Critical Role “Season 2”
Critical Role has returned with a new campaign arc! For those of you who are following my episode reviews for the previous campaign and weren’t aware of a new campaign, I will say there are some mild spoilers ahead. I’ll still be reviewing the original campaign, but I figured I should get a jump on this brand new campaign while I can! That way I don’t have literal hundreds of hours of content to catch up on…ha ha.
SO! If you want to follow along chronologically, save these reviews for later. But, if you’re like me and can’t get enough Critical Role in your life, then you can jump in here and watch the birth of a new Matt Mercer campaign. All new stories, all new characters, same favorite cast of nerdy ass voice actors.
Let’s Meet the Cast….Again!
Travis Willingham as Fjord the Half-Orc Warlock
Marisha Ray as Beauregard “Beau” the Human Monk
Taliesin Jaffe as Mollymauk “Molly” the Tiefling Bloodhunter
Ashley Johnson as Yasha the Aasimar Barbarian
Sam Riegel as Nott the Goblin Rogue
Liam O’Brian as Caleb Widogast the Human Wizard
Laura Bailey as Jester the Tiefling Cleric
Episode 1: Curious Beginnings
Here, in the bustling town of Trosthenwald, a handful of wandering destinies begin to intersect. A bleary eyed, bruised man in tattered clothes wakes in a small inn. Next to him, his rescuer, “a little goblin girl” snores away. Caleb wakes his small companion and thanks her for saving his life the night before. They enter the tavern below them, ready to start a new day. There, they meet several other travelling out-of-towners. They engage in awkward semi-casual conversation when suddenly, a flamboyant Tiefling and his skulking female companion stop by the inn to advertise for the Carnival in town and perform some Tarot card readings. The new companions, all enthralled with the Tiefling and his promise of fun and adventure at the Carnival decide to visit that evening.
After exploring the oddities the Carnival brings to town, the group settles in for the big show. They see act of acrobatic prowess, a beastly devil toad controlled by the gentle voice of a Dwarven child. Suddenly, a cry goes out in the crowd. An old man stands in seeming awe of the child’s voice, until his body begins to convulse and his skin sloughs away to reveal a monstrous creature that begins attacking a woman in the crowd. The group tentatively attempt to contain the creature, but realize they must take it down quickly when the people it attacked in the crowd begin to reanimate as monstrosities themselves.
Yasha, the enigmatic Aasimar Barbarian, rages a reckless attack against the monster and cleaves its form apart screaming ‘get the fuck out of my tent!” Beau, the laidback human Monk, sees an opportunity and epically superman punches the other creature and its face implodes against her powerful fists.
The fray calms and the confused panic begins to dissipate as the carnival workers try to decipher what happened. The Crownsguard, the police force and keepers of the peace, arrive and take over the Carnival and place the workers under arrest. The game ends with the companions under investigation for the mysterious circumstances that occurred and must try to clear their names.
Well…. I loved it!! I have been so apprehensive about a new campaign. After all the hours and insane world building and love for the characters I’ve come to appreciate for the original campaign, I wasn’t sure if I was ready for a whole new set of characters and story. I was very wrong. Seeing the cast interact as brand new (level 2) characters was hilarious, refreshing, and everything you hoped it would be. I am happy that this campaign still takes place in Exandria (the same world as the original), although this campaign takes place 20 years after Vox Machina’s adventures. So we still get to explore more of Mercer’s amazing world!
The first episode is full of everything you want in a first campaign. Awkward first encounters, character personalities, and voices, coming to life, and action scenes that leave you captivated. It will be fun to get to know these new characters and I already have some favorites I am rooting for. Sam Riegel is, as always, hilarious and his character has many layers to reveal over the course of this campaign. He is going from playing a Charisma 19 bard, to a Charisma 5 Goblin… I am so ready for the hijinks that will ensue from a negative 3 to all charisma rolls. Liam O’brian’s bookish wizard has some potential in character growth that could turn out pretty cool. The duo of Taliesin Jaffe and Ashley Johnson as a flowery, mysterious Tiefling and his gruff Aasimar bodyguard is….just so wonderful… I love the juxtaposition of his ethereal eccentricity with her uncharacteristic blunt humor. Taliesin is playing Mollymauk as a Bloodhunter, which is a class that Matt Mercer actually wrote himself and has been published by Wizards of the Coast. It will be extremely interesting to see this class in action. The surprise for me this campaign was Laura Bailey as a Tiefling Cleric. I just want to squeeze her!! Her cute, vaguely eastern European, accent is made even better with her abrasive sense of humor. I couldn’t stop laughing when Jester attempted to make friends with Caleb by telling him he stinks and he should take a bath, and he is lucky to have a friend like her to tell him he stinks… or when she “ghost-buster trashes” the local bookstore while Caleb is having a serious discussion with the bookkeeper. Brilliant. I love her.
At 3 ½ hours in length, this episode feels really approachable to newcomers and others who may not be up for a 5 hour long epic battle. The episode flies by faster than you want, with so much to cover in such a ‘short’ amount of time. There wasn’t too many slow moments or awkward empty air, although one character suggests a ‘bar hopping montage’ that goes off on a fumbling tangent. Thankfully they quickly move on and get back to the action.
My favorite scene of this episode was the Carnival/Circus. The descriptions were so vivid, I felt like I was watching a movie. The moments just before their first fight were so grotesque, and uneasy…you weren’t entirely sure if this was a planned event in the circus or if something was really wrong. I was on the edge of my seat.
I already can’t wait to watch next week’s episode! Keep an eye out for next week’s Critical Role Campaign 2 Episode review!
EDIT: The next week has come and gone. Here’s my review of episode 2!