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Mythic Quest - Everlight - Review: A New Hope

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Mythic Quest (now seemingly sans the “Raven’s Banquet” subtitle) has made a mini-comeback in preparation for its May 6th second season premiere, and oh man, with every episode does this show get better and better. Read on for my review of the epic, feel-good romp that is “Everlight”:

Set in the magical world of “after the pandemic is over,” the Mythic Quest team throw an enormous party to celebrate “Everlight,” a holiday in the game that the they have traditionally celebrated IRL by dressing up and turning their office into a real life "kingdom." Ian traditionally presides over the entire affair as the King, and this year, the newly promoted Poppy sits by his side as Queen. With this being the team’s first major gathering since the pandemic, everyone has certain expectations for the festivities.

The main tenet of Everlight is a tournament, in which heroes battle to see who is the champion who will pull a magical sword from a tree and restore hope and light to all the land. When Poppy complains that she wants to enter the tournament in spite of her newfound Queen-dom, Ian discloses that she can't because he rigs the tournament every year. His goal is to give hope to the many underdog types in the office, so he always manipulates the rules so that the least qualified contestant will win.

“But they...can’t?” Poppy asks.
“Of course they can’t,” Ian says, “But they believe that they can, and that’s the magic of Everlight.”

Although reluctant, Poppy understands Ian’s reasoning, and the pair make to pick out their secret champion. Initially, their choice is Dana, but when they realize she’s playing as a cleric (non-fighting type), they decide to make the tournament 2 v 2 instead, teaming Dana up with fighter Rachel. They also team up Jo - whose ferality makes her a good shot to defeat their picks - with David, as a means of holding her back. Infuriated by this, Jo soon becomes the “villain” of the tournament, but the battles otherwise go on just the way Poppy and Ian have planned.

However, when the final battle arrives - Jo and David versus Rachel and Dana - David, frustrated with Jo’s rough fighting style that victimizes him just as much as the other players, forfeits. Left without a villain and unable to let the tournament end in a default, Poppy and Ian must recruit Brad (who, true to his character, hasn’t been participating in Everlight festivities) to become the new villain character to fight Rachel and Dana.

Like a true villain, Brad accepts his role in the tournament so long as Poppy and Ian agree to cancel Everlight if he wins. They agree, expecting Dana and Rachel, who have made a talented team up to that point, to solidly defeat him. What the monarchs of Everlight don’t know is that Brad is actually a trained fighter - “I went to college on a fencing scholarship.”

The battle begins, and Rachel quickly fells Jo, making it seem as though Poppy and Ian’s plan is about to succeed. However, while Rachel celebrates her victory, Brad “stabs” her, leaving Dana to fight him alone. She at first succeeds, but as she goes to pull the fabled sword from the tree and end the tournament, she is taken out by a sudden arrow attack.

“I minored in archery,” Brad explains.

With his victory, the gang have no choice but to squash Everlight - and, subsequently, all of their post-pandemic hopes. Still determined, however, Poppy and Ian realize that since Brad hasn’t fought the two of them, he technically hasn’t defeated everyone in the "kingdom," and that hope is not totally dead yet after all.

With the scenery transformed into a full, (gorgeous) action-fantasy setpiece, Poppy and Ian face off against Brad. After a hard-fought battle, they manage to knock him to the ground. However, Brad “this isn’t even my final form”-s them, morphing into a nigh-unkillable devilish creature. “I am the darkness itself,” he says.

The metaphor unbearably clear (although, to be fair, this is seemingly on purpose), Poppy and Ian nearly are defeated by this new evil, who taunts them to “give in to the darkness.” At the last minute, Poppy “fireballs” Brad (a technique she had been struggling with earlier in the day), and Ian manages to pull the heroes’ sword from the tree in which it lies, vanquishing the darkness forever.

As the “kingdom” celebrates the victory, Brad walks away with a nonchalant “whatever, dorks.”

“And so, the darkness was lifted. The king and queen rejoiced and made merry,” says the narrator (played by Sir Anthony Hopkins!). “For though they knew that the darkness will always return, on this day - this very special day - there was light.”

This episode makes it clear that Mythic Quest has begun to realize what a special opportunity it has on its hands in terms of story; premise; cast; etc. The first season was more of a mixed bag - mostly hits but with significant misses. It seemed to focus a lot on the "bro"-iness of video game culture and of streaming games like Fortnite. However, in its two pandemic specials (this one and last year’s quarantine episode, which I’ve previously sung the praises of), Mythic Quest has discovered its ability to eschew the uber-popular and become a phenomenal tribute and satire to nerd culture.

The episodes are easy to watch and easy to love, and the story - though possibly trite - is consistently easy to get invested in. The balance in characters’ roles is also emerging much better than it was in season 1, with the excellent chemistry between Charlotte Nicdao and Rob McElhenny (who directed the episode as well) not wasted for a second this time around. Additionally, Danny Pudi, Jessie Ennis, and Ashly Burch (also the episode’s scribe), found their own deserved time in the spotlight across the half-hour.

In all, this episode made me excited for the upcoming full season of Mythic Quest which, as I mentioned, comes out next month. This is a show that embraces and revels in youthful, nerdy joy, heralding in the positive vibes I think we we all need right now. My only hope moving forward is that the show doesn’t shy away from the creative side the pandemic has brought out in them, and instead lets it shine brightly (You know, like the sword from the episode!).

What did you think of “Everlight?” How cool was that final fight scene, for real? And what are you looking forward to in season 2 of Mythic Quest? Let me know in the comments!

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