Which episode is your favorite? Why?
This is practically impossible to answer because there's been so many episodes that I have loved and enjoyed and so it's beyond difficult to actually choose a specific episode.
However, I will say the types of episodes that I most favor are the ones that move character arcs along. Since Critical Role is a very linear story, the narrative is always set in motion to tell that story by moving through the plots and always manages to give characters time to grow, give them development with their individual arcs and their relationships with each other. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the battles and preparing for the bigger plot arcs, those are fantastic, but the character moments are the best part of any story and this show has it in spades. Whether it's emotional or just really amusing moments because they're all friends and the shenanigans that happens is absolutely hilarious, it's something that really drew me to the show because you can tell how much fun they're having and it really adds a lot to the experience of watching people play D&D. The more ridiculous a situation is the better it'll be for the characters, and that happens a lot. And even with the emotional and dramatic moments too, those are amazing simply because of how genuine and raw these moments are and it's such a beautiful thing to witness the growth of these characters and the connections between these people in real life.
Although I want to give a special shout-out to the battle royale episodes and the one-shots, because those are on another level altogether and are equally as amazing as the ones part of the main campaign. Liam's one-shots especially because those were like RPF AUs and it was glorious.
Which episode is your least favorite? Why?
“The Path to Whitestone”, for obvious reasons. I came into this show at the beginning of this year so I wasn't aware about the controversy surrounding that particular episode. I'm not going to rehash what occurred since it's all been said and done, but overall the episode itself was just painfully awkward to watch and you could literally feel the tension radiating from the screen.
I'm also not a fan of the live shows. There's nothing wrong with them experimenting with something of a new format, that's fine and while it's fantastic that they're willing to do these things as special treats for the growing fan community, it's just not something I personally enjoy. It takes away the magic of the game play for me since it becomes more about the audience reaction than it does with the story itself. I prefer the intimacy of them playing in the studio which allows them to really play on the emotional points which can sometimes get lost on stage in front of a live audience. I think one shots or episodes that don't focus heavily on anything plot related would be better suited for live shows. Thankfully, they've only had a few live shows out of the 100+ episodes, so it doesn't happen that often.
Who is your favorite main player character?
DON'T YOU DARE DO THIS TO ME. I LOVE THEM ALL OKAY. ALLLL.
Who is your favorite guest player character?
Will Friedle (Kashaw) and Mary Elizabeth McGlynn (Zahra). I love that they've guested multiple times on the show, and that their first appearance was their first time playing D&D. They play off each other and the rest of the cast so well. And Noelle Stevenson as Tova was such a brilliant addition, and I want her to come back (escape from the Nine Hells, Tova, we believe in you!) And Patrick Rothfuss as Kerrek, another recurring guest who needs to return at some point.
What storyline do you wish they'd explore more?
I really wanted to have more time with Pike's storyline with her family, but I do understand why it wasn't as explored as it could have been. Ashley is only able to be physically there for short periods of time before going back to New York to film Blindspot, and I think Matt, knowing where the narrative was currently going, wanted to properly plan it out so she could deal with her arc proper instead of via Skype. So while I wish it could have been longer, I do appreciate what we did get.
I also wanted more of Taryon Darrington, as well. I found myself really getting attached to his character, especially once we had some growth to him and understanding more of his past and knowing who he is as a person, and I truly wanted more with him. But I especially wanted more with his friendship with Vex because, while that was such a pleasant surprise they revealed them becoming best friends during their recap of doing a one year time jump, I wanted to actually see more of them bonding and seeing that friendship bloom. With the events that followed that year jump it felt so sudden that he was no longer with them, going on his own path, which on one hand makes sense because he dealt with his family and is now creating his own adventuring brigade. But I guess I just wanted more development and more with his character in relation to the rest of Vox Machina. Also, I know that his character was only going to be with them temporarily until Scanlan returned, but when he did I felt like Taryon was kind of pushed to the background a bit as everyone was focused entirely on Scanlan and his return (something else I understand though, because Sam had to practically balance two characters he created which nobody outside of Matt has ever done, plus Scanlan's return was a Big Deal considering was a lot of unresolved tension from when he left). So, I guess I really wanted more time to truly explore Taryon, his relationships with Vox Machina, especially his friendship with Percy and Vex, and truly see him grow.
