My Top 10 Episodes for Gravity Falls (Season 1)
I had heard Gravity Falls talked of for quite some time over the last few years. Though it wasn’t until I found myself sidelined by another series’ hiatus, did I take the time to see what it was about.
The story of the Pine twins being sent to spend the summer with their Great Uncle (“Grunkle”) Stan in Gravity Falls, Oregon, quickly had me hooked. What I found was some great storytelling hooks and jokes, that made me excited for more.
Some episodes reminded me of the olden days when The Simpsons had a little more heart to it. As well, the weaving of a mystery underneath the stories and life-lessons for Dipper and Mabel Pines really made me grow to love the series, without making the episodes plod along.
I plowed through Season 1 quicker than I expected, and am now at the tipping point like many others, waiting to see what will be revealed with Season 2’s episode 12. With plenty of time on my hands, I thought I’d take the hiatus time to go over my Top 10 episodes of the first Season. I admit it was a little harder than expected, because so many of the episodes were entertaining.
*Note: This list delves into spoilers, and assumes that the reader has already seen Season 1 of “Gravity Falls.” You have been warned…*
This was one of several episodes that really got a lot of attention for its concept. Dipper’s rivalry with Robbie for Wendy’s affections gets a little out of hand when he brings a video game fighter to life, and convinces him to beat up Robbie. The showrunners have fun playing with older video concepts (like Street Fighter II and Donkey Kong).
The episode does mark one of the firsts in which the Pine twins break free of each other for their own storylines.
The secondary story about Mabel trying to help Stan get over his fear of heights is good for a few laughs, but it feels like a weaker ‘story B’ in the wake of the more fun ‘story A’ that Dipper is involved in.
Confession time: time travel has been my weakness ever since seeing Back to the Future at age 6.
After the twins encounter a time-traveler from the future, Dipper uses his time-travel device in hopes to be able to end up being with Wendy during the fair at the Mystery Shack. However, Dipper’s plans end up interfering with Mabel winning a pet pig she names Waddles.
The episode ends up being both fun and emotional, along with dealing with some of the typical questions about time. For example: can you really change what has happened, or is it an inevitability that can’t be changed?
There’s quite a few ‘sibling rivalry’ stories within Season 1, and this one just stood out for me. Why? Well, what better way to demoralize a young man, than to find out his twin sister is slightly taller than him?
The episode also brings about the return of Gideon Glee, who reveals more about his terrifying home life, let alone his feud with Grunkle Stan…and leads to one of the funniest quotes from Season 1.
Every animated series eventually gets to a size-altering episode, and Gravity Falls got this out of the way just 11 episodes in. It also seems to work well in Gideon’s favor, given his size compared to the adults in this world, he definitely can prove to be quite a threat when he ends up shrinking Dipper and Mabel down to size.
This episode I found entertaining and fun in how it splits up the two adventures. Stan is not much of a people person outside his family, and almost all his attempts to have fun by himself just result in utter (yet humorous) failure.
In the case of the Pine twins and Soos, their adventure into the misty waters of Lake Gravity Falls provide the most entertainment, with plenty of crazy antics, along with a great paranoid idea: if you’re going to try and capture pictures of a mysterious legend, take along multiple cameras!
We also get introduced to several notable background characters in this one, including one that I didn’t expect to find so entertaining.
This was an episode I debated over for some time, and almost wrote it out of the list…but it proves to do so much for an opening episode, paving the way for the future.
We get introduced to both Dipper and Mabel, as well as their personalities with Dipper being a little more logical, and Mabel being a little more happy-go-lucky. As well, we find out about Mabel’s boy-crazy moods that will be seen further down the line.
A highlight of this episode is still the gnomes, who manage to be both a little and a big story point, hinting at future crazy adventures the Pine twins can have.
The episode introduces us to one of the major characters in Season 1, Gideon Gleeful (or “Lil’ Gideon”), a little shiester like Stan, but more beloved by many given his cutesy charms…though under all that makeup and white hair, lurks a very dark figure.
One highlight of the episode is in the relationship department. Mabel has often been the chaser, but with Gideon, she finds herself the chasee. We get to see Mabel getting uneasy regarding Gideon’s advances, but is unable to break things off. It’s not often I’ve seen a situational storyline regarding relationships, that is willing to tackle a subject like this. As well, Gideon’s pursuit of Mabel serves as a reminder of how not to go about trying to be with someone, almost reminding me of Gaston going after Belle in Beauty and the Beast.
Along with the relationships plot, we also get a prime example of just why and how Gideon can be a thorn in the Pines family’s side, regarding a few revelations.
Scooby-Doo and the Mysteries Inc gang could only wish they had encounters that were as cool as this episode!
Dipper’s crush on Wendy is fully realized in this episode, when she invites him to come with her friends to explore the closed-down Dusk 2 Dawn convenience store.
Dipper soon finds himself making an enemy in Robbie, Wendy’s goth boyfriend, and in trying to convince the others that he’s a teenager (even though he and Mabel are 12).
The eerie atmosphere in the episode, along with the synthesizer music makes the scenarios both fun and scary. Though one of the highlights, is Mabel overdosing on a banned 90’s product called Smile Dip. I think these scenes helped push me into really becoming excited over what she would do next.
With the show taking place in the summer months, there’s not a whole lot of Holiday-based episodes to produce…so let’s make one up!
Apparently, Gravity Falls loves Halloween so much, they created a summer holiday to celebrate it twice a year, thus creating Summerween! Mabel is eager to do some trick-or-treating with Dipper in twin costumes (something they’ve done for years), but Dipper wants to act more mature, and tries to go to a party that Wendy is attending.
However, their plans get thrown off course when a towering figure called The Summerween Trickster, shows up at the Pines’ door, threatening to eat the kids, unless they can get him 500 pieces of candy.
It’s amazing how much the episode packs into itself: eerie Halloween atmosphere, Mabel being her typical forthright self, and Dipper’s pre-teen angst about wanting to seem more mature to someone he likes.
As well, the trickster is an intriguing-yet-frightening character, with an appropriately unsettling voice (and a possible reference to the Hayao Miyazaki film Spirited Away thrown in).
The season finale of Gravity Falls definitely upped the stakes where the Pines family was concerned. It seemed that Gideon had succeeded in obtaining The Mystery Shack, and the summer was going to end early for the Pine twins.
The episode does end up showing the resourcefulness of the Mystery Shack’s denizens. Notable is in some further character-building for Dipper, beyond the revelations in the episode, The Dreamscaperers. For much of the first season, Dipper has relied on his mystery book, but upon finding it now out of his reach (courtesy of Gideon), he has to rely on himself to get out of certain situations.
And…the episode ends on a shocking cliffhanger, that I’m sure made many eager to know what would be coming next.
The darker side of what goes on in Gravity Falls seemed to get a little darker than was expected. Triangular symbols had been showing up in the show for some time, and finally, it seemed one of them was shown to have meaning. This came about with the introduction of the entertaining-yet-horrifying demon named Bill Cypher.
Summoned by Gideon to get something from Stan’s mind, the journey sends the Pine twins and Soos to follow, and bring the hunky stars of Mabel’s favorite animated movie to life! The episode also is instrumental in giving us some back story on Stan, as well as clear up some issues Dipper has regarding how his uncle treats him. I will admit Dipper’s own mental demons situation felt a little tacked on, but I was willing to go with it, as it did also tie into Stan’s past.
The visuals definitely get a little freaky in places, and it seems there’s plenty of hidden secrets within Stan’s mind, that might come into play later.
And those are my Top 10 episodes from the first season. Keep in mind these are just my Top 10 choices, and largely based on how I personally feel about the first season.
I was surprised how entertaining a good portion of the episodes were, making it a pretty strong first season/introduction. I figure once Season 2 finishes up, I’ll review all those episodes, and see what sticks. As it stands now, I think Season 2 will definitely keep me hooked on what is to come.
Creator Alex Hirsch did mention in one interview, that he saw the show taking place over the span of an entire Summer Vacation, with maybe 3 seasons worth of material. I personally feel that would probably be for the best, with ‘3’ being the magic number by the looks of things (triangles have 3 sides, after all).