Sunday, May 30, 2021

Mythic Quest 2x05 Review: “Please Sign Here” (Tell Your Disappointment to Suck It... We’re Doing a Bottle Episode!) [Contributor: Jenn]

“Please Sign Here”
Original Airdate: May 28, 2021

Bottle episodes of television are iconic. Take Friends’ “The One Where No One’s Ready” or Community’s “Cooperative Calligraphy” (written by the director of “Please Sign Here,” Megan Ganz, and where our subtitle this week is from). The best part about bottle episodes is that they slowly escalate tension between the characters. While in comedies, the tension begins as fun and silly, eventually you’re left with the stifling reality of being trapped with people who grate your nerves. Or worse.

Mythic Quest’s foray into a bottle episode, “Please Sign Here,” is nothing short of brilliant. It does everything a bottle episode is supposed to do — it gives characters a believable reason to be stuck together (they all have refused to sign the form Carol needs them to), escalates the clashes between each of them (Brad/Jo, Rachel/Dana), and slowly but subtly builds the stakes until that final, painful Poppy and Ian scene.

It’s truly a great example of a bottle episode and it accomplishes everything it sets out to do.


First thing’s first: Naomi Ekperigin did an amazing job this episode as Carol. I love that we got to see more of her on screen and her slow descent into madness was just pitch-perfect. Her rant about Rachel using the word “oppressive” was hysterical. I don’t know how she manages to put up with the MQ staff but thank goodness she does. She’s fed up with the few people in the building — our main characters — who have refused to sign forms that prove they took a personality assessment. Carol is even offering up vacation days to anyone who signs. Poor Carol just wants to do her job and go home.

But each character has a reason for not signing: Ian refuses to sign until he knows what animal Poppy got. Rachel refuses to sign because she doesn’t want to be put in a box or labeled. Dana doesn’t want to sign because she disagrees with her assessment. Brad won’t sign because he wants to watch chaos unravel, and he took Jo’s form so she couldn’t sign. I don’t think we ever get clarification on why Sue doesn’t sign it since she’s usually quite agreeable, but she’s there too. (Oh and David doesn’t sign because he’s trying to be rebellious.)

Slowly, we unpack each of the characters’ reasonings and their clashes with each other. Jo, still high on the revelation from Zack last week, has decided that Brad is no longer worthy of her respect. She got a shark as her animal on her assessment, and Brad (though he said he filled his test out randomly) got a mouse. Jo is beginning to lose her tether though — she’s now willing to clutch onto anyone who can offer her power. She sees Brad as weak since he didn’t kill the 4-H pig, Katie, he had as a kid and she mentions the story to everyone. Brad, on the other hand, recognizes Jo’s lust for power and reiterates that when it comes down to it, they’ll battle to the death for that power. Jo does make a valid point, even if it’s to try and prove Brad’s weakness: Brad pretends to be ruthless and cruel, but he helped David get a date and he saved Dana’s job. He hasn’t cashed in on the favor from Rachel yet, but he tells Jo and us that he will. Jo isn’t wrong — Brad is a human being. And even though he can be aloof and selfish, he has a heart. Jo sees having emotions or feelings as being weak, but Brad claims that all those things are strategic. What’s Jo’s strategy? To jump from powerful man to powerful man? Something Brad says really does lay the foundation for Jo’s journey moving forward: he warns her that she’s not a shark; she’s a parasite latching onto the power of others. And when she drinks that power, she becomes a bit blinded to reality. It makes her feel invincible.

But parasites only survive with hosts, and Brad sends Jo a clear message — she needs to be careful who she attaches to next. Ian, David, and Brad have their flaws but they’ve all been agreeable, human people to Jo. They treat her like a person, even at her worst moments. My assumption is that Brad knows Zack won’t and that will send Jo reeling. The thing about power is that Jo’s become an addict; she’s had enough with Brad that she wants more. And she’s willing to do anything to get it. The only problem? She doesn’t see that the power she’s gaining from others may be too much and take her out.

I suppose only time will tell, but I have a feeling Jo will have to be knocked down a few pegs before she’ll admit that Brad was right.


I love Rachel and Dana as a couple, but the thing about being in a relationship is that it often reminds you that you and your partner may be fundamentally different people. Rachel is so consumed with her relationship with Dana that it’s all she really wanted or needed from season one until now. Her arc was falling in love and now that she’s achieved that, she’s happy to just exist. Dana isn’t. Dana may have achieved relationship success but that’s not all she wants. She wants to learn to code and because Poppy is being an awful boss, she’s thinking about enrolling in Berkley and learning computer sciences that way.

Rachel though is stunned by this confession; she and Dana haven’t talked about her moving six hours away. Rachel, because she only has Dana, is shaken. But Dana isn’t. Because Dana is a wolf. Rachel isn’t all of Dana’s life or ambition, and I think these two are realizing that pretty quickly. Dana is destined for things beyond a life as a tester, but I don’t know that Rachel is. Or even if she is, I don’t know that she even WANTS a life beyond being a tester. We learned that a bit last week: she has no clue what kind of seat at the table she wants. And even though Rachel and Dana were friends, Rachel has no idea what Dana wants or needs.

So now, these two need to figure out exactly how to navigate their wants and needs moving forward. (I loved that moment Dana signed her name on the chart in the wolf section because she was tired of being pushed around by Poppy.)