Who would you like to see guest on the show?
Aside from Lin Manuel Miranda, which they've all commented about wanting him to be a guest and I strongly agree with this sentiment, I really want to see some improv actors like from Whose Line, or even some of their other fellow voice actors friends who might be interested. But Tatiana Maslany is someone who I feel would fit right into the group. Not only can she do improv, she can probably give Matt Mercer a run for his money with being able to portray multiple characters, and it would be fascinating seeing them play off each other.
What character would you like to see more of?
I'm with most that we need to see more of Gilmore, at least in terms of knowing what is happening with him, especially in regards to his business which, after the dragon attacks, he had to basically rebuild from scratch. But I do want more of not just Gilmore, but also Allura, Kima, Kashaw and Zahra, and whether they will be helping in this final arc against Vecna. I know that Vox Macina are basically preparing for fighting Vecna with becoming Champions of the other deities, but this seems like the final fight that should have everyone involved, not just them alone. I would also like to see Kerrek return again, because I really loved his friendship and connection with Keyleth and it would be lovely for him to see how much she's grown into her leadership role, and vice versa too.
Other than Gilmore, Allura, Kima or Victor, who is your favorite NCP?
The Sun Tree. He only appears like a few times but whenever he does it is always wonderful. There is nothing more amazing than a large magnificent tree, planted by one of the gods, that is essentially just a chill stoner surfer dude. And Trinket, because Matt does such an convincing bear impression and it's absolutely adorable.
Who is your least favorite NCP?
Syldor. He might feel bad and regretting his decisions now for not being there for Vex and Vax growing up, but he is still a rather shitty father for neglecting them, then taking them away from their mother and not only bringing them to a place where half-elves are looked down upon as inferior but also ignoring them entirely. Just fuck off, dude. Same goes for Taryon's father who, while there was some redemption after realizing he'd severely fucked up by becoming his own father, just rubbed me the wrong way, not to mention the way Matt played him was so terrifying especially when Taryon was standing up to him. Also the Trickfoots given the way they treated Pike. I think Pike let them off too easy considering what they did was inexcusable, though I do understand why she didn't give them further repercussions for taking advantage of her.
Other than that though, I can't really think of any other NPC who is a least favorite. Almost all the NPCs that have appeared, whether just briefly or recurring, have been magnificently portrayed by Matt Mercer and it's kind of difficult to rate them on that scale unless they really get underneath my skin. The villains and antagonists in particular have been incredible. Currently Vecna, while a massive dick, has been entertaining because we're heading into the final arc and it's been so amazing seeing the kind of shit that comes from his presence and having Vox Machina prepare themselves for defeating him.
Which character are you most like?
Probably Keyleth because I, too, am a ball of social awkwardness and anxiety. I find that while I would love to be more like Vex or Pike or some of the other NCP characters, I relate to Keyleth more which is why I cannot stand people hating on her.
Do you ship any characters?
But of course! Vex/Percy, Vax/Keyleth, Vax/Gilmore, Allura/Kima. This is one of those series where the canon ships don't bother me as much because you see them blossoming before your eyes and the interactions are, again, improv'd and not written so everything we see is very genuine.
Name a moment that has stuck with you.
When Vex dies from a trap in “The Sunken Tomb”. It is the first time anyone has died outside of battle, and it was from a mistake Percy made for not checking for traps when opening the tomb. It not only led to an incredibly heart-stopping tense moment of what the fuck happened and them rushing to resurrect her immediately, but looking back at it now it's also the start of what will be the turn of many events in the future when Vax made the deal with the Raven Queen to exchange his life with his sister. He made this not knowing what he was doing, he just wanted his sister back. But what got to me was Laura's reaction, she at first thought she had been knocked unconscious but once realizing what had happened she was genuinely stunned into silence and about the cry.
Another Vex moment that stuck with me was the confrontation with Saundor in "The Echo Tree". Again, Laura's reaction and expressions are what made it, because Saundor was bringing up not only her insecurities but also her backstory which none of the party knew about, getting underneath her skin. When Vex made the decision to attack Saundor instead of accepting his offer, and how she was so conflicted about whether she made the right decision afterwards.
The entirety of "The Bard's Lament", I think, was probably one of the episodes that stuck with me because of the various moments that occurred throughout. It was like a huge emotional whiplash from beginning to end. Scanlan's rant at his friends, that raw emotion that came from everyone during that moment was so good. This show has had many emotionally raw moments but this was one that honestly hurt because this was after they had successfully resurrected him. They brought him back, and they were relieved after so much stress and sadness, only for him to hurl angry words at them. Some of the things he said in the heat of the moment were true, some were just low fucking blows, which must hurt even more coming from someone they consider family. Scanlan then basically left Vox Machina to focus on himself without a second thought or consulting them about it, and then immediately after that Taryon Darrington shows up (also played by Sam) turning everything upside down yet again. Plus, the reactions of the cast was priceless. "The Bard's Lament" definitely counts as a huge moment all on its own because it truly was such a painful, but amazing, character episode. It stuck with me because of how well it was acted, there was a lot of genuine emotion and it felt like a punch in the gut.
In terms of arc moments the first attack the Chroma Conclave made on Emon was such an unexpected and intense moment, but so awesome at the same time because of everyone's reactions to Matt describing what was happening. Four dragons destroying the city, a huge chunk of citizens dead, trying to fend off these dragons and not succeeding at all, and then learning about who Thordak was, and so on. It was a great introduction to the new arc. Also during the Briarwood arc, which in itself was absolutely fantastic all around, with them heading to Whitestone and seeing the Sun Tree with the dead bodies hanging from it dressed as Vox Machina as a message to them, and then later down with the ziggurat where they saw hundreds and hundreds of bodies hung up along the walls. These moments were so haunting and disturbing, and it was so great.
Honestly, there are so many great moments with this show. I could spend hours talking about them and it still wouldn't be enough to properly express how many moments have stuck with me, from the big and grander parts of the story to the smaller, more intimate moments.
Has Critical Role ever made you cry? When?
Oh man, plenty of times. One of my favorite aspects of the show is how emotionally invested these people are with the characters just as much as we are, even more so because they've been playing them for so long even before the show was created to stream for an audience. So whenever there are emotional moments it is often when I end up getting teary eyed because it's so genuine. But I think when it comes down the the crying, “Cloak and Dagger” comes up on top. It doesn't matter how many times I've seen that episode, those last twenty or so minutes honestly bring me to tears. Much of this is mainly due to the players and their emotional reaction to Percy dying, even after they ended the episode they were so emotionally drained and visibly upset by what transpired. Same when you have Vex giving her offering during Percy's resurrection ritual, or Grog's “FIX HIM” upon seeing Scanlan's lifeless body in “The Deceiver's Stand”, or Pike's offering during his resurrection where Ashley got so upset she started choking up crying in the middle of her poem.
There's also a lot of lowkey emotional moments that often go overlooked and underappreciated, like when the twins learn that it was Thordak who destroyed their childhood home and killed their mother all those years ago, their reactions were subtle but powerful. Or when Percy, after retelling his tragic backstory, tears up when Vex and the rest of them reassure him that they've got his back. Little moments like these really get to me, especially up rewatches.
If there's one thing Critical Role can do incredibly well it's tugging at your heartstrings.
Which boss has been your favorite?
There's been several, but I have to say their most recent being Vecna. Their fight in "Race to the Tower" was probably the best in terms of "holy shit we're so fucking fucked", that no matter how prepared they thought they were they were ultimately going to be bested immediately. When I say this is my favorite it's because it felt so different from their previous boss fights. Sure, it had the same level of intensity and stress and uncertainty, adding even more that we have this individual who hadn't even ascended into godhood yet and was taking them down like it was nothing, but despite all of that I think what made this fight so good was their reactions to everything that was happening. I can't really explain it, because it was so dire and yet it's one of my favorites because of what was going on? Despite the fact that it seemed like this might've been the end of them and their campaign? I think perhaps the intimacy of the new table setup really added to it. I mean, Vecna as a boss (and perhaps final boss they'll have to deal with in this campaign) is going to be a dozy so I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next.
Anything you want to see in the next campaign?
Honestly, I'm mostly just very curious about the different characters they'll all be playing. They've been with their current ones for so long, about five years, so seeing them with new characters is going to be strange and kinda sad but also exciting at the same time.