Episode 86: The Cathedral
This weeks episode was one marathon of a session. Coming in at just over five hours, the show was jam packed with action and story. We got not one, but two big battles AND a massive story dump all stuffed into this pre-holiday episode. While five hours is a hefty time commitment for most, this is one you definitely won’t want to miss.
The first half of the episode is pretty much a nonstop race against time. With Caleb’s help, the Nein are able to narrow down Oban and his crew’s location to a temple of Pelor. The Nein finally play it cool and are able to successfully spy on, and sneak attack the priests aiding Oban. Caleb comes in with his fireball guns blazing, doing a record breaking 400+ damage and incinerating several minor priests in one shot. It should also be noted that Caleb/Liam no longer has to make CON saving throws anytime he lights someone on fire to see if he gets lost in his nightmares. Or maybe he’s just hiding the trauma better?
Pumat steps in as battle 1 MVP when he single-handedly held off the remaining priests and any demon spawn crawling through the newly opened Abyssal Portal allowing the Nein to focus on Oban. Let’s hear it for Pumat Swole!
Just when things were beginning to look ok for the Nein, Oban and his crew from hell waltz in and begin to absolutely slaughter the group. The Cadogeist murder-ghost assassin nearly takes Fjord down with one hit. Then, mind controlled Yasha absolutely hacks Beau apart, leaving her a hairsbreadth from death’s doorstep in a scene that closely mirrored Molly’s death. Caduceus and Jester both knew that there was no way they could stay on top of all the damage and it was time for a Hail Mary.
Caduceus gets a clear shot to dispel Oban’s control of Yasha and the chain is FINALLY broken. Oban feels the tides turn and begins to lead his remaining crew back into the catacombs below the cathedral. Before he leaves, Oban manages to overpower Nott’s mind and drags her into the darkness below.
The second half of the episode could practically be its own episode. Watching live, it did feel like we were secretly getting a whole second episode out of the session. I’m not sure which would have been worse, leaving the episode with Yasha restored, but Oban and Nott unresolved…or the cliffhanger we got with the already battle exhausted Nein facing off against Oban the Punished one final time.
Caduceus comes in clutch one more time, dispelling Oban’s influence over Nott and using her as a distraction to draw out Oban and the Cadogeist. Fjord joins in by casting a perfectly used Faerie Fire to light Oban up like a christmas tree, allowing the Nein to land some crucial hits. Beau gets a second memorable moment this session, besides almost dying, when she resist Oban’s influence with her “cool monk shit”. Even Matt didn’t see that Stillness of Mind coming when Marisha began describing Beau’s ocean meditation scene. Oban does manage to overcome another member of the Nein, poor Fjord gets coerced to stand in one of the ritual of death circles until Caduceus is once again able to dispel Oban’s charm. The Nein would be dead without Caduceus, I think we can all agree on that.
Jester, Fjord, Caduceus and Jester all manage to do some serious damage to Oban and the Cadogeist, but it is Yasha who ended up with the How Do You Want To Do This against her captor. One of those amazing ‘scripted’ moments that couldn’t have felt more poetically just if you’d written it. I had wondered if the Nein would try to turn Oban against his false god, exposing his Angel of Irons as the Chained Oblivion but, he never learned the truth about his angel of irons until it was too late.
In a final, disturbing twist of the knife, Oban is cursed with a Punished form after his final failure. His demonic form is broken and sundered into a new…more tentacled and toothy mess that rises from the gore of his body. The finale of this awful endeavor will have to wait until December! I am almost glad of the break from the schedule. These past few episodes have been so intense and heavy that a small break from the risk of anyone dying is a welcome reprieve. It just goes to show how amazing Critical Role has been the past couple months. The story has been going in some fascinating directions, the role playing and character development has been spectacular, and for the first time in Critical Role history Ashley Johnson is back for the foreseeable future!
Don’t Miss It!
Critical Role will be taking Thursday the 28th off but will return to their normal program schedule the week after.
The Darrington Bridage One Shot will be broadcast on Friday the 29th on Critical Role’s Twitch Channel. It will also be available on Critical Role’s YouTube channel on December 2nd.