Gravity Falls Review: "Weirdmageddon III – Take Back The Falls" (Season 2, Episode 20)

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Massive Inter-dimensional pyramid with bowtie used mega fist pound! It’s not very effective.

Airdate: February 15th, 2016

Synopsis: After going through the sugar-coated hell that was Mabeland, Dipper, Mabel, Soos, and Wendy team up with a group of refugees taking shelter in the Mystery Shack alongside Stan. There, they devise a plan to rescue Ford and bring down Bill. Thing is, Stan is remiss over rescuing somebody he feels screwed up purely on impulse. He begrudgingly goes along, but his feud with Ford almost brings the Pines family – and, on a larger scale, the entire town of Gravity Falls, Oregon – to the brink of death.

Review: First off, a personal note. I can’t believe that this is the last one of these new episode reviews that I’ll do for this show. Sure, I’ll re-review the show in the not-too-distant future, maybe set up a “tribute” site, but it won’t really feel the same. The waiting for every Gravity Falls episode will never be experienced again.

With that said…

“Ah, summer break. A time for leisure, recreation, and taking her easy… unless you’re me. My name is Dipper – the girl about to puke is my sister, Mabel. You may be wondering what we’re doing in a golf cart, fleeing from a creature of unimaginable horror.

Rest assured – there’s a perfectly logical explanation…

On June 15th, 2012, with those words, we were introduced to the world of Gravity Falls, thanks to the Disney Channel. Initially coming off as merely a quirky Disney cartoon, within 22 minutes, the show unveiled itself as something more complex and brilliant. What was Grunkle Stan doing at the end of that last episode? Who did write that journal? As it turns out, we were about to go on a beautiful journey.

Forty-four months later (to the day, no less), the long, long, long summer ended. So, how did this last episode close it all out?

Warning before we go further… spoilers are legion. Watch the episode before you go any further. I am dead. Serious.

The writers had one hour to wrap up the character dynamic… and, as far as I can tell, they did a pretty good job.

First, the great ballad of Stan and Ford. A tragedy introduced 11 months ago (nice scheduling, DisneyXD), the great issue with their relationship (not from a writing standpoint) was that neither one of them were right. So prideful were they that they could not admit any sense of fault. In a way, despite their vast differences, they were a spitting image of each other. Something had to give, and it almost brought the world (or at least a small town) to an end.

And in a way, the two finally make amends.

Ford finally, sincerely breaks down. This was a man so infuriated with his brother’s supposed idiocy that he began to impress those feelings on his great-nephew. A man that, in spite of his vast intelligence, slipped up at the worst possible time, making a deal with a demon in an attempt to further his knowledge… and in doing so, screwing everything over.

Here, he swallows his pride and admits some level of culpability.

How does Stan respond? He throws his life on the line to take down the triangular hellspawn, and is all but willing to sacrifice his mindscape just to bring him down. Stan was so fed up with Ford’s own recklessness that he decides, y’know what, leave him to his own devices. And, yes, Stan had a point there – he rescued a bunch of people. However, keeping with his character, he had no long-term plan – just wait out the Weirdmageddon until they ran out of gnomes to eat. (To think, this show went from “gnomes kidnaping a 12-year old” to “psychopathic Vera Lynn-singing demon threatens to destroy the world.” Actually, reading that sentence back, it’s barely more horrifying. Damn, this show was dark from day 1.)

Yet, here, he finally decides to take the gamble, and lay his mind on the table.

Back when I reviewed “Dreamscaperers”, I compared Stan to Red Dwarf’s Rimmer, in their apparent odiousness, their tragic backstory, and the resulting cynicism. With his rise to bravery, I think the comparison is officially crystallized.

The hatchet buried, they work cohesively as a team, and vow to do so in the future. The rebirth of the “Stan-O-War” is simply beautiful. It shows that, with the unpleasantness put behind them (we think), they can finally catch up for 40 years of lost time. Thing is, it also reflects on Ford’s attempts to make Dipper his apprentice. Is his newfound friendship with Stan proof that Ford has overcome his own ego, or did he really view Dipper as a parallel to Stan all this time? I would suspect that it was the former.