And speaking of Poppy, the woman managed to get out of the test because she was busy with work. Ian is insistent though in knowing what kind of animal Poppy tests as, and when it’s finally revealed that Poppy is a lion — just like Ian — the man can’t handle it. Sidenote: I love seeing Ian’s frustration early on in the episode with Poppy, especially after Brad points out that Montreal is treating her more like the leader than him. Ian has a huge ego, we know that, but I think part of it is ego and part of it is watching the person who looked up to you thriving without you. It’s not just ego, but a sense of being abandoned by someone who you know is better on so many levels than you are.

The real gut-punch of the episode though comes at the end when Carol tries to push Ian to be vulnerable with Poppy about his biggest fear. He confesses that he’s afraid Mythic Quest is his only good idea and that Poppy is the younger, smarter lion. Poppy... confesses that she’s afraid of singing in public as her biggest fear. Even Carol is taken back by Poppy’s cool detachment; Ian was completely exposed and Poppy just shot an arrow at him. The exact words were: “I’m not asking for a reward. I’m just asking you to be honest back.”

Carol notes that Ian is the real lion because he was vulnerable and that statement strikes something in Poppy that leads her to anger. She shouts that Ian can be the leader, and asks if he’s happy about that arrangement. Ian genuinely isn’t happy with it though. Resigned, he signs the test in silence.

What comes next is a conversation that’s both brutal and necessary. A lot more than Ian’s pride and vanity were bruised by Poppy; the person he loved and respected just stabbed him in the back — and the worst part is that she knows how hard it was for him to let down his guard. She is the one who told him that he’s never vulnerable earlier, so it’s not like she’s oblivious. And there’s something to be said about the people we love and trust most being able to hurt us the worst; they know our pain points and just like they know how to help us, they know how to hurt us just as strongly. 

Poppy’s ego has gone unchecked for weeks now. She’s been given power and authority with no concern wielding it. She dismisses Dana and her team. She demands respect without trying to earn it from the people around her. She feels like she’s untouchable now that Montreal is praising her and giving her things. Poppy, a person who has never held much power, is now being given everything she wants. How damaging do you think that is to someone’s sense of self? Pretty damaging, I’d say, if she’s willing to talk down to others and dismiss Ian’s confessions.

Ian is backed into a corner now and even though what he tells Poppy — that he doesn’t believe in her and she will fail without him — is harsh and awful and he says all of it with a slight smile, he’s also not entirely wrong. See, the problem isn’t the power. There’s nothing wrong with a woman in power, after all. Poppy’s problem is that her power led to a distorted view of who she is and who other people are. Poppy’s power has led her to believe no one else matters or if they do, their worth and value are only tied to what they can do for her. They’re not propping her up? Not getting her coffee? Not telling her she’s a god? Well too bad, then they’re not serving her and she doesn’t need them.

Her confession to Ian — that she needs him to believe in her and spur her toward creating good things — is entirely selfish at the moment. She doesn’t outright apologize for the way she betrayed him a few minutes earlier; she wants to go back to the way things were without having to do the work to get there. So Ian is right, in a sense, because in that moment the last thing Poppy needs is to hear him tell her that she’s amazing and he believes in her. All that will do is distort her view of herself and her power even further. She’ll be an unstoppable lion of his own creation. She will be a worse version of him, actually.

And therein lies the biggest source of pain for me in the episode: Ian believes he created Poppy this way and the only way to get things back to “normal” is to destroy the monster he made. While the way he tore her down is excruciating, Poppy needs to take a look at what her pursuit of power has done. And Ian also needs to look at what a functional relationship with Poppy would look like. Instead of seeing her as competition, he needs to see her as a partner. They’ve lost their ways, both Ian and Poppy, this season because they’ve lost who they are to each other and who they are to Mythic Quest HQ. Ian’s refusal to address his issues until they’re about to spill over is what got them into the mess at the end of the episode, after all. If he could have set aside his ego earlier, they could have saved a lot of pain. Because Poppy is right to feel the way she feels when Ian dismisses her and challenges her at every turn; she’s spent her whole life feeling lesser than people like him and he’s basically forcing her to prove herself every time she enters the same room as him.

So yes, both Ian and Poppy are wrong. But as we saw in this episode, only one of them, in the moment, was willing to do the hard thing to fix a problem: Ian. Until Poppy is ready to do the same, they’re going to be at an impasse. And this might just be a low point for Poppy to realize that.

Now we just have to wait and see what happens next.

Notes and quotes:

  • Once again, Megan Ganz did a wonderful job directing this episode! How fitting for her bottle episode journey to come sorta-full circle here. Also Katie McElhenney, way to break my dang heart.
  • Sue’s excitement over being upstairs and also being mouse friends with Brad is amazing. Caitlin McGee wasn’t in the episode much but she totally sells the little bit that she’s in! (Also, did Sue just sign her form off-screen? I need to know what happened.)
  • “Sounds like Poppy’s the king of the jungle.”
  • “What?! No one is killing anyone.” “Metaphorically, Carol.”
  • “What color?” “I’m half-Asian.”
  • “Oh, I said: ‘black, white, brown, green, you’re the most annoying person in the world.’”
  • David thinking he’s a wolf this whole episode only to realize he took the test backwards is pretty hilarious. Thank you, David Hornsby for the hilarious performance.
  • I wanted to know what animal I was from this test, so someone created a quiz based on the answers and I ended up being an otter which tracks 110% — emotional, agreeable, social, and empathetic.
  • “There goes a butterfly in wolf’s clothing.”
  • “Dear Lord, please don’t start spinning again.”

What did you think of this episode? Sound off in the comments below!


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