The first season of Legend of Vox Machina nearing its end, with its end falling on Friday. Long time Important role fans watched their favorite heroes from realistic play the series falls into the familiar pattern of Briarwood Arc; New fans and fans of the latter campaigns have now spent at least nine episodes with Vox Machina, watching them build relationships, fight epic battles and, in some cases, fall in love. together. But they also witnessed something else: redemption for Keyleth, one of the most powerful and, at times, controversial characters of the Role.
Oddly enough, that transformation has something to do with a stolen kiss. Stolen, ie, from the original version of the story.
[Warning: What follows contains spoilers for season 1 of The Legend of Vox Machina]
In the first season, viewers had to sit in the front row before longing gazes between Marisha Ray’s Keyleth and Vax’ildan, played by Liam O’Brien. And after many episodes with gentle smiles, some close-knit fights in the fight scenes, and a sweet moment with a finger trap in a magic shop, Vax has fans of the original campaign awaited in episode 9.
“You know I love you, right?” he blurted out.
Keyleth replied, “Wait, what? Now?!”
It was a surprising moment for viewers, and perhaps a confusing moment for longtime fans of the Critical Role as things turned out a little differently than the first time around. In the beginning, in episode 33 in the first season of Critical Role, Vax turns to Keyleth and asks – then kisses. It’s a now-iconic twist on the campaign, opening the door to the romance between the parties and a notable omission from the animated show’s fairly faithful depiction of events.
Keyleth’s characterization in the animated series fits perfectly with how Ray plays her on the show, refined and honed for this new format. According to an interview that Ray gave in 2018, Keyleth’s social awkwardness and uncertainty stem at least in part from Ray’s anxiety about joining a table full of established voice actors. But she mastered that initial role-playing decision and made it a core part of Keyleth’s character. Her style of play allows Keyleth to encounter doubt in key moments, sometimes leading to a game awkwardness or a moment of conflict. In a first episode, Ray begins to cry in character, as Keyleth tries to convey her inner turmoil over Vox Machina’s cavalier approach to murder. Her first moments in the animated series are also spent questioning the group, as she wonders why they are together.
Keyleth’s anxieties and lack of confidence, at least in part, stem from her concerns about her ability to take on the role she was destined for later, as the leader of the Air Ashari druids. Her fear of failure manifests itself in ways that often have direct negative consequences for the party. During a battle early in the show, Keyleth froze from panic in the face of a dragon, and Vex was forced to force her into action. She then struggles to harness her powers when asked to help with something as simple as lighting up a dark hallway.
It’s a surprising choice when you consider that Keyleth, as a druid, has a lot of elemental powers at her disposal. As a player, it can be tempting to role-play that kind of adept (and sometimes somewhat tame) magical character with confidence and courage, using the most powerful magic at your disposal. Instead, Ray’s choices shape Keyleth as someone struggling with her enormous powers, constantly grappling with her own insecurities and lack of confidence, and based on understanding that these types of anxiety can affect how people react under pressure. Her time as Keyleth has instilled in her the knowledge that it will take her time to overcome those fears, to become more resilient to being the leader her people need to be. downline.
Some viewers of the play actually disagreed with many of Keyleth’s choices. Those criticisms, due to the nature of the show’s live performance, happen in real time, sometimes filling up Twitch conversation with vitriol. Some even attack Ray in the process. The harassment is persistent and sometimes hangs over live games like a dark cloud. It also follows Ray on social media, to the point where Matthew Mercer and other members of the cast regularly choose to point out her harassers.
What’s interesting about the situation is that Ray is both a member of Critical Roles and the company’s creative director. Ray has been instrumental in making Critical Roles the massive multimedia company it is today, contributing as a creative lead on shows like All work not play, Unlimited Exandria, and more. In interviews and media appearances, the persona she portrays behind the scenes stands apart from Keyleth’s trademark of awkward indifference. Ray appears to command the room, often making tough decisions that affect the entire organization. However, a major group of malicious fans continued to hold a grudge against her portrayal of Keyleth.
Ray discussed the toxic nature of treating both her and her character in some interviews. According to her, the crux of Keyleth’s dislike of him stems from her disinterest in seeing a flawed, anxious character.
“Any kind of question or self-doubt, people are like, ‘can’t lead,'” Ray replied in an interview last year, smiling dully before ringing the bell. : “No. Keyleth will take the lead. She will show that you can, that people like Keyleth can rise above the odds.”
As Ray noted in her recent appearance on Key Role’s Twitch Channel (in a subscriber-only video clip), Keyleth hit the mark right from the start, down to her character design. In the animated series, viewers not only get the chance to see Keyleth through small moments of uncertainty, but also get to see a visualization of her powers – the power she first wields like small flowers or vines, blooming into glowing spheres of pure sunlight and towering walls of ice. Her party members are forced to acknowledge her strength: Percy comments on his pride in her, and even Vex, who is unafraid to express doubts about her abilities Keyleth’s abilities, gradually began to appear.
The budding relationship between Keyleth and Vax also demonstrates Keyleth’s growing confidence. Their romance doesn’t have the space of 33 episodes this time around, but we get flash shots that, in many ways, even better illustrate that transformation.
Things started off slow, with the flickering sense that something was wriggling between the drug man and the con man. Keyleth is the first to arrive when Vax throws herself from the palace window, and she literally goes crazy when he gets injured in episode 5. Her feelings are evident in times of need, when there’s no time. time for uncertainty – when Vax is injured, or threatened. On the other hand, Keyleth’s innocence prevents her from experiencing Vax’s delayed appearance as the viewer: as an obvious expression of interest.
When Vax proclaimed his love, it was earned – Vax’s desire was clear from the start. Keyleth’s perception of his interest is less certain, as is the viewer’s understanding of her stance on a potential romance. And so her surprise and disappointment at Vax’s announcement also feels profitable, even if it pushes the actual kiss fans may have anticipated. It’s a clever move by writers and animators, because it allows Keyleth what she’s always needed – time to process her feelings and understand before she responds. When and if Vax’s proclamation develops into something more, Keyleth will find time to meet him there, as an equal.
At the end of episode 6, when the group’s cleric Pike Trickfoot (Ashley Johnson) leaves the group, she turns to Keyleth and delivers the pointed statement: “You are their light now.” As contradictory as it may seem, the animated series’ abbreviated timeline actually gives Keyleth the time she needs to land her chance – the stakes soar allowing audiences to witness confidence and strength. Her strengths grow as the series continues to evolve, without hundreds of hours of delay. Keyleth is sweet, kind, and mean, and while she’s often clumsy, anxiety and uncertainty don’t make her any less powerful, even if she falters. She’s totally herself, and totally relevant. And when it’s counted, she delivers.
Simply put, she was shining.
https://www.polygon.com/22939528/critical-role-legend-of-vox-machina-justice-for-keyleth-vax-kiss Key Role: The Legend of Vox Machina Brings Justice to Keyleth