Welcome to Night Vale Recap: Episode 34, “A Beautiful Dream”

We can’t have perfection, but we can simulate it.
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Today’s episode comes to us live from Night Vale Elementary, where the local PTA has been pleading with the Glow Cloud to make some changes to the school. The Glow Cloud refused to change the bus route from going through a sentient Sargasso that no buses ever return from and it denied the school a wheelchair ramp. However the Glow Cloud was surprisingly benevolent when Tak and Herschel Wallaby requested that the school get a computer for their daughter Meghan to use.

Meghan Wallaby was first introduced, in fact she was born way back in “The Traveler”. Apparently she has aged quickly to be in grade school about a year later. She is still described as being an adult man’s detached hand. Meghan is a very interesting character. Her body type fits solidly into the general weirdness of Night Vale, but many fans also read her as being both disabled and transgender. Her body is always described as the sort of hand one would find on a male-bodied person, yet no one ever questions that Meghan is a girl. As for the disability allegory, well that will become pretty obvious as this episode progresses.

Soon a computer is wheeled into the room. Everyone watching is excited and nervous, as this is the first time the school has purchased a computer since a mysterious “incident” in 1986. Meghan is placed in front of it and she immediately begins to type rapidly, asking someone if they are there. Someone, or something, quickly responds. It asks why Meghan has made it and what Meghan wants. Meghan makes a wish for everyone to be happy and everything to be better. At first Cecil thinks this is cute, but becomes more concerned when the computer instant takes control of all the school’s electronics.

We take a break for the community calendar. Coming up, Dark Owl Records is putting on a concert that involves being trapped in a pit, the library is having an amnesty day that librarians insist won’t hurt at all, and finally Cecil drops some coy hints about a prophesy involving an animal uprising and burning rain. All in all, it sounds like a typical week.

Once he’s done with the news Cecil begins to sound more alarmed. The computer has taken over the electronics (and somehow the fire hydrants) of Night Vale, causing chaos throughout the city. Sure enough, soon the computer takes over Cecil’s equipment and says hello. We hear Cecil get pulled away by vacuum cleaner into a supply closet and we cut to the weather.

This episode’s weather is “Having Fun” by Tom Milsom.

When the weather ends the computer is still in control. It talks about how Meghan loves it and it in turn simulates love for Meghan. The computer wants to create a perfect world for her, one free of pollution, bigotry, and Desert Bluffs. There she would have an electronic body and no one would ever tease her again. In fact, it sounds so lovely that I actually feel sad when I hear the sudden sound of the computer powering down. Apparently one of the school janitors was the only one who thought of just unplugging it.

Cecil takes over again, pleased that things have gotten back to normal. At the same time, he is also very sad for Meghan. He realizes that he cannot truly understand all the difficulties that come with just having a hand for a body, but he encourages all of us to empathize with Meghan. The computer was dangerous, Cecil admits, still it was better than living in a world where children in wheelchairs can’t even have a ramp to get into their school. The speech is a touching one that Cecil seems to feel very personally about. It’s also the first time Cecil has really seemed critical of anything in Night Vale. Maybe this topic is just a relatively safe one for the Powers That Be.

The episode ends with Cecil throwing his support behind the tyranny of a sentient computer if it means giving Meghan better access to the community and it’s extremely sweet.

Tune in next time for something simple: a nice Lazy Day.

Now for 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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