Episode 17: Harvest Close
Missed last week’s review? Find it here!
The Mighty Nein take a break from espionage and secret missions to go The Harvest Close Festival. They leave behind all worries of the previous few days and relax by playing some carnival games, drinking mead and eating candy apples, and entering in one of the most dangerous fighting competitions in Wildemount.
Their day starts out with some humorous displays of ‘skills and talents’ at the little side show stalls set up in the center of the festival. Fjord tries his luck at a game of Trebuchet that ends with him thoroughly embarrassed, covered in sand and dirt, and his pride quite bruised. Yasha and Jester show off their Mighty strength by absolutely dominating a strength-based game of Titan’s Hammer. Nott gets off to a wobbly start at a game of Eagle Shot target practice, but she finds her groove and displays some Robin Hood level arrow splitting accuracy. Beau is bad at arm wrestling, Caleb looks for books, and Yasha suddenly finds herself crowned as the arm wrestling champion.
After an afternoon well spent, The Mighty Nein catch wind of an interesting competition that sounds right up their alley. A tournament called The Victory Pit has drawn fighting groups from far and wide. The groups must fight monsters to compete for a large sum of money. The Nein manage to enter the competition at the last possible moment and enter the arena just as it begins. They watch as the group before them take on a large, toad-like creature and emerge victorious. The announcer calls out their names, and the Nein take their positions in the center of the arena. Weapons drawn, they watch as a gate opens and from the darkness emerges…some kind of poop monster. A large, tentacled beast that oozes a filthy, horrible smelling pus, and a mouth lined with razor sharp, poop covered teeth. They all charge towards the beast. Yasha and Jester suffer horrible bites from the creature and become poisoned. Each companion lands a solid hit, with Yasha getting the final blow, skewering the beast to the ground.
The Nein get two rounds of combat to heal and rest, watching three more groups compete for the title. The groups after them take on a troll, a giant crocodile, and two Minotaurs. The Mighty Nein take to the field again to take on two Direwolves. The battle takes a toll on Molly, Yasha, Fjord and Jester, who take the full brunt of the Direwolves icy breath weapons. Things look a bit grim, until Yasha and Molly land some incredible hits and take out both of the wolves.
Taking another couple of rounds to heal again, the Nein watch as group after group begin to fall to the monsters, two Owlbears, and two Displacer Beasts. Before they know it, they must re-enter the battle field and face their next monster. A few moments of chaos and unprepared anxiety overtake the Nein as they dash around the arena trying to find the best vantage point. Suddenly, a door opens and the entire arena shakes with the footfalls and roar of their opponent. A hulking Hill Giant comes bursting onto the arena and gives a bloodcurdling scream. Fear overtakes The Nein as they stare down the face of their biggest fight yet.
Although the show went in a very different direction than I expected, I ended up enjoying this little side adventure of an episode. I was a little antsy when the entire first half of the episode was taken up by playing carnival games and finding food. The last half of the episode did deliver the monster battles I craved. The premise of a controlled TPK monster mash Battle Royale was intriguing while at the same time feeling like a weird distraction from the main story line. There is just enough padding around the edges of The Victory Pit Tournament to watch The Mighty Nein get wrecked by multiple monsters without the fear of death. Yasha was a total beast this whole episode, rolling more natural 20’s than even Lord of The Dice Taliesin Jaffe. She got the ‘how do you want to do this?’ final blow in both Victory Pit fights, while also dominating both little carnival games that she played.
While these episodes may not be the most memorable story-wise, it is really fun to watch the characters interacting and growing together. Jester is still my favorite little troublemaker that keeps things fun and interesting. I love the randomness she brings to every interaction. Nott is a wonderful, fierce little mama bear that has some serious skills with that crossbow. Fjord, Molly and Caleb have shown the most character backstory growth and mystery that keep me watching for any clue or secret they may reveal next. I have been really loving Caleb’s dry, awkward humor and his scaredy-cat hiding he does during battles. Fjord has been showing his soft side recently that has been melting the hearts of Jester and Beau. Beau has been slowly growing on me, although Marisha still has some rough moments in role play every once in a while. I could do without all the cheesy one-liners she so often tries to toss in, but the gruff, awkward interactions she has with her companions adds a humorous little layer to her character.
With the promise of the final Victory Pit battle to start next episode, I look forward to an action packed first half with a hopefully plot filled second half to get the story moving again. Thursday can’t get here soon enough!