Critical Recap: Exandria Unlimited E4 “By the Road”
Written by Dani on July 21, 2021
Hello! Welcome to Critical Recap! I’m Dani Carr, the Critical Role Lore Keeper, here with recaps for Exandria Unlimited! Let’s dive into our recap of ExU Episode 4 By the Road!
After a minor mishap with the horses, the group officially begins their trek south from Emon down the Emerald Pass. Two weeks pass – as they near the Verdant Expanse, Fearne begins to feel something in the woods calling to her. She leads the cart (now lovingly named the “Glitter Shitter”) off the main road and into the forest as the others quiz the cagey Dorian about his life. Dorian has an older brother, but he doesn’t come from an accepting background. He wanted to see and do more in the world. He asks that they not question him more about his past. Dariax thinks Dorian is from carnival folk. Dorian encourages this theory.
They reach a spot in the woods where they can no longer pass with the wagon. Fearne feels compelled to check, to see what’s going on, so the others join her deeper in the forest. They eventually reach an open glade, where a strange gate sits on a plinth. This is where Fearne came through from the Feywild, but she doesn’t know if it’s time to return, yet. She has things to do. The others encourage her to interact with the gate.
Fearne steps up to the gate and puts her hand through, but the hand in her reflection seems burnt and strange. When she pulls back, the reflection hand pushes through. Out steps another faun – she looks like a mirror version of Fearne, sooty black and more goat-like, wreathed in flames and wearing the circlet. This Mirror!Fearne tells her that it’s time to come home. She says that she is a version of Fearne who found and embraced her power, but Fearne must return now. The War Queen wants her back and she cannot be the outcast that her parents are.
A voice rings out from the woods, telling Mirror!Fearne that Fearne can make her own choices about where she goes. Out steps a fire genasi monk, Fy’ra Rai. Her instincts, her Gift, has brought her across the planes but it has never brought her to the same people twice. She knows this group somehow and she is here to help. A battle breaks out in the glade, with Mirror!Fearne summoning ashy scorpions. Opal continues to refuse to apologize to Ted, leaving her without magic for this fight.
Mirror!Fearne tells Fearne that Nana lied to them – that Nana sent the letters, the gifts. That their parents ran. Fearne doesn’t believe her. Mirror!Fearne tells them that she’s killed them all before …except for Fy’ra Rai. The battle rages and Opal is knocked unconscious, but it is Fy’ra Rai who finally destroys Mirror!Fearne. As Fearne looks through the gate, she hears words in her mind – ‘The Unforgiving. High War Queen of the Veil. Matriarch of the Seelie Court.’ It seems the War Queen is displeased by Mirror!Fearne’s failure.
Meanwhile, Opal is still unconscious and in a dark place. She finds herself face to face with Ted, where the two argue about her loss of power. Ted gave up everything to protect her sister, but Opal doesn’t believe that Ted gave up anything, when Ted had nothing going on. Each believes they have spent their life taking care of the other and Opal wants to be free of Ted’s endless judgment. Ted just wants Opal to take care of herself, to not die. Ted knows she doesn’t shine like her sister does, but she doesn’t mind that. She just needs her sister to stay alive. While not fully agreeing, the two sisters see each other in a new light and exchange “I love you”s. Meanwhile, Fearne casts cure wounds on Opal, restoring her to consciousness. Upon waking, Opal finds that she can use her magic again.
An elven woman in purple arrives on the scene, dispatching the remaining scorpions. Her name is Myr’atta Niselor. She is from Syngorn, a nearby elven city with the famed ability to move between the material and fae planes. Other elven soldiers arrive and begin putting strange, iridescent spikes in the ground. Myr’atta explains that this area contains an excess amount of leaking energy that they are here to clean up. Myr’atta reads Opal’s thoughts, which Opal notices, causing her to argue with the woman about being so invasive without her permission. Fearne asks Myr’atta to let her Nana, Mori Callaway in the Feywild, know that she’s okay.
