Episode 8: What Comes Next
We begin the final episode with Opal pinned to the ground with residuum spikes, her companions looking around the jungle for where her attacker is hiding. Orym spots Myr’atta and several other synghorn ilk hugging the shadows nearby. He dashes to Opal’s side, trying to give her some cover against Myr’atta while taking fire from the other hidden enemies. Opal tries to put on the ring of invisibility, but the residuum spikes are making it too difficult to move and she’s unable to sneak the ring on.
Meanwhile, Dariax, Fearne, and Dorian are torn between helping Opal and Orym or facing off against the final stone construct that is still stalking them. The three make quick work of the construct with Dorian getting the killing blow, while Myr’atta begins the process of pulling Ted’s power out of Opal. Dariax tries to take some of the heat off of Orym, who is alternating between shielding Opal and dodging range attacks.
Myr’atta summons a sigil of power that explodes out, flattening the surrounding jungle. Large, purplish tentacles begin to break through the ground in front of Orym and Opal. Opal can no longer feel her connection to Ted. Ted’s screaming in Opal’s brain has stopped… though she feels like she can still hear it; it’s just farther away now.
Dariax, who has been using his new wings to fly above the battlefield, attempts to divebomb Myr’atta. He wills his spear to become heavier and rockets down towards the purple-robed elf. His spear strikes true, but Myr’atta’s form flickers and dissipates. Her haunting laughter begins to filter from somewhere in the jungle. Two more residuum spikes pin Opal’s legs to the ground.
Opal is feeling desperate, trapped, and furious. She wills her body to stand, but the residuum is too strong. She hears the voice of the Spider Queen in her mind, promising her the power to save her sister and her friends…if she’d just put on the crown. Opal is not in a mood to negotiate and continues to struggle and fail against the spikes.
Myr’atta channels more power into the summoning sigil, the purple tentacles begin to grow into hands, and a head erupting from the ground. She gloats over Opal, teasing that Ted will make such a wonderful patron. Fearne, Orym, Dariax and Dorian focus their fight on the hidden enemies in the trees, systematically taking out Myr’atta’s support one by one.
Dariax and Dorian are looking rough after suffering some nasty hits. Dorian turns his back to Dariax to try and help Opal free from one of the residuum spikes. He manages to pull the one in her forehead out, but Opal screams in pain and fear as her already weak connection to Ted is nearly severed. Myr’atta sends another shockwave towards the party, screaming at Dorian to not touch Opal. The shockwave is enough to knock Dorian out cold as he’s helping Opal to her feet.
The Spider Queen calls out to each of the party, one by one. Offering them each the power to save their friends, change the tide of battle. No one is listening to her. Dariax flies to Dorian’s side and quickly heals him, saving him from the brink of death. He drags Dorian to a safe spot on the battlefield before rocketing back into the sky. He decides to go for a long shot again and aims his gravity-laden spear at Myr’atta again, shooting as fast and hard as he can towards her. This time, his spear strikes true and pierces through Myr’atta leaving her stunned and furious. As she screams, the terrible form of Ted screams along with her.
Opal can feel her grip on Ted slipping. She tearfully calls out to her sister, begging her to stay but they’re not strong enough. For the final time, Opal can feel the presence of the Spider Queen. When will enough be enough? Opal has the power to save her sister at her fingertips and she’s too proud or stupid to accept it? Opal’s will breaks and she finally agrees to put the circlet on. As Opal stands to try and reach Dariax and the circlet, she sees Myr’atta cast a spell against Dariax and he falls unconscious, wings shattering, and tumbles to the ground with the circlet rolling right up to Opal’s feet.
Dorian rushes in close to Myr’atta, who is clutching Dariax’s body to her like a meat shield. He reaches out a hand to Dariax, barely laying a finger on him as Myr’atta tries to evade him. A spark flies from his finger and a healing spell brings Dariax back to consciousness once more.
Opal feels power coursing through her veins. her wounds heal, magic lights her fingertips once more, all she wants is to see Myr’atta suffer for what she’s done to Ted. Opal misty steps right behind Myr’atta, and with unnatural speed, viciously slits Myr’atta’s neck.
