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Critical Role Review: Campaign 1 The Final Arc

By: I.Am.No.Man

Critical Role Review: Episodes 81-90

Reminder: There was no new episode of Critical Role this past week (July 5th). I’ll be back to reviewing Campaign 2 next week!

So, seeing as I still haven’t finished recapping and reviewing the backlog of episodes from Campaign 1, I decided it was high time I get a move on and catch up as much as possible during the break. Instead of the episode by episode reviews I have been doing, this article will give a general summary and review of as many episodes as possible to hopefully give you an idea of which episodes to watch and which to maybe skim over.

This article will contain the last few episodes of the Chroma Conclave arc and lead into the Final story arc of the campaign. Hopefully there will only be one more article after this to finish off the Campaign 1 Review! Let’s dive in and see what our old friends have been up to.

 

Previously On Critical Role…

It’s been a while, and I know I’ve quite forgotten exactly where we left Vox Machina in the last article. Just for a little recap, the adventurers had just taken down the King of the Chroma Conclave, Thordak, and had suffered a devastating defeat to the wily green dragon Raishan. Vox Machina now seeks to take down the final, most deadly member of the former Chroma Conclave.

 

Episode 81: What Lies Beneath the Surface

Summary: Vox Machina raid and loot the lair of Thordak, discovering many treasures and trophies.

Why To Watch: This has to be one of my favorite episode of Critical Role ever!! I have never laughed harder or felt more for these characters. There were so many stand out scenes that just made this episode so easy to watch. Also, Patrick Rothfuss returns as the delightful cleric Kerrik. He is a gift in every episode he’s in. Also, this episode contains a segment I decided to call “The best 12 minutes of DnD (1:07:19-1:19:34)”. The Deck of Many Things is a gift and a curse indeed.

Episode 82: Deadly Echoes

Summary: Vox Machina infiltrate the island Viscan where the necromancer Opash hid his laboratory. The adventurers hope to unlock the secrets of Thordak and Raishan’s research into necromancy and perhaps uncover the Diseased Deceiver herself hiding in the ruins.

Why to Watch: This is a classic dungeon crawl episode, complete with traps, pitfalls, and annoying bad guys to lower your hp before the big fight. If you love the thrill of discovering the creepy secrets hiding in an ancient necromancer’s lab, this episode is definitely for you.

Review:

I find it ironic that this review contains both my favorite and least favorite episodes of Critical Role. I was so excited to share and review episode 81 but had to rewatch episode 82 three times because I fell asleep or lost interest. Even now, attempting to rewatch highlights of episode 82 I don’t remember the majority of the episode. There were a couple moments that stuck with me; the anti-gravity Zombie death bridge being the main one.

I would absolutely recommend watching episode 81. I haven’t laughed so hard or loved these characters so much as in that episode. The humor is just… perfection, and the story is light, engaging and a good change of pace from the crazy action filled Chroma Conclave battles previously.

 

 

Episode 83: The Deceiver’s Stand

Summary: Vox Machina take on the final member of the Chroma Conclave. After delving deep into a centuries old Necromancer’s lair filled with zombies and flaming skulls, the adventurers do their best to take down Raishan the Diseased Deceiver.

Why to Watch: Dragon battle at its best. More death saving throws than you can count. Consequences to dangerous actions.

Episode 84: Loose Ends

Summary: Vox Machina bring Scanlan to Whitestone to attempt to a resurrection ritual. The rest of the group live with the consequences and realizations that things are not always as they seem.

Why to Watch: There is death, there is life, tears, love, pranks, and heavy drinking all in one lovely episode.

Review: I love Dungeons and Dragons. These two episodes are straight gold. The Raishan fight was everything I wanted it to be. Vox Machina was really in over their heads for this fight and it showed. Raishan has been their most dangerous and cunning enemy so far and it turns out, their most deadly foe.

Episode 85: A Bard’s Lament

Summary: Vox Machina rejoices in Scanlan’s successful resurrection and joyfully pick up right where they left off…only to have the rug pulled out from under them.

Why to Watch: Holy Sh*T my EMOTIONS! I’m a sucker for heartbreak, pain, and suffering. If you are a masochist like me, you will love this episode. Also, some serious high-class, Oscar worthy acting from everyone tonight, especially Mr. Sam Riegel.

Episode 86: Daring Days

Summary: Vox Machina get to know their strange new companion while ticking off more items on their adventuring To Do list.

Why to Watch: Vox Machina Hazing Rituals. Taryon Darrington is a douchebag asshole, but he’s the douchebag asshole we didn’t know we needed. I will say I have always been partial to any character Sam Riegel plays, but Taryon and his robot Doty quickly became favorites. At first, I thought he was a funny little side joke for Sam to be able to play. He was a cowardly, lying, privileged little man, but then something happened. He became endearing, and a loved member of Vox Machina. His story is definitely one worth watching.

