Episode 10: Depths of Deceit
What a great set up for the last three episodes of season 1. We got our last big lore drop with the Anna Ripley flashback. There’s hints of her ruthlessness, her cunning, and her endless curiosity in the cutting edge of science. Expect more to come from this intriguing villain in season 2.
The Ripley flashback also gives the audience more fuel for the Cassandra/ Percy revenge fire. Percy keeps getting sucked into PTSD moments of watching his family members endure torture and death at the hands of these monsters he’s hunting. This of course leads to a more heavy presence of Percy’s smoke monster and alter ego persona. I’ve been loving the dramatic buildup to the final Orthax showdown!
The race to the Ziggurat is interrupted by a ‘shocking’ turn of events. The Briarwoods manage to corral Vox Machina into an acid filled trap, then take care of two birds with one stone. The Briarwoods are eager to rid themselves of the no longer useful Ripley and leave her to the same painful fate as Vox Machina. Cassandra breaks everyone’s hearts when she betrays Percy and Vox Machina, triggering the mechanism to trap them in the acid pit. What fantastic acting from Esme Creed-Miles who dug deep to portray the hurt and resentment Cassandra has been harboring for years.
The rest of the episode is spent with Vox Machina (minus Vax who ended up back under the charms of The Briarwoods) trying to reverse the acid trap without boiling alive. The show did an amazing job capturing the frantic energy of the gang trying to break out of the room, the failed attempts to break the glass wall, and Percy coming back at the last second to solve the puzzle and set them free. I loved the addition of Grog’s badass barbarian Hercules moment of swimming through the acid to pull the third lever. Also, how chilling was that moment when Percy realized Cassandra’s name appeared on his gun The List?!
With the stage set for an epic showdown with The Briarwoods, we jump right into episode 11.
Episode 11: Whispers at the Ziggurat
InCREDIBLE and action packed story! We finally get to see Vox Machina in true form against the Briarwoods. Scanlan and Delilah’s back and forth with the silence spell was so great. There was something particularly punchy about watching Scanlan flail and fume in the background as his companions kicked ass.
Vex and Vax had quite an emotional showdown. Vax just couldn’t break free from Sylas’ spell and poor Vex’s heart broke as she began to pummel her twin to death. Thankfully, Vex’s fists snapped Vax out of it just in time and he was able to join the fight against the Briarwoods once again.
Pike and Sylas… I mean…. there are no words for how epic this rematch was. Pikey really showcased her strengths, hopping around the battlefield like a little Yoda, and loading up a spirit bomb to wreck Sylas. Such classic anime vibes. Pike really gets the attention she deserves in this animated series. It was much harder to pinpoint Pike’s power in the stream with Ashley gone for huge chunks of the episodes, or dealing with crappy wifi connection and bad audio. I’m so glad that new fans get to meet this version of Pike first before meeting the Chroma Conclave fights.
Percy’s struggle against Orthax reaches a new boiling point as he’s torn between killing Delilah and Sylas while also trying to find a way to get out of having to kill Cassandra. Vox Machina is helpless to watch as Percy loses himself to Orthax’s hunger.
Vecna and the endgame arc got a couple more hints in this episode. Delilah spoke the names of Thar Amphala and Entropis during her summoning spells. Long time fans of the show are getting so hyped for the Vecna arc, while new fans will enjoy going back to season 1 to catch all the hints they missed the first time through.
Of course, we have to finish with Keyleth’s fantastic call to action moment. She falters briefly with her insecurity as she watches her friends fall under the Briarwoods vicious attacks. She takes Pike’s words to heart though and digs deep to unleash the most powerful spell we’ve seen from her yet. I loved that call back moment of her drawing strength from Pike’s words, and realizing that the Sun Tree was calling out to her for help. Beautiful character development. I am thankful that we get this wonderfully distilled version of Keyleth in the animated series. I think Marisha got so much hate for her role playing in the stream, and the animators were able to cut through all the fumbling, awkward interruptions, and missed cues to bring us this version of Keyleth that perfectly encapsulates what Marisha wanted to bring to the stream.
