Episode 19A-B: The Sandstorm
This is where Night Vale’s plot really gets rolling. It’s a look inside two different radio studios with two different narrators. Night Vale’s central mysteries regarding perspective get touched upon for the first time, as does a major character arc.
Episode 20: Poetry Week
If you’re gonna watch Welcome to Night Vale, you’ve got to get used to the absurd. Not just the lol-random humor, but weird turns of phrase that carry a strange amount of emotion. This episode, full of fan-submissions, is a pretty good litmus test for whether Night Vale’s writing style will work for you.
Episode 21: A Memory of Europe
3 good episodes in a row, huh? Learn about the world surrounding Night Vale, or at least what Cecil knows of it. This episode also exemplifies one of my favorite parts of the show: Cecil’s moral monologues. At the end of some episodes, Cecil will give a short speech about what we can take from the day’s events and apply to our lives. Sometimes they’re simple, sometimes they’re silly. This one’s perfect.
Episode 49: Old Oak Doors
You’ve got to hear what a Night Vale live show sounds like, and if you don’t want to pay for it, this is your only options. Old Oak Doors is great on its own though. It gives Steve Carlsberg his first real chance to deliver his point of view, and delivers a thrilling examination of the philosophy behind Strex Corp and their Smiling God. With the mayoral election on top, this episode is rewarding on a massive scale.
Episode 53: The September Monologues
I think a lot of the fun in Night Vale is diverging from Cecil’s perspective and seeing the town from diverse eyes. That’s where I’d recommend watching the show in full – you get immersed in Cecil’s perspective, and that makes the guests more interesting. But if you just watch a little, watch it with the guests.
This episode is almost all guest voices. Having monologues of horror, comedy, and tragedy, this episode is likely to have something for you. Personally, the ending of this episode is my favorite scene in the whole show.
Episode 67: [Best Of?]
Repetition is a valid storytelling device, and this episode knows how to use it. It’s full of vital information about the trajectory of Cecil’s career in radio, injects some genuine alarm into the anomalous nature of time, and is thoroughly funny.
Episode 71: The Registry of Middle School Crushes
Here’s an episode that would have been impossible the way things were at the beginning of the series. It’s a heist with a few twists, and a charming story about a loving family. Cecil does change throughout the show, and this light-hearted episode is an easy show of it.
Episode 85: The April Monologues
The sequel to the September Monologues. A one-off horror story is given a little more detail. A comic relief character becomes far more empathetic and interesting. Steve Carlsberg makes us sad. And something is coming.
If you’ve had to leave home, whether it be for college, work, or something else, this episode is for you. Night Vale’s strange geography and Cecil’s good-natured ignorance result in one of the best tragedies the show has delivered – and it’s absolutely a stand-alone story.
There’s nothing more must-see than an episode with every single voice actor the show has ever used. It’s a special day and a necessary episode.