Delicious in Dungeon: Shapeshifter
May 3, 2024 1:37 AM - Season 1, Episode 18 - Subscribe

Following a trail of blood, Team Touden travels to the sixth floor - the castle waterways, and the site of their loss to the red dragon. But when a surprising chill forces them to take shelter in an abandoned oubliette, they soon find that me's a crowd as there's now a bunch of copies - both credible and not...

After the intensity of the prior episode, we get a bit more lighthearted this one, with us getting to see how each of the members of Team Touden see each other.

Proceeding to the stairs to the sixth floor, the party finds fresh bloodmarks on the ground - a sign that Falin, wounded after her clash with the three parties, has retreated to heal. Descending to the sixth floor, they find that the waterways are filled with a preternatural chill - a difference from the humid and warm environment they had the last time when they wound up confronting the red dragon. Chilchuck notes that given how the dungeon shifts to the desires of the Mad Mage, the temperature dropping isn't that surprising. Unfortunately, the snow does pose a different problem - it's making the blood trail harder to follow.

Moving on, Chilchuck points out that if the cleaners haven't gotten to it, they could potentially recover their lost gear, but Laios is more concerned for his sister given the cold. Chilchuck responds by pointing out that given he said they would take down the Mad Mage to Shuro, he does have a plan, right? With this, we get Team Touden putting together several pieces that were set up previously - Falin's mention of searching for King Delgal being a part of the geas on the dragon, and Marcille filling in the details on the king, as well as Laios mentioning his appearance when the dungeon was discovered. Laios also mentioned what he learned about the fall of the Golden Kingdom in the paintings, as well as his run-in with the Mad Mage - which prompts a pelting of snowballs from the halffoot for not telling them these key details. This brings up the matter of his age - the fall of the Golden Kingdom was a millennium ago, and elves don't have that long a lifespan (topping out at about 500 years.) Chilchuck states that he could be using magic to sustain himself, to which Marcille says that wouldn't work - it would be like feeding yourself with your own flesh. Laios wonders if it's possible to engage in parley with the Mad Mage to show that they're not threats (not really considering what a thousand years focused on "protecting the king" would do to anyone's psyche.)

The cold and snow soon become a blizzard, and with sight reduced to almost nothing, Laios calls for the party to link hands - though in the process there's a fifth hand involved. Pulling the party through the storm, Laios finds a side tunnel where they can take shelter - though it's dark. Taking roll call, Laios then calls for light, seeing they're in an abandoned prison...though the bigger issue is that there's now four of each of the members of Team Touden. That said, they're clearly not perfect copies - in fact, some of the doppelgangers are blatantly such - and we find out why as Laios explains how shapeshifters work - they create copies of people based on the memories of the target, and since memory is imperfect, so are the copies. The best example of this are the copies of Laios - being a very...distinct person, his copies are the most blatantly such. There are other copies that fall into that category, like a very haughty elf stereotype of Marcille born from Senshi's cultural preconceptions, and a childlike Chilchuck born from his seeing the halffoot as a child. So with that, the party locks up all the blatant copies...but they're still left with the less blatant ones. Worse, the only member that they know is the right one is Laios, not the most observant when it comes to people. So his answer is very Delicious in Dungeon - its time for a cookoff, with Laios judging, observing their technique.

Needless to say, the rest of Team Touden have...concerns about this, given that Laios is, well...Laios.

With that, though, the cookoff begins, and Laios watches the others, seeing how they execute their dishes as the pairs work together. Needless to say, the pairs working together soon show differences, but they're also the sorts that can be explained away, just making the job harder for the tallman. With the food prepared, Laios feels at a complete loss, as he's not able to say definitively, but when he thinks on "finding a monster", he's able to get out his rulings - and amazingly, he actually gets it right! That said, these clones aren't going down without a fight, and demand that Laios explain his logic. But when Laios says it's based on a feeling, the clones attack their originals - the situation he wanted to avoid. But thinking on the monster aspect further, he tried to figure out what could be the underlying threat - it's clear that the actual monster was waiting in the shadows, stalking, hunting them. And so Laios decides to turn the table on it by showing the monster that it's the prey - by channeling the memories of the various farm and hunting dogs he grew up with to imitate one very convincingly (as you may recall, this was a trait that Falin praised her brother for to Marcille back in school.) With that, his bark startles the actual threat - a kyubi who loses control of their illusion, the clones and the food turning into leaves as the monstrous fox growls at Laios in canid agression, the two amping themselves up into a bloody clash of fang and claw...

