Old oak doors, a smiling god and definitely not angels: Welcome to Night Vale hits its thrilling arc conclusion
I WAS UNSURE whether to refer to this as a climax, finale, conclusion, or what? Welcome to Night Vale doesn’t really have seasons or any system to break up different stories – it just continues, on and on and on until the hooded figures or the underground Lizard society have decided that we should stop. Instead I’ve opted to called this an ending to an arc, and what an ending that was.
If you’re unfamiliar with the podcast series Welcome to Night Vale then stop reading and go check it out immediately. All episodes except a select few are free and easily downloadable from most podcast sites, most notably iTunes. WtNV is a fictional podcast series set around a small desert town in America where everything is not how it seems and unexplainable, impossible and fantastical events are daily occurrences. Although I will say you’re better off skipping straight to Episode 2 as the pilot left a lot to be desired, every episode onwards hits the mark damn near perfectly.
The struggle between Strexcorp rages on, old oak doors are beginning to appear, an election is coming up and Cecil has disappeared. This all seemed to be building up to a very exciting conclusion, and hey, the 50th episode special is coming up, this all must wrap up then, right? Well a special episode did come out to tie up the mess that had plagued Night Vale for some time now on the 5…49th two-part live-show-special. Whether intentional or not, messing with our expectations is typical of Night Vale and something I will always love it for.
So Night Vale has been in a bad way recently. Strexcorp has taken over nearly every building, making every citizen a registered Strexcorp employee. To get the most productivity out of their employers everyone in town has been sent on a mandatory company picnic, which includes fun activities such as work, and reaching your full potential by working harder. Cecil has been captured after aiding a revolution headed by the teenage girl scout with the advanced helicopter skills badge, bringing in truly one of the most creepiest characters to date, Kevin.
They say that radio is the most visual medium, which doesn’t make sense until you realise just how powerful an atmosphere and words can be; whenever Kevin appears I generally feel uneasy. He’s never murdered someone (at least not on air) but it’s always the mystery and the implications that send shivers down my shine, the fact that he always sounds cheery and smiling makes it worse. He’s easily become one of my favourite… villains? I don’t know, but he’s the dark side to Cecil, the exact opposite of him in every way.
Other memorable characters also get their fair share of air time, such as Diana, her army and the definitely not angels. Although her role has become increasingly less played out in recent episodes, when we started to hear from her again way back when, she made some incredible speeches. Diana talked about the isolation and otherworldliness of where she was, the frustration of moving in one direction only to be brought back to her original point and the majesties of discovering angels, it was not only quite astounding writing but a beautiful piece of audio art delivered remarkably well by voice actress Annie Savage. She gets some great lines in here and there in recent episodes, but I do miss her earlier days of trying to reach the lighthouse.
Carlos returns after a brief disappearance, and his relationship with Cecil only continues to get sweeter. Carlos and Cecil really are some of the best LGBT+ characters I can think of, their relationship feels so real and the fact that their characters are not defined by their sexuality is such a rare treat. Both characters have memorable traits outside of their sexuality – these are not two gay men but rather two men who happen to be gay, or bi or whatever it’s never said and it doesn’t matter. It’s so important to have characters like this, It honestly deserves all the praise I can give. It fills a gap in the market of gay representation, as thegeekiary pointed out there’s not many, if any, major networks shows representing LGBT characters in the same realism as NtNV does.
Elections are also heating up. Our candidates: McDaniels the five headed dragon and The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives In Your House make guest appearances and I hope they will continue to do so. The chemistry between these two characters (technically six characters if you count each head) is hilarious. If you haven’t already I highly recommend The Debate, it’s one of the specials you have to pay for but also one of their funniest to date. The Debate offers some of the greatest performances of these two characters and provides a great build up to Episode 49. On a side note, I actually nearly got run over because I burst out laughing over it as I was crossing the street.
The whole series in general is hilarious, there’s such a delightful mix of comedy and drama in WtNV. Punchlines are delivered when you didn’t even know they were building up a joke. It’s not just one type of humour either, for example when Cecil is talking it’s his performance that causes amusement from how he reacts to situations, yet when Kevin speaks it’s really dark humour about what Kevin has done or might do. There’s also a subtle meta joke in the latest episode that worked very well.
It’s hard to criticise a series that is not only amazingly well-written but also completely free. Yet, if I had to nitpick some flaws I’d say that as much as I enjoyed recent events, when they cover these huge incidents and huge ongoing problems I don’t enjoy them as much as I did when it was focused on smaller, strange and mysterious happenings in the town. I do think that it was the right direction to go for this arc, I only hope that they continue to go back now to the small town charm that made me love the series in the first place. I also hope that Diana gets to have more clever dialogue and, by the sounds of it, it seems she’ll get to.
Now dear reader I take you now to… the weather.