Welcome to Night Vale Recap: Episode 33 “Cassette”

Time for some easy retro listening, right?
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Cecil has been cleaning at his home lately, readers. He feels like this is the important story to tell us about today and not anything about the terrifying company that’s invaded the town and taken over the station. True, he might not be able to say much, but it’s still irksome that we don’t get any immediate resolution to the last episode’s cliffhanger. So, yes, as you might guessed Cecil has come across some old cassette tapes while going through his closet. He doesn’t remember the tapes at all and decides to take us with him on a trip down memory lane.

The tape says it’s from when Cecil was fifteen and the younger Cecil certainly sounds like it once the tape starts. I couldn’t tell when I first heard this episode but the awkward, high-pitched voice of young Cecil is actually still from Cecil Baldwin. I’m impressed. I didn’t know he had that much of a vocal range.

Young Cecil talks about how he got the tape recorder for his birthday. He’s excited because he really wants to replace the Night Vale Community Radio Host Leonard Burton one day. It seem like he has a good shot at it, as there are tablets at City Hall saying it will happen one day.

He stops the tape for a moment to play back what he’s recorded and then marvels at how weird his voice sounds. I’m with you 15-year-old Cecil. I record interviews all the time and I think I sound like a complete dork when I play it back. Cecil also tries his hand at reporting by talking about the new pizza shop in town, Big Rico’s. It was pretty good and should do as a nice substitute while Cecil’s favorite pizza place gets rebuilt from the mysterious fire that burnt it down.

Then, oddly, Cecil sees a flickering in the corner of his eye. It’s only there while the tape is recording and gets worse when he decides to sing. Cecil wonders about it then rushes off to listen to Leonard Burton’s show on the radio.

When the recording ends, Cecil remembers Leonard fondly. Strangely, that’s the only part of the tape he does remember. He still has no recollection of making them.

The next story is about the Museum of Forbidden Technology. The museum has a number of exhibits brought to Night Vale by time travelers, aliens, and Russians (because, again, Russian=Weirdness). Too bad no one can actually see the exhibits. They are, naturally, all censored. Also, today in traffic everyone one is achieving enlightenment. No big deal.

In the meantime Cecil is still very curious about the tapes he found and puts on another one. In this one young Cecil starts by complaining about his brother, who thinks he’ll never be a good radio host because he doesn’t have the right voice for it.

Young Cecil also says he’s been seeing that flickering in the corner of his eye all the time now. He asked the Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in his Home if it was her but she said no by flipping over the kitchen table and gluing it to the floor. He wishes he could say hi to whatever is following him, then he yelps when he feels it touch him. The tape pauses and starts up at another time.

Now young Cecil is excited because he’s just been accepted as an intern at the radio station. His mother tells him to beware, be warned, and be wary, but apparently that’s what she says to everything so he decides it means she’s proud of him. His brother is still unsupportive but Cecil takes it in stride saying “no family member is perfect, they become perfect when you learn to accept them for what they are.”

When the tape stops present Cecil is more confused than ever. He doesn’t remember ever being an intern at the station and he doesn’t remember ever having a brother. Now, at this point we’ve already had some indications that Cecil’s memories are unreliable. For instance, he has no idea how old he is or how long he was in Europe. However, whatever life he once had, bits of it have still bled into his present. The thing he just said about his brother is almost exactly what he said about Khoshekh near the start of the series. As always, Night Vale has mysteries within mysteries for us to ponder.

The next story is rather disturbing speech about how the surface of the moon will not change in any way when we die and is followed by a quick ad from StrexCorp. Strex wants us to think deeply about meadows. The ad doesn’t say why, but apparently meadows are very important.

Soon Cecil pops on another recording and his younger self recounts how great it is to be working at the station. His mom was so happy she hid from him for three days. Young Cecil pauses as he sees the flicker again. He announces that he isn’t scared of the creature, but the real mind-blowing moment is when he says his full name: Cecil Gershwin Palmer. Now, this name is no big deal now, but back in the day everyone had sort of assumed that the character’s name was just the same as the actor’s, Cecil Baldwin. I tell you, a lot of fanfictions were rewritten when this episode came out. Anyway, the recording stops suddenly and present Cecil awkwardly takes us to the weather.

This episode’s weather is “Big Houses” by Squalloscope.

Another cassette starts right away after the weather. Young Cecil reports that his mother and brother have disappeared, but at least the interning is going well. He says the radio station is like a dark planet lit by no sun. He sees the flickering at all times now, especially when he looks into mirror. He looks into a mirror while recording and then suddenly screams. There are strange noises that could be many things but personally I wonder if it isn’t the sound of Cecil being swallowed by a giant snake. After all, that’s how our present Cecil has said he wants to die.

And indeed it sounds like Cecil might well have died at the age of fifteen. Like his mother predicted, it did involve a mirror. What does that mean for the Cecil we know and love? I don’t know. Present Cecil certainly doesn’t either. He is disturbed by the tapes and has no idea what they mean. He quickly destroys them and ends the show, wishing us all luck in accurately remembering our own lives.

And now it’s time for some changes to the Conspiracy Tracker:

1. The angels have disappeared and the City Council still 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 may have died as a teen. It involved a mirror.
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. Russian=Weirdness
9. Cecil hates Steve Carlsberg for unknown reasons.
10. Night Vale has a surprising fixation on actor Lee Marvin.
11. Night Vale is prone to duplication and Desert Bluffs is one of the duplicates.
12. A dark planet is calling to people. It may be the radio station.
13. People are shipping crates with tiny houses inside.
14. Old oak doors are appearing around Night Vale
15. A blinking red light is coming from somewhere unknown.
16. Simone Rigadeau thinks the world ended decades ago.
17. Cecil can’t remember his past.
18. Earl Harlan thinks he and Cecil could have had something.
19. Mayor Winchell is retiring, possibly not by her own choice.
20. The Faceless Old Woman is running for mayor.
21. Something big and bad is coming from a desert other-world.
22. Desert Bluffs/StrexCorp have a smiling god.
23. 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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