After Keyleth’s deadly sunbeam spell, we get that delicious Delilah breakdown when she realizes her precious Sylas is gone. With Vecna summoned, then seemingly noping out of the Ziggurat without giving Delilah what she wants, we finally see a devastated and destroyed version of Delilah. In a shocking, but surprisingly heartbreaking, twist Delilah manages to kill a member of Vox Machina with a powerful Finger of Death spell. Now, long time fans were surprised when it wasn’t Vex who fell to Delilah in this fight, but a self sacrificing Keyleth. I think the writers made a great choice in changing up this little detail. As harrowing and emotional a scene as Vex’s near death might have been, the story and inter-character relationships were shifted to make way for Vex and Keyleth to repair their friendship.
The lead in to the final episode had me so pumped to finally see Percy and Orthax face off. As interesting as it was to watch Percy’s dynamic with Orthax change over many, many episodes on the stream, it is so much more impactful to see it happen so violently over the course of 6-7 episodes. I love that the animation aspect of the show is really able to play up the intensity and drama of Percy’s pact with Orthax and show a more ‘out-of-control’ character than we saw on stream.
Episode 12: The Darkness Within
Between this episode and the last, we really got to see peak action-style anime at its best. The epic Briarwood fight wowed us with how strong Vox Machina is getting, then we get to see Vox Machina vs Percy/Orthax in a more emotionally driven fight, and finally that insane teaser for season two as four ancient dragons swoop down onto Emon.
There were a few minor story changes again in this episode, but it only served to build a more linear and cohesive story. I preferred to see the Orthax fight play out the way it did on screen. It was a more impactful fight to have Percy be on his own, unknowingly attacking his friends than to see Orthax forcibly exorcised and have the entire group whump on him (especially coming fresh off the epic ensemble fight against the Briarwoods.)
The action shots in this episode were incredible. I still get chills when I see the episode thumb nail and all the fan art of Percy and Orthax. It’s great to see so many different types of action shots and animation styles throughout the series that really showcase how amazing the animators at Titmouse are. We got a chase scene fight, a haunted wight battle, Scanlan’s solo adventure, Vox Machina crushing the Briarwoods, the mind-bendy Orthax fight, and a cool look at possible 3-D arial fight scenes with the chroma conclave. Each fight had its own unique flavor that really brought to life Mercer’s talents at building encounters.
The denouement after the Orthax fight set up some good story lines for season 2. Cassandra and Percy finding the strength to rule Whitestone again. I loved the moment when Percy told Cassandra that the people will look to her more than him because they know exactly what she survived and that her time with the Briarwoods did not make her weak in their eyes.
Ripley escaping, with the knowledge of how to build her own version of Percy’s weapon might make an appearance in season 2. It’s hard to tell just how much they’ll be able to get done if they keep season 2 at 12 episodes. There’s double the amount of episodes to cover in the Chroma Conclave arc to try and jam into only 12 episodes.
I love that Scanlan got to keep his moment of throwing Percy’s gun into the acid. I’m so glad it made the cut! Grog picking up Craven Edge also has me excited for possible future hilarity. I’m so desperate to see if his scene talking to Craven Edge in the outhouse makes the cut. I was just the teeniest bit sad that we didn’t get Mercer voicing the Sun Tree! They let that moment of silence stretch on just long enough to have me thinking they might actually do it. But alas, maybe they felt that was one step too far towards silly after such an action packed few episodes. Who knows, maybe we’ll get some kind of teaser next season.
Finally, the last 5 minutes of the episode that had every Critter on the edge of their seat! Our first glance at the fully assembled Chroma Conclave. I’d love to see some reactions or reviews from first time viewers on their thoughts about the episode’s end. Was it enough to just see the dragons headed our way? Would you liked to have seen or heard Thordak up close? My initial impression was that it was just enough of a teaser to get me buzzing for season 2! But I’m wondering if that’s because I know exactly what’s coming our way. Either way, Episode 1 of season 2 is sure to leave us slack-jawed and breathless.
No news yet on the release of a second season. Through all of the behind the scenes though, the crew have said they were able to jump right into season 2 without any delays so hopefully we have some good news soon! I can’t imagine they’ll want to wait too long to drop the next season and then take a bit of a longer break if the show is picked up for a third season. What a wild ride! I can’t believe how amazing the series is and how well it’s been received by everyone. They weren’t lying when they said they were going to make something they were proud of. Season 2 is going to be wall to wall insanity and I can’t wait to go along for the ride. Until next time Critters! Is it Thursday yet?