DISCLAIMER: This recap of the Mythic Quest episode “Peter” is rife with spoilers. You’ve been warned. Proceed at your own peril.
Welcome back, Mythic Quest lovers! “Peter” keeps the spotlight on C.W. and his fraught relationship with his longtime friend-turned-rival, Peter Cromwell. Firstly, I’m ecstatic that the Mythic Quest Powers That Be snagged the legendary William Hurt to portray Peter. Secondly, F. Murray Abraham deserves to be showered in accolades for his performance in this episode. Brilliantly layered, visceral and heartbreaking work. But I’ve always been impressed with Abraham in general, starting from the first time I saw him in Amadeus till now.
Not to mention, “Peter” runs like a play. It’s very theatrical in nature, and it doesn’t hurt that both Abraham and Hurt boast extensive theatre backgrounds. The aura this episode emits very much befits C.W.’s flair for the dramatic.
Ready to delve into “Peter”? Let’s get to it.
Now, we open with Rachel (Ashly Burch) driving C.W. (Abraham) to visit Peter. Our fave Nebula Award winner hasn’t seen his old friend in four decades. C.W. vows to stick it to Peter by forking his wife, Anne. If you’ll recall, C.W. harbored quite the crush for Anne, who initially went by A.E. Goldsmith. However, Anne passed away a number of years ago, so the forking is figurative.
Next, the pair arrive at Peter’s lavish estate. Magda (Alice Amter), who we later learn is Peter’s at-home nurse, greets them at the front door. Peter (Hurt) follows suit. Like C.W. does the majority of the time, he assumes that Rachel is a guy. The old pals exchange pleasantries that don’t really feel all that pleasant. There’s clearly tension lingering between them.
Rachel is introduced to Peter as Calpurnia, C.W.’s gay granddaughter who’s also his driver. I don’t know why, but I love the dynamic between Rachel and C.W. We see that Peter has written 19 novellas throughout his illustrious career, all set in the same universe. C.W. attempts to verbally castrate Peter by emphasizing just how gifted of a writer Anne was. Rachel and Magda flee the space to give C.W. and Peter some private time.
Then, Peter assumes that C.W. is here to apologize for the decades of radio silence on his end. He even missed Anne’s funeral. Conversely, C.W. is under the impression that Peter’s going to apologize for treating him like crap. What transpires is an argument that escalates into a full-on senior citizen verbal brawl. Loads of hurled insults coupled with C.W.’s penchant for verbosity.
Later, C.W. discloses to Rachel his grand scheme to bed Magda. He tries to woo her during dinner by complimenting her on the chicken she didn’t cook. C.W. is getting progressively drunker amid all this. He even sneaks away to sh*t in Peter’s desk drawer when he finds a completed manuscript for the 20th novella in Peter’s series. The one he claimed he couldn’t finish once Anne, his “muse,” passed away.
Next, C.W. proceeds to piece together the puzzle that’s laid out before him. C.W. believes that Peter was only able to publish as much as he did because he was Anne’s husband. He published his work through her publisher. Then, when Anne switched publishers, he did as well. Thus, when she died, Peter’s final book was left in the dust.
Meanwhile, Peter reveals that he’s dying. For real. He assumes that his daughter Ginny orchestrated their meeting so they could make amends, so Peter can have closure. C.W. storms out, resolute in his decision to withhold that closure from Peter. In the car ride home, Rachel fears that C.W. might vomit everywhere. Instead, he passes out.
Later, C.W. wakes up to a vision of Anne’s face as she calls out to him. However, it’s not Anne — it’s her daughter, Ginny (Shelley Hennig), who’s her spitting image. Ginny informs him that Rachel drove him back to the house after he fell unconscious. C.W. just had one too many drinks. Ginny regales C.W. with a story.
Apparently, she never heard wind of his existence while growing up. But when he started working for Mythic Quest, Anne spilled the beans regarding her old friend. Ginny procures a copy of the Raven’s Banquet video game. Anne told her that C.W. predicted the creation of video games back in the 1970s. Anne was glad that C.W. found his niche.
Throughout this conversation, C.W. begins to realize that he’s a bona fide fool, and his behavior toward Peter has been appalling. He even jokes that they give Nebula Awards to anyone, undercutting his own accomplishment. Ginny urges him to mend fences with her father.
Then, she swipes a lemon that’s on C.W.’s nightstand. Anne was very fond of lemons. C.W. cries after Ginny leaves, and it serves as a gut-wrenching farewell to his beloved Anne.
Later, C.W. offers to take Peter outside for some much-needed fresh air. He apologizes for acting like an ass, and for that ass defecating in Peter’s desk drawer the night before. C.W. wheels Peter toward a gorgeous, expansive grove of lemon trees. Anne wanted to live in the countryside while Peter was a city boy. He made the compromise for her. C.W. confesses that he read every single one of Peter’s books — sometimes more than once.
Peter gives the manuscript of his final novella to C.W., but the latter wants to hear the author read it aloud. Thus, Peter begins to narrate his 20th book to an eager C.W. There’s a moment wherein Peter asks C.W. how much time he has. We see a flashback from Peter and C.W.’s first day at that restaurant when they vowed to form the “tripod” with Anne. “Till it’s over,” C.W. replies. This moment broke me. The double meaning is not lost here.
Overall, “Peter” is such a strong outing for Mythic Quest. Bolstered by electrifying performances from both F. Murray Abraham and William Hurt, this episode is riddled with nuance and complex emotions. I’d be remiss if I left out the solid writing. As a whole, Mythic Quest has a pliable quality to it. It possesses the capacity to be many things: a dark comedy, a period piece and a Shakespearean drama.
One notable moment that stood out to me was Peter’s remark about how C.W.’s second book didn’t live up to its predecessor. If you’ll recall from “Backstory!”, Isaac Asimov essentially rewrote C.W.’s debut novel. He implemented all of the famed author’s notes as well.
This detail explains away the bulk of C.W.’s behavior. He acts like a pompous, inflated ass to overcompensate for his lack of confidence and, well, the fact that his first book was a copy of someone else’s work.
Regardless, I still harbor a soft spot for C.W., and this episode solidifies my love for him. Especially since he resolves to make amends with Peter and stay with his old friend “till it’s over.” Excuse me while I go sob now.
Mythic Quest streams new episodes every Friday, only on Apple TV Plus.
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