Critical Role Shocks With Return of Fan-Favorite NPC

The latest episode of Critical Role closed with a bang as Matthew Mercer revealed the return of arguably the show’s most beloved NPC.

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After a chaotic episode that featured Fearne meeting her terrifying father and nearly dying, things appeared to calm down. Bells Hells met with Keyleth and gave her the rundown of their trip to Ruidus. Chetney spoke up to her council, pointing out how much they ask of them with little offer of assistance. The team agreed they needed to explore Aeor for more information – and then an archivist named Seth entered the picture. 

Keyleth contacted two individuals she knew who studied Aeor over the years, whom many fans presumed to be Caleb and Essek. In Critical Role Campaign 2, Caleb (played by Liam O’Brien) and Essek (an NPC played by Mercer) became lovers as well as intellectual partners following the events of Mighty Nein’s adventures. However, Essek became a traitor to his people in the Kryn Dynasty, leading him to become a wanted criminal. As such, he’s been seen in disguise frequently. 

From the moment Seth entered the scene, many fans speculated that he was Essek in disguise. Many previously wondered at Essek’s location during the Mighty Nein Reunion last year. The players similarly seemed suspicious, with Travis rolling a Perception check to see if he could identify anything suspicious. They could not prove anything, however, until the climactic battle of the episode. Tasked with retrieving an individual from Zadash, Bells Hells joined Seth in traveling to the city. An altercation with a disguised figure at Chastity’s Nook led to a short wizards’ battle and a revelation: Seth was Essek in disguise, and the woman they confronted was Caleb’s former lover, Astrid. 

While neither the players nor the fans appeared that surprised by the reveal, their excitement was palpable. Both NPCs featured prominently in Critical Role Campaign 2, largely tied to Caleb’s backstory and redemption arc. Fans must wait one week to see how Essek and Astrid fit into Bells Hells’ story and if this means reuniting with the Mighty Nein.


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Julia Anderson
Julia Anderson is a freelance writer and editor. She joined The Escapist in December 2023. A lifelong gamer and bookworm, she spent most of her childhood either glued to a novel or the computer. Now, she runs her own freelance writing and editing business, Anderson Wordsmith. When she isn't reading or playing D&D, RPGs, or stealth-based games, Julia is usually found imitating old age: drinking herbal tea in her favorite chair, crocheting, and watching a Shakespeare or Jane Austen adaptation with her faithful dog, Ben.