Since It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, in which he portrayed the priest that God forgot, Rickety Cricket, David Hornsby has been a clutch player, elevating every episode he appears in. Taking advantage of his potential, Mythic Quest co-creators Rob McElhenney, Megan Ganz, and Charlie Day gave Hornsby a character that plays to his strengths, weaponizing his sheepish demeanor by piling on the humiliation. David’s desire to appear competent guides the character. As we watch his ego inflate, we also hear the air leak out of the plug.
“Crushing It” opens on David at the height of his revelry, having accomplished something Ian had only dreamed of: He’s going to be an executive producer on a “Mythic Quest” movie, and he wants everyone (read: Ian) to know it. The arc of David’s story is painfully close to Yoda’s prophecy for Young Anakin. Confidence leads to celebration. Celebration leads to gloating. Gloating leads to suffering. Like C.W. warned in his letter last week, David’s hubris will be his undoing.
Bouncing from office to office, David spreads the good word of “Mythic Quest”’s trip to Tinseltown, offsetting the balance he touted last week. David’s turned “MQ” into a profitable bore. Free of Ian and Poppy’s ambitions, he’s balanced the budget, canceled Brad’s community-destroying monetization plans, and pleased his bosses. But with Hollywood knocking, he risks destroying the fragile “Hokey Pokey” he bragged about last week. Community manager Sue (Caitlin McGee) warns David that the users will revolt, which David twists to fit his own logic as “a certain type of person just hates not having control” (read: Ian).
David’s telling on himself here. For the remainder of the episode, David finds himself trapped in the GrimPop studios, creating candy silhouettes of himself with a sad gummy worm for a mouth. The slightest bit of unearned confidence, like, say, the type that comes from a glamour title on a project that will probably never happen, sends him spiraling into the white void of GrimPop, muscling through a Poppy impression to get a stupid, supposedly voice-activated elevator to work.
What David is actually seeking is validation. Through Ian’s disappointment, David will finally feel validated and recognized as a good manager by Ian. For such a painfully idiotic guy, Ian has that hold over people, and it’s impossible, especially over the few weeks, not to see Ian as a stand-in for self-appointed Silicon Valley soothsayers who think they have a divine connection between their instincts and the people who buy their products. As Ian proselytizes Web3, Sue reminds the Mythic Quest audience how much his customers hate this shit. The confidence David lacks is how Ian maintains his power. For all Poppy’s self-righteous indignation toward Ian, she feels the same way.
Having finished her impossible coding crunch, Poppy removes her headphones to an empty room, much to her dismay. At the very least, she’d like to tell Ian of her accomplishment. But there’s no one to applaud her. Well, no one except for Rachel, who seems genuinely happy for Poppy and invites her to brunch, or “the brunch” as they say in Australia. But another woman on staff with free time: Jo.
Jo tows a thin line between believable and cartoonish, where her actions and knowledge constantly seem at odds with the world around her, and her not knowing or understanding brunch is a bit of a stretch. Still, the show makes it work through great, character-based one-liners (“I can make them sad. I can put them in sacks.”) and by assuming validating friends was just lying to make them feel better (“Maybe Ian just sucks.”) Jo alienated herself from the coastal elites around her, so no one validates her. She had to learn to be her own champion.
Brunch is more than Jo bargained for. Poppy and Rachel simply want other women to puff them up, agree with their decisions, and tell them they’re right. Rachel wants to brag about how she’s forming a community at Berkley (she’s not, everyone hates her), and Poppy wants them to hear about why Ian sucks. As the sugar and gluten rush of a stack of pancakes and a liter of mimosas crash into depression, Poppy and Rachel reveal their real concerns: They have no confidence without the external appreciation of their peers. So Jo decides they need some no-nonsense destruction and takes them to a shooting range/car-crushing yard, where they can crush cars with tanks.
In “Crushing It,” everyone clearly is. Even Brad has his gaslighting groove back as he manipulates Carol and Phil (Derek Waters) into designing the next phase of consumer exploitation, something beyond DLC, loot boxes, and NFTs. Carol invites him to indulge in his former job as Head of Monetization and Implementation, and the FHOMI Brad sinks his claws into a vulnerable prey: the designers. Everyone needs a little external validation, and he’s more than happy to slap an honorary acronym on Carol that gives him all the power he needs to undermine David.
This search for external validation isn’t worth the chase. Jo shows Poppy and Rachel an alternative to wallowing: Driving a tank. It’s an extreme answer to a common problem. By over-inflating one’s ego, we tend to blow our need for validation out of proportion. Jo teaches them that you can recognize your wins on your own terms, either by brunch or by crush. But the more exciting, active, and powerful the celebration, the more meaningful it can be. When they stop thinking about the people they want attention from, they can focus on themselves and the supreme satisfaction of crushing a car with a tank.
- “This girl who used to bully me, she lost her house in a tornado.”
- “Celebrate this man!”
- “I pissed in your office.” “It looks like you pissed in your pants.” “I pissed in my pants in your office.”
- Release the full cut of Hornsby performing “Seventy-Six Trombones.”