Episode 141: Fond Farewells
After the chaos of Cognouza, the Nein (finally nine) find solace in the quiet of the Blooming Grove. Caduceus reunites with his family. Beau and Yasha care for and watch the still disoriented Molly as he sleeps under the stars. Caleb takes this moment of peace to make good on a promise he made to one fey cat familiar. For the last time, he summons Frumpkin and they share a sweet and meaningful goodbye and Caleb shakes off another shackle of his past. Veth, for the first time since her traumatic death at the hand of the goblins, takes a meditative swim in the pond, willingly finding peace in the calming waters. Fjord and Jester let their relationship bloom a little brighter.
Jester and Veth, desperate to check in on their families, make plans to travel back to Zadash. Before they leave, Jester checks in on a still groggy Molly and casts a helpful little Greater Restoration to see what shakes loose. Suddenly, in a snap, the tiefling seems to find true consciousness for the first time. Words, sentences, emotions come pouring out. The Nein discover that while there is some kind of tenuous connection to his past lives, this soul fragment is not quite the Molly they expected. This new little being chooses the name Kingsley Tealeaf for himself. While he appreciates the Nein for all their help and love, he’s unsure of what his future with them might hold. It’s a bittersweet realization, but the Nein realize that this soul they’ve brought back will be free to do good in the world instead of wreak havoc and that will have to do for now.
Caleb takes Veth and Jester to Zadash to reunite with their families. Veth packs up her son and husband to come back to the Grove for a little getaway. Jester offers the same to her parents but is surprised when they decide to continue seeing where this fledgling romance will take them. Jester of course is thrilled, but also, as long as her mother is happy, she will be happy with whatever they decide. She also lets Marion know its high time she moves out of the Lavish Chateau and strike out on her own adventures. Marion fully supports her desire to travel the world and knows her little sapphire will keep in touch.
With Caleb, Jester, Veth and her family all packed up, Caleb returns them all to the Grove. The party begin to settle in for a week of peaceful decompression, away from danger, death, flesh cities, and murderous ex teachers. Unfortunately, life has other plans for them and Caleb’s past comes literally knocking on their door. Somehow, the wily Trent Ikithon and his ilk have discovered the Nein’s sacred hiding place and have besieged the Clay’s temple. The doors and windows are blocked, the roof is beginning to burn in a horrifying repeat of Caleb’s worst moment of his life. Caleb sets the Nein into motion. Jester manages to break through the door and let’s Caleb walk out to confront Trent. Fjord creates a secret portal out the back exit and leads Veth, her family, and the Clays to the safety of the woods. Beau and Veth meet up to enact the plan that Caleb trusted them with and wait for the perfect moment to strike.
The battle is not an easy one. Trent has harnessed manufactured Dunemancy power and uses his newfoudn abilities against them. Plus he is rife with arcane boons, protections, and warding making him utterly untouchable by any kind of damage. Astrid and Eadwulf also join the fight, making Caleb’s life difficult with counterspell after counterspell. Things begin to look bleak, Trent is doling out massive amounts of damage while taking absolutely none himself. Not even Essek’s tether essence seems to break through the arcane invulnerability. Caleb manages to break through the shield and dispel a second layer of protection, leaving his old mentor vulnerable for a brief moment. Veth spreads a think layer of DnD super glue onto the mage’s bane collar. Beau leaps from her hiding place with the collar and manages to lock it in place around Trent’s neck. The final step is for Caleb to activate the glyphs and Trent’s fate will be sealed. But the spell fizzles on his fingertips, a wicked smile breaking out on Trent’s face. Until a second set of residuum tattooed hands reaches out, popping a loose connection back in place and helping to activate the arcane lock. Caleb looks up at Astrid, watching the conflict and heartbreak in her eyes.
