As Will has begun his journey, his knowledge of the world has steadily expanded. With the meeting of additional traveling companions, it jumps forward in leaps and bounds. In a meta sense, this is the most important development in this episode, though if you were to ask Will, another discovery is far more valuable to him.
But first, the two characters most prominently featured in the opener who have not appeared yet make their introductions. Robina Goodfellow – aka “Bee” – is a shining ball of raw energy who embodies the very essence of what a halfing bard should be in an RPG-grounded fantasy tale. Her enthusiasm is infectious, and she will be a welcome regular addition to a cast that is otherwise much more mild-mannered. Tonio, on the other hand, represents a more stable maturity as a merchant. The slickness with which he takes advantage of Bee’s performances to do business shows a synergy between the two, and his more worldly ways and knowledge will be an invaluable resource to Will. One does not normally think as a merchant as part of an adventuring party, but he fits here just fine.
The details Menel and Tonio provide are not anything excitingly different for fantasy literature, but they do expand on what has already been established. Southmark is the southernmost of the continents known in this world, and it was entirely abandoned by humans during the demonic invasion of two centuries past. After many decades, humanity has finally begun reestablishing itself, with the fertile grasslands on the continent’s northern side being the foothold and the port of Whitesails (a fitting name for a port!) being the hub. Worship of Gracefeel was once prominent on the continent, but now it barely hangs on; Will’s supposition that Gracefeel intends for him to correct that is probably accurate. For Will, though, the way Bee’s song reveals some of the past exploits of Gus, Mary, and Blood, is probably more valuable, as it is a reaffirmation that their heroism is remembered.
The most disappointing aspect of the episode is how limited the animation is. Bee is shown with her mouth moving as she performs but not her hands, which makes for an incongruous impression. The episode also gives the feel that the story is being hurried along at this stage, with us being told rather than shown much about how Bee and Tonio operate as the quartet passes through numerous villages on their way to Whitesails. (Really, I’d be curious to see what novel readers might say about this.) Still, at least the story is moving along after a week off, and some juicy potential story hooks have been set up. I am interested to see what will happen when Will makes it to the major port next week.