The Legend of Vox Machina’s second season has wrapped up, with a glorious fight and a cliffhanger that will have fans eagerly awaiting season 3. Threaded through the season were several appearances by a rather unlikely Critical Role villain, who played a major role in Percy’s backstory and confrontation with the Briarwoods in season 1.
[Ed. note: This article contains spoilers for season 2 of The Legend of Vox Machina.]
Dr. Anna Ripley, inventor and former follower of the Briarwoods, is one of the few loose threads from Percy’s past. She’s played by Matthew Mercer in the actual-play series, and Kelly Hu (X2) in the animated series. In the first season, Ripley is discovered in Whitestone, and Percy nearly kills her on sight for the role she played in his family’s demise and the torture she inflicted on him under the Briarwoods’ rule.
Ripley escapes Vox Machina before they fight the Briarwoods in the first season, but in season 2 she begins to resurface. Like Percy, Ripley has a fascination with firearms; before she leaves in the first season, she spends time questioning Percy about his weapons. While Percy is shopping for black powder, the merchant who sells it informs him that someone else purchased black powder that week — someone with one hand. Percy realizes that Ripley is still on the move, but ends up concealing it from his friends.
Later, Ripley reappears alongside Umbrasyl, who she approaches about gathering Vestiges. Vox Machina never gets a chance to confront her, but she’s threaded through the narrative, and even observes the final fight of the season before she escapes (again). It’s a departure from the actual play — after the Briarwood arc, Ripley disappears for a good 30 or so episodes before she makes a reappearance. Tying her story to that of the Chroma Conclave has interesting implications for just how much she’ll feature in season 3.
“Ripley and her story eventually become much more important, as she reenters the world of Vox Machina in the main campaign,” Mercer told Polygon in our recent roundtable interview with the Critical Role cast. “So, part of this discussion [was] how to weave those two previously unrelated narratives together, in a way that makes sense but doesn’t detract from the narrative of both stories.”
“She has must-have moments for the show, so we have to justify why so much is being sliced out — we also have to justify those must-moments we have later,” Liam O’Brien added.
“Plus, it also makes for fun aspects of keeping our long-standing Critters on their toes,” Mercer said. “When small changes like that mix up their expectations.”
Not only will Ripley return to the animated series, she’s also getting her own graphic novel, The Legend of Vox Machina: Whitestone Chronicles - Ripley, set for 2024, that will reside within the canon of The Legend of Vox Machina. Marieke Nijkamp, author of the Kith & Kin Vox Machina companion novel, will bring the devious doctor to life alongside artist Tyler Walpole. The novel will chart Ripley’s years in Whitestone with the Briarwoods, before her imprisonment. You can read a preview from Dark Horse Comics now.