Even McGucket gets reunited with Ford one last time. It was Ford’s portal that drove McGucket to create the mind wipe device – in effect, helping set up the Society of the Blindeye. Well, McGucket holds no ill feelings to the man. McGucket’s character has rebounded from the seemingly broken nutjob we saw back in episode 2. The man is a phoenix.

What else do we have… McGucket actually helps turn the Mystery Shack into a giant robot. Result? Everybody kicks ass. Candy, Grenda, Several Timez (who apparently lived through two months in the forest with little survival skills), McGucket, Wendy… all together, they manage to wipe out almost an entire army of trans-dimensional demons. It is, simply put, awesome.

Let’s not leave our favorite psychopath out of the equation. Bill Cipher is still a madman. (Give him credit, though, he sings Sinatra.) Thing is, though, this omnipotent monster has finally been exposed as merely pompous. Don’t get me wrong – he has the power to control all of time and space. This time, though, he was tricked due to his own greed, failing to figure in any sort of disguise. One bad move, Bill gets taken out. To quote a computer from a certain sci-fi program, “bishop to king five – double check and mate, sucker.”

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“…noughts and crosses?” (Image taken from Gravity Falls Wiki.)

And with him gone, the episode finally ends… actually, no, it doesn’t.

Preston Northwest, who tried to deal with Bill to ensure his own safety at the expense of his wife and daughters? Broke. The Northwest legacy? Deader than American Idol. While still getting off rather easily (they sold their mansion and will likely live a middle-class lifestyle), Preston has finally been disgraced. His political clout is all but nil. Meanwhile, Pacifica has no legacy of elitism to try and continue. In effect, this is her liberation. It will take some time to get used to, but chances are, she’ll be fine.

Soos, the man who looked to Stan as a father, is finally treated with the utmost respect by the old man – getting the opportunity to run the shack instead of having Stan shut it down. When you think about it, Stan, who routinely snarked at his employees and conned his way through the town, was and always will be far more of a father to Soos than the pop-eyed balding git that provided the sperm cell that made this great man.* It’s a fantastic way to show how much Soos has elevated from “wacko manchild” – the shack was the place where he became a man, and now, he’s become its heir.

This episode finishes up Dipper and Mabel’s story by finally having them celebrate their 13th birthday. While this episode didn’t focus too much on them, it is telling that they never left each other’s side at all during the episode. The two have been through hell and back, and in spite of brief moments of separation, their bond as siblings never truly disintegrated. They’ve become a bit more mature, arguably. (I’ll save a full analysis of this for my “requiem” later on.)

And the bus ride home… oh, how bittersweet. Has to be seen to be believed, but I’ll just say… the iconic hats of two of the characters – Wendy and Dipper – have been swapped. That’s a sign of great friendship.

On other levels, this episode was genuinely mortifying, it got me close to choked up, and still managed to throw in moments of light comedy through the entire thing. This episode nailed the tone of Gravity Falls to a T.

OK, gushing over… was Part III of Weirdmageddon flawless, or close to it?

Well… here’s where I have a few issues with the episode.

First – it felt a bit rushed. I blame “Roadside Attraction” for this. (Side note – more I think about it, more I think that’s the worst episode of Gravity Falls.)

Second, and leading from the first, there were a few things I felt weren’t addressed and could’ve been addressed. Did the US Government know about this? I mean, we saw government surveillance at the beginning of the season, and they arrested Dipper and Mabel in “Irrational Treasure”. (Edit – they did act on this, but likely dropped the investigation, as per the end of “A Tale of Two Stans”. Still…) Did anybody else in the USA know about this going on? And much more. Quoth the Soos, “These are legitimate questions.”

To rebut that, we did see Quentin Trembly during the end credits. Maybe his release is contributing to some tourism in the town. A small boost, but still.

