‘Mythic Quest’ season 3, episode 10 review: A single stitch in a tapestry

Mythic Quest season 3, episode 10, “Buffalo Chicken Pizza,” sees all our favorite characters making big decisions and heading in new directions.

Last week, it was supposed to be THE YEAR OF PHIL, but Carol one-upped him at the last minute, crushing his dreams of a class-action lawsuit. Meanwhile, Ian and Poppy still weren’t on speaking terms, and they were making it everyone’s problem. David had to put Ian (and Joe Manganiello) in his place, while Dana was forced to give Poppy a crash course in confidence and charisma. It went about as well as you would expect.

Mythic Quest season 3, episode 10 finally brings Ian and Poppy back together, and we get to see them at their most vulnerable. But the season finale also promises a huge shake-up, as many of the characters are forced to make life-altering decisions. Some will leave, some will stay, and some might even come full circle—back to where it all began.

Speaking of coming back to where it all began, the finale opens on a montage that mirrors the one we saw in the premiere episode, but this one doesn’t have the same hopeful ring to it.

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Poppy is sprawled out on the floor amongst various snack wrappers, looking very much like a dead body surrounded by bullet casings. She’s depressed because they’ve run out of money and no one wants to invest in Playpen. David learns the Mythic Quest movie is dead because they’ve lost too many followers because they haven’t been working on a new expansion. Brad, meanwhile, has satisfied all the terms of his parole and is allowed to work in the financial sector again, but rather than being happy he’s got his freedom back, he seems more than a little disappointed.

Back at GrimPop, Ian and Dana watch Poppy type away at her computer, and we learn it’s been two days since the opening scene. Dana is looking for the silver lining here, but Ian can’t provide it, stating that Poppy will work on her dead code forever just because she can, not because it’ll actually accomplish anything. Dana wants him to take charge, but he says he doesn’t know what to do. She doesn’t believe him at first—he always knows what to do! But Ian, perhaps more subdued than we’ve ever seen him, says something’s broken and he doesn’t know how to fix it.

Not only is this scary seeing Ian in this frame of mind, but it’s terrifying to think that Ian and Poppy are broken. They’ve fought countless times over the course of three seasons, and yet I never worried that it might be the end of them—until now. There’s something resigned in the way Ian speaks that truly shakes me to my core. It seems to have a similar effect on Dana because she tells him to figure it out before stalking off without waiting for a response.

Ian stares at Poppy from his own office, and we see a montage of all their biggest moments together—and not necessarily their best, either. Up on the roof, when Ian admitted he didn’t want to work on her game. At the bar, when they first formed GrimPop. After Ian won the competition against Pootie Shoe. During the pandemic. When Poppy comforted him in the hospital. When they won the Everlight ceremony. The first time they met, all those years ago.

It very much feels like Ian has realized he’s in love with Poppy. All these moments have come together, and now Ian understands how important she is to him. That she’s been there from the beginning. That all of his biggest moments from the last decade, all the highs and lows, have occurred with her by his side. In this moment, you can’t help but want the two of them to lock eyes across the room, for everything to be okay again. For everything to go back to normal. But even as Poppy feels a disturbance in the force, she looks over to find an empty office. Ian is nowhere to be found.

Later, Poppy returns to find a present for her in the middle of the room. A white box with a simple black bow on top. Ian appears, as docile as ever, and offers her the olive branch. Or, in this case, buffalo chicken pizza from the gas station with ranch and blue cheese. It’s so simple, so silly, and yet so profound. Ian admits he’s been a terrible partner because she asked him for one thing and he couldn’t give it to her. He also admits their relationship is broken, and he’s been banging his head against the wall to figure out how to fix it. And then it came to him.

You can tell this gives Poppy hope. She’s felt how broken they are, too, and she wants to know how to make it all better. But Ian can’t give her that. The answer to how to fix their relationship is to not fix it. “It is what it is,” he says. He is who he is, and he does what he does. Just like Poppy is who she is. And that should be enough for both of them. And if it isn’t? Then they shouldn’t be working together.

