Welcome to Night Vale Recap: Episode 6, “The Drawbridge”

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Who wouldn’t want a drawbridge? STEVE CARLSBERG?!

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To begin with, Cecil reports a series of blackouts throughout Night Vale. The blackouts seem to be moving, as though caused by a roving beast. It’s also had the effect of making everyone in affected areas feel like they’ve become different people, but with all the memories of those they have replaced. He advises that we hold onto flashlights and childhood photo albums just in case.

The main story this episode is about a drawbridge the town is building. Unfortunately, bridge-building is one of the many things that everyone in Night Vale is completely ignorant about. Honestly, they’re doing such a bad job, that I wonder if they really know what a bridge is. Most recently, engineers have failed at building the bridge with furniture upholstery. Before that it was cardboard, creamer containers, and ceramic bowls. Now they’ve basically admitted that they don’t know what they’re doing and have asked citizens in general if anyone has any better ideas.

It’s also time for Night Vale Radio’s annual pledge drive. Cecil regrets bothering listeners for money, but it probably won’t be a problem for long. Most of their money seems to come from the government of Guatemala for mysterious, and probably terrible, reasons. Cecil also mentions WZZZ for the first time. WZZZ is a local numbers station, which are apparently a real thing. Numbers stations have been around since WWI and are widely believed to be used for communicating coded messages. WZZZ, like real numbers stations, features a monotone female voice reading seemingly random numbers, interspersed with chimes. Just pointing it out now, as WZZZ will get its own episode down the line. For now Cecil just admits that he has no idea what’s going on with that station.

Back to the drawbridge story, we learn that this bridge is drawing controversy for going over-schedule and over-budget. Apparently this is pretty common with Night Vale public works projects. As no one in the city seems especially good at building things, it’s not really surprising. However, one listener goes the extra mile to point out that the whole project is ridiculous because Night Vale is in the middle of a desert and has no bodies of water it would need a drawbridge for.

The critic wanted to remain anonymous, but Cecil isn’t able to restrain himself for long before revealing that his source is a man named Steve Carlsberg. We don’t really know anything about Steve at this point, just that he’s a spoilsport who never changes his hubcaps. Who could take someone like that seriously? Still, outing him on the air might be a bit harsh. Who knows what happens to people who vocally question the City Council’s decisions? Is this Cecil trying to cause violence against someone he doesn’t like again? Is this Telly the barber all over again?

Next we get an update on the increasingly desperate Night Vale Daily Journal. It looks like now they’ve stopped even actually printing anything. Instead they’re offering readers a new “Imagination Edition”. Of course, subscriptions are mandatory and cost $60 a month.

Cecil then reports on the annual firefighter/police force softball game, which will raise money for the Make-A-Wish foundation and a military coup. Last year the police won after the entire firefighter team was assassinated with blow-darts. The murders are still unsolved and uninvestigated. This year’s game should be a lot of fun, since the firefighters will have revenge on their minds.

Then we get a notice from Mayor Pamela Winchell, one of the best background characters of the show. She wants us to know that there’s definitely not any horrible, static-y sound coming from the Dog Park. It’s also certainly not any sort of encoded plea from anyone asking for precious metals and toddlers. Interestingly, the one time we “heard” from a hooded figure it made an overpowering static noise. Does this mean that a hooded figure needs help? Is it the one who steals babies? I’m going to say yes. That doesn’t mean I have any idea what to make of it though.

This is also our first introduction to the mayor. She starts off in fine form, already denying everything she can. That seems to be a big part of the mayor’s job.

We get a quick commercial, which is just a series of moans, and then move on to traffic. Police are currently denying that cars exist rather than deal with traffic incidents. However, that doesn’t stop the next segment on horoscopes from telling Pisces that they’ve won a new car. The stories are right next to each other so it’s an interesting contradiction. It brings up the question of just how much Cecil reports on that he knows is nonsense. As the series continues, it becomes increasingly clear that, while Cecil has some weird beliefs, he’s also careful about what he says and how he says it on the radio, so he can help others as much as possible. (Unless you are Telly or Steve Carlsberg.)

A while back strange metallic trees apparently sprang up in Night Vale and caused all airborne objects to catch fire. Now those trees have been cleared away for a new strip mall, much to the delight of helicopter pilots. At the same time, Night Vale nature lovers are so desperate for some more plants in the desert that they’ll even protest in favor of evil metal trees. Juanita Jefferson started a petition to protect the trees saying “Treees! They are us!”

Juanita then collapsed and was taken to the hospital in a helicopter. Her lawyer later said “My client fully recognizes the irony of this helicopter trip, but she stands by her earlier pronouncement, ‘Trees, trees; they are us.’”

We return to the drawbridge story where we learn that the latest collapse will cause the whole bridge project to be even more expensive than before. Once the thing is built it will have a toll booth where tolls are over $200. Cecil doesn’t seem bothered by this. Instead he points out that while Night Vale may consistently fail at public projects and pour endless money into them, everyone is always proud of the end result. For instance, everyone loves the new clock tower, which cost $23 million dollars to build and is now invisible and constantly teleporting. It’s much better than anything in Desert Bluffs!

That place is where jerks like Steve Carlsberg deserve to be!

And now the weather. This episode’s weather is “Aye” by Dio.

Once we’re back we find out that Steve Carlsberg is actually already in trouble, or was. He was seen getting pulled into an unmarked van a few days ago and reappeared this morning wearing head bandages and eating a piece of Styrofoam shaped like an ice cream cone. It looks like Cecil didn’t cause this one, but who knows. Time is weird in Night Vale. This also suggests that Steve is a known agitator in Night Vale. That may well be the reason Cecil hates him so much.

Finally we wrap up with Cecil thanking an unnamed world leader for donating almost all of the money given to Night Vale’s fundraiser. Notably, Cecil thanks him in Spanish. Then, with a cheerful tone, he wishes us all good night.

This episode is a relatively low-key one. It’s notable for introducing Steve Carlsberg, Pamela Winchell, and WZZZ, but otherwise it’s mostly unremarkable. Definitely not the case for our next episode: “History Week!”

Here’s your conspiracy tracker!

  1. Angels are living with Old Woman Josie and the city council doesn’t like them.
  2. There’s a house that doesn’t exist.
  3. The Apache Tracker is investigating something evil at the post office.
  4. Time is weird in Night Vale and Carlos wants to figure it out.
  5. Cecil wants to be swallowed by a giant snake.
  6. There’s a city underneath the Desert Flower Bowling Alley and Arcade Fun Complex.
  7. Literal five-headed dragon and fugitive Hiram McDaniels is on the loose.
  8. Pets become perfect when you accept them…
  9. What the heck is the dog park?
  10. Russian=Weirdness
  11. Cecil hates Steve Carlsberg for unknown reasons.

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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