Besides, Hirsch has gone forward to admit that he barely made it this far, and even threatened to quit after the first season – he only went on because the viewership was so high, and even then, was legally obligated to keep his mouth shut when it came to his decision to pull the plug after Season 2. Maybe he and the writing staff left it up to us as fans to continue the journey.

Even better, he’s even declared that this might not be the end of the adventures of the motley cast and crew of Gravity Falls. He’s mulled that there might be a short-form revival – maybe a TV movie, comics, something like that – in the future. After all, that’s what the last pre-credit scene said. There’s actually enough openings to allow Hirsch and Company to continue, should Disney ask him for a revival. (I could see something ala The X-Files, a miniseries in 5-10 years.)

But, as I mentioned on Monday, even if this is the end of the road – which, at this point, looks to be the case – then, well, to quote a certain sci-fi computer, “It’s better to have loved and to have lost, than to listen to an album by Olivia Newton-John.”**

If the option is only two seasons of unbridled brilliance or more great episodes with the trade off that the show would deteriorate to the point of unwatchability before being canceled, I’ll take the former option any day of the week.

…so yeah, this was a pretty damn good finale. Don’t know what else to say except… see you next summer.

…ah, I have a couple more Gravity Falls related posts left.

Tidbits:

  • They got Kyle McLachlan to voice the bus driver. Honestly, I can’t help but find this symbolic – given that Twin Peaks is, in many regards, a more “mature” version of Gravity Falls.
  • A year ago, I posted a rant on shipping in Gravity Falls. I was largely apathetic to the Wendip/Dipcifica/Candip stuff, supporting whatever relationship was developed in the most effective manner. In the end, the winning pair is… neither of the three. Yes, I am aware that a case could be made that Wendip got out further, but honestly, that end scene with the two came off more as close friendship to me.
  • As for which of the show’s pairings made it to the end… there were two. The first was Soos and Melody, from “Soos and the Real Girl”. The second, Blubs/Durland. (Burland? Dlubs?) Honestly, the relationship between those two was the most overtly romantic and two-sided relationship on the show, and this episode just confirmed it all.
    • Worth noting – they are the first openly gay male couple in Disney TV history. Fun fact – the writers wanted to have a lesbian couple paired up in “The Love God”, but the censors nixed that. I thank two at least four people for the sea change when it comes to gay couples on “family” TV – Rebecca Sugar, creator of Steven Universe;, Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, the creators of The Legend of Korra;, and Justice Anthony Kennedy, the SCOTUS justice who wrote the majority opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges and completely legalized same-sex marriage in America.
  • Oh, the callbacks. The callbacks are many. Can’t list them all, but I will give one – apparently, clones 3 and 4 (who committed Grand Theft Bike against Robbie) lived to tell the tale. Apparently, they were able to construct shelter and survive despite not consuming water. That’s either horrifying, or shows that the copy machine could change the world.
  • I also feel like there was a missing opportunity for at least a tiny bit of tragedy when it came to the ending. However, the way that the writers executed it, I can’t complain too much, damn it.

Favorite Scene: The hat swap. Other than the last line and the credits, that was the scene that almost made me weep. That’s when it hit me that this was the end.

Least Favorite Scene: Can’t really name one. I guess the restoration of Stan’s memory was a bit rushed, though. Could’ve handled that a bit better.

Score: 9.

So, the next post is what? A top 10 episode list, right?

Well… I’ve gone a bit further.

I am working on a personal ranking of every. Episode. Of. Gravity. Falls. It should be out within a week or two.

* Side note – no, I don’t know if Soos’s father is balding, nor if his eyes are large. Chances are, though, the idiot’s days of partying across America have caught up to him, and his condition is anywhere from “moderately unhealthy” to “dead via cirrhosis.” Hair’s probably been impacted, as well. At the very least, while Soos’s dad probably gambled, drank, and partied his way into multiple bankruptcies, Soos is the manager of a moderately successful tourist trap, running it with his girlfriend. Take solace in that, fandom.
** Second side note – I actually don’t mind Olivia Newton-John’s music.

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