Ian’s epiphany is both laughably simple and painfully mature. They cannot change who they are—and furthermore, they shouldn’t have to. This is not about molding yourself to someone else’s needs purely because you love them, but finding the people who lack what you bring to the table, and vice versa. It is a cruel truth, and not one most people are ready to accept. It is human nature to believe that if you just try harder, it’ll all work out in the end. But more often than not, that only leads to more heartache.

We all know Ian has narcissistic tendencies, and so this conclusion is even more astonishing coming from him. He is setting aside all of his ego to tell Poppy how he feels, to admit that they’re broken. But it takes a special sort of strength to stare that truth in the face and say “it is what it is” with acceptance rather than resignation. Though they are flawed, neither one of them is wrong. Neither one of them needs to change who they are for the other.

Poppy rejects this at first, telling Ian that she’ll still feel subservient to him. But Ian strikes this down, saying that exists only in her own mind. She can’t see it, but she can build it; he can see it, but he can’t build it. At worst, they are polar opposites. At best, they are symbiotic.

“We are broken, but in all the right places,” Ian says. “And for some reason we, like, fit together. I don’t know why. Humans are messy. Relationships are insane! I mean, we’re a bunch of monkeys that stood up straight on a rock that’s floating around a ball of hot plasma that’s four billion years old. And we’re walking around like we know what the fuck is going on. I don’t know, man. All I know is I love you, you love me, and everything else is semantics. We mess up, we apologize, we move on. But the point is, no matter what, our relationship is worth it.”

And at the end of the day, that is what it’s all about—choosing each other, every single day. Joy creeps over Poppy’s face as she admits that she loves him too, and Ian brings some of his much-needed levity back to the scene: “I know, I just covered that in my speech. Hey, let me do this part.” Ian admits that they’re never going to change, but that he wants to keep trying to meet her halfway.

This declaration of love feels like it’s both coming from a platonic place and somewhere deeper than romantic love. I’ve talked about this before, way back in my episode 2 review, and I’ve found that I still don’t know whether I want these two characters to ever get to that place. Right now, I’m more interested in them learning to trust in and lean on each other. Ian must forgo his ego while Poppy needs to ignore her self-doubt. If they can do that and continue to be vulnerable with each other, there’s no way they don’t skyrocket to the top of their game.

You can tell the moment Poppy accepts this, as she steps close and tells Ian to eat the pizza. This is, quite possibly, his worst nightmare. He begs her not to make him do that. But taking a bite isn’t enough. She even makes him say, “Yummy,” and then take a sip of her drink. You can tell Ian is in physical pain as he asks her what flavor it is. “Green,” she responds. “Green is not a flavor!” Ian shouts. “Hey,” Poppy reassures him, a smile on her face, “it is what it is.”

This entire series has pitted Ian and Poppy against each other in one way or another, but Mythic Quest season 3, episode 10 is the first time I feel like they’ve made a permanent change to their relationship. They recognize their strengths and weaknesses—both in themselves and each other—and have chosen to stand side by side, regardless. I don’t think this will be the end of their petty squabbles or hilarious antics, but I do think those arguments will be superficial compared to what they just overcame. I truly cannot wait to see where season 4 will take these two.

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Speaking of what’s next for them, the rest of the episode informs where Ian and Poppy, as well as several other characters, are headed by the end of the finale. After a call with Jacques and Jean-Luc, David is throwing himself a bit of a pity party when Jo brings him her resignation. Her logic, as strange as it may be, isn’t exactly flawed. She tells him that Mythic Quest is dying, and the only way to get the movie back is to get the players back. And how can they do that? By making the MQ employees fear him. From fear comes respect, which will motivate them to work harder than ever. Standing up to Ian and Joe Manganiello lent David an air of mystique and power, and now it’s time to complete his journey…by firing Jo.

