Episode 98: Dark Waters
Well…. I asked for a fight to remember. I wanted action. And that’s exactly what I got and then some. This episode is packed full of story, action, and heartbreak. Let’s dive right into this week’s review.
The episode picks up with Essek’s interrogation. This moment already feel like a lifetime ago. Essek does his best to convince the Nein that he’ll drop the secret alliance with the Empire the second he can and keep his involvement in this under wraps. While there is a debate over how responsible Essek is for all the innocents killed in this charade of a war. It is hard to say where this story will end up. Will the Nein have to take down their friend and ally if he gets sucked in to the darker implications behind his research into Dunemancy?
The Nein spend the next couple of days relaxing and preparing for their week long sea voyage to meet with the Dynasty. The Nein return to the Ball Eater with Captain Tusktooth helming the voyage!
The trip lulls the Nein into a false sense of security for the first four days. Jester, Beau and Yasha do some Traveler arts and crafts while Fjord and Caleb have an emotional heart to heart about their past and dreams of the future. I think it was at this moment that my worries something bad would happen kicked in. Matt had been dropping hints that Fjord has changed so much since his Uk’atoa days, finding a new home in Nicodranus under the watchful gaze of the Wildmother. After Fjord and Caleb’s heart to heart they head to bed before the looming storm hits.
The storm rolls in over the Ball Eater and the Storm Lord calls to Yasha in a dream. She comes to a vast canyon and decides to test her worthiness by jumping into the abyss. Her skeletal wings unfurl but still cannot carry her back to the light. In a terrified rage she cries out and reaches towards the sky and finally the Storm Lord grabs her and lifts her up. Her wings sprout dark feathers and she quickly rises back to the sky. This was a great interlude story for Yasha this week. It’s been a minute since we’ve had a one on one dream RP and this was a nice easy slow ball to Ashley. It will be interesting to see if her new wings manifest into reality next time she uses them.
If one dream sequence wasn’t enough for you, Mercer throws in a back to back dream RP. You could tell Travis was blindsided by this with his instant panicked deer in the headlights moment when Matt calls his name. Fjord dreams he is lost in an endless forest. He summons his sword to attempt a communion with the Wildmother only to find he is holding his old falchion with a glowing yellow eye staring back at him. A stabbing pain wracks his body as he gasps for breath. It was at this moment Fjord knew he was in trouble.
Fjord wakes to find his falchion sticking several inches into his chest, a horrifying humanoid sea creature holding the other end. A quick Far Step off the ship and into the ocean gets Fjord out of immediate danger, only for him to realize the ship is being swarmed by sea beasties. He steps his way back onto the ship and rings the alarm bell waking the rest of the crew. Orly, Marius and Fjord but up a vicious fight above decks, while the rest of the Nein tackle the invaders below deck.
Fjord takes devastating hit after hit, finding no reprieve from the sea creatures warlock Eldritch Blasts. His relentless endurance saves him from one TKO and retreating to the crow’s nest buys him another precious few seconds. The creatures are bent on taking him down, and their leader is showing no sign of stopping once he’s knocked out. Finally putting the pieces together, Fjord/ Travis realize that he still has the Uk’atoa orbs locked in his body making him a valuable target. All the Wildmother’s warnings come rushing back. “Seed of Darkness still lies within you” … ” I can only break his hold for a short time”.
The creatures make quick work of the Nein, stunning Beau into helplessness, killing Orly, and distracting Nott, Caleb, Caduceus, Yasha, and Jester below decks. The rest of the group make it up to the main deck just in time to watch a battered Fjord take an Eldritch Blast to the chest, knocking him out and sending him crashing onto the deck from the crow’s nest. The Sea Spawn’s leader stabs into his chest, stopping any hope the Nein had to stop these creatures. Caleb comes in with a wicked MVP Counterspell, stopping the leader from disappearing with Fjord’s body. The creatures are relentless though, dragging Fjord towards the edge of the ship hoping to make a getaway but an enraged Caleb puts a quick Disintegrating end to that plan.
This whole fight is WILD. Matt so rarely goes for a tough story line like this. You could tell he was focused on his goal, and even though the teleportation spell failed, the consequences of this battle will be felt for a long time. I know Twitch chat got a bit toxic over this episode but I know the majority of Critters agreed that this fight was amazing! It different so much from the Lorenzo/Molly fight. Fjord immediately knew he was in over his head and was holding on for dear life. Beau is going to have some residual PTSD after watching Fjord die in front of her as she was incapacitated by a stun. Yasha proved her tanking abilities in this fight, taking a decent amount of damage while slicing heads from bodies. Caduceus proved the worth of a high level spirit guardians while Caleb also displayed some serious chops during the fight.
I know at these higher levels, a death doesn’t mean as much anymore. That’s what makes these fights so tricky. It is still panic inducing to watch a character death play out on screen and I think the week long break between cliffhanger sessions definitely helps set the somber tone and helps this death feel more permanent. Next week’s episode promises to be an emotional one! With Fjord and Orly both beyond help, how much can the Nein do in their tired state? Thursday can’t get here soon enough and I can’t wait to dive into another Critical Role Review!
Don’t Miss It!
Critical Role One Shot incoming! Doom Eternal is coming. Mercer leads as GM with a cast including Sam Riegel, Laura Baily, Taliesin Jaffe, Anjali Bhimani, and Jasmine Bhullar. Tune into Critical Role’s Twitch channel Monday, March 16th at 7pm. VOD available Wednesday.
Wildemount campaign guide drops this Tuesday, March 17th!
Also coming soon, a Critical Role themed Munchkin game! Learn more about it here.