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Mythic Quest - Season 3 - Review: One Half

From the crashing of the crypto market to the slow death(? - the jury is still out as of writing this) of Twitter, technology has had a bit of a rough few months.

That’s what makes Mythic Quest season 3 so interesting, as the tech-centric plot of the Apple TV+ sitcom rides on a context that did not exist during its creation but at times ends up acting as one of its greatest assets. Season 2 rode these fluctuating cultural waves adeptly, shifting from pandemic anxieties to overworking and corporate burnout, staying lighthearted while exploring the characters’ very relatable inner psyches. But context, or lack thereof, can also set the show back at times, and that seems to be the case for this third season, which premiered on November 11th and is now airing on the Apple streamer every Friday. In that way, this outing seems to be a bit too hung on the corporate, with David sorely missed from the ensemble as he acts as producer for a Mythic Quest movie in a separate story arc (isolated save for the occasional cameo from Joe Manganiello), and plotlines and jokes surrounding NFTs and the Metaverse already requiring somewhat of a suspension of disbelief.

The season had its work cut out for it from the get-go. Unlike other workplace comedies like The Office or Parks and Recreation, Mythic Quest covers the internet and gaming industry, a culture that changes ever-so-rapidly - remember how Twitch was a major plot contributor in season 1? Most workplaces are not as volatile as the modern-day tech industry, and so right away, Quest was going to be playing catch-up with its storylines, and this year the gamble did not pay off as nicely as it has in the past. Another issue the show clearly faced was the unceremonious departure of F. Murray Abraham as series regular C.W., an incident seemingly swept under the rug both on a production and a narrative level as swiftly as possible. Even in episode 1 of season 3, I had already pinpointed these factors as primary contributors toward a rather uneven season, and as I continued watching, that suspicion was confirmed for me over and over again.

We start with a significant time jump from when Ian and Poppy break off from Mythic Quest to start GrimPop, their own company that was formed to produce their new game based on the Hera idea Poppy had at the end of season 2. The jump was practical - it gives reasonable space to accept that Brad has now been released from prison on good behavior, David has found his footing running Mythic Quest with Jo at his right hand, Ian and Poppy have set up their new office space (just a few floors beneath the Mythic Quest office), so on and so forth. But it also feels a bit too conveniently constructed, and much like C.W.’s disappearance (and, as we discover in the first episode, Thelma and Louise-inspired demise), is almost too clean of a wrapping-up to season 2’s phenomenal web of cliffhangers.

Another lost opportunity was this season’s special episode - if you’re not new to Mythic Quest, you’ll know that each season has one episode that diverges from the season’s main narrative to tell a story that delves deeper into a certain character or element of the story. It’s an ingenious theme that helps shake up any monotony the show might fall into, and the episodes themselves are usually top-notch; season 1’s “A Dark, Quiet Death” is easily one of the best TV episodes of the decade. This season’s outing, however, feels a bit disappointing, telling two stories at once but not really diving into either one all the way, shedding light on the lore behind some of the show’s characters but not necessarily improving our understanding of them all that much, only half-commiting to the exploration.

This sense of only half-commitment rattles recurrently throughout the season, with plot points never resolving so much as being turned in a different direction and eventually forgotten about. Much more than previous seasons, it’s easy to get lost in what each character is doing and what their motivation is in these episodes. It truly feels at many points that we’re watching the visual equivalent of one of those YouTube edits where every other beat of a song is cut out. This season of Mythic Quest feels clipped and askew, as if half of it was tossed, leaving something that still technically works but feels fundamentally incomplete.

One thing that the season does continue to do right - and, arguably what has always been the show’s unfaltering safety net - is intensely develop and explore its main characters. Poppy and Ian’s dynamic plays a major role in the season, and Dana is often tossed into their mix as well, and Rob McIlhenny, Charlotte Nicdao and Imani Hakim all play off each other magically, with Nicdao's performance in particular remaining what should be a shoo-in Emmy nominee. Many of the other characters explore interesting new avenues, while others stay blissfully unchanged, as the unlikely but enjoyable season-long team-up of Rachel and Brad demonstrates.

The biggest acting standout of the season, however, is Jessie Ennis as Jo, whose character has evolved from a rather hollow agent of chaos to one of the show’s most dynamic and compelling characters. Jo uses much of this season to explore her goals as well as her hard-hearted nature, and Ennis plays through Jo’s aggression, conniving and social isolation excellently in turn.

In spite of feeling like it just generally has less to offer this year, it’s not like this season of Mythic Quest was appalling. It lacks some of the energy and direction that the previous season held, and seems to not know exactly what to do with the precise amount of time it was given. However, the jokes are still hitting well enough - in spite of their occasional lack of freshness - and the characters remain engaging enough that I would easily encourage any fans to forage through it anyway.

Whether it be a creative shake-up, a more clear story arc or just more time, Mythic Quest season 3 is missing something. While pointed acting and dynamic emotional arcs save it from total dullness, I only wish there had been a bit more foresight in where to take the narrative. For one of the most creative and innovative comedies on TV or streaming right now, the majority of my disappointment comes not from disliking the experience, but from knowing that this show could - and has - been better.

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