Back in “#YumYum,” the third episode of this season, Mythic Quest likened the dissolution of Ian and Poppy’s creative partnership to a divorce. At the time, it didn’t feel like much more than an obvious sitcom-y joke. But over the course of this season (and going back to the heartwarming specials that preceded it), we’ve really begun to see the Mythic Quest team as a family, with Ian and Poppy as two immature, bickering parents going through something real and raw, all the more painful because of their years of mutual respect and admiration.
And seeing the reconciled parents back together again in “TBD” feels so good. When they’re working together, Ian and Poppy are in their element; their ideas build on each other naturally, and they can anticipate exactly what the other is thinking. It’s that magical feeling when two best friends effortlessly banter, working together more through instinct than anything else. Ian and Poppy may still be inappropriate and disrespectful at times, but they do want the best for their employees. They brutally roast Dana’s updated version of Grouchy Goat, for example, but they also agree to pay her tuition for a local programming school.
If “TBD” — and this season in general — treats Mythic Quest as a family, with Ian and Poppy as the parents, David is the most obvious kid caught in the crossfire. In retrospect, David has had one of the most sneakily poignant character arcs this season. It’s the story of a man who watched his parents get divorced as a kid, got divorced himself as an adult, and is, even now, continuing to slowly lose the people he cares about most. It’s kind of pathetic to watch, but never totally mean-spirited, because there’s real pathos there, real abandonment issues.
So it’s not a surprise when David almost starts crying upon Dana and Rachel’s announcement that they’re leaving Mythic Quest, even if I can’t remember many subplots where we saw them directly interact. David’s just been through a humiliating breakup — he asked his recently widowed girlfriend to move in with him, got rejected, proposed marriage to her, got rejected, begged her, and got rejected — and it hurt, but it made him realize Mythic Quest, and the people there, would always be there for him. And now, to see them leaving?
And it’s not just Dana and Rachel. In another scene that made me just want to give David Brittlesby a hug, Ian and Poppy announce they’re leaving, too. “We thought we needed to stay together for the baby, but it turns out the kid’s all grown up,” Poppy explains. With the help of C.W., they’ve realized Raven’s Banquet was the end of the story for them; they spent all these months on expansion ideas that failed because Ian wasn’t ambitious enough and Poppy’s ambitions exceeded Mythic Quest’s capabilities. To really unlock her potential, she needs to build something new — and in the final scene of the finale, we see Poppy poised to do just that, giddily taking a pen to a cocktail napkin like she and Ian did in the good old days. After a season in which his ego has been challenged more than ever, Ian’s fully ready to let Poppy take the reins on this one. It’s a beautiful moment to end on.
With so many people leaving, David and Jo may be two of the only people left of the main crew at Mythic Quest, and like Ian and Poppy, they have their own professional relationship story based on common romantic archetypes. In another sweet scene, Jo asks David to take her back as his assistant, craving his powerlessness after the drama of working for a shark. And he agrees, on the condition that she remember she is his employee, not his friend, not his family. Maybe after all the turmoil of watching people leave, David doesn’t feel like forming any new attachments.
But as David stands on the roof smiling wistfully, you get the sense that Ian and Poppy leaving could be good for him, too. Maybe this is the kick in the ass he needs to really grow up and start asserting himself, especially if he’ll have to wrangle some new big personality who becomes creative director.
So season two ends with the cast on diverging paths, scattered but on good terms. The two creative directors of the titular game have stepped away to start something else. Brad is off to jail for insider trading, having taken the fall for Jo to earn some street cred. Rachel is off to start her writing program at Berkeley, and Dana to start programming school nearby. Two major relationship breaks have been mended, a romance has a challenging but hopeful road ahead, and everyone is where they should be for themselves. It’s hard to know where Mythic Quest goes from here, but I’m more excited than ever to find out.
Six to Eight Months
• Back in the season premiere, Poppy told David to tell Montreal the new title was “TBD.” Sue said she liked that, and David yelled, “That’s not a title!”
• I love that David is still making subtle wolf references, even episodes after realizing he did the animal quiz wrong. When he begged his girlfriend to marry him, he had the misguided idea to “show her [his] soft underbelly. That’s what a wolf does sometimes if he has to.”
• This time Rachel is the one who interrupts Dana with a kiss. Extremely cute.
• Brad’s voluntary trip to jail for street cred is a bit of a stretch for me, but it does work in a larger thematic sense, tying back to his season-long struggle to maintain his bad-boy image. And I love the little moment when he tells Jo, “I like you,” and she says, “I know.”
• There’s a brief reprise of Packwood’s “We Drink Light,” the song from “Everlight.”
• My biggest laugh from the episode might be David panicking and yelling at Jo not to jump off the building. I also laughed at Jo suddenly questioning why David came up there.
• In the end, I think this season did a decent job with F. Murray Abraham’s limited screen time. But I also don’t think standalone or flashback episodes are automatically the best way of deepening a character, so I look forward to seeing him in more of a regular office role next season (I assume). I re-watched a few season one episodes, and they did a pretty good job teaching you a lot about this guy before you actually knew that much about his backstory. (I also say this as someone who enjoyed “Backstory!” but not as much as season one’s “A Dark Quiet Death.”)
• I often can’t help but imagine a 20-ish-episode version of this season. I’d imagine that Ian and Poppy’s decision to leave, and their goodbyes, would have a lot more time to breathe. And I still kind of think Poppy’s shitty treatment of Dana (and maybe everyone’s treatment of the art team) should’ve had some kind of breaking point, though I suppose she redeems herself a bit here.
• Thanks for following along with me this season! I’d love to hear your thoughts on anything Mythic Quest, so feel free to share them with me on Twitter.