Welcome to Night Vale Recap: Episode 29 “Subway”

Never trust anything that’s helpful and convenient in Night Vale.
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For once the episode seems to begin with good news. Several subway entrances have appeared around town. No one seems to know who built the subway system, but the brochures at the entrances are enticing, even if they switch from English to some glyph language part-way through. The brochure proudly proclaims “Oh the place you will go!”

Cecil, for one, is very pleased at the idea of a Night Vale subway system. It could ease transportation through the city, decrease pollution, and allow citizens to interact with each other in a positive way, as opposed to the impersonal nature of cars.

Then we get a few brief stories about a service that delivers very specific feelings like “frustrated origami novice” and “should have left the party hours ago before you could disappoint her” as well as a notice from the police that there is definitely not any consensual cannibalism on the rise in town.

Back with the subway story, the City Council is not happy. They’ve sent a notice on a child’s inner lip that the subway was never approved. Several mysterious figures, wearing masks that look like deer, have called a press conference and claimed responsibility for the subway. They claim they need no one’s approval. It is also hinted that the figures may be made of roaches. At the least, they’re using roaches with tiny signs all over town now to promote traveling through their new transit system.

After some vague yet terrifying business news and a notice for all organ donors (collections begin on Tuesday), we learn that the subway system is more ominous than it first appeared. The people leaving the trains are different than when they got on. They’re thinner and emotionally drained, as though they have been through some great ordeal. Even worse, there are some people who aren’t returning at all. Carlos has a theory that the people who have transformed have had their DNA washed out, though I’m not sure what that would mean.

Suddenly an earthquake begins to rumble through the city, one that doesn’t feel like the standard, government-produced kind. Waves of heat are coming from the train entrances and a cloud of insects is filling the sky. Cecil is worried because Intern Dylan still isn’t back from some errands he went on (likely because Cecil told him to take the subway to save time). Full of concern, Cecil decides to investigate the subway himself and takes us to the weather.

This episode’s weather is “Poor in Love” by Destroyer.

When we get back Cecil has also returned, although it seems he has been gone for much longer than we have.

“I entered the subway, like many of you, and like many of you other riders, I saw and felt the cosmic suffering of millennia – was witness to eras of countless births and deaths and wars and discoveries and kisses and plagues and knives and cold, empty void. I saw it all at once, and I could not make sense of any of it. But I understood it fully, and it took years, Night Vale. Years.”

Apparently the waves of heat and the cloud of insects were just side effects of an express train arriving. Cecil, though drained from his experience, feels like he has gone through a great enlightenment. Unfortunately, the subways have now closed as suddenly as they appeared, apparently due to construction. There will be shuttle buses in the meantime, but they will only appear in the moment of your greatest despair.

As Cecil says, “The future of urban planning is here, Night Vale. And, like our own imminent futures, it is buried in the earth.”

Tune in next time for a reunion with one of Night Vale Radio’s most enduring interns and a look at the ominous future to come.

And now, the Conspiracy Tracker.

1. Angels are living with Old Woman Josie and the City Council denies they exist.
2. There’s a house that doesn’t exist.
3. The Apache Tracker died to save Carlos’ life.
4. Time isn’t real in Night Vale.
5. Cecil wants to be swallowed by a giant snake.
6. There’s a city of tiny people underneath the Desert Flower preparing for war.
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?
10. Russian=Weirdness
11. Cecil hates Steve Carlsberg for unknown reasons.
12. Night Vale has a surprising fixation on actor Lee Marvin.
13. Night Vale is prone to duplication and Desert Bluffs is one of the duplicates.
14. A dark planet is calling to people.
15. People are shipping crates with tiny houses inside.
16. There’s an old oak door on John Peters’ farm.
17. Desert Bluffs is controlled by the evil company StrexCorp.
18. A blinking red light is coming from somewhere unknown.
19. Simone Rigadeau thinks the world ended decades ago.
20. Cecil doesn’t know how old he is.
21. Earl Harlan thinks he and Cecil could have had something.
22. Mayor Winchell is retiring, possibly not by her own choice.
23. The Faceless Old Woman is running for mayor.
24. Cecil will be killed one day and it will involve a mirror.

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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