Gravity Falls Review: Season 2 Wrap Up

(Note – the ranking of every episode will be out next post, but given that I did a wrap-up for Season 1, I may as well do one for Season 2. This is going to be brief, since I’m going to touch on more posts in a full requiem of Gravity Falls.)

Screenshot of this image, found on the Gravity Falls wiki.

Thirty long years, and it’s led up to this! My greatest achievement… probably should have worn pants. – Grunkle Stan, in his boxers, “Scary-oke”.

The first line of “Scary-oke” set the tone for Season 2 of Disney’s Gravity Falls – it was going to be more ambitious, more plot-driven, than the act of brilliance that was Season 1. The question is, did it meet my expectations?

Well, how can I put this?

YEAH!
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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.

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Gravity Falls Review: "Weirdmageddon II – Escape From Reality" (Season 2, Episode 19)

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It may be better than perfection, but is it better than life?

Airdate: November 23rd, 2015

Synopsis: Dipper, Wendy, and Soos venture into Mabel’s bubble prison… the happy land of Mabeland. Pop music fills the air, 80s cartoon characters thrive, lawlessness rules, and waffles guard Mabel’s office. Thankfully… waffles guard Mabel’s office, so the trio are able to get in. There, Mabel all but bribes Soos and Wendy with their desires, leaving Dipper to try and avoid any sort of temptations brought on by the bubble.

Review (SPOILER-TASTIC): The announcement on the Friday before “Escape From Reality” aired that Gravity Falls was to reach it’s denouement after two seasons was, let’s face it, not that shocking. There had been speculation from the moment Season 2 was announced that the show wasn’t long for this world (DisneyXD’s scheduling made it seem longer than it was), and Alex Hirsch’s Tumblr post this past Friday simply served to put whatever speculation there was to rest. In fact, it’s actually a good thing at the end, because we don’t get to watch the show rot into a charade of guest stars and recurring “marriage trouble” episodes, nor do we get to see it smash a mirror, screaming “How’s Annie” with no word on what the hell is going on.

Kudos to Hirsch.

Anyway, before we go out, we get a second (and last) penultimate episode of the season that delves into the mentality of one of the central characters. Last season, it was Stan. This time, it’s Mabel. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

Gravity Falls Review: "Dipper and Mabel Vs. The Future" (Season 2, Episode 17)

The truth is… surprisingly, not that far out there. (Small note, but building that bridge must’ve required some awesome engineering.)

Airdate: October 12th, 2015

Synopsis: Mabel is ecstatic – the end of August marks her and Dipper’s 13th birthday, and she’s planning a celebration to mark both the occasion and put a massive cap on the summer. Excited for everything, her happiness is slowly quashed as the world she once knew begins to fall apart. Wendy pops her bubble about high school, there can’t be a party at the shack itself, and her best friends can’t come to the party.

Meanwhile, Dipper and Ford go looking for a super-adhesive glue to try and seal a crack in the globe that holds the rift between the universes. To do this, they wind up going under Gravity Falls… a town founded over a UFO. (Arnold Rimmer has been vindicated.) After a series of strange events, Ford offers Dipper a proposal – stay in Gravity Falls after the summer ends, and become his apprentice in mystery solving.

When the two plots intersect… the end results are not good, to say the very least.

Review (WARNING, LONG REVIEW. ALSO, SPOILERS FOR VARIOUS PIECES OF MEDIA): Shortly before the premiere of “Roadside Attraction”, Alex Hirsch tweeted something to the effect that “RA” was a “breather episode” before the epic episode afterward. Reading that, I thought that this episode would change the show’s status quo on a scale unseen since “Not What He Seems.”

Well, it turns out, I was wrong.

For “Dipper and Mabel vs the Future” has less changed the status quo… and more curled the status quo in a ball, flung said ball out the window, and sent it barreling towards the sun at speeds so fast, the Millennium Falcon wouldn’t be able to catch up.

I’m not even sure how else to put it, other than this episode is undeniably the most stunning in the history of the show.
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Gravity Falls Review: "Roadside Attraction" (Season 2, Episode 16)

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Airdate: September 21st, 2015

Synopsis: The Mystery Shack gang (bar Wendy, plus Candy and Grenda) go on an RV trip to sabotage competing tourist traps. While on the trip, Dipper tries to get over Wendy by “honing his craft” on other girls. (And no, he doesn’t use the “mesmer-stare”, thankfully.) This does not bode well when Candy confesses that she’s developed a crush on the geek… and only gets worse when Stan gets kidnapped by a giant spider who led him on… that he tried to lead on.

