Skip to main content
TVTV Reviews

‘Mythic Quest’ Season 3 review: A shaky start leads to a strong finish on Apple TV’s underrated comedy

By January 7, 2023No Comments6 min read

Spoilers for Season 3 of Mythic Quest Below 

Created by Rob McElhenney, Megan Ganz, and Charlie Day, Mythic Quest has always worked best when it allowed the inner mechanisms of this workplace comedy to peel themselves back. While it’s set in the world of game development and coding, it’s really just like any other workplace genre where the magic is the cast of characters and their ability to play off of one another, often in surprisingly hilarious or heartfelt pairings. It’s why Ian (McElhenney) and Poppy (Charlotte Nicado) work so well initially with him, the visionary tech-bro who breathes air for snacks and Poppy, the technical genius who brings his ideas to life. 

Mythic Quest’s third season, if tonally splintered, arrived at a satisfying conclusion. It demonstrates why it’s  such engaging and hilarious viewing. There’s a modicum of inertia to these characters who, despite striving for success and career satisfaction, don’t so much change or grow as they do further adapt to those allowed in their inner circle. That’s why, frankly, the finale of the latest season works so well. Poppy and Ian aren’t going to change, but they finally know it and, in accepting that, have reconvened to try and weaponize their shared stubbornness and the strengths that both tether them together despite opposing orbital pulls. 

Similarly, it’s why this season Jo (Jessie Ennis) and her renewed loyalty to Davis (David Hornsby) work as we’ve seen her work her way through the company, trying and failing to attach herself to the most powerful person in the room. She builds David up and, in the finale, leaves him to start a new company with Dana (Imani Hakim) and Brad (Danny Pudi.) All three have seen how the Ians, Poppys, and Davids of the world work and they think they could do it better. Or, in Brad’s case, it at least allows for a chance to face a challenge where the outcome of his success isn’t inevitable. 

Pudi is particularly wicked in his scenes with Ashly Burch’s Rachel, their general demeanors already so clashing. His molding of her into the head of monetization so that, in this week’s episode, her mooning over a bonus check and realization of just how much he manipulated her, is brilliant. Again, it’s not so much that Rachel’s characterization has changed but instead more that she’s had a shift of focus, and that focus has a lot more zeroes tagged on the end of it. 

It all culminates in a full circle scenario where Dana, Brad, and Jo move downstairs under the Mythic HQ company building while Poppy and Ian return to above ground, telling David they’ve had an incredible idea and they’re returning. This sets the stage for the internal struggle David is going to face and the crisis of both having an idea that will save the company, while also once again having to work with two people who refuse to listen to him. 

That said, it’s been a shame missing out on the dynamics and bizarre charms of McElhenney, Nicodo, and Hornsby, so this at least promises a welcome return. 

It’s that point that speaks to some of the season’s shortcomings. For as much as the last four episodes were the series firing on all cylinders, the first half, despite highlights and character gags, was disjointed both in tone and story, and characters were fractured into groups for little reason. A brunch date between Jo, Rachel, and Poppy is a cute excursion, but does little to affect them as a group past the point of the Christmas episode where, afterward, the show seems to forget Jo cared about being their friend at all. 

Similarly, Dana is being written to be a major player in the next season but as she’s always acted as a reactionary character to the heightened ones around her, it’s a move that suffers a bumpy transition. We believe Jo and Brad would follow not because they believe in her talent but because they think it will set them up for a needed challenge, but even still the grouping isn’t as strong or as inherently funny as it was with her acting as the voice of reason for Poppy and Ian. 

Image courtesy of Apple TV+

Again, these people don’t change, at least not dramatically and if so, it’s for very few people. They’re narcissistic and driven by their own wants, which makes the Christmas episode come close to being too heavy-handed. Mythic Quest has always operated on a landscape of bright comedy with pockets of real emotion – in particular the killer of a moment when Ian goes to comfort an isolated and depressed Poppy during the quarantine episode. These moments or ones such as the first season flashback episode “A Dark Quiet Death” with Jake Johnson and Cristin Milioti succeed because the narrative earns the moments of melancholy, rather than thrusting them upon us for some forced requisite for schmaltz. 

Even so, the doubleheader flashback of “Sarian” introduces us to a young Poppy and Ian and their shared destiny, and then, “To Catch a Mouse,” which is about as devastating an otherwise hilarious episode can be. In the former, we see how Ian was inspired by his mom to learn and express his interests in a way that suited him and how that inspiration bore his first game, one that a little Poppy would sit in a library and play on the other side of the world, enlivened at the possibilities for the escape it gave her. 

In the latter, she calls Ian out on his bullshit for not wanting to support a game he didn’t come up with and it’s a greater testament to Nicado being one of the single, brightest, stars on television right now. To play such an eccentric character whose personality is abrasive, awkward, egotistical, and harsh and still possesses a bevy of vulnerability that exposes the wounded child her scrappier appearance hides is well-worth the fumbling of earlier episodes. 

It all ends with the two coming together once again, the team scattered and uniting in personally driven forces. Even with the shakier ground, they stood on early on in season three, the finale and last four episodes in particular exemplify why this slept-on show has such a diehard fanbase. It’s smart, it understands and emphasizes its admittedly selfish characters, and it keeps the wonkier elements grounded in realism while never diminishing the humor. 

They’re fucking weird but, in a way, like the combo of green flavored drinks and gas station buffalo pizza with blue cheese and ranch on top, it works. 

Mythic Quest season three is available on Apple TV+. Watch the trailer below.

Featured Image Courtesy of Apple TV+

  • - 7.5/10
Allyson Johnson

Based in New England, Allyson is co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of InBetweenDrafts. Former Editor-in-Chief at TheYoungFolks, she is a member of the Boston Society of Film Critics and the Boston Online Film Critics Association. Her writing has also appeared at CambridgeDay, ThePlaylist, Pajiba, VagueVisages, RogerEbert, TheBostonGlobe, Inverse, Bustle, her Substack, and every scrap of paper within her reach.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: