My Top 10 Episodes for Gravity Falls (Season 2)
*WARNING: This list delves into spoilers, and assumes that the reader has already seen Season 2 of “Gravity Falls.” You have been warned…*
Following the events of Season 1, it was hard to gauge just where Gravity Falls was going.
Mabel and Dipper Pines had encountered quite a bit in that first season, and it definitely made fans hunger for more.
In Season 2, they definitely upped the ante…and then, the series ended.
Fortunately, finishing off the series was the wish of series creator, Alex Hirsch, who felt the show had said all it needed to say, with its 40 episodes that spanned two seasons (and over 4 years, given Disney’s distribution methods on cable TV).
With the show having ended in mid-February, I began looking over the 20 episodes the season had encompassed. Some played off events that had been started in Season 1, and others brought to light new revelations, that both entranced us, and made us ask even more questions!
With that in mind, I finally present my Top 10 favorite episodes from the second season of Gravity Falls.
__________In Season 1, Falls had an episode called Bottomless Pit, in which several of the main characters shared 3 smaller stories during a journey. Gift Shop borrows the same formula, though unlike it being a collection from several people, it has Stanley Pines trying to get the unseen viewer, to buy something, by spinning crazy stories about the items he has on display.
Maybe it’s because I watched The Simpsons growing up, and have a soft-spot for their Treehouse of Horrors Halloween specials, but this 3-segmented episode gave me plenty of laughs. From Stan losing his hands to a hand-witch, to Mabel fighting her fear of stop-motion puppets, it seemed like there was plenty to enjoy!
Sometimes it’s fun when a series can take a short break from some of its heavier subject matter, and just catch its breath.
When Soos’ grandmother requests that he find a date for his cousin’s wedding, Mabel and Dipper try to help Soos with his people skills. They soon stumble onto a dating game that Soos decides to try, but find out that the girl on it named GIFfany, may be a little more than what she seems.
The episode brings back some memories of the season one episode, Fight Fighters, in how its seemingly regular video game character, becomes something more…though GIFfany is definitely a more unsettling digital creation, than Rumble McSkirmish.
It’s fun to see Mabel trying to apply her matchmaking skills to helping Soos, as well as his uneasiness communicating with women. The episode also serves as one of those reminders about getting out of the house and actually experiencing life, even if it may not be as safe as playing a game is.
There’s also a smaller side-story about Stan trying to find some way to get more money to the Mystery Shack, which is good for a few laughs, notably in the form of a terrifying metal figure he finds endearing.
__________The beginning of the end fell upon Gravity Falls, as Bill Cipher was able to take 3-dimensional form, and take control over the small town, turning it into a fiery-tinged nightmare!
The first part of the 3-parter balances out the humor and drama, as Dipper finds himself on his own, separated from his family, and trying to find some way to stop Bill.
Dipper quickly takes center stage for the episode, as we see him cut off from all of his main resources, and quickly has to figure out what to do next.
Part 1 of Weirdmageddon plays out a bit like any trilogy, in that it starts to set up the pieces on the board, as well as what is at stake for the larger story. Even so, there’s plenty to like here.
We get that balance of comedy and slightly-horrific drama, as we find out what the stakes are under Bill’s reign.
__________Following the events of Part 1, we follow Dipper, Wendy, and Soos into a bubble that Bill Cipher has used to trap Mabel. Inside, we find Mabel presiding over a garishly-bright paradise that she is willing to share with her friends and brother.
The episode functions as a good dual setup, in that it gives us our last major blast of epic Mabel-craziness, as well as shows how Dipper has to keep his wits about him, and try to convince his sister that they can’t stay in this illusive world.
The whole thing feels like a breather before we have to face our fears in the final episode, and it is a nice callback to show the kind of connection that twins in the Pines family have. We saw a bit of this in the episode A Tale of Two Stans, and it seems that even a generation later, the smart/crazy pairing of twin siblings still is a strong bond that holds together.
__________When a number of ghostly apparitions begin to haunt the Northwest Family Mansion around the time of their annual invite-only party, the family hires Dipper to try and get rid of the apparitions.
Following the events of the episode Golf War, some were eager to see if this episode brought Pacifica Northwest back into the realms of character development. Much like that episode, Pacifica’s character continued to take baby steps, attemping to pull away from her family’s snobbish ways.
The episode also builds up more history regarding the Northwest family, with emphasis on how they short-changed a number of workers back in the past, and how that ghostly rage has manifested itself into something with ghastly consequences.
There is also a minor subplot with Mabel and her friends getting to come to the party, and attempting to woo a handsome young man.
Like many of my favorite episodes, this one definitely gets into realms of dark and comedic at times, but it goes the extra mile to eek out a little more stuff in regards to Pacifica’s personality.
__________After the Pines family goes to the local mini-golf course, the group runs into Pacifica Northwest, who Mabel soon ends up challenging to an after-dark mini-golf game. It is here that the group finds that numerous golfball-headed denizens, ‘control the balls’ on the course.
