Critical Role: Stone to Clay
January 20, 2020 8:31 PM - Season 2, Episode 91 - Subscribe

The Mighty Nein spend some time at home connecting with an ally, while the answer to once-distant goals comes rapidly into view...
posted by nubs (8 comments total)
Not gonna lie, I watched the first half of the episode clutching my pillow the entire time.
posted by dinty_moore at 7:10 AM on January 21, 2020

Felt like a lot of insight checks.

But it seems like Essek is genuine in seeking their friendship, rather than the spymaster trying to gain their confidence? I hope so anyways. But the M9 seemed kind of happy to be able to share some of their secrets, anyways; and Essek was also rather open (though a masterspy would be able to play this game well). I know last episode set the record for Mercer facepalms, but I felt like this episode was close - until I checked critrolestats - only 5, compared to twenty for e90. I guess I'm just paying more attention to them.

I'm pretty sure we had learned that the Beacons only captured souls for reincarnation within a certain distance before, but hearing about it makes me think that the CA has either figured out a way to fuck with that process and is sending back a Beacon that is trapped in some way. I first thought that maybe the talks were an elaborate plan to lure high ranking members of the Dynasty far enough away from a real Beacon to kill them, but the way the talks are being planned would make it seem rather pointless/shortsighted, I think.
posted by nubs at 7:49 AM on January 21, 2020 [1 favorite]

This episode might be one of my all-time favorites. I love that MIX makes the story of a dinner party and a hot-tub soak so deeply engrossing, suspenseful, and satisfying! Part of my happiness might be the fact that I find Essek fascinating (sidebar: best ever fan-art), and I'm really glad they got a chance to finally talk with him and find out more about what makes him tick. I don't think we've plumbed the depths of Essek yet -- I expect he has a few secrets left -- but he seems to be genuinely building trust with the Nein. I like that trust, too -- they've been so isolated for so long that it makes me happy to see them reaching out to others, like Yussa and Essek.

Over on the critrole reddit, someone commented that this episode was also a masterful DM move by Mercer -- after a couple of relatively directionless episodes, he helped the team refocus on their goals, while still moving the story forward. I couldn't agree more.

AND ... oh my god, the transformation spell! That whole last third of the episode had me teary-eyed and unable to turn away. When Sam gets real, he gets really real -- it slays me. I can't wait for next Thursday.
posted by ourobouros at 12:50 PM on January 21, 2020 [2 favorites]

after a couple of relatively directionless episodes, he helped the team refocus on their goals, while still moving the story forward. I couldn't agree more.

Yes, I think in the intervening week he decided to have Essek return and accept the invitation for dinner as a means of allowing the players a chance to (a) get an ally inside the Dynasty and (b) give them some information to help them focus on their next steps a bit more concretely (I think Sam has also been trying to do that, but it's hard for one of the players to do that, especially when the character is Nott who has not really been a leader of the group). There's part of me that wants to suggest that Essek is playing a game on them and will betray them at some point, but I don't think Matt is going to play that card much this campaign - the high level of ambiguity in everything means that when they do find an ally/friend, they need to feel confidence in it. I could be wrong - there's such a high level of trust between all the players that I feel like Matt could pull almost anything out of the hat.
posted by nubs at 2:17 PM on January 21, 2020 [1 favorite]

This was the "I want to give Essek a hug" episode for me.
posted by tautological at 6:04 PM on January 21, 2020 [2 favorites]

At one point I exclaimed "he also has daddy issues!"

(not saying this is the only reason why it happened and I also enjoyed the loredump, but this was also a great way for Matt to talk about some of the stuff that's coming up in Explorer's Guide to Wildemount)

I think at this point, Essek has to be at least mostly genuine - for one thing, it wouldn't be fun if he wasn't. The party hasn't had that many people they felt like they could trust, they insight checked the hell out of him and trusted him afterwards - if Matt set up Essek to betray them later and they would have had to roll, like, a 30 to find that information out, it'd feel kind of mean to the players.

I'm trying to figure out if Travis was really surprised by the Clay/Stone revelation, or if he was just acting. I feel like they've talked about it before. . .
posted by dinty_moore at 6:54 AM on January 22, 2020

I'm trying to figure out if Travis was really surprised by the Clay/Stone revelation, or if he was just acting.

On Talks, Travis said he genuinely didn't hear it before, likely because he was video-chatting in for the session where it came up.
posted by ourobouros at 11:40 AM on January 23, 2020 [1 favorite]

I was initially very chary of Nott's story at the beginning, because it seemed pretty trans adjacent and I didn't much trust Sam Riegel. But by this episode though I was really crying. (Not that it's difficult to make me do that.)
posted by fleacircus at 5:48 PM on June 14, 2021

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