The battlefield stills as Myr’atta’s body falls to the ground. The hellish form of Ted loses it’s magical binds and grows still and cold. Opal can’t feel a connection anymore; she’s in shock. Dorian takes some residuum powder from Orym and touches it to Opal, then flies over to Ted and touches the same place on Ted’s head. A spark connects the two sisters. Dorian, with the help of his friends, begins to draw runes of power over Ted’s form, trying to rebond the two together. Opal prays to anything that will listen; bring her sister back. Ted’s form begins to collapse back into the earth as Opal feels her bond with her sister strengthen once more. It’s different now, but still there. She can feel Ted’s pull somewhere out there in the world. She’s safe once more.
The friend’s pick each other up, dust each other off and wonder what could possibly come next for them. They still have their quest to find Umeji. Fearne wonders if she should find her parents. There’s also the problem of being hunted by the Nameless Ones. Maybe they’ll stick together for now. Dariax suggest they call themselves The Crownkeepers. They’ll try the name out, see if it sticks.
The Crownkeepers walk away together, towards the horizon and to new adventures. For now, their story ends, but they will live on in Exandria. And who knows, maybe we’ll see more of these wonderful adventurers. It’s a beautiful, wild, chaotic world out there. And we’ve only just begun.
End Credit Stinger scene: Poska, de facto leader of the Nameless Ones, speaks to her compatriots. She thought they could play at a shadow war, stick to the hidden corners, play nice. But, they’ve been exploited by that band of dimwits one too many times. Violence and revenge are the only choice, should those fools ever step foot back into her city.
Well Critters! Season 1 of Exandria Unlimited is officially over. I know this series wasn’t to everyone’s tastes, but overall I think it was a fun little mini series to give the Critters nation a little taste of what the Critical Role channel could become in the future. As a “whole campaign” the series was far from perfect, but it was only meant to give us a little tease of what Exandria Unlimited could do next. Based on my enjoyment of season 1, I would definitely tune into a season 2 whether it featured the same GM and cast or switched things up with a new GM and a rotating cast. Ok, speculations and ramblings are done, let’s focus on this week’s episode of ExU!
The whole of this 3 1/2 hour long episode was focused on Opal’s big boss showdown against Myr’atta and her sister-patron Ted. And what a crazy battle it was! Opal was down and out for the vast majority of the fight, cut off from magic, pinned to the ground and unable to reach any items for help. I’m amazed that Aimee played through the fight as well as she did considering the harrowing circumstances she was up against. I don’t know if I would have kept my cool after being repeatedly ham-stringed round after round. Aimee played beautifully into Opal’s chaotic mind-set as she tried every trick in the book to get around Aabria’s trap and suck out any possible cheat around the grappled condition. Eventually, Opal broke down and did the thing we were all waiting for, and put on the Spider Queen’s vestige. Unsurprisingly, the world didn’t end, Opal didn’t go stark raving mad or drunk with evil power, she did what was promised and saved her sister and her friends. In the end, power is just power, and in the right hands sometimes an evil vestige can do a little good in the world.
How cool were Aabria’s maps during this campaign!? I loved the custom builds in episodes 7 and 8. The floating magnetic cube that lit up and broke apart was super fun, and the Ted monstrosity was somehow even freakier than an entire Cognouza flesh city… well… almost. It was fun to see another GM’s creativity and love of cool maps played up on the Critical Role channel. We all know Mercer has made some next level map encounters, and now Aabria has upped the game. I can’t wait to see what new maps could come next.
Though the fight was centered around Opal and Myr’atta, we got to see some amazing rounds from the rest of the gang too. Fearne wreaked more bloody havoc on the field as a direwolf. Orym pulled some pretty amazing tanky moves to protect Opal and take down their range fighter at the same time. Dariax got to live his best Vax’ildan dreams when he was hasted with a fly speed of 180 ft per round. He also landed a pretty clutch nat20 spear dive attack against Myr’atta that pulled the fight into its endgame round. Dorian had the hdywtdt against the stone construct, and got to save his unconscious best friend with the maximum power of love and healing with his very last spell slot.
While NONE of our burning questions about this party got answered during the 8 episode series, it does seem like there’s an open door to even more Exandria Unlimited sometime in the future. We have one more chance for the cast to spill the beans on backstory, personal motivations, ships, and post-campaign storylines during the Campaign Wrap Up in two weeks. I. Want. To. Know. More. Maybe that’s just the raging completionist in me wanting this story to be self contained and able to shelve in a nice neat little box in my brain. Let’s be realistic, this mini-series in all its glorious chaos would never be able to fit in just one little box.
