Analysis: Caduceus Clay Ace/Aro – CR C2 Ep 028-032

In the words of Taliesin Jaffe, “I’m not a big believer

in hope. Hope is a sin.” [1] I have closely watched every minute of CR C2

Ep 028-032 with the intent of seeing something to prove this theory wrong,

because I don’t trust hope. But the harder I’ve looked, the more solid the

theory has felt. I present this theory not as what I want to see, not as a

headcanon, but what I earnestly think I’m observing. I firmly believe Caduceus

Clay is asexual (ace).

Postscript: On Talks Machina 2018-11-13 for episode 41 (link), Taliesin said, “

I don’t want to get too far into Clay’s feelings

about sex and intimacy because we’re not there yet

…” So do with that what you will.

For this article, I’m putting the scene transcripts and

analysis up front, so you can draw your own conclusions from the references I

found. Scroll down to the Analysis heading if you just want the analysis.

[1] “Taliesin Jaffe on 4 years of Critical Role’s

Campaign,” D&D Beyond video 2017-10-11

Scenes run:

1. Ep 028 – Insertion joke 1:25:54

to 1:26:19

2. Ep 028 – Nott questions Caduceus 2:06:21

to 2:06:33

3. Ep 030 – The Gentleman and Ophelia make

out 2:58:38 to 2:59:21

4. Ep 032 – Post-coital feeling 0:21:36

to 0:22:28

5. Ep 032 – The Starosta’s prick 0:42:45

to 0:45:21


Transcripts:

1. Ep 028 – Insertion joke

1:25:54

Nott: “Let’s

swing by the house and check it out. If there’s a raging party, we’ll just

continue onto town. If it seems dead, maybe we’ll do a little recon. If the

recon goes well, maybe we’ll do a little… insertion.”

Keg: “Are

you describing a date right now?”

Nott: “If

the insertion goes well, maybe we go steady.”

Caduceus: “I

don’t know what any of that means.”

1:26:19

image

2. Ep 028 – Nott questions Caduceus

2:06:21

Nott, to

Caduceus: “Are you married?”

Caduceus:

“Naw.”

Nott: “Did

you go to college?”

Caduceus:

“What?”

Nott: “How

old are you really?”

Caduceus:

“Uh… I don’t really know how to answer that question.”

Nott: “Do

you have kids?”

Caduceus, firmly,

recoiling at the thought: “No!”

2:06:33

image

3. Ep 030 – The Gentleman and Ophelia make out

2:58:38 – 2:59:21

Watch Caduceus while the Gentleman and Ophelia greet each

other and make out. He’s clearly uncomfortable and outright covers his eyes

while they kiss. He looks perplexed at the whole exchange.

image

4. Ep 032 – Post-coital feeling

0:21:36

Beau: “Yeah,

it’s nice, right? It’s like a little post-coital feeling, kinda?”

Caduceus,

hesitating: “I… wouldn’t know? But, uh…”

Beau, with dawning realization: “Ah!”

image

[…]

[Caleb tells Fjord he’s not allowed to absorb the

dodecahedron.]

0:22:14 Jester:

“You have so many balls inside of you already.”

Caleb/Liam:

“Yeah. Balls deep.”

0:22:28

image

5. Ep 032 – The Starosta’s prick

[WIP, having a hard time transcribing this.]

0:42:45

Jester:

“He’s a bit of a prick, and what I’ve heard, it’s not that big of a prick.”

Bryce, putting

their fingers in their ears, and humming to dramatically drown out Jester:

“I have to work with him often.”

0:42:52 Caduceus cracks

up.

image

Jester:

“From what I heard. I didn’t See it

see it, but people talk.

0:43:00 Taliesin:

“It might be hard to see.”

image

Fjord: “Did

you often see it see it?”

Jester: “Did

I often see what what?

Fjord: “See

it see it.”

Jester:

“Like, penises?”

Beau: “Are

we talking about Starosta’s see it see it?”

Nott: “Have

you seen a lot of penises?”

Jester:

“Wieners? I’ve seen so many penises.

Fjord:

“Really?”

Jester:

“Yeah.”

0:43:13 Beau:

“What’s the best penis you’ve ever seen?”

Taliesin laughs.

image

[…]

0:44:09 Jester: “Okay.

Honestly… I saw Molly’s, while we were in the bathhouse.”

0:45:21

image
image
image

Analysis:

Scenes 1,2 and 4 were enough to get me looking, and they’re

what I started compiling, but they’re not what convinced me to share this

theory. It’s the body language. Especially in scenes 3 and 5. The body language

is noticeably different from Taliesin’s and shows he’s code-switching around

sexual subjects and bawdy humor. Meaning Taliesin is deliberately not playing

his own sexuality, and that’s causing him to break character around a lot of

jokes that Taliesin finds very funny but would probably go over Caduceus’ head.

Which is the best subtext evidence that he’s playing Caduceus as ace.

Caduceus has very still, squared body language. It tends to

be symmetrical. He sits back, with a small slump. He rests both arms or elbows

on the table or sits back hugging himself (more like he’s cold than cross). If he’s

touching his face, he tends to touch the center. His laugh is slow and

resonant. His smile is fairly even and a bit dopey. He has a slow, deep laugh,

with a relaxed smile. Taliesin tends to loosen his jaw and keep his face long

as Caduceus.

Taliesin has very asymmetrical, jaunty body language. He

tends to sit at an angle with one arm back and one on the table. His body

language tends to be open or curled onto the table. Taliesin is more likely to

touch one side of his face than the center. His laugh is higher and fast, even

giggly. His simile is crooked and flashy. His laugh is lighter, less gravely,

and faster. His smile is very broad and glowing. Molly is an exaggeration of

this posture: bigger, flashier, more open, even more jaunty.

