Episode 5 of The Legend of Vox Machina dives into the dark past of Percival de Rolo and the uncertain future of Pike as the party takes on the dark and dangerous Briarwoods of Whitestone. Backstories and character motivations are revealed to everyone, including the viewers, as though we are all huddled around, listening intently.
Life is a Dark and Traumatizing Highway
Kicking off episode five with immediate tension, we follow Vox Machina as they escape their imposed house arrest at the hands of Sovereign Uriel. They send a few of the party to break into their friend Gilmore’s store to “borrow” a few items to fight vampires before heading out on their fearful journey towards Whitestone. After Vax’s flirtations, the party is ready to leave. However, Pike, after seemingly losing her connection to The Everlight, decides to take Grog’s advice and separate from the party to heal the rift between her and her goddess. She goes and says sorry for letting her down. The party bids a sad but hopeful farewell and hits the road.
The road treats them fairly, with Scanlan attempting to decipher Delilah Briarwood’s spellbook, Grog missing his best friend Pike, and Vex probing Percy for more details about his past. Before they can create road trip memories, they are attacked by a pack of horrid zombie wolves. They snatch Scanlan and the spellbook, giving chase to the party as they defend their cart. Barely escaping a fall off a cliff, Scalan manages to rejoin the group despite losing the book to the wolves. Wounded, tired, and horseless, the party makes camp and shares a bit of well-needed laughter around the campfire. Together they share stories of triumph, both in combat and in passion, while cementing the party’s bonds and hinting at their future feelings for each other.
Traveling the next day, Percy talks about the beauty of Whitestone: the flowers always in bloom, light that shines through the day, and the mighty Suntree that stands proud in the middle of the city. Despite these fond memories, Vox Machina comes to the edge of Whitestone to see a barren wasteland of a city. Death and rot line the walls and streets, with a barren Suntree greeting Percy through the corrupted murk of his beloved city with a family of villagers hung from the branches, in a twisted homage to our recognizable heroes.
The Return to an Unwelcome Home
Episode five is a fast-paced road episode filled with story and character. Percy continues to be fleshed out, and Pike’s struggle with her goddess creates a simple yet effective development without the help of her friends. The action on the road was stellar as always, with the animation creating beautiful set pieces out of the turn-based Dungeons & Dragons system. Where some of the 3D generations of previous episodes stood out against the beautiful animation, the zombie wolves from episode five worked incredibly with the animation style. What episode five is not short of is the heart and soul of every solid D&D campaign; the character backstory. The merging of a character’s creation as a hero and the story that is currently being told comes together to form an incredibly compelling story that keeps you both caring and invested. This episode allows for the Legend of Vox Machina to dig its heels in the dirt and take off running, building the setting, characters, and story without breaking a sweat.
Featured image: IMDb
Graphic image: IMDb