Jester, Beau and Veth finish Trent’s capture by gluing the wrist cuffs and his palms together for time and all eternity as the rest of the party heal up and check in. The Clays begin to put the fire out with the Volstrucker and Nein’s help. Caduceus confronts Trent, absolutely infuriated by his audacity to defile this sacred place, but unfortunately Trent’s emotions are beyond appeal, so the Nein lock him in a closet for the rest of their relaxation week. Beau offers to take down Astrid and Eodwulf’s stories as proof against Trent. it takes them a coupl days but finally the two Volstrucker crack and offer their damning testimony for the Cobalt Soul’s use.
After one beautiful week spent healing, relaxing, and enjoying each other’s company all together for one last time, the Nein begin to say their goodbyes.
Veth thanks the Nein for helping to reunite with her family. Caleb and Essek for figuring out how to change her back to her body, and everyone else for keeping her alive long enough to get her back home. She speaks of her wishes to open up an apothecary with Yeza, have Caleb tutor Luc in magic, and with his help start a summer camp for children wanting to learn adventuring and magic.
Caduceus stays in the Grove to rebuild his home and tend to his temple. This was the plan all along. He is grateful to the Nein for their help in saving his home and as always, there is an open invitation for all of the Nein to come visit himewhenever they please. And of course, he hopes one day they will all be buried there together, really, it’s not as creepy as it sounds.
Essek is not ready to follow Caleb and Beau to Rexentrum just yet, so he supposes he will go back to his post in Aeor for as long as he can. After all, there are still people there that depend on him. Maybe he’ll make a pit stop in Uthodurn and check up on Reani, he needs a little more chaos in his life if Jester has taught him anything. A few months into his posting in Aeor, just as his standing with the Dynasty crumbles, Caleb asks him for that promised trip back into the depths of Aeor…you know…for research. Of course, he goes along with his Empire colleague and the two spend as much time as possible exploring, surviving, fighting, and discovering their way through the mysteries of Aeor. After their journey through Aeor, Essek uses this budding relationship with Caleb to finally break with the Dynasty and build a new life. Using a series of illusions and a multitude of aliases he is able to spend his time as Caleb’s partner and traveling to see his dearest friends, The Nein, all over the world.
The remaining Nein travel to Nicodranus to start off another round of goodbyes. They pop in to see Yussa, who is mostly recovered from his stint on Cognouza. He is endlessly grateful for the Nein’s assistance and profusely thanks them with quite a warm and alcoholic celebration. He also mentions that word of the Nein’s heroic actions are spreading around powerful circles, and he hopes that before too long they will have their name cleared in the Empire.
Fjord and Jester agree that a future on the sea is what would make them most happy. Their home port will be here in Nicodranus of course, but imagine all the chaotic adventures the wide world holds for them out on the open ocean. The future is bright and full of love for these two as Fjord once again helms the mighty Nein Heroez. He takes Jester to see Vandrin. Discovers that his old captain shared more than just Uk’atoa’s curse with Fjord and agrees to maybe one more adventure on the high seas with his old crewmate. Jester enjoys her life of adventure, keeping her promise of messaging the Nein every day with updates, anecdotes, and the joy of life.
Kingsley joins Fjord and Jester aboard the Nein Heroez. He knows almost nothing of life in this world and what better way to get to know it than traveling and adventuring with friends. It’s not long before Kingsley’s adventurous nature outgrows the Nein. He decides to strike out on his own, aboard his very own ship The Mollymauk. A pirate king amongst the Revelry at Darktow.
Beau continues her career as a well respected Expositor for the Cobalt Soul. She is instrumental in arraigning Trent Ikithon and continuing to pursue and weed out corruption in the Empire. She is also able to witness Adeen Zeenoth’s downfall. The man responsible for her traumatic entrance into the world of the Cobalt Soul will no longer be able to bring harm to anyone else. When she’s not fighting corruption with Caleb, she’s enjoying the domestic life with her partner Yasha.
