This post is part 6 in a 7-part series examining everything
we learned about Molly’s backstory in Critical Role Campaign 2 Episode 014.
They are meant to be read together in sequence, but 9 pages seemed a little
long for Tumblr, so I’ve broken them up into separate posts. You can also find
links to this series, as well as further reading, on my Molly
Disciple of The Moonweaver
Building himself as Molly was about more than the practical consideration of not being recognized.
“Can you imagine what it would feel like to not feel anything about anything that had happened to you so far? […] It’s very freeing. It’s the best thing- It’s the thing that happened to me. It’s not the best thing that happened to me, it’s the thing that happened to me. I found peace in building a new person. The Moonweaver-” (CR C2 Ep014 2:10:36)
It was probably the people of the circus who introduced him to The Moonweaver, a chaotic good goddess of the Trickery domain. “[She] is considered to be the deity of love, protecting the trysts of lovers with shadows of her own making. Those who work in darkness and trickery often ask for her blessing.” Her commandments are, “Seize your own destiny by pursuing your passions. Let the shadows protect you from the burning light of fanatical good and the absolute darkness of evil. Walk unbridled and untethered, finding and forging new memories and experiences.” (Tal’Dorei Campaign Setting, page 17) To someone starting over from scratch building a new life, these are very appealing commandments, and have probably deeply shaped who he’s become.
Molly’s had to learn or relearn everything in the last two years. Language seems to have come back fairly quickly, so some of his old mental mapping had to have, too. But even things that came back must have been spotty and needed to be filled in. Which means he’s had to actively think through every abstract concept we take for granted because the rest of us learn them through social osmosis. He had to ask himself questions like “Do I like purple? Why do I like purple? Am I a person that likes plaid?” So, he reached ideas around things like gender and absolutely had to think through all of them, individually, how he associates himself with them, and why. (Gender specifically I’ll be talking about later in another article. My current thinking is that his demonstrated preferences for colors and patterns tell us a lot about gender identity, too.)
“I had rather have a fool to make me merry than experience to make me sad, and to travel for it too!” (Shakespeare, “As You Like It” act 4, scene 1, line 25) Building a new person became a way of asserting control over his life and seizing his own destiny. Faced with no memories and only vague clues about his former life, he had to choose between picking through the mystery for a sense of self he might never fully relate to, or letting it go entirely. What he did know was nothing he wanted to be associated with. “Whoever that was came to that end. And I want nothing to do with that. Whatever it was, it doesn’t feel good when I- the moments when something creeps through, I don’t like it. I don’t want anything to do with it.” (CR C2 Ep014 2:05:05) “Some asshole got buried in the dirt. Fuck him. I am enjoying what I’m doing. I want nothing to do with that. Anything that came before, I was happy to just leave it be.” (CR C2 Ep014 2:01:36)
Feeling beholden to a past that you can’t be part of and can’t connect to is a lot like having a phone number that used to belong to a shady person. You don’t have anything to do with them, but other people occasionally bother you with the misapprehension that you’re the same. For Molly it was easier to just cut ties, change his number again, and move on. “New identity, who did?” The directive to “Walk unbridled and untethered, finding and forging new memories and experiences” was permission to build a new life wholly his own. He worries, “What if [my past] feels that it- that I owe it something?” (CR C2 Ep014 2:11:36) “I don’t want to remember anything, I don’t want anybody else’s baggage in my head, I don’t want anybody else’s problems, thoughts, ideas.” (CR C2 Ep014 2:09:45) Taliesin said:
“[Molly] doesn’t care who Lucian was. […] It doesn’t matter if he was a good person or a bad person. It’s, ‘I’m me now, and I have decided this is what I’m doing.’ This was, ‘I am made of nothing but decisions that have led me to be this person, and if you think I need to add a bunch of decisions to be more complete, or if a bunch of stuff that happened in my past is more important to who I am than who I am now, that’s wrong. That’s just- That’s fucked up and stupid. I mean, that’s madness.’ You get to decide who you are, and he has very much decided who he is. And there’s this little tangent, and wherever it leads, good or bad, is possibly to someone who- or to a person who’s going to change- want to fundamentally change who he is and overwrite a lot of that. That’s yeah, no. He wants nothing to do with it.“ (TM 2018-04-17 0:39:24)
He added later:
“I have friends who travel with the circus, and I have friends who live kind of that lifestyle, and who travel. I just saw a couple of them a few days ago. And there is a joyous freedom to not owing the world anything of yourself. Of just being, just- And it’s not even just being responsible only for yourself, but just choosing not to just let yourself get bogged down with a bunch of stuff that doesn’t really doesn’t matter to you.” (TM 2018-04-17 0:41:35)
Molly is an interesting character because he is a synthesis of the philosophical debate around what constitutes personal identity. (Which is far outside the scope of this analysis, but I encourage you to look it up.) It was performers who helped him shape his identity, and that has had a profound effect on how he views the purpose of his “self.” The goal of a circus is to lie, impress, entertain, and delight in a way that convinces people to further your survival (give you money). He says, “I like pretending. Pretending’s great. Who cares where anybody came from?” (CR C2 Ep014 2:03:26) “I spent two years, before I met you all cajoling people, occasionally ripping them off, occasionally doing a good turn here or there; never trust the truth. Truth is vicious; the truth thinks that you owe it something; none of that. I like my bullshit. It’s good, it’s happy, it makes other people happy. […] It is exactly who I am!” (CR C2 Ep014 2:11:59) Telling others the semi- to wholly- fictitious story of who we are and what we are comprised of is how all of us interact with other and shape how they see us. Molly just does this very deliberately and without pretense.
Molly’s understands that other people deal with their impression of you rather than your impression of you. I elaborated on this in my earlier articles “How Molly uses appearance to assess people” and “How Molly manipulates the way people see him” Keenly aware that he’s an outsider, he’s shaped his appearance to challenge people. If they have an immediate recoil reaction, even if they cover it after a moment and act cordial, he knows not to trust them and their bullshit. If they take his appearance in stride, he knows they’re open to outsiders and might be worth engaging. He also makes his appearance overwhelming so people focus on that and don’t actually focus on him or his abilities too closely.
1: Separating Molly and Lucian
3: The Tomb Takers
4: The Ritual
5: Molly Awakens
6: Disciple of The Moonweaver
7: Weird Blood Powers
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Mercer, M. (2018). Blood Hunter Class Details.
Retrieved from D&D Beyond.
Mercer, M., & Haeck, J. (2017). Tal’Dorei
Campaign Setting. Seattle: Green Ronin Publishing.
Critical Role C2 Ep014 How Molly manipulates the way people see him
Critical Role C2 Ep014 0:13:00 Molly’s Backstory
Talks Machina 2018-02-20 0:20:50 How Molly uses appearance to assess people
Talks Machina 2018-04-17 Alpha 0:35:07 Molly’s notion of identity
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