All good stories have an ending, especially Dungeons and Dragons campaigns. The final episode of Exandria Unlimited, titled “What Comes Next”, brings about the end of the current mini-series. After watching the episode through, I’m still not entirely sure where I stand on the totality of this series, particularly since there are still some unanswered questions left lingering.
Spoilers ahead, obviously.
The entirety of this episode is focused on the battle with Myr’atta Niselor, the Singorn elf that has been tracking the party for some time. Long combats do not leave much in the way of characterization and story but Critical Role has always been able to find a balance for storytelling within these mechanics-heavy episodes. In this case, I felt the story moments suffered until the ending, particularly due to how complicated the combat became as time wore on.
My biggest gripe regarding Myr’atta Niselor is that we weren’t given enough context for how and why she was attempting to steal Ted, Opal’s sister and Warlock Patron, from the young girl from Byroden. Opal was ineffectual for most of the combat due to the residuum spikes implanted in her body the previous episode. This left the rest of the party to pick up the slack but it didn’t do much to really establish the stakes and the reasoning behind the villain’s actions. In the previous campaigns for Critical Role, the villains were given plenty of time to elucidate their reasons for doing what they did, even if the reasoning was deeply flawed and horrifying in scope. Myr’atta Niselor clearly wanted to make Ted her Warlock Patron but the motivation behind that action is still a mystery.
With that being said, I deeply enjoyed how Aabria used the Circlet of Barbed Vision and the Spider Queen throughout the combat. Each person is tempted repeatedly to put on the Circlet, promised power by the Spider Queen in an attempt to corrupt them. Dorian Storm, the Air Genasi Bard, had previously been the most affected by the temptations of the Circlet but in this episode, he found the strength to resist. I continue to marvel at both Robbie Daymond and Aimee Carrero in this series. Both of them are newcomers to Dungeons and Dragons and actual play livestreams but they acquitted themselves admirably. Aimee especially had the most growth over the series as her connection to Ted became the driving force of the narrative.
The ending, while hopeful, left a bittersweet taste in my mouth. Opal’s acceptance of the Circlet places her on a potentially dark path in the future. And the stinger at the end of the episode reveals that Poska, the leader of the thieves’ guild known as the Nameless Ones, hasn’t forgotten the party’s antics in Emon, promising a swift and brutal retribution to them if they ever return. Given the mini-series style format for Exandria Unlimited, it’s entirely possible the next adventure won’t include the current characters, which would be a shame since there is plenty of story left to tell for the newly-named Crown Keepers. While I did enjoy many of the shenanigans of the assembled cast, I can’t help but wonder what would have happened with two more episodes. I feel that I was just getting to know these characters and beginning to see them find a family together before it all ended. But that is one of the great joys and tragedies of tabletop games: sometimes, the best part of the game is when the story ends.