It’s remarkably easy to tell them apart as Taliesin’s

reactions shift between Caduceus’ and his own. Molly’s reactions to bawdy humor

read as id versions of Taliesin’s where he took all filter off. For Caduceus,

he’s obviously putting a stronger filter on, and remembering how he’s supposed

to act. Which he doesn’t always get in place before he reacts to a fast joke. So,

the longer they stay on bawdy subjects, the harder it is for him to maintain

Caduceus, because his real reactions are building up.

You can see that in scene 5, Ep 032 0:42:45 where Jester

cracks a joke about the Starosta’s prick and they get into how many penises

she’s seen. The first laugh is obviously Caduceus. It’s lower and slower than

Taliesin’s. The body language is squared. The quiet side comment he makes next,

while still in Caduceus’ posture, is clearly Taliesin’s voice. “It might

be hard to see.” His voice is lighter, less gravely, and faster. His tone

is less ponderous. When Beau asks: “What’s the best penis you’ve ever

seen.” Taliesin completely breaks character. It’s obviously Taliesin

Laughing and his whole posture shifts into resting his cheek on his hand and

grinning across the table. When Jester was asked what the best dick she’s seen

is, and she says: “Honestly, I saw Molly’s, while we were in the

bathhouse.” Taliesin completely cracks up and his posture shifts into

Molly’s for the rest of the conversation.

You can also see it in scene 4, Ep 032 0:21:36. Beau

describes the dodecahedron effect as a “post-coital feeling.” Caduceus

looks at her quizzically and draws out saying, “I… wouldn’t know? But,

uh…” He’s very in character here. But right after that Caleb tells Fjord

he’s not allowed to absorb the dodecahedron. Jester says, “You have so

many balls inside of you already.” Caleb/Liam quips, “Yeah. Balls

deep.” Taliesin laughs at that, but it’s obviously Taliesin laughing, not

Caduceus. He’s resting his cheek on his finger and grinning too broadly. That’s

how fast the code-switching Taliesin is doing is. This is a new character, very

different in this aspect from himself, so that filter isn’t as solid now as it

probably will be later. But the fact that this IS code-switching says this is a

very deliberate choice.

But the text is what got me looking, and it’s very

important, too, so let’s look at that:

Scene 1, Ep 028 1:25:54 Taliesin makes a deliberate point

about Nott’s obvious sex joke about insertion going over Caduceus’ head. He

wanted us to know Caduceus didn’t get it.

Scene 2 Ep 028 2:06:21 Caduceus gently brushes off Nott’s

question about being married. This could be evidence he’s not interested in

romantic relationship (aromantic (aro)), but he could be uninterested for other

reasons or just hasn’t found the right partner. But he absolutely recoils and shutters

at the question of having children. He could just not want kids, but it would

also fit with being sex-repulsed.

Scene 3, Ep 030 2:58:38 watch Caduceus through that whole

scene of Ophelia making out with The Gentleman. His expression goes from “Oh,

that’s sure a thing that’s happening,” to covering his eyes. Even when he

peeks back out again, he keeps his hand up in case he needs to cover them

again. His body language remains hunched and tense afterwards. When The

Gentleman wipes the blood off his lip, Caduceus’ expression is very much,

“I really don’t know about this.” He looks like he deeply does not

want to be around this. He only starts to relax when the discussion is clearly

moving back to business.

Scene 4, Ep 032 0:21:36 is the exact moment I knew I needed

to get my notes together and write this. Caduceus is flat out telling us he’s a

virgin. His tone is more hesitation on trying to guess what Beau means, and not

with any shame. He’s mildly confused that she thinks that’s a universal feeling

and is struggling to communicate that. (Such a big ace mood.)

There was a piece of art that showed Caduceus covering his

eyes during the make-out and someone left the comment “Can I just say how

much I love this firbolg and his cute little innocence that made him cover his

eyes during their kiss.” I’d like to dismantle that. I don’t think they

meant to be rude or patronizing with their comment, but it shows the sort of

infantilizing language that ace people’s feelings are reduced to. Like they’d

actually be into sex if they actually knew what it was about, or they’ll get

there some day. Which is not the case.

Caduceus is a cleric of Melora The Wildmother, and about a

century old. He’s not “innocent” to the ways of nature. Ep 028 1:08:37

Caduceus says, “I’m mostly interested in trying to take care of the

natural order of the world, and nature itself.” Keg asks, “ So, does

murder end up on that check list?” And Caduceus firmly replies, “Have

you ever been in nature? Yes! Violence is extremely natural.” You can be

well aware that sex is a thing, and even hold that it’s extremely natural, but

still not want to be involved in any part of it. That’s “discomfort”

not “innocence.”

Firbolgs reach maturity at 30 and live to be about 500 years

old. Caduceus is the equivalent to a human in their mid-20s. But in raw years,

he’s had about seven decades to get around to having sex if he was at all

interested. He wasn’t living in total isolation. He’d been living alone for

18-20 seasons (Ep 028 1:00:30), but there were 50 years before that. He’s had

to go into town for supplies every now and again, and the very first tavern in

Shady Creek Run that The Mighty Nein stumbled on was a brothel. His parents

found each other. If this was an experience he wanted to have, he’d have figured

something out.

My read is that Caduceus is asexual, probably sex-repulsed,

and very uncomfortable around public displays of affection (PDA). He may also

be aromantic, but there’s not enough information yet. If I’m correct, Taliesin

is doing a great job with accurate and positive representation. From a player

who has only ever played characters that are explicitly or heavily coded as

queer, that means an awful lot.


If you like this transcript, consider buying me a coffee

(ko-fi.com/otdderamin). I’ve been working on these while struggling to adjust

to disability. Donating helps me justify spending time on these projects.

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