Also, Dana and Ian go on an accidentally soul-searching trip, while Poppy looks for support around the office. And when Carol takes a personal day, that leaves Brad free to do as he pleases (and once more potentially ruin the game).
It’s a decent episode of Apple TV+’s gamer comedy — with one showstopper of a scene.
Mythic Quest recap: ‘The Two Joes’
Season 2, episodes 4: In this week’s episode, entitled “The Two Joes,” Poppy (played by Charlotte Nicdao) has finished a prototype of Grim Pop’s new game and wants Dana (Imani Hakim) to test it. However, Dana refuses, having heard enough motivational talk from Ian (Rob McElhenney) to believe she’s onto the next phase of her career.
She couldn’t anyway because Ian has agreed to come talk to her class today. Dana is worried about becoming too close to Ian (she’s even assuming some of his mannerisms), because Poppy is a living, breathing cautionary tale about getting too close to him.
Of course, Dana and Ian get along better than Ian and Poppy ever got along, which gets everyone’s wheels turning. By the end of their day (which is actually a VR demo — Ian doesn’t care about her class, in true Ian fashion), he’s so impressed with her performance that he lets her drive home.
Hera, a perfect game (except for this one thing)
Poppy, bereft of her usual Greek chorus, goes and makes the Mythic Quest testers (Ben Stillwell and Austin Zajur) try Hera, her new game prototype. They agree, even though she’s about as awkward and condescending to them as humanly possible. By the end of the day, they let her know she’s programmed a perfect game in every way except for one thing: It’s not fun to play.
David (David Hornsby), moving forward with talks about the Mythic Quest movie, gets word from Joe Manganiello‘s people that he wants to meet to discuss a part. He has Jo (Jessie Ennis) prep research for the meeting.
Naturally, David gets stuck in traffic. So now it’s up to Jo, who knows nothing about the movie business (beyond her blinding, kneejerk contempt for it), to sit in the meeting with the Magic Mike star. David remains in her earpiece to try and guide her through the meeting (very good).
Meanwhile, Carol (Naomi Ekperigin) is mad at Brad (Danny Pudi) because his idea to introduce NFTs to Mythic Quest backfired enormously. As Carol expresses her frustration and disappointment, Brad turns to Rachel (Ashly Burch) for his next ideas. He desperately wants to become a valuable part of the team again, without seeming like he’s trying to do that.
Brad goes in to demand changes to the game from head designer Phil (Derek Waters), who in turn calls David as he’s in the middle of coaching Jo through her meeting with Manganiello. In the resulting confusion, David accidentally agrees to Brad’s changes to the game and Phil has to start implimenting them.
When Jo meets Joe, hilarity ensues
This might be a bit of a comedown from last week’s stellar brunch episode, but almost anything would have to be. Still, once again Jessie Ennis earns the MVP this week. Her character’s confused lunch date with the absurdly tall and handsome Joe Manganiello brings out her best instincts.
When Manganiello arrives, she introduces herself very awkwardly.
“Joe,” he says. “Jo,” she replies. Long pause.
“Right,” ge says. “Right,” she replies. Longer pause.
Then David chimes in over her earpiece. “Tell him to sit,” he says. “Sit!” she says with great force. “Not like a dog!” David says. Her face lights up and she adds: “Please.”
… but Rob McElhenney’s bringing me down
I hate to say it, but the stuff with Mythic Quest co-creator/co-writer/star Rob McElhenney has been dragging down the madcap nature of the most recent episodes. Maybe it’s that it’s narratively necessary for him to not be making jokes, or being the straight man to them. But last week’s episode had basically no Ian in it, and yet it worked like gangbusters. The stuff this week was all character development with no laughs. (Though in fairness, the show’s writers weren’t going for laughs.)
The writers are clearly building the case that, though Ian and Poppy are geniuses, they have no idea how to work together. With Dana between them, it’s going to make separating even easier. But the thing about spending time with Dana and Ian is, all their ideas are boring. They’re kind of meant to be. They’re supposed to be just kind of making things up to do with game programming, and Ian has been characterized from the jump as a bloviating self-centered loser (you know, like all rich guys) who happens to be incredibly smart.
That’s fine and it’s important to show that everyone has done the research they need to to make it clear that everyone knows how to run a gaming company. Having said that, sometimes the best and funniest scenes have nothing whatsoever to do with the nuts and bolts of the operations at either Mythic Quest or Grim Pop. Sometimes it’s Poppy eating ice cream out of the trash can.
Watch Mythic Quest on Apple TV+
New episodes of the third season of Mythic Quest arrive on Apple TV+ every Friday. (This week’s episode dropped early due to the Thanksgiving holiday.)
Watch on: Apple TV+
Scout Tafoya is a film and TV critic, director and creator of the long-running video essay series The Unloved for RogerEbert.com. He has written for The Village Voice, Film Comment, The Los Angeles Review of Books and Nylon Magazine. He is the author of Cinemaphagy: On the Psychedelic Classical Form of Tobe Hooper, the director of 25 feature films, and the director and editor of more than 300 video essays, which can be found at Patreon.com/honorszombie.