There’s a rat at the office on this week’s episode of Mythic Quest — and for once it’s not one of the employees. David sees a rodent and makes it Jo and Brad’s problem, which they immediately take too seriously.
Meanwhile, Poppy and Ian are having spatial issues, but those are a mask for something larger eating away at their partnership. And, as usual, Dana is caught in the middle.
A typically funny episode of the Apple TV+ workplace comedy, entitled “To Catch a Mouse,” becomes shockingly tense in its final minutes.
Mythic Quest recap: ‘To Catch a Mouse’
Season 2, episode 8: As the episode starts, Ian Grim (played by Rob McElhenney) has a problem. It’s a Post-it note. Poppy (Charlotte Nicdao) wrote a note with the word “haptics” on it, and it’s throwing off Ian’s sense of design and calm.
It’s not really the note that’s the problem, though. (Poppy doesn’t even know what the word “haptics” means.) It’s just that they can’t agree on anything — not even the temperature of the Grim Pop offices. Dana (Imani Hakim) usually refuses to come between them, but she does at least agree that it’s too cold in the workspace.
It’s a great little scene: Ian and Poppy need her help, and stand in front of her screaming her name for 30 seconds while she ignores them. In fact, the whole episode has Dana standing by as furious witness to their childish bickering, which gives Imani Hakim more to do than usual. She’s very good.
Not your typical mouse trap
David (David Hornsby) is also having trouble at the office, but it’s of a different variety. There’s a mouse. He goes to Brad (Danny Pudi) and Jo (Jessie Ennis), and tells them to kill it or get it out. They immediately take this task too seriously (he says “rat,” so they think he means “traitor”). Jo screams at the whole Mythic Quest floor staff to leave so they can catch the furry intruder. (Ennis’ scream is excellent.) Brad and Jo set a too-elaborate trap, which finds him putting his janitor uniform back on and pretending to work so the critter will feel calm and show itself.
With the office empty, Dana and David decide to go work out of his office. (Dana can’t work with Poppy and Ian fighting.) Jo and Brad catch the mouse, which then gives birth, so David doesn’t have the heart to kill it. He tries to involve Dana, but she doesn’t want any more part of the rodent discussion than she did Poppy and Ian’s arguments.
Ian tries to get Poppy to function more efficiently by building her a work pod, but she points out that what he’s actually invented is a cubicle. Frustrated, he goes to the roof to think. Four hours later, he hasn’t come back down. When Poppy goes upstairs to talk to him , he’s beyond sore — he’s furious, and she doesn’t know why. He accuses her of trying to big-time him.
Their arrangement used to be that Ian would dream up something and Poppy would build it. But now she’s trying to dream something and build it at the same time. That makes him feel like she’s trying to steal his thunder, but the truth is he doesn’t actually want to work on her game. He doesn’t like being second-in-command — he doesn’t like that he’s not in control. He’s not a team player. He admits it all, and Poppy goes back downstairs in tears.
Ashly Burch, who plays Rachel, directs this week and gets great work out of the Mythic Quest cast. Obviously these guys don’t need much prodding to do great work, but I was immediately struck by the final rooftop confrontation. Poppy shows up in her usual jocular mood, and Ian’s response is a curt, half-muttered, “Fuck you.”
It’s chilling. We’ve never heard Ian like this before. And McElhenny is so good at being a threatening presence (having spent the last 15 years of his life channeling the worst of masculinity in his tour de force performance on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) that you immediately feel as scared and weirded out as Poppy clearly does in that moment.
When she finally gets Ian to admit that he resents working on her vision instead of his own, Charlotte Nicdao reverts Poppy back to her teen self, caught between her parents’ conflicting wishes for her, but standing up for herself all the same. Emotionally, Poppy’s grown more than Ian has, as we’ve seen. He’s still very much the little boy screaming for his mom.
Stupendous work all around. I know I gave McElhenny a raft a few episodes back because his arc wasn’t bringing the funny counterweight it used to, but it was worth it for this moment. For a half-hour show, there’s about a season’s worth of good material in each of these Mythic Quest episodes. Awards mean nothing, but this cast and this creative team deserve them.
Watch Mythic Quest on Apple TV+
New episodes of the third season of Mythic Quest arrive on Apple TV+ every Friday.
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.