Reviewed By: Drew Vogel
Review Date: 10/30/17 6:41 pm
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This story marks a frustrating, unsatisfying end to a frustrating, unsatisfying seventh series. When I talked about "The Crystal of Cantus", I wrote that it wasn't just a bad story, but that it actually makes the series worse. One full season later, I feel that as strongly as ever. "The Crystal of Cantus" broke the series, and it's been floundering ever since. Which is not to say that this story or the series overall is terrible. Far from it. But it's not good either.
Once again, it's helpful to distinguish the standalone portion of the story from the ongoing portion of the story. As with "The Oracle of Delphi", a big part of the problem is that these two sides of the story get in each other's way. At the end of the previous story, Benny revealed that she knew the location of the Stone of Barter, and that she was about to go and get it. It would have been nice if this story had followed on directly from that point, but it doesn't. Instead, it jumps ahead to the middle of a mostly disconnected standalone. Starting in the middle of a story is a common and effective tactic, but using it hear is needlessly confusing. The ending of the story is also problematic. The standalone story doesn't get a very strong resolution. Instead, the ongoing story takes over, and we end on another cliffhanger.
The biggest problem is that we've now had multiple stories involving the search for this magic macguffin, but we're only just beginning to understand what it is or why Benny needs it. The end of this story reveals that Benny has been looking for Braxiatel all along, but I still don't understand anything about this terrible threat menacing the Collection, and I have no idea how they think Brax will be able to help. We'll just have to wait for season eight to get that story. I feel like half of season seven was wasted on teasing a story that hasn't, in any significance sense, even started yet.
But that's not really true, because there's also a standalone story about this big tower/city called the Empire State. All the stuff with the Stone of Barter is just an underwritten motivation for Benny to be involved. Unfortunately, this story doesn't quite stand up on its own. It gets tied up with this new character, Maggie, who turns out to be Brax's "daughter" and who wants the Stone for entirely unrelated reasons. So the ongoing story, which is incomplete and unsatisfactory, actually ends up getting in the way of the standalone story, which ends up being incomplete and unsatisfactory.
Just a quick final note: as I've mentioned before, I'm listening to these Benny audios for the first time. It will not surprise me at all if I revise my views upward when I go back and re-listen. That has certainly happened before, and it's entirely possible that my dissatisfaction with these stories in rooted in erroneous assumptions leading to frustrated expectations.