The Adventure Zone: Ep. 69. Story and Song - Finale, Part Three
August 17, 2017 9:03 AM - Subscribe

Our heroes reach their journey's end. Additional Music by Reeder:
posted by Tevin (44 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I'm so excited, it is killing me to be at work and not able to listen to the whole thing immediately. I mean, I could put my headphones and listen as I work, but I'd just be sitting here crying at my desk the whole time and it wouldn't be a good look.

I've been going back and listening to the first few episodes and I'm blown away by how the whole thing started as a casual silly time-waster that none of them took seriously, and it evolved into this amazing gigantic thing that all four guys are clearly pouring their hearts into. I have so much admiration for these guys and their work.
posted by beandip at 9:21 AM on August 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

I don't think there's was any other piece of media in 2017 whose release I've more anticipated and dreaded at the same time.
posted by bigendian at 9:46 AM on August 17, 2017 [3 favorites]

Ingeniously, it turns out the bond thing from the lost century manages to make pure fanservice an integral part of the game.
posted by maxsparber at 11:57 AM on August 17, 2017 [11 favorites]

"I tried to make you proud."
posted by Tevin at 12:59 PM on August 17, 2017 [5 favorites]

I can't wait for the commute home. But it will also be the last one with TAZ as it is now - unfinished, full of potential and surprises and possibility. So I'm also dreading it a little.
posted by nubs at 1:17 PM on August 17, 2017

Wow this was, this was something. I still can't believe how invested I've become -nothing has made me tear up more.

If I were to nitpick, final boss was too final bossy and I would've liked a more inventive solution than Keep Hitting Hard, but the bond payoff was amazing and the right kind of fanservice. Sometimes kitch and straight forward can really really hit the mark.

And they all shone huh? Taako got his one liners and was generally slick, Merle got to tell Griffin he was proud/happy for him in game with the scrying bones, and Magnus... That ending...

Tearing up thinking about it. It feels weird for it all to be over (maybe a little unsatisfied? Maybe this wasn't the tightest end ever?) but so so happy to have been given the chance to join this incredible ride.
posted by litleozy at 1:59 PM on August 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

posted by robocop is bleeding at 2:14 PM on August 17, 2017 [3 favorites]

I'm right there with you, litleozy. I think part 1 and 2 of the finale just pushed expectations through the roof a bit, but I'm still happy with how it turned out. The bonds were great, the fanservice likewise, and all of the boys goof and back-reference a little.

And I liked the final boss battle, even though pure fighting has always been the least interesting aspect for me. Just the giddiness in Griffin's voice throughout most of the episode was very infectious. (And once again, I feel like in some parts Griffin was speaking as Griffin to his family and not to their characters, but maybe that's just me.)

The Magnus episode towards the end made me legitimately cry, and ending the three-year story with Carey and Killian's wedding felt (to me) like Griffin wanted to make good (one final time) on how he handled the relationship of Hurley and Sloane almost two years ago (wow). (Again, maybe I'm just reading too much into things. After all Carey and Killian have been two of the more prominent NPCs and part of the universe for a long time.)

The bit of banter at the far end of the episode was really nice too. Oh and I can't imagine that this three-part-finale would have worked nearly half as well without the often criticized Stolen Century arc.

A few things are still a bit unclear to me, still, so I guess I'll listen to it a second time soonish.
posted by bigendian at 3:07 PM on August 17, 2017 [4 favorites]

Yeah, the Magnus part made me well up despite the part of me that was yelling about despots and forgotten memories and so on.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 3:31 PM on August 17, 2017 [2 favorites]


[really. I enjoyed it. I cared about the characters, I was surprised by some of the story beats, I definitely got my money's worth. Good on ya' boys.]
posted by DigDoug at 4:41 PM on August 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

They played D&D so hard that they made themselves cry. I binged the podcast pretty hard over the past week or so, and it was all fresh in my mind. I cried a bit, too. It's amazing how they turned this into a fantasy epic.

A bit sad that Lup never got her $15 from Greg Grimaldis, though.
posted by Jugwine at 5:36 PM on August 17, 2017 [3 favorites]

I'm not crying you're crying!

I like to think Jeremy "Scales" Fangbattle was at the wedding providing the music, but then again maybe he mysteriously got the wrong address?

