Title: Burrow’s End
GM: Aabria Iyengar
Players: Brennan Lee Mulligan (he/him) as Tula (she/her), Isabella ‘Izzy’ Roland (she/her) as Lila (she/her), Erika Ishii (she/him/all) as Ava (she/her), Siobhan Thompson (she/her) as Jaysohn (he/him), Rashawn Nadine Scott (she/her) as Viola (she/her), and Jasper William Cartwright (he/him) as Thorn Vale (he/him)
Streaming Service: Dropout
Jumping right back into the thick of it, we return to Reactor Charlie where the floor tilts. Our group of players struggles to hold tight, but half fail the roll, sending Lila, Tula, and Viola toward the radioactive water below.
Knowing his mother would be upset if he went for her over his sister, Jaysohn to save Lila, and Thorn manages to stabilize his wife. In a self-sacrificing move that risked everything, Ava grapples her elder daughter, but the two are still on the wrong end of the turning floor. When forced to choose between saving them both, which would be near impossible, or saving her daughter, Ava doesn’t even hesitate. Tossing Tula to safety, Ava falls below.
All but Ava arrive in a strange arena. Using her divine sense, Tula stretches out her awareness, using the Blue like sonar. She finds her mother deep below. Whether she’s alive or dead remains unknown.
Tula immediately springs into action, intending to leap into the water after her mother, but Viola stops her sister, hoping to draw their mother up from the water like they moved the stones instead of risking their lives.
Time is precious, and there isn’t much to offer. The First Stoats arrive with Sybil captured in their claws. Their design leans into the wolf, but their bipedalism and pink skin underline the human twist within their DNA.
Tula immediately attempts to be diplomatic, and Uri the Pope forces Viola to stop, cutting her off from the Blue. All four First Stoats are powerful spell casters. Their mutations and magical prowess with the Blue appear to go hand in hand. Blaming Sybil for leading the group astray, Kiran snaps her neck.
Tula lunges, tearing at Kiran’s throat before sinking back into the fog. Following suit, Jaysohn attacks in flurry of blows, managing only one hit, but he makes it count. Unfortunately, his scurrying lands him in from of Uri, who clears the fog but does not attack Jaysohn.
When Thorn attempts to cast, Hester the Silence stops him. All his attempts to do anything fails. Even before the reveal that Hester lacked a lower jaw, they were definitely the most stylistically intimidating the First Stoats.
In the aftermath, Kiran brings in a wolf. Considering the creatures collected, there seems almost no end to the sorts of monsters which the First Stoats could use the Blue to control, so a wolf is a bit anticlimactic. Their connection to the beast, however, definitely lends itself to less mind-control and more domestication, which makes its terrifying evolutions in response to trauma all the more terrifying.
Disgusted by the First Stoats putting their desires above their family, as parent’s need to put their children first, Tula resurrects Sybil, pulling her to safety and putting herself between Kiran and the young stoat.
However, before Kiran could attack, Ava returns, climbing out of the Blue and leaping into the fray. We have repeatedly seen mothers throwing themselves between danger and their children in this series, and while Ava and Tula are sometimes at odds, they both put their family first even at risk of their own lives.
Like the mutated elk we saw earlier with numerous horns, the wolf grows another forearm when Lila manages to wound it.
Jomei sends out a frightening image of Ava’s dead body out to Viola, Jaysohn, and Lila. Swiftly reacting, Thorn terrifies Jomei in return, projecting the image of Last Bast crumbling and falling. Motivated by fear as her sister has been since the beginning of the series, Viola attacks the wolf, aiming for the neck and detaches the head. Unfortunately, the mutations continue.
Thorn kills Kiran, receiving a warning: They are coming. Though the First Stoats clearly control the masses, ruling Last Bast with iron fists, Kiran’s last words suggest a true threat remains. The humans are dangerous, but Last Bast’s police state allowed terrifying and cruel realties in the name of security. Our players have no idea who to trust.
Untethered, the wolf attacks Lila, but an act of mercy by Tula turns an enemy into a friend, bringing the mutated wolf to their side. As the tides turn, Hester reaches out to Viola, reinforcing Kiran’s last words and pushing for a response that she will not let them fall. They emphasize the survival of Last Bast. However, after slaughtering the leaders of thousands of stoats, a unified front against the humans may no longer be on the table.
As our group wins, Aabria perfectly conducts the tension as attention returns to Ava. Her heart isn’t beating. She’s not alive. Soft music plays, and a revelation closed out the episode, excellently unfolded with a calm ease that left no one prepared as Aabria concluded: “…whatever’s happening to Ava happened long ago to Tula.”
We rarely give enough credit to the sound mix. Especially toward the end of this episode, the music rose, reinforcing the emotional narrative. Steve Yasui deserves more acknowledgement. Listed as Dimension 20‘s sound mixer, he created a brilliant soundtrack. Aabria Iyengar often jokes that she pushed and pushed to find the limits Dimension 20‘s art department was willing to go to this season, and while sound design definitely featured in prior series, it stepped into the spotlight this episode.
When Lila summons fog, Aabria’s description is eerily similar to the dust storm which started our family of stoats on their journey. After the mutated wolf, the First Stoats clearly have an interest in bizarre radioactive evolution, so culling weaker or less intelligent stoats likely would work well if they intend to form the most powerful population while retaining the best for themselves. Whether this is truly the case, we’ll have to wait and see.
Final Score (5 out of 5 Stars)
An epic battle came to an incredible close this episode. For better or worse, the dice told their story, and the First Stoats have fallen. That epic moment when Tula asks, “You’ve stood here for generations. Was that on four legs or two? The humans are already here.” reverberated through the dome. We don’t receive an exact answer, but the last words stacked this episode. We have three episodes to go, and there’s so many unanswered questions.
Is there a better Dimension 20 season for sound design? How disastrous will the fallout be when the rest of Last Bast discovers what has happened? Let us know what you think in the comments below or go over to our Discord channel to join the conversation.
Featured Image: Dimension 20
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