There’s been a power vacuum this season on Mythic Quest. With Poppy and Ian off at GrimPop, struggling to figure out what the future holds for their tense, complicated relationship, David’s been holding “MQ” Studios together. He’s stabilized the game, made Montreal a fortune, and turned “Mythic Quest” into an utter bore. With the game on autopilot, he’s turned his gaze toward Hollywood as Carol remade the workplace in Brad’s image. “The Year Of Phil” works overtime to tie up loose ends, including David’s adventures in Hollywood, Carol’s side-quest in the kingdom of HODI DUDI, and whatever scheming Brad and Jo have been up to. Unfortunately, leadership is missing from their lives, causing everyone to spin out, unable to put out the fires they started.
And it all has to do with confidence. Carol started the season with profound uncertainty and rode the escalator to success by faking it until she made it, only to find herself part of the problem, organizing a diverse staff that squeezed out anyone over 40. Rather than hold herself accountable, though, she tries to sweep it under the rug, so Phil makes a glorious return to launch a class action against her.
Meanwhile, David moves into the director’s chair, hoping to coddle Hollywood snowflake Joe Manganiello into a good performance in the “MQ” movie. The actor has his own ideas for how the movie should go; the Masked Man shall speak with a German accent and never remove his helmet. David hates it, knowing that Joe’s artistic whims aren’t practical, yet he keeps his mouth shut. David doesn’t want to look like the bad guy even though he knows it’ll hurt the finished product.
Fresh off of being told to fuck off, Poppy plans her “Playpen” pitch with Dana, and the hives on her neck do all the talking. She doesn’t have the confidence or charisma to sell the thing—that’s Ian’s job. Dana tries to coach her in confidence, telling her it is about living in the present and reacting to the situation without second-guessing yourself. However, Poppy is the type who wakes up dreading everything she’s ever done and everything she has to do. She needs someone with an empty head. She needs Ian.
He’s busy, though. In need of some leadership, good or bad, Jo calls him in to hold Joe Manganiello’s feet to the fire. Then David watches as Joe disarms Ian with praise, asking him to sign the inside of his mask. At long last, David will have to take matters into his own hands. Or, rather, Jo will have to take David’s matters into her hands and, by proxy, have David take matters into his own hands. It makes sense.
David unloads on Jo for bringing in Ian and trying to trick him into acting more assertively. He resents her undermining him and wants her to take his direction, so they can get the job done. They all want the same thing, and by working together, by truly collaborating, he can make the whole thing work. Unbeknownst to David, Jo turned on the mic to the studio, allowing Manganiello to hear the entire thing, and because Jo and Joe have the same name, the actor thinks David is yelling at him. It’s a nice little callback and button to the disastrous speakerphone, three-way call several weeks back (and Jo nudging David toward standing up to Ian) that leads to a profound conclusion: There’s nothing wrong with telling people what you want or need. Sometimes people are disruptive at work because there’s no one to offer direction, rein in their passion, and keep the project on track. If David’s employees don’t know what he wants or don’t believe he has the courage of his convictions, they will not do what he needs.
Mythic Quest has always been great at showing how collaboration works, and with David and Jo, we’re seeing what a mutually beneficial relationship can look like. Jo plans around David in an attempt to push him towards self-sufficiency. That journey to confidence is difficult. People like Poppy will have to do things they don’t want to, things they find humiliating, and things that might make them look like the bad guy. By listening to his employees, David can become a better, more assertive, and more compassionate leader that his employees actually want to work for.
People want to work in video games. They want to work in video games so severely that they’re willing to deal with the crunch, the bad actors, and the uncertainty. But having a wishy-washy boss only interested in pleasing a board in another country devalues their work, time, and ambition. They no longer feel like a part of the process but rather a cog in the machine. David isn’t the bad guy for giving direction. He’s a collaborator.
It’s why Carol is finding it difficult to celebrate her H.R. victory. She’s turned her employees into a number that will never satisfy, and instead of working with Phil to protect him from people like Brad, she selfishly hired a staff not for the betterment of the workplace but for her self-aggrandizement. By focusing on herself, she made the rest of the team miserable.
That’s how Dana is feeling. After trying to help Poppy gain the confidence to nail her pitch, Poppy blows it by pitching to the guy she told to “suck my duck” earlier this season. “Playpen” is dead without a user base of 12 million to turn a profit. To paraphrase one of Ian’s favorite movies, Poppy built it, but no one came. She needs another player on the field, an Ian to make her Field Of Dreams come true. Or maybe she needs to drop a level, take out the leg, go full mount, and then have an effective ground and pound.
- “It’s like giving the dragon’s full hit point total and list of lair actions right out of the gate.”
- “That culture you’re describing the last days of the U.S.S.R.”
- “If you’re concerned about his size, do not be. I’m just going to to drop a level, take him down, go to full mount, and then have a very effective ground and pound.”
- “In a way, you should be proud. And in a bigger and more real way, you should be angry and afraid.”
- “All I hear is screaming.”