If you’re new to the blog or just want to revisit from the beginning, click HERE to read the review for “Tourist Trapped”.
Previously on Gravity Falls:
Dipper and Mabel Pines are sent to Gravity Falls to spend the summer with their Grunkle Stan, who runs a tourist trap called the Mystery Shack. Dipper finds a journal in which the enigmatic Author has chronicled some of the unusual happenings and inhabitants of the town, and he vows to follow in his (or her) footsteps to unravel Gravity Falls’ mysteries while bonding with his wild sister and cranky Grunkle.
Grunkle Stan and the kids are stuck in traffic, canvas-covered horse-drawn traffic to be precise. With growing horror Stan realizes that it’s the worst day of the year to be in Gravity Falls…Pioneer Day.
Once a year the whole town celebrates its foundation by reverting to how it was back in 1863 – dressing in pioneer costumes, doing activities like candle-dipping, and performing marriage ceremonies to woodpeckers (not even joking on that last one). Dipper and Mabel get caught up in the pioneer spirit while Stan vows to disown them if they return to the Shack with so much as dysentery.
The opening ceremonies begin led by Pacifica Northwest and her family, since their ancestor Nathaniel Northwest was Gravity Falls’ founder. Pacifica invites anyone with the pioneer spirit to come on stage and show it. Mabel, convinced that her whole arch-rival business with Pacifica was just a one-time thing, comes on and unintentionally steals her thunder by getting the crowd in a USA-loving frenzy.
Pacifica bites back by saying Mabel’s too ridiculous to be a part of Pioneer Day because of how silly she looks and acts. This…surprisingly makes Mabel feel very self-conscious. She tries to act serious but Pacifica humiliates her further in front of everyone, even making fun of her cool nacho earrings (and considering Pacifica has arrowhead earrings on…yeah, she’s a fucking hypocrite). Eventually she’s shooed off the stage in tears. Dipper tries to cheer her up with some butterscotch candies but Mabel can’t shake off what Pacifica said. She was perfectly happy with herself until she realized maybe people see her as nothing but a joke. Mabel’s so upset that she ends up doing the unthinkable.
This gets Dipper mad enough for both of them until he remembers the Journal may hold the key to taking Pacifica down a notch. The Author started documenting a cover-up in the town’s past that could prove Nathaniel Northwest may not be the town founder after all. Dipper’s eager to expose the conspiracy and Mabel tags along because proving a conspiracy means no one can call her silly again. Mystery Twins are go! … but they’re unaware that Sheriff Blubs and Deputy Durland are out to make sure the Northwest’s secret remains just that.
Dipper and Mabel start their investigation at the library where they have a hard time cracking the code left in the Journal until Dipper finds an alchemy symbol for fire that matches the giant triangle encompassing the message, which leads to the obvious conclusion – burn the page and the answer will reveal itself. Mabel can’t resist turning it into a hat before he does.
As she starts berating herself for giving into her silly urges, Dipper points out she actually folded the page into a map that shows the way to the next clue.
The kids overhear Blubs and Durland looking for them and sneak to their next location, the history museum. Fortunately the Journal doesn’t call for them to steal the town declaration, just study an unusual stone sculpture on the wall. Neither of them can figure it out until Mabel sits upside-down and discovers the sculpture is also upside-down. She recognizes it as a replica of an angel at the cemetery which is literally pointing the way for them to go. Blubs and Durland arrive at the museum and give chase but Dipper and Mabel manage to elude them and reach the cemetery. The actual angel seems to be pointing nowhere but when Mabel plays around with its finger she activates a hidden door. After stumbling through a tunnel full of booby traps, Mabel and Dipper reach a room full of historical cover-ups including but not limited to [REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED] and Jim Henson was being puppeteered by Kermit all along. Who knew, right?
On top of all that, the twins learn the truth about Nathaniel Northwest – he was actually the village idiot who shoveled manure for a living, and Gravity Falls’ true founder was one Quentin Trembley the 3rd. Blubs and Durland arrive and arrest them, having followed a trail of butterscotch wrappers that Mabel foolishly left behind. Seeing as how they won’t be able to tell anyone about this, Blubs plays an old film that goes into detail about the cover-up: Quentin Trembley was the 8 and 1/2th President of the United States. He quickly gained the reputation for being the silliest by doing things like appointing babies as Supreme Court judges and declaring war on pancakes (I’d make some kind of joke about Trembley erecting a sort of large fortification structure around IHoP, perhaps one designed to keep neighbors and interlopers out, and maybe even throw in something about Denny’s providing the funds to keep themselves ensconced, but gosh darn it I can’t think of a thing right now).
Trembley was booted out of the White House and founded Gravity Falls, which he named after crashing into the valley it was built in while riding backwards off a cliff. After his mysterious disappearance, all mention of him was erased from US history and the government replaced him with Northwest as the town founder. Blubs and Durland load Dipper and Mabel with all the hidden material – including the recently unearthed body of Quentin Trembley entombed in a block of peanut brittle – on to a train headed for Washington where they’ll be held indefinitely by the FBI. Mabel is feeling down and breaks off a bit of peanut brittle to munch on, which shatters the cube…and releases a very alive Quentin Trembley, who froze himself because he believed peanut brittle has life-sustaining properties. Mabel is thrilled that this supposedly silly man is actually brilliant, and both Dipper and Trembley point out that Mabel’s silliness was what allowed them to find and free Trembley in the first place. With their combined silly brilliance (or “silliance” as I like to call it), Mabel and Trembley try to escape the crate they’re trapped in by squeezing through a tiny hole. Not the best idea, but their wriggling fingers catch the attention of a hungry woodpecker and it pecks the crate apart.
Dipper, Mabel and Trembley are chased by Durland and Blubs until they reach the top of the train. Blubs orders them to surrender but Dipper’s quick thinking saves the day; since Trembley did not officially resign from office, he is still technically the President, so Blubs and Durland have to obey his orders. Trembley tells them to forget everything that happened and go on a nice vacation, which they happily do. Before returning to town, Trembley rewards the twins for their ingenuity by making Mabel an official Congressman and giving Dipper the negative-twelve dollar bill and the President’s Key which unlocks any door.
Mabel tracks down Pacifica and tries to tell her about the conspiracy she’s uncovered, but she would rather keep belittling her than listen. Dipper tells Mabel to show her the papers that prove the Northwest legacy is a fraud, but after everything Mabel has been through, she’s realized that there’s nothing for her to prove. She’s proud of who she is and no one can change that.
Dipper, on the other hand, has learned nothing and he cheerfully pops Pacifica’s bubble himself. With everything resolved, Quentin Trembley departs, vowing to return the day America needs him most. Dipper and Mabel go looking for Grunkle Stan and – oh yeah, what has Stan been up to this whole time?
This is one of my personal favorite episodes of Gravity Falls. If you haven’t guessed by now, Mabel is my favorite character on the show. Her innocence, heart, creativity and just how well-written she is overall makes me love her more every time I see her. She could have easily been an annoying hyperactive kid but for all her quirks she’s still human and hard to hate. Plus, big surprise, seeing her bullied the way she was in this episode was very similar to how I was for most of my youth. I was a silly fun-loving creative kid who was put down by girls just like Pacifica. They took the things I were and made me hate myself for being them. It was a long time before I learned to learn to be happy with who I was, so her struggle is more than identifiable here. It’s personal. Also, this episode gives me the chance to talk about Durland and Blubs, because they are some of the best side characters in the show. Alex Hirsch wanted to create a pair of cops that were the complete opposite of the seasoned officer looking down his nose at his younger inexperienced partner that you’d usually find in other programs, and instead made them the closest friends you could possibly imagine. Every time you see them together they’re so happy to be with each other, whether it’s solving a mystery or bringing ghost stories and friendship bracelets on the train for a sleepover. Their moments make for some of the funniest yet simultaneously heartwarming seconds in the series. It also brings up the question as to exactly how close they are, but that’s one I’ll save that for another time. Quentin Trembley is a great one-off character; he’s like if Baron Munchausen and Willy Wonka had a son that grew up watching nothing but Homestar Runner, and I wish we could have seen more of him in the series. There’s not much going on outside the main plot other than Grunkle Stan being constantly humiliated in the stocks, but that’s all good fun. In the end, “Irrational Treasure” is a fun episode that gives us more of the town’s colorful background, some solid laughs with the side characters, a great unconventional mystery that serves as a fun riff on the National Treasure movies, and a set of heroes we can get behind. Mystery Twins are go!
And the Internet Went:
Mabel’s woobie status for much of the episode earned her a whole lot of fans, and how can you not like the crazy-awesomeness of Quentin Trembley?
End Credits Craziness: Quentin Trembley making a plea to the Supreme Court of babies but not getting through to them, the callous fools.
Callbacks: Apart from Mabel’s rivalry with Pacifica rearing its ugly head and some of the documents alluding to one or two things that either have or will happened, not much. This may be the episode with the fewest callbacks to anything.
Crowning Line of Hilawesomeness: Dipper and Trembley on the subject of the negative-twelve dollar bill – “Whoa, this is worthless.” “It’s less than worthless, my boy!”
Mabel SWatch (Sweater Watch): Purple with a dog playing basketball
Dear Princess Celestabelleabethabelle: The things that make you special are the things that make you strong, no matter how silly other people think they are.
Where’s that wacky triangle at?
It’s your pig, Mabel! Something’s gotta be done about your pig!!…next time in “The Time Traveler’s Pig”. See you then!
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