 

 

Review:

Finally! Two more amazing episodes back to back! This is my first time watching Scanlan’s farewell and, though I knew it was coming, it was so much more emotionally charged than I expected. I have never had so many ups and downs in one episode before. I think the goodbye was beautifully acted, and I loved how everyone got so angry and into it. I knew I loved these characters, but I didn’t realize how much I’d come to love the group dynamic until I felt physically ill watching them fight amongst each other.

I can’t wait to see more of Sam’s new character Tary. It’s fun to see him shake up the group dynamic and keep the other players on their toes. It’s quite a refreshing break from the building tension the last….40 episodes or so. Now that the Chroma Conclave is gone it will be interesting to see what comes next for the intrepid adventurers and their new tagalong.

 

Episodes 87-90

 Summary:

Vox Machina help Keyleth complete her Ara’mente. Keyleth leads Vox Machina to the Elemental Water Plane to complete her final trial. She must collect three Lodestones, powerful gems at the bottom of the ocean that the ashari use to power the city. Though the Kraken proves formidable, Uvenda asks Keyleth to not kill the beast, as they believe it is instrumental in the creation of the Lodestones. The gate to the Water Plane opens and Vox Machina take their first steps in. They manage to make it most of the way to the site where the Lodestones were spotted, until a failed stealth check alerts the Kraken to their presence. Chaos erupts as the group battle the 8 tentacles and ferocious maw of the beast. Grog gets swallowed and regurgitated twice, as does Vax and Keyleth. Percy, Tary and Keyleth manage to find the Lodestones and secure them, but the party nearly falls as the Kraken redoubles its efforts. Vax’ildan falls in battle and lies dead on the ocean floor. Keyleth, though severely wounded and near death, intercedes seconds before Vax is consumed by the Kraken and lost forever. Vax’s fate hangs in the balance. His spirit lies in judgement before the Raven Queen, a golden thread of his life winds behind him. The Raven Queen welcomes home her champion, but Vax begs for a chance to return and complete his mission in Tal Dorei and defeat the darkness that plagues it.

Meanwhile, Keyleth has taken Vax’s body to the local cleric, begging for help. They do not know if they can bring Vax back from death. Losing hope, Keyleth calls out to Pike and Sarenrae. Granting Keyleth her desire, Sarenrae gives Pike and astral form and she appears in Vesrah next to Vax’s body. She begins to perform a resurrection ritual, with Vex, Keyleth, and Grog adding offerings to the ritual. As it comes to a close, the light fades and Vax’s pale form lies still…slowly color and breath returns to his form and Vax opens his eyes again.

Finally having a moment to celebrate Keyleth’s victory, the group travels to Keyleth’s home where her father awaits her. Keyleth is crowned Voice of the Tempest in a grand ceremony and promises to do her best to lead the people of the Air Ashari.

Review:

Sam’s new character Taryion is as amazing as you’d hoped. He plays a delightfully oblivious rich asshole that adds so much flavor to every interaction. Vox Machina really doesn’t know what to do with their new strange friend. Tary has really revitalized the role playing in these episodes and lightens the rather somber-as-of-late mood that Vox Machina seems stuck in.

While Keyleth’s storyline has not been one of my favorite story lines, I was glad to see that the story wasn’t completely monopolized by Keyleth attempting to take the reins and lead the story. Everyone had a few moments to role play and have some fun. The five and a half hour long episode was a huge undertaking and took several days to finish. It had plenty of action and suspense to pass the time but still…five and a half hours is not easy to get through in one setting. Vox Machina definitely met their match with that Kraken. By the end of the episode, you could tell several of the players, Marisha included, could barely focused and just wanted to go home. Thankfully, we don’t see a more than 5 hour episode again until episode 100 and the last couple episodes of the campaign.

There were some stand out moments in these episodes! I rewatched Tary and Pike’s ‘Flashcard’ scene in episode 89 several times and could not stop laughing. Episode 90 had its own side-splitting moment with Grog and Taryion’s adventures terrorizing a shopkeeper and accidentally killing two guards. The whole interaction was role-playing gold with Sam and Travis outdoing each other into a frenzied climax.

I am grateful that the Ara’mente arc is finally over! I don’t mind Keyleth in small doses, but sometimes her awkward role play and conversation take the enjoyment out of the game for me. I just don’t mesh too well with that style of play. It seemed like the group was really having a hard time deciding which story to pursue next, which makes me a little worried that the next few episodes will be full of strange filler side trips that may not contribute to the larger story line. We’ll have to see what kind of memorable moments come out of the next few episodes.

What’s Coming Next?

The Final Arc Part 2 will start of with Episode 91 Vox Machina Go To Hell, which I thought was a fitting place to start the last arc. Hopefully I can cram in all remaining 24 episodes and still give a good review of each story line. There’s A LOT that happens in these episodes, and the laughs get bigger, the failures get more costly, and the action gets even more epic. Keep an eye out for next week’s episode of Critical Role Review!

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