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Headscratchers / Welcome to Night Vale

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  • What's up with that inn in Svitz where Cecil and the man he was traveling with keep rolling out of all night long? Wouldn't they, at some point, come up with the idea of closing the door or just sleeping at right angles to the slope instead of parallel to it?
    • It's heavily implied that the hostel, the traveling partner, and indeed the entire country of Svitz did not in fact exist, possibly some sort of hallucination. Also, this is Night Vale. Normal logic really just doesn't apply to it or its denizens.
    • It's possible they were actually having adventurous sex sessions both in the inn and outside, and "rolling" is just a euphemism. He says he didn't know this partner or remember where he met him, so maybe the man was a prostitute or one-night-stand he picked up while drunk. This theory has some weight to it, as every time sex has come up, it's only been hinted at, or a euphemism was used (like when Cecil wanted to "look at Carlos' 'beakers' and 'buzzing electrical equipment'", or in the SF Booksmith show, when Cecil says there was "something more" with Carlos, but proceeds to cut himself off).
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    • Or maybe they were just enjoying rolling down the hill literally. He mentions that they were laughing. Rolling down hills is fun and everything, especially with someone you ambiguously seem to like-like. Or maybe there was some kind of Bizarrchitecture thing going on where you'd end up rolling downhill no matter what. Or since it may have been a hallucination, maybe they were just weirdly confused and incompetent the way people sometimes are in dreams.
  • Kevin's description of Cecil and Cecil's description of Kevin don't match up. Here's Kevin describing Cecil:
    There is a photo here on the desk. It is a man. He is wearing a tie. He is not tall or short, not thin or fat. He has eyes like mine and a nose like mine, and hair like mine, but I do not think he is me. Maybe it is the smile. Is that a smile? I can’t say.
And here's Cecil describing Kevin:
There is a photo, a single photo of a man on the desk here. He is wearing a tie. He is not tall or short, not thin or fat. His hair and nose are like mine, but his eyes - his eyes are black as obsidian and his smile. Noooo. It is not a smile. He must be wicked, this man.

Although Kevin is described as Cecil's double, there are definitely notable differences between the two. Indeed, they seem to be more like mirror opposites to each other. The other doubles in Night Vale are so identical, in voice, appearance, and (apparently) personality, that Cecil literally can not tell who survived between intern Dana (who he knew very well) and her double. But Cecil and Kevin are completely opposite in personality, ideologies, political leanings, as well as the pitch of their voices.

  • Cecil's wording clearly implies that Kevin's eyes are different from his own. However, Kevin states that Cecil's eyes are like his. "Like" could imply them being similar but different.
  • There are a few possibilities here. Cecil's eyes might be "black as obsidian" like Kevin's, and Cecil is just unaware of this for some reason- or, Cecil's eyes might be similar in some way(s) to Kevin's eyes EXCEPT for their color.
  • Assuming Kevin's are entirely black, Cecil's may be entirely white.
  • Kevin may also be referring to the NUMBER of eyes that they have, as fanon often gives Cecil a third one on his forehead.
  • They might each be seeing slightly different things in the pictures and both telling the truth as far as they know. Or maybe Kevin is the one who's mistaken about his own appearance: it could be that Cecil has normal eyes and Kevin has black eyes but he doesn't notice them in the picture of himself or, presumably, in mirrors.
  • It's possible that in Night Vale, the people of the town already know what Cecil look like. To them, he doesn't need to explain anything— the out-of-universe reason is to preserve the loose descriptions in radio plays.
  • Now that we know that Cecil apparently cannot be around mirrors that are no covered, it seems likely that the reason he keeps a picture of himself is to remind himself of his own appearance.
  • While we're on the topic, is Kevin supposed to have Black Eyes of Evil or no eyes? It goes back and forth.
  • Kevin and Cecil probably aren't doubles. Sandstorm introduces two sets of dopplegangers: Desert Bluffs counterparts to Night Vale citizens, and literal doubles of everyone in both Desert Bluffs and Night Vale. Kevin and Cecil meet in a time-space vortex which isn't shown to have an direct link to the sandstorm, so Kevin and Cecil are to each other as Grandma Josephine is to Old Woman Josie. Cecil simply assumes he met his sandstorm-double due to the overlap in those two stories - indeed, one probably is symptomatic of the other, but it isn't spelled out how.