Review (SPOILERS): Back in February, “Northwest Mansion Novella” aired. Given that there was something resembling ample notice regarding the controversy (i.e. the promo containing the two relatively close together), I was able to post an editorial regarding the somewhat controversial ship, and comment on the episode’s effectiveness as a launcher afterward. In the former, I made a comment regarding the fact that Candy and Dipper (or CanDip) had no traction, and didn’t seem to have chemistry… mainly because none of the writers really put the two together outside of quick gags.

Here, CanDip is set sail… in an episode that, in deep contrast to “Northwest Mansion Whozawhatzit”, is a deeply lighthearted episode… and far less consequential to the overall plot. In fact, I think it’s the episode most separable from canon since “Boss Mabel”. Continue reading

Gravity Falls Review: "The Last Mabelcorn" (Season 2, Episode 15)

 

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Warning: neither moment nor episode are as lighthearted as this picture makes them out to be.

 

Airdate: September 7th, 2015

 

Synopsis: Tortured by a nightmare of Bill Cipher, Ford asks that Mabel go and find a unicorn, so that he can use its locks to help build a force field. Alongside Wendy, Candy, and Grenda, Mabel actually manages to stumble across a unicorn village. The unicorn nearest the front gate declares that she will give her hair to the one “pure of heart”. Mabel doesn’t necessarily fit that, though. Cue emotional crisis!!!!

Meanwhile, Ford and Dipper use a machine to try and encrypt their minds, in an attempt to protect themselves from mindjacking via Bill. What happens is… weird, to say the very least.

Review (MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD – READ AT YOUR OWN DISCRETION)Always! I wanna be with you! And make believe with you! And live in harmony, harmony! Oh, yeah!

Uh, sorry about that. Curse you, Andy and Vince!

Anyway… unicorns. Those mystical magical horses are among the most used fictional animals in fantasy works. Their powers, their pointy horns, their hybrid of grace and power all contribute to the unicorn’s staying power in the fantasy canon. I believe that the unicorn itself gained it’s most recent spike in popularity with the use of Twilight Sparkle, one of the protagonists of the cult hit My Little Pony – Friendship is Magic. Many new “unicorns” have been used since then and have gained cult followings, such as recurring antagonist Pony Head from Star Vs. The Forces of Evil.

Naturally, Gravity Falls, being a part-fantasy show, needed to take it’s stab at it in one episode this season. And wow, was that a great episode. An awesome episode, in fact.

But how awesome was it? Continue reading

Gravity Falls Review: "The Stanchurian Candidate" (Season 2, Episode 14)

 

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The GOP Election Debates were less insane than this!

 

Airdate: August 24th, 2015

Synopsis: With President Barack Obama being constitutionally prohibited from running for a third term, many people apply for the most powerful office in the Western World. These include a social democratic populist, the spouse of a controversial former president, an eccentric right-leaning populist billionaire, and the brother of a controversial former president, among many, many others. “Hilarity” ensues, especially concerning cloths, servers, and hairpieces.

Uh, I mean, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has Governor General David Johnston call elections so he can get a fourth consecutive mandate. However, he faces critiques from the public and his competitors, which include a bearded dude, a hippie, and the handsome son of a former politician, over his controversial justice legislation, his questionable handling of the economy, and his somewhat awkward management of the nation’s institutions and public services. Said handsome son, hippie, and bearded dude, meanwhile, face questions on their leadership and whether they’ll split the vote… again.

Uh, I REALLY mean, Stan decides to run for mayor of Gravity Falls, after the long-serving mayor dies. He does so because of insecurities that have surfaced after Ford came back. He runs against Bud Gleeful… whose son was locked up, thanks to Stan. Unfortunately, he’s more gaffe-prone than his poll numbers (starting at zero and bottoming out in negative numbers) will allow. To try and salvage Stan’s candidacy, they try and commit mind theft via a tie that Ford invented for “Reagan’s Masters”. Bud’s campaign manager, some dude that’s in prison, one-ups Stan by literally overtaking Bud’s mind with a spell.

Oh, that dude in prison? Gideon.

