Episode 79: Thordak
Summary: Vox Machina face their greatest enemy, Thordak the Cinder King. All their allies, friends, and Vestiges combine to take on the monstrous ancient dragon that has laid siege on their home.
Why to Watch: This is the epic fight we’ve all been waiting for. After 40 episodes of building up to this moment, it’s finally here, and it’s just as good as you’d hoped it would be.
Flame breath, 99 hp damage (33:00)
Scanlan vs Thordak (34:51)
Vax cracks Thordak’s Crystal (2:14:15)
Jarett is toast (2:37:26)
Meteor Swarm 133 hp damage (4:13:25)
Episode 80: Raishan
Summary: Moments after defeating Thordak, the Cinder King, Vox Machina must take on Raishan in a battle to the death. Exhausted and torn to pieces, Vox Machina are put to the test in a fight like they’ve never seen before.
Why to Watch: This one is brutal to watch. Vox Machina gets absolutely demolished by Raishan and you feel utterly hopeless as you watch them fall, one by one. This episode had me on the edge of my seat, and anyone who’s ever played DnD knows of sessions like this one, where you’re never sure you’ll walk out alive.
Raishan plays dirty (17:28)
Baby Dragon Killer (44:00)
Laura’s Limerick (1:21:02)
It could have been worse (1:29:45)
Scanlan! MVP! (1:36:52)
The Bronze Dragon (1:50:14)
Things are bad (2:15:39)
Really, really bad (2:21:39)
So fucking bad, “I died as I lived” (2:37:00)
The worst Nat 1 in history, “I died as I lived” part 2 (2:44:46)
Pike and Scanlan (2:56:55)
Role Playing choices were on the edge of being meta. Some characters made choices or reacted in ways that were rash, or purely based on out-of-game motives that made the fight with Raishan seem a bit rushed. This reaction, specifically when Vax and Keyleth both decide to attack Raishan with no in-game knowledge of why to attack is both a positive and negative for me. Negative, because the actions felt unfair to the rest of the companions who lost their lives in the fight they were dragged into. And because the players may have let out-of-game knowledge or assumptions influence their decisions. BUT, I ended up really connecting with the characters as they fought Raishan. For the first time, you could see the look of actual fear on their faces as they were unsure if they could win. Because of the nature of Critical Role, there are not many moments where the players actually fear for their characters, but this fight brought them down a few notches and really humbled some of them.
The highs and lows of these two episodes were too numerous to count. Going from taking on Thordak with an almost impossible ease, to nearly losing their entire party to Raishan was so intense. I don’t think the DM and players could have done any better on these two episode. I know some people felt that rushing into a battle with Raishan so soon was foolish. And it was. And it resulted in two deaths that were hard to watch. But that’s a huge part of playing Dnd. Your characters will act emotionally, and recklessly, and your friends will die because of those actions. Now, Vox Machina will be more prepared and less foolhardy in their next attempt to hunt down and take on Raishan.
I am not a big stickler on following the letter of the law in the DnD campaign books. I feel that the DM has creative control over their sessions and can adjust or modify the rules as appropriate to create a game that fits their player’s level. Matt Mercer does an amazing job juggling a thousand different story lines, rules, characters, and reactions. Yes, he does make mistakes, or forget rules, but then again, so does everyone. I personally feel that he DM’d these episodes incredibly well. He was fair, if not a little lenient on the players when they fell, or died, or were resurrected mid-fight. The story flowed really well and the ending of episode 80 set things up for the next few episodes.
I was really impressed by everything in these episodes. They had everything I liked about DnD, lots of action, great role playing, great story pacing, and some edge of your seat intense moments. I am excited to see where the story goes now and how the campaign will move forward now that the big baddie has been taken down.