Critical Recap: Exandria Unlimited: Calamity E4 “Fire and Ruin” | Critical Role (2024)

Hello! Welcome to Critical Recap! I’m Dani Carr, the Critical Role Lore Keeper. Let’s dive into our recap of Exandria Unlimited: Calamity Episode 4 Fire and Ruin!

TIME STOP

Time is suspended as the Ring of Brass are blown back from the erupting Tree of Names. Patia loses her right arm at the elbow in the tree as everyone’s magical items explode. Patia is killed outright while the others, sans Laerryn, are knocked unconscious. Zerxus somehow regains consciousness and the others reflect on their lives in their final moments. Nydas regrets failing his wondrous city and Patia laments all this knowledge dying with her as Laerryn watches the face of Loquatius transform repeatedly, her eyes only on her husband.

The Lord of the Hells enters the chamber and Zerxus sees a figure being tortured in the fiery seam behind the devil. Zerxus reaches out to this sorrowful, tortured figure in the hope that he can find answers. He pulls this figure, the true heart of the Lord of the Hells, into Exandria with him through the power of the blood of the chosen. Zerxus attempts to magically atone the devil, but his actions reveal the Lord of the Hells’ true feelings: he cannot be atoned when he doesn’t believe he did anything wrong.

THE BETRAYER GOD

Zerxus argues with the Lord of the Hells, saying that the gods came to Exandria but created nothing, only shaped what was already here. The Lord of the Hells is amused, rejecting Zerxus and calling out the paladin’s pride while killing him and reviving him repeatedly. The Lord of the Hells takes issue not with his siblings, the Prime Deities, but with the mortals they cherished, the mortals he considers traitors. The Lord of the Hells is hatred itself and Zerxus pities him.

The devil names Zerxus his new champion, killing him again. Zerxus, as a spirit, watches him kill the erinyes Xartaza, creating a mace from her body. The Lord of the Hells offers this mace to Zerxus as a way to return to Exandria, to accept his role as the devil’s champion or move on to the afterlife. As Zerxus thinks, split on his decision, he hears Evandrin’s voice again.

Unable to help her fallen friends, Laerryn teleports to a safe room in the Meridian Labyrinth and watches a feed from Dweomer’s eyes. The Lord of the Hells activates the runes on the k’nauthi; devils erupt from each cultist. He orders Vespin to prepare the gateway for the primordial Emperor and Empress, who must join them in Vasselheim. The Lord of the Hells leaves for Ghor Dranas, the new home of the Betrayers, and speaks to another god, the Ruiner, about their plans to destroy Vasselheim. Laerryn broadcasts everything to Cerrit via the telepathic bond and feels Loquatius die, leaving her heartbroken.

THE FAMILY MAN

Meanwhile, Cerrit flies home and sees the city descending into chaos. His children are home and he tries to calm them, giving them the Runes of Recall. He promises to tell them everything one day, but his lie detection ring glows; he claims the ring glows when danger is near. Neither Maya nor Kir understand what is happening, only that their father is sending them away. Cerrit tells them that he loves them and will always have his eye on them. He closes their hands around the stones and teleports his children safely to their mother and out of the city.

Cerrit takes a moment in his home to mourn the life he spent devoted to his work and away from his children. He sets fire to his home office, enraged at not having the time to be with them. He goes to their bedrooms and pieces his children’s lives together from the clues in their room – Maya’s intelligence and Kir’s adoration. He lets it all go so that he can focus on the task at hand and returns to Laerryn in the Labyrinth, intent on helping the Ring of Brass once more.

LOVE IN THE STARS

Zerxus is in the Astral Sea, caught between mortality and the afterlife. Here, he is reunited with Evandrin, whose soul is tethered to the Astral Sea. Evandrin explains that it was his choice as First Knight to assist Laerryn and they were unaware of the true danger; that the tree would see him as an outside threat after his journey. Zerxus explains that he is here now because he fell in battle but Evandrin believes that they can find a way home together.

Zerxus, however, knows that the only path left to him is to accept his role as Champion of the Lord of the Hells. It is the only way to save Elias and the others. He will never give up his belief that everyone can be redeemed. He takes up the mace, accepting the bargain, and two ram horns grow from his head, to Evandrin’s shock. As Zerxus returns to Exandria, Evandrin says that he worships no god but his husband’s heart and promises to bring him home some day.

REDEMPTION

Zerxus returns to the Calix chamber and sees the dead bodies of Patia and Loquatius, with Nydas stabilized but unconscious. Vespin is still here and Zerxus can see pain and humanity behind his fiendish eyes. He casts his atonement ritual on Vespin, freeing him from his fiendish form for but a moment. Vespin casts time stop, interrupting the contract on Zerxus’ soul and extending it, giving the paladin until sunrise before he completely turns.

Vespin explains that he was a malconvoker, or an infernalist. He thought he could overthrow the Betrayers and now history will remember him as its greatest villain. Zerxus takes this time to cast revivify on Loquatius, bringing him back to life. He has no more spell slots to cast it on Patia, but Loquatius gives Zerxus the raw ether that Laerryn had gifted to him – another spell slot. He uses it to revive Patia, then heals Nydas.

Vespin only has a little longer before he returns to his fiendish form. He tells them to go see the oracle, Karwen, for answers. Vespin knows his name is cursed now. His wish was to not be forgotten and the Lord of the Hells granted that wish. He hopes they will all be forgotten and leaves to get as far away from the Labyrinth as he can before he turns back into a fiend.

THE FINAL PROPHECY

The Ring of Brass all meet up in the Labyrinth once more. Everyone is shocked by Zerxus and his bargain, but they have no time to discuss it. They head to the Hall of Prophecy, healing themselves on the way. They wake Karwen, who heals them and gives another prophecy, revealing that if the primordials Emperor Rau’shan and Empress Ka’mort rejoin the Betrayers in this fight, then Exandria will not survive.

Laerryn realizes that she must use the Astral Leywright to send the primordials through the planes and take them away from Exandria. They can’t guarantee that just stopping the city from landing will be enough – this is the only way to ensure that the primordials won’t join the Betrayers. The party splits to finish their final acts and final wishes before they return to the Labyrinth to assist Laerryn.

THE KEEPER

Patia goes to the immense statue of her grandfather, Imyr Por’co, in the Archsept. She speaks to the statue, telling her grandfather what she learned of his deals and the Gau Drashari and her desire to end the cycle of selfishness. The statue holds aloft a 20ft replica of Avalir; Patia breaks off her library from this replica and teleports both it and her magic orb, the receptacle of her vast knowledge, to Cerrit’s daughter Maya. Her life’s work is now in someone else’s hands.

As she teleports it away, she recalls her grandfather taking away her memories of her parents. Though part of her wants the orb back, Patia is confident that she knows what she needs to know. She is approached by Loras of the Weaver’s Mask, who she swiftly tells off. Eldamir the Wise of the Septarion tells her that Loras is going to direct Loquatius to inform the citizens of Avalir that they must sacrifice themselves to preserve the city. Patia leaves, sure that Loquatius will know what to say, and calls Loras a traitor as she heads to the Labyrinth.

THE PIRATE

Nydas goes to the Golden Scythe to tell his aides to have the Taxmen protect the people and to load as many citizens as possible onto the galleons of the Harvest Moon and take them far away from Avalir and Vasselheim. The material wealth no longer matters – they must protect the people. Captain Badran, his old friend and fellow pirate, stabs Nydas in the back, refusing to abandon the gold. Nydas and his dragon kill Badran. The bookkeeper Alessander agrees to get the ships ready for the people of Avalir and the children at the Sorcerer’s University.

While preparing the Taxmen, Nydas is ambushed by a horde of devils but he is rescued by Feromyne, the sphinx. Feromyne tells him that the k’nauthi tampered with four of the Taxmen – the four that are in the Meridian Labyrinth with Laerryn. Nydas warns Laerryn and sends the rest of the Taxmen into the city to assist his other constructs in fighting the devils.

THE LAST BROADCAST

Loquatius goes to the Herald’s Tome and calls upon his assistant Aria to direct the projectors down into Cathmoira, so that all of Toramunda can hear his broadcast. As he prepares to go live, a portal into the Fey Realm opens up – Lady Elmenore is calling every Seelie fairy home, to escape Exandria before the war. Loquatius chooses to stay in his chosen home with his love and bids a sweet farewell to his queen. He passes the desk of Elena Tuvaris, the reporter he fired to protect Laerryn, and leaves his herald’s pin on her desk with an apology.

Before the broadcast begins, Loras arrives and tells Loquatius to have the citizens stop fleeing, channel their ether into the city, and send the ships to the Septarion. Loquatius traps Loras in a Wall of Force and starts his broadcast. Loquatius stirs hope in the citizens by taking the form of Eldamir the Wise and ordering the people to flee to the skyships and leave Cathmoira. All city administrators must stay and go down with the ship. He ends his speech with calls to remember the individuals of the Ring of Brass. The truth will always matter as hope alights the city.

FINAL GIFTS

Zerxus flies with Tempus to Cathmoira, going to the home of Eaedalus Okiro to see his son. Elias is shocked by his father’s appearance and tearfully apologizes for not sending him a spell kite. Zerxus tells Elias how much he loves him and gives him his journal – it holds all his dreams and his love for Elias and Evandrin. He tells his son to always remember who he was and takes off, but not before Tempus leaves a starry feather for Elias.

