Episode 36: O Captain, Who’s Captain?
We pick up this week’s episode with the Mighty Nein dealing with the consequences of their unbelievable actions. They are adrift at sea, on a stolen ship, with several dead bodies of the crew and captain of the ship, and a kidnapped Marius cowering in the corner. Taking a moment to reassess the situation, the Nein discover that one of the crewmembers previously thought dead is actually still clinging to life, trying to escape the ship.
Nott runs to grab Caduceus, who has been sulking above decks, to attempt to heal the dying man. Caduceus begrudgingly heals the man enough for him to regain consciousness. Jester, Nott and Caleb interrogate the man, whose name is Gallan. Gallan tells the Nein everything he knows. He and his crew were headed to meet a woman named Captain Avantika on an island in the Inky Claw Reef. He begs for mercy from the Nein. Jester and Nott have taken a liking Gallan and make him the first mate of the ship.
Fjord and Beau are busy interrogating Marius above decks. Marius continues to tell them that he really has no information about the Cloven Crystal, he was just the messenger and package delivery boy. Frustrated that they don’t have much more information, and no knowledgeable crew to captain their new ship, Fjord realizes that they may need to make their way to land and figure things out.
The Nein come to the agreement that they should try and find Captain Avantika, but they need a solid crew. Deciding to try their luck back in Nicodranus, Fjord carefully steers the ship towards the Open Quay harbor. Jester helps to forge paperwork and a deed of ownership for the ship. They also decide to rename the ship. Once called the Myst, now renamed as the Mystake. On the way in they almost have a run in with the naval guard presumably looking for the missing ship, but thanks to Fjord’s quick thinking they avoid conflict.
On the way back to port, Jester finds Caduceus still sulking on his own. Caduceus is rather shaken from the past day’s experiences. Almost drowning in a fight with water elementals, stealing a ship, killing all those people. It’s been a day. He is having a crisis of conscience about leaving his home and still not having any clues or signs that he is on the right path. Jester comforts him by saying that Mellora will guide him in unexpected ways, and just when he thinks she has abandoned him, he’ll find his way again. He takes comfort in her strangeness and agrees to stay with the Nein, at least for a little while longer.
Once back in port, Fjord helms the expedition to hire a crew for their ship. He finds a rag tag group of six sailors, including their new tortle friend Orly as the navigator. They tell the crew that they plan to journey for two to three weeks to the Inky Claw Reef. Orly looks at the fragment of burned map that the Nein recovered and helps Fjord to choose the safest path to the islands. Though Orly warns that the islands are cursed and strange stories of dangerous creatures are all that come back, and that Captain Avantika is some kind of fanatical cultist, he agrees to journey with them. Once they set sail, the crew encourages Fjord to choose a fancy new captain name. After some deliberation he proudly announces that he will be called Captain Tusktooth.
Several days pass on the open ocean and the crew settle into their new roles. Caduceus, though still a bit put off, does his best to enjoy the claustrophobic journey. By day three he is talking to the fish. One evening on Fjord’s watch he hears a noise that draws his attention. He can’t quite make out where the noise is coming from and calls out to Caleb. Just as Caleb sends globules of light around the ship, a dark figure swoops in diving towards Fjord and the sails. The figure rakes deadly claws down the sails, rending the boat immobile.
With a victorious scream, the harpy calls to her other sisters to attack the group. Fjord calls the rest of the crew awake while the harpies swoop and scream above their heads. Beau protects the sails from further damage while Fjord, Caleb and Caduceus fend of the attacks. The harpies manage to lure a couple crew members to the edge of the ship where they begin to carry them away over the water. The Nein manage to rescue their crewmates, kill or scare away the harpies, and protect the boat from further damage fairly quickly. Once they are reassured that the boat is safe to sail, they once again continue towards the Inky Claw Reef.