The episode pretty quickly makes its point about rivalries (such as those between Mabel and Pacifica, and the numerous denizens of each of the course’s many holes), and has a little fun with it.
We also get the chance to see Pacifica’s snarky personality, cracking a bit under Mabel’s open personality, and willing to not be as negative towards others.
I also have a soft spot for mini-golf, and it was fun to see the show’s writers try to explain those holes on the course, where you’re not sure just how the ball comes out which hole on the other side of the course!
The Liliputtians are definitely some of the more fun (yet strange) character groups in the show, and it’s fun to hear voice actors like Patton Oswalt and Jim Cummings give them life.
…and I’m sure when it’s all said and done, we musn’t forget…Big Henry.
One of the first big adventure episodes of Season 2, sends Dipper, Wendy, Mabel, and Soos into the woods, looking for further clues to the author of the Journals. The episode also dealt with the on-again/off-again topic of Dipper’s feelings towards Wendy.
The episode plays out like a Goonies-meets-Lost adventure, deep beneath Gravity Falls. Exploring a hidden underground bunker, soon becomes both an endurance test of wits and skill, and a test in which Mabel keeps trying to get Dipper to confess how he feels about Wendy…even though Dipper claims he is over her.
We also get plenty of scares here and there, including a few that one swears were inspired by John Carpenter’s The Thing.
The episode is a nice and exciting way to close the door on the Wendy/Dipper subplot, and keeps the scenario from dragging out too long.
__________When the portal beneath The Mystery Shack finally activates, it returns Stanley’s twin brother (and author of the journals!), Stanford Pines, to our dimension.
This episode opened up more on the backstory regarding the older Pines family twins, showing that they contrasted in a way that was similar to Dipper and Mabel. While Stanley was more of a free-spirit at times, it was Stanford who used his brains a bit more.
The backstory into the brothers’ on-again/off-again friendship, also played like an easter egg hunt, as certain things we are told, soon came to light.
The episode also acted as a primer for how a cleave in the twins’ lives led to a rift between them, much like what was proposed in the episode, Dipper and Mabel vs The Future, in which Mabel fears being separated from Dipper, who wants to study under Stanford.
It’s fun at times to see some of Stanley’s failed schemes as he tried to stay afloat, but also gets emotional in how it seems that a rift had developed between them since high school, that was almost hard to fully heal, let alone how he came to be the proprietor of the Mystery Shack.
__________Mabel has another crush, this time on a guy named Gabe Benson, who is really into puppets. Mabel’s attempts to put on a puppet show to impress him, ends up getting in the way of Dipper solving a new mystery…leading him to make a deal with the worst thing possible: Bill Cipher!
This episode really has fun with its puppet theme, as well as Dipper speaking through a sock puppet, and Bill possessing Dipper’s body (which led to reams of fanart online, sometimes for ‘the wrong reasons’).
Mabel’s puppet show is incredibly enjoyable, and there’s plenty of little references to The Muppets all over the place. The episode also deals with how often Dipper would help Mabel out, but she never seemed to return the favor, which I’m sure many viewers noted from several Season 1 episodes.
It also has plenty of funny little quotes from Stan (“Whoa…children fighting! I can SELL this!”).
__________I feel a little predictable, in putting the season’s final episode as number 1, but in the end, it comes down to an emotionally-charged episode, with so much culminating in this major event in the history of the Pines family, as well as the town of Gravity Falls!
The episode also amps up the emotions and action, as those who haven’t been captured by Bill Cipher and his “Henchmaniacs,” stage a final stand to take back the falls, in a spectacular battle and showdown!
Stuff happens here that made my eyes go wide, things were said that made them go even wider, and it all culminated in an ending that managed to be a satisfying conclusion to the Pine twins’ summer vacation/adventure.
That also is a plus regarding the episode. In a world where most animated shows just peter out or get cancelled and leave a lot of things hanging, Gravity Falls was given the luxury of actually coming to an end, and going out on a high note!
Like any Top 10 list, please be advised that these are just my preferences, and opinions.
What was most amazing about the series, was how different it was from most animated series I’ve watched.
Most start out wandering in the dark, trying to figure out just what they’re about, and usually after a few episodes, or into a second season, they get there.
Gravity Falls, was that rare animated oddity that knew what it was going to be from birth, and never faltered as its story went on.
Of course now that the series is over, many out there (myself included) would love to see all the episodes collected into a DVD set with audio commentaries, and other goodies that would make the fans eager to see/know more. Sadly, The Walt Disney Company isn’t in the business these days of giving us as many Special Features, since the future of the industry is largely just in streaming episodes rather than allowing people to ‘own’ them.
Still, creator Alex Hirsch has said that there will be more info this summer, when a hardcover version of Stanford Pines’ third journal is released. Just what we’ll find inside…is still a mystery.