Productions may have shut down a few months ago, but that hasn’t stopped show creators from producing new content. Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet debuted a special quarantine episode yesterday on Apple TV+, only three months after airing a fantastic first season.
Of course, everything is done through video calls, but what’s so great about Mythic Quest’s “Quarantine” is how much it doesn’t feel like just a Zoom call. There are times it gets really real and times when it gets really silly, but still captures every moment of what it’s like to work from home, separated from colleagues and family alike.
At the end of season one, Poppy (Charlotte Nicdao) and Ian (Rob McElhenney) become Co-Creative Directors of Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet, a video game company that launches its new iteration in the first episode. After nine episodes of workplace conflicts, mostly driven by Ian’s ego, the two come together to create Blood Ocean, a virus unleashed on the players in the fantasy world of Mythic Quest. Ironically, the last scene of the finale features a series of Facetime calls in which Poppy and Ian pester their boss David (David Hornsby) with complaints about the other in their new working dynamic. It’s a bit that’s played for laughs, but in “Quarantine,” with video calls now the main source of communication, it’s necessarily grounded.
There’s the usual technology mishaps (the bit with CW and Jo feels lifted directly from my own conversations with family members), office-wide conference calls, one-on-one calls, and virtual game play. But where the episode really shines is Poppy’s increasing anxiety and loneliness when she no longer has work to do. An episode of just video calls might seem like it needs to have a bunch of talking in it, but there are moments here that are just Poppy working, ignoring calls from Ian and David, as she tries to find something to work on to distract herself.
At one point, Ian shows up at Poppy’s place, not coming inside but staying long enough to reassure Poppy that she’s not alone. For a show that ended its first season on a Facetime call as a joke to show how much Ian and Poppy were driving each other crazy, “Quarantine” has its most moving moment between the two, and they’re not even in the same room together.
These moments really ground the episode, but some of the lighter bits do as well. Danny Pudi’s Brad, usually the guy everyone hates in the office, feels more well-rounded here. He spends the episode trying to get David to shave his eyebrows and mustache off as part of a bet to donate money to players, but it turns out to be all in good fun and the money gets donated anyway. Lou interrupts Rachel (Ashley Burch) and Dana’s (Imani Hakim) game play, but ends up organizing the best use of video call collaborations to close out the episode. It feels so much in line with the many ways to connect with family and coworkers we’ve all come up with over the past three months. More importantly, it’s a wonderful example of how something so simple as a game over a video call is a cause for celebration for everyone.
Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet has been renewed for season two on Apple TV+.