” “... What do they teach you at this thing?”
  • “You can’t inspire people by describing building materials.” AND THEN IAN’S SPEECH IS SO HILARIOUS. AND POPPY GOT GOOSEBUMPS.
  • “God, you eat like a child.”
  • The depiction of an art department being asked to do so many things in a workplace is so accurate that it hurts.
  • “Dead God, do not deviate from that teleprompter.”

What did you think about the first two episodes of Mythic Quest this season? Sound off in the comments below!


Post a Comment