Things have certainly picked up as the first season of Critical Role’s Prime Video series has moved past their halfway point. As the back half of the season kicks off, events are beginning to unfold as the group of plucky, would-be heroes has continued their attempt to restore Percival’s ancestral home of Whitestone from the villainous horrors known as the Briarwoods. As this season has continued exploring this part of Vox Machina’s story, it’s become increasingly obvious that this show has found its footing, bringing so much of what made the streamed game so rewarding into this medium.
The fight against the Briarwoods is coming to a head, as Vox Machina has joined forces with the Whitestone Resistance, helping lead a rebellion against the forces that have held back and destroyed their city for so long. It leads to some of the most impactful and impressive moments of the show, a handful of which were adapted directly from the source material.
Speaking of the source material, The Legend of Vox Machina has gotten to the point in the show where it really starts to play the hits, so to speak. There are so many incredible moments in the first campaign that fans were looking to see brought to life, and the series doesn’t disappoint. Moments of absolute dumb luck and insane ideas, something that are a staple in tabletop games, are on full display here, brought forth as just that: lucky and insane. They are executed in such a way that they’re a wonderful treat for those of us who have spent so long watching the streamed game, but not so insular that fans who haven’t devoted that huge amount of time to the first campaign can’t understand and enjoy it.
The scales are tipping a bit more in the former’s direction, however. With more and more of the events of the series coming to life in the animated series, it feels like having that prior knowledge really elevates the experience. While I have an obvious bias towards that since I’ve spent the time to watch campaign one, I think the surprise of the unknown is outweighed by the idea of knowing what’s coming, but wanting to see how they pull it off in another medium.
That being said, the praise for this series is well deserved. There are incredible moments, jokes that really feel well-paced, and a story that is unfolding in an engaging way. Having such a massive runway to work from seems to really help this show take the important moments and bring them front and center, condensing the four-hour-per-episode tabletop game and injecting it with haste and clarity without sacrificing plot. With the finale episodes coming next week, it will be interesting to see how they close this arc out while still leaving the space to build towards the second season.