‘Mythic Quest’ season 3, episode 9 review: Effortless confidence and endless charisma

Mythic Quest season 3, episode 9, “The Year of Phil,” keeps Poppy and Ian separate as they try to find their footing without each other, while the ever-underappreciated Phil From the Art Department tries to kickstart a class-action lawsuit.

Last week was one of the best episodes of Mythic Quest to date. Though some time was spent with Jo and Brad as they tried to catch a rat (literal, not figurative), most of the episode was dedicated to Poppy and Ian’s petty disagreements, which ended in a blow-out that could be the final nail in the coffin for GrimPop Studios.

This week, Mythic Quest season 3, episode 9 follows a variety of employees across the two companies while they work to achieve their dreams. For Dana and Poppy, that means pitching Playpen and finding an investor. For David and Jo, it means getting the other Joe to do what he’s told without Ian’s meddling. And for Carol, that means not letting Phil get the best of her, despite his valiant efforts.

I have to start off this recap with Phil because although he’s been a background character for only a handful of episodes, he’s made an impression—if only because he’s constantly bears the brunt of everyone’s antics. He was most recently in “The Two Joes,” and his scene with Brad, Carol, and David is definitely one of my favorites of the season.

Needless to say, Phil is getting tired of everyone’s shit. As Carol peacocks in front of her diverse new hires, she can’t help but brag about her success stories. It’s a stretch to say she had much of a hand in Rachel and Brad’s promotion within the company, and this is truly Carol at her most unhinged. She’s gone from one of the only sane characters on the show to becoming about as delusional as everyone else. I can’t say I love this side of her, but it has certainly helped push Brad and Rachel’s stories along. Maybe she has had a hand in their success, after all.

At first, it doesn’t make sense that Phil is there, considering she had no bearing on him getting his job with the art department. But everything becomes clear when she uses him as an example of what this company is aspiring not to do. Phil, she says, does not at all reflect their new hiring policies.

Phil is surprisingly delighted to hear this, citing the fact that he’s over the age of 40 and therefore part of a protected category. All the new hires are witness to Carol’s blatant ageism, and after biding his time and enduring all the quiet indignities of his job, he finally has a chance to leverage her mistake—and the young generation’s desire for performative accountability—to his advantage. This will be…THE YEAR OF PHIL!

Carol understandably freaks out when she’s got time alone with Brad and Rachel, the former of which declares her a victim of her own success because there’s practically no one over the age of 40 to prove she’s not ageist, and she can’t fire anyone to make room for new employees because everyone in the company is under a protected category. Well, nearly everyone.

As Phil goes around trying to get his fellow employees to sign a petition to launch a class-action lawsuit, he quickly realizes everyone loves their jobs. This is ironic considering they’re often getting the short end of the stick (what office doesn’t have porn or chili on Christmas!), but it feels realistic at the same time. Most people don’t want to rock the boat.

But then a lightbulb goes off in Phil’s head. There are a couple employees who have been disgruntled since the beginning of their time at Mythic Quest. It’s just too bad Carol had the same idea and beat him to the punch.

Players, meet Mikey and Andy, the new testers. They’re both quite obviously over the age of 40, which means Phil has no grounds for his lawsuit. No one messes with Carol! It’ll be interesting to see how these guys do testing the game considering their memories aren’t great, and they look a little confused about what to do with the controller.

Perhaps even more exciting is the fact that these two new hires should be familiar to Always Sunny in Philadelphia fans. Michael Naughton plays Mikey on Mythic Quest, but you’ll recognize him as the waiter, who has had plenty of run-ins with the Gang. Andy, played by Andrew Friedman, is also an Always Sunny alum, as he’s played Charlie’s Uncle Jack in the past. It’s nice to see the Mythic Quest team pulling from their other series for casting inspiration.

Either way, Phil takes the L on this one, and it’s not a great start to his redemption arc. I was a little bummed he didn’t get the win he was hoping for because I truly feel bad for the guy—he often gets the shit end of the stick. But MQ is not an easy beast to defeat. Hopefully Phil will stick around to try again because I do kind of like the guy, despite his weird hatred for the younger generation.

mythic quest season 3 episode 9 joe manganiello and ian grimm

Meanwhile, Joe Manganiello returns for his guest spot in Mythic Quest season 3, episode 9. This time, he’s donned a mocap suit in order to do some test footage for the studio. Instead of wearing the proper headgear to capture that beautiful mug of his, however, he brought his own Masked Man helmet that he had custom made for the role. Joe is very particular about sticking close to the source material, and I can’t help but think of Henry Cavill’s recent trouble with The Witcher, which supposedly led to his departure from the show. Joe does such a perfect job playing himself, and his DnD reference had me about as geeked as he was.

Unfortunately, David is at his wit’s end. He’s freaking out that he’ll get fired if he doesn’t produce the footage the studio is looking for, but he also believes that Hollywood culture means you have to coddle your actors and let them do whatever they want. The situation is made worse when Ian shows up saying Jo texted him that David was getting manhandled by this Hollywood snowflake.

Ian readily admits that he’s also on a sabbatical-slash-self-imposed exile from GrimPop, and Jo immediately jumps to conclusions and assumes Ian and Poppy kissed. I can’t tell if this is a jab at the fans who ship them, or if it’s one of those things where everyone can see how Ian and Poppy feel except Ian and Poppy. Either way, Ian is adamant it didn’t happen, and David is quick to believe him. Although David isn’t always the sharpest knife in the drawer, he’s correct in this case. I wanted to know what David was trying to say about Poppy and how she’s the reason why it’s not happening, but Jo never quite manages to guess the right word to fill in the blank. Their quips in Mythic Quest season 3, episode 9 are some of my favorites, by the way, and their back-and-forth in these scenes are a testament to these actors’ comedic timing.

