So this starts with the double live episode, Episode 49, "Old Oak Doors," and then goes back through the older ones. I should also mention the live show I saw a while ago, which I will put in a separate post since that episode is not online yet.
And now, the spoilers.
Episode 49, "Old Oak Doors"
This . . . maybe worked better live? As a recording it was kind of slow, like a trawl through a wiki: "here is a list of All the Characters, let us check in on each and every one!" But I like the deliberate setups for continuing plotlines even as StrexCorp has been kicked out: non-candidate Dana as mayor, an estrangement between Cecil and Dana, Carlos wandering the desert (but still in touch, so minimal angst, which I guess they had to go with given what they'd established with Dana already; still, it feels a little unearned). Implicit or possible storylines: Kevin, who I don't think we've heard the last of, given that he resisted the takeover of the Smiling God initially and that he was upset with Lauren; the tiny civilization (whose situation is very unclear; Strex hired them in "Renovations," but Cecil says they did "something," he's not sure what, in the battle against Strex. Perhaps they discovered a religious conflict? I continue to be kind of surprised that they're still running with that plotline—what has the tiny civilization been doing all this time?!—but anyway.).
So, the pace was not so good, and the mysterious warrior army remained mysterious, which is kind of a disappointment. But the show finally seems to have heard and understood the complaints about its treatment of disability! In a very anvilicious way, but I will take it, and I guess even Steve Carlsberg deserves a moment of awesomeness. (I actually thought he was played by the same actor as Hiriam McDaniels, because he mimicked the voices so well; but that was another part that felt self-indulgent and over-long, though on reflection I suppose it would be one reason why Cecil loathes him, if he insists on doing things like that all the time.)
Also, my prior question has been answered: Night Vale is not a pocket of our world: "America was founded on a revolution. And, I mean, sure, we still are ruled by the Reptilians, but . . . the Lizard Kings let us have our own country after they saw how hard we tried during that revolution thing!"
Episode 48, "Renovations"
Best use of background music EVER. I just grinned all over my face when I recognized the fade-in to the theme.
I was prepared to dislike the angel ex machina considering the theme in "Parade Day" of taking action yourself, but then the episode made a point after the weather of all the teamwork behind the scenes. And heh: I liked the pointed comment that Kevin and Cecil the characters (who look almost exactly alike) cannot be Kevin and Cecil the actors (who don't).
(Which is not to say that that ought to give people license to ignore the deliberate re-casting of Carlos and the casting of Dana and Tamika with POC actors, in light of the clear textual evidence of the characters' racial or ethnic identities. It's just Cecil & Kevin you can't presume about, because we don't have the textual evidence to say.)
But, really, the thing about this episode is that music coming in. I even went back and immediately listened to that bit again when the episode was done. "He is holding . . . a cat."
Episode 47, "Company Picnic"
I don't want a lot of Kevin and Lauren, but this was just right and weirdly delightful.
(But I still think that the gore with Strex is taking it too far. It's not like the corporate dystopia is subtle without that, you know? It's so much more interesting if it's just the corporate dystopia without the gore.)
Episode 46, "Parade Day"
Very interesting choice, here. On one hand leading up to this, I'd thought Strex was letting Cecil get away with too much; was Cecil actually being too subtle instead, or were people not sufficiently motivated? "Renovations" suggests Cecil thinks he was being too subtle, but I don't know about that.
And in some ways it was shocking because they'd been juggling so many strands and so much had been set up, to the point where I wondered, partway through, "Can they really be doing this, resolving all these now?" And then, no, they weren't, but that's a tough expectation to manage.
(I still want to know what Strex did to the City Council.)
Episode 45.5, "The Debate"
They had to release this before "Parade Day" because after it, Cecil and Kevin face-to-face isn't shocking any more. (But I thought Kevin randomly appearing didn't fit the episode very well and probably didn't need to be there at all.)
I am also dubious about their putting the plot-critical event of Marcus Vanston turning into an angel into this episode, which they can't guarantee that everyone heard, unlike "Condos," which contains no ongoing plot elements.
Episode 45, "A Story About Them"
I'm not sure this was a good idea, because I don't think it compared well to "A Story About You." But it was nice to have a breather from the big-picture episodes.
Episode 44, "Cookies"
Ahhhhh, it's the Steve Carlsberg reveal! Though I didn't realize Cecil had a sister.
It's also the Dana flash-forward, which exists. Oh, and skimming the transcript, it's confirmation that Dana is POC, as her mom has "short, natural hair," and that's an American (only?) idiom you don't apply to people who aren't of African descent. (I do wonder what kind of Americanisms get lost to non-American listeners. This and that Tamika is an African-American first name are the things that come to mind as possibilities.)
Episode 43, "Visitor"
The one where a cuddly Strex robot attacks Khoshekh; my notes say "escalation of hostilities." Which is probably one of the reasons I thought Cecil had been too obvious leading up to "Parade Day."
Episode 42, "Numbers"
Kind of predictable, but the actor playing the AI did a nice job.
Episode 41, "WALK"
The Dana episode where she monologues intermittently over Cecil having issues with imperative traffic signage, setting up stuff to follow, and playing with incomplete narration.
Does anyone have any good Dana-POV fic recs?
Episode 40.5, "Condos"
The first live episode they released; it and the other released live episodes rely heavily on a large cast of characters for their effect. I really like the Faceless Old Woman in this one. The recording doesn't indicate how this was received, but the bit about "we all successfully murdered a lone driver using the collective willpower of our minds" seems like an obvious place to draw the audience in to participating, as did the bit about raising hands in "Old Oak Doors"; but I don't see any room for that in "The Debate." More on that in the post about the live episode I saw.
Episode 40, "The Deft Bowman"
I actually drafted a furious post about this, before I decided that they were probably doing it on purpose and falling into the trap of not being explicit or extreme enough to mark their satire. Because it can't have been coincidence that this reversed the situation with Michael Sandero: instead of a disabled individual losing a body, i.e., being killed, this time a disabled individual gains a body, thereby apparently erasing, i.e., killing, the original person who had that body. But I much prefer the approach they took in "Old Oak Doors"; there are apparently no other -isms in Night Vale, so I am glad that ablism seems to have joined the list, which actually makes a sense considering the individuals whose bodies are not tragic (the woman who's a rock, the coach with the enormous tongue): it really doesn't make sense for Night Vale to treat Michael Sandero or Megan Wallaby differently.