Critical Role Review has finally returned with three episodes of campaign 2 to review. I’ll do my best to keep this recap short and sweet, we’ve got a lot of catching up to do! Let’s dive right in to episode 87.
Episode 87: Punishment and Politics
This episode is WILD. The first half is consumed by one of the most dangerous fights since Molly died at the hands of Lorenzo. The Nein face off against the tormented form of Oban the Punished, a black monstrosity of tentacled devastation. The fight started off on a rather tense foot as the Nein were completely wiped of spell slots and exhausted from fighting through two other battles before this.
Oban the Punished unleashed a ferocious torrent of attacks, swallowing Caduceus whole and knocking Beau clean into two failed death saves territory. Even with the Cadogeist on their side the fight literally came down to a couple lucky rolls and barely conscious cleric reviving most of the Nein and saving Beau from perma death. Fjord so nearly gets the final blow, but Oban clings to life, managing to spew out one more Storm of Biting Shadows that could end the Nein for good. Ultimately, Oban suffers yet another ironic death, being killed for the second time by a woman he mind controlled. Matt Mercer finally got his own HDYWTDT against his own big bad when the Inevitable End herself landed the final blow. The look on Matt’s face says it all once he realizes his own NPC will steal the kill. It’s a weird DM moment, but the cast loves the idea and embrace the moment wholeheartedly.
After picking themselves up off the floor, the Nein decide to immediately throw themselves into the middle of a political thriller. They are taken to see King Dwendal to explain their involvement in the chaos. Even though they are initially brought in as traitors to the Empire, they are able to sweet talk their way out of danger and convince the King they were spies in the Dynasty. They get to hear the King’s side of events, and his wish to end the war with the Dynasty. As if the campaign wasn’t 50 shades of confusing already, the Nein have a whole new layer of ‘who do we trust’ from the Dynasty now. It also didn’t help that Caleb’s terrifying ex brainwasher Trent Ikithon is at this interrogation and calls Bren (Caleb) out by name. As Caleb was having an existential crisis, the Nein facilitate the careful truce and return of a beacon to the Dynasty.
Episode 88: Unwanted Reunions
Episode 88 continues the political intrigue thriller as the Nein agree to meet with Trent to collect the Dynasty’s beacon from his research facility. The facility that also happens to be the sanitarium that Caleb/Bren was held in for 11 years after Trent broke his brain. Coincidence?? I THINK NOT! Poor Caleb is so on edge, even though the Nein all have his back. Trent so quickly gets under all their skins, dancing around with half truths and shady misdirects. Although the Nein leave with a verified Beacon of the Dynasty in their possession, they know there is much that Trent and the Empire are hiding.
The rest of the episode devolves into a rest day interlude. Matt introduces a creepy new shopkeeper to love with half-elven Kiona the Keen and her little shop of unknown horrors. She sells them some healing potions and custom order items with the caveat that they bring her some prized pride silk, apparently fancy silk worms owned by a secretive fancy family. We all know that this random side quest will quickly be forgotten.
Episode 89: Lingering Wounds
This final episode of 2019 lives up to the hype and excitement. Jester immediately starts things off with a bang by telepathically messaging everyone she knows. Spying in on Kiri living her best life in Hupperduke, then out of the blue checking up on pirate leader The Plank King. After that turns up gangbusters, she then continues onto a more entertaining victim, Mr. Lionett, Beau’s father. She relishes in scaring the superstitious daylights out of a man she’s never met then quickly moves on to messaging a fearsome assassin in the hopes of becoming best friends. The Cadogeist is….less than receptive, crushing poor Jester’s little heart. With her chaotic mischief managed for the day, Jester can turn her attention to relaxing.
Next, it’s Caleb’s turn to get into some mischief. The moment we’ve all been hoping to see. After days of poking and prodding, Caleb manages to slip away from the rest of his companions to pay a secret visit to Astrid. Astrid is miraculously kind and understanding and listens eagerly to Caleb’s story. He also asks her help in filling in his missing years and to convince her that she has also been brainwashed by Trent. Though she is amenable to helping Caleb fill in the painful gaps, she is strong in her conviction that she is doing the right thing for crown and country. Caleb and Astrid share a sweet but sad moment of a life unlived before Caleb sneaks back to the Nein.
Not wanting to be left out of the excitement, Fjord, Beau and Yasha find a secretive underground Pit Fighting ring and promptly sign themselves up. It’s been a minute since the Nein have had some lighthearted, drunken fun. Each of the three fights came with their own unique challenges. Beau squared off against an unassuming older gentleman. Trained monk vs grandpa goes just about as well as you’d think, ending with Beau apologizing while punching the old man to sleep. Fjord then tries his own hand in combat by taking on the resident Paladin. Much the same as Beau’s fight was one-sided, Fjord is a bit out of his league. He does try his damn hardest but in the end, never lands a hit. He does take an impressive 92 points of damage from one round. I think the Nein should look into hiring themselves a new paladin! Yasha also puts up an interesting fight. She takes on the reigning Pit champion and in a beautiful show of character role playing, Yasha tosses the fight. She basically whisper intimidates her way into being pummeled into unconsciousness. It seems like Yasha is still processing her time as a slave to Oban.
There is much to look forward to as Critical Role returns next week. The Nein will travel back to Xhorhas with the Empire’s conditions for ending the war and a recovered Beacon. Our crew are becoming quite embedded in this war they tried so hard to avoid. Critical Role will be back with a brand new episode Thursday, Jan.9th! Stay tuned for more Critical Role Review. Don’t worry, it’s almost Thursday!
Don’t Miss It!
Critical Role and Talks Machina will return starting January 9th. The cast sat down for a Fireside Chat discussing the future programming of Critical Role in the new year!
Part of this Fireside chat included the news that Travis Willingham’s Yee Haw Game Ranch will continue in spring, hopefully giving us more gory puppet lore than we can handle. There was also a slight hint that Liam and Sam’s show All Work No Play will return…sometime this year.
Dani Carr’s Youtube series Critical Recap will be changing formats in the new year as well. The series will continue as a short form blog on Critrole.com and will still be written by Dani.
Critical Role has two fantastic convention trips coming up. You can catch them at C2E2 in Chicago from February 28th to March 1 2020. They will also be travelling to MCM Comic Con in London May 29-31st. Stay tuned for more details.