‘Family Ties’ represents an absolutely massive jump ahead in the A Crown Of Candy story. We get more than the emotional family conversations suggested by the title- we get an avalanche of political intrigue and one truly shocking revelation.
Family is one of the major themes of A Crown of Candy. It pulls people together and tears kingdoms apart. The catalyst for the Candians going on the run is Amathar’s secret early marriage to Catherine Ghee. We see the theme of family pushed in every episode- but ‘Family Ties’ is something special.
For one thing, Liam Wilhemina meets up with two of his parents (the bio parents among his horde of 37 parental figures, because I will never stop mentioning how much I love the casual poly Jawkbreakers) after a long absence. He was a “ward” (AKA political hostage) in Castle Candy before going to the Capital with the Rocks entourage, so they haven’t seen him in… years? How old was Peppermint Preston? The pig was a going-away present, so however old he was, that’s how long Liam has been away from Castle Manylicks.
My point is, it’s been a minute.
We know that Liam felt like the loner among his family, and there was an assumption that he was the odd one out there. When his parents Joren Jawkbreaker and Spearia Mentha were rescued last episode I was looking forward to seeing Joren finally greet Liam as… an equal? Someone worthy of remembering their name? I just wanted Liam to have a tiny little personal success.
What actually happened made me see Joren and Liam in a whole new light. Liam confides in his father (not his mother!) that he’s a little unsettled with how well he’s taken to being a War Guy, and how the way he kills people now is a little weird. You can see he’s expecting Joren to do a little pep talk about War and the Greater Good.
Instead, Joren has the first visible moment of true connection with his son and shares that he was like that too. Joren was into music as a child. He was a Music Guy, not a War Guy. Then he had to kill a knight in defense of a villager when he was 14. He had a blinding flash of realization: even if it was purely justified, killing went against his soul. It would break him- unless he made a choice right then to enjoy killing.
Liam isn’t the odd one out in his family. He’s the one most like his father: a gentle guy who the world twisted into a War Guy. My heart broke for both of them. I really hope that Liam’s arc (if he lives) includes a chance to reclaim at least a little of his Seed Guy self.
If there’s a scene where he’s tending a plant while his father plays an instrument in the background I will be useless for a week.
We didn’t see too much of Caramelinda. She had a quick spat with Ruby over why she never taught the twins magic, but otherwise, there was so much going on that Brennan didn’t follow up on a hint that she wanted to speak with her daughter about something Saccharina said earlier. I wish I knew what that “Ruby, Caramelinda catches your eye” was about.
Speaking of Ruby, the scene with her and Amethar is priceless. Over the season the former king has learned the hard way that he should have been paying attention to politics from the beginning. Now he’s acknowledging something else he overlooked: actual parenting.
Oh, he’s always loved Jet and Ruby. He accepted them as they were, putting very few expectations on them. He wasn’t exactly present for discipline or guidance, though, was he? Ruby came to him for comfort when her sister died, but she rarely listens to his guidance because- well, he almost never gave any when they weren’t in a life-and-death situation. I love the promise to do better, and how he learned the 3-minute hug from Spearia Mentha.
I also love Saccharina watching from afar as the family she spent so long searching for shares a touching moment…. without her.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. This is a show about CANDY PEOPLE, people. I should not be having this kind of feels over a sad ice cream sundae lady.
‘Family Ties’ isn’t just about the family connections, of course. This is the first chance DM Brennan Lee Mulligan has had to share what’s happening elsewhere in Candia. We know from D20’s Adventuring Party that he was dying to share. Now we see why. That paperwork Liam stole from Sir Keradin has laid bare the conspirator’s true motivations.
- Pontifex Brassica brought back the Ramsian Doctrine (that some food is “junk food”, in case you forgot) and is using it to increase the power of the church.
- Imperator Ciabatta took over Ceresia. Now he just wants to conquer someone.
- Lord Crueller wants to hold Castle Candy, even if it’s just as a governor under Ceresia.
- Everyone wants to create a new Concord to redistribute power as they wish.
The other lords and armies wandering Candia are just Crusaders, whipped into a frenzy by the Church’s declarations that magical Candians are heretic junk food. (Yikes.)
So there isn’t as much mysticism as I thought behind this coup. I expected to be disappointed, but I’m kind of impressed at how timely it feels that propaganda is playing such an intense role this season.
Now that ‘Family Ties’ has put out in the open it seems like there’s a clearer path forward. The gang needs to do a few big things.
- Gather the other Candians from Castle Manylicks.
- Spread the word to their allies that Candia has a legitimate queen and never actually left the Concord.
- Find the weapons cache at the Ice Cream Vault.
- Confront their enemies who are due to gather at Castle Candy for a summit to create that new Concord, preferably with a huge mass of allies at their backs.
The player characters send the Jawbreakers along with Manta Ray Jack and Caramelinda to get started on the first two, then set off for the Ice Cream Vault. After so much hype I wasn’t expecting to learn that the weapons were in fact books and scrolls and, you know, magic things. Not swords or bows, just… spells? knowledge? Interesting twist.
I was expecting to learn that the Sugar-Plum Fairy was a bad mama. I’m interested to see that she didn’t want to kill Ruby out of malice, but out of greed. She seems to want to collect and preserve Candia’s magic, like a Fae. Also like a Fae, she wants to be the only one who can access or deal it out. I like that, it’s an interesting motivation. I wish Lapin were here to have conflicted loyalties, though Cumulus and his opposed power source should be fun, too.
That question Ruby asked at the end, though- that was a punch to the gut. Did the Sugar-Plum Fairy somehow help Ciabatta kill Jet just to get the others to meet at the Vault? How is that possible? Is she serious or just baiting Ruby? I need to know!
Too bad for me, because we’re not going to find out, probably. Ruby’s just gonna shoot that fairy in the face if she wins initiative, which is good because Liam was this close to going along with her into the Candian equivalent of the Fae Realms.
The real question for next time is this: will the gang be able to defeat the Sugar-Plum Fairy in time to loot the vault and escape? There is an army due to arrive the next morning. I wonder if this next battle will be with one antagonist or two? Would the SPF help the Candians if the invaders arrive mid-fight?
A few last thoughts on ‘Family Ties’ before we go:
- Swifty is more of a nightmare every day and I am here for it.
- The pledging of the Order of the Spinning Star to Saccharina felt like a more significant event that the time it was given. Is “Archmage of the Order of the Spinning Star” now one of her titles?
- If there’s a candy dragon in the Vault I will lose my ever-loving mind.
- Where did the towels come from and why were they so bloody?
- You thought I wasn’t going to talk about Sir Theo and Gooey and YOU ARE WRONG! This is it, this is my new ACOC ship. I want Sir Theo to find happiness trying to out-subservient Gooey even if it scars Cumulus for life.
Next time, you guys. Be ready for me to flip out over another set (though really, that Rescue at Buzzybrook set is still tops for me).
Khai is a writer, anthropologist, and games enthusiast. She is co-editor (alongside Alex DeCampi) of and contributor to “True War Stories”, a comic anthology published by Z2 Comics. When she’s not writing or creating games, Khai likes to run more tabletop RPGs than one person should reasonably juggle.
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