The Legend of Vox Machina Season 2 Review

The Legend of Vox Machina Season 2 creates a refocused experience of Vox Machina's fight against the Chroma Conclave. Each member of the party grows as they seek the Vestiges of Divergence, but jokes and action sequences are never far behind. Our Review:

Published: January 16, 2023 12:00 PM /

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Vox Machina assembled at a meeting in The Legend of Vox Machina S2

Vox Machina has earned the acclaim of the people of Tal'Dorei, Uriel Tal'Dorei has abjugated his sovereign claim seeking to move the country to a democratic process, and as Vex grasps her head a wave of dragons signals their attack. Enter The Chroma Conclave, the chromatic dragons that are launching their assault on the continent, and Vox Machina have a lot of growing to do. The Legend of Vox Machina Season 2 is almost available to view; with it, the story of the heroes of Tal'Dorei continues.

The review will contain minor spoilers for Season 2 of The Legend of Vox Machina

The Legend of Vox Machina S2 spends no time recounting events from Season 1, immediately dropping viewers into the action. Riding high on their success from the first season, having defeated a Blue Dragon and saving Percy's hometown of Whitestone, Vox Machina launch into action intending to save the city. But through a montage of dragons destroying tower keeps, spewing poison through the streets of Eman, and burning through waves of counterattacks, it's clear the stakes are set. Vox Machina is shown how big the pond they've begun to swim in is.

Eman being attacked by a red dragon in The Legend of Vox Machina S2
Some of the most destructive and beautiful scenes of the season are the wide shots of draconic destruction

These opening moments, while setting the narrative tone, also set a bar for the gory spectacle that the show will maintain throughout the entire season. Flesh bubbling off the skulls of poor citizens and limbs being removed willy nilly, The Legend of Vox Machina seats itself nicely in the realm of modern-day adult animation, sitting aside popular series like Invincible. This overly gory animation also highlights some of the ridiculous situations in Dungeons & Dragons, where a human with a dagger can walk off the slash of a 5ft tall dragon claw.

After the shocking first episode with the world reeling from the oppressive grip of the Chroma Conclave, the narrative takes a more traditional hero's journey format. Vox Machina is made aware of the Vestiges of Divergence, a collection of powerful items that are the only chance for the survival of the races of Tal'dorei. Their locations are mostly known to Vox Machina but it's on the journeys to claim them that each member of Vox Machina has a chance to grow. Vex and Vax reconnect with their elitist father, Grog runs into his herd who had exiled him many years ago, and Scanlan wrestles with who he is as a person and what it is that he truly desires.

Fans who watched Critical Role's first campaign will be excited for some of the stories that come along with the quest for the Vestiges of Divergence, but won't be expecting the way that creative liberties have been taken with the story. Season Two reorders aspects of the stories, and even splits the party at times to be hitting multiple beats in a more natural format. While this might be stepping away from the source material, the overall narrative greatly improves because of it.

A lake is parted to reveal a tomb in the Legend of Vox Machina S2

While each story beat is concisely hit with the next objective just ahead of the party, it's hard not to feel how rapidly the pacing shifts from episode to episode. Vox Machina might spend twice as long cracking jokes on a snowy mountainside than time stopping an assault on a volcano containing a portal to another realm. There's a balance that's trying to be found between the important aspects of the story and the kind of riffing across the table that a Dungeons & Dragons game gives the opportunity for, but they haven't quite found that balance. It's likely a large portion of this also comes from the editing pains of transforming sixty hours of Actual Play content down to a three-hour season.

The highlight of these journeys is the emotion that the cast of Critical Role and Vox Machina put into these moments of character growth. Grog Strongjaw, played by Travis Willingham, who spent the majority of season one playing the 'head empty, no thoughts' barbarian has a chance to confront his past and reassess where he gets his strength from. In Season One he was merely happy to hit things, drink, and make crude jokes, but in discussing his perceived weaknesses, confronting his feelings of shame, and coming clean about this past to his longest friend Pike, depth and emotion were brought to Grog's character. (Ok yes, he still does a lot of hitting and drinking.)

Grog tensing his muscles
I believe Grog would like to rage...

Unlike traditional productions, the cast of Critical Role has the benefit of not just playing these characters for hundreds of hours, but being the ones who shaped them. It's this level of intimacy with who each character is that lends to excellent performances by the main cast. Guest voices such as Billy Boyd and Cheech Marin are also welcome surprises throughout Season Two. We see this type of character growth and conflict across each of the main cast as Vox Machina continues to grow from the uncoordinated band of misfits at the start of Season One to heroes of the land, not just fighting for fame and fortune but because they are the only ones able to take up the charge.

The Legend of Vox Machina Season 2 - Final Thoughts

Season Two of The Legend of Vox Machina is a more developed version of what the first season set out to do. Having gotten past the awkwardness of the series open, the introduction of real stakes, and the steps that need to be taken, Season Two lends itself far better to the TV format. Fans of Critical Role will enjoy seeing characters that they love continue to mess around and band together, but season two has a far better chance of drawing in those who are interested in the world but don't have the history with the franchise. As a TV show it does far better than Season One, but as an adaptation of an Actual Play, it's a further step removed.

This review was conducted with access to The Legend of Vox Machina S2 by Amazon

Review Summary

The Legend of Vox Machina Season 2 creates a refocused story experience of the first half of the Chroma Conclave arc of Critical Role's first campaign. Each member of Vox Machina takes their arc to grow, addressing past trauma and future goals adding new depth to each character. Accompanied by plenty of crass jokes and absurdly gory action sequences The Legends of Vox Machina has been further refined in this TV format. (Review Policy)

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