The first season of Legend of Vox Machina left off on a significant cliffhanger – Vox Machina had overcome the Briarwoods and liberated Whitestone – and had succeeded at their first major act of deliberate heroism. However, the Chroma Conclave were literally on the doorstep. Season 2 kicks off the start of the Chroma Conclave arc.
Season 1 was very much about Percy & Pike growing up. That’s not necessarily becoming more mature – Pike’s arc was very much about striking a balance between the sense of serenity that you expect from the representative of a deity, and the cussing and drinking that comes with hanging around with Vox Machina (combined with crushing on gigolo Scanlan).
I’ve chosen that word specifically because Scanlan, alongside Grog and Vax, probably do some of their biggest growing up in this arc. Scanlan’s worldview is very much that of the song “Just a Gigolo” – he’s a hedonist, somewhat for pay, acting with the full knowledge that he’s basically stretching this out for as long as he can, because once youth, charm, and wit fades away he’ll vanish – life will go on without him. Even his acts of heroism thus far, in some respects, don’t seem to have much impact on the larger scope of the world, based on the information he has. Yeah, helping to save Whitestone felt good, but it’s just saving one city.
Now Scanlan’s in an actual save the world quest, and he’s in over his head. The writing for the season and the performance by Sam Riegel does a really good job of getting across that Scanlan is not comfortable with these stakes, and he’s used to being able to move on from the really big problems and let someone else handle them. Now there is no someone else. We also get the bit to bring this home of the introduction of Scanlan’s adult daughter (who was also introduced at this point in the game) – plus him coming to terms with his feelings about Pike. It makes for a lot of really intresting emotional conflict to sink into.
By comparison, Grog’s arc is a little more restrained. Grog’s arc is very much based around challenging an abusive surrogant parent figure who nearly killed him and left him for dead when Grog stood up for a weaker person who became a much better surrogate parent figure (Pike’s actual grandfather – played with aplomb by Henry Winkler).
Then there’s Vax & Vex. Vax probably gets the most development here, particularly tied to the acquistion of his own Vestage of Divergence – the Armor of the Raven Queen. He’s forced to confront his own dependance on Vex basically through an act of impulsiveness that is going to have some serious reprecussions down the road – and a chunk of his development is related a lot to him dealing with what it means to be a champion of the Raven Queen, and consequently a champion of a god of Death.
Vex’s development, on the other hand, feels much more restrained. Her arc is “We ran away from our dad because he was a dick. We went through some serious hardships, and now as adults we’re meeting with him for the first time in years and… yep, still a dick. Moving on.” It was… perfunctory in the tabletop game, and it’s still perfunctory here. Possibly more so in the TV series because just due to the nature of the game session it had more time on the stream.
All of that said, this show is still as violent, crass, and lewd as season 1 was, though there’s less actual nudity here. Still, it makes for something where this definitely fits the category of “animation that is not for kids,” and also might be more violent and crass than a lot of Japanese animation for that matter. I liked it, but I also am very much aware that this not for everyone.
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