...which is ended unceremoniously as one rather annoyed Marcille solves the problem by going YOUR HEAD A SPLODE to the kyubi, ending its threat (and knocking Laios on his back.) Chilchuck walks over to ask if everything is alright in Laios' head, as he was going to attack the kyubi as if he was a dog, to which the tallman sheepishly admits he got overly into the role. And with the "food" they cooked now turned to leaves, the party proceeds to remake the meal with real food. As they prepare the meal, Laios explains that what caught his attention was their sense of "monster awareness" - the fake Chilchuck sat on a box while cooking, something the real one would never do, based on his fear/hate of mimics; the fake Senshi talked about collecting all the harpy eggs, something that the real Senshi wouldn't given his feelings on dungeon ecology; and the real Marcille dumped out the hot water on the floor, even after doing that had almost gotten her killed by an undine...and well, the real Marcille would be that absentminded (a point that she does not take well.) Marcille also notes that the fake mentioned eating fishman eggs (not surprising, as she was from Laios' memories), and she's never done which the rest of the party reacting has her suspicions raised.

With the meal served, they get a treat in a dessert - something that they happily enjoy, but Senshi mentions that some tea would go great - but as he reaches for the provisions that Maizuru provided, it seems to be missing, and a trail of rice leading away. Following it, they find the provisions in an empty cell...and then a scream, as Marcille is now at the mercy of the kunoichi Asabi, who orders them to drop their weapons.

Well, at least now we know where the cat got to.
posted by NoxAeternum (7 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
So, an apology - I wound up needing to take a week break from recapping just to re-energize. I'm going to pick up the schedule from here, but I do reserve the right to pause if I need to take a break again.

So, this was a nice chance to relax from the previous events, and get a bit into Team Touden's head. If you're curious which copies came from which person's memories, Kui has created a cheat sheet which helps explain not only who is connected to who, but why they have the appearances they do.
posted by NoxAeternum at 1:45 AM on May 3 [2 favorites]

Couldn't the real Marcelle prove she was real by doing some magic that would be hard to duplicate, like levitating Laios?
posted by Spike Glee at 6:03 AM on May 3

Hope you're feeling better, Nox.

Where were dwarves tunneling from that they reached the dungeon?

Marcille in the Dub: "our typical lifespan..." Sub: "elves can live..."

When taking roll call, Laios gets two answers each time.

The illusion is fun. Who is who's image? (EVERYONE has a cartoon view of Laios)

Chuck in the Dub: "my neck wrap isn't a scarf" Sub: "my scarf isn't a muffler"

This has to be the tensest recipe we've seen.

The Marcilles (sensibly) grab each other's mouth when they face off.

Laios' dog imitation (mentioned when Marcille was remembering school with Falin) finally pays off!

Oh, there's Asebi!

Couldn't the real Marcelle prove she was real by doing some magic that would be hard to duplicate, like levitating Laios?

You run back into the illusion problem. Remember they thought they were cooking and eating food.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:15 AM on May 3

Where were dwarves tunneling from that they reached the dungeon?

It's not that they were tunneling anywhere, but that the Golden Kingdom is so ancient that it predates the elf/dwarf conflict, and the structure of the castle has both elven and dwarven elements.

Marcille in the Dub: "our typical lifespan..." Sub: "elves can live..."

We're getting close to Marcille's big reveal, which is going to be a major plot point moving forward.

The illusion is fun. Who is who's image? (EVERYONE has a cartoon view of Laios)

Again, it's a great way to show how malleable memory is, and how influenced by cultural ideas they can be (as several of the copies are influenced by cultural preconceptions.)
posted by NoxAeternum at 10:49 AM on May 3

When the illusions dissolved into leaves and Senshi subsequently reached for his bag of tea, I swear I thought he was going to brew up illusion tea.
posted by SPrintF at 11:37 AM on May 3 [5 favorites]

Trigger posted a making of video about the new OP.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 3:54 PM on May 3

Swamp Jawn's take. A lot of outsourcing in this one.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:44 AM on May 6

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