Talks Machina Episode 80 Highlights: 2-32

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Tonight’s guests are Liam O’Brien and Sam Riegel!

  • Announcements: 
    • No Talks Machina next Tuesday, but they will be back the following week to discuss episode 33 of CR. Next Tuesday, instead of Talks, they’re filming something very special for the new channel. Sam: “You are? Oh, god.” 
    • Handbooker Helper premieres tomorrow at 10 AM Pacific Time at! The first episode focuses on dice basics. 
    • There’s a new charity drive for the Pablove Foundation, dedicated to research toward ending children’s cancer; they’ve already hit the first $20k benchmark, which means Sam will be DMing a game of Crash Pandas! The next goal is $50k, which will be used to establish a research grant.
  • Stats for this episode:
    • Nott has successfully disguised herself 12 times since the campaign started.
    • Caleb’s most-cast spells (in order): Alarm, Firebolt, and Identify.
    • The party has spent 55 of their 81 days together on the road.
    • Gustav’s sentence in Trostenwald lasted 77 days. He averaged about 7 gold, 8 copper per day of work.
  • Is Nott freaked out after her adventure with Jester went so badly? “Nott is always freaked out to do anything, but is starting to loosen up a bit and trust that– at least up until this last episode– trust that her friends could get her out of most scenarios. Maybe she’ll be a little more hesitant in the future.” She might “take one of the responsible ones along, like Fjord or Caleb.” Liam: “Yeah, you should bring someone sharp and level-headed, in case you need to go to a hospital…”
  • Caleb loves that a fan points out the parallels between Caleb’s similarities to the protagonist in the Dark Tower books: “Caleb wants to do really specific things, and he is not done with that. They’re potentially harmful, and I think that before he started traveling with these people, the main thing was getting them to trust me, and form a working relationship, but the bigger problem now is, does their friendship become a problem? Do I want to get close to you if I know potentially that I’ve got to walk away from you at a bad moment?” There’s another element he can’t talk about yet where he took more direct inspiration from The Dark Tower. He’s not sure yet which way Caleb will end up veering, and whether there’s a point where he’ll prioritize his friends over his long-term goals. “For all characters, there’s what he tells himself is the deal, and what’s really the deal. I’m enjoying not knowing where the hell it’s going.”
  • “Nott doesn’t really much care about Gustav, but also does not give a s*** about money. It’s a means to an end for her.” Other than providing a little security for herself and Caleb, “the other stuff is way cooler, the little buttons and stuff.” When the opportunity came to pay so much for Gustav’s release, “she was like, ‘Yeah, sure, great.’”
  • Sam and Nott both wanted to know more about Molly’s past. Liam wanted to know, but Caleb didn’t care. Especially since Molly emphasized not caring about his past, and they didn’t know each other too well, Caleb was satisfied to just take that at face value. Molly’s experience was also interesting as a complete opposite to Caleb’s own experience of being completely consumed by his past.
  • Sam and Liam talk about how they both think about the show constantly throughout the week. Liam: “And I also spend 10% of my week thinking about Vax, too.”
  • Gif of the Week: Caduceus learns how much money 400 gold is. There may or may not be a live voiceover version of the text.
  • Why does Caleb still use fire? “Caleb feels like he needs to work through it, ‘cause fire’s not going anywhere. Maybe something that will come out eventually is the reason that fire is his first and he has a real affinity for it now. The fire is natural progression. The Fireball is something that Caleb got just from leveling up, so I took that for him to be understanding what he can already do and magnifying it. It’s the strongest weapon in his arsenal. He needs to master the misery and the pain so he’s ready to deal with facing his ex-teacher someday, or other people.” On Beau being the one to bring him back each time lately: “He likes that. It’s a flawed friendship, it’s not affectionate the way Caleb and Nott is, but that’s okay. The instinct to bet big and tell her everything came from a sense of shared interest, and shared point of view. They’re still very different, but there’s a lot in common there.” A lot of the things she does has been reaffirming his choice to take a chance on her.
  • Nott’s aware that she’s been more and more powerful, and so she’s been drinking less in battle situations. “She’s still skittish and gets nervous about stuff, but they’ve survived and succeeded in enough fights now that she’s becoming a little more brave.” Liam asks if Nott knows how gifted she is. Sam: “She’s aware that she can do things better than other folks in the group, but she probably would not think those things are the most spectacular.” Liam talks about how Caleb and Nott are “two different kinds of gifted weirdos.” Sam: “Just like us. Except for the ‘gifted’ part.”
  • Caleb was impressed by Caduceus’ approach to the Ettin encounter.
  • Sam: “Something that I just decided about goblins: they have short lifespans, and they’re also super brutal and just attack and they’re mean and get hungry and all this stuff, so I just thought, maybe goblins are just like unrestrained id.” A lot of Nott’s character came from that thought.
  • It felt really strange for Nott and Caleb to be welcomed by Alfield when they arrived. Caleb’s concerned about their amplified visibility in the Empire, which isn’t sitting well with him. At least when they’re affiliated with the Gentleman and the criminal element, it keeps the visibility away. Nott’s hesitant to be in the spotlight, but has also realized that cheering means fewer thrown rocks, so that’s good.
  • Fanart of the Week: Jester and Caduceus strolling through town.
  • There’s a brief foray into autoerotic asphyxiation. As you do.
  • Liam, Taliesin, and Marisha have all met SideBySamuel. The mystery continues.
  • Caleb on the dodecahedron: “It’s a little too perfect.” It confirms what he believes—that it has to be possible to manipulate time—and drives him forward. He wonders about the source that this thing is a splinter of. He’s also wondering if the Academy’s project is one and the same. “Time travel is good. It definitely does not endanger present reality.”
  • “What is Talks Machina, Brian?”
  • Brian: “We have to put a stop to this.”
  • Sam: “On the surface, Nott noticed that Caleb mentioned Astrid and probably just thinks that it would be nice to have a young lady in his life.” Dani: “I called your ex-girlfriend the other day, and we’re having lunch.” Sam: “I hear she’s a doctor…” Liam: “I’m tired of coming over to these dinners, ma.” Sam: “I hear the wizard down the street got married…”
  • Liam on Astrid: “That would be bad stuff. Bad news. I don’t know if it’s good or bad, but it’s complicated.” Sam: “Astrid has got to be either super bad guy now, super dead, or something else we don’t know about.” Liam: “One of the many things Caleb wonders about every night before he goes to sleep, about both his friends. He doesn’t know. It’s been 16 years since he saw them last.” He’s 33 now. The fire happened when he was about 16, he was in the asylum for 11-ish years, and then he was traveling on his own for about five.
  • Nott worries about Caleb “about the same” in battle, but she’s definitely noticing the others stepping up, especially Beau, to watch out for and protect him. Sam points out that Liam’s strategy has been excellent lately to keep Caleb out of danger. “Nott always has an eye on Caleb, and Sam always has an eye on Caleb.” Liam: “That’s what Vax did. I would override common sense consciously because I thought it was in-character.” He still has to suppress his first instinct to have Caleb fling himself into danger for his friends.
  • On the surface, Caleb knows it’s not a good thing for Nott to be so affectionate toward him, but deep down, Caleb really appreciates Nott’s affection. “With Beau, there’s no affection, but he feels like he should be called an a****** and a s***, and he feels like he deserves it. It will keep him sharpened and on task.” He likes, on an unconscious level, what he gets from both of them for different reasons.
  • Which pet does Nott want to eat first? The weasel. Definitely. Sam ventures a theory that the pets represented the members of Vox Machina. The truth is out there, Sam.
  • To Caleb, it felt a bit wrong to turn his back on the Empire given everything that’s happening right now and everything that has to happen there in the future.

