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Lessons Learned

By ErinPtah
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Fashion Week really hammered home the point that, not only has Cecil forgotten the lessons he was trying to teach others during the fight with Strexcorp, he's internalized some of the lessons Strexcorp was trying to teach.

It's only when I went back to the transcripts that I realized just how close he's getting to Kevin's mindset. How closely he's paraphrasing things Kevin has said, questions Kevin has asked.

(I'm not sure if this is a hint that the Smiling God is still present in the otherworld desert, or just a depiction of how major depression can mind-whammy you as badly as any external brainwashing force.)

The Cecil from Fashion Week is drawn extra-disheveled. He's wearing the clothes he slept in, after all -- and he's too deeply depressed to care whether the Sphere ingests him! -- which means he's probably too depressed for good hygiene.

...and you know, that also explains why he's not considering the drawbacks of the otherworld desert and its residents. He doesn't care. He doesn't have the will to put any time or effort into self-preservation. He is apathetic to the point of being passively suicidal.

This is the mental state in which he's making major, life-changing decisions.

Cecil, honey, you're not okay. More than that, you're not-okay in ways that are not going to be magically fixed by moving.

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Kevin (Renovations):
I rarely feel anything. I rarely feel anything at all.
Cecil (Fashion Week): I rarely feel anymore.

Kevin (Old Oak Doors): It's hard to get work done when there's all this fighting! And for what? For hooded figures? For forbidden dog parks? For a Glow Cloud?
Cecil (OOD): This is our town! It is terrible, but it is ours, and we are fighting for it!
Kevin (OOD): I used to feel that way about Desert Bluffs. But then we met the Smiling God!

Cecil (Fashion Week): Is Night Vale worth it? Is Night Vale good? Is it a good town?

Cecil (Parade Day): We could have done something, Night Vale, but we...chose not to. We all chose to stand down, and hope change would be won for us, and not by us!

By someone else, we believed. A hero, we believed. But belief is only step one. Action is step two! Fighting for what you believe is step two! Unity is step two!

We did not take step two today, Night Vale! We have failed Tamika. But worse, we have failed ourselves.

Cecil (Fashion Week): I've been upset since February that I'm being used to save Dana, that Night Vale is so hostile to outsiders, that I don't always feel good about this town.

But I haven't chosen to do anything about it except complain on the air...and hope the situation will be changed for me, not by me.

And for some reason, that hasn't worked! So I've decided that my next step is, not to fight for change at all, but to move to another dimension.

The otherworld will be better for me, right? The problem is nothing to do with me failing myself, it's all about Night Vale failing me, and going to a new place will make me happy again...right?
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anonymous's avatar
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RubyDaSquirlz's avatar
Thank the Glow Cloud he hasn't spent the year in the OtherDesert, he would've been completely corrupted... But for now-OH I just realised. He messed up the timeline. I think I have a guess what's going to happen in the future.
RobinTheBard's avatar
Oh no so saaaaddd!!! TT_TT now I'm nervous to listen to this episode! :( I hate seeing my favorite characters so upset! And also walking right into an obvious trap...that too... XD. But the worst part about this is that beyond his clearly rose-colored glasses view of the desert otherworld, some of his concerns aren't that far-fetched! You can clearly see his thought process, but itMs lead him to a dark place. :( and what's more it IS concerning that someone is stealing his body every time Dana is in trouble, and that's obviously upsetting, PLUS it isolates him from Dana AND people keep digging at him with the fact that that's happening to him (wether they mean it maliciously or are trying to thank him)!!! And the Faceless Old Woman keeps DIRECTLY messing with him!!! She has moths eat up all his clothes, that's pretty standard, BUT SHE was te one who told him how to get to Carlos to visit, and she's ALSO been DIRECTLY in the studio PUTtInG FREAkIbG SILVERFISH IN HIS FREAKING EARS!!!!! DX GOD I HATE those bugs with a burning passion, but putting them in someone's ears is SURE to cause some permanent damage!!! And he's a freaking RADIO HOST, he needs to hear!!! Much as I'm sad about my fave (originally available) candidate going so far to the Dark Side of the Force, I think the Faceless Old Woman is INtENTIonaLLY antagonizing Cecil in order to get him to leave so she can kill Dana and take over as mayor!!! :'( which means she's probably teamed up with KEVIN, which means she doesn't really care about the town anymore AND this is gonna get a lot worse!! ;(
ErinPtah's avatar
Stay strong!

The FOW has definitely not teamed up with Kevin -- they're living in different dimensions with no way to contact each other! -- it just seems that their motives overlap, sometimes =(

And you're right, a lot of Cecil's concerns are about legitimate things. It's just that he's decided, instead of thinking "this is something I can work to fix," he's going to think "I'm helpless to change anything so there's no point in trying."
GuesssWho9's avatar
GuesssWho9's avatar
So, have you heard the 70s yet? Kevin's hallucinating Vanessa AND her double now, and possibly has a bit of a crush on Carlos . . . also there was a bit where he happily talked about lethal throat spiders, and decorating with dead lizards. Then he renamed the desert otherworld New Desert Bluffs.

Plus, you know, lots of other things.
ErinPtah's avatar
I've seen it *now*, but I hadn't seen it when you left this comment! Please use rot13 to hide spoilers, or at least include some lines of spoiler space so I can look away before accidentally reading anything!

Kevin having a crush was pretty cute. Kevin not being de-Strexed, and the fact that we're just gonna leave him there, is pretty sad =(

And, yeah, lots of other things. On the one hand, they FINALLY addressed a bunch of things they've been holding off on all season! (Cecil getting chided for not trusting Dana! Cecil realizing that running away won't fix things, and he has to work to change the place he lives!) On the other...some things didn't get addressed, Carlos has realized about half of what he did wrong but hasn't said sorry for any of it, and it all happened so fast. A year-long arc of Cecil getting despondent about all kinds of things, and he snaps out of it and feels totally reassured overnight?

Why oh why must this show have such terrible pacing.
GuesssWho9's avatar
Sorry :( I tried not to mention the big things

Yeah, I worry so much about Kevin. Although he did seem to be a little better. I hope he continues to do so, and that he's not stuck in a time loop. That whole New Desert Bluffs thing is worrisome
ErinPtah's avatar
A time loop would fit right in with all the other timey-wimey stuff this show has done. But would that mean they can't rescue Kevin without causing a paradox? Because, yeah, I am on Team Rescue Kevin.
GuesssWho9's avatar
Kevin needs all the hugs. Real hugs, not what he thinks are hugs.
AndItIsGone's avatar
This is...really unsettling. And I know it's Night Vale, and Night Vale is weird and doesn't make any sense to people who don't exist in that universe, but the thing is I haven't listened to any podcasts since Old Oak Doors. And now I'm really glad I haven't. Because I understand Cecil's current depicted mindset all too well. I know what it's like to stop feeling, to be numb because the only other option is pain, and I know what it's like to give up to the point of being suicidal. I love Night Vale, but listening to that would have been triggering, so I'm glad I didn't. This is unsettling because it resonates with me in a way I'm not proud of, I spent years like that and I know how it feels to have to expend enormous amounts of effort to get out of bed each and every day when you know that at best all you can look forward to is to feel nothing. And I'm only just beginning to understand the long, difficult journey towards being okay, not being happy, just okay. 

You captured this really well, highlighting the dangerous thoughts he's having as well as pointing out how he isn't capable of recognizing the danger of his own thoughts and how he directs the attention, and blame, to Night Vale instead. You're mindful of how damaging depression can be and it shows, so thank you for that. You've done a fantastic job.
ErinPtah's avatar
It's Night Vale, so the circumstances are weird and the things Cecil is depressed about are unique to that universe, but his emotional state is very realistic. (IIRC, at least one of the creators has experience with depression.) (As do I, though not to this degree.)

I don't blame people for dropping it. Obviously I'm still listening, but it can be really stressful. (Making fanworks like this, really delving into how toxic and distorted Cecil's thought processes are right now, is one way I work through the stress....) I wish the writers would hurry up and let him start into a recovery storyline, because it is possible, and he deserves to be okay again.

I'm proud of you for surviving, and enduring everything you did! I'm glad you're having an easier time than Cecil with recognizing that depression is the damaging force here, that it isn't just life being inherently and objectively painful no matter what. And you can work your way up to being okay. Please keep taking care of yourself! You deserve that too.
AndItIsGone's avatar
Hence why I'm not listening to it right now, it's realistic to the point that it could be triggering and I know myself well enough to recognize that listening to it right now wouldn't be good for me. Though I agree with you, I absolutely adore Cecil and would love it if they started a recovery, either by him starting to realize something is wrong or someone else intervening (and wouldn't it be hilarious and amazing if Steve organized an intervention?). 

Thank you so much for your kind words, it's appreciated and a great reminder that things can be better. I do know that, I just have trouble believing it sometimes, if that makes any sense.
RobinTheBard's avatar
Oh glow cloud, I would love it so much if Steve staged an intervention <3 and Janice and Cecil's sister would totally get in on that too
AndItIsGone's avatar
They would! And so would Old woman Josie because she's awesome like that.
RobinTheBard's avatar
AndItIsGone's avatar
Or Tamika, she would lead a revolution to help him see sense
RobinTheBard's avatar
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ErinPtah's avatar
I am all for the idea of Steve organizing the intervention. I suspect Cecil wouldn't even have the energy for his usual "ugh, go AWAY, Steve Carlsberg!" ranting...and that could be the first thing Steve brought up as evidence for "look, Cecil, you're hitting rock bottom, here."

Yeah, I know that headspace. You can know something intellectually, you can put all the words together to articulate it, but that's different from being able to feel the emotional reality of it. Cheering you on from the far side of the gulf, here.
AndItIsGone's avatar
You actually managed to explain that better than I could whenever I tried, so thank you for that. 

Also my new headcanon is Steve taking over the radio show for Cecil while he's getting help. Because that would be funny.
anonymous's avatar
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