Gravity Falls Review: "Society of the Blind Eye" (Season 2, Episode 7)

You see? Nobody suspect the quirk.

Airdate: October 27, 2014

Synopsis: After realigning any and all evidence found, Dipper deduces that Old Man McGucket might have wrote the journals about the mysteries in Gravity Falls. After meeting up with the man, McGucket claims amnesia before 1982. Deducing that his mind was wiped, the gang wind up in the innards of the Gravity Falls Museum of History, where they find a secret society dedicated to wiping the memories of the townsfolk.

Review (MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD! PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK): I could gush endlessly about this episode, to the point where the review would be just me squeeing for about a novella’s worth of words. Instead, I will just plow through the plot basics quickly, and review the more in-depth afterwards.

The plot? Fantastic. Fantastic buildup, fantastic twist, fantastic climax… fantastic all around.
OK, you want more? I’ll give you more.
The town of Gravity Falls, before this episode, relied on the guess that very few were exposed to the madness of the town, except on the rare occasion (Gideon’s fall from grace, the zombie apocalypse, etc). Even on those rare occasions, the town never really seemed to be fazed in the long-term- they went back to normal within days.
This episode brings a darker look into the madness of the town- the society interrogates the townspeople, and wipes their minds. Thus, they continue on their normal lives, until they encounter the next incident… and so on… and so forth. This town almost makes Twin Peaks, WA look like Pawnee, IN!

The mind eraser is pretty much power that could be uncontrollable. As I mention below, the use by the society may be well-intentioned, or it might be a coverup. It’s ambiguous enough to send chills. However, what if a less ambiguous character got ahold of that device? The hell that would occur in case the memories were erased.

Yet, behind that plot, lies character after character that is suddenly injected with at least an ounce of pathos.

Obviously, when discussing this episode and the tragedy of Gravity Falls, we must bring up Old Man McGucket. Once viewed by fandom as a nutter who just happened to have good technological skills, this episode unearths the man behind the madness. In lieu of him being a local kook, he was once a man of great intellect, a man in his prime. It was the madness brought on by the disasters in Gravity Falls that caused him to effectively become insane. He became addicted to the device he used to wipe his memory with, driving him into his current state of madness.

The leader of the Society of the Blind Eye, Blind Ivan, is as tragic a villain as this show has ever had. Believing that he’s doing a service to the townspeople by wiping their memories of the supernatural, he is instead leading a major coverup of the madness of the town. Are his motives genuine? Is he simply using that as a masquerade in order to justify his mass mind-erase, and really has more sinister motives? Being played by Peter Serafinowicz really helps.

Pathos is also extended to our main protagonists- namely, Dipper, Mabel, and Wendy.

  • Mabel was a character that was already pure id- but she seems to be happy-go-lucky and resilient. The impact of her failures has taken a toll on her: the engagement of Mermando, probably her most successful romance, has her questioning her summer-end goal- the epic summer romance. That’s just one disaster that has occurred in the past month for her- apparently, getting kidnapped, flung across time, and having her relationship with her brother threatened several times hasn’t proven too well for her. The confession of “loving some of her stuffed animals more than others” is merely a hint at the status of her mind- she can’t merely be the id to everything.
  • Wendy’s character at the start of the show was something of an anti-Dipper- while Dipper was high strung, a bit under-masculine, and overtly inquisitive, Wendy is much more laid back, and is shown to be a lazy slob. (Insert Red Dwarf jokes here.) We’ve seen that laid-back character slowly evolve into one who is more confrontational- first with her brutal rant to Dipper and Robbie in “Boyz Crazy”, then one who’s quick to investigate in “Into the Bunker”, and in this episode, with that stupid rap song. It’s here that we learn that her family, who practically define machismo, has stressed her out so much, she has forced herself to adopt this “mellow” masquerade. 
  • When we first met Dipper, he was something of a “precocious” kid- wise beyond their years. As time went on, we unearthed more and more of his negative qualities- his arrogance, his ego, his cynicism. At his worst, he could give Arnold Rimmer a run for his money… except once he realized the impact of the worst of his actions, he actually tried to right the wrong. His admission that he “uses large words incorrectly” is yet another example of his ego- he tries to downplay the fact that his arrogance has cost him dearly, yet recognizes deep down that he has made maneuvers that have almost killed him and his sister.
Hell, I think I’ve barely scratched the surface. The characters within the society are characters that have their own failings, their own holdbacks. Yet they go on as normal. Is this just one large circle of mind-erasure? Possibly.

On a small note, Robbie actually wound up on the receiving end of a mind-wipe. Here’s the dialogue from that scene:

Robbie: “I was attacked by this magic kung-fu guy that was throwing, like, balls of fire at me. I kicked his butt, though!”

Society of the Blindeye: “Robbie, speak honestly!”

Robbie: “I was saved by a 12-year old.”

You see, Robbie has been a cynical, arrogant jerkass who’s activities ranged from “insensitive” to “borderline illegal”. The fight in “Fight Fighters” was spurred by his and Dipper’s relationships with Wendy. Seeing Dipper save him managed to wreck his ego, his sense of machismo. Thus, in order to try and prove his self worth to Wendy, he tries to lie about his feats, when in reality, he lacks the honour that Dipper has. Robbie is truly the most pathetic character in the show- a character that will do anything to appease his own ego.

The art is fantastic. The horror is fantastic. The comedy is fantastic. The tragedy is fantastic. The ending is fantastic, what with deconstructing the status quo…

This episode is Gravity Falls at it’s finest. Sorry, “Boyz Crazy”… but I think I have a new favourite episode. Don’t get me wrong- “Boyz Crazy” is still among the cream of the crop. This? This is pure platinum, wrapped in a 22-minute episode.

Tidbits:

  • The end of this episode features the transportation of a cup and a notepad through a portal. For those who don’t know, there’s a TV show out there called Rick and Morty, which I consider another one of my favourites. (Warning: show not recommended for kids.) In the episode “Close Rick-counters of the Rick Kind”, a mug and a notepad pop out of the portal. Dan Harmon, Justin Roiland, and Alex Hirsch are all geniuses.
  • “Straight Blanchin” might be the most brilliant send up to he “summer song” ever. A song about debauchery and attempts seduction? “Blurred Lines”. Utter glam? “Fancy”. Oh, and to take this further, Soos follows “Straight Blanchin” and eats his own trousers.
  • The scene where the crew wind up in the hall of memories is very similar to the Futurama episode “How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back”. Again, watch that show. You won’t regret it.
Favorite Scene: If forced to pick… I would have to say any and all of the “pathos” scenes, with the possible exception of…
Least Favorite Scene: Again, if forced to pick, it would be the reveal that Soos called Mabel “Maple” for a good chunk of the summer. Last I checked, that never happened. Still, I’m letting it slide. This episode is pure brilliance.
Score: 10. “Boyz Crazy”, you had a fantastic run. But all great rules must come to an end. This is just too brilliant of an episode.
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