Airdate: July 12, 2013
|Ah, Bill! Keep on laughing, you morally ambiguous wacko.
Synopsis: Back for revenge against the Mystery Shack… again… Gideon is driven over the edge. Taking out book #2, he summons Bill Cypher, a mind demon with the power to enter and control the subconscious, so that Gideon can gain control of the safe and steal the deed. Bill goes into Stan’s mind. Dipper has to summon himself into the mind of Grunkle Stan… just as relations between the two seem to have hit an all time low. As the gang crosses the mindscape to try and hunt Bill Cypher, the way Stan’s mind works is slowly unveiled, as Dipper realizes how Stan treats the kid, and why he does the things he does.
Review (SPOILERS MAY BE AND ARE AHEAD): In February of 2014, I reviewed “Boyz Crazy” and declared it to be my favorite episode of the series thus far, due to its use of Shakespearian tragicomedy and questionable motives amongst every single character. It really was the closest thing Gravity Falls ever came to nihilism.
However, remember: just because it’s my favorite does not mean it was the most well-produced episode. That honor goes to “Dreamscaperers”. I swear to you, the survey on the Gravity Falls Wiki shows “Dreamscaperers” in a commanding lead for “Best Episode”, and it seems to be there for at least the next few months. (The new season premieres over Summer).
Strangely enough, some of the features of “Dreamscaperers” oppose those of “Boyz Crazy”. “Boyz Crazy” focused on the darker underbelly of our main characters, and the connections between them being threatened; “Dreamscaperers” focuses on the development of the supernatural features and a more positive side to the characters, especially Stan.
We get a peek in Stan’s memories, which literally gives him the most complete backstory of the main characters so far. I used to compare Dipper to Red Dwarf’s Arnold Rimmer, due to Dipper’s own neurosis, organizational tendencies, and pride. However, as I rewatched the episodes, I slowly realized that the comparison, while justified, was not the best matchup. The reason? Dipper, past his moments of selfishness, neurosis, and pride, is actually one to practice self-improvement, selflessness, and will always come to the defense of other characters.
I now have to give the comparison to Stan, due to the tragic backstory the two had, as well as their cynical, self-serving actions. Yet, whereas Rimmer’s childhood was played for comedy and was not used as an excuse for his behaviour, Stan’s childhood was played in a much more tragic light, and used to show just why he became the man he is today; he’s a jaded man, cynical because of the cards life dealt him. He doesn’t want Dipper to turn into him; a weak man who is beaten into cynicism and selfishness.
We also see Mabel really take on a leadership role in the episode. Whereas Dipper has normally taken on the role of team leader, he’s too derailed by his own self-interests and cynicism for much of the episode. It’s Mabel who sends the crew into action against Bill Cypher. Yet she still keeps her eccentric behavior and quirks.
And may we also give Bill Cypher a hand here? Sure, the first time you watch, he’s a perfectly affable guy, who is merely a slave to the journal holder. Yet, we get to see a darker side to the “Isosceles Monster”, as he has the power to manipulate the human mind, connect with people who are outright cruel (Gideon), and tortures the crew by bringing their worst nightmares to life. To go off on a tangent, that last part reminds me of the Red Dwarf episode “Back to Reality”, an episode which is not only one I will review in the coming weeks, but an episode considered the zenith of its franchise. Bringing the worst nightmares of people to life is, again, nothing new, but it also plays into the characters: Soos, despite bouts of maturity, still has the mind of a child, and Mabel also has the level of self-awareness that makes her quirkiness just awesome enough to work.
Sorry for the tangent; back to Bill. He really is ambiguous; is he looking out for his own power and out to cause mischief, or is he only forced to do what people command him to do? Is he a wise being, or is he just using scare tactics? Is he the product of a Gravity Falls figurehead? What could be behind this character?
Last but not least on the Character chart, Gideon. We already know from “The Hand That Rocks the Mabel” that he owns #2, and that he wants the Shack (thank you, “Little Dipper”), but here, we see him finally execute 15 episodes worth of development. I won’t spoil the ending, except for the fact that dynamite and personal connections get involved. Really, that last scene shows that he is craftier than we thought he was even in recent episodes: he knows his science.
We also must mention that, while the art in Gravity Falls has always been fantastic, it is the art in this episode (especially the credits sequence and the scenes with Bill) that convince me to say this: in terms of animation, Gravity Falls is the best-animated TV show in recent years… possibly ever.
I don’t even have to say anything else, really. The conflict is awesome, the humor is fantastic, the plot twists are pretty damn good… this is simply an episode that anybody and everybody should watch. Is it my favourite? It’s close. A 10 score is given to my favorite episode of the entire show, and I think “Boyz Crazy” is still my favorite because it gave development to otherwise underrated characters… but still. This is damn near perfect. This is to Gravity Falls what “Back to Reality” was to Red Dwarf: it sent the show from fantastic to a show that will hopefully stand the test of time. Alex Hirsch, Tim McKeon, Matt Chapman, Joe Pitt, and John Aoshima, you should all be proud of yourselves. (And that’s not even getting into the actors!)
Favorite Scene: If I HAVE to narrow it down… anything and everything with Bill Cypher. The character is just well crafted enough to work.
Least Favorite Scene: One of my most frequent complaints this season has to be the underuse of Wendy. She gets one line (“One time, I caught Gideon stealing my moisturizer”), and it just does not connect as well as others in the episode, or others that the character has delivered. It just seems like they keep her in simply to give Dipper a love interest and personal flaws, or to try to avert “The Smurfette Principle”. Come on guys, give her some sense of development. (Still an otherwise fantastic scene.)