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Resolution ::e070 spoilers::

By ErinPtah
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So...that happened.

Extended thoughts about this episode at the Dreamwidth discussion post.

The bit that's relative to this comic: welp, all the good in-universe explanations for Carlos's various issues have now been soundly refuted. And the writers have written him as untrustworthy, etc., for so long that there's no reason to expect him to change.

Buuuuuuuut maybe if we all cross our fingers, click our heels together three times, and pretend really hard that none of the problems and plot holes ever happened, maybe Carlos will get to be written as someone Cecil can rely on in the future. Saved by the power of Inconsistent Writing.


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Cold Winter Nights by ErinPtah Priorities by ErinPtah Blood and stars by ErinPtah Battle Stations, Everyone by ErinPtah

"...and he was already looking at me..."

Carlos: Hi, honey! I'm back! And I'm staying! Because Night Vale is where you belong, and I belong with you!
Cecil: You're staying...?

Cecil: So when you told Janice "Cecil doesn't have to move if Cecil doesn't want to," you meant "I've already decided that Cecil isn't going to move"?
Carlos: Yep! I've already said my goodbyes to my friends in the otherworld and everything!

Cecil: It's true that I was just thinking about wishing I could stay -- especially since my mind-control ordeal is now over -- but that only ended an hour ago! You didn't know I'd be safe from it if we stayed! You didn't ask me about this, or talk with me about it at all, before showing up here!

I gave two weeks' notice at my job! Tomorrow's broadcast was scheduled to be my last! Is Station Management supposed to just tell my replacement "whoops, you're un-hired again"? I've packed up all my stuff, or put it in storage. I sold the house! A month's worth of plans for this move, and you just threw them all out with no warning -- why?

Carlos: Um, you see, I thought me working in the desert would make us both happier. But then the masked warriors ruined all my notes from the past year, and I had this epiphany . . .
Cecil: You mean you realized it wasn't making you happier. You already knew I was miserable! I told you about it almost every time we talked!

Cecil: I was suicidally depressed a couple weeks ago -- did that even register with you? The major trauma was because of Violet, but you sure didn't help! When I couldn't trust my own body or memories, you kept making and breaking promises so I couldn't trust you either! When I felt more vulnerable than I ever have, when my autonomy could be violated at any time, I tried to set simple boundaries with you only to have you run right over them!

I could really have used someone to hold me. So I fought for vacation time, snuck into the forbidden Dog Park, walked hundreds of miles to where you were. You didn't even offer to meet me in the middle -- much less use the commuting route to come see me until now!

Carlos: But I'm here now, right? I came all the way back here -- this is where you want me, isn't it? -- and we can make a home here, make new plans here --
Cecil: New plans that you'll keep, huh? Plans that I can trust?

Cecil: I trusted you when you first said you wanted to make a home together. Six months later you got stranded in the otherworld desert, and decided to make your home there, all the while assuring me you'd look for a way back any day now! Then you asked me to move in with you in the otherworld, and I trusted that, and now you've reversed it without a second's discussion!

Why should I trust you now, Carlos? Give me one reason I should ever believe another word you say!

Carlos: Because, Cecil...

Carlos: . . . if you act like my surprise return is also a satisfying emotional and logistical resolution to everything else I've said and done this past year, then we can get the hell out of this storyline.

Cecil: Welcome home, darling! Let's go back to the house -- which we totally still own; why wouldn't we? -- and talk about our new future plans -- which I have no reason to doubt that you will definitely follow through on, this time!
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anonymous's avatar
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GuesssWho9's avatar
You can even argue that coming back when he did was cruel, because now we have Kevin alone in the desert and that probably won't end well either . . .
ErinPtah's avatar
The way he left Kevin did feel a little abrupt. It's not like they were boyfriends or roommates, Carlos didn't have special responsibilities toward Kevin, but it does sound like they were friends. I guess it depends on how sensitive he was in the letter, and how well he explained things.

I'm more put off by the way he left the masked warriors -- we've heard all year about his friendship with Doug and Alicia, and yet there's no mention of him even giving them a goodbye letter! The warriors messed up his research, yes, but they also built a ton of things for him, and Doug saved his life once (at least!), and now Carlos has disappeared on them. Without warning. While they're badly injured, no less.

And it's not like Carlos couldn't go back for vacations of his own. (...although Cecil would be within his rights to say "wtf no, you cannot be trusted to visit for a reasonable length of time and come back as promised, you are not allowed to go.") But nobody's even mentioned the idea. It's like Carlos was able to totally cut ties without a second's thought.
GuesssWho9's avatar
Yeah, it was pretty weird all around.

