(Reference links: stream all episodes; read all transcripts; the Weather playlist on YouTube (through ep. 31).)
Episode 20: Poetry Week
Not sure the transition works between all the poetry and then the Dog Park opening and trying to catch an angel, but yay Dana. Also, I like the angel's poem.
Episode 21: A Memory of Europe
The first two events Cecil remembers seem to echo European mythology: always falling out of bed and then going back up, Sisphyus, and then the country with arches and a beast, that he explicitly calls a labyrinth, the Minotaur and Crete. Don't know whether the third, gray-faced people with unnaturally-gaping mouths, also fits this pattern, or if I'm over-thinking it. But Cecil has a faith in the immutability of memory and the past in this episode that is going to be shaken considerably in the future.
Episode 22: The Whispering Forest
Cecil's idea of a "small ungendered voice" is kind of awful to listen to. Interesting that the consolatory story about what happens to those absorbed is explicitly something Cecil makes up, which I think gets lost in later episodes.
Episode 23: Eternal Scouts
Contains the "death as meritocracy" thing, which somehow I doubt will be carried over into the actual body counts of future episodes or indeed this one.
A little surprised the Eternal Scouts weren't sucked into the dimension or whatever with everyone else (including Earl Harlan, who has a past with Cecil).
Episode 24: The Mayor
Cecil comes out and says the City Council is a different species, not that this is a surprise but I wasn't expecting him to flat-out say it. Has the Man in the Tan Jacket and the Apache Tracker contacting the Mayor about something; then the Mayor resigns and goes into the Dog Park, which apparently she can get out of, no big deal, which surprised me.
I really think the buildup to the underground city thing was overplayed, but more on that next episode.
Episode 25: One Year Later
The long thing about the void and stars is in the prior episode, but this one has "mostly void, partially stars" as a description of the night sky, which is Night Vale in a nutshell for me.
The underground city doesn't quite work for me in a way that drops this out of the very top tier of episodes ("A Story About You," "The Sandstorm"). The whole buildup with the Man in the Tan Jacket and the Apache Tracker being ominous about the underground city, and all they do is watch Carlos be perhaps-reckless and then save him? It really feels like a fizzle. And the dead-then-not! doesn't make logical sense; Cecil Baldwin's acting is great but on re-listen can't quite sell it. I do like that when Cecil goes to see Carlos afterward, he assumes it's for science and just offers his help, though, no romantic assumptions.
Re: the Apache Tracker: I still don't like that Cecil calls him an "actual" Native American now, for all that Cecil still complains about his cartoonish plastic headdress and calls him a jerk. I don't have any real emotional reaction to his death.
Episode 26: Faceless Old Woman
This is interesting because it normalizes what was one of the few genuinely creepy things to me. A faceless old woman who secretly lives in my home? Creepy. One who wants my WiFi password and has a whole personality built up with only some creepy bits? Not. A lot of Night Vale is about acceptance of odd/creepy/scary (ubiquitous surveillance state, spiders everywhere, body horror), but most of those things still retain those qualities when you step back and think of them from a non-Cecil/character POV. Not so much the Faceless Old Woman.
The thing with the vague yet menacing goverment agency surrounding your house goes away so quickly that it feels like a cheap way to build tension, it doesn't really work.
Episode 27: First Date
This episode, like last, mention the existence of a war with the underground city but don't say anything except that listeners are supposed to stomp everywhere. I think this might be the last mention.
I don't like the way this starts out, with Cecil saying that Carlos used to return his affection in a dry scientist way of wanting help with getting the word out, because I liked that Cecil wasn't expecting any affection in 25. I have Issues with people foisting unrequieted affection on others, okay?
Hey, the crates in the desert! . . . which Cecil's never heard of before . . . ?
Does Carlos have an immunity to weirdness? Compare the "Lazy Day" with this, where they escape becoming shadow-beings. Also still not sure if Carlos is trolling or weird or is from ordinary-America which isn't our-America, what with scientists being self-reliant and wearing lab coats on dates.
And that's all for now. I have four and a half episodes left and a 1:00 panel tomorrow, so I think this means reading transcripts and only listening to the new one. Bummer.
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