The first season of The Legend of Vox Machina started with Critical Role’s famous and beloved arc of their first campaign, but it was never going to be that. It was always clear that everyone involved wanted to continue adapting the story of Vox Machina beyond the beloved Briarwood arc.
Picking up right where the first season left off, Vox Machina is faced with saving the world again—this time, from a sinister group of dragons known as the Chroma Conclave. But facing adult dragons is not easy, so the group will need all the help they can get to defeat these new foes.
Many Critical Role fans will say that the Briarwood arc is their favourite of the first campaign, but the Chroma Conclave arc always held a special place in my heart. It was the one that got me emotionally invested in all of these characters, and to see it adapted on the small screen was just something that I could not wait for. Plus, who isn’t a sucker for dragons?
Unlike the first season, which focused heavily on Percy De Rolo (Taliesin Jaffe) – with good reasons, after all – the second season of the show (just like the arc itself) lets every other member of Vox Machina shine and have their moments.
Backstories are explored and developed for every member of Vox Machina, with their past coming to the forefront. Like in the campaign, every member of Vox Machina gets to shine, and the show is better for it.
But just like the first season, the show understands when to deviate from its source material by expanding on or changing things. The most apparent change arrives towards the middle of the season with the splitting of Feywild’s story for Keyleth (Marisha Ray), Vex (Laura Bailey), Vax (Liam O’Brien), Percy and the Westruun’s story for Pike (Ashley Johnson), Grog (Travis Willingham) and Scanlan (Sam Riegel).
There is a saying when playing D&D about never splitting the party. It’s a running joke – that they even use during the first season – but separating the party in a television show is sometimes necessary. And this is the reason why splitting Vox Machina and doing both storylines simultaneously instead of one after the other, like in the series, is essential. Because not only does it make for good television, but it brings every character their moments. The first campaign is massive, and with so much content, not everything can make it in but sometimes playing it intelligently by merging and advancing stories makes for a better story.
The show brings more of everyone’s favourite NPCs to the forefront this season. Especially with the arrival of fan favourites Kashaw and Zahra (Will Friedle and Mary Elizabeth McGlynn reprising their characters from the campaign). It’s excellent side characters that make this show so fun. Yes, Vox Machina is great fun to watch, but when you see them interact with the world that Matt Mercer created and the NPCs that he brought to life, the show shines. Whether it’s Troy Baker as the twin’s father, Syldor or Billy Boyd as Garmelie, the show knows which NPCs to pick and choose to keep.
I have watched – and rewatched – hours on hours of Critical Role. I know the stories of all these characters and see where the story is going, but nothing could have emotionally prepared me for episode three, “The Sunken Tomb,” even when I knew what would happen. It’s probably the show’s best episode and launches some of the most important stories of the Chroma Conclave arc. I won’t spoil it, but it was so emotional that even as someone who knew what would happen, as the credits rolled, I was in tears.
What makes this animated series, so fun is that there is something there for everyone. Critters get to see it adapted, but also have some fun surprises in there; those who might have wanted to follow Critical Role but have not been able to because of the massive length of their show get to enjoy a pretty faithful adaptation, and those who have no idea about the series get a pretty great animated series. It’s the best of all worlds.
The Legend of Vox Machina season two on Prime Video stars streaming January 20th, 2023.