  • From time to time, Cecil seems to go out and do things without actually leaving the radio studio. For instance, in the first episode, he does a news segment and starts out confused about the mysterious scientists who've come to town. Then, during the same segment, Carlos arranges a town meeting, and Cecil then discusses the meeting in detail as if he attended it (or at least personally saw everything that happened), despite the fact he was hosting his program the entire time. How does he do that? (It's pretty easy to muster a Doylist explanation, which is that the writers got mixed up or expected the listener not to question it, but the Watsonian implications are kinda freaky.)
    • It happens enough throughout the series that you can be pretty sure it's intentional. One interpretation is that the 20-minute podcast version is a cut-down version of a much longer radio show. Or you can take it to mean that Cecil is capable of some strange instant-travel type action. Given Night Vale, though, it's likely there is an answer, and it's weirder than anything fans would be likely to guess.
      • Carlos has recently discovered that time in Night Vale may not be real...
      • Or time could pass at different speeds in different parts of town, this would allow Cecil to leave during pre-recorded ads, public service announcements and The Weather and return in time to continue the program despite having been gone for much longer. Something like this had to have happened in episode 25 too, for him to travel to the Arby's parking lot, spend some time sitting with Carlos then return to the radio station by the end of the song. Although broadcasting from a place where time travels at one speed and having people listening in other locations where time travels at other speeds couldn't possibly work, it makes about as much sense as a lot of things in this town.
      • In Episode 15, Cecil mentions getting updates from an intern through his headset. Maybe interns attend various meetings and events and update Cecil via mundane tech so he can report it in a timely fashion. After all, he does have Dana's number and she continues to report to him from the dog park, possibly out of habit. Though it doesn't explain how he was able to spend so much time at the Arby's parking lot...
      • Cecil also mentions getting faxes and phone calls from listeners on various occurrences in town.
    • One fanon explanation of the fanon eye on Cecil's forehead is that he's Clairvoyant— there seems to be some ban on writing and reading certain things, it's possible this is one of the few ways he can even obtain the news at all.
      • This theory has support from Cecil Baldwin himself, who mentioned it at the 2013 LA Podcast Festival.
    • And it's been established that astral projection exists in Night Vale (and that teachers are banned from using it to teach classes), so that's another possibility.
    • "A Story About Them" reveals that even Cecil himself isn't sure where some of his information comes from.
  • Cecil sure does seem to report a lot on things that the government don't want people to know about and actively deny happening. It's been established that they can make people disappear, though they don't do it often—how the hell has Cecil lasted this long?
    • Perhaps because the radio station management has been protecting him in some bizarre way.
      • It seems significant that he's much more afraid of the station management - although there's been no evidence that they're actually dangerous - than he is of all the things that are known to be deadly and horrible.
    • Citizens of Night Vale most likely practice Double Think like in 1984 or The City & The City: they need to know the actual truth for practical reasons, but must also deny and disbelieve on command. The impermanence of radio makes it perfect for disseminating things that must be forgotten.
    • One fanon interpretation is that Cecil is the personification of Night Vale and so he knows all the things that are happening and tells them as he sees them. Any government corrections are mentioned as a sort of overwriting the town memory of the event.
  • Why is it that Cecil never encouraged rebellion against the city council, but he's now doing so against StrexCorp? Yes, StrexCorp is now likely planning something awful for a bunch of children, but is there any reason to think it's worse than anything the city council or sheriff's secret police have done? After all, the council and mayor apparently allowed the local boy scout organization and those mysterious children to preserve scouts and put them in a glass case after they became eternal scouts.
    • Given that StrexCorp is in charge of Desert Bluffs, and the place is downright terrifying by its description seen here in the transcript of Episode 19 B - "Sandstorm" It may very well be Cecil's clairvoyance telling him that StrexCorp has sinister plans for Night Vale. And while Night Vale may not exactly be a utopia, it wouldn't be hard to imagine the awful things that would happen if StrexCorp got their full control of the town. Kevin's studio is pure Nightmare Fuel.
    • Well, when Cecil visits Desert Bluffs he's clearly horrified by what he finds, so blood and viscera everywhere must not be normal for Night Vale. As long as he can put two and two together and come up with Desert Bluffs, he'd probably be able to guess that StrexCorp is not something you want in charge of your life. Especially since it seems to be a lot more personally involved in people's lives than the council and a lot more involved in pushing everyone to work until they drop. I get the sense there's no personal freedom at all in Desert Bluffs, even less so than in Night Vale.
    • Better the Devil You Know
    • The way I always saw it, Cecil is loyal to Night Vale, including to it's city council. He doesn't disrespect them, he doesn't question the Sherifs Secret Police. And when Steve Carlsburg shows he knows too much, he shuns him immediately. He doesn't think there's a big reason to turn against the City Council.
    • The City Council's tyranny is an accepted part of Night Vale life, whereas StrexCorp are outsiders trying to destroy Night Vale's way of life and replace it with a completely foreign one. It's not surprising that "the Voice of Night Vale" would be more disturbed by the latter.
  • In Episode 38, Carlos says, "[D]o know that I don’t specialize in botany or dendrology. I am a scientist. I study science, not plants or nature." Yet in Episode 27, Carlos does some tests on the trees to see if they're "normal". If he doesn't specialize in dendrology, how did he know how to perform tests on the trees? Was he just showing off for Cecil's benefit?
    • It really depends on what kind of "tests" he did. There are plenty of tests he could know how to do without specializing in studying plants- especially if he's had a lot of education. We also don't know how the trees looked or what about them made Carlos want to experiment on them in the first place, so he could really be doing anything to them. Maybe he scraped a bit off to see if it was a different color underneath if the tree was a strange color or something; we don't have enough information to know what tests he did. That said, Carlos is described as being preoccupied with science, and also of a somewhat nervous disposition. It's a definite possibility that he was both showing off for Cecil and trying to do something with himself out of fear of seeming awkward.
    • Also depends on whether "doing tests on the trees" was actually code for "Hey let's go make out against this tree" or not.
    • Later episodes and the novel seem to indicate that Carlos exclusively practices Hollywood Science: hook up wires to it, stand in front of beakers of colored bubbling liquid, and write some equations on a chalkboard. "Tests" like these don't exactly require a lot of expertise.
  • Is there one Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives In Your Home who lives in all of our homes, or are there multiple distinct Faceless Old Women, or is each Faceless Old Woman each a facet of one, singular, Faceless Old Woman?
    • Yes.
      • She could also live in only one home but no one knows which one. Alternatively she lives in Cecil's home and he is in denial about being her only target.
      • Both Jossed as of "The September Monologues". At least one of the people whose homes she secretly lives in is named Chad.
    • She is one entity, but bears the living-in relation to many homes. What's the problem?
    • "Faceless Old Women" reveals that she has "multiple bodies connected to a single sentience".
      • Actually, that's the Faceless Old Women Who Openly Live In Their Own Homes. The real Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives In Your Home is omnipresent.
  • This is half-headscratcher and half-suspicion that it's intentional, but in the latest episode (44/Cookies) Cecil reveals that his hatred of Steve Carlsberg is at least somewhat related to the fact that he's the stepdad to Cecil's niece. Given the mention of said niece's mother, this would mean Cecil has a sister. However, in previous episode 33/Cassette, the young Cecil Gershwin Palmer makes mention of his mother and brother... but no sister. Where did she come from? Given Night Vale, it's unlikely that this is a mistake, and it probably means something. But that's for WMG, I suppose.
    • It could be that Cecil's brother is Janice's father, and Janice's mother is no blood relation to Cecil. Janice's father died, or her parents divorced, and her mother remarried, to Steve Carlsberg. Making him Janice's (neglectful) stepfather.
    • In 49/Old Oak Doors Part B, Steve referred to Cecil as his step-brother. If Cecil moved in with the Carlsbergs after 33/Cassette or Mr. Palmer married one of Steve's parents, then Cecil wouldn't have to be related to Janice to be her uncle as his (step-)brother is her (step-) father. If Cecil thought Steve was neglectful, then he might step in to be Janice's cool uncle.
    • In 53/The September Monologues it's confirmed that Steve married Cecil's sister, but at the same time he admits he doesn't know where Cecil sits on the family tree, which is probably why he got step and in-law mixed up. A couple possible answers to the sister's missing in the tapes
      • She is an older sister and had already moved out of the house.
      • She is a younger sister and either wasn't born yet, or was too young to bother mentioning.
      • She is actually a half-sister (might explain why Steve doesn't know where Cecil sits on the family tree) and she is currently living with Cecil's father (who also never comes up) and his new wife.
      • He just never had a reason to talk about her.
      • Cecil never had a sister before whatever attacked him in the mirror, but given that it may have altered reality, he always had a sister after the attack.
      • Or she's trans.
    • "Cassette" also heavily implied that the Cecil we know is some kind of alternate version, and the real Cecil got murdered as a teenager. So it's possible that current!Cecil has a sister but original!Cecil has a brother.
    • 108/Cal confirms Cecil has a brother in an alternate timeline, but a sister in the current one, and the two timelines are merging somehow.
  • So Night Vale is in the desert but the number's station is WZZZ denoting a station east of the Mississippi. Is WZZZ one of the stations that got a name before modern radio callsigns? Is there a desert east of the Mississippi? Is the license holder for the station east of the Missippi? Were the East Coast writers of the show lazy about radio callsigns?
    • That very article notes that there are about a dozen stations in the west that start with W cause they were grandfathered in, so Night Vale could be one of those.
  • Why do people refer to Kevin as Cecil's double? Cecil's double would be indistinguishable from Cecil, like how nobody knows if Dana is the original Dana or her double (including Dana herself). Kevin is Cecil's counterpart or maybe doppelganger, like Grandma Josephine for Old Woman Josie or Mayor Pablo Mitchell for Mayor Pamela Winchell.
    • Because in 19A-B when everybody met (and possibly killed) their double they met each other.
      • Cecil theorizes he met his double, but he's probably wrong. There are counterparts and there are doubles - Cecil meeting Kevin was the equivalent of Grandma Josephine meeting Old Woman Josie. It's worth bearing in mind that Cecil and Kevin met via time-space vortex without making any contact with the sandstorm which spawned everyone's doubles. The sandstorm was likely a side-effect of Strex using that vortex to breach Night Vale in some way.
  • In what sense *is* it a dog park?
    • In that it was a park, that was built for dogs, even if they are not allowed in. Alternately, it might be a cover for what it really is, or be for dogs that we cannot know or perceive.
    • After a major campaign by Night Vale's citizens, dogs are allowed to enter the dog park. Their owners are not, and the dogs are not allowed to leave the dog park afterwards. The City Council also seems under the impression in "Who's a Good Boy" that the beagle puppy will be attracted to the dog park because, well, it IS a dog.
  • What do the citizens of Night Vale think the words "exist" and "real" mean?
    • Don't think too hard about it. The Secret Police don't like it when people think hard about questions like this.
  • Where did Cecil's fanon-appearance come from? It's so detailed and specific, even though parts of it fluctuate, it doesn't feel like it's something that could have developed naturally. Particularly the tattoos. The third eye makes a certain amount of sense, but the tattoos seem quite random.
    • I think at least part of it is copycat syndrome: they saw someone else's Cecil headcanon and thought it was cool, so incorporated it into their own.
    • I have been wondering, why the third eye? Having listened to plenty of Welcome to Night Vale, I'm still clueless as to where anyone would get that idea.
    • If you google the logo for Wt NV there is an eye in the sky with the moon serving as the pupil. Combined with the fact that third eyes tend to symbolize psychic powers and Cecil seems to be omniscient at times and it's really not surprising.
  • What happened to Superday, the combination of Saturday and Sunday?
    • Presumably, it was dark for the big chunk of the middle of it.
  • If Night Vale Community Radio is a non-commercial donation-funded radio, why does it run advertisements?
    • Maybe they aren't to raise money, but to appease whatever horrible entities own the companies in universe.
      • Given Deb's evasiveness about who exactly she works for, horrible entities being involved seems highly likely.
    • Even stations which are technically donation driven often receive money from sponsors in business or culture.
  • What is with Cecil saying he doesn't remember what he looks like due to his fear of mirrors in "A door ajar. Part 3"? In 19A it is stated clearly he can be photographed and has a photo of himself on the desk. Couldn't he just take a daily selfie? Or use a reflective surface that isn't a mirror? In "eGemony, Part 2: “The Cavelands” he can clearly see his reflection in a shop window
  • Isn't it hypocritical of Cecil to constantly claim everything that happens in Night Vale is normal and all the constant deaths is nothing to worry about, and then turn around and call the citizens out on Episode 46 for being so apathetic? That is the exact attitude he was cultivating in people this whole time!
    • Yes.
  • If Huntokar took away the sky in miniature Night Vale, how can they have a normal weather report?


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