Mythic Quest 3×07 “Sarian” follows in the series’ long tradition of one-off stories that destroy us in the best possible way. Whenever there is a one-shot episode of Mythic Quest, emotional damage is sure to follow. It’s only fitting that hilarious chaos is undercut with devastating heartbreak and deep nostalgia. Each time we get a closer look at members of the dysfunctional MQ family, they become all the more endearing.
Baby Poppy, A Hero in Training:
Poppy Li (Charlotte Nicdao) is a character we can’t get enough of. Mythic Quest 3×07 just proves this. Isla Rose Hall delivers a stunningly beautiful performance as a young Poppy who found solace in virtual worlds. There is something so special about seeing a child who is allowed to explore her passion. It’s also charming to see a parent who encourages and nurtures that creativity and curiosity. We should all be so lucky as to have a parent like Benito (Dionysio Basco).
Watching a young Poppy struggle to fit in with her sister and her peers is difficult. For a writer who had a childhood not so different, this was a challenge, to say the least. Anyone who ever sought escape in other worlds will see themselves reflected here. There’s also an interesting commentary on Poppy’s gaming style. She’s more interested in defeating bosses and achieving rewards than she is with much of the actual gameplay. This world-building is fascinating.
Baby Ian, A Rocky Start:
Poor Ian. He never had a chance to be anything other than the loveably chaotic bundle of chaos that we know and love. Judah Prehn introduces us to an Ian who is clearly struggling. This is an interesting and mostly authentic way to represent neurodiversity. Rather than showing him as a bundle of unstoppable energy (although this is certainly the experience of some who are neurodiverse), he’s shown as fighting against his own brain.
Ian turns this ability to see the world in a different way into something beautiful. The support of his mother Sarah (Lindsey Kraft) takes this vision to new heights. It’s devastating to see his imagination quashed too soon. He’s such a sweet kid, and he’s failed by way too many adults around him who should know better.
A Broken System Destroying Lives:
On this note, the “bed days storyline will be heartbreakingly familiar to anyone who has ever had a parent experiencing mental illness. Ian’s story is a devastating way to reflect on the many ways that children are left to fall through the cracks. The principal (Robert Picardo) could have intervened. There were probably a myriad of ways that Ian’s father (Sam Witwer) could have contributed when his former partner was in crisis.
“Sarian” indicates that there’s a high chance that Ian has a very complicated relationship with his father, if there is a relationship at all. In the short time we meet him, he invalidates Ian’s very identity by insisting on calling him by the wrong name. One can only imagine everything went downhill from there. It’s heartbreaking to consider the obstacles Ian had to overcome to get to where he is when he creates MQ.
The Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship:
In many ways, this episode proves that Poppy and Ian have always been opposite sides of the same coin. Even though they come from wildly different circumstances, their dependence on imagination is their saving grace. Escaping into mythical worlds of games has given them each new leases on life. It was always fate that they would come together.
This episode is the beginning of the foundation of MQ. From the very beginning, Poppy could understand Ian in a way she could never understand others. They came into each other’s lives at exactly the right moment. Unintentionally, she sees into his very soul and what has always been most important to him.
Mythic Quest’s one-off episodes are filled with far more drama and heartbreak than episodes in the regular timeline. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Rather, episodes like this one, “A Dark Quiet Death,” “Backstory!” and “Everlight” serve as a pause. They also allow fans to appreciate this series in new ways, as new depths are added to characters we already know and love. Now that we understand Poppy and Ian on a more fundamental level, we can move forward with them and appreciate their quirks even more.
Mythic Quest streams Fridays on Apple TV+.