The first season of Prime Video’s The Legend of Vox Machina introduced a hapless (and sometimes hazardous), profanity-loving crew of Dungeons & Dragons characters to a new audience. To many fans, they would have already been familiar — the characters come directly from the first season of Critical Role, an actual play D&D web series that began in 2015 — but with new media comes new awareness.
Season 1 was wild and featured many exciting twists and turns, so ahead of season 2’s release on January 20, a full recap is in order. Whether you’re eagerly anticipating further adventures in Tal’Dorei or you’ve been freshly caught up in the hype and want to jump in with season 2, read on for a primer and a quickfire recap of season 1.
An animated fantasy-adventure for adults, The Legend of Vox Machina follows a band of unlikely heroes known as Vox Machina. They have an unapologetic love of booze and brawls, which leads the chaotic crew to begin searching for a way to quickly pay off their excessive bar tab. Instead, they find themselves on a mission to save the world of Exandria from evil forces, testing both their skills and their friendships.
Critical Role, the origin of The Legend of Vox Machina, is a web series best explained in the cast’s own words.
“[‘The Legend of Vox Machina’] is a long-running web series in which our group of nerdy ass voice actors use tabletop roleplaying game mechanics as the medium to build a long-form improvisational story in the vast and rich fantasy world of Exandria. The players are guided through the world by Matthew Mercer, an incredibly experienced Game Master. Essentially, this story is like a four-hour-long improvised episode of television, with each campaign focusing on its own set of characters within the world.”
That “group of nerdy ass voice actors” includes Matthew Mercer (Overwatch, Attack on Titan), Travis Willingham (Avengers Assemble, Spider-Man), Sam Riegel (Ace Attorney, Duck Tales), Marisha Ray (Lego DC Super-Villains, Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire), Liam O’Brien (World of Warcraft, Naruto), Laura Bailey (Fruits Basket, Monster High), Taliesin Jaffe (Mr. Mom, World of Warcraft), and Ashley Johnson (The Last of Us, Blindspot).
Notable guest stars in season 1 included David Tennant (Good Omens), Felicia Day (Mystery Science Theater 3000), Stephanie Beatriz (Brooklyn Nine-Nine), Gina Torres (9-1-1: Lone Star), and Khary Payton (The Walking Dead).
Season 2’s guest stars were recently announced, bringing even more exciting names to the show.
With a large ensemble cast, introducing every character would take a while. So, we’ll just cover the main seven — the members of Vox Machina. The team is made up of a group of friends from varying backgrounds, who often disagree but still come as a package.
First up is Vex’ahlia Vessar, voiced by Bailey. Vex is a half-elf ranger. Taken from her human mother at a young age and given to her elven father to train, outgoing Vex enjoyed spending time in the woods, learning to survive. She is close to her twin brother Vax’ildan, and her faithful pet bear, Trinket.
Vax’ildan, voiced by O’Brien, is the more serious of the twins, though he’s not without his moments of humor. As a rogue and thief, Vax learned a different set of survival skills than Vex. When he and his sister left their father’s home to return to their mother, they found their childhood home destroyed. While Vax shares his deepest thoughts only with Vex, he slowly learns to open up and think about who he wants to be. Both of the twins carry a desire for vengeance against the dragon that ruined their home.
Jaffe voices the third member of Vox Machina, Lord Percival Fredrickstein von Musel Klossowski de Rolo III, better known as Percy. He is a human gunslinger and the former heir to the city of Whitestone, had his family not been overthrown and murdered. Having fled his home as a child to escape the violence, he traveled alone for many years before he was taught to make his first gun by the shadow demon, Orthax. Percy is intelligent, slightly eccentric, and definitely traumatized. At first glance, he seems to be the most mature member of Vox Machina, though he can be petty and has a penchant for taking rich snobs down a few pegs.
Impulsive goliath Grog Strongjaw, voiced by Willingham, is the next member of the team. Grog was exiled from his group for defending his best friend Pike’s grandfather. Being a barbarian, Grog is a fearsome fighter and protector of the innocent who enjoys the thrill of battle, women, and ale. He’s a simple man and he isn’t the smartest, but he has a sweet side to him which is evidenced by his care for his friends, especially Pike.
Pike Trickfoot, gnome cleric and healer, is voiced by Johnson. Her family were thieves before they became followers of Sarenrae, and when they were attacked by goliaths she helped to save the one who stood up against the others: Grog. The two became close friends and their friendship would eventually lead them to Vox Machina, as Pike joined the group to save Grog from necromantic magic. Warm and sweet at first impression, Pike struggles with feelings of anger, and has a tendency to overdo it a little in the violence department.
Tenacious half-elf druid Keyleth, voiced by Ray, left her home on a journey to become the leader of her tribe, just as her mother did before her. Her mother never returned, leading to a sheltered childhood for Keyleth that made her incredibly socially awkward. Despite her power and great talent for magic, Keyleth measures herself too often by others opinions and believes that she is undeserving. She has a strong moral compass, but can be impulsive — a combination which leads to trouble more than once.
The last member of Vox Machina is quick witted Scanlan Shorthalt, voiced by Riegel. At first seeming like mere comic relief, gnome bard Scanlan turns out to be much more. A good negotiator and strong magic user, he spent most of his life in a traveling troupe of performers, trying to earn enough money to care for his mother. Scanlan is a huge flirt who adores his friends and becomes ferociously protective of them. Always ready with a song or a bawdy joke, Scanlan’s careless-seeming ways hide a dark past filled with violence.
