Previously on The Legend of Vox Machina, people everywhere were introduced to the chaotic yet loveable adventuring band from the dungeons and dragons group, Critical Role. After an overwhelmingly positive reception, it was clear that this new adult animation was here to stay. While jokes flowed and the action commenced, the seven primary characters were established in a ‘session 0’ of sorts through the first three episodes. The soon-to-be heroes of Exandria are still rough around the edges but their intergroup dynamics are endearing as the group is fierce. Their even surface-level introduction shows the promise of quirky and exciting stories to be told. However, the expectation of quirky and exciting stories quickly gave way to ominously dark foreboding with the introduction of the dreaded Briarwoods.
The next trio of episodes of The Legend of Vox Machina wastes no time jumping back into the story. Following the battle with Sylas (Matthew Mercer) and Deliah (Grey DeLisle) Briarwood, the members of Vox Machina are sentenced to house arrest while an investigation is conducted into the group’s claims that Sovereign Uriel (Khary Payton) is under Briarwood influence. After the Briarwoods fled, they are made aware that Deliah’s book has been taken by the band and they are determined to retrieve it lest Vox Machina uncovers their secrets.
Back at their keep, the members of Vox Machina try and decide what their next actions will be. The group is still reeling from the interaction with the Briarwoods but all eyes of on Percy (Taliesin Jaffe). His maiming of the Briarwood driver, the smoke monster, the mask, all of it needs an explanation. Percy informs the group about the true nature of the Briarwoods and what they did to his home of Whitestone.
This is The Legend of Vox Machina‘s first true into the past of one of its titular characters and it isn’t pretty. It really establishes this series is not going to shy away from the brutality that evil characters in The Legend of Vox Machina are capable of. While Vox Machina may not be the pillars of good just yet but it is clear that the Lord and Lady are pure evil.
This made even more evident when the Brairwoods unleashed ghostly creatures to attack Vox Machina and retrieve Deliah’s book. The animation for these ghosts is terrifying. The way in which their ghastly entities battle the group gives some gruesome kills to the guards and puts more than one of our heroes on the brink of death. Following the battle, it is clear it is time for Vox Machina to go on the offensive. The Briarwood Arc is now in full swing. While in Whitestone, the clouds grow even darker as the group sees the cruelty of the Brairwoods first hand.
Where episodes 4 through 6 of The Legend of Vox Machina shine is in the pacing. The Legend of Vox Machina is able to weave action, jokes, and character moments seamlessly as if you are really watching a campaign of dungeons and dragons play out. The action is followed by spurts of character interaction that give hints of the direction character dynamics will take. The campfire deep dives are present here like any campaign and give more and more insight into our adventuring party.
Keyleth (Marisha Ray) has a connection to her people that makes her more than a regular adventurer and may have a future relationship with another member of the crew. Grog (Travis Willingham) and Pyke (Ashley Johnson) have a much closer relationship initially expected. Further, The Legend of Vox Machina provides a deeper look at where Pyke went while Ashley Johnson had to step away from the table during the campaign. Vex (Laura Bailey) and Vax (Liam O’Brien) may not be as cold and callous as we thought. Scanlan (Sam Riegel) may be the group jester but is no less invested than the rest. And Percy… well Percy is in for a ROUGH couple of episodes.
The Brairwood Arc during the Critical Role stream only lasted fifteen episodes but had some of the darkest moments in all of the campaign. Episodes 4 through 6 of The Legend of Vox Machina have already begun to bring those scenes to life. In truth, many of the scenes are even darker animated. The format allows for the viewer to see behind the curtain for what the Brairwoods were doing while Vox Machina was on the road to Whitestone. Further, the animation style and music add an extra layer of terror and uncertainty in the episodes’ biggest moments. If you are squeamish with child death, may this be a content warning as the Brairwoods are not. Fans of the stream will remember the infamous Sun Tree at the center of Whitestone. All I can say is prepare yourself.
Overall, this week’s batch of episodes establishes that in The Legend of Vox Machina, there is more than just fun in this fantasy series. While the references to dungeons and dragons are still present (campfire talks, pre-mission planning that never works, repeated failed ability checks, etc) and a few callback jokes are thrown in here are there, I don’t think it will distract at all for the average viewer.
The only issue that may be present is Pyke’s absences moving forward as it may be jarring for the uninitiated to see Pyke leave at different intervals. Despite this, the table saw more than their fair share of horror-filled moments during this arc and The Legend of Vox Machina isn’t going to leave anything out. The arc’s biggest moments are yet to come and if this week is any indication, none of us, not even longtime fans of Critical Role are ready for what’s next.
The Legend of Vox Machina Episodes 4-6 are streaming now on Prime Video.
The Legend of Vox Machina Episodes 4 - 6
…This week’s batch of episodes establishes that in The Legend of Vox Machina, there is more than just fun in this fantasy series…The only issue that may be present is Pyke’s absences moving forward as it may be jarring for the uninitiated to see Pyke leave at different intervals. Despite this, the table saw more than their fair share of horror-filled moments during this arc and The Legend of Vox Machina isn’t going to leave anything out. The arc’s biggest moments are yet to come and if this week is any indication, none of us, not even longtime fans of Critical Role are ready for what’s next.