Welcome to Night Vale Recap: Episode 5, “The Shape in Grove Park”
This episode, the City Council has decided to move a mysterious shape in Mission Grove Park (also known as the Night Vale park people can actually go to). By universal consensus, no one ever talks about or acknowledges this shape, but Cecil is still able to report that local historians are angry that it’s being removed. It is, after all, a beloved landmark. The City Council seems to want to move it to make room for a new swing set, picnic area, and bloodstone circle in the park.
Moving on, we learn that the Night Vale Green Market will finally start selling fruits and vegetables after fifteen years of having only empty stands and trucks. After some truly in-depth research, the staff at the Green Market has determined that people are more likely to buy merchandise if there is merchandise available. However, the decision is still controversial, as having customers at the Green Market could interfere with the staff’s ongoing espionage operations.
Cecil reached out to a source within the Sheriff’s Secret Police, but the source only responded in a code that no one has been able to crack yet.
Next we go to a sports update about Night Vale quarterback Michael Sandero. You may recall that Sandero recently gained super strength after being struck by lightning. More recently, he has also grown a second head. Tragically for Sandero, everyone agrees that the second head is smarter and better-looking than the original. Even Sandero’s mother is showing her preference on her “Which of My Children I Like Best” billboard outside their home. Sandero himself could not be reached for comment. That is, Cecil didn’t try.
Granted, there are many very unlucky people in Night Vale, but Michael Sandero always seems to be creatively unlucky and widely unloved. Poor guy.
We next learn that there is a serious tarantula problem in Night Vale. Specifically, illiteracy, unwanted pregnancy, and violent crimes are all on the rise within the tarantula community. Local animal control is trying to help by arranging an after school program called “Teach a Spider to Read, Stop the Madness”.
After that we go to a commercial, and it’s one of my personal favorites!
We’ve heard about the Ralph’s in passing before. It sounds like a local grocery store. Well, did you know there’s a vacant lot behind it? A vacant lot with a hole? Now you do! And there are some people who want you to join them at that hole. They want you to huddle with them. That’s about all you get to know.
“Why do we want you to come? Why did we spend money for this airtime? We understand you are confused.
But: Hole, Vacant Lot, Ralph’s, huddle, Us.
For the low-low price. Act today. Or tomorrow. Not Wednesday. Wednesday is no good for Us.
Anyway, we’re almost out of airtime, so just come on down to the Hole in the Vacant Lot out back of the Ralph’s and huddle with Us. Or else.”
After the break Cecil mentions that the famous (and deceased) movie star Rita Hayworth stopped through town earlier that day. It’s unclear if this was a ghost, a case of mistaken identity, or what, but my money’s on it being another example of time being weird in Night Vale. Who knows what time period she came from, right?
We then move on to an update on the shape in Mission Grove Park. Or rather, the shape formerly in the park. City Council has apparently decided to move it to right outside the radio station. There it continues to be indescribable in every way. However, since no one else will talk about the shape or acknowledge it at all, Cecil begins to go through a bit of a crisis. He suddenly wonders if he is actually alone in the universe and that all the “people” he perceives are just illusions conjured by his own loneliness and madness.
Even in the face of existential dread, Cecil remains a professional and continues with his work. He announces that Night Vale Community Theater is holding auditions for “Once on this Island”. The more he describes the auditions though, the more likely it seems that the theater is actually looking for recruits for sort of covert ops team. They should have wilderness survival skills, sniper training, and not sing anything from South Pacific.
We get a quick update on the Green Market situation: nothing has changed whatsoever.
Perhaps because of his increasing fear that he’s the only real thing in existence, Cecil goes on a tangent about the moon. He wonders if anyone knows what it is. (Carlos was unable to explain, as he hasn’t been seen much since the horrifying haircut incident.) Cecil clearly knows nothing about the moon and even seems offended by its phases. Where does the moon go when it’s gone? Does it get bored with watching the Earth? Rude!
The next story is about some changes to the curriculum at Night Vale Elementary. The geology department wants people to discover a new type of rock they made up, math and English are switching names, astronomy will only allow stargazing with blindfolds, and several new languages will be taught. I only mention the last one because it includes Russian in a list of weird-sounding languages like Coptic Spanish and Unmodified Sumerian. I think this is our first instance of a running theme in Welcome to Night Vale. Basically the idea is that Russian=Weirdness. If Russian is involved in some way, that usually means it’s something to pay attention to.
Getting back to Cecil’s personal crisis, he is now holding a cup of coffee and considering if he really got it from intern Leland a moment ago or if he just imagined Leland and got it himself. But then where would the coffee itself have come from and…Cecil’s musings are cut short when Leland returns and tells Cecil that the shape from Mission Grove Park has turned red and is emitting scary whirlwinds. Cecil just seems happy that someone else has acknowledged the shape, which is apparently enough to convince Cecil that other people really exist.
The City Council thinks that the reason for the change in the shape that no one acknowledges or speaks about, is that it’s angry Cecil is acknowledging and speaking about it. City Council offers to move the shape back to the park if Cecil will stop. Cecil agrees because he trusts the council, and also he just saw the shape vaporize Leland. Thus we officially establish a pattern of interns as the red shirts of Night Vale. Cecil acknowledges the loss of Leland and nothing else and we go to the weather.
This episode’s weather is “Jerusalem” by Dan Bern.
When we get back, Cecil spends the last few minutes talking about the wonders of life and Night Vale’s community. Likely, he’s just happy to be relatively secure about his place in the universe again. While Cecil frequently talks about the meaninglessness of life, he also starts to feel lost very easily sometimes. Cecil seems to define himself by his job. As the show continues, he starts to clearly grow more of an outside life. At the same time, when things go badly for him, he always returns to his seat behind the microphone. Cecil may or may not have much of a life, but he always has his duty.
And here’s your conspiracy tracker!
- Angels are living with Old Woman Josie and the city council doesn’t like them.
- There’s a house that doesn’t exist.
- The Apache Tracker is investigating something evil at the post office.
- Time is weird in Night Vale and Carlos wants to figure it out.
- Cecil wants to be swallowed by a giant snake.
- There’s a city underneath the Desert Flower Bowling Alley and Arcade Fun Complex.
- Literal five-headed dragon and fugitive Hiram McDaniels is on the loose.
- Pets become perfect when you accept them…
- What the heck is the dog park?
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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