Several more uneventful days pass before Orly tells Fjord that they are approaching the reef. They must carefully navigate the treacherous shallows before reaching land. Fjord and Orly call out commands to the rest of the crew as they scrape their way through. Though Fjord is fairly skilled, the reefs prove extremely difficult to traverse. The ship sustains a damaged hull and water begins pouring into the ship. Fjord quickly brings the ship through the rest of the shallows while the Nein try and patch the hole and bail water out of the ship as best they can. The ship makes it through the most dangerous parts of the path and comes nearer to the island. Fjord sees another ship already docked and presumes it is Captain Avantika. The other ship fires a warning cannonball shot towards them and the Nein stop the ship and prepare themselves. Fjord disguises himself as the slain Captain Jawgrasp (who was supposed to meet Avantika until Fjord and friends brutally killed him). Two small skiffs begin to approach the Mystake, hopefully to parlay. We’ll find out in next week’s episode of Critical Role!
For an episode where no one knew what was coming I was actually pretty impressed with what happened. I was fully expecting a run in with the law, a ‘high-speed’ boat chase, you know, the works. Thankfully, we had a rather calm episode considering the action packed last episode. Normally I don’t sit well through the slower paced episodes, but this one actually moves pretty well considering there is only one small monster fight in the second half. I enjoyed the last few minutes of scene setting for next week’s episode. It feels very much like Vox Machina’s fight with Ripley in campaign one. Hopefully this encounter goes much better.
The Nein managed to pick up a pretty decent crew. Everyone’s favorite tortle, Orly, makes an appearance as the ships navigator. Caduceus’ little crisis of character was pretty interesting to watch unfold. I wasn’t sure if anything could rattle the forever chill firbolg. I guess we finally know his limits. Hopefully Jester and Yasha’s encouragements help him find what he’s looking for. I did kind of miss the happy-go-lucky vibe he brings to the table, but everyone needs character growth and I’ll take any backstory hints I can get at this point.
Caleb had some pretty intense moments in this episode. He seems to be able to fall back into his old Empire Kids training really easily. It’s really freaky how calm and collected he was during their interrogation of Gallan. It made me uneasy to watch him methodically strip away Gallan’s reluctance into complete obedience. There are so many interesting layers to our little wizard friend.
I will say that Fjord’s backstory arc has been more entertaining and a bit longer than I expected. All the little hints they’ve had to follow, the wrong paths taken, the crazy midnight boat thievery. Next week’s story climax promises to be an exciting one. After all this time we may finally get to see what this Cloven Crystal is all about. I’m hoping that Avantika is as creepy and crazy as they hinted at this week. The live shows always pack a certain degree of expected excitement.
Speaking of the live show, my guess is that this meeting will lead to an action packed adventure to the island. Matt only hinted several times that the Island is haunted, or spooky, or cursed. You can’t dangle that juicy bit in front of us with no pay off. It’s too bad that Ashley Johnson can’t make it to this live show next week. I’m sure the Nein would really appreciate their muscly back up there when they need her. With Matt trying so hard to keep Yasha in the story line these past couple weeks, my guess is Ashley will be back on the show full time before we know it. Can’t wait to see where this intriguing story goes next week!
The first episode of All Work No Play was everything I hoped for. It had so much nostalgia from the original podcast with fun new segments and possibilities. I thought it was great that they actually went LARPing like they had mentioned in one of their last podcasts. Will Friedle was an absolute gem as always. The humor was spot on as usual. It’s going to be great having a new episode once a week instead of once a year. This is definitely a show to keep an eye on.
The next new episode of Between the Sheets airs this Monday, October 1st at 7pm pacific. Laura Bailey is the special guest star this week. You can watch Taliesin Jaffe’s and Travis Willingham’s episodes on Critical Role’s YouTube Channel.
Critical Role will be live from New York City Comic Con this week! Catch the live stream Thursday, October 4th 7pm pacific on Twitch. And, just 23 days after that, the cast will be in London for MCM in their very first overseas cast convention.
Critical Role is coming to Emerald City Comic Con this March! So many events and new shows to keep up on. Big things are headed our way. See you live in New York for next week’s episode!