Just felt like jotting down some of my reactions to this side story, thoughts, questions, and things I think it could have done to make it better. Feel free to use this topic to do the same for yourself. Apologies if one already exists.
My favorite is still Balthus, I love the big goofy dorks. Hapi's nicknames are adorable, Constance is okay. Yuri, despite not being my top favorite, I've gotta hand it to him for pulling off a big scheme on screen. Claude is said to do this, but we never actually see it.
1: Find out the keeper of Abyss who brought you and the other 3 down here is grooming all 4 of you as blood sacrifices
2: Know he's dangerous af and will kill your mom and everyone else if you squeal
3: Send your people out to scout, secretly and quietly
4: Attract the attention of the church
5: Observe the church people who came down, figure out they're trustworthy
6: Let dangerous Abyss keeper think nothing of it
7: Be rescued at the crucial moment, look completely badass even while getting drained
Step 7 reminded me of a Naruto or Dragonball powerup moment AND I DON'T EVEN WATCH ANIME.
I think most of us can say we saw Aelfric's betrayal coming from a mile away. It didn't help that people on the Shitpost Emblem reddit were making memes about "Aelfric did you fuck my dead mom" and "Aelfric is a necrophiliac simp/Orson 2.0". The first one was indeed spoilered, but I clicked it, so that's my fault.
The first spoiler I saw, however, was that Byleth's mom was named and shown! Completely out of context, just the image of her and Jeralt. And I dawwed. I'd been calling her Vivian, but Sitri works, and with that name, pet names are possible. I already said Jerry(affectionate), Jerald(annoyance), and Jeraldo(major annoyance) as Jeralt pet names from his wife. He can use Sweet/Flower/Fruit, Sour when she's grumpy, and Orange Seed for Byleth in the womb. Two thumbs up, thank you IS for showing us her.
Despite knowing it was gonna happen, I still raged at Aelfric when he started to sacrifice the Ashen Wolves. They all had just enough lines and screentime for me to start caring about them, so I was like nobody's harming these good boys and girls on my watch. Yuri pretending to attack Byleth got me for a second. Once Claude said "Oh he just pretended to cut you" I was like oh okay. His exchange with his fellow Wolves after that was great and feelsy. In Balthus' words: "Hurts. Hurts bad."
I'm fond of Alois, so I'm glad he got a small role.
I heard of the escape map ahead of time. Thought it would be harder than it actually was. I had like 3 or 4 turns to spare. Yuri's Foul Play was pretty useful to get Edelgard where she needed to be. Used a lot of the divine pulses, but I managed. Wrath Strike playing for that map was fitting.
I can talk about music here too, I suppose. The Shackled Wolves is a good new track. The broken/chaotic sound to it, if that makes sense, really fits this story, and if you listen closely I think you can hear what sounds like dogs/wolves panting.
At What Cost fits as a final map theme, but it doesn't stand out too much to me.
Dwellings of the Ancient Gods fits in the map it plays in, and so does Roar of Dominion.
I appreciate the unique victory conditions, reminds me of Radiant Dawn in a way. I did kinda want to pull my hair out in chapter 1 though. The reinforcements. Kept. COMING. I had to restart the chapter once because I'd thought I was done and along came more.
Unanswered Questions/What Should Have Been Added
Why did Jeralt never show up? This takes place before his death. My best guess is that he was busy on missions or away investigating the Western Church, but it would have been nice if he'd appeared at some point.
Why did Constance get depressed in the sunlight, and when Yuri said he "removed her silence", what was that about? Hapi's monster summoning was explained, but it was never explained how Constance has two completely different personalities. Yes, there are mental conditions, but correct me if I'm wrong, I don't think that specific one exists and in a world with magic and curses that's what it has to be. Yet we never found out what or how. I assume this is in supports but it should have been outside of them too imo.
Rhea said Sitri's "restless spirit is finally at peace" after the Umbral Beast is defeated. But wasn't the Umbral Beast Aelfric? Was Sitri's soul in that thing too? How? Regardless, I was worried the final boss would be zombie Sitri and I would have cried, so, I'm glad it wasn't. I like the Umbral Beast's design btw, it's a better looking decayed cursed dragon than Duma imo.