But then that's Night Vale for you--pretty weird all around.
RobinTheBard's avatar
Maybe this part of that storyline isn't over, but Cecil won't realize how...not perfect Carlos is until he's recovered from his depression a little more :\ Maybe he'll regain some trust in other friends, like Steve or Dana (even though they didn't do much to help as far as I am in the storyline, despite how worried they were; maybe they didn't know what to do or how bad it was?), and they'll be there for him even though Carlos really...isn't. And then he'll realize on his own that Carlos really isn't healthy for him. I'm wondering if that sort of story arc would work better after a period of Carlos being there rather than being absent. :\ Like, "Hey you were kind of being an apathetic jerk when you were in the desert, and now that you're back I'm realizing that you're STILL being an apathetic jerk even though we live in the same freaking house!" and there will probably be another big and spooky overarching conflict to go with it, but it may end up with them breaking up more proper-like. :) It's a thought. A sad thought, considering this pairing has been going on since the series began. :( But since Carlos is clearly not being mind-manipulated to behave differently (as far as the story says now), I don't see them working out together in the long run anymore with what's been going down. :(

Ever since Fink stopped voicing Carlos, I haven't really liked his character as much :( This past season has been horrendous for his character. He's clearly a jerk and clearly knows very little about actual science, unlike what I thought in the beginning. Back then I'd thought his character was supposed to be ACTUALLY a person from OUR side of the world (aka. the one we live in without glow clouds that no one in Night Vale seems able to reach), and that he'd serve as sort of a reality-check to the reader by being WEIRDED OUT by the stuff in Night Vale that we don't usually have to deal with, not being as familiar or as comfortable with it, or even being fascinated by the cool new stuff. A tiny city? How freaking cool is that scientifically! I thought he was supposed to be like Watson in Sherlock Holmes; the more everyman type who could be a stand-in for the listener's reaction to these unusual things. I mean, sure he has lived in Night Vale for a year or so, but it's not like he wouldn't still find things Weird or New or Interesting or Unfamiliar sometimes! It's a completely different culture, COMPLETELY different! We never even got to hear him freaking out and completely loving something that Cecil takes as an uninteresting normal part of his day. Something unique to Night Vale. That would have been cool and a lot more accurate. Because that happens a lot when you get to check out new areas! XD  BUT at the same time, I thought he would be more...down-to-earth. He's a Scientist. From HERE. At a UNIVERSITY. That means he's done real science before; he MUST know how to do it, otherwise they would have never let him keep his job, let alone hire him! Why isn't he reacting to this stuff like a "normal" our-world scientist would? Or at least like a cynical our-worlder would? Like Why would he believe half the elrich or big-brother crap being shoved down everyone else's throats? Why does he not talk to Steve about how stuff is so weird, or just to try and explain with each other what's really going on with stuff??? Why is he faking most of his discovery tactics? Why doesn't he have real equipment or procedures or even a specialty of some kind???  I mean how freaking funny would it be for him to use a seismograph on bloodstone circles, or trying to get tissue samples from Hyram's different heads to figure out how he's able to function with multiple nerve control centers, or just freaking using a calculator?!? Where are the notebooks full of graph paper for all his experiments? Why does he not share his hypotheses with Cecil, the triumphs and failures of his tests, even what the tests entail? I mean he apparently has "tests", but they're more just standing around exclaiming about stuff, saying "hmm", and waiting for things to work themselves out! :( Not scientific at all. No scientific method there. I WAS HOPING FOR MORE SCIENTIFIC METHOD. AS A LOVER OF SCIENCE, THIS DISPLEASES AND FRUSTRATES ME THAT HE'S NOT EVEN TRYING TO HAVE ANY CLUE ABOUT WHAT HE'S TALKING ABOUT!!! >_<# HE DOESN'T EVEN TRY TO GET INTO THE LIBRARY TO DO RESEARCH, FOR THE GLOW CLOUD'S SAKE!!!!!
[/rant]
ErinPtah's avatar
Yeah...it could be setup for something like that. Before the last hiatus, they had Cecil come to a similar "I feel good and okay and peaceful with life" emotional moment, and we know that didn't last.

On the other hand, it could be that they're going to drop the whole arc and have Carlos magically be better. Or they'll have Carlos be exactly the same, but Cecil settles into a state of not being bothered by the creepy moments of apathy/callousness, because "regular sex and movie nights" are more important to a Night Vale romance than "showing concern when your boyfriend is being mind-controlled."

IDK.

Fink only voiced Carlos one time, so I wouldn't make that the cutoff point -- Carlos seemed like a sweet, caring, excitable nerd at least through First Date. And even throughout the second year, as it became clear that he wasn't a real-world scientist, he didn't have the moments of WTF that he's had throughout the third year.

I don't think we can say he knows nothing about science. He's a Weird Scientist from Weird University, so his ideas probably make sense in-universe! Just like Earl's bizarre cooking and Cecil's bizarre fashion choices are considered normal within Night Vale. It's not the characterization the show was suggesting during its first year -- back when Carlos did things like worry about the dangers of radiation, and expect clocks to have gears inside them -- but hey, maybe those things are the same at Weird University as in the real world, even though libraries and botany and the scientific method are all different.

