The second season of The Legend of Vox Machina is here, and quite a bit unfolds between the three premiere episodes. If you’ve been watching the Critical Role animated series since episode 1, though, you’ve already been treated to a nod to one of season 2’s major players.
[Ed. note: This post contains spoilers for The Legend of Vox Machina episodes 1-3 of season 2 and minor spoilers for its Critical Role campaign setting.]
In episode 2, Vox Machina is given a lofty commission by Osysa, a sphinx lurking beneath the Slayer’s Take: Find the Vestiges of Divergence, the god-killing tools that linger in the wake of Tal’Dorei’s apocalyptic event, the Calamity. She directs them to uncover the Deathwalker’s Ward, which was once worn by the champion of the Matron of Ravens.
Who is the Matron of Ravens?
According to a quick rundown by Will Friedle’s Kashaw “Kash” Vesh in episode 3, the Matron of Ravens is Tal’Dorei’s version of a death goddess. He discusses the Matron’s champion, Purvan Suul — the best-named character in Critical Role history? — and Zahra Hydris (Mary Elizabeth McGlynn) mentions that the goddess “won’t let her treasures go so easily.”
Kash’s deep dive and Osysa’s commission aren’t necessarily the first encounters Vox Machina has had with the death goddess. During the first episode, we get what is potentially our first glimpse of the Matron, stalking through the bodies strewn around Emon wearing a pale mask and flowing black robes — Vax’ildan (Liam O’Brien) is the only character to witness her passage.
The companion tome The World of Critical Role expands slightly on the Matron of Ravens’ backstory, noting that she is believed “to be the only mortal to have successfully achieved godhood, eclipsing the previous god of death” and that she values “embracing one’s destiny.” Tal’Dorei Campaign Setting Reborn, written by Mercer, Hannah Rose, and James J. Haeck, mentions that the few temples that feature the Matron depict her as a “tall, pale woman wrapped in dangling black linens, her onyx-black hair straight and never-ending, her face obscured by a white porcelain mask.”
Of the Tal’Doreian pantheon, the Matron is one of just a few gods that Vox Machina have encountered in the animated series. Season 1 introduced viewers to Pike Trickfoot’s goddess, the Everlight, and as the crew enters the city of Vasselheim in episode 2 they note the various temples to the Wildmother, the Stormlord, the Lawbearer, and the Matron herself.
If you watched episode 3, “The Sunken Tomb,” you know that death’s influence surrounds Vox Machina. As they seek out the Deathwalker’s Ward in the champion’s tomb, they encounter murals of the Matron and Purvan, depicting the Matron’s champion kneeling and large birds tearing apart enemies on a battlefield. After opening the sarcophagus of the fallen champion, Vex (Laura Bailey) is stunned by a bolt of black energy, and raven feathers fall around her limp form in the aftermath.
Ravens have been a running theme throughout The Legend of Vox Machina from the jump. In the title sequence, a raven is the first thing the audience sees, winging through the sky before transforming into an outpouring of golden light that threads itself through the intro. As the intro progresses, it’s clear that we’re seeing things at least in part from the raven’s perspective, and as the music crests near the end of the sequence the bird flies directly over Vox Machina.
For fans of the actual play, it’s an excellent nod to the Matron of Ravens’ eventual appearance — and as the outcome of “The Sunken Tomb” unfolds, it’s likely we haven’t seen the last of the goddess of death or her feathered friends.