Welcome to Night Vale Recap: Episode 40, “The Deft Bowman”

Have I mentioned that the Russian stuff is weird?
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After a brief announcement about Night Vale’s desperate need for anything in the way of tourist attractions, Cecil cheerfully tells us that the phone booth behind the local Taco Bell has finally been repaired. For years the phone has been ringing endlessly, but whenever anyone picked it up it would only click and hiss and sometimes play notes from a music box. Now that the phone has been repaired, witnesses have seen mysterious figures inside the booth, speaking on the phone in what appears to be Russian. Witnesses have also noticed a detached adult man’s hand lurking in the phone booth. It can only be Megan Wallaby, but what is she up to?

We also get an update from Intern Dana, who is continuing to wander through a desert otherworld. She’s recently found a mountain (much to her disbelief) and on top of the mountain is a lighthouse with a blinking red light on top. It sounds suspiciously like a combination of the picture of a lighthouse Dana saw John Peters looking at several episodes back and the blinking light and mountain that appeared near Night Vale when that masked army stopped by during “A Blinking Light up on the Mountain.” Wherever Dana is, it’s someplace very interesting.

As Cecil continues with the news, it seems we’re in for a lot of cheerful announcements today. A submarine has just arrived from the Russian town Nulogorsk. Nulogorsk was once Night Vale’s sister city. The two places would regularly exchange letters and presents. However that all stopped because in 1983 Nulogorsk became frozen in time. It made things awkward for the people of Night Vale because they really wanted to discuss the evolution of Michael Jackson’s career.

The Sheriff’s Secret Police go to investigate the submarine (no one seems surprised that it somehow travelled to the middle of a desert). In the usual fashion of Welcome to Night Vale a spokesbeing for the police explains the situation by telling a seemingly unrelated story about you living with your grandfather by the sea. One day, something went wrong.

““Some things don’t come back,” the spokesbeing continued. “They can only travel in one direction, like mountains travel through the centuries. Yes, mountains. You were with Grandfather when the voice on the radio rose an alarm. Grandfather stood up. There was fear upon the monument of his face. This was not supposed to happen. Not here.

“Do you remember the light, so bright you could see it through the wall? Then nothing. Then dark, and a ringing telephone. But we are here, and now, and this is not there and then,” concluded the Sheriff’s spokesbeing.”

Hmm. Normally these stories don’t seem to be related to anything, but I’m going to make a mental note about this one.

Anyway, this episode is just full of interesting developments! Next Cecil begins to address his “delicate” relationship with his new station management (a.k.a. StrexCorp). In fact, he even introduces his new program director, Lauren Mallard. Surprisingly, Cecil says she’s a delight and for the first time sounds optimistic about working with his new employers.

Lauren comes on the air and actually does sound very charming. She’s played by Lauren Sharpe, who does an absolutely wonderful job of sounding extremely cheerful, but also perfectly intimidating when the situation calls for it. (Uh, spoilers I guess? For a few sentences from now?)

Lauren talks about the growing pains of any sort of business transition and seems genuine about her desire to make Cecil and the listeners more comfortable with her presence. She explains that she’s a big fan of Cecil and the show in general, even the parts where Cecil gushes about his beautiful boyfriend. You know, the boyfriend who helped break the story on the oranges that were making people disappear, the oranges that were going to make StrexCorp so much money. Suddenly Lauren wants be reminded just what that clever boyfriend’s name was. When Cecil hesitantly says Carlos, Lauren repeats it solemnly like it’s a name she won’t forget again. I feel a chill whenever I hear it.

There’s a quick PSA from the local Marine Biologists Association warning people that the ocean is a deadly place that no one should ever visit. However it seems the visitors from Nulogorsk (probably) ignored this wisdom in their efforts to get to Night Vale. The Sheriff’s Secret Police have now opened the hatch to the submarine. They send a junior detective in first and she soon starts screaming. When she emerges she is decades older, with long silver hair. (Luckily doctors think she’ll make a full recovery.)

Whatever happened to the detective doesn’t seem to happen again because others are soon able to explore the sub. Inside they find a man who is missing a hand. They also find a few other interesting items.

“The other items in question included a rotary-dial phone with no receiver cord, a large tin full of hardtack, a wrapped parcel (which was carried away by a man who was not tall), a thick book (which was carried away by a man who was not short), and a front page article from the September 24th, 1983 issue of the Night Vale Daily Journal, written by Foreign Correspondent Leann Hart. The headline of this article was:

Sister City Nulogorsk Decimated By Nuclear Attack –
No Known Survivors

Listeners, this is simply not true! I had intern Svee pull up that very issue, and the front page article is by City Beat reporter Leann Hart, and the headline reads:

City Council OKs Book Ownership For Randomly Selected Students

Which is the truth, listeners? I cannot comprehend what has happened to our old pen pals from Nulogorsk! Who were we talking to for all those years? Were they destroyed in 1983? I’m going to get Svee’s article to the Secret Police. The correct historical truth must be validated, and all false histories brutally repressed.”

I don’t usually quote chunks that long but there’s a lot to digest here. First we the brief reappearances of the men who are not tall/short from “A Story About You,” suggesting that whatever their mysterious jobs are, they involve more than watching crates with miniature houses in them. More importantly though, we have the suggestion of split timelines. It seems very likely that Nulogorsk was destroyed by a nuclear blast in 1983. That’s what the spokesbeing’s story was about earlier. I wonder if this also might connect to Simone Rigadeau’s theory that the world ended decades ago. Whatever happened, it looks like somehow Nulogorsk was both destroyed and not destroyed in 1983. This has also resulted in the town seeming to be frozen in time to outsiders. Folks, I think this might be one of the most intriguing mysteries Welcome to Night Vale has ever offered us. Cecil is so confused and overwhelmed that he can only take us to the weather.

This episode’s weather is “Offering” by Black City Lights.

Once the weather is done we realize that even now we aren’t done with this episode’s exciting developments. The man on the sub makes a phone call, speaking in Russian to whoever is on the other end. The police rush to trace the call and find it is coming from the phone booth behind the Taco Bell. Megan Wallaby is there again and, we soon learn, it’s for a very important reason. The man from the sub is missing a hand. He announces in practiced English that he has come as a gift. He is there to be a body donor for Megan Wallaby.

Both are rushed to the hospital and the man is surgically attached to Megan. It’s an interesting situation because it seems like Megan was originally this man’s hand. They fit together perfectly. Yet everyone still calls the new fusion Megan (which I’ll admit is a much more satisfying story decision). At the moment Megan is still weak from the surgery and needs to do a lot of physical therapy to adjust to her new body, but she seems happy. Cecil is very glad for her and encourages us to support her as she begins her new life. For an episode with so many mysteries in it, we end on a very happy note.

Still, I think I need to make some updates 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. NV’s sister city Nulogorsk was destroyed and not destroyed in 1983.
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. Dana’s desert otherworld has a blinking light on a mountain.
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. Tamika Flynn is leading an army against Strex.
24. Someone bought Cecil at an auction.

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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