Friday, April 7, 2023

Green Phoenix - The Legend of Vox Machina (Season 2) Review

 The Legend of Vox Machina - Rotten Tomatoes

Click Here to Check out my Review of Season 1 of The Legend of Vox Machina

Early last year, the world was blessed with Season 1 of the The Legend of Vox Machina, the culmination of a years-long Kickstarter project, based on the wildly popular role-playing live-stream Critical Role, that went on to become the largest Kickstarter project ever created. Beyond the Kickstarter itself, Critical Role has been a massive cultural touchstone that has begun to pervade countless other entertainment venues with even Hollywood finally recognizing the financial success of role-playing games with the release of film's like Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves.

Season 1 of The Legend of Vox Machina was a trial-run and a test of faith in the Dungeons and Dragons animated concept, one that I am thankful to say was incredibly successful. So successful that a guarantee of at least two or three other seasons was already achieved by the airing of the pilot episode. The fact that Season 1 ended on a massive cliffhanger that left fans of the streamed games chomping at the bit, only made excitement for Season 2 reach a fever pitch.

Was the excitement warranted? Did Critical Role manage to strike gold a second time and prove that The Legend of Vox Machina could be more than adult jokes and succeeded at multi-season long-form storytelling?

  • Produced by Critical Role Productions & Amazon Studios
  • Available on Amazon Prime
  • Number of Episodes: 12


Following the defeat of the Briarwoods and the Liberation of Whitestone, the adventuring party known as Vox Machina is invited to attend an important announcement by the King of Tal Dorei regarding the future of the realm. Without warning however, the city of Emon is suddenly attacked by an alliance of four ancient dragons known as the Chroma Conclave, led by Thordak the Cinder King (voiced by the late Lance Reddick). Too strong for our heroes to face on their own, they are forced to flee as the dragons lay waste to the city, taking refuge within Whitestone.
Desperate to uncover a means of defeating the Chroma Conclave, Vox Machina undertakes a quest to uncover several powerful artifacts scattered cross not only the world of Exandria but even other dimensions as well known as the Vestiges of Divergence. But this quest will be fraught with peril, challenging their bodies, minds, and in the case of a few of our reluctant heroes, their hearts as well.



Season 2 of The Legend of Vox Machina really does everything right when it comes to setting up a new season and storyline for a successful show. While Season 1 did a great deal of setup and subtextual reference to the Chroma Conclave's plot, the first episode of Season 2 really shifts the story into overdrive. The entire Attack on Emon is probably one of the most extraordinary things I have ever seen in an animated show. The sheer scale of the score, animation and action sequences is just mind-boggling. The fact that the sequence is topped by Thordak's final assault upon the castle may very well become one of my favorite animated moments of all time. That animation remains throughout, with spectacular action set-pieces nearly every episode. This coupled with an expanded world-building, really brings Matt Mercer's world of Exandria to life in a way that all of us fans of Critical Role were deeply anticipating.
The season starts off incredibly strong and continues that strength throughout fairly well, though I will acknowledge that the season does slow down a bit in Vasselheim. I just think that a lot of the stuff involving the religious politics and the Slayer's Take drag a bit, though I will say that that only lasts for about half of one episode and then quickly picks back up during the first Sphinx confrontation and during the emotional Temple of the Matron of Ravens scenes.

Actually, let's talk about that scene and the confrontation between Vex, Vax, and their father (the asshole supreme). I watched Season 2 with my sister (who has become a massive fan of Critical Role as a result of The Legend of Vox Machina and is even considering getting into D&D as well), as well as my parents. She is currently watching the live stream recordings of the original Chroma Conclave arc so I figured it was a fantastic opportunity to get differing perspectives on the show from two fans at different places. And when we got to the Temple of the Matron of Ravens, specifically the end of Episode 3, let me tell you that my sister's reaction tells you everything you need to know about this show and its source materials capacity to emotionally engage with its audience. She began balling her eyes out, a fact that continued every subsequent time she rewatched the scene. Though most of this was, by her own admission, due to her love of the characters of Vax and Vex, even I had to admit the overall effectiveness of the emotionally poignant experience.

The strength of The Legend of Vox Machina stems predominantly from the strength of personalities behind the characters and the effective portrayal of their relationships with each other, and Season 2 does an admirable job of balancing all of the characters as the series goes on. Season 1 kept the focus largely on Percy and Pike's character growth, whereas Season 2 shifts the focus from episode to episode. Of the storylines in question, I definitely feel as if Vex's story and Keyleth's story (at least as much as has been told) is quite well progressed this season, as well as Grog's almost completely resolved. In fact, I might even go so far as to say that Grog's storyline represents the largest chunk of Season 2's emotional focus, which is a bit strange as Grog is exactly the most emotionally complex character.

No for moral complexity and shock, you've really got to see Vax's plot and Scanlan's. Scanlan continues elements that kind of got mentioned in Season 1 but are highlighted in Season 2. I think Scanlan finally comes into his own as a heroic figure but it also plants seeds that will undoubtedly lead to further drama for Vox Machina's resident playboy. And as for Vax...god damn does our resident rogue get put the ringer this season. As someone familiar with the trajectory of the series based on the source material, Vax's personal arc will continue to be important for the remainder of the series but I can undoubtedly say that his scenes were some of the best in terms of animation and tone.

Speaking of, The Legend of Vox Machina was never a show to shy away from horror or graphically mature content and themes, with the whole Whitestone arc devolving into a damn zombie gorefest by the end of Season 1. So when I tell you that this season kicks the tone of seriousness even further, you understand the sheer scope of what I'm saying. However despite this dire and stressful situation our heroes find themselves in, the writers and actors still remembered to maintain a good sense of comedy and good-natured humor to balance out the often melancholic or horrifying moments.
It accomplishes this with great writing and performances by masterful actors, as well as stunning musical segments. Season 1 had its share of great musical moments due to Scanlan, but the hype went even further in Season 2. It really typifies the overall progression of Season 2: bigger, cleaner, and more dramatic. The creators of Critical Role knew they had to make the Chroma Conclave work and, from what we've seen so far, I think its fair to say that Season 3 is even more hyped than Season 2 was.

I do think its important that you all go into this show knowing that Season 2 will not resolve everything, but the characters to actually progress in their interpersonal relationships and in the overall direction of the overarching plot. The Legend of Vox Machina was an experiment that worked to see the rise of other D&D and role-playing properties hitting the mainstream and it is immensely gratifying to see the experiment is still going stronger than ever.

  • 10/10
  • 8/10
  • 8/10
  • 9/10

 FINAL SCORE - 8.75/10

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