'Critical Role' Cast Speaks Out After Controversial Episode
The cast of Critical Role is speaking out after last week's emotional episode.The popular [...]
The cast of Critical Role is speaking out after last week's emotional episode.
The popular webseries, which features a group of voice actors playing Dungeons & Dragons, had one of its most drama-filled episodes last week, when a popular character named Mollymauk Tealeaf (played by Talesin Jaffe) met an untimely end during a deadly encounter. Mollymauk and his allies in the Mighty Nein were trying to save some friends from a group of slavers, but the slavers proved to be more powerful than originally believed.
Critical Role has a robust and active fanbase, and many fans were distraught (as was the cast of Critical Role) after the episode ended. However, some fans lashed out at the show's Dungeon Master Matt Mercer, which led him to responding on Twitter.
"I appreciate the support, and judging by the conversation, a number of people suddenly hate me," Mercer wrote on Twitter. "That's fine. I'll weather the slings and arrows. Ours is a story of heroism and hope in a dark world. A story many of us need. One that turns in unexpected ways, and one I believe in."
"I love my players, deeply," Mercer continued. "I am constantly checking in with them. Our trust is endless and mutual, and is the nature of the game, not all ends are written. If you found this one, singular moment so strong to somehow break your trust in me, then... I am sorry. Genuinely." Mercer ended by noting that the last episode was a "dark spot" in an otherwise vibrant narrative, but that he hoped that fans upset by the episode would eventually return to the game.
While Critical Role is a show about a tabletop game, some fans have been overly critical about player choices, treating the game as if it were a sporting event meant to be overanalyzed by professional analysts. And while all celebrities in a public sphere have to deal with an extra layer of criticism in some way, Mercer and the other cast members of Critical Role are extra vulnerable to it due to how much they engage and interact with their fans.
Friends and fans of the show quickly came out to support Mercer on Twitter with their own heartfelt statements. Ashly Burch, who's currently guest starring on Critical Role, spoke out about her own experiences with death and noted that dealing with death in art can be a healing and cathartic experience. "I don't think it's hyperbole to say that losing Molly has hurt Matt as much as it's hurt many of you," Burch wrote on Twitter. "But that's the power of story and art, and I would encourage us to see it as an opportunity."
Critical Role castmember Liam O'Brien also spoke about the episode and noted that Critical Role taught him "volumes" when the show's first campaign dealt with death and dying at a time that he was experiencing major personal loss. "We dealt with character death last campaign, and we will continue to do so," O'Brien wrote. "All of us lose loved ones, and then eventually, we go ourselves. Storytellers as far back as Sophocles and beyond have grappled with that stark reality. It's a central pillar of the human experience."
"And in a way, I think death in D&D can be more compelling," O'Brien continued. "Because unlike film or stage, which is scripted out into narrative beats, characters can go when you least expect it. Randomly. With no warning or fanfare. Just like life."
It's disappointing that some fans have lashed out at the Critical Role cast, especially as the players have opened up their lives and friendships to the players. While many treat Critical Role as a scripted TV show, it's an improvised piece of art built together by a close-knit group of friends. And while fans get to enjoy that experience, some might need to remember that they aren't actually at the table, nor do they get to have a say in what the players (or story) do in the moment.