The McElroys and Griffin especially really made an outstanding thing over the last few years. "Ending with a wedding" and "Reunion with dead spouse in the afterlife" are individually probably the most schmaltzy ways to end a story, but dammit it's 2017 and the world is going to shit so I need a goddamn happy ending. Thank you.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 6:43 PM on August 17, 2017 [4 favorites]

Technically it ended with an memory-eating astral jellyfish floating beyond the stars, which Shakespeare only used once
posted by theodolite at 6:45 PM on August 17, 2017 [16 favorites]

One last massive laugh from the Time Reversal Orb, and one really ugly cry from Magnus' reward. A fine finale.
posted by Iridic at 7:08 PM on August 17, 2017

Underrated Travis goof: "You did it, you solved my goading puzzle!"
posted by jason_steakums at 7:36 PM on August 17, 2017 [5 favorites]


Secondly, this took me a lot of wine to get through properly, and that feels right.

Thirdly, the moment that really made me tear up (unexpectedly as it's a character I didn't have much emotional involvement for before) was when Ditto made clear how much happiness Lucretia found in providing good deeds to a world she knew wouldn't be taken away from her. Holy shit that fits all we knew of her character and almost justifies everything else she did before.

Fourthly: did anyone else really expect Merle to summon John with his bonds?

Finally: Kinda doubt Griffin or any of Tres Horny Boys are ready this, but GREAT JOB! :hand: :hand:
posted by Navelgazer at 9:07 PM on August 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

One of the things I loved about this episode is how little innocuous things sneak up on you and get you choked up, like just the line re: Angus "he joins the soccer team."

Why am I so proud of this little fictional boy detective
posted by jason_steakums at 9:41 PM on August 17, 2017 [6 favorites]

I liked how they ended it with a couple moments of MBMBAM as a palate cleanser.
Anyone else notice there was a unusually tense energy in the room that reminded me of when one person in a group is in a bad mood and the others are trying and failing to keep the group mood bouyant. It has been a rough two weeks for everyone and especially half the group and it really seemed psychically present.
posted by bleep at 11:29 PM on August 17, 2017

Really looking forward to The The Adventure Zone Zone next week.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 2:38 AM on August 18, 2017 [5 favorites]

If I were to nitpick, final boss was too final bossy and I would've liked a more inventive solution than Keep Hitting Hard, but the bond payoff was amazing and the right kind of fanservice.

I mean, it had to be that, especially if you are familiar with Griffin's taste in JRPG video games. A final boss battle with a "surprise" final form (fucking Sephijohn killed me) assisted by sub-enemies with buff/heal/party attack powers where the party is granted a new Summon attack after they "die" is just the most Griffin thing ever, and you could absolutely tell through his voice just how much fun he had creating and running that battle. Some masterful GMing in that battle as well. Griffin is not the best GM, in my mind (though he has proven himself to be a genius-level storyteller), but there was some deft work there, including getting the game-breakingly OP Sword of Doom out of Magnus' hands early, and inventing a Summon attack that pretty much ensured that the party would win but also felt risky (I don't think they ever failed a roll vs Bond to summon, but I wonder what Griffin had planned if they did. An enemy Summon?) and well-earned.

I think maybe if the world (and his personal/professional life) were in a different place Griffin might have been more willing to go for a darker ending, but given the whole *waves hands to encompass everything* I can understand why a happy, satisfying ending was important. Regardless, this was a great and good and fitting and very well-done finale. They should all be very very proud of themselves, and I'm really excited to see where they go next.
posted by Rock Steady at 5:59 AM on August 18, 2017 [3 favorites]

I'm really excited to see where they go next

*makes a circle out of dice and playing cards, lights candles, sets a photo of the McElroy family and a copy of Deadlands in the center*

c'mon do it i need weird west clint and travis
posted by jason_steakums at 7:04 AM on August 18, 2017 [3 favorites]

I'm so glad they're going to be posting some live shows right away. It would have been so much harder to say goodbye, without knowing there will be more of Taking, Merle and Magnus right away.

posted by meese at 7:54 AM on August 18, 2017 [3 favorites]

The indescribable and unknowable form of Garfield the Deals Warlock...

(Except that, as a number of redditors noted, it is now confirmed that Garfield has thighs. Expect those to feature prominently in the upcoming fan art.)
posted by Navelgazer at 8:15 AM on August 18, 2017 [3 favorites]

it is now confirmed that Garfield has thighs

It is the worst body part to confirm that an indescribable form actually has.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:31 AM on August 18, 2017 [5 favorites]

I mean we don’t even know how many
posted by Rock Steady at 10:29 AM on August 18, 2017 [8 favorites]

Did something awful happen? Is there something about the MBMBaM tv show move to VRV that you all are talking about? Or are we talking about the general miasma of living In the US right now?

>Fourthly: did anyone else really expect Merle to summon John with his bonds?

I was astonished that he didn't. Taako would have, if he'd had the backstory to justify it.
posted by tchemgrrl at 1:09 PM on August 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

Did something awful happen? Is there something about the MBMBaM tv show move to VRV that you all are talking about? Or are we talking about the general miasma of living In the US right now?

I think mainly the Nick Robinson thing (which, sorry to be the bearer of really disappointing news if you were a fan of the Griffin & Nick duo who missed it).
posted by jason_steakums at 1:29 PM on August 18, 2017

I was prepared to be mad because I was expecting either Lucretia or Davenport to go down in a tragic blaze of glory; Lucretia as part of a redemption arc and Davenport because of how much focus Griffin had put on the notion that the mission was his identity. I figured that anyone in a non-heteronormative relationship was probably safe because Ditto still feels bad about the (now resurrected) Hurley and Sloan. It may have been an easy out for everyone to live, but it felt earned.

I would have enjoyed a post-script on the life of Klarg and his bugbear family, and on Steven the goldfish, and it would have been nice to see Kalen or Greg Grimmaldis get their just deserts, but if Griffin tried to give me everything that I want he'd never be finished.

Times that Parasite Unseen cried during this episode (non-comprehensive, non-chronological):

Griffin and Clint tell each other that they love each other via Mavis and Merle.
Magnus named the best dog in all the world Johan.
For the final time, Magnus rushes in.
Lucretia finding a home that will never be taken from her.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 1:47 PM on August 18, 2017 [7 favorites]

Loved it. I especially like that Angus revealed that he knew about the silver.
posted by drezdn at 2:11 PM on August 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

Can we all stop for a moment and think about the deep compassion and goodness at the heart of Merle? The depth of that character? It doesn't come out much, given the sort of person Merle is, but that last scene with John says so much. So, so much.

Here is this person/thing that has killed you over and over again, that has just battled you and nearly killed you again, who turned into a hideous and terrifying beast, who is threatening to destroy you and everything you love and, well, everything. and after the battle is over, and you find yourself sitting on a beach with this monster, this adversary, this existential threat, you agree to sit and just watch the sunset with him.

You can hear in Merle's voice how much he understands. He doesn't hold it against John. He gets it. You can hear the sympathy and sorrow he holds for John. The compassion.

That scene maybe encapsulates what makes TAZ so special. The implicit but defining assumption that there is always room for compassion and love.

Gah. Now I'm crying again.
posted by meese at 2:29 PM on August 18, 2017 [16 favorites]

I agree that the tone was different from other recent eps. I think it felt serious because they felt like the stakes were high and they wanted to end things just right. My heart is aching because this arc is done, but also I'm looking forward to hearing them play with new games, characters, and settings, where they can be loose and funny and there won't be the same kind of pressure.

I was kind of expecting a scene between Taako and Lucretia. Maybe more like a nod than a hug, but some acknowledgement that Taako respected Lucretia's good intentions at least. I felt like it was foreshadowed in a recent episode when Justin told Travis not to manufacture character growth for him, or something like that. Did I miss something?

I cried extra when Griffin said Neverwinter became a beacon of equality and justice that inspired the rest of the world. These are good good boys doing their best to make a good thing. (And now I'm crying again too.)
posted by beandip at 2:31 PM on August 18, 2017

I was kind of expecting a scene between Taako and Lucretia. Maybe more like a nod than a hug, but some acknowledgement that Taako respected Lucretia's good intentions at least.

On Twitter, I asked if Taako ever forgives Lucretia, using the ttazz tag. I'm just an egg who never posts on Twitter, though. If anyone with some Twitter power wants to ask as well, it might increase the chances of us finding out next week.

Personally, I don't think Taako needs to forgive her or appreciate her intentions. She made him forget his twin sister, after all.
posted by meese at 2:37 PM on August 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

I think we can pretty much assume Taako forgives Lucretia in the context of a story in which the murderous adversary and personification of all badness who ruined everyone's lives for years and years gets to chill on a beach with his friend. I think...Taako and Lucretia are fine.
posted by colorblock sock at 3:45 PM on August 18, 2017 [2 favorites]

Re: did something happen? Mood discussion, I was attributing it to the extremely upsetting news weekend the US had, that folks on twitter were still recovering from by Tuesday (I mean in general). in addition to the personal considerations (the Nick thing... but like that was 2 weeks ago already). Plus yeah, I guess, stakes being high, but I would guess it was a combo of all 3 and more.
posted by bleep at 4:18 PM on August 18, 2017

(the Nick thing... but like that was 2 weeks ago already)

Which, because there was a one week delay in this episode coming out, seems like it would have been right about the time they were recording it.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 4:33 PM on August 18, 2017

Based on Twitter they were recording early this week. I don't know, I didn't really get any weird vibes from this. The most noticeable Nick fallout was the first MBMBAM after where Griffin sounded super tired, and then the Jumbotron to a Nick in this week's MBMBAM.
posted by kmz at 5:28 PM on August 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

Right around when the bonds thing kicked in, as soon as I realized what was going on, I got the exact same sort of full-body tingles that I got from the ending of EarthBound, which may have been one of my favorite endings to anything, ever, for much the same reason.

Boy, this was great. Getting all teary again at the reminders of the beach sunset and “Magnus rushes in.”
posted by DoctorFedora at 6:41 PM on August 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

Listened to this at a listening party. I started sobbing so hard I put my face into my elbow. Then I realized I had cried so much snot into my elbow there wad no elegant way to lift my head without embarrassing myself. I needed this so badly this week.
posted by MaritaCov at 7:12 PM on August 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

I honestly didn't notice any weird vibes and I think it's kind of odd to read politics or their personal lives or whatever into the specific tones of their voices in this fictional story. If anything, it was a seriousness to get it right, a sadness it was ending, and a real emotional attachment to these characters that you were picking up on, all of which seem pretty far for the course.
posted by colorblock sock at 7:26 PM on August 18, 2017 [3 favorites]

Also, their voices were cracking as they cried.
posted by meese at 7:36 PM on August 18, 2017

There's a real good Film Crit Hulk column about the finale!
posted by jason_steakums at 10:59 PM on August 18, 2017 [4 favorites]

I hope when they bring back Tres Horny Boys in future live shows at least some of them take place during the Stolen Century (and guest star Stuart Wellington).
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 12:54 AM on August 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

Finished it off last night. It was great - I enjoyed the fan service bits, I enjoyed the great little gags (perhaps my favourite line was Travis: "Is that it? We were kinda expecting more than one guy."). Loved the epilogue and seeing how everyone landed, especially Magnus and Merle.

Merle became my favourite character along the way somehow; I started the series a little frustrated with Clint for how he approached the game and somewhere along the way - I think when he started work on the graphic novel and realized how much Griffin was pouring into the game - he really stepped it up and rounded Merle out without taking away from what Merle was in the outset. He layered the character. Maybe it's because I'm also playing D&d with my kids that biases me towards seeing how Clint engaged in playing with his kids.

I certainly felt like they were working hard and there was a little bit of stiffness here and there - but I think that's because they all wanted to take this thing that started as a goof that grew into something much bigger, and make sure they stuck the landing. They did that.

Looking forward to what they do next, whatever the system; now they have a feel for what they can do and what they might be able to accomplish, and I think they'll start off from a solid foundation that gives them even better stories.

For those that enjoyed this and might want some other D&D podcasts that are fun, I'm looking forward to Podcasts of Annihilation wherein several of the real-play D&D podcast groups are going to play through different parts of the new Tomb of Annihilation storyline. I've enjoyed of a couple of the ones on that list (Sneak Attack and Venture Maidens) and I'm looking forward to getting a taste of the others.
posted by nubs at 11:11 AM on August 21, 2017 [2 favorites]

So I only started listening to TAZ sometime shortly after the Balance arc finished and I've finally plowed my way through. God, how did you all stand waiting two weeks between episodes?

Anyway, I though the finale was good, but not great. And I kept mulling over how exactly to express that and whether I was quibbling or not and then I watched Valerian this weekend. And well shit, that was good but not great, so apparently Griffin managed to do at least as good as a movie with a $180M budget, minus the VFX.

On one hand I thought the finale was over maudlin. On the other hand, he wanted it ended and sewn up tight and yep, that campaign is over. There is definitely no sequel there.

I thought the heavily video-game inspired final boss battle was too video-game for my tastes, but I get that Griffin has his own influences and just goes with it. I felt the finale episodes were too monologuey and that's saying a lot considering how monologuey the whole series got at times, but clearly Griffin did a ton of work preparing and working everything out - if I tried to do something like this it would be a full-time job trying to script an hour for the two weeks between episodes. And as a comment on the whole series it came off more as a D&D-inspired improv radio dramedy rather than a straight D&D podcast, but then again most straight D&D podcasts are unlistenable. It really seems pretty unique and although I wasn't along for the ride & all the seemingly high-pressure fandom, I can get why people got into it.

Overall I can see what all the buzz was about, minus the part of waiting between episodes. Seriously, that must have sucked.
posted by GuyZero at 9:30 PM on January 15, 2018 [2 favorites]

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