On May 22nd, Apple TV+ surprise released a very special quarantine episode from Rob McEllhenney & Charlie Day’s show Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet. The initial season consisted of nine strong episodes, specifically ‘A Dark Quiet Death,’ which told a story from a completely different cast of characters to create a deeper and richer connection to the world Day and McEllhenney created. Mythic Quest is a hilarious edition to Apple TV+’s current lineup of original shows and one that, if you haven’t binged yet, you should watch immediately.
The premise is incredibly intriguing right off the bat. Rob McEllhenney stars as a humorously narcissistic video game creator who has rose to riches with his breakthrough game sharing the same title as the show itself. The colourful cast of characters do everything they can to keep the game running and pleasing its fan base while having new problems thrown in their faces each episode. There is a lot to love and endless laughter to be had.
*Spoilers For Season One After This Point*
If you haven’t yet had the chance to experience Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet, then I would suggest you not read any further until you have as I will be discussing the final moment in episode 9.
Nearing the finale of Mythic Quest, McEllhenney’s Ian (pronounced Eye-an) is juggling with a new update, entitled ‘Blood Ocean,’ for the titular game. He proposes in one of the show’s final moments that the coders implement a disease into the game to give players something new to experience. Oh, how they did not see what would happen next.
As everyone knows, the world has been in pain and panic for the last few months as we as a species have had to come together and do our part to slow the spread of COVID-19. The creators of Mythic Quest, of course, were unaware that something like this would happen when they were planning out the story for the show’s first season. They did not shy away from using the real world pandemic to continue their story.
Mythic Quest: Quarantine is a special surprise episode that released on May 22nd of 2020. Upon discovering news of the new episode, I wondered how they were able to pull this off considering that lockdown and self-isolation were still in effect— until the episode started. In true modern age fashion, the episode opens with a video chat interface featuring David Hornsby’s character David Brittlesbee attempting to connect with McEllhenney’s Ian Grimm and Charlotte Nicdao’s Poppy Li. In fact, the entirety of the episode is solely told through computer screens, video chats, recorded video and video game cut scenes. While, the plot itself is quite simple— Ian’s staff must deal with real world issues that even we as a human race have had to face for the last few months. I won’t go too in depth about the plot, because what I’d really like to focus on is how powerful this episode turned out to be.
It’s no secret that for many people self isolation has been extremely difficult. Whether you live alone, suffer from anxiety and/or depression, or were dismissed temporarily from your job because your industry was not considered essential. It has been tough. Mythic Quest’s new episode deals with these situations in a very real, touching, yet humorous way. The team responsible for Mythic Quest deserve all the praise this episode will receive for the incredibly emotional moments it was able to convey to its audience, considering they only had a computer interface format to do so. Mythic Quest: Quarantine has a big job to do and the way they executed it was so impeccably well done that it should be recognized as an important and powerful message on human connection. Throughout the episode we witness the banter, problems and hilarious situations the cast has offered us throughout its initial first season. It isn’t until the episode begins to come to a close that we as an audience start to get hit directly in the feels.
Ian is terrified of the ongoing situation the world has been dealing with, but he’s been able to keep busy considering he is very well off and wealthy. On the other hand, his senior programmer, Poppy Li, is living alone in a small apartment barely holding it together. Ian begins to worry about the well being of Poppy after she refuses to uncover her camera during video chat meetings. Nearing the final moments of the episode Poppy answers a video call from Ian one more time and we finally see Ian leave his compound and in a paranoid state he is walking anxiously down a street wearing a face mask. He begs Poppy to uncover the camera as his worries and concerns are growing for his friend and employee. She refuses, insistently. Ian continues to show concern for Poppy, hoping that his sincerity will convince her to reveal her face. When she finally does, Ian is greeted with a tear stricken Poppy—alone in her dark apartment with only the blue light from her computer screen illuminating her face. She admits that she is not doing well. A moment of honesty and vulnerability that many of us can relate to.
Being alone is hard. Being forced to be alone? Well, I’m grateful to have people in my life to check up on me. Poppy, unfortunately, is not so lucky. Ian does his best to comfort her, but not having human contact for so long makes life quite difficult for so many. It is here we realize that Ian is no longer outside, he has entered an undisclosed building while speaking with Poppy. As she continues to break down and open up to Ian, we witness a moment so touching that it brought legitimate tears to my eyes. Ian stares into his camera, looking at Poppy with such concern, and says, “Open your door.” Poppy gets up, while Ian slides his mask back on his face, and jaunts over to her door to reveal Ian standing in her doorway. Poppy bursts into tears and embraces Ian with so much relief you can almost feel their longing for physical contact with a loved one. Now, the show’s makers didn’t cutaway after they initially hold each other, no, they let us hold on to the moment— for over a minute. Ian and Poppy embrace each other in silence as we as an audience witness a moment so touching, so powerful and so real that we can’t help but to think of all the people we couldn’t bare, ourselves, to go without. It is a moment we needed.
In between the emotional weight of the episode, there is a fun subplot that eventually adds up to another equally powerful moment regarding human connection. Dana, portrayed by Imani Hakim (Everybody Hates Chris) and Rachel, played by Ashly Burch (Horizon Zero Dawn) have their video chat interrupted by Lou, played by Craig Mazin (Writer; Chernobyl). Rachel and Dana do a virtual high five above Lou’s video panel as he is between the two, and Lou condemns them for being lame. He tells them that he could do it much better and way cooler but it would need a lot more people. At the end of the episode we see Lou’s idea finally come together in a Zoom-like group call with the entire staff of Mythic Quest.
The goal is to successfully achieve a Rube Goldberg machine type course to perform a simple task: Get Dana a potato chip. As the staff gathers around their screens to each perform their task to achieve the seemingly impossible, Rachel accidentally starts the machine prematurely. This forces the staff of friends to work quickly and precisely in order to correctly perform what can only work if everyone works together while still so far apart. Witnessing this as the viewer absolutely keeps you on the edge of your seat, waiting and watching to see if they succeed in their experiment. In the climax of the machine working successfully, our attention is brought to a black inactive panel near the end of the computer screen, meaning if this employee (an elderly writer who isn’t so familiar with modern technology) doesn’t turn on his video the whole experiment fails. With less than seconds to spare, the panel finally blips on and the staff successfully deliver Dana her chip.
The sheer joy of seeing humans so far apart, brought so close together, through the power of working together just goes to show how important it is to share human connection with others. The power that we hold when we come together as a human race is insurmountable. There is nothing we cannot achieve. I believe this is what the creators of the show were trying to prove through this simple, yet extremely effective, premise for an episode. They succeeded.
When so many people around the world need hope more than anything, there are always people somewhere with something to say or do that has the power of changing our perspectives on life. In this case, they were able to show us that coming together is exactly what we needed to do and continue to do in order to keep our fellow people safe and accounted for in these dire, and at times terrifying, days.
Will you be watching Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet and its new special, Quarantine? If so, we’d love to hear your thoughts over on Twitter! Don’t forget to download the Kernel App to stay up to date on reviews, trailers, lists and more! Thanks for reading and stay safe!