Zerxus, flying over Cathmoira, issues a command in Infernal that all the fiends must lay down their weapons. This buys the people in Cathmoira more time to escape through druidic means, but he catches the attention of the Lord of the Hells, who now knows that Zerxus has a little time before his contract is completed. Zerxus returns to Avalir and heads for the Labyrinth.

THE ASTRAL LEYWRIGHT

Laerryn is busy at work reconfiguring the Astral Leywright – she has half an hour to redo her life’s work. She needs the names of the primordials in order to move the Emperor and Empress to the Astral Realm, which Patia provides thanks to her knowledge from the tree. Nydas promises Zerxus, who will transform at sunrise, that he will not let him turn into something he is not. The Ring of Brass forms a ring of protection around Laerryn as Vespin Chloras, fully fiendish, enters the room with the four corrupted Taxmen at the door.

A fight ensues, with everyone focusing on giving Laerryn enough time to complete her work. Laerryn must make a choice – does she try to limit the energy so that Avalir and Cathmoira might survive or does she ensure that the primordials are banished? Laerryn knows this has to work and Loquatius gave an order to go down with the ship. She will ensure that it works, Avalir be damned. Vespin attempts several times to kill Laerryn, but critical attacks from the Ring of Brass keep him away from her and Cerrit, the mage slayer, kills Vespin Chloras.

WHAT IT TAKES

With the Taxmen still a problem, Nydas and Zerxus fight side by side as they once did. Zerxus purposefully goes down in hopes that it will keep him from turning. Nydas, recognizing this, positions his blade over his best friend’s heart in his final moments. When Nydas is slain, he ensures that Zerxus dies, too. Patia is killed and uses her last moments to send energy into the Leywright. Additionally, magic she absorbed from the Tree of Names goes into the Leywright, powering it completely.

Laerryn is attacked by the Taxmen, but Loquatius was prepared, healing her fast enough to keep her on her feet. Laerryn successfully activates the Leywright as Avalir docks with Cathmoira, opening a path through the planes and sending the primordials through it. The city begins to fall apart as the energy blast and the Lord of the Hells’ wrath begins to tear through the continent of Domunas.

THE STORY OF THE RING OF BRASS

As the sun rises, the Ring of Brass reach several understandings in their final moments. Zerxus chooses to remain a fiend, still seeking redemption for the Lord of the Hells. He sees Elias riding Tempus, his starry griffon opening a portal to the Astral Sea, where Evandrin reunites with his son. They are safe together among the stars. Nydas knows that the people of Avalir and the children of the university were saved because of him and that his brother is safe. His dream may not be remembered, but others will be able to dream because of him.

Patia, too, thinks of dreams. Her grandfather once asked her what mattered most: the dream or the dreamer? Patia knows there are many more dreams to come. She hears Maya’s voice on Cerrit’s sending stone, mentioning the orb. Her work will live on and new dreams do not have to tread the same old paths. Cerrit speaks to his wife and his children, who are in Gwessar. He apologizes for not being there for them. He promises he will try to find a way out.

Laerryn and Loquatius renew their vows to each other, promising that all they have ever wanted is each other. Cerrit searches for a way out, emboldened by his promise to his family. Laerryn telepathically gives him directions through the Labyrinth and he successfully flies out of Avalir as it collapses. As he escapes, Cerrit tells Laerryn that the Ring of Brass endures because of her. She gave them this chance. It takes weeks of flying, but Cerrit reunites with his family.

Domunas is destroyed. In its destruction, it sent up a cloud of ash that darkened the skies for a hundred years. In modern Exandria, the continent is a chain of islands known as The Shattered Teeth. The Calamity will last for centuries, yes. Two-thirds of Exandria will lose their lives in this war. But because of the Ring of Brass, because the primordials did not join the Betrayers, the Calamity will end. Hope will flourish in Exandria again.

That is it for Episode 4 of Exandria Unlimited: Calamity!

FINAL THOUGHTS

  • Holy wow. What a story these incredible actors wove! I cried so many times just trying to write this recap, let alone during the show.
  • Patia’s orb, filled with knowledge, could still be somewhere in Exandria. But where? What did Maya end up doing with it?
  • “Why do we tell stories? To try to make sense of a world that can be terrifying and enormous.” Brennan’s final words will always be profound to me.
  • Thank you to everyone who watched this story!! The truth will always matter and hope will always endure.

Next up is our one-shot A Familiar Problem: Sprinkle’s Incredible Journey this Thursday, June 23rd at 7pm Pacific on twitch.tv/criticalrole and on youtube.com/criticalrole or a week later on our podcast. Is it Thursday yet?

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