Please note: This article is spoiler free for episodes 7-9 of Critical Role: Vox Machina Origins, but does contain spoilers for previous episodes. But don’t worry, you can find our spoiler-free impressions of episodes 1-6 here.
Troubles continue to mount for Vox Machina the more they learn about Whitesteone in Critical Role: The Legend of Vox Machina. Battered, bruised, but determined, the party, still far from a cohesive family unit, struggles to construct a plan to save Cassandra- Percy’s sister, long assumed to be dead. Percy reluctantly provides details around his past, both his childhood, the story of how the Briarwoods seized power, as well as the creation of his signature weapon: Pepperbox.
Scanlan strikes out on a solo mission, which goes exactly as comically, chaotically wrong as it should, creating a distraction while also including several iconic scenes from the streamed session. Rolls to hit, dinosaurs, and lightning all cleverly coalesce into a dramatic and intense arc which reminds us that Scanlan is a dedicated member of Vox Machina, and good for more than just a raunchy joke. Though the raunchy joke definitely helps.
With a distraction in place, the party charges forward with their rescue mission, at least until they are, once again, confronted with their greatest enemy: a door. Hilarious banter ensues, meaningful glances are exchanged, violence occurs, and absolutely nothing goes as planned. Meanwhile, Pike continues her efforts to reconnect with the Everlight in a surprisingly empowering arc. We also get a glimpse into the origins of Sylas and Delilah Briarwood, the villainous power couple that the Internet loves… and maybe doesn’t hate quite as much as they feel they should?
If it seems like I’m being incredibly vague about a number of points, that’s because I am. A whole lot happens, and so much of it would be spoiled with just a few key words. It certainly keeps up the tone of the pace, humor, and violence set by the first six episodes, but in typical Critical Role fashion, always finds a way to rapidly escalate.
As expected, Percy and Scanlan continue to shine in these episodes, with Grog providing his unique brand of clueless humor. I was surprised by just how many opportunities these episodes made me feel for Pike and Keyleth. My comments from before still stand: I continue to feel that the romances are a little rushed, and I would love a few more quiet moments to let things settle, but these are minor points overall. There were a few emotionally-charged moments where characters seemed oddly absent for a few noticeable moments where a little sound design, such as a ringing in the ears or the thudding of a heartbeat would have done wonders to help explain their inaction. And while there are no shortage of enemies for the party to face off with in Whitestone, the rebels felt oddly understaffed, or at least experts at not appearing on screen. While I’m sure this was the result of budgetary constraints, it leaves the numbers and status of the rebellion uncertain and confusing, a distraction from the hopeless situation Vox Machina finds themselves in.
Stepping away from the events of the show and into a little commentary for a moment, watching The Legend of Vox Machina keeps making me yearn to watch the original stream. Key moments are portrayed so well in the animation, but they also, for very valid reasons, lack the player reactions to that moment, and as a fan of both the characters and the players, I can’t help but feel that I’m missing half the joy of the moment. Take the revelation that the Briarwoods are in town, for example. It’s a good moment in the show, but my real joy came from watching Taliesin freeze in his seat and blink rapidly for several, very long seconds as he, as a player, tried to process all of the implications of their arrival. Another such moment happens in this arc, and I am going to be heading to Youtube as soon as I finish typing this article to experience one of the more delightful out-of-character reactions in the series.
Can’t get enough Critical Role? Check out our interview where we talk about The Legend of Vox Machina with Matt Mercer and the cast of Critical Role. Episodes 7-9 of Critical Role: The Legend of Vox Machina premiers exclusively on Prime Video on Friday, February 11th.