Shadows at the Gates
Episode 4 of The Legend of Vox Machina begins with Uriel commanding Vox Machina’s arrest. Vex tries to convince Lady Allura that Uriel is under the Briarwoods’ influence. Allura takes their testimony under consideration, but says they will be placed under house arrest until they can get the Briarwoods’ side of the story.
As the Lord and Lady of Whitestone are fleeing, Delilah notices that their book is missing (the same that Vax stole in the last episode). Sylas tells her not to worry–they have means of retrieving it.
While the rest of the group tries to figure out what the Briarwoods’ book says, Pike sulks. Ever since Delilah hit her with a spell, she hasn’t been able to do any magic and feels as if the Everlight has left her. She doesn’t tell her friends this, however.
The others press Percy to reveal more about his connection to the Briarwoods. He says they initially came to Whitestone as allies. His own tutor betrayed his family to the couple, which was when they slaughtered his family.
Percy says he was almost able to escape with his sister Cassandra. He doesn’t finish his statement, but we see a flashback in which his sister is hit with arrows as they are trying to flee.
After hearing this story, they all try to escape house arrest so they can act on the Briarwoods’ threat. But the guards catch them and separate them into three groups.
Keyleth tries to encourage Percy by letting him know he’s not entirely alone. She reveals that she may never see her family again. She must complete what’s called an Aramente to prove herself worthy. Only then can she return home. Although Percy says their situations are very different, he also tells her she’s “damn worthy.”
Vex and Vax muse that they could easily escape the guards’ notice if they left without the group. With a look to each other and a (dare I say, fond?) glance toward Scanlan, it’s decided: they’re staying.
Pike, in the meantime, confesses to Grog her feeling that the Everlight has left her. Grog innocently suggests that the Everlight could be mad at her. Perhaps she just needs to apologize.
Meanwhile, Sylas and Delilah send creatures upon Vox Machina’s keep to find the book. When they slay five guards, chaos ensues.
The guards band together with Vox Machina to fight the skeletal, shadowy creatures that cause all the lights to go out. The creatures possess several of them, causing black liquid to stream out of their eyes and mouths.
Pike tries to summon light to help them; again, she can’t. Percy calls out to a frightened Keyleth that it’s time to prove herself. For the first time, the druid summons a burst of sunlight. It allows them, finally, to be able to injure these foes.
After the fight, the guards let them go. The next day, the group catches Percy attempting to leave for Whitestone. They say they are coming with him to beat Sylas, end his hold on Uriel, and clear their names.
Pike lingers behind, however. She thinks Grog was right. She can’t hear the Everlight any more and needs to tell her she’s sorry. Grog offers to help, but she says she must do it alone.
As the others trek toward Whitestone, it’s only Grog and Scanlan who look back at Pike as she walks in the opposite direction.
The Episode Review
Episode 4 proffers a beautifully-executed fight scene against some ghastly foes. If you like a macabre edge to your adventure stories, I think you’ll like where the series is heading–the Briarwoods have some intensely dark magic on their side.
Due to Pike’s story thread with the Everlight, the plot of this instalment felt somewhat disjointed. Pike’s arc, though moving, seemed thrown together and ill-explained. Maybe that’s a drawback to adapting a D&D campaign for television. The same story may not always play out so naturally in a different medium.
The rest of the episode felt very cohesive, however, especially with several touching moments that showed the group looking out for each other. One of the things I like about the series is how it started with both ill feelings and great chemistry between the party members. That leaves a lot of room for moments like we see in this episode, where we get to witness strong bonds develop.
It looks like the Briarwood threat isn’t going away anytime soon–not as long as Vox Machina has their precious book. Hopefully we’ll find out soon exactly what information the book possesses.