The relationship issues, though, no amount of Weird University fanon will make fun to listen to =/
RobinTheBard's avatar
~FINALLY CAUGHT UP~
lol no peace lasts to the next season/movie! XD Even if the breakups don't make sense! *cough*PiratesOfTheCaribbean:DeadMan'sChest*coughcough*NationalTreasure2*coughcoughcough*

I'm thinking Carlos isn't ok right now either. :\ He DID have all his work from the past year essentially amount to nothing. :\ AND he realized he'd been pushed by Kevin to finish that one specific informational piece (I'm assuming), so he was being used, AND he also FAILED to realize how badly Cecil was doing. Then again, although other people in the town were worried about Cecil, none of them had really made a move either until Trisha literally stopped him so he wouldn't have to help Dana and her and so they could save themselves. But I don't see how having his life's work amount to nothing necessarily gave him a clear insight into his relationship with Cecil. I'm worried it was another case of rushing into things because of depression, but in this case rushing back to familiar things rather than away from them. :\

AH ok I had thought Carlos didn't get a speaking role until Season 2. ^^0 My bad. I'm still sad he's not as "professionally" science as I thought he was going for, but since I've caught up it looks like he does know somewhat what he's doing. Also, now that he's going through his own crisis and now that we've heard what his side was like this whole time, I think I like him a little more again. :3 I'm not saying there still aren't serious issues that need to come to light and be discussed. :\ I just think he wasn't realizing what he was doing or the effect it had. That's still a huge problem. BUT seeing his reaction (which must be genuine, since Cecil wasn't even there at the time) we also see that he feels genuine guilt over it and is willing to make changes. They still need to clear up how those changes and decisions are made, he still needs to make a conscious effort to change if he really wants to, and there are other issues they probably haven't realized yet or else discussed yet. But the intent is there, and that's something; that's certainly more than some couples have to work with! -_-#

lol every time I hear Earl I see Will Wheaton and I picture Aeofel Elromane (Manfredjinsinjin)! XD
ErinPtah's avatar
Hah, random breakups for movie sequels are the most obnoxious thing. Especially since it's always to shuffle the woman out of the picture and tell another story about the dude alone. /tangent


I don't see Carlos being manipulated by Kevin. I mean, it's a possible interpretation, but it just sounds to me like Kevin was saying general supportive/enthusiastic things about Carlos's work (and maybe not even understanding what Carlos talks about, just enjoying it when the stories get bloody). Not steering him toward any particular sinister solution.

Has Carlos, even now, actually realized that Cecil was having a serious struggle with trauma and depression? I'm still not sure he's noticed things were bad for Cecil. His return to Night Vale, all his genuine regret, seems to have been mostly about deciding the otherworld desert wasn't good enough for him. Like you say, there's no reason losing his research would make him have an epiphany about Cecil's loved ones. It's as if he came up with the idea of "and living in Night Vale will be better for you too, honey" as a rationalization after-the-fact.

(And got really lucky with his timing, given that Cecil's Lot 37 trauma probably ended after Carlos had made the decision. Unless the travel time between the otherworld and Night Vale is really, really short, which takes us back to the "why couldn't Carlos ever make the effort to visit Cecil?" problem....)

Losing all your research is the kind of thing that I would normally feel a ton of sympathy over...but after everything that's happened, I'm just not feeling it ._. It's like...dude, apparently there was never any real goal or direction for this, it was nothing more than the kind of "general curious messing-around" you could have easily done in Night Vale. But you insisted on doing it in another dimension, you prioritized it over putting any effort into keeping the promises you repeatedly made to your boyfriend, you were evasive and deceptive and generally dicked him around...and now you've lost all the notes you were dicking him around over? Excuse me while I play the world's tiniest violin.



Maybe they'll start dealing with the issues in constructive ways when the show gets back from the hiatus...but I'm reminded of the hope I used to have for Glee. They would bring up a character conflict, and I would think "oh, this is interesting, there's a lot of potential to explore here," and then they'd drop the whole thread and never look back =/
Sherratari's avatar
Yeah....  As happy as the new episodes made me, they also equally pissed me off because of these points.  Carlos didn't know that Cecil was going to want to staying Night Vale.  Carlos came "home" when it suited him instead of any of the multiple times Cecil really needed him if only for a visit.  Carlos being able to leave the desert otherworld that easily.  Cecil's epiphany syncing up so well with Carlos's epiphany...

I mean the episode obviously had it's really good points too.  The owner of lot 37.  The idea of home being where the people you love are.  Carlos leaving the toxic "friendship" and unwanted advances of Kevin.  Janice.  Cecil's apparent growing acceptance of Steve Carlsberg.  *shrugs*  I get that Carlos gets really science focused to the point of forgetting Cecil, and that was an issue long before the desert other world, plus maybe he was doing the projection thing more than we realize...  I don't love.  I still love my dork babies into the ground.
ErinPtah's avatar
Exactly! So many good, thoughtful, long-time-coming realizations in these episodes...coming hand-in-hand with so much WTFery. "When your partner is lying to you and treating you badly, just keep loving and supporting them, never put your foot down or tell them to stop, and suffer through whatever they do...until eventually they realize on their own that they've been wrong, and they change, and everything is better" is not a good moral for a story arc! That's what people in abusive relationships think. It doesn't actually work!

I don't love canon Carlos. I love various fanon versions of Carlos, with extra details/backstory inserted to remove or explain or justify his canon bad-boyfriending...but I can't get away from the fact that we're not gonna get that justification in canon. He's just being a dick for no good reason.
anonymous's avatar
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