Welcome to Night Vale Recap: Episode 17 “Valentine”
Didn't you know? Love is deadly.
I want you to imagine something. Imagine you’re a fan of a fairly new show called Night Vale. You really want to see Cecil and Carlos get together. You’re excited for the next episode because the last one ended with them agreeing to go on what might be a coffee date. The coming episode is called “Valentine”. Your hopes are high. And then, to your eternal anguish, Carlos is completely ignored in favor of a bloodbath.
Yes, apparently Valentine’s Day is not a particularly happy or romantic holiday in Night Vale. Instead it’s just another excuse for carnage. When the episode starts we’ve already missed the main excitement. Instead we are told to stay off the roads to make room for emergency vehicles and those who are cleaning up the wide-spread destruction. It’s actually a little ambiguous what sort of disaster happened. Did some sort of monster attack people? Was there a tornado or some other form of natural disaster? It’s hard to tell. What we do know is that Valentine’s Day is apparently always awful in Night Vale, so if a storm was involved it’s a storm with very regular timing.
On a potentially related note, there are numerous delays and schedule changes at the Randy Newman Memorial Night Vale Airport due to severe weather conditions. Though it’s hard to tell how bad these conditions actually are, as they include the existence of an atmosphere and “that strange fiery orb that appears for approximately half of every twenty-four hour period.” (It’s worth noting here that 1. Randy Newman is apparently dead in the Night Vale world and 2. This report was clearly made on a day when knowing what the sun isn’t allowed, unlike a few episodes ago when the sheriff “[didn’t] even have time for that mystery.”) We also learn that it’s pretty common for airplanes to appear at random from all over the world in Night Vale, which might explain the airplane that interrupted a basketball practice in episode one.
Getting back to the Valentine’s Day coverage, we get a little more detail about the nature of the disaster. Bodies are littering the streets, covered in glitter and paper cupids. There are little candy hearts everywhere. It makes me wonder if this devastation was originally caused by someone trying to create a perfect Valentine’s Day creature or something and it all went wrong, sort of like the Santa suit in Invader Zim (or the Santa robot in Futurama, I guess). The worst fate is reserved for people who were designated as someone else’s valentine. We don’t get to know what happened to them exactly, but apparently it was horrible and excruciating.
Cecil shows no surprise that the national government has done nothing to give aid to the town, as they don’t usually bother. (It kind of makes me wonder how many constant bizarre requests the American government tends to get from Night Vale.) However, Cecil is understandably disgusted when the government replies to the whole situation dismissively, clearly thinking that the Valentine’s Day destruction is just some sort of artistic exhibit.
In other news, the City Council has moved to change the official language of Night Vale to dance. While it’s hilarious to picture people trying to communicate through dance moves, citizens are obviously annoyed. Cecil even received a tip that the whole thing is a sham, as the City Council is being bribed by a local dance studio. Too bad, Cheryl’s Little Princesses Dance Studio. I guess you’re just not as good at manipulating the public as Big Rico’s.
After an incredibly vague traffic report and a corrections segment that fails to specify what it’s correcting, but warns of deadly consequences if we don’t adjust our lives accordingly, we get back to the Valentine’s Day coverage. In a neat call-back we get to hear from the same mall employees that made sure there was no Santa to meet with kids for Christmas as a comment on the hollowness of capitalism. They actually were planning to do a Valentine’s Day art exhibit. It would feature a vivisected teddy bear and footage of live beating hearts. Unfortunately, it was all ruined when the mall was flooded with poisonous gas. No mention is made of where the gas came from or why it was released, so maybe that was just another part of the horrors of the holiday. Additionally, rescue workers found a pile of “unactivated” Valentine’s Day cards. Three workers died before they could retreat.
Speaking of death, in case you thought the string of dead or mysteriously missing interns was over, Cecil mentions that intern Stacy died a few months back. He just forgot to mention it.
In another follow-up story, Mayor Pamela Winchell still isn’t happy at the thought of literal dragon Hiram McDaniels trying to take her job. She seems to think he wouldn’t be up to the task. Or, as she puts it,
“The Mayor smells of olives. The Mayor burns like a match tip and casts her flickering light on the darkened path of fate. The Mayor does not have keys to the Stone Door; the Mayor is the Stone Door and all that quivers behind it. The Mayor is forgiving. The Mayor makes no mistakes. The Mayor clutches tightly to your lungs, all six arms embracing your savory breaths. Let the Mayor out. Let the Mayor out. Let the Mayor out.”
Honestly, I’m really curious about just what being the mayor of Night Vale involves. The job seems to come with some kind of magical powers as well as the responsibility to hide secrets (sometimes poorly) from the citizens. Mayor Winchell is sometimes described as having six arms, but that might just be normal for her. Does the mayor work to protect the city? Does she have full (or fullish) knowledge of the many horrors Night Vale faces? Is Pamela Winchell one of the coolest characters in the whole show? Well, at least we can answer that last question with a resounding “Yes!”
We also get a follow-up about the Night Vale Post Office, which has finally reopened after whatever happened with the angry spirits or demons that the Apache Tracker faced there. The whole building is now filled with cloth-covered figures that hum in unison, but apparently the mail is being delivered again at least. It was a real inconvenience since not even FedEx will deliver to Night Vale, just because they think it’s cursed or something.
Interestingly, “[t]hose who have tried to enter the building have reported an immediate wave of dizziness and nausea, followed by visions of strange jagged peaks and a churning black ocean.” That description sounds very similar to the dark planet we heard about in “A Story About You”. Is there a connection? I don’t know, but I’m making note of it.
This episode’s weather is “Neptune’s Jewels” by Mystic.
Once we return from the weather, there is a general episode wrap-up. The rescue workers are done with the post-Valentine’s Day recovery and citizens are feeling a temporary sense of peace. Cecil joins them in enjoying the moment, knowing that in a year they will go through the same horrors all over again.
No changes this episode, but here’s the Conspiracy Tracker all the same!
1. Angels are living with Old Woman Josie and the City Council wants to capture them.
2. There’s a house that doesn’t exist.
3. The Apache Tracker has changed into a real Native American and only speaks Russian
4. Time is weird in Night Vale and Carlos wants to figure it out.
5. Cecil wants to be swallowed by a giant snake.
6. There’s a city underneath the Desert Flower Bowling Alley and Arcade Fun Complex.
7. Literal five-headed dragon Hiram McDaniels wants to be the next mayor.
8. Pets become perfect when you accept them…
9. What the heck is the dog park?
11. Cecil hates Steve Carlsberg for unknown reasons.
12. Night Vale has a surprising fixation on actor Lee Marvin.
13. The government can control the weather.
14. Two boy scouts are close to becoming Eternal Scouts.
15. The Apache Tracker and angels are watching the Desert Flower.
16. Night Vale is prone to duplication.
17. A dark planet is calling to people.
18. People are shipping crates with tiny houses inside.
19. There’s a man with a tan jacket who’s affiliated with the underground city.
20. There’s an old oak door on John Peters’ farm.
Alex Townsend is freelance writer, a cool person, and really into gender studies and superheroes. It’s a magical day when all these things come together. You can follow her on her tumblr and see her comments on silver age comics. Happy reading!
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