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.
The episode starts with the Pines watching Grunkle Stan’s favorite wheel-related game show, Cash Wheel. Stan is drawn away from the tv by the arrival of a tour bus. Immediately he snaps into slave driver mode and makes everyone prepare the Mystery Shack for another batch of rubes. Dipper comments that Stan sees tourists as nothing but wallets with legs, but that’s not entirely true…is it?
As the day continues, Stan shows the tourists his cheap-o attractions, including Dipper dressed in an embarrassing wolf costume. When he spies Mabel giving away a bumper sticker, he kicks her off the register. Mabel asks him whatever happened to politeness, but Stan doesn’t even know the meaning of “please” and “thank you”, let alone enjoy saying them. “‘Please’ never made me any money, kid.”
Dipper chimes in with his frustration over the costume and asks why Stan would show off tacky exhibits when there’s actual fantastical things living in the woods. Stan tells them to take it up with the complaints department, which also doubles as the Shack’s garbage can.
Later he has them spruce up the sign on the roof with Wendy and Soos, and they also commiserate over Stan; Wendy wants to have her friends visit while she’s at work but Stan won’t let her, and Soos’ dreams of being the Shack’s new mascot “Questiony the Question Mark” are constantly being shot down. Mabel vows to do something about it. She confronts Grunkle Stan in his office and he lays down a harsh truth – that you can’t run a business without being tough on your employees. If you’re nothing but nice then they’ll walk all over you. As someone who’s seen far too many substitute teachers be carted to the nut house, I can vouch for that fact. Mabel refuses to accept this, however, and insists that a little kindness can go a long way. Stan strikes up a wager – he’ll go on a short vacation and Mabel gets to run the Shack while he’s gone. If she makes more money than he does in three days, the Shack is hers and Stan has to do an apology song and dance. If she doesn’t, then she has to wear a shirt labeled “loser” for the rest of the summer. Mabel, convinced she has the deal in the bag, goes with it, unaware that Stan has a moneymaking scheme of his own: he’s going on Cash Wheel.
The next day, Dipper Mabel and Soos come in to work to find Mabel all prepped for the day. Soos doesn’t take the news that Stan is gone well until Mabel clarifies that he isn’t dead. Using a business handbook from the 80’s –
Mabel has organized a way to keep her employees happy and motivated while putting out maximum effort. Her use of acronyms and stickers feel like something out of every employee orientation I’ve ever been to. If this CEO thing doesn’t work out, then Mabel has a hell of a future in Human Resources. The first thing she does is give her friends everything they want – Dipper’s costume goes in the shredder and he ventures to the woods to capture a creature, Soos gets to be Questiony the Question Mark, and Wendy is allowed to have her friends come over while she’s on duty. Stan, meanwhile, gets to skip auditions because, like certain other obnoxious old men, his rude attention-hogging behavior guarantees that he’ll get as much screen time as possible.
Mabel does a kickass job her first day via montage and we see the results of her new management: Dipper returns with a monster straight from the Journal, the Gremloblin – part gremlin, part goblin. Wendy has fun with her friends, but they end up breaking things and hitting a kid in the eye. Mabel gives his concerned mother a refund and tries to reprimand Wendy for her carelessness, but when Wendy says she’s starting to sound an awful lot like Stan, she caves in and gives her the day off with pay. As for Soos…
Stan for his part is doing well raking in money on the game show, though his obnoxiousness goes to another level when he starts undressing for the “cash shower” prize.
Dipper shows off the Gremloblin to a couple who are less interested in seeing the “fake” monster and more invested in the Shack’s fake dioramas. Dipper steers them back toward the creature with an interesting tidbit; if you look into its eyes, you’ll see your worst nightmare. That should be draw more people in, right?
The Gremloblin should be ok as long as its kept in its cage and under a sheet, but unfortunately Mabel gave the monster the key for its five-minute break and it spends the night and most of the following day destroying the Shