Episode Review: Gravity Falls (Season 2, Episode 18) – Weirdmageddon, Part 1
*WARNING: MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD*
As the series Gravity Falls continued to chronicle the story of Dipper and Mabel Pines’ weird and wild summer in a strange Oregon town, a number of symbols began to boggle the minds of the viewers.
In the Season 1 episode Dreamscaperers, Gideon Glee officially let loose onto the series: Bill Cypher. A triangular-shaped, top-hat wearing being from another dimension, Bill was found making life difficult for the Pines family, and it soon seemed he had a connection to them from some years before!
Throughout each of his appearances, Bill could often be heard telling how he “couldn’t be stopped,” and that “big things were coming.”
At the end of Episode 17 of the second season (Dipper and Mabel vs The Future), Bill managed to find a way to trick Mabel Pines into making a deal. In exchange for giving into her wish that the summer wouldn’t end, Mabel handed over a key item, that opened the dimensional rift Bill needed, to finally cross over from his two-dimensional world, into our three-dimensional world!
As this episode begins, Bill takes over Gravity Falls, letting loose his friends from the other dimension, and plunging the entire town into chaos, calling his reign: Weirdmageddon!
Stanford Pines claims to know a way to stop Bill, but his and Dipper’s attempts to stop him are foiled, when he’s captured by Bill, and the journals are taken away!
With his Great Uncle and the journals gone, Dipper soon ends up teaming up with Wendy and Soos, in an attempt to find Mabel, and try to somehow defeat Bill…of course, nothing ever comes easy in a world gone topsy-turvy.
Given the symbolism the show has had, and Bill’s talk of “big plans,” it seemed a given that we would eventually get him back in a big way.
Plunging the town into Weirdmageddon, the results are a visual array of creatures, fire, and things that definitely don’t make one think of ‘pure Disney fun.’
One image that is hard to get out of my head, is Bill growing musculature and sinew across his body, as he takes on three-dimensional form. Yes, the image below is definitely not something one would expect from a Y7-rated show (but then again, Falls has pushed the envelope many times).
Much like in the Season 1 finale (Gideon Rises), Dipper is thrust into a situation where many of his support items are taken. Stanford isn’t there, the journals are gone, Mabel is cut off from him. In that sense, he becomes the focal point of the episode, as he has to press on, and find a way to survive.
Things really take a turn for the interesting, when Dipper finds Wendy, who shows she has what it takes to survive in an end-of-the-world situation. I think if anyone comes away remembering certain character moments, Wendy’s may stand out moreso than Dipper’s.
A notable scene, is when they are discussing where they were, “when it happened.” This may go over some of the younger viewer’s heads, but it adds a certain, real-world gravitas to the show. This kind of discussion has been had by many people over the years (myself included), relating to certain life-altering events in our own world, and to see it used here, was quite a shock!
Teaming up with Wendy, also leads to a brief-yet-exciting vehicle chase, involving some fun easter eggs, and some nice camera-work and 3D modeling (then again, I’d expect nothing less from the animation studio Rough Draft Korea, who also worked on Futurama!).
Like most first-parters, this episode also has the thankless task of laying out the ‘ground rules.’ This can often be a precarious tight-rope to walk, but the show manages to inform, while not getting too dry.
Even though it gives us plenty of areas to focus on, Part 1 also feels like a few subplots it introduces, are glossed over pretty quickly.
One subplot involving Gideon Glee, is shoehorned in a little too quickly, and another showing the little-used Time Police squad from the future, goes by so fast, I almost didn’t comprehend what their presence meant the first time!
Maybe if the shows had an extra 5-10 minutes, these bits wouldn’t have felt so brief, but then again, the show also has to move us forward, to keep the main focus on Dipper.
What does help the episode at times, is how the writers have managed to work in little jokes here and there (even having Bill and his minions, take over the opening credits to the show!), that manage to lighten up the dark areas of the story. It’s often hard to balance light and dark like in what is going on here, but surprisingly, the episode manages to keep itself together, as we charge on into Part 2.
Final episode grade: B+ (Final Thoughts: The beginnings of Weirdmageddon, bring forth one of the darkest visions to ever come to the series. Bill Cypher’s reign over the small Oregon town, has started us down a path that makes one wonder just how our main characters will prevail. While focusing moreso on Dipper Pines, it also brings several of the friends he has encountered in the town to light, and gives them a chance to shine . The episode falters with a few minor subplots, and some characters we are left to wonder about, as we make our way into the next part of the Season 2 Finale)