Episode Review: Gravity Falls (Season 2, Episode 20) – Weirdmageddon, Part 3
*WARNING: MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD*
In the realms of Disney‘s cable channels (The Disney Channel and DisneyXD), a number of entertaining and fun animated shows have come to light, since the company started making its own animated programming for cable.
The 2000’s brought such animated shows as Kim Possible, The Proud Family, and Phineas and Ferb, that delighted young and old, and garnered a small fan-following.
In 2011, Alex Hirsch brought a new show/concept to the Disney Channel, that soon became a hit for its combination of comedy, adventure, drama, and scariness!
When Dipper and Mabel Pines are sent to stay with their Great Uncle Stan in Gravity Falls, Oregon, it looks like it’s going to be a boring summer…that is, until they encounter gnomes, demons, lake monsters, and so much more!
Hirsch’s show managed to almost feel like a throwback to shows and films of the 1980’s, where you’d have humor, mixed in with a few possible bits of ‘nightmare fuel’ for kids (and the show does seem to stretch its Y7 rating pretty far!).
Of all the characters the kids and their family came across, one that was often wondered about online, was a strange triangle-shaped figure known as Bill Cypher. Bill was soon revealed to be an other-dimensional demon, who would often try to make underhanded deals with a number of figures, but his attempts usually ended with him promising that “big things were coming,” that nobody could stop.
At the end of the episode Dipper and Mabel vs The Future, Bill’s words seemed to finally come true! Gaining three dimensional form, he opened a dimensional rift over Gravity Falls, and plunged it into a dark and chaotic realm, the likes of which Disney Television Animation had probably never seen before (and makes the Negaverse in the Darkwing Duck series look like Sioux City, IA)!
Summoning his other-dimensional friends to help him take over, Bill declared himself Lord and Master of the town, and proclaimed the twisted state of his surroundings, to be called: Weirdmageddon!
In the last two parts of Weirdmageddon, Dipper Pines found himself teaming up with his friends Wendy and Soos, and attempting to break Mabel out of a fantasyland, that placated her feelings about not wanting to grow up.
Though Dipper was tempted, the strength of his convictions managed to make Mabel see past the candy-coated disguise of Bill’s tricks (think like what the Other Mother in Coraline used to trick that film’s title character), and escape back to the nightmare that Gravity Falls had become.
Retreating to The Mystery Shack, the group found Stan(ley) Pines huddled up with several of the last townspeople and otherworldly creatures from the surrounding woods, not captured by Bill and his minions.
Though Stanley wishes just to hide in the shack, Dipper, Mabel, and the others decide to storm Bill’s fortress, to try and free Stanford Pines (Stanley’s twin brother), who may hold the key to finishing off Bill once and for all!
However, Bill has found out that while Weirdmageddon has overtaken Gravity Falls, he can’t spread it beyond the town’s borders!…but he knows someone, who might be able to help him…
Ever since he was first introduced, Bill Cypher was an animated character that operated outside dimensional laws, in a way that was almost like that of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic’s Discord. Both tended to have their own twisted machinations on how they would spread chaos and darkness, but of the two, Bill seemed the more evil, and threatening (and this was from a show on The Disney Channel!).
Being a fan of the weird and sometimes disturbing, the concept of Bill’s Nightmare Realm works pretty well, at times reminding me a bit of the unease I experienced, seeing the wizard Merlock transform Scrooge’s money bin into a hideous fortress in 1990’s Ducktales The Movie.
We’ve see the show get dark at times, but in this three-parter (and particularly this episode), they really up the ante for a Y7-rated production, with some scenes that made my eyes grow wide with shock!
Along with Bill, it is fun and exciting to see a number of supporting characters, come to the aid of the Pines Family. Some who have seen My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, may be reminded of that show’s 100th episode, Slice of Life. However, unlike that episode that felt like a glorified fan shout-out, most of the characters used here, actually feel like they work in the proper mechanism of the episode.
Though the showrunners do their darnedest to give everyone a chance to shine, some may be a little perturbed by the backpedaling done on the supporting character, named Pacifica Northwest. Many had hopes for her character after her major appearance in the episode Northwest Mansion Mystery, in which she stood up to her rich, socialite parents. However, here it feels like she regressed back a bit, into being the typical whiny, stuck-up rich girl.
When it comes to the group in The Mystery Shack fighting back, the story, animation, and music all come together to help give us an energizing, strike back at Bill and his friends.
The showrunners also had some fun including little jabs at popular culture here, and we get a few that made me a little giddy (I think they’re the first animated show to do a parody of Pacific Rim!).
Another 11th hour character development “sneak,” actually falls onto Stanley. He has been relatively absent for the first two parts, but once he’s on screen for part 3, he’s got some issues with his brother Stanford, that he’s not quick to let go of.
This to me is the one area, where the writers tripped up in making this a wholly-enjoyable episode. The fact that in the midst of so much world-destruction and all going on around them, Stanley’s digging in of his heels regarding Stanford, just feels like it was thrown into the mix a little too late. Though we have known that the two brothers have not been on good terms since Stanford’s return (in the episode, A Tale of Two Stans), it just breaks up the flow.
And then there’s…the end.
When it comes to the final moments of the show, some things you may have predicted will come to pass, but just as well, some other things will shock you.
Much like the character bits with Stanley and Stanford, the showrunners throw a small wrench into a moment, that could have sent some people’s “waterworks” into a full-blown waterfall…but sadly, they pull something akin to a PIXAR film that I won’t name here (if you see the scene, you’ll know which one I’m referring to).
Even with the few nitpicks above, the show still manages to rise head-and-shoulders above many animated series’ finales (some animated series I watched as a kid, never even HAD a proper finale!).
Though I watched the show not as fervently as most of its diehard fans, I trusted its creators enough to follow them down whatever path they steered their characters. Most animated series start out like infants, toddling around until they find their footing, and know what they’re about. When it came to Gravity Falls, the show seemed to know what it was from the beginning, and surprisingly, never wavered from that decided path!
Many fans and viewers will probably beg and plead for another visit to Gravity Falls, but even if someone at Disney decides to take us back…it just won’t be the same.
Creator Alex Hirsch said the show was meant to be about an incredible Summer Vacation, and that’s what we got. Personally, I felt since summer vacation lasts about 3 months (at least it did in my day), they could have done 3 seasons…but still, to end it after 2 seasons on such a high note (and with 40 episodes), I’m not one to complain.
Many of us have seen other shows out there (The Simpsons, Family Guy, The Fairly Oddparents, etc), that have soldiered on well past their prime, their animated ‘corpses’ still making noise, but seldom making us laugh like they once did…with many fans wishing someone would help these poor souls, to be put out of their misery.
The summer that Dipper and Mabel Pines spent in this strange little Pacific Northwestern mountain town, was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, that can never be replicated. It was a journey that resulted in new friendships, learning about relationships (both familial and romantic), encountering the strange and unusual, and even getting the chance to save the world.
You know…something like that could make for an awesome TV show!
Final episode grade: A- (Final Thoughts: The last episode of “Gravity Falls,” shows its creator managing to go all-out in bringing us a show-stopping ending, the likes of which many could have never fathomed…and manages to make it balance pretty well between chaos and comedy! We get to see both sets of Pines twins (Dipper and Mabel, Stanford and Stanley), work together in ways that shows just how strong their family unit can be. Bill Cypher may not come across as dark and powerful as the most fervent imagination wants, but he still manages to leave a lasting impression long after the show is over. Even the mixture of past characters and invention/devices, works surprisingly well, feeling as if they were somehow meant to fit into their respective places from the very beginning. Though the writers take the bite out of a few characters and scenes, the overall product still finishes in the best of fashion…and the last 5 minutes will make the most ardent fan, a little nostalgic for the journey they were taken on)