With our reckless but well-intended cast of characters set, lets dive into season 1!
Episode 1 begins with Vox Machina’s origin story. The Council of Tal’Dorei, a large city in Exandria, needs mercenaries to investigate a horror of some kind that has been terrorizing the area. Our heroes are in desperate need of coin, so off they go to investigate. The monster turns out to be the dragon Brimscythe, who was impersonating General Krieg (voiced by David Tennant) — a member of the Tal’Dorei council, who Brimscythe killed in order to gain power and influence in the district.
A tough battle ensues, and for a while it seems unlikely that heroes as haphazard as Vox Machina could take down a dragon, but with their powers combined, Krieg is eliminated. The Council of Tal’Dorei celebrates their new heroes, throwing a huge feast and naming Vox Machina the Protectors of Tal’Dorei.
At the party, Sylas and Delilah Briarwood show up, to Percy’s shock and anger. The Briarwoods killed his entire family, taking over his ancestral home of Whitestone. Filled with the fire of vengeance, Percy tries to attack Sylas, but the Briarwoods escape. They leave their coachman behind, and in his rage, Percy rips off the man’s arm.
The leader of Tal’Dorei, Uriel, banishes Vox Machina after the incident. The group decide to join Percy in his search for revenge and take out the Briarwoods.
On the way to Whitestone, Pike separates from the party. Since the fight with the Briarwoods, she has been struggling with her powers, which are derived from the Everlight. (Also known as her goddess, Sarenrae.) Pike goes on her own journey, trying to fix their connection.
When the rest of the group reach Whitestone they find it dark, its legendary Sun Tree close to death, and the land ruined. Scanlan learns that Delilah Briarwood made a deal with Vecna, a mortal-born archlich who achieved godhood, to bring her husband back from the dead — as a vampire.
Percy’s special gun, a pepperbox pistol named The List, draws him to his enemies, their names appearing inscribed on the barrel. As Vox Machina adventure on and get closer to the Briarwoods, Percy seems to be growing more and more attached to The List. His behavior grows more erratic, until viewers (and the rest of Vox Machina) eventually learn that a demon named Orthax — who helped Percy create the gun — has a connection to Percy, one which is growing stronger and darker the more he uses the pistol to do the demon’s bidding. The more vengeance Percy enacts, the more names he collects from The List, the more he is losing himself.
In Whitestone, Vox Machina find Keeper Yennen (Gina Torres), a cleric Percy tells the group is a trusted figure in his old home. Yennen tells the group that they will need more than just them to defeat an enemy as tough as the Briarwoods. They must free the rest of Whitestone, many of whom have been imprisoned.
As they attempt to break into the jail, Percy is driven to kill again, taking out a brutal prison guard. Even so, they manage to recruit rebel leader Archibald Desnay (Dominic Monaghan) to their cause. The group prepare for battle.
Keyleth attempts to heal the Sun Tree while Scanlan distracts the Briarwoods. Vox Machina learn that Percy’s sister, Cassandra de Rolo, is still alive, despite Percy thinking that she hadn’t survived the attack on Whitestone. They attempt to rescue her from Professor Anders, the children’s one-time tutor who aligned himself with the Briarwoods. Percy uses The List to kill Anders while Keyleth uses her druidic healing to save Cassandra. Unfortunately, due to her pact with Venca, Delilah Briarwood is able to raise the dead. She creates an army of zombies to attack Vox Machina.
As Vax’ildan confesses his love for Keyleth (though they both agree that now isn’t the time for romance), Pike astral projects back to Whitestone from her quest for the Everlight, coming to aid them in their fight against the zombies.
As Vox Machina make it closer to the Briarwoods, they come across another of Percy’s old adversaries, Dr. Anna Ripley. She is imprisoned in Whitestone, putting the two of them on the same side, for now. Deciding to trust Ripley, the group heads to the ziggurat of Whitestone. There, they are betrayed — by Cassandra.
Due to Sylas’s influence, she locks them in a room which is quickly filling with acid. Vax escapes, but is put under Sylas’s spell just as Cassandra was. It’s Scanlan’s magic that saves them from the acid and enables them to chase after the Briarwoods, resulting in an epic showdown between Vox Machina and Sylas.
Keyleth uses the power of the Sun Tree to kill Sylas, which angers Orthax the demon — he was not killed with The List, as he wanted. Orthax takes form in the physical world and attempts to pull Percy fully to the dark side.
Vex’ahlia stands between Percy and the demon. Percy chooses to shoot through his own hand, love winning out over revenge.
Sylas’s death broke his spell over Cassandra, and Percy is happy to have her back in his life. Cassandra kills Delilah Briarwood for her vengeance.
Before the team leave the site of the battle, Percy attempts to retrieve his gun — but Scanlan isn’t having that, and instead throws The List into the acid. An image of Orthax rises briefly, then disappears.
Vox Machina head back to Tal’Dorei, where they are reinstated as protectors of the district. Council Leader Uriel steps down as four dragons are seen heading for the city.
And that’s where season 2 begins, with a foursome of dragons known as the Chroma Conclave heading for the city of Emon. The cast have already confirmed that Vox Machina will be straight back into the thick of things, picking right up where they left off.
Ready to read a spoiler-free review of season 2? You can check one out here!
The first three episodes of The Legend of Vox Machina season 2 will be available for streaming on January 20, 2023 through Prime Video.
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