‘Critical Role’ 3×51: “The Apogee Solstice” recap

The apogee solstice happened. But where do the Bells Hells go from here?

Critical Role’ recap: Campaign 3, Episode 51 “The Apogee Solstice” Aired March 9, 2023

Last minute plans

With the apogee solstice imminent, episode 51 picks up with our adventuring party revising their plans. Beau and Caleb are going to take one side of the excavation site, sneaking to the bottom to destroy the key’s power sources (as well the strange mirror’s lining the site). It’ll be up to the Bells Hells to take the opposite side. 

But how?

Well, isn’t it lucky that they just disabled a massive, RV-sized Warder automaton. Calling Fearne and FCG in from the skyship, FCG waste little time hooking themself into the Warder. Most of the Bells Hells cram inside the machine while Imogen cons her way to the bottom of the dig site on swagger alone. (Seriously, no one does attitude as well as Laura.)

At the bottom

The Bells Hells make it to the bottom of the pit–talking past General Ratanish and getting eyes on Otohan Thull as they went. They find a series of freshly cut halls in the bottom go the site, and when they sneak in to investigate, they find several arcane power sources. They look similar to the ones that they destroyed in the Fey Realm, but judging by the number of alcoves carved into the rock, they know they’ll have to destroy more than one to stop the key. 

Problem is that there are three guards down there– and they aren’t buying it when Imogen tell them they’re needed by Ratanish. The battle that ensues is a short one, although the cavern floor is studded with glyphs and two of the party are temporarily stunned, the rest of the Bells Hells put the guards down, keeping one alive to question. They’re even able to disable this pose source without making too much noise.

They don’t learn much before Laudna checks the scry ball and finds out that Otohan Thull is about to walk in. The Bells Hells scatter to hide, but before they can decide if they’re going to attack, a huge explosion rocks through the site. Otohan whirls around and runs.

Off the rails

FCG, who is still outside attached to the Warder, sees that the machine expelling the anti-magic pulses have been destroyed (likely by Beau and Caleb.) FCG sends to Ira telling him it’s time for the airstrike. Meanwhile, FCG gets eyes on Ryn’s frozen body. They lumber over, but when they try to pick her up, they accidentally knock over a giant brick wall. Onto Ryn. By this point, Da’Leth has appeared to do damage control. He sees what appears to be a malfunctioning Warder and disables the machine with an annoyed wave. 

Then there’s a voice entering the minds of everyone on the site. It’s Otohan Thull, summoning everyone to the key. As everyone gathers, Thull and Da’Leth reveal Caleb collared and held by a massive Mage Hunter Golem, while Liliana escorts a silent and mind-controlled Beau to a front-row seat. So they can see all they failed to accomplish on this apogee solstice. 

Deciding that waiting is for the weak, Ludinus raises his arm and opens the key revealing a magical beacon at it’s center. Time shudders around them and hours pass in a matter of seconds. As Ludinus removes his withered, blackened arm from the machine, the red moon is overhead. So is the Silver Sun sky ship, hurtling toward the Malleus Key. But Ludinus casts Wall of Force over the key. The ship explodes. The key, unharmed.

The apogee solstice is here.


The Bells Hells are momentarily stunned– unsure what to do even as rubble crashes all around them. Seeing Ira running for one of the side alcoves, Laudna does the same, trying everything she can to destroy another of the power sources while Ira does the same. But the exploding power sources don’t seem to bother Ludinus overmuch– which should worry the Bells Hells. 

But Imogen is completely distracted by her mother’s presence, floating over everything obediently following Ludinus’ commands. Imogen sends to her mother, begging her to remember herself– to remember her father’s words: that better halves make a better whole. It almost, almost, works. But Laura’s amazing streak of rolling luck fails her at last. Its not that Imogen’s pleas fall on deaf ears, but more that her mother is convinced she is doing the right thing for all of them.

As if to punctuate her decision, Liliana catches sight of Ira. And banishes him back to the Fey Realm. It’a already done, she warns Imogen as all the ruidus born begin to glow with red light.


As all seems lost, sounds of fighting erupt from the rim of the site. A massive earth elemental hurtles into the pit. It’s Keyleth of the Air Ashaari– Orym’s boss and Marisha’s campaign 1 character. She casts Mass Cure Wounds on the Bells Hells, but it isn’t the reprieve anyone hoped for. Ludinus smiles. Right on time.

Before Keyleth can blink, he casts Power Word Stun on Keyleth. Otohan swoops in lashing out attack after attack on Keyleth forcing her out of her elemental form. But before Thull can go in for the kill there is a flurry of raven feathers and Vax’ildan, Champion of the Matron of Ravens, Keyleth’s lost husband (and Liam’s C1 character) appears over Keyleth’s prone form, daggers drawn and ready for a fight. 

But that’s not how any of this is going to go down.

Remember Caleb’s warning? That he feared Ludinus was drawing them into a trap.

Consider it sprung. He wasn’t waiting for Keyleth. But using her to draw out Vax and the sliver of divine energy he carries within him as a god’s champion.

Apogee Solstice unleashed

The mirrors about the site flash with arcane energy, shooting into Vax. Compressing him until he’s nothing but a black lens ready to fit into the Malleus Key. The machine powers up (sluggishly, but still) and red energy shoots up through the key into the moon. In that livid red light, the Bells Hells see sky ships in the sky, but friend or foe? It remains unknown. 

Because the world goes white.


When the Bells Hells come back to consciousness, they’re no longer at the excavation site. Or together.

Laudna, Ashton and Orym land in an unfamiliar, sulfurous landscape studded with geysers. And on the horizon, that red beam is still shooting into the sky.

FCG, Imogen, Fearne and Chetney land in crystal sands, the rising sun on the horizon, surrounded by mountains, snowy forrest, and ocean to the east, south and north. It’s Chentey who realizes where they are: the Crystalsands Tundra on a whole other continent!

And while there are no moons visible in the sky, the glowing aurora’s remain. The apogee solstice continues. 

Watch Critical Role Thursdays at 7pm PST on Twitch and YouTube! Check out last week’s Critical Role recap here, or watch me talk about all the highlights and theories here!

Critical Role Episode 51 Highlights

  • Oh man, I wish they had aborted the airship crash! We all knew it wouldn’t work and now the ship is gooooonnneee.
  • Sooooo many missed clues. Ira hinted that the Key was missing a lens. Caleb mentioned that the mirrors seemed odd and maybe they should be destroyed. The Paragon’s Call all wearing the Duskmaven pendants…. It hurts, precious.
  • Vaaaaaaxxxxx. So many emotions, so little time.
  • What happened? I’m so worried ya’ll! 

Greta Kelly

Greta Kelly is (probably) not a witch, death or otherwise, but she can still be summoned with the Horn of Gondor or the promise of a ride in the Tardis. She loves all things fantasy and is the author of THE FROZEN CROWN and THE SEVENTH QUEEN, and her third book, THE QUEEN OF DAYS will be out in 2023. Find her on Instagram or Twitter at @gretakkelly to geek out about literally anything.

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