Yasha is finally able to find the peace and love she so desperately sought after Zuala’s death. She and beau travel to Xhorhas so Yasha can say one last goodbye. Along the way, as the search for her wife’s grave nears its close, she is confronted by her old tribe. In true badass Yasha fashion, she calls on The Stormlord and he delivers, sending her angry tribe scattering and allowing her the space to grieve her past life. She leaves her book of wildflowers on an unmarked grave by a river in the greying wildlands of Xhorhas. She tells Zuala of all the adventures she’s had and all the ones she will looks forward to. Yasha retires into a blissful domestic life with her ever exciting partner Beau.
Caleb spends his first moments away from the Nein helping to lock Trent up for the ret of his life. With that out of the way, he is suddenly faced by an interesting proposition from Ludanis Daleth. Take over Trent’s position on the Asembly. Just a few weeks ago, Caleb might have leapt at the chance, but his perspective has changed now. Upon his refusal, he learns that one Astrid Beck received the offer instead and accepted the position. Caleb hopes she will help him turn the Volstrucker program into something more worthy of the Empire’s efforts. After his adventures in Aeor with Essek, Caleb finds a quiet life teaching Transmutation at the Soltryce Academy. During his summer breaks he helps Veth run her summer camp. In between these two noble causes, he spends the rest of his life slowly dismantling corruption one bright mind at a time, teaching his students that with great power comes great…you know the rest.
And so ends this chapter of the Adventures of the Mighty Nein. Who knows what the future will bring for this band of adventurers. Keep your eyes and ears open, there’s always a chance we’ll see a familiar face or two again soon. Until next time, don’t forget to love each other. Is it Thursday yet?
Well Critters, we made it! Seven gorgeous hours of wrap up to a 500+ hour long campaign. This last episode was a journey! I don’t think I’ve ever commiserated with the “it’s been 84 years” meme more in my life than I did at 2 am Friday morning when the episode finally ended. Is it too much to ask for another 7 hour Campaign 2 Wrap up episode? Maybe I’m not as ready to say goodbye to these lovable assholes as I thought. I’m going to try and keep this review as ‘short’ as possible. The review article for the wrap up episode will most likely be a little more in depth, depending on how much post campaign fleshing out the cast do. Let’s dive right into the first half of our finale episode.
After the horrors of Cognouza, it was such a relief to be back in the gorgeous home of the Clay’s in the Blooming Grove. I thought it was rather hilarious that Caduceus tried to assuage a nervous Essek by telling him how rare visitors to the Grove were, let alone death threat mages from the empire…cut to 12 hours later when they are fighting Caleb’s arch nemesis in a terrifying wizard battle.
We finally got to see the Nein relax for the first time in months (really like 2 weeks in game). They’ve been white-knuckling the story since the discovery of Lucien’s resurrection about 30-ish episode ago. All the couples paired off for some soft snuggle times while Veth shared a private little ‘full circle character growth’ moment with her float in the pond. Who could have guessed that Veth, who has been so adamently afraid and traumatized by water would willingly go for a peaceful swim alone in her final moments with found family. Finally safe and at peace with her past. Ugh! Riegel pulled out a few heartbreaking punches in the finale, the second one coming during the Trent showdown.
In a rather shocking reveal, Trent along with Astrid and Eadwulf ambush the Nein as they rest in the Grove. I was thinking that Trent would get maybe a 10 minute epilogue scene where Caleb would ask Beau to help him role play a court drama takedown of this slimeball. NOPE. Full on confrontation. I was unprepared, I was scared. Seriously, right after Veth brings her family to the Clay’s for SAFETY, we get thrown into Caleb’s worst nightmare?! Those first few opening moves, Trent being untouchable, Astrid and Eadwulf revealing themselves by counterspelling important actions. Shivers. But of course, the Nein never do things conventionally and the fight takes a very interesting turn!
The Nein can’t do a whole lot to aid Caleb in this fight to begin with. The Clerics spam healing spells (with Caleb and Jester sharing an emotional little moment when Caleb vows to never again tease Jester for her healing tendencies.) Veth has another full circle heart punching moment when she once again has to ask Yeza and Luc to run while she stays behind to fight. This time though, the story ends up ok, she has friends to watch her back this time. Fjord pairs up with his Volstrucker counterpart Eadwulf and mitigates that variable so Caleb can concentrate on Astrid and Trent and keeping all his friends alive. Yasha played a fantastic up close distraction on Trent while Beau and Veth tag teamed one of the most epic power moves in Mighty Nein history. Like on par with ambushing the Tomb Takers. Caleb has been holding this plan close to the chest ever since he got the collar from the Happy Fun Ball. And it paid off beautifully. Poetically. The sovereign glue, Beau’s dope monk shit, Caleb failing the check only to be helped by his childhood friend who shares his traumatic backstory. And to top it off another knife to the emotions from Riegel as he describes casting the silent image of Caleb’s parents standing with him, condemning Trent to his fate. This fight was SO much better than any rushed courtroom scene I thought we’d get.
How about that angry Caduceus post Trent fight!? I guess we finally found out what could piss him off enough to snap. Just burn down his temple and defile his graveyard. I am amazed Trent held out against Caddy as long as he did. Just goes to show how far gone he was. Caduceus’ words to Trent at the dinner still rang in my ears as they locked Trent up for good, permanently silenced, hands pressed in eternal penance. “Pain doesn’t make people. It’s love that makes people, the pain is inconsequential. I wish for you in the future to find someone who will mourn you when you are gone.” I wonder if Caduceus will ever see that wish fulfilled. Who would be there for Trent, in the end?
Astrid and Eadwulf got their little mini arc. As much as I would have loved to see a dozen more episodes deep diving into Caleb’s relationships with them, the little tidbits we got were enough. The Blumenthal Trio finally freed from Ikithon, able to atone for their misdeeds, heal enough to find productive and meaningful lives. In that same dinner with Trent, Caleb floated the idea of replacing Trent in the Cerberus Assembly. Yet, when offered that very thing, he turns it down, opting to dismember corruption from the outside and free from the threats that level of power may have posed. Instead, Astrid takes the offer and hopefully is instrumental in changing the Volstrucker program into the Wardens Caleb envisioned.
The two former Volstrucker also helped the Cobalt Soul formally charge Trent by sharing their personal accounts of Trent’s torture. It was a bit wiggly there for a second when the two vanished with no promise to help Caleb finish this chapter. He couldn’t really hold anything against them though. They’d already done enough by abandoning Trent’s side during the fight. Astrid finally broke and let the weight of her life come crashing out in the open after the Nein wouldn’t let her kill Trent outright. Luckily Caleb was there to pick her back up, hand her the pieces of her soul with instruction on how to grow something beautiful from the ashes. Our little hobo wizard has come so far in his year with the Nein.
After the Trent matter was settled we began the second half of the session epiloguing each member of the Mighty Nein, one at a time. Here come the emotions.
Veth finally got her happy ending. Safe, with her family, making an adventurous and loving home for her son and husband. Seeing how we got Veth’s big endgame story live wish about 50 episodes ago, this happily ever after was a LONG time coming. Still so satisfying hearing her story come together so beautifully. And of course Riegel had another whammy hidden up his sleeve as Veth said her ‘see you later’ to Caleb. Throwing out that “I’d like to make a wish” speech. Hitting on the feels from the end of campaign 1 when Scanlan was unable to use his Wish spell to set Vax free. Love me those parallel narratives and call backs.
Jester was finally able to see the fruits of her parent trap! Marion and the Gentleman seem to be reconnecting and making up for lost time, and Jester couldn’t be happier. And just like all the other imperfect happy endings we got, Jester got to hear a second “it’s complicated” from two lovebirds in her life. As much as we may have wanted a fairytale wedding (here’s hoping we’ll get another wedding one-shot!), we got a much more realistic “we still love each other very much but he’s a crime lord in the Empire and she’s an agoraphobe from Nicodranus”. There was the promise of some kind of future, long important talks, and lots of hope. In the end, Jester (who naively worshiped romance novel type love) came to accept that even this imperfect love could be enough to make her family whole and happy again. She also finds the strength to set her own course, find adventure, travel the world and spread her chaotic joy across the world. Captain Tusktooth and the Sapphire forever!
Beau got two types of backstory closure back to back during her epilogue. Both Zeenoth and her father got their just desserts. Caleb continued to help fight corruption with her through the years. She and Yasha got to ride off into the sunset together. Not too bad for someone who didn’t think they’d make it out of their 20’s. We didn’t get to see Beau reconnect with her mother or brother, but in my mind, she kept her promise to introduce Luc and TJ.
Yasha gets another full circle epilogue. From the broken and guilt shattered soul we met at the start of the campaign, to the gorgeous, confident, light filled aasimar she becomes at the end, I’d say her story was a success. It would have been so easy to write a Liam O’Brien level sad story ending for Yasha, unable to move past the grief of losing Zuala and Molly. But instead we got to see her love for her two lost companions grow into something more beautiful than she probably ever hoped for. Beau, so different from the forbidden love she had with Zuala, finally allowed her to shine as bright as she wanted. She gets a permanent home, surrounded by the Nein, and a garden of wildflowers all to herself. How else does a barbarian retire from adventuring life?! Plus, that final scene in Xhorhas when she confronts her old tribe and the Stormlord is just, “Thank you, next.” Ha! I imagine Ashley had a moment of panic when she realized Mercer wanted to one-on-one with her again, but thankfully she was spared too much anxiety when Mercer moved the story along fairly quickly with that literal Deus-ex machina. Still badass, yeah, it’s still super cool.
Fjord shares the rest of his story with Jester. I mean, honestly who wouldn’t, she is the sunshine in all our lives. Captain of the Nein Heroez. There were light touches on some of his unexplored loose ends. Vandrin gets a visit and some closure. Uk’atoa gets a passing mention, though is still largely unresolved (?). I mean, he can just continue to hold off the occasional fish people attacks indefinitely and continue to keep the Cloven Crystal out of Uk’atoa’s grasp for the rest of his life. Or we get a really awesome one-shot. Please. Fjord also offhand mentioned traveling up the coast to Port Damali to close up some unfinished story there, but the scene was not played out on screen for us. It’s left up to the imagination and the hordes of fanfic writers starving for any remaining loose ends to tide them over until campaign 3. I always love Travis’ sillier role play side, and will desperately miss Fjord’s fear of turtles, frantic screams for help mid battle, and the gentle teasing with Veth. I also loved to see Fjord’s character, and Travis’ confidence grow into an adept leader role. Especially in the final Aeor arc, you could really see him step into the fearless leader role, putting aside his own fears to make the hard decisions and keep everyone’s spirits up. Then that tender moment with Essek as he embraced his paladin calling, letting the wildmother help heal his friends in more than one way.
Caleb’s story was just as emotional as expected from one drama king Liam O’Brien. Equal parts happy, heartbreaking, and hopeful. Caleb saw the end of his tormenter Trent Ikithon. Faced his ultimate time traveling paradox and chose to let it go. Turned down the position of power in the Assembly that he once sought after to slowly, piece by piece, fight the corruption in the Empire by guiding the minds of the youth. He got the teaching job everyone had been hoping for him since the beginning. Magic summer camps in Nicodranus. As promised, he fostered Luc’s love of magic. We got not one, but two tear jerking moments from Caleb. The first was Frumpkin’s goodbye. After Dani’s adorable narrative telephone, this particular goodbye stung a bit more than it might have otherwise. Then, of course, Caleb’s visit to Blumenthal and his parents grave. After the pain of hearing his plan to try and save them using time travel and instead choosing to live with his trauma. Now he is here, with a book of letters (publish please???) he’s had since we’ve met him, full of his words he never got to say to his parents. And he leaves it with them, hoping, knowing they’d be proud of the man he’s trying to be, taking the first steps through the door to truly finding happiness. And of course, through the rest of his life does find happiness, love, family and friendship with the Nein.
Essek got one of the more beautiful NPC epilogues we’ve had in Critical Role history. For a character that started out as an antagonist and ended up lifelong friends with these colorful people- I’d say that’s quite a storybook ending. Mercer snuck in some powerful quotes while in Essek’s skin, one of my favorite being “Mighty Nein, what have you done? The world was so much easier in black and white.” But , of course, it’s so much more beautiful in all the shades of color. Isn’t that what this whole campaign has been about? And then of course, his lovely ending with Caleb and everything they became. “You, more than anyone, showed me that trauma doesn’t define you.” Preach Essek! And of course, in true Liam O’Brien angst, it’s not a perfect fairytale ending, but it is beautiful in all its imperfection. Learning to overcome all your faults, sins, baggage and scars to allow yourself to love and be loved is a story we are all working for, isn’t it? Isn’t that what makes these stories so meaningful to us, finding ourselves hidden in these characters and watching them find happiness. Maybe there is hope for us after all.
Kingsley/Molly had an interesting epilogue story. We only had a few moments to get to know the new soul spark that inhabits Molly’s body. It can be hard to connect with a ‘new character’ so late in the game, but Kingsley came with quite a storied past connecting him to the Nein. It may not have been to reunion that we thought we were getting, and somehow the path Kinglsey traveled is as bittersweet as the rest of the campaign. The Nein were able to leave Molly/ Lucien’s story better than they found it. A soul free from expectation, history, and the trauma of past lives. Just knowing there’s a dashing purple tiefling exploring the high seas, living his best pirate life is good enough.
As we say our goodbyes to this incredible campaign, we can only look forward to what’s coming next! While there are no solid announcements about a third campaign yet, we still have a couple of sessions to sit in the wake of the Mighty Nein. Hopefully soon, we will have a new band of lovable idiots to slowly fall in love with and then refuse to let go when it’s time to say goodbye again. As Travis and Marisha so eloquently put it “let’s do it again, from the top”. I’ll be right here with you when it’s time to start a new chapter. Don’t worry Critters, it’s almost Thursday.
Don’t Miss It!
Critical Role has an exciting secret project that they are revealing during their State of the Role announcement Thursday June 10th at 9am! The Campaign 2 wrap up session is scheduled for Thursday June 17th at 7 pm pacific. Get all the answers to your pressing questions and deep dive into unexplored story threads and get even more closure than a 7 hour finale could offer. There is no confirmed news about Campaign 3 yet BUT we do have a new one shot to look forward to!
The Vox Machina Vs Mighty Nein Battle Royale will premiere Friday June 18th at 7 pm pacific. The one shot will be set in a post apocalyptic world. The cast will be reprising a character (or two in Taliesin’s case) from either the Vox Machina or Mighty Nein campaign. Watch Laura Bailey as Jester, Travis Willingham as Fjord, Marisha Ray as Beau, Ashley Johnson as Pike, Sam Riegel as Scanlan, Liam O’Brien as Vax’ildan, and Taliesin Jaffe as wildcard Percy/ Mollymauk fight to the death to claim victory for their party. The players will all be level 15 and we can expect some exciting battlemap interactions to keep the cast on their toes.
This Critical Role Review series isn’t going anywhere! Check back during the Critical Role hiatus for updates on a future campaign, one-shot reviews, back episode reviews (yes, I remember I never completed reviewing Campaign 1) and new Critical Role content reviews as well.