Monday, August 25, 2014

The Quest Episode 1-4 Recap: Battle Dome

"You saved the queen--my queen. And I thank you for that. The kingdom thanks you for that." --Sir Ansgar
And yet, nobody seems to be investigating who poisoned the queen. Someone call CSI.

Anyway, we open with the paladins earning xp for their trade skills again, and then an alarm goes up! Everyone grabs weapons and hops awkwardly into ill-fitting armor. Thankfully this was just a drill--and the paladins all failed! Sneaky, Sir Ansgar. Though really, if the enemy can breach your defenses that fast, Everealm is seriously screwed.

The three previous challenge winners are called up to pick teams for the upcoming challenge, dividing the paladins into groups of Andrew, Patrick and Lina; Shondo, Christian and Jasmine; and Bonnie, Adria and Leticia.

The new day dawns with sparring in the courtyard. This is one of my favorite scenes in a hero's journey. Here the Grand Vizier looks on from above and is not amused, but Crio looks happy. Sir Ansgar is full of angst, piss and vinegar. The paladins get to watch Sir Ansgar's men duel, and they are hardcore. (It makes me want to buy a ticket to Medieval Times SO BAD. Love it.)

Andrew and Christian's bromance continues, and Lina calls them out on it. Andrew continues to stupidly trust Christian. Sir Ansgar tells the girl team to stop being so nice, and Ansgar calls Crio out for not being courageous, which is totally horse manure (and also bullying). Not cool, Sir Ansgar. Don't shame the seer for not being a combat wonk.

Sir Ansgar reveals the twist to the challenge--the teammates will be fighting each other!

Remember how I was all happy that they were working together in a non-Lord-of-the-Flies way? Yeah...

Lina is screwed because she's up against the bromance. Patrick yells that he's going to crush Jasmine. Leticia is confident that she's going to crush Adria and Bonnie. Sigh. Really it's just downhill from there.

The paladins enter the battle dome, which contains a weird peace sign of doom over a hay pit--the goal is to knock your opponent off the narrow beam and into the hay. Apparently none of the paladins have ever heard of shield bash. Epic fail. SHIELD BASH, PEOPLE! Come on! This is sword-and-board 101. Especially since you're whacking at each other with blunted swords. Your shield is a way more effective weapon.

Then Christian yelled to Leticia that she doesn't need a sword after she dropped hers, and finally Leticia figured out the shield bash and took Bonnie down. And she was snarky about it. That snark faded pretty fast once she had to face off against Shondo and Patrick in the final round.

In a moment that would make Xena proud, Leticia wins! w00t! You go, girl!

After the fight Shondo was adorably upset, which I want to hug him for (we're at 3 on the Shondo hugs count). No sulking, just good-natured defeat. He continues to seem like a guy who would be fun to have a beer with.

The paladins trudged to the fate's challenge in the rain, adding insult to injury. Ominous background thunder is ominous. Jasmine, Adria and Lina are in jeopardy of elimination. Tiny catapults fling skulls at the paladins, who are supposed to splat them with a sword, like Gallagher with skulls instead of melons. Or Fruit Ninja with skeletons. It looked ridiculously fun. Jasmine hit 5 skulls. Adria hit 7 skulls. Lina hit 5.

Jasmine and Lina are up for the vote. Tough choice--they're both strong competitors.
Shondo: "Anybody that can run at me with a sword and half my size, man...if the word balls has anything that can come to play in this conversation..."

Adria: "Ovaries. ... She womaned up."
Personally, I'd vote for Jasmine to stay because she seemed slightly stronger. But no, they picked Lina. It makes me sad that Jasmine is leaving, because she was awesome. But I think Lina will do well. She's tough.

The next day is bright and sunshiney. Crio puts the paladins to work on their trade skills again. The Queen rides up, all healthy and recovered from being poisoned. (FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, WHY ARE YOU HIPPIES LETTING YOUR QUEEN WHO WAS JUST POISONED RIDE AROUND WITH ONLY ONE BODYGUARD?! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE!)

Then a random NPC runs in and yells about an ogre breaking through the outer walls!

Next time, there will be siege weapons! Sneaking! Crying! Drama! Sweet.

I love this show. Obviously, because I'm taking the time to recap it. ;) It's such a cool concept and has so much potential for awesome. I'm eager to see where it goes next, but here are some of my thoughts on what's happened so far.
  • The Hero's Journey: I don't like Christian, but he has potential for growth. His early defeats and oily demeanor could make him a candidate for the classic hero's quest--he'll learn from the error of his ways and rise above his early selfishness to become wiser and courageous. I don't put a lot of stock in this theory, but it would be cool.
  • There is no I in Team: As a gamer, I'm dubious about the idea of there being only one hero responsible for saving the kingdom. In a fantasy RPG you need to build not just a good character but a good party--a fighter, a rogue, and a magic-user being the most basic group. Your success in adventuring hinges on teamwork. It's not just Gandalf, Frodo, or Aragorn who saves Middle Earth. They each have a role in defeating Team Evil together. I wish that dynamic could be reflected in The Quest. Every reality competition does the "there can be only one" thing. It'd be refreshing to see something different.
  • The Magic Kingdom: This is a fantasy setting. Where's the magic? I'm tired of obstacle course challenges. Everybody does those. Everealm has plenty of soldiers to save it. If they needed to out-source for a savior, then the paladins need to possess something unique. I want to see them challenged in new, different ways. There are so many opportunities for taking the usual reality tropes and giving them a fantasy twist. Like, everyone does a letters from home/visit from the family episode. Wouldn't it be cool if Team Evil abducted the paladins' families and the contestants had to save them? (And wouldn't that be something fun to hold over your loved one's head? "You can't borrow the car tonight." "Oh yeah, dad? Remember that time you didn't save me from the dragon?") Or if Team Evil approaches the paladins and promises them real-world goodies in exchange for treachery? ("If you slip the poison into the queen's goblet, you win a new car!")

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