Weirdmageddon III: Take Back the Falls marks the last episode of the second season of Gravity Falls as well as the last episode of the entire series.
As expected, it delivers lots of laughs, action, and tears as the cult favorite Disney cartoon comes to a close.
This is part three of a series of reviews for Gravity Falls season two. If you haven’t watched the show or read my previous two reviews (Part 1 & Part 2), do that first before continuing. This review contains SPOILERS for the series finale of Gravity Falls.
Take Back the Falls aired as an hour long special on Disney XD, which is twice the length of a normal episode. Not only did the show deserve the extended running, it desperately needed it. The final episode had a lot riding on it. Not only did it have to answer the biggest mysteries the show had yet to solve, it also had to serve as heartwarming goodbye to the characters the audience spent four years getting to know and love. Thankfully, Gravity Falls managed to fit all of that and more perfectly into its narrative, for the most part.
The first half of the episode follows the surviving group of townsfolk and mystical creatures on their mission to rescue Ford from his imprisonment and defeat Bill Cipher, who had successfully wreaked havoc to Gravity Falls. The scene at the very beginning of the episode, which features Dipper and Mabel reuniting with Grunkle Stan in the Mystery Shack, is chock-full of easter eggs and references to previous episodes. Not only did side characters like McGucket and Pacifica return, but even characters who were only featured for one episode or less, like Sev’ral Times and Gorny, made an appearance. In fact, there is only one minor character in the entire episode that has not been seen before. Every other character, even the citizens in the background, are recognizable by the most eagle-eyed of fans. It’s that attention to detail that makes Gravity Falls feel more like a small town where everyone knows each other.
[one_third]However, the Shacktron isn’t some deus ex machina that’s written into existence just to give the protagonists a fighting chance. Every part of the robot is made from a recognizable machine that’s been shown before in the show.[/one_third]
Nearly everything used in the final episode had already been established previously in the series. This allows the final episode to feel like part of a bigger story by fitting every plot point very organically into plot. For example: to defeat Bill, the resistance used McGucket’s inventing skills to transform the Mystery Shack into a Pacific Rim-esque fighting robot dubbed the Shacktron by Soos. However, the Shacktron isn’t some deus ex machina that’s written into existence just to give the protagonists a fighting chance. Every part of the robot is made from a recognizable machine that’s been shown before in the show. Later in the episode, the tools the characters use to break into Bill’s castle are established items. Of course there’s the memory erasing gun and the crystal flashlight, but even the parachutes they use are made out of Mabel’s various sweaters. This is a great example of concluding a story. Everything that’s deliberately written in should have a purpose and tie together well in the end.
There are only two things I feel don’t fit well into the episode. The explanation of why Bill can’t leave Gravity Falls seems like lazy exposition. The bad blood between Stan and Ford also seems too forced. We already knew that Stan and Ford don’t get along, but it had been six episodes since the two expressed distaste for each other, so Stan’s brooding in the final feels like it came out of nowhere. We’re supposed to see that both brothers are immature when it comes to dealing with each other, but aside from Ford’s “grammar” line, Stan is portrayed as a pouty little kid.
However, Stan’s sacrifice midway through the episode is still warranted and heart-wrenching. In his final moments, Stan reconciles with his brother, and you can see that when Bill enters Stan’s mind. In season one Stan’s was still mourning the loss of his brother, so his mind was littered with remnants of his damaged past. However, in the final episode, Stan’s mind is clear. He is finally at peace. Stan had been speaking about how important family is to him since the first season, so seeing him give up his memories to stop Bill and save his family seemed like the perfect direction to go with his character.
Too bad this doesn’t matter by the end of the episode. Stan regains his memories soon after, and he suffers no consequences for his actions. Don’t get me wrong, I love Stan as a character and I would have been incredibly sad if he had “died”, but his sacrifice would have been much more powerful and meaningful if he had never regained his memories. I may just be disappointed that creator Alex Hirsch had been teasing the death of a character for so long and it actually turned out to be Bill, whose death was very obvious, but I sincerely think that Stan’s death would have elevated the stakes of Weirdmageddon and made Gravity Falls stand out even more along the Disney television lineup.
However, the episode completely made up for that with a very heart-felt ending. Every major character gets their own curtain call that just feels right for the character. Stan and Ford finally embark on their sailing adventure they had longed to go on since they were kids, Soos becomes the new Mister Mystery of the Mystery Shack, and McGucket regains his sanity and moves into the Northwest Mansion. The most tear-jerking part of the ending is Dipper and Mabel’s goodbyes as they leave Gravity Falls for their home in California. Alex Hirsch had always said that the show would end when the summer ends, and this was finally it. The end of the summer. The end of the adventure. As the bus leaves Gravity Falls, we see the final shots of the town and Dipper shares a touching monologue encouraging viewers to go on an adventure of their own.
For me, it’s a satisfying ending. The most important mysteries had been answered, with some left to interpretation, and each of the characters are off to their next chapter in life. While I didn’t tear up (I was told by many that they cried through the whole ending), the show left me with a warm feeling inside, something I’ve never felt from a television show since the ending of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Gravity Falls knew exactly what it was and exactly what to do, and left exactly when it needed too. It’s a little gem of a cartoon, and I wouldn’t have wanted it to end in any other way.