This recap contains spoilers for the Onyx Equinox episode “The Stranger.”
Onyx Equinox again adds a new character to its roster this week. But unlike last week’s somewhat-middling episode, “The Stranger” is excellent. It may well be the best of the four Onyx Equinox episodes out so far. In addition to that new member of the cast, we also get a rare look at Yaotl away from his duties as an emissary, some interesting worldbuilding and, most crucially, another temple adventure akin to “Jaws of The Jaguar.”
The aforementioned new character is the titular “The Stranger,” Zyanya. She encounters our heroes on their way to the ruined Mayan temple of Lakamha. She pleas for them to accompany her to her home city of Danibaan, currently under attack by the forces of the underworld.
Pressed for time, our protagonists refuse, but fate conspires to give them reason to go to Danibaan by the end of the episode anyway. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s talk about that temple.
Lakamha is a great example of how Onyx Equinox handles setting. It’s an early Mayan temple, which means it’s long-abandoned by the time Izel and company reach it. Yaotl can’t enter, as the temple is constructed in large part of the god-burning obsidian we’ve seen throughout the series. This puts him out of the action for most of the episode. And gives us an opportunity to see Yaotl outside of his dynamic with Izel.
The Jaguar and The Feathered Serpent
Yaotl meets with Quetzalcoatl, the other god he’s serving in his role as the champion of humanity’s escort. Quetzalcoatl and Yaotl’s conversation contains quite a bit of new information for us, some of it pulled directly from the Aztec religion, some of it the work of Onyx Equinox itself. The cycle of humanity’s ages will be new to anyone not versed in their Aztec creation myths. Four prior worlds lived and were destroyed. The fifth, as shown by Onyx Equinox‘s entire plot, is now in danger as well.
The most surprising revelation here though is that Yaotl was once human. There is no further elaboration on this here, but it seems like the kind of thing that’s bound to come up again. Quetzalcoatl himself, as with all of the Aztec gods portrayed here, is something of an enigma. He’s definitely painted as a mysterious force, but if he’s truly sinister or merely acting beyond mortal comprehension has yet to be fully spelled out.
The real meat of “The Stranger” is, of course, Izel, K’in and Yun’s actual quest to close the underworld gate. Without spoiling too much, their adventure here has them confront giant crab monsters. Onyx Equinox is great with monster design, and these fellows are no exception. In a weird little twist that’s even more “D&D monster” than usual, they can even eat each other to merge into stronger forms. The things put Izel and the twins on the ropes, and they’re only saved by the intervention (and reappearance) of Zyanya.
Zyanya’s one condition for their rescue is that they accompany her to Danibaan. Presumably in a bid to rescue the city from its fate. It just so happens that Danibaan is also where the next underworld gate is. And so, our hero’s party grows from three to four.
If I seem a bit terse this week, that’s only because I can think of little in the way of complaints to levy against “The Stranger.” This is what an ideal Onyx Equinox episode looks like to me, and it’s a great step up from last week.
Until next time, OE fans.