The Faraway Paladin episode 9

Ethelbald

Rating: 3.5 (of 5)

Apparently, I have been doing it wrong all these years in fantasy RPGs. The correct way to bring down a wyvern is not to use arrows or a sword or attack spells; it’s to wrestle it to the ground and break its neck bare-handed.

Granted, that’s not a feat that a typical fantasy RPG paladin can even pull off, even if I have seen something like this done once. (Many years ago, I participated in a game where a high-level fighter managed to successfully grapple a red dragon thanks to magical buffs and an insanely customized skill set.) That William does not seem to appreciate how awed everyone else is by him being able to pull off this feat is rather amusing, but basking in the limelight was clearly not his style in his previous life and that has not changed here. Or is part of it that he just does not realize how extraordinary his abilities are? Yes, this is a common feature of isekai power fantasies, but it feels less eye-rolling here. Also, seeing Will team up with Menel to take the wyvern down was a real treat.

Up to that point, the episode was mostly just about William’s first encounter with large-scale civilization and the appreciation that he quickly develops for it as he goes around with Robin, Tonio, and Menel. That further entrenches his motivation for stepping up to defend the civilization he cherishes against the wyvern (not that he probably needed any additional motivation), but it also allows the series to showcase how deeply entrenched magic is in supporting day-to-day life in more developed areas, whether it be the magical streetlights or the magical baths/saunas. The use of a test to determine is someone is a charlatan or has a legitimate divine Blessing is an entirely reasonable practice in a setting where divine power is real, though I did find it very interesting that the stuffy head priest took William’s words as proof of his legitimacy; perhaps the way William said it is a callback to old knowledge that an untrained person would not have?

The other interesting aspect is William’s meeting with Ethelbald, the leader of Southmark. This was fully expected based on his name being brought up last episode and his presence in the opener, but it was still interesting to watch how Menel automatically positioned himself like Will’s escort upon seeing Ethelbald being with soldiers doing the same. I always appreciate in series when effective leaders are shown being quick-witted and cagey, and the production does a good job with that here. Ethelbald has every reason to be wary of someone of Will’s talents appearing on the scene and whether Will’s very real modesty is disingenuous, so the probing seemed fitting. The real question here is whether Will fully appreciates the implication of what he proposed to Ethelbald: a leader could easily take that request as an aspiration to make the fringe lands a veritable fiefdom. In that vein, Ethelbald’s statement at the end of the episode comes off more as another probe – to see how Will reacts – rather than an actual threat. (Especially since it may not be within his capability to kill Will anyway.) I suspect that Will will understand that, but will Menel as well?

The one thing which bother me a bit about this episode is the scaling of Robin in some perspective shots. They are making her look like she is well less than 3 feet tall – IOW, short even by widely-accepted halfling standards. Otherwise this was another solid, if unspectacular, episode.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: