In my last blog, I frequently referred to Sophie’s Choice, and I’m going to invoke it here because dammit, I love all of the arcs. Each has its own shortcomings, of course, except for “The Eleventh Hour,” which is perfect and nothing you can say will change my mind.
I feel a little bad that I’m choosing “Here There Be Gerblins” as my least favorite; it just seems like such a cop out. They were just starting out! They never expected the show to catch on like it did! They didn’t realize how heavily invested they and their listeners would become! Griffin had never DMed before, and the others hadn’t played a lot of D&D! Taako was just a goofy and not at all racist name!
And … like, I get that? I really do. I will love “Here There Be Gerblins” until the day I die. How else would I have been introduced to “Abraca-FUCK YOU!” and Klaarg and ultimately MBMBAM and the entirety of McElroy media products? But the rest of the show is just so amazing that the first six episodes of The Adventure Zone pale in comparison. They didn’t know what they were doing. It was just supposed to be this fun thing the brothers did while Justin was on paternity leave, and you can tell they weren’t too necessarily concerned with making something as deep and influential as the show became.
But they learned from it. After listening to their audience’s comments, the McElroys were determined to provide a space for everyone to enjoy their work, something that should inspire even the most hard-nosed Hollywood exec. Justin, Taako’s creator, apologized for being insensitive to the Latinx community with his disregard to their culture and history, and then turned around and created Kardala, very lovingly and thoughtfully based off of Inuit culture for Clint’s Commitment short arc. Travis went from playing a cishet masculine character with Magnus to a still impulsive but feminine and bisexual Aubrey in the current “Amnesty” arc. And that’s only scratching the surface of what they’ve done to be inclusive and welcoming.
But not only did they push boundaries there, they took a fairly rigid system and changed it to suit their needs, to tell a story that resonated so strongly with nearly everyone who listened to it. In their “The ‘The Adventure Zone’ Zone” episodes, I loved hearing about how the boys basically fudged the rules (and their rolls) that would have otherwise changed how “Balance” would have ended.
So although “Here There Be Gerblins” cannot even come close to the brilliance of later episodes, I think we can appreciate how the experience helped to prepare the brothers and dad to create what was to come.