Gravity Falls Review: “Weirdmageddon” (Part 1) (Season 2, Episode 18)

(Before we begin, I sincerely apologize for this review coming out so late. This accompanies a quick announcement about my Star Trek film reviews.)

500 Miles North of Normal, 500 Miles West of Weird.

Airdate: October 26th, 2015

Synopsis: At the end of the last episode, well, to quote Vyvyan from The Young Ones

“This is the end! Armageddon! No future!

Yep – all hell broke loose. Bill is practically unstoppable – he turns Ford into a backscratcher, steals Deputy Durland away from Sheriff Blubs, unleashes his friends, and screws up Preston Northwest’s face. (You don’t want to see the end result of that.) Most damningly, he kidnaps Mabel, and locks her in a bubble. Alone, Dipper is left looking for any sort of help. Fortunately, it turns out Wendy is an excellent survivalist, and the two plan to go through the bubble to rescue Mabel. Unfortunately, old enemies come back to settle a score.

Review (STUFFED WITH SPOILERS): If I might borrow a philosophical statement from Pauly Fuemana, “how bizarre!” If madness in Gravity Falls was quantified, this would break the scale on a level that the Jockey Elves would be jealous over. Granted, this is a genuinely good episode we’re talking about here.

This episode is sci-fi horror at it’s finest, thriving on the macabre and the concept of a world gone mad. Bizarrely, though, the ending makes it one of Gravity Falls’s more optimistic episodes, even in the face of the apocalyptic setting.. The question is, does that bit of optimism work?

Before we begin, another reminder – spoilers. They are legion.

Back when Bill was first introduced, way back in “Dreamscaperers”, his character was very much ambiguous – was he purely evil, or was he just a trickster that had to deal with a spoiled brat, finally blowing his top after a long and insane chase? Future episodes began to peel away at his character’s motives – while his body-jack of Dipper was supposedly an attempt to get the Journal, that time, he was doing it on his own terms. Over the past season, he revealed himself as the prime example of the gambit-producing demon – unpredictable, yet omnipotent. He pulled the rug out from under Ford, messed up McGucket to the point where he destroyed his own mind, and all just to free the beast.

Here, his insanity has come full circle. For what? To free his friends, monsters who are barely less insane than he is. (That’s not saying a whole lot, though. Trust me, for the love of god.) This episode shows him at his most insane – kidnapping, murder, whatever the hell happened to Preston (you really don’t want to know), freeing prisoners. Most shockingly, he finally torches the Journals. Torches the journals. The symbols of the show.

However, his madness also comes with a side of stupid. Apparently, the nightmare-sphere was getting screwed up… so he practically annexed Gravity Falls and sent his friends into the madness just to do the exact same things. It sounds stupid, right? Well, he and his friends are power-hungry nutjobs who just want to rule over a land full of insanity, just because. They’re just like the flipping Daleks!

Of course, they want to turn the world into a living hell! In the minds of Bill and Co, their nightmare-o-sphere was decaying as they spoke. Earth’s quite a big place. Not to mention the rest of the universe. Bill and his messed up friends could have a party for years and years to come. And of course, being the hedonists they are, they don’t care if Earth begins to decay.

However, this episode really doesn’t address Bill’s madness as much as it does the fallout the entire crisis has had on other characters.

Dipper, for one, was unprepared for everything that happened. Here, there is no easy out – nothing in the journals to save him. While we saw this before (“Northwest Mansion Pulp Fic” – “Pray for Mercy!”), this episode takes it to the most logical extreme. There, at least he managed to find something to put away the ghost, and only set it free after learning of the Tom Buchannan-esque callousness of the Northwest ancestors. Here, there’s all but nothing that can defeat Bill. And yet, he still doesn’t give up – he tries to punch Bill. In the eye. Damn.

Still, with the journals evaporated, it looks like the end for our nerdy hero. Except not really, since he meets up with a certain lumberjack hipster tomboy while trying to escape from Louis CK. (It makes marginally more sense in context.)

Back in my review of “Into the Bunker”, I discussed some issues that may have cropped up concerning Wendy’s role in the episode. While I still loved it, I felt like Wendy’s ability to nail several aspects about the bunker seemed a bit unrealistic at first. This episode finally fleshed out why this was – her family are survivalist-obsessed nutters. The end result is Mad Max meets Portlandia – Wendy and Dipper bolting for Mabel, both of them kicking ass along the way. It is glorious.

This leads to the climactic moment involving the return of Gideon. Fresh off his botched election campaign, the last time we saw him, he was bringing Bill back through a code on the prison wall, ready to make a deal. Now, we’ve seen the apparent end result of that deal – he’s been broken out of prison, and in return, is recruited to defend Mabel’s cage.

And here’s where the episode confuses me a bit.

Just as Gideon is about to kill Dipper and Wendy for interfering with his attempts to “get” Mabel, Dipper appeals to the idea that people aren’t entitled to a relationship – they have to make themselves respectable, be loveable instead of loved. It’s clear that he’s speaking from personal experience, which is a good bit of character development on his part.

However, Gideon’s reaction threw me for a bit. He, funnily enough, actually seems to take it to heart, and is willing to lay his life on the line.

This seemed a bit too quick for me to feel like it was genuine. If it was a genuine turn for Gideon, than that’s a minor slip up on the writer’s part. I mean, it’s optimistic, but it just seems a bit sudden for my tastes. Besides, when Pacifica was given depth, it was more well paced. I’m not doubting the idea that Bill may have just manipulated Gideon, but the way he turns around is, again, rather quick. Cynical as it may sound, I’m not sure if he was actually genuine. It is possible that he could’ve made his decision still thinking that Mabel would love him. If so, then is Gideon supposed to represent the selfish side of why we tend to “cross the floor”, so to speak? Or am I trying to look too deep into this moment?

Hell, a part of me thinks that Dipper himself might have been trying to appeal to Gideon’s egocentric personality, and was trying to make a plea for help with that method. Strange, but plausible.

There are still a few episodes left to flesh out the characters, though. Quoth “Romance Academy”, “anthyding can hadplen”. And, as always, feel free to write an essay explaining why my interpretation is wrong.

And the end of this episode has Soos (who, fitting his character, has become a local folk hero), Dipper, and Wendy walking into Mabel’s bubble. What the hell is going to happen next?

Part Two comes out on Nov 23rd. I am so flipping excited. Time to “Escape from Reality”

Tidbits:

  • Whoever got Linda Cardellini and Jason Ritter to star in a live-action scene deserves an Emmy.
  • The only thing that could’ve made the chase scene more awesome is if Motorhead’s “Ace of Spades” played in the background. I’m not even a metalhead, and that song works well with chase scenes. A bit obvious, but tried and true.
  • Honestly, this is how I imagined Dipper and Wendy’s friendship being – two close friends that kick ass. I would prefer a “brains/brawn” type dealie, but this is pretty cool in and of itself. I am not complaining.
Favorite Scene: Chase. Scene. Damn.
Least Favorite Scene: The relative quickness of Gideon’s “floor-crossing” threw me a bit. I hope the writers flesh this out, because I wouldn’t be too pleased if they make a wrong move.
Score: 8.75. I’ll bump it to a 9.5 if we learn more about Gideon. Still a fantastic episode.
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