Episode 97: The Fancy and the Fooled
Story wise, this has to be one of the best live shows Critical Role has had. If you tuned in live last Thursday, you know the venue had major issues that set the show back almost 2 hours. There was also a cut in the Twitch stream that resulted in the loss of a few minutes of the session, though nothing major was missed. Hiccups like this are a risk of doing live shows but Critical Role faced the challenge and had a phenomenal show.
The Nein step into Nicodranus to prepare for Traveler Con and continue the peace treaty negotiations between the Dynasty and Empire. Checking in with tortle Navigator Orly and The Ball Eater to make sure everything is in order. The harbor is packed with a fleet of Empire ships ready to meet with the Dynasty. They board the Cerberus Assembly’s ship to talk with the Martinet about plans. Aboard the ship they meet a rather nervous looking elven Lord Thain.
Story Thread #1! BETRAYAL! Caleb and Beau use Frumpkin to spy on the Martinet and Lord Thain. The nervous Lord is revealed to be none other than Dynasty ambassador Essek! I know some critters saw this plot twist coming a mile away but it was still amazing to watch it play out in front of a live audience. Poor misguided genius boy Essek sold out his people and two beacons just to further his research into the power of Dunemancy. Beautiful. More on this in a minute, but first we party.
The Nein make their way to the Chateau to visit Jester’s mother and Nott’s family. They attempt to make a plan to confront Essek at the fancy party they have been invited to the next evening. Nott interrupts the planning to announce that she is finally ready to finish the transformation spell and return to her true halfling form. Excited preparations are made and the Nein pile into the Ruby’s luxurious bathroom for the ritual. Nott climbs into the tub, now filled with clay and the ritual begins.
Story Thready #2! Veth Returns! After 96 episodes, Caleb and Nott were finally able to accomplish their goal of restoring Veth. Nott says her goodbyes and dreams of a future shared with her family and the Nein. It’s was a bit hard to stay in the emotional moment with Sam dressed in a leprechaun outfit and beard, but it wouldn’t be Critical Role without a little weird. There was a beautiful moment during the stream when Nott’s character card was displayed on the battle map camera and as the ritual finished and Veth’s form broke free of the spell, the character art faded away and was replaced by Veth’s new art and stats. LOVED this moment. What a way to make it memorable.
With Veth back and reacquainted with her family, The Nein do some shopping for fancy party clothes. Yasha, Beau, and Fjord return for an awkward fish and chips date near the beach. Caleb sells little Willie for a spell scroll. Jester and Caduceus make quick perfection out of outfit selection and everyone is dressed to the ‘Neins” for the event. Even Marion, the Ruby of the Sea know this party is going to be killer and she agrees to go with Jester and perform for everyone.
The last third of the episode really devolves into classic Mighty Nein chaos. Egged on by the live crowd, Fjord leans into his social introverted awkward self, Beau takes Caduceus’ True Seeing spell a step too far and begins a wild acid trip improv bit that had me in stitches. She and Fjord are distracted by an in disguise dragonborn that leads them on a dead end chase. Jester runs into an old nemesis, Lord Sharpe and repeats the pranking that got her banished from Nicodranus in the first place. Veth takes the initiative with Essek, sneakily spiking his drink with a paralyzing potion, dragging him outside the party hall,
Jester arrives just in time to help Veth drag a paralyzed Essek out of the party. Caleb tries to put manacles on him as the potion wears off but he escapes. Caduceus Commands him to stop and he sullenly surrenders to the Nein for his punishment.
Story Line #3! Welcome to the Mighty Nein. The Nein (minus Fjord and Beau who are still having their hilarious LSD side quest) take Essek to the Ball Eater for questioning. Caleb leads the discussion, turning the interrogation into more of an intervention. He sneaks a couple of sinister lines in there but for the most part he wants Essek to admit fault and abandon his mistakes. And he does. He admits he only got close to the Nein after they returned one of the beacons he gave to the Empire and ended up falling in love with the Nein just like we all have.
I am a sucker for these kind of story lines and characters, so I was eating this up! Almost as exciting as a boss fight. Caleb channels his inner Mollymauk and recalls how his departed tiefling friend accepted him after he revealed his dark past. Caleb sees himself in Essek and shows compassion and understanding in the same way Molly did. Even down to the little forehead kiss he shared with Essek. This episode did it for me. I loved it so much and it didn’t even have one “roll for initiative” moment.
I can’t wait to see what the Nein do with Essek and how Peace Talks will continue with this secret plot now uncovered. Will the Nein hide Essek’s misdeeds from the Dynasty and Empire or will they betray him in the name of transparency between nations to truly reveal motives behind the war and machinations behind the curtains? Thursday can’t come soon enough! Don’t miss next week’s Critical Role Review!
Don’t Miss It!
All Work No Play had another great episode. Guest star Ashly Burch join Sam and Liam in The Magic Castle for a behind the scenes tour and an entertaining lesson in a few tricks.
Critical Role’s next Con appearance will be here before you know it. Catch them at MCM London 2020 Saturday, May 30th!