Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Web Review: The Guild Season 3

Now, I know what long time readers are thinking: didn't he already review The Guild? Isn't that the web series about weirdos who play video games all the time and stuff? Firstly, gamers aren't weirdos, they are just like you and me, though probably more like me than you if you get what I mean. Secondly, that review was only for the first episode of season three. Now that the entire season has aired, however, I thought it would be a good idea to go back and review the whole darn thing if for no other reason than to give you guys all a nice sense of closure. You're welcome.

So how was season three? Actually, it was pretty good. It did start off a little slowly; the first two episodes contained a lot of (necessary) exposition that progressed everyone from the dramatic confrontations at the end of season two and set up this season's major conflicts, both within the guild and without. While these first couple episodes did have some funny moments, mainly thanks to the appearance of the new rival guild, the Axis of Anarchy, they were a bit of a slow go, which is too bad considering the series was bringing in a ton of new fans thanks to their viral music video hit "Do You Wanna Date My Avatar" (which actually topped some Eurpopean download sites when it was released over the summer as a tease for season three).

Once the setup was done, however, the season really hit its stride, deftly showing the breakdown of the Knights of Good as internal pressures reduced the guild to almost nothingness before Codex (the alarmingly awesome Felicia Day), thrust into an unfamiliar and unwelcome leadership position thanks to Vork's soul searching walkabout, managed to start pulling things back together, rallying the tropps from their individual meltdowns for an epic PvP faceoff in the final two episodes.

While the individual plotlines for each character were interesting, though, the scenes were routinely stolen by the deliciously evil Axis of Anarchy members during their brief times onscreen. Led by geek king Wil Wheaton as the smarmy and obnoxiously self-satisfied Fawkes, the Axis added a new level of awesomeness to The Guild, particularly in episode four when Codex wanders into their vent channel in the middle of a raid and gets ripped into.

That may be a little bit of inside baseball for those who don't play MMOs, but then again, that's the audience the series is designed for. Another in-joke that kills is episode five's application process, which features clips sent in by fans of The Guild as they apply to join the Knights of Good.

Overall, then, I have to say I thought this was the strongest season to date despite the slow start. The climax nicely ties up the individual plotlines for each character while setting up next season and -- thankfully -- leaving open the door for more Wil Wheaton and, even better, breakout star J. Teddy Garces, who plays in your face cop and in-game healer Bruiser.

More Axis vs. Knights? That's one raid encounter I think all fans of The Guild are looking forward to seeing.

My Grade: The slow beginning was well worth it; as a whole the season gets an A-. You can check out the cathartic final episode for yourself here:

<a href="http://video.msn.com/?mkt=en-us&from=sp&fg=shareEmbed&vid=2090d74c-bc07-4300-916c-4c15520ba718" target="_new" title="'The Guild' season 3 finale">Video: 'The Guild' season 3 finale</a>

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