Wednesday, February 8, 2023

‘The Legend of Vox Machina’ Recap: Season 2, Episode 2, “The Trials of Vasselheim”

RECAPS'The Legend of Vox Machina' Recap: Season 2, Episode 2, "The Trials...

The first three episodes of The Legend of Vox Machina season 2 were released on January 20, 2023. In episode one, Vox Machina fled the city of Emon for Whitestone after an attack by the Chroma Conclave, a group of four variegated dragons who destroyed the city. On the advice of Whitestone’s Keeper Yennen, the team headed onward to Vasselheim in search of armies to retake the capital and conquer the Conclave. Did they make it Vasselheim, and will they get the support they need? Read on to find out!

To Vasselheim

Keyleth’s spell actually worked! Well, sort of. She did manage to open up a portal, as we begin with Scanlan emerging from the tree on the other side. Unfortunately, the tree is not actually in Vasselheim. Even more unfortunately, it’s on the side of a cliff. Scanlan’s warning comes too late, and the crew emerge through the portal and plummet downwards. Keyleth manages to grab several people by transforming into an eagle. Scanlan whips out a quick song to cushion the fall of the rest of the group by summoning giant, pink butt cheeks.

“The landing’s gonna be a bit rough, I’ll save our asses with some butt stuff!

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Everyone makes it. Keyleth’s anxious proclamation that it was not her fault, and that she told Keeper Yennen that she needed to be familiar with the tree, is cut off when Pike spots Vasselheim in the distance. Close enough.

The line to get into the city is long, tourists trailing back long the road into the mountains. Percy attempts to use his diplomatic credentials from Whitestone to tell the gate guard they need an audience with the Marshals, but the guard is distinctly unimpressed. He tells them to head to the Platinum Sanctuary themselves and wishes them g’day. (Which, of course, Grog hears as “bidet.”)

Bidet, Vasselheim

With poor Trinket the bear left outside, as usual, Vox Machina head inside the city. Vex teases Percy about his failed use of his noble title, and Grog bids everyone a bidet as they make their way to the Sanctuary. Scanlan is a little horrified at Vasselheim’s proliferation of temples and lack of brothels. Pike steps up, as the group’s designated holy person, to address the Marshals of the temples, who rule the city.

The temple leaders are unmoved. Despite using the water of truth to see the destruction of Emon, they only offer Vox Machina sympathies and hospitality. Nothing more. Their power, they say, is in their isolation, and they will not risk the city by interfering in the affairs of Tal’Dorei.

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As Vox Machina are kicked out — in record time, it usually takes them ten minutes — into the courtyard, Vax looks out across the mountainous terrain and sees a figure atop a building. It’s the same woman he saw in Emon, shadowy and with wind-whipped hair. This time, she very clearly has a flock of ravens around her.

Before the team can do much to regroup or discuss, they are interrupted by a gnome who overheard them talking to the Marshals. He knows who they need; the patron of the Slayer’s Take. Most of Vox Machina seem unfamiliar, except for Vax and Vex. They clearly recognize the name of the group, and it’s not a wholly positive recollection. Vex informs them all that the Slayer’s Take are a group of hunters for hire who cleared the area surrounding Vasselheim of legendary beasts.

Vox Machina head off, discussing an “old friend” (a generous term, Vax says) of Vex’s who is a member of the Slayer’s Take. As they walk, Grog hears a whispery, creepy voice: “I hunger.” This simply alerts Grog to the fact that he is, as ever, hungry. He peels away from the group to get some yum-yum in his tum-tum.

The Slayer’s Take

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The Slayer’s Take are gathered in a dim, noisy building filled with hunting trophies. From the badly spelled sign, it appears to be their HQ. Keyleth is flustered at being approached by a tall, handsome member of the take, but their interaction is short lived. Only moments after Vax and Vex enter, they are recognized — by the wanted poster on the wall with their renderings on it. Whoops.

It’s bad timing to be without Grog, as many of the Slayer’s Take seem quite determined to collect the 12,000 gold bounty on the twins’ heads.

Where is their goliath tank? Belly filled, he walks out of a tavern to go find his friends, but then gets distracted by a butterfly… which leads him to notice one of the massive, looming temples of Vasselheim. Drawn to the giant statue of a warrior with weapons raised, Grog wanders inside the building. Within, Grog finds an old man, meditating. His name is Earthbreaker Groon, and Grog has entered the Stormlord’s ring.

Grog tries to ask Groon about fighting the dragons, but the monk is more concerned with discerning where Grog’s strength comes from. The answers Grog seeks, Groon says, are earned, not given. The elderly man squares up for a fight, but Grog is reluctant at first. When Groon doesn’t back down, he agrees.

“Let’s get ugly, grandpa.”

Back at the headquarters of the Slayer’s Take, Vex attempts to charm her way out of trouble with Kashaw, known as Kash, the muscled cleric who flustered Keyleth. He’s unimpressed with Vex’s attempt and calls for Zahra — Vex’s connection on the inside.

Zahra seems even less happy to see them than the rest of the Slayer’s Take. She reminds Vex that she hasn’t seen her since the twins ditched them and stole the Take’s reward. Trying to wheedle her way out of trouble, Vex tells Zahra that they are there to see the group’s patron. She tries to persuade her by pointing out that the bounty on her and Vax’s head is nothing compared to the wealth of a dragon…or four dragons. Pike attempts to back Vex up by appealing to the Take’s better sides, letting them know that lives are at stake and Tal’Dorei is under threat. It seems that the Slayer’s Take don’t really have better sides, though, as her impassioned speech only makes them laugh and attack.

