Gravity Falls Review: "Gideon Rises" (Season 1, Episode 20)

Airdate: August 2nd, 2013

Took a page out of Duloc, eh?

Synopsis: With Gideon now in control of the Mystery Shack- uh, I mean Gideonland– the Pines Family (and Soos) have to crash at Soos’s Grandmother’s house. The world seems to be falling apart; Gideon has Waddles, the kids have nowhere to go, Stan’s store is gone, and Wendy will be shipped off to her cousin’s logging camp if she can’t hold a job in Gravity Falls. (In this economy? Enjoy the logging camp!) Threatened with being sent back to Piedmont, CA for the rest of Summer, the twins have to resort to drastic measures to try and take down the shack.

As this is happening, Gideon reveals the reason de jure for his takeover of the shack… as the last traces of his sanity evaporate. Stan, meanwhile, is trying to get used to the fact that his life is all but trashed… when he notices something fishy with the Gideonland buttons

Review (SPOILERS MIGHT BE AHEAD): Let’s get this out of the way; the ending. I can’t say I enjoyed the basics of it that much, given that everybody and their mother expected it. In a show that twists and turns every other day of the week, this just seems like a weak end. Still, can’t fault the excellent music and the creative visuals.

Hell, you can’t fault the episode that much. It really is pretty damn good.

Again, the raison d’être for my love of Gravity Falls comes in the characters and their development and interactions. And might I say, these are some of the finest we’ve seen our characters at this point. First would have to be Gideon. Between his knowledge of the history of the secret in the Shack, and the construction of the Gideon-Bot, we see just how manipulatively intelligent he is.

To segway a bit, remember the beginning of the first book?

In Gravity Falls, there is no one you can trust.

We’ll go into this line a bit later in the season wrap up. Rather appropriately, that applies to Gideon and his relationship with the town. He manages to con and manipulate the town over god-knows-how-long to try to access a great power. The facade and propaganda manage to keep the town by his side, even after the robot is wrecked, Gideon accuses the twins of trying to assassinate him via dynamite.

Dipper, meanwhile, loses his trust in himself after he not only loses the book, but is also given a verbal beatdown from Gideon himself over the simple fact that he possessed the book. Gideon puts it best;

Every victory you’ve had was because of your precious book… No muscles? No brains?… You’re nothing without this book.

Yet, without the book, Dipper managed to take down Gideon. How? Going back to character development, unlike Gideon, who has committed god-knows-how-many felonies, Dipper has honor. Once Gideon captures Mabel, Dipper finally goes in for a full-blown attack against the kid. Here’s a tip for those who value their lives; Do. Not. Mess. With. Mabel.

Mabel takes less of an action-oriented role than in “Dreamscaperers”. However, in a moment where the two seem to be close to death, Mabel pulls out the Grappling Hook from “Tourist Trapped”. Truly, the Chekov’s Gun trope has been applied in full force.

Soos seems to retain his role as the “jack of all trades” – strangely enough, despite being a master of nothing, his roles help save the plot. His seemingly goofy persona helps make his heroic actions that much more awesome.

Admittedly, Wendy does not get much of a role in this one. However, whatever scenes she did have gave me hope for the future. Why? She proves that the last ties between her and Robbie are cut. Apparently, being lied to in terms of creativity does nothing for her. Let’s just hope this marks her shifting into more of an independent role and less of a “thrust Dipper into puberty” role.

And Stan… whoa. Stan proves once and for all that he will protect and defend the twins… even if it means sending them back to California, as he has no money to raise them. Hell, contrast his reaction to the twins having no food against a line in “Dipper v. Manliness”, where he orders the kids… ketchup for breakfast. That’s certainly not the character we see here. Once Stan realizes something is fishy with the Gideon buttons thanks to his hearing aid, he goes out and tries to get Gideon locked up. Is it selfish because he always wanted Gideon out of his hair? Maybe. However, it also shows another example of how not every hero is a selfless knight in shining armor; that they can be selfish, slobbish, and rather manipulative.

But how did Stan figure out the truth about Gideon’s buttons so suddenly? That’s a pretty damn good question… which might lead to further questions if and when it’s answered next season.

This episode also relies a bit on call-backs… and they are really used effectively. They could’ve used the Manotaurs to try to take down Gideon. No. They used the foot-tall gnomes. Admittedly, it also shows that as awesome as Dipper and Mabel are, they are still kids, and thus, may not think things through that well.

The visual effects are pretty good, albeit not the best this show has done. The Gideon-bot, to be honest, sort of reminds me of Futurama, what with putting CGI special effects in an otherwise cartoonish show. However, background shots are the strength of this particular episode. Look at this one, for example.

Not only is this the image of a man who has hit rock bottom, but look at the kitchen. That is not an acceptable kitchen, especially for two 12-year olds.  Add to that the presence of the shadows, and the shading, and you have a screenshot that shows just how well animated this show is.

Again, the ending was a tad bit predictable, and that does drag the score down a tiny bit. However, the rest of the episode is fantastic. A wonderful end to a great first season!

Favorite Scene: Hard to pick, but it would have to be Mabel using her grappling hook… to help rescue herself and Dipper.

Least Favourite Scene: Personally, I wasn’t a fan of the reveal that Soos was the bus driver, but only because the Pines twins should’ve known when they first boarded the bus. Really though, it’s not a bad scene; it’s just my least favorite.

Rating: 9

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