So I was talking to spones-in-my-bones about it and I think Carlos was able to get back to Night Vale because he finally realized–understood–that he had to.
The thing about Carlos as a lot of others have discussed previously is that he’s trustworthy to a fault. He came to New Desert Bluffs from a place where people generally, while appreciating his perfect hair and suave labcoat, didn’t trust him because he was an outsider. Then he came to a place that was entirely new and meant to be discovered and essentially forged by him and other outsiders like him. That’s exciting. Plus, we’ve just learned Caros is a total Mother Hen so he obviously had to run around after Alicia and Doug all the time out of a combination of obligation and instinct.
But in a way Carlos took the same journey as Cecil did this arc, in that he realized that home is not always associated with merely a place. The Desert Otherworld is scientifically fascinating but it is not home. It was really interesting to me in 70A that he wasn’t even all that upset about all of his notes and data gone to ruin–not as upset as I expected him to be, at any rate, being as passionate about scientific discoveries as he is.
So I think it was less of a disappointment to Carlos, and more of a wake-up call. A sign. A call to, as he said, start over. At home. Home for him is Night Vale because home for him is Cecil. It is also science, because we heard him trying to correct Kevin earlier–Carlos said the Desert Otherworld might be one of the most scientifically fascinating communities, but Night Vale is the most scientifically fascinating community he’s yet to see. And even if it wasn’t, perhaps it took Carlos a year to finally realize what–or who–is just as important to him as any scientific discovery, if not more. Though we hear primarily from Cecil and his character development was amazing this arc, I think there’s something to be said for the road taken by our favorite scientist, too.