Things aren’t looking great for Vox Machina. “We’re trying to save the f**king world!” Pike yells, prompting only an eyeroll from Zahra. But then a booming female voice cuts through the noise: “Hold! I will take care of Vox Machina.” On a reluctant signal from Zahra, the ground is pulled out from under Vox Machina’s feet, and they plunge down into a dark basement.

Taking a Beating

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Over in the Stormlord’s ring, Grog is facing down the old monk.

“Where do you find your strength?” is what Groon seems determined to get Grog to answer. He rushes him, taking Grog by surprise. The goliath complains that he wasn’t ready, and he’d like to see him try again — which he does, landing several solid punches and knocking Grog back. Clearly, this fight isn’t going to be what Grog thought.  

Back in the dark basement, the rest of Vox Machina are taking comfort in the fact that it’s harder for the Slayer’s Take to murder them down there. Until they hear a reverberating growl from the darkness, anyway. The creature taunts them from the shadows, telling them that their weapons are useless here. This is the patron. A sphinx. Keyleth didn’t know that sphinx still existed.

Vox Machina request aid in fighting the dragons. Osysa, the sphinx, tells them that they haven’t the slightest idea what it will cost. Using her powers, Osysa taunts each member of the group, attempting to cut them down mentally and calling out deep truths. Vax depended entirely on his sister, she says, and Vex hopelessly sought her father’s love. They are cast aside, deemed unprepared.

Grog battles on, his efforts futile against the powerful monk. “You wield such a dark weapon,” Groon notes. He calls it an alliance that proves Grog’s frailty. The sword that Grog has been carrying is the black blade that he took from Sylas Briarwood, back in season one.

The sphinx isn’t done with the rest of Vox Machina. She turns on Percy next, asking why she should listen to the cursed heir, who wallows in self-pity, begging to be trusted again. Pike is a hopeless holy warrior who doesn’t have faith that she can even save those close to her. Keyleth is accused of fleeing from her duties again when she suggests that if the sphinx won’t help them, they can just leave. Which does she fear more? Failing her Aramente, or knowing no one will live long enough to see her achieve it? Scanlan tells Osysa that there’s no need for her to call him out. He knows he can be annoying. “No one cares about you,” the sphinx answers blandly. “I’m no different.”

While Vox Machina are being mentally taken out at the knees, Grog fights on. Or he tries. It’s not going well for him, the monk’s mastery horribly evident in every move compared to Grog’s blind strength and rage. And still, he can’t answer correctly when asked where his strength comes from. He thinks Groon wants him to say something like “his heart,” but that’s wrong.

“Paralyzed by fear,” Osysa booms. “How do you expect to save the world if you can’t even save yourselves?

“Where does your strength come from?” Groon continues to demand, forcing Grog down into the snow, beaten. He has to admit he doesn’t know.

The Will to Give Everything

Osysa tells Vox Machina they should leave with what little dignity they have left. “F**k dignity,” Pike bites out. “I’m not leaving, not giving up, until someone listens…I don’t care if I die. None of us do. But we’re not leaving. We won’t be ignored!”

Finally, the sphinx is satisfied. Vox Machina have found what they need — the will to give everything.

Groon extends a hand to help Grog up. He tells him that he has much to learn about being a warrior, but seeking the path to true strength is the first step.

Much more helpful now, Osysa tells Vox Machina of The Vestiges of Divergence, god-level weapons that were created during the Great Calamity. Believed too powerful for mortals, the vestiges were scattered across the lands. The Deathwalker’s Ward is one of them. The Matron of Raven’s own armor is entombed by a lake to the west. The other vestiges will be revealed in turn. First, they must find the Deathwalker’s Ward and bring it to Osysa’s mate. They must not fail.

“We won’t let you down,” Pike reassures her.

“It’s not me you need to worry about letting down,” Osysa says ominously. “Only each other.”

Back upstairs, Zahra and Kash are debating which of Vox Machina the sphinx ate first. They aren’t best pleased when the group reappear, alive, and with a task from Osysa.

Outside, Vox Machina note that Vesselheim wasn’t exactly what they expected. They came for armies, but instead left with something else — inspiration. Step one, find the vestiges. Step two, kill some dragons. Step three… profit?

“How about step one, we get a f**king drink?” Grog asks, appearing in front of them.

Immediately questioned on his whereabouts an appearance by the rest of the crew, he admits that an old man beat him up. So…booze?

Black Powder Secrets

We see Percy enter a small shop. He’s served by an eccentric, crazy inventor type named Victor. Percy says that he was surprised to find a black powder merchant in Vasselheim, to which Victor answers that he’d be surprised. Business is… booming!

Upon being told that he’s the second person to buy black powder that week, Percy is curious. He asks what the first customer looked like. Victor happily shares that the other customer was a woman with one hand.

“Ripley,” Percy mutters. As he is leaving, Vex waits at the door and asks him what’s wrong. He dismisses the question and doesn’t share anything about Dr. Ripley.

As Vex and Percy walk away, Viktor the black powder merchant cheerfully warns Percy not to blow himself up, before knocking over a lamp and doing exactly that to himself.

Don’t forget to check back soon for a detailed recap of episode three, “The Sunken Tomb.”

For more news on The Legend of Vox Machina and other pop culture favorites, make sure you’re following Nerds & Beyond!

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