I’ll admit, this scene concerned me. I’ve been on a journey of my own when it comes to Jo. Going from my least favorite character to one that I would defend at every turn, I’ll admit I’d be devastated if she left the show. Though she and Brad are not dissimilar, they fulfill different roles in the series, and you have to admit that Jessie Ennis delivers a lot of laughs for Mythic Quest. She would be sorely missed.

Thankfully, all hope is not lost, but we’ll get there in a minute. For now, Jo delivers an over-the-top yet surprisingly convincing performance, screaming and crying and clutching her stomach as she hands out goodbyes on her way to the elevator. In any other office, there would be no way in hell this would work. But it’s Jo and David and Mythic Quest, and everyone immediately lowers their eyes and doubles down on their work.

David, though taken aback, uses his newfound power to strongarm his employees into signing up to pitch him ideas for a new expansion for the game. Andy and Mikey lead the charge (interesting that Andy was a paralegal before coming to MQ, isn’t it, Always Sunny fans??), but not a single person has a good idea for how to make Mythic Quest bigger and better than ever.

And Jo isn’t the only one who decides to leave during Mythic Quest season 3, episode 10. As Rachel not-so-humbly celebrates her first monetization bonus check, Brad seems uncharacteristically despondent. He says he played life on hard mode and speed-ran it, going from convict to janitor to head of monetization once again. Rachel tries to argue that she’s, in fact, the head of monetization, but he reminds her that he engineered it all, turning her from a socialist to a capitalist overnight. What he needs is a real challenge. And with that, he walks away.

Some time later, while Rachel is looking to buy some ridiculously overpriced pants, Dana walks in and admits she doesn’t want to be a GrimPop anymore. There’s no future for her there, especially because Ian and Poppy need to figure their shit out. Rachel says she’ll support them with her bonus check, and I love how these two have learned to roll with the punches. Their relationship, though consistent, hasn’t been at the forefront of the plot, and I enjoy that they each have so much more going on in their lives than what’s happening between them behind closed doors.

As Jo and Brad leave on the elevator together, Dana slides through the doors at the last minute. She says she’s finally in control of her own destiny, and it makes her feel powerful. The words have an immediate effect on the other two, and Jo admits that she’s drawn to power while Brad wishes to benefit from it without consequence. When Dana says she’s going to do her own thing, Jo realizes this could be her fresh start and Brad accepts it as his new challenge. Then Dana stops the elevator and turns to them. She can’t even get out her whole sentence before they immediately agree to team up and strike out on a new adventure together.

Back at GrimPop, Rachel rushes in to tell Dana she should be the new creative director for Mythic Quest, but Dana lets her down easy by saying she doesn’t want to work for anyone. With the click of a button, she switches the GrimPop logo out for one that reads STUDIO/DANA. Brad and Jo materialize out of nowhere, and I cannot wait to find out what the three of them are capable of accomplishing together. I never would’ve placed these characters on the same team, but now that they are, I think they could take the world by storm. But what does that mean for Mythic Quest?

mythic quest season 3 episode 10 brad rachel

Well, if it were up to Brad, he would crush Mythic Quest and anyone else who gets in their way. Rachel says Dana wouldn’t do that, but then Brad not-so-subtly reminds her that he got her to abandon all of her morals overnight. While I think Dana has a stronger backbone than her girlfriend, I am interested to see if Brad is strong enough to manipulate Dana, and which side Jo will ultimately take in the battle.

But let’s not be too worried for the other studio. Ian and Poppy crash David’s second pity party of Mythic Quest season 3, episode 10 and introduce Mythic Quest: Playpen. It turns out they have a fantastic game with no community, while David has a dying game with a massive community craving new content. And the fact that the players will be able to create their own expansion of sorts solves David’s current problem as well. It’s a genius solution, and the best part? Ian and Poppy are coming back to Mythic Quest!!

With Mythic Quest season 4 already greenlit, there’s no worry that we won’t get to see what happens next. Even though we know where everyone is heading, it’ll be fantastic to see where they end up by this time next year. Now if only we had a time machine so we could fast-forward to the season 4 premiere…