Welcome to Night Vale Recap: Episode 32, “Yellow Helicopters”

What’s that in the sky? Is it … the start of a story arc?!
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We begin with some sad news from Old Woman Josie. Apparently her angelic friends have left her. She doesn’t know why they might be gone, they’ve never disappeared for three weeks before, and she hopes she hasn’t offended them. Cecil has a hard time conveying this information because he’s still straddling the line between reporting on stories involving the angels and pretending that angels don’t exist. It turns out that denying angels is easier for some people than others. When Intern Vithia tried to say angels weren’t real she began to cry nonstop. Cecil explains that if you deny angels exist and you are someone who has been chosen for secret angelic plans, then you will start crying.

After some health tips that involve cooking and eating your own heart, we get to the real meat of the episode. Yellow helicopters have been spotted in the sky around Night Vale. Now, this is pretty minor on the scale of Things That Can Go Wrong for this show, but what’s odd is no one knows what the helicopters mean or who is behind them. Even the mysterious pilots of the helicopters with murals of birds of prey diving on them (who once kidnapped all of Night Vale’s children) have no idea what to make of them.

In sports news, we get further follow-up Night Vale High’s quarterback, Michael Sandero. Unfortunately Sandero hasn’t been doing very well lately. Last season he gained superpowers and an extra head that helped him crush his opponents. However, during the off-season he had one of his heads removed and his mother made sure it was the original one. (She liked it better.) Now he only has the head that speaks Russian and he’s have a hard time working with his teammates, as he no longer speaks English or Spanish. His coach, Nazir al-Mujaheed, pulled out his own tongue to impossible lengths at a press conference in grief.

In other news we get a great tease of a story when Larry Leroy (out on the edge of town) reports that he recently met with the Man in the Tan Jacket. The Man wanted to know how much sunshine Larry had been getting lately, which is an interesting question in Night Vale. Just within the last week there have been several days when the sun didn’t rise at all and a few other days when the sunrise was extremely loud. What’s really interesting though is that this is the first time we’ve gotten a chance to really know anything about the Man in the Tan Jacket or, as Larry calls him, Emmett. Sadly Larry then immediately goes on to also call him Everett and Ernest, so we may not know the man’s name but at least we have a general idea that it starts with E. Larry also reports that he saw a black line come down from the sky to around Old Woman Josie’s house. It likely has something to do with her “those weird, tall friends of hers that fly around and make loud trumpet noises and will not stop smiling all the time.”

The next story is just as enticing. Recently the Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home got to have a political ad, so now it’s time for us to finally hear the voice (or rather voices) of Hiram McDaniels! Hiram is played brilliantly by Jackson Publick. It must have been one of the hardest roles to cast. Publick is able to regularly act out whole conversations with himself using five distinctive voices and personalities. It’s some of the best acting in the show. During his first appearance, McDaniels sets the stage for his campaign mostly by arguing that since he has five mouths and his opponent doesn’t have any. He mentions that he cares about small businesses and youth sports programs, but it’s mostly just “I have five heads and am therefore great.” To be fair, that is a pretty cool quality to have in a candidate.

During his ad we mostly hear from a southern-sounding voice that sounds like a traditional politician. That’s Hiram’s gold head and most prominent personality. We also hear his green head, who likes to burn things, and his purple head, who seems nervous and secretive. That still leaves two heads, but I’m sure we’ll get to them eventually.

Back on the yellow helicopter story, we learn that several of the copters are circling Old Woman Josie’s house. Her home is currently surrounded by a column of darkness, but she has peered through it with her old opera glasses (Josie used to run the Night Vale Opera House) and seen that the helicopters all have a picture of a black triangle with an orange S inside on their sides. She senses that something is very wrong and suspects that the darkness around her is the last defense the angels have been able to give her.

Then she abruptly switches topics and asks Cecil why the two of them never go bowling anymore. Cecil points out that he’s dating Carlos now (in a moment a lot like this) and the last time Carlos was in the bowling alley he was nearly killed by an underground civilization. Still Cecil seems to want to start up his old team with Josie again and it’s nice to know that Cecil has more friends in town.

Josie seems happy too…until she suddenly realizes that the light has gotten through to her home. There is a sense that this means doom for all of Night Vale.

This episode’s weather is “Palabras de papel” by Nelson Poblete.

When we get back we actually get some follow-up on another story. Intern Vithia went down to city hall to do some research on the different Emmetts, Everetts, and Ernests who might be the Man in the Tan Jacket. She even managed to find a file that looked very promising and was on her way to bring it to the radio station. Unfortunately, that was when the angels decided it was time to call on Vithia for her heavenly duties and she ascended into the sky. A number of onlookers were awed by the sight, but a pedantic man in a fedora refused to let them say the experience was indescribable. The others soon moved away from him.

Finally, we get a bit more insight into just what those yellow helicopters are. They drop leaflets into Night Vale advertising themselves as envoys from StrexCorp Synernists Inc.:

“StrexCorp Synernists, Inc.
Look around you: Strex
Look inside you: Strex
Go to sleep: Strex
Believe in a Smiling God: StrexCorp

If you’ll recall, Strex is the company that runs Desert Bluffs and seems to control the population through drugs. Cecil is clearly nervous at their presence, but cannot openly say so. It turns out that StrexCorp has actually bought the radio station. With strained words, Cecil closes out the episode by assuring us that we are completely safe.

And now for 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, but connects to a desert world and the Dog Park.
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. Russian=Weirdness
10. Cecil hates Steve Carlsberg for unknown reasons.
11. Night Vale has a surprising fixation on actor Lee Marvin.
12. Night Vale is prone to duplication and Desert Bluffs is one of the duplicates.
13. A dark planet is calling to people.
14. People are shipping crates with tiny houses inside.
15. Old oak doors are appearing around Night Vale
16. A blinking red light is coming from somewhere unknown.
17. Simone Rigadeau thinks the world ended decades ago.
18. Cecil doesn’t know how old he is.
19. Earl Harlan thinks he and Cecil could have had something.
20. Mayor Winchell is retiring, possibly not by her own choice.
21. The Faceless Old Woman is running for mayor.
22. Cecil will be killed one day and it will involve a mirror.
23. Something big and bad is coming from a desert other-world.
24. Desert Bluffs/StrexCorp have a smiling god.
25. The Man in the Tan Jacket is from somewhere underground.

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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