The popular D&D liveplay show Critical Role ended on a major cliffhanger, in part to explain the upcoming absence of half of its cast.
Critical Role, which boasts a weekly audience of a half million viewers, had one of its craziest episodes yesterday night. The episode saw the departure of multiple characters and a lot of improvised action - partially due to the upcoming absences of cast members Travis Willingham, Laura Bailey, and Ashley Johnson. At the end of the momentous episode, the characters Fjord, Jester, and Yasha (played by Willingham, Bailey, and Johnson respectively) were kidnapped by an unknown party and taken to be sold into slavery. The group also said goodbye to the NPC character Kiri, who had become a mascot of sorts for the group.
Last night's episode was special for several reasons. Bailey and Willingham were absent due to the birth of their baby, cast member Liam O'Brian was Skyping in from his vacation in Wyoming, and cast member Sam Riegel was dressed like Burt Reynolds from the 1977 movie Smokey and the Bandit. Riegel has been subtly recreating his attire from the first campaign, and tonight's episode lined up with the 2015 Halloween episode. Riegel did not disappoint, as he donned both a fake mustache, a cowboy hat, and a stuffed monkey for the occasion. The episode is also Johnson's last in-person episode before she heads back to New York to film new episodes of the show Blindspot.
This season is following the adventures of the Mighty Nein, a group of for-hire adventurers exploring the Dwendalian Empire. The group is currently in the employ of the Gentleman, a mysterious crime boss operating out of the city of Zadash. The group's first mission for the Gentleman had them travel into the Labenda Swamp to secure a safe house. During their journey, they rescued a small Kenku child named Kiri - who could only communicate by mimicking the group.
After securing the safe house, the group made their way to the gnomish city of Hupperdook, which is known for its industrial factories and hard-partying ways. After a raucous night of partying, the group discovered that their money was missing, and eventually discovered that it was stolen by a group of gnome children whose parents were in prison for worshipping a deity not approved by the Empire. The Mighty Nein decided to free the parents from prison...which eventually led to an epic battle against a malfunctioning automaton assigned to guard the prison.
After the automaton was defeated, the group were able to have the gnomes freed. They decided to leave Kiri in their care, as they knew that their upcoming missions were dangerous and a small bird-child wouldn't have a good chance of survival following them around. Kiri pulled out a music box given to her earlier and played it as a touching goodbye moment. DM Matthew Mercer used the moment to reveal a piece of music composed by Ryan Horne of the band Guilty Scapegoat just for the occasion. You can listen to the song below:
Thanks! Much love to the show and the community:https://t.co/yuY2oiyHJa— Ryan Horne (@seim1010) June 29, 2018
The night ended with half of the party getting kidnapped and smuggled off to parts unknown. The cliffhanger is extra anxiety inducing for fans, as there won't be a new episode next week. Critical Role recently opened their own studio and will be moving their sets from Geek & Sundry's studio next week.
Mercer has mentioned he has plans to help fill in for Willingham, Bailey, and Johnson's extended absence. This likely means some extended guest spots, although Mercer has been tight-lipped about who might appear on upcoming episodes of the show.
Critical Role airs every Thursday on Alpha and Geek & Sundry's Twitch channel. Episodes are also available on demand on YouTube or in podcast form.