The group treks back to the cart and get to know Fy’ra Rai. She claims to be here to protect them. The group feels a connection to her that they can’t explain. When they tell her that they plan to journey to the Ruins of Qoniira, Fy’ra Rai laughs. Now she knows why she has been sent to them. She takes the reins of the horses and the group once again journeys south for over a week before arriving in Byroden – Opal’s hometown. Byroden is heavily guarded, but within the walls of the city there is a bright festival atmosphere. Everyone there recognizes Opal, pleased to see her again, but Opal learns for the first time that Ted left Byroden just a few days after she did. No one has seen her since.
THE GEM OF BYRODEN
The head of the festival, Ruby Lee Beckfort, tells them all about the Forever Byroden pageant and the pie contest, as well as Byroden’s main philosophies – Militia, Mining, and Merriment. Opal is a former pageant winner and Ruby Lee convinces a few of them to sign up. Upon learning that Orym has never had pie before, Ruby Lee ushers him away for food. With outfits purchased, Opal, Dorian, Fearne, and Dariax enter the pageant along with citizens Cinna Brightbow and Lisle Vester. Cinna is a jovial, blonde dwarven woman who runs a jewelry store, while Lisle is a frenemy of Opal’s who mocks her.
First is the interview portion! Cinna, Dariax, Opal, and Dorian are asked what kind of gem they would be. Cinna – something green, like the city. Dariax – peach jam! (He misunderstood the question.) Opal – a ruby, the color of the heart. Dorian – a diamond. Or an opal. Or- (He got flustered.) Lisle is asked what Byroden means to her, upsetting Opal, so Dariax uses thaumaturgy to make her sound like she’s passing gas during her answer. Fearne is asked what flower she would be and answers oleander. It’s beautiful and can be used to kill people!
For the talent portion, Lisle leads a horse onto the stage for dressage dancing, which Dariax uses mage hand to interrupt, but Lisle still wins over the crowd. Cinna finds Orym and puts him in front of an ice sculpture, throwing hand axes around his body. Opal, Dorian, Dariax, and Fearne enter together, with the other three as Opal’s backing band. Opal sings a heartfelt song about Byroden and leaving home, which kicks into heavier gear when the others join in. They each bring their own flavor to the performance and the crowd loves it.
For the final portion, evening wear, everyone sparkles in their newly purchased outfits. Dariax dresses as a tin man using the disguise self cloak. Dorian wears a revealing chiffon top with sash, flying over the crowd with his winged boots. Lisle wears an iridescent ballgown and corset, utilizing fireflies in her skirt. Opal wears a pink tulle ballgown with a metal breastplate that glows under Fy’ra Rai’s firelight. Cinna is clad in a green Betsey Johnson number, swinging in on ropes and just happy to be here. Fearne rips her fluffy dress to make it look different, then casts primal savagery on herself when she poses. Breathtaking.
The winners of the pageant are called out: Cinna is first runner-up, Lisle is the Gem of their Hearts, and Opal is crowned the Gem of Byroden! Opal receives a crown and gives a speech – she is proud to be from this town and thanks her friends for not letting her go it alone. As the evening continues, Orym finds a quiet spot in the woods to practice his exercises and Dorian, Dariax, and Fearne have a drinking contest.
Opal returns to her home, going to Ted’s bed and thinking about her sister. She places the tiara on Ted’s pillow before leaving.
Ted looks into the darkness, feeling her home so close but unable to reach it. She feels alone, despite existing within Opal. She can feel the seed of potential and purpose. She can feel that seed growing.
That is it for Episode 4 of Exandria Unlimited!
- Welcome to Exandria Unlimited, Anjali Bhimani, who is playing Fy’ra Rai!
- That was an intense sibling fight between Opal and Ted. It’s easy to see both sides of their arguments. Siblings are complicated as heck.
- Lots of mysteries revealed themselves in this episode. Who exactly was Mirror!Fearne? Where is Ted? How are they all connected to Fy’ra Rai?