Mythic Quest is so good at high-concept episodes and set pieces that when the writers focus on a classic sitcom trope, it really nails them. Not every episode has to be a conceptual detour, like “A Dark Quiet Death,” but when the show plays with a classic bit like the “earpiece conversation,” the concept becomes an episode-wide concern. Everyone has someone in their ear this week, and it’s not doing them any favors.
With “Hera” ready for testing, Poppy needs a grunt to squash bugs and turns to Dana. “Where’s Ian? I thought you two were attached at the ear,” Poppy asks her only employee as she sets up the themes of the episode. Dana is joining Ian for a speech at her school, and the pair will be out of the office for the afternoon. Poppy’s still actively avoiding Ian’s opinion, but when she can’t get Dana’s, she’s pissed. After plucking Dana’s AirPod out of her ear, Poppy lets Ian have it. Ultimately, Poppy gives Dana a warning: “Once you let Ian in your ear, you can never get him out.”
Last week we saw Ian’s hold over people and how empty the search for his approval can be, yet despite this, David and Poppy still crave his attention— mostly because Ian is bored of them and won’t give them the time of day. However, Dana is fresh meat for Ian, and since she is susceptible to his charms, she forgets her obligations as soon as Ian starts sweet talking her. In his Tesla, he indulges her ego by commenting on her banal critiques of self-driving cars, sitting in the passenger seat, and Field Of Dreams. Dana doesn’t say anything particularly profound, yet Ian responds with awe. He’s a moron, so maybe he believes her referencing Field Of Dreams created a psychic connection. Realistically though, like Brad calling Carol the HODI, Ian’s manipulating her, consciously or not.
He’s not the only one working someone’s ego. Brad takes another crack at the C-suite this week by—and we can’t believe we’re saying this—listening to Rachel’s ideas. He wants to know why his NFT failed—even though Sue told him last week—and Rachel offers an answer: Gamers need a better reason to buy this crap other than it’s for sale. More importantly, it gives Brad another reason to bug Phil and the designers. With David distracted by the “MQ” movie, he sees the perfect opportunity to slither into power.
And, once again, David’s ego gets the best of him. Riding high on his new executive producer title, he’s invited to lunch by longtime “MQ” fan and potential “Masked Man” Joe Manganiello. Unfortunately, David “pitted out” during the call, so he heads home to change his shirt. In the meantime, he wants Jo to compile a dossier on the actor, particularly regarding the actor’s size (is the True Blood stud really that big? Yes. Yes, he is.), and join them for lunch. However, Cerritos traffic, the real star of this episode, has other plans. David calls Jo to let her know that he’s running late, so when Manganiello shows up mid-conversation, David asks Jo to keep the call going, so he can feed her answers to the actor’s questions via her earbuds.
People have “Played Cyrano” on Will & Grace, Breaking Bad, Seinfeld, and numerous other shows, not to mention a couple of James Bond movies. It’s an old trope that Mythic Quest deploys with David’s inspired “bidness-personal” phone mix-em-up. While David coaches Jo through the meeting with Manganiello, Phil calls to ask if he should follow the janitor’s orders. David can barely make it through one conversation, so when he’s fielding two calls on dueling speakerphones, his confusion and frustration harmonize beautifully to create a symphony of palpable comedic tension. Hornsby plays overwhelmed with such pathetic optimism, and as the calls overlap, he maintains a hint of hope. But when that hope gives way to rage, it’s doubly sweet. Brad jumps on the call and gets his boss to parrot a “yes” that was meant for Manganiello, dooming the designers to another weekend of unpaid work.
Those who ignored the voice in their ear fared much better. Jo relies on her wits to cover up the mess David’s created in her ear. When Brad takes the phone, she repeats David’s “Brad?” by accident, so Jo pivots. “Pitt,” she tells Manganiello. “Brad Pitt is another actor [they’re] considering for the role,” and it makes the Manganiello even hungrier for the part. When David finally arrives, Manganiello is gone but interested, and Jo is the hero of the day. More importantly, she didn’t get there by waiting for David’s approval.
Elsewhere, Dana isn’t so lucky. Ian distracts her with a day at the metaverse factory, and she forgets all about the talk at her school. Ian traps Dana in his orbit, telling her that this plan to create a liquid internet that users enter through eye drops is a good idea. It’s clearly not, but there’s some value here. Poppy had a chance to teach Dana what it means to work in this industry and blew it. Instead, Ian’s introducing her to other aspects of work: Dreaming up the future. Who cares if it defies the laws of physics? Why limit dreaming?
Meanwhile, Poppy turns to the coders to critique her game. “Hera” is technically perfect but not very fun, they determine. Poppy tends to suck the joy out of her work, reducing it to code rather than thinking about how people will actually play the game. She might take great pride in being the perfect Poppy Lee, but no one will see it if the game’s no fun.
- “Heh. David doesn’t even know who Phil is.”
- “Hire a 5’8” actor, get a 5’8" performance.”
- “Oh, yeah, she’s the one who eats out of the garbage.”
- “Jo, I want everything you can find on Joe Manganiello. I want to know where he’s from, where he lives, how big is he? Is he as big as they say on the internet? What drives him? What does he drive? Does he drive at all? I wanna know what this man ate for breakfast. Although with his bod, he probably skips breakfast. I would.”
- One of these days, I’m actually going to carve out some time and talk about how good Charlotte Nicado is this season.