We’ve talked a bit about Aimee Carerro and how she handled being a new player at the Critical Role table. I know there was some drabble about her play style on the dregs of social media, which led to Aimee having to explain away some of her RP and gaming choices. I’ll just say this: for a BRAND NEW player, streaming a DnD campaign to hundreds of thousands of DnD savvy nerds, she did a damn good job. We love to see unique play styles at the table and boy did she bring her own flavor. We’ve seen the whole spectrum from DnD legends that could recite the PHB in their sleep breeze their way through a guest appearance, to more RP heavy characters like Shakaste and Nila. And then Aimee laid out Opal, no apologies, no regrets, all fire and impulse. I haven’t seen a player try to climb so far out of the box to skirt around a GM’s problems in quite a disaster queen fashion as Opal did. It was an interesting peek into just how unique player styles can be out in the real world.
Robbie Daymond, on the other hand, was an absolute natural at the Critical Role table. I honestly could hardly believe he’d never RP’d a single DnD game before in his life. He immediately found the groove of the group, played off of his cast-mates with graceful ease, and managed to fake it till he made it through most of the rules and regulations in the book. I would absolutely love to see more of Robbie at the Critical Role table soon (here’s hoping he and Aimee are able to join for a few Narrative Telephone episodes!!).
Anjali of course gets an honorable mention for being this season’s ‘guest star’ of sorts. Even though she was only on for two episodes, she left a giant impression on the group and viewers alike. I can’t imagine the series without her influence.
Ashley and Liam were gems at the table as always. It’s always fun to see them try on new characters and give us some new flavors of play style over the various mini series and one-shots. I personally can’t wait for Ashley as DM for her one-shot, which I can only imagine will consist of her nervous sweating her way through the entire thing.
Matt as a player at his own table was a beautiful thing. We can only hope to see some more of him on the opposite side of a DM screen more often as Critical Role evolves down the line. Let’s hope these nerdy ass voice actors keep finding the love and joy of creating content for us to enjoy for many years!
With season 1 of Exandria Unlimited finished, and heavy hints for a season 2 somewhere in our nerdy futures, I look forward to what’s to come! This was a fun, crazy, surprisin and fantastic start to a great new series. I hope to see new GM’s and players (both DnD vets and newbies) in future series. As much as I’m jonesing for another longform campaign, these quick mini-series have a real potential to snag many new friends and viewers to Critical Role. We all know, we could use some more friend, right!
As always, and in honor of B.W.F, don’t forget to love each other. See y’all next time when we break down the wrap up, review some one shots, and bring you all the latest news and updates.
Don’t Miss It!
Did you catch the big update on the Critical Role homepage this weekend? We got several new updates to look forward to in the coming months.
First up, there’s a couple of Elder Scrolls Online episodes. Tuesday, August 17th will be the third episode of Liam and Laura’s playthrough of Blackwood. Thursday August 19th will be a second Elder Scrolls one-shot. Marisha Ray will GM this session and there has not been a cast list released for the rest of the table yet.
Next, there will be an Exandria Unlimited Season 1 Wrap Up on Thursday, August 27th. I haven’t heard if they will run this episode similar to the way they ran the wrap up of campaign 2, or if they have another format they are wanting to try out. *side note/tangent time* I was so sorry to hear of Brian W. Foster coming to the decision to officially step back from Critical Role to do his own thing. I will really miss his contributions to the Critical Role line up! Talks Machina was a fantastic show and will hopefully continue in some fashion for campaign 3. Also, his antics on Yee Haw Game Ranch were some of my favorite during the massive influx of shows pre-Covid. *end rant*
Finally, there’s a bare bones outline for September and October and what’s in store for Critical Role through the end of this year. Ashley Johnson will GM her Kickstarter bonus one-shot in September. Kickstarter backers will be the first to get an update with more details, so keep checking back for the latest updates. Also coming in September and October, a new Mighty Vibes series, a third Elder Scrolls one-shot, and 2 episodes of Narrative Telephone, featuring the stories (and cast??) of Exandria Unlimited!!
A campaign 3 update has been promised sometime in October, along with the promise of another hidden or much anticipated project. Could this be the Legend of Vox Machina animated series update we’ve been waiting for?! Or does Critical Role have another exciting project in the wings for us to enjoy.
As always, this Critical Role Review series will continue as long as Critical Role is putting out new content! Check back in for new content updates, one-shot reviews, and possibly some campaign 1 review highlights depending on time. Don’t worry Critters, it’s almost Thursday!