In my last review, I looked over several episodes from Disney’s Gravity Falls’ second season, ending with the cliffhanger episode, Not What He Seems.
Be sure to watch all the episodes and read my last review first before reading on because the following contains major spoilers.
Four months after Not What He Seems, the extended 30 minute episode, A Tale of Two Stans, aired to a record shattering 2.3 million viewers. The episode featured a look into the childhoods of young Stan Pines and his twin brother, who is also the six-fingered author of the journals. The episode reveals very early on that Grunkle Stan’s name isn’t Stanford, but rather Stanley. Stanford was the author’s name and Stanley has been using his brother’s name since he went into the portal. The episode clears up the confusion by allowing Stanley to keep the name Grunkle Stan while Stanford (voiced by J.K. Simmons) was given the nickname Great Uncle Ford. The episode contains a lot of exposition showing how Ford came to Gravity Falls and became trapped in another dimension, how Stan started the Mystery Shack, and reveals the tension in the twins’ relationship. The writers do a great job revealing both huge and little secrets while still keeping the episode enjoyable without becoming an exposition-spouting bore. In the end, Gravity Falls returns to the status quo with the addition of Ford remaining in the Mystery Shack and the foreshadowing of a rift growing in Dipper and Mabel’s relationship.
The next episode, Dungeons, Dungeons, and More Dungeons, proved to be one of the funniest episodes of the season and develops a friendship between Dipper and his Grunkle Ford. From this episode on it is clear that Dipper and Mabel are growing apart since Stan and Ford dislike each other. Mabel is growing close to Stan while Dipper starts to grow attached to Ford. The episode also introduces the Rift, which Ford retrieves while dismantling the portal. With the portal destroyed, the Rift remains the only link between Bill’s world and the town of Gravity Falls.
[one_third]The writers do a great job revealing both huge and little secrets while still keeping the episode enjoyable without becoming an exposition-spouting bore.[/one_third]
The Stanchurian Candidate further develops the rivalry between Stan and Ford as Stan runs for mayor just to spite his twin. Also, Gideon Gleeful from Season 1 is reestablished as a villain in this episode and Gravity Falls citizen, Tyler Cutebiker, is elected mayor.
The Last Mabelcorn brings back the threat of Bill Cipher as Ford attempts to “Bill-proof” the Mystery Shack. Mabel, Wendy, and their friends Candy and Grenda fight a hilariously cheesy unicorn for its protective hair while Dipper uncovers a huge secret about his Grunkle Ford. It is revealed Ford had once gotten help from Bill during his studies of Gravity Falls. When the Shack is protected at the end of the episode, Bill is shown observing it from his own dimensions called the “mindscape.” Seeing that he could no longer possess a member of the Pines family, Bill searches the town for a new puppet.
Roadside Attraction is one of most heavily criticized filler episodes of the season and is overshadowed by the episodes before and after it. But to its credit, the episode has some creative ideas. The Oregon tourist traps outside of Gravity Falls are comically and intentionally tacky, and the creepy animation of Darlene the spider-person is chilling. Other than that, the episode serves as a reminder that Dipper still hasn’t fully gotten over his crush on Wendy.
With such a standard episode preceding it, Dipper and Mabel vs. the Future’s dramatic tone change was jarring to many viewers. The episode has barely any laughs and instead focuses on creating intense drama and action scenes. Much is revealed in this episode, such as the existence of an alien UFO under the town and the fact that Dipper and Mabel’s birthday, as well as the end of summer, is only a week away.
This episode contains major character development for Dipper when he works up a burst of courage to save Ford from the UFO’s alien security system. This is shown throughout the episode with subtle visual symbolism. For example, earlier in the episode, Ford’s reflection is shown to be larger than Dipper’s, but, after Dipper defeats the alien drone, his reflection appears bigger than Ford’s. However, to the dismay of the fans, the promise of having Dipper and Mabel grow apart is finally fulfilled. Dipper accepts Ford’s offer to stay in Gravity Falls and become his apprentice. Mabel, however is heartbroken when she realizes that in one week she would have to leave her friends in Gravity Falls as well as her brother. I was legitimately torn because this was a great opportunity for Dipper, but, as Mabel puts it, “It’s a horrible opportunity for [her].” Their separation is handled excellently and Dipper’s talk with Mabel is actually very mature. However, at the end of the episode, Mabel ends up running away and accidentally gives the Rift to Bill Cipher disguised as Blendin Blandin, the time traveller. This is a direct follow up to The Last Mabelcorn and most viewers instantly recognized that something was wrong with Blendin. The episode ends on a dreadful note as the Rift tears open a portal in the sky and Bill takes over Gravity Falls.
[one_third]…with Weirdmageddon I, any censorship that had been placed on the show previously was completely thrown out the window.[/one_third]
The next episode, Weirdmageddon Part 1, takes place right after Dipper and Mabel vs. the Future and features Bill and his monstrous friends ransacking Gravity Falls and its citizens in an event dubbed “Weirdmageddon” or the “Oddpocalypse”. To show how drastic the show is changing, the opening sequence featured Bill and his friends against an apocalyptic backdrop instead of the Pines family. Fairly early on in the episode, Bill traps Mabel in a bubble; turns Ford, the only person who knows how to defeat him, into gold; and destroys the three journals. This leaves Dipper without the help of his sister, his uncle, and the trusty journals on which he heavily relied upon in previous episodes. Dipper eventually teams up with Wendy and Soos, and convinces Gideon to change sides. The episode ends on a cliffhanger as Dipper, Wendy, and Soos enter Mabel’s bubble to save her.
Gravity Falls had been pushing the limit of what you could do on a kid’s show, but with Weirdmageddon I, any censorship that had been placed on the show previously was completely thrown out the window. Certain scenes seemed so grotesque and intense that they could scar an unsuspecting sensitive child.
The Weirdmageddon event is probably one of the best apocalyptic settings in media because it took elements from most popular dystopian movies and shows and combined them into a hilarious yet thoughtfully put together parody and homage. The episode featured the intense car chases of Mad Max, the survival story of The Walking Dead, the giant monsters of Attack on Titan, and the overall weirdness of Adventure Time all while keeping the humor that makes Gravity Falls great. I only have one complaint that keeps me from deeming this the best episode of the show: there wasn’t enough of Mabel!
The following episode, Weirdmageddon II: Escape from Reality, made up for the lack of Mabel in the previous episode by having Dipper, Wendy, and Soos travel to Mabelland, a whole new world created out of Mabel’s imagination within Bill’s prison bubble. By the end of the episode, Dipper and Mabel make up after a trial and escape the prison bubble. They make their way back to the Mystery Shack and discover a small resistance made up of Grunkle Stan, Pacifica, Old Man McGucket, and dozens of other recognizable side characters.
Mabelland, which is made of bright and bubbly characters, perfectly captures Mabel’s lovable personality, creative mind, and fear of growing up. It was also nice to see characters such as Aoshima, and the band Sev’ral Timez again, but the funniest character from Mabelland has to be Judge Kitty Kitty Meow Meow Face-Shwartstein (voiced by Jon Stewart, one of the creator’s heroes). Weirdmageddon II also showed flashbacks of the worst and best moments in Mabel and Dipper’s childhood. These flashbacks served as a great reestablishment of the twins’ strong relationship which had been broken two episodes prior. United once again, the Mystery Twins were ready to take back Gravity Falls.
Sadly, Weirdmageddon II was announced to be the second to the last episode of the series, with the last episode airing on February 15, 2016. Stay tuned for the next and final review of Gravity Falls in its series finale, Weirdmageddon III: Take Back the Falls.