Ian invites himself on set with Joe, and it only takes a few seconds for the two of them to realize they totally vibe. Joe scores major points by telling Ian that he was bigger than he thought he’d be and maybe it was a presence thing, which immediately inflates Ian’s already enormous ego. (Though, if I’m being honest, he might need a little inflation after that spat with Poppy.)

I love that these two men became fast friends, though it definitely didn’t help David’s sanity. After the two of them mess around for a while, David brings Ian back behind the glass and then promptly kicks him out. This is quite literally the first time we’ve seen David act like this. He’s all business as he does it, and there’s no empathy for Ian’s situation with Poppy. This moment doesn’t turn into a joke, and David even goes as far as to fake a move of aggression. Ian flinches, and all of a sudden, we see the person he truly is beneath all that bluster. The way he hangs his head in defeat is an image I’ll never be able to scrub from my mind.

Despite Ian asking David for a favor because he’s going through a rough patch, David holds firm, and the look of dejection on Ian’s face devastates me. I don’t blame David for not wanting to deal with Ian’s shit while he’s trying to get the movie off the ground, but I still feel sad for Ian’s current situation. He says he’ll go where he’s valued, but it’s obvious he doesn’t know where that is—and I have no idea what the future holds for him if he doesn’t find a place at MQ or GP.

Jo showers David in compliments, but he’s quick to shut her down as well. He’s tired of her interfering with his job, and though he knows she just trying to help, he’s the boss and what he says go. (David has never been more attractive.) In one last act of defiance, Jo presses the button for the intercom, and Joe Manganiello thinks David’s talking to him. Luckily, the famed actor immediately buckles and agrees to trust David’s expertise. They are suddenly and miraculously back on track.

mythic quest season 3 episode 9 david and jo

Not all episodes are equally split between different plotlines and characters, but Mythic Quest season 3, episode 9 had a great balance, which means Dana and Poppy also got to share the spotlight with the others this week.

Back at GrimPop, Poppy does a presentation of her pitch for Playpen for Dana and the two young testers (this is before they get fired), the latter of which seem a little afraid of her because they clap every time she finishes her speech despite having heard it a hundred times already. Dana, however, seems to be over the whole thing, especially because Poppy is no Ian. But that doesn’t matter—Poppy thinks the pitch will be even better without Ian gummin’ up the works with his “effortless confidence and endless charisma.”

You can almost believe Poppy has her own brand of confidence before Dana points out that she’s covered in hives. Thankfully, Dana also has some words of wisdom for her boss: “The money is already yours, and the pitch doesn’t matter.” The investor is putting his money into a person, not a product, which means that confidence is key to getting what you want, and no one will deny that Poppy is a genius programmer.

It’s hard not to see some similarities between Ian and Dana, and Poppy points this out plenty of times. But Dana says there’s one important difference between them: She doesn’t like Poppy. OUCH. As mean as that is, there’s a benefit to having Dana teach Poppy to be more confident—she has no investment in Poppy as a person, only the success of their game, which means she’ll do what’s best for Playpen.

Oh, did you catch that? Yes, Dana thinks Playpen is their game, and you know what? I don’t disagree. Dana saw the potential when Poppy didn’t, and she’s been working on it right alongside Poppy the whole time. Just because she can’t do what Poppy can doesn’t mean she’s not a valued employee with her own strength and skills. Without Dana, there would be no pitch. There would be no Playpen.

Poppy can’t believe how cocky Dana is, thinking Playpen is her game as well. She worked on Mythic Quest for eight years and never once thought of it as her game. Here, Dana asks one simple question: Why not? And Poppy doesn’t have an answer for her. I loved this exchange because it makes Poppy realize that she was the one holding herself back this whole time. She wanted to create Hera, and eventually Playpen, because she wanted something that was hers. This, despite the fact that her code is what brought Mythic Quest to life. She deserves as much credit as Ian does.

But it’s harder to emulate Ian and Dana’s effortless confidence than you’d think. When Poppy shuts her brain off, all she can hear is the screaming of her own thoughts. And when Dana asks her what she feels when she first wakes up in the morning, Poppy says she feels dread about everything she has to do and everything she has ever done, and I am once again asking the Mythic Quest writers to stop making Poppy so relatable. You know what I feel? Personally victimized.

For what it’s worth, Dana’s crash course in confidence seems to work. Poppy is so ready for this pitch that she actually wants to be the one to drive (again, I am Poppy and Poppy is me). The pitch goes smoothly, and Poppy looks like a whole different person. All of the awkward tension seems to have drained from her shoulders, and she’s, dare I say, charismatic in her delivery.

The VC thinks so too. Too bad it’s the same guy she told to suck her duck in the premiere episode. For the first time since we’ve known her, Dana loses her cool and her voice is shrill as she asks Poppy what the hell she was thinking. This is not confidence, it’s psychotic! But Poppy doesn’t know the difference.

But even worse than the fact that this guy won’t invest in Playpen is that he says the game is not investable, full stop. They need 12 million players building games for it to see any kind of profit. Dana and Poppy look horrified, as this clearly did not occur to them. Oops, indeed.

It strikes me that this is yet another episode that ends on a sour note, which makes two in a row this season. The show is not afraid to maintain a serious note when it needs to, and Mythic Quest season 3, episode 9 is proof of that. We already know this show is funny. Now it’s proving once again that it can handle a solid plot, as well.

But it’s not like it needs to convince me. I’m all in, and I can’t wait to see what next week’s finale brings us.

‘Mythic Quest’ season 3 airs Fridays on Apple TV+