Talks Machina: After Dark: When It Gets Dirty (Big Dick Peanut Butter Energy)

  • Liam brings out both his Speak-n-Spell voice and his ~Cuddlefish~ voice. He also does a Nott impression. Sam: “You sound like Miss Piggy on acid.”
  • Nott’s not looking forward to the beach. Caleb’s interested in the beach in a Death in Venice kind of way. Brian ventures a guess that they’re going to discover that Caleb’s just inexplicably super ripped.
  • What tricks do they want to teach the pets? Liam: “Maybe ‘Die Instead Of Me’.”
  • Does Beau secretly have a gooey center? Sam and Liam, in unison: “Ask Keg.”
  • Nott feels safe with the M9 around, not because they protect her, but because they protect each other. “She’s always relied on Caleb for protection, and now I think she’s relieved more than surprised that she doesn’t have to put that burden on Caleb, or each other. That they have a support group of people that can help them and keep them out of danger.”


  • Nott expects Jester’s mom to be a “real sweet, fine, fancy lady.” Liam: “Caleb had good parents, and everything that Jester describes does not sound great to him.” He doesn’t say anything to her about it because he doesn’t feel like he can give advice. Dani: “My parents that I killed were awesome. As a child of great parents, that I murdered…”  He keeps asking about her childhood, and he’s fond of her, so he’s dismayed about what he hears, but he feels like he can’t say anything about it.
  • Liam: “My least favorite thing about Sam is how much of a f***ing food snob he and his wife are. It’s unbearable, mostly because I want the food.” Sam: “The thing that I love most about Liam is that he’s a gentle love, but he’s a kind soul. He wants to help people. But he can’t because he’s too busy.” Liam: “True, true, true. What I like about Sam is he’s the living embodiment of Shakespeare’s Fools. He’s seemingly a buffoon, but if you know him well, you know that there’s no end to the depth and soul of his character. He is skating on talent and wit.”


  • Liam: “I don’t know how cameras work.”