Critical Recap – Critical Role C3E80 “A Test of Trust”
Written by Dani on December 20, 2023
Hello! Welcome to Critical Recap! I’m Dani Carr, the Critical Role Lore Keeper. Let’s dive into our recap of Critical Role Campaign 3 Episode 80 A Test of Trust!
Bells Hells begin their third therapeutic test laid out by Nana Morri (and FCG, despite him remembering nothing): they must seek out three pieces of an ivory branch within fey ruins and return them to a well. However, two of them will be replaced by doppelgangers. They must figure out who to trust, while the doppelgangers attempt to spoil the test. If any branch breaks, they will fail. There will also be fey denizens among the ruins, making things more difficult.
The group is transported to the center of the ruins. Suspicion immediately occurs, with no one trusting each other and attempts to suss out the two imposters. Many of the plants are on the offensive, trapping and tangling those who get too close and spitting acid. Ashton frees Fearne from one of the plants and encourages them all to stick together. They look for illusions within the thick brambles and ivy and Laudna locates the first branch by casting Wither and Bloom.
Ashton grabs the branch and takes it to the well, but his attempt to place it is rebuffed by an invisible barrier. All three branches must be placed at the same time. Ashton accidentally gets an acid blast from the purple flowers and the branch is slightly damaged. FCG talks to a squirrel named Kenny, who tells them to avoid the walls and some of the trees. The group remembers they’re supposed to be trusting each other, not trying to locate the rogue agents. This is a test.
A quick fey creature drops down from a tree and steals the branch from Ashton. Orym races after the thief and uses Grasping Vine to take back the branch. Ashton saves FCG from being dragged away by a creepy owl, which Imogen kills. Imogen uses Inflict Wounds to remove a bramble wall and locates the second branch. FCG argues with Imogen about giving the branch to him, but she convinces him that she’s trustworthy.
Chetney locates the third branch within an illusory tree. FCG asks the Changebringer if Orym is the “bad guy” and her answer makes them switch their distrust to Chetney. Imogen, Orym, and Chetney arrive at the well and hold their branches over the pool of water, waiting for the doppelgangers to reveal themselves, distrust mounting. The group begins to realize that there are, in fact, no doppelgangers amongst them.
They drop their branches into the well, where they combine into one singular ivory branch. Mist spills out and the two doppelgangers, along with Nana Morri, enter the space. Nana is pleased, telling them that sometimes they have to trust each other no matter what they’re told. They passed the test and are awarded the ivory branch. They return to Ligament Manor, where they awaken from the nap they’ve been taking within Nana’s home.
Bells Hells agree that their therapy sessions were very eye-opening. Ashton had several epiphanies, but thinks it is worth acknowledging that the inciting incident leading to mistrust could have come from any of them. They all have baggage and bad days to come. They’re all time bombs. The only way they can be okay in the future is to know they could all mess up and to take care of each other in the meantime.
Laudna thinks they need to accept the little ways they can help. Their group is underestimated, unlike targets such as Allura and Keyleth. Orym wants to give this his all, instead of waiting around. Imogen asks how they would feel if she gave into Ruidus and didn’t push away. Ashton encourages her to jump into the lava and find out who she is – just tell them when she does it so they can help her.
As for the fire shard, Fearne has been afraid of something that feels inevitable. She feels ready to try and take the Spark of Rau’shan within her, knowing that her friends and Nana will be there to help her. Laudna wants Fearne to give herself more credit to control her own future. Fearne is Fearne – not the dark mirror, not her father. Fearne is ready to step up to the challenge.
INTO THE FIRE
Everyone goes to the garden, buffing Fearne with various protections to assist her. Fearne’s numerous animal friends join them in support and curiosity. Imogen holds Ashton’s hand and kisses their cheek. She is sorry that he felt he had to hide his feelings and motivations from the group. Orym kneels in front of Fearne, so she can focus on him during this ordeal. Chetney takes out the shard and its presence alone is enough for Delilah’s voice to prod at Laudna. She pushes her patron away, holding onto Imogen and focusing on her loved one’s warmth.
Chetney places the shard into the harness’ funnel and heat begins to build in Fearne’s body. Her heart feels like a burgeoning star and she lifts into the air. She takes numerous rounds of fire damage, which FCG offsets by healing her via Ashton’s own pool of health. FCG warns them all that if he does it again, he’ll lose control, but the group encourages him to keep healing – they’ll protect her and take care of him. FCG heals her and rages into murderbot mode, but Chetney uses his blood curse to bind them. FCG tries to speak, but Nana silences them.
Fearne beholds a landscape of fire, where each flame has a life. She sees sparks like children playing. This is a time before time itself. The fire begins to settle into her as her body is engulfed in flame. Laudna casts wither and bloom to heal her, wilting the garden but saving Fearne. A flame entity of massive size blossoms in front of Fearne. It regards her as an equal and she feels a sense of sadness, then legacy. The entity holds her and Fearne embraces her own self.
Fearne unleashes her flames and Allura protects the group and the garden from the fire. Fearne comes back down, her vision clearing to behold her friends. Parts of her body are still wreathed in flame. FCG breaks free and Orym attacks them until FCG breaks out of their rage. Fearne is still Fearne, though she recognizes that she needs to learn to control this new form. Laudna can help her with that.
The group wonders if this will awaken Ashton’s dormant shard. Fearne and Ashton shake hands and Ashton’s veins light up. Ashton feels as if he belongs to the ground, an overwhelming sensation of knowing the story of every stone. They feel as if they are burrowing through Exandria, at one with the rock. Ashton sees an endless mountain range, the land folding onto itself. They grow an extra two feet in height as shards of rock jut out along their skin, their eyes shifting color. There is a strength to Ashton that he now understands. A feeling of being complete.
Ashton thanks Fearne. He wasn’t ready for this before. Fearne and Ashton rush out of the garden and onto the forest floor to explore and play with their new powers and new forms. Nana Morri is so proud, having always known Fearne was meant for greatness. Bells Hells have now found strength in themselves and each other, with possibility lighting the way once more.
That is it for Episode 80 of Critical Role!
- The Emperor Rau’Shan and the Empress Ka’Mort together again within Fearne and Ashton! How AMAZING!!!
- The doppelganger game was so fun and chaotic. What a great twist for none of them to be replaced! It still took them a long time to be comfortable with trusting, though.
- I’m excited to see what magic the ivory branch holds and how it can aid them in the future!