Review (SPOILERS): Politics! Is there a word more thrilling to the human soul? Since the dawn of time, decisions had to be made. One idea of governance is Democracy – allowing for more than just one person to decide. The Ancient Athenians laid the groundwork for (very limited) democracy. The Roman Republic established separate houses to (in theory) balance the wants and needs of the experienced versus those of the common man. The English Parliament (later the Parliament of Great Britain), the American Congress, and the Assembly of the First Republic kick-started the modern democracy we all know and love… even if the latter didn’t last long.

While the system is generally kind – let the average joe and jane send representatives to voice their interests – there are a lot of awkwardnesses in the campaign process, and within the after-effects of said elections. “The Stanchurian Candidate” exploits the idiosyncrasies that are found within the races and campaigns – this time, with the end goal to be the mayor of a small town. How does that go?

Unfortunately, as far as the writing for this episode goes… not the greatest. Continue reading

Gravity Falls Review: "Dungeons, Dungeons, and More Dungeons" (Season 2, Episode 13)

 

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“You may have aced Dungeons, Dungeons, and More Dungeons. But, can you handle Jeopardy?”

 

Airdate: August 3rd, 2015

Synopsis: Dipper gets a board game in the mail – “Diggity Dungeons and All That” “Dungeons, Dungeons, and More Dungeons”. With Mabel and Stan refusing to play due to its complicated rules (and because the two are focused on the Duck-Tective season finale), Dipper winds up striking up a playing partner in Ford. Despite Ford’s somewhat wary attitude in letting him close to the secrets, the two become close confidantes in the Tabletop madness. They play such a good game, that when a dispute between Stan and Ford (surprise, surprise) unleashed Probilitor the Annoying, the wizard decides to eat Ford and Dipper’s brains to gain their smarts.

Review (SPOILERS AHEAD): Anything with Weird Al Yankovich is among the American National Treasures, alongside cheeseburgers, Taco Bell, and “Two Cathedrals”. This episode, while a small step below the likes of “A Tale of Two Stans”, is still a really great episode.

Hell, I think it works because, compared to “Not What He Seems” and “A Tale of Two Stans”, the comedy is the focus of the episode, rather than the drama. That’s not to say there’s no drama or character development – it’s just that they chose to use a lot of comedy to both mock and celebrate this episode’s target – RPGs. Continue reading

Gravity Falls Review: "A Tale of Two Stans" (Season 2, Episode 12)

 

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Weird science!

 

Airdate: July 13th, 2015

Synopsis: After a whole bunch of madness, Stan’s brother has returned from the abyss – uh, portal. He is not thrilled, slapping Stan as his first action outside the portal. With Dipper and Mabel confused as to what the hell is going on, Stan decides to go way back…

…Glass Shard Beach, New Jersey, early 1960s.

Stan and Stanford – referred in this review henceforth as Ford – were the closest of brothers, with the two going on lookouts for mysterious goods, and Stan coming to Ford’s defense – which happened a lot, as Ford had six fingers due to a birth defect. The two plan to grow up, get on a boat they found in a cave, travel the world. However, it all goes to naught when Ford is offered a full ride to West Coast Tech, provided his science project impresses the advisors. In a fit of rage, Stan accidentally breaks the device – a perpetual motion machine – the night before. The family’s chances of financial greatness sullied, Ford sits back as their parents chuck Stan out.

After Ford gets a PhD at a… less prestigious school, he goes on investigating the anomalies of the US. He winds up in Gravity Falls, Roadkill County, Oregon, and constructs a device that could transport him to another dimension, which he believes is the source of the town’s anomalies.

Meanwhile, Stan tries to impress his parents by making a fortune as a traveling salesman. End result? He’s banned from Jersey, chucked out of Pennsylvania, winds up in various prisons, and is almost broke by the time he meets his brother again, in Gravity Falls.

Review: It’s BACK!!!!!! AGAIN!!!! Jeez, being a fan of this show requires you to have a ton of patience. Anyway, enough about that – after all this time waiting, theorizing, fanfic-writing, freaking out about how long each hiatus is, how was the episode?

Gorgeous.

(WARNING: SPOILERS FROM THIS POINT ON. WATCH THE EPISODE BEFORE READING ON. UNLESS YOU DON’T MIND SPOILERS. THAT’S COOL.) Continue reading