I’m watching the Essek Supercut again, and I noticed Essek’s accent and when it starts to settle.
Watch the first few clips, until about about 0:4:40
Mostly this is just Matt settling into Essek’s voice, but when he was first introduced, Essek had a very stern authoritative court voice. But once they were in the antichamber together, and Fjord says they need to check their underwear for accidents after that first interaction with the Queen and made him laugh, Essek slips into what we hear as his personal accent.
Essek really did just make up this version of himself to be as successful as everyone pushed him to be, and make really selfish choices to protect that act. But those personas ultimately felt like lies about himself. So what difference does it make protecting it with more lies? Which led himself down some really dark paths until Thw Mighty Nein discovered him and it all unraveled.
Essek is a dramatic theater gay who pulled off a character so well he couldn’t stop playing him even when it was turning into a Shakespearean tragedy. Everything he says in these early days is so intensely dramatic and selling his vast accomplishments. Essek is giving them a list of reasons to respect him because he doesn’t think his inner self is respectable. Essek always felt like it was the lies people loved and not him underneath, so what would hurt people more would be trying to stop. To be anything less than ruthless.
But this bunch of goofballs, whose very first direct comment to him was a self-depricating joke about being scared, they broke through. And what broke his heart most on that ship, was knowing he’d let them down with those lies. Because he’d let them see his true self, like he hadn’t done for anyone in years (decades?), and they loved that one the most. Especially Caleb because they’d shared that instant attraction and interest Essek almost wasn’t sure he could feel.
So after he was caught, even if Caleb was telling Essek he could choose to be better, he was obviously hurt and mistrustful and not calling. And feeling like he couldn’t go back ate at him.
But then The Mighty Nein call on him again for help with their more dangerous thing ever. These weirdos are going to run headlong into danger not for gain or glory but because it stops someone else making a catastrophic mistake. And they want him to come with them. They want him to show them he’s changed. And he has.
And even if they fight it, that attraction is still like magnets. They’re so scared of hurting each other again or getting hurt, they can talk in meaningful coded riddles with each other, but not dare cross the threshold where they can hold that pull back. Where they’d have to find out if they enable or temper their worst impulses.
They didn’t get there before they parted ways after Aeor. But we know that sometime in the last six months they let themselves pull together. They go back to Aeor to know what it feels like to just be together, the two of them, if no one at all was there. Caleb, down on one knee, holding a magic ring, “[Essek Thelyss], I know we’re not relationship people, but will you date me for three months, and then we’ll reassess?”
And it worked. Maybe being apart much of the time helps them get perspective on the world outside themselves and the freedom to lead two very different lives. The Essek who visits the man with green beans, no longer sounds quite like the Shadowhand did. He found how to use his power in the world more responsibly, when only a handful of people will hear about it, but they will listen so much closer, and see him more than any accomplishment. With the bustle and fear of the world shut out.