Mythic Quest season 3, episode 2 aired the same night as the premiere, continuing to explore Ian and Poppy’s partnership at GrimPop while simultaneously not allowing them to leave MQ behind.
We love a double premiere, and Mythic Quest bestowed upon us another fantastic episode. Where episode 1, “Across the Universe,” set up the premise of this season and checked in with all our favorite characters, Mythic Quest season 3, episode 2, “Partners,” dives back into those interpersonal relationships with zeal. Some of them have been dealing with the same problems since season 1, while others appear to be just getting started here in season 3.
We all know Ian is good at coming up with the big ideas, but he loses some of his identity in the game-making process because—God forbid—the focus shifts away from him and his creative genius. We haven’t witnessed this stage of a game before, as Mythic Quest was already established by the time we found it in season 1. Though we got glimpses of these moments during the creation of the game’s expansions, there was enough going on that we never got to witness Ian being pushed to the side like he is in the beginning of this episode. With only two people in the office, it becomes immediately clear that he is quite literally getting in the way of the game’s creation.
Poppy, eternally frustrated with Ian’s impractical ideas, sends him out for lunch. But not just any lunch—buffalo chicken pizza from the gas station. Ian cannot even comprehend what those words mean, but he desperately wants to help Poppy. And if that’s what she wants, that’s what he’ll get.
I find their relationship in this season to be particularly interesting because Ian doesn’t seem quite himself. He’s happy to appease Poppy rather than assert his opinion on her. We saw this in episode 1, when he told her she could make the call about the $50 million offer. Season 1 Ian never would’ve allowed that. Is this the result of some personal growth, or is something else going on here?
It comes down to the fact that Ian wants to be a good partner to Poppy. Uh, business partner, to be exact. In an interview with SlashFilm, Charlotte Nicdao responds to the suggestion that Mythic Quest has always seen creative partnership as a form of love by saying, “That’s exactly how I see it. It is a will they/won’t they, but not romantic. It’s about will they/won’t they create something great? Will they/won’t they find a healthy way to work together? Will they/won’t they remain friends? And I feel the stakes of that, especially in this season. They’ve really taken a huge risk. They’ve left behind their sure success to pursue Poppy’s idea, and I don’t think that the problem is that they’re not capable, in terms of the skills that they have, of building a legacy as important as Mythic Quest. It’s whether they’re capable, emotionally, of doing it together.”
This concept hits home for me because I feel a lot of love between Poppy and Ian, and I can’t decide if I want it to remain platonic. There is an undertone to their relationship that is deeper than friendship, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be romantic. I can’t stop thinking about that pandemic episode where Ian shows up at Poppy’s door to hold her while she cries. There is a passionate love there, and while society teaches us that must mean these two people want to bang, that’s not necessarily the case.
If Ian and Poppy never become more than friends, I will be content with simply observing their relationship grow into something more stable and healthy. But I’m not going to complain if, a few seasons down the line, these two also decide to take a risk and become something more. However, we can’t ignore the lesson we’ve already learned in “A Dark Quiet Death.” Sometimes love and business just don’t mix, and I would hate to see Ian and Poppy end up in the same boat as Doc and Bean.
That being said, it’s hard to deny the parallel between business partners and romantic partners. Both of those relationships have similar requirements that must be met, like listening to your partner’s needs, feeling fulfilled, respecting each other’s strengths, and being aware of your collective weaknesses.
In Mythic Quest season 3, episode 2, when Ian returns with a smoothie station and no buffalo chicken pizza within sight, it’s clear he isn’t listening to his partner’s needs. But he’s not the only one in the wrong here. Poppy is stifling Ian’s creativity by not allowing him to think big, even claiming her job is more important than his. Sure, he’s stepping on her toes a little bit, but there’s got to be a way for both of them to feel fulfilled in this moment. Both of them are aware of their strengths and weaknesses, but they’re still having trouble putting that information to use for their benefit.
Luckily, their arguments don’t last as long as they used to. Ian doesn’t want to go to jail a la Elizabeth Holmes, and Poppy doesn’t want to end up dead and penniless like Nikola Tesla. Their solution? Ian gets Poppy sandwiches from the freezer. The result? He gets her a wrap from the fridge. Look, this is progress.
And he’s not the only one fighting his nature in order to change. David has ordered Jo to follow Brad because he is clearly up to no good, and Jo is about as subtle as a jackhammer when she confronts Brad in the bathroom. He insists that they’re simply both two flawed human being looking to make an honest start, but the way they stare at themselves in the mirror tells me they’re both reluctant to accept this truth.
Telling Jo he must get back to work, Jo voluntarily hands him cleaning solution and then looks horrified. She rushes from the bathroom while Brad wears a look of satisfaction on his face. Being the most powerful person in the room is a drug to them, and Brad just got a big hit—at Jo’s expense, no less. She runs into the testing room and discovers the new hires. Even better? They’re woke. It’s like a lion realizing she just walked into the middle of a herd of antelope. Jo literally inhales the weakness wafting off of them and gets a hit of her own.
Carol calls a meeting in Mythic Quest season 3, episode 2 to talk about workplace harassment because not only did Jo make the testers uncomfortable, but both Rachel and Dana made some inappropriate comments to them, as well. This has got to be one of my favorite gags in a show like this—the entire cast is simply unhinged, and yet we’ve become so accustomed to their antics, it’s been normalized. Then a truly normal person walks into the room, and we realize just how strange everyone else is. We saw this in season 1 when Dan Williams from Cold Alliance Studios was actively recruiting Poppy to be on his team. Her neuroses stood in greater contrast to someone who was, well, sane in comparison.
I liked seeing Carol in her normal role here. Sure, her character has been a bit one-dimensional in previous seasons (kind of like Community Manager Sue), but it still makes me laugh. Watching her barely hold it together while everyone else is looking around the room going, “Who, me?” has its intended affect even after all this time. She’s another one of those “normal” characters who has to deal with everyone else’s senseless behaviors.
It also feels like the good old days, with Dana, Rachel, Ian, and eventually Poppy showing up to crash the meeting. None of them work there anymore, but that’s not going to stop them! Dana is annoyed that Poppy won’t give her any work despite the fact that she went through a year a school for this express purpose, and Rachel is spending way more time hanging out with Dana than going to her classes. We don’t know why, and she’s doing her best to downplay it at every turn.
David is still highly suspicious of Brad and says that people like him can’t change. Jo is hurt by this sentiment, asking, “You don’t think I’m evil and devious?” David doesn’t know what the right answer here is, and Carol tells Jo to stop being Satan. That, at least, brings a smile to Jo’s face.
Brad seems a little offended by David’s accusations—that is, until they’re alone together. Then he tells David that he would never know if something was going on. “You’re never going to find any dirt on me,” Brad says, “because I’m the janitor.” Oooh, burn! I don’t think anyone truly wants Brad to be reformed because he’s too good of a foil for someone like David.
With the meeting dismissed, Ian and Dana go back downstairs to GrimPop, only to find Poppy in a sugar coma at her desk. Ian then learns that Dana is a huge fan of VR.
“By any chance, are you into the metaverse?” Ian asks.
“I mean, I don’t know if anyone can be into the metaverse. But I think we exist through it and around it,” Dana replies.
“That barely makes any sense, and yet I totally understand,” Ian says.
They lean back, sizing each other up, and this seems to be the start of a beautiful friendship. I had no idea I needed Ian and Dana as BFFs in my life, and now I can’t get enough of it.