ø.Professional snakeoil salesman and full-time nerd 22/f/4'11"
I think everybody’s missing the point of the new Carlos status quo in WTNV. Having him lost and unable to get home isn’t about adding angst to his relationship with Cecil, not really. It’s about giving Carlos an opportunity to define himself as a character separate from Cecil’s affection.
Think about it. In the first year there were all these hints that Carlos is running around doing the Science Hero thing and trying to figure out Night Vale….but it was only ever hints, and never enough to actually be a character arc, even by the broad definition of character arcs in Year One. His story there was about adjusting enough to Night Vale and its weirdness that he could believably feel at home there and give the relationship with Cecil a shot.
In Year Two (and Condos), his appearances served to advance the relationship subplot. It was all about the two of them learning, together, that love is imperfect, perfectly imperfect, and that that imperfection is worth fighting for — which is in turn a reinforcement of the theme that runs through the entire Strexcorp story-line, a brilliant turn of authorial intent in its own right.
And all of this is great, don’t get me wrong. But the result is that we only really know Carlos as defined by Cecil and his relationship with Cecil. He’s the Love Interest. Cecil’s boyfriend. “Yer Science Fella.”
Now, though…now he’s in a situation where there is no Cecil. Here, Carlos will have to stand alone. He will have to define himself. And if it unfolds anything like Dana’s adventures, it’ll do so in his own words, describing his own experience, relayed back occasionally to Cecil and occasionally through Cecil, but still inherently separate from Cecil’s interpretation. For the first time, we’re gonna see Carlos through his own eyes, not his lover’s.
You can see the outline of his character arc to come in his voicemail, like a thesis statement:
…I remembered that I am not from Night Vale. I remembered that as far as the laws of the universe are concerned it is not where I belong.
Cecil… I don’t even remember how I got to Night Vale in the first place. I mean where is Night Vale even?
But I promise, I will find the way back.
It’s all there. His goals, his motivation. What he needs to learn. A hint of the mysteries that are to come.
When she was lost, Dana’s story arc was about finding her way home. Dana belongs in Night Vale. There was never any doubt, for her, and when she returned triumphant it was just confirmation of what she already knew, a reward for never giving up.
For Carlos, there is doubt. The Universe, apparently, believes that he does not belong in the place he feels to be home. He will have to fight, not just to get back to Cecil, not just to get back to Night Vale, but to prove that he belongs in Night Vale, with Cecil. And to do that, he’ll have to figure out how he got to Night Vale in the first place. He’ll have to show us who he was before, what led him there, why he came. He’ll have to show what’s different this time, how Night Vale changed him, how being lost will change him.
And if it’s anything like the other character arcs we’ve seen, it’s going to be glorious.
So…don’t worry, Night Vale. He’ll be home, and his story — their story, their romance — will be all the better for it because we’ll finally have both sides. And yes, it may take a while, because this little romance of theirs is just one part of the greater Night Vale story and they are not, despite what you may think, the main characters. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned, studying Night Vale from a writer’s perspective, it’s that pacing and pay-off are everything. These guys know what they’re doing. It’ll be a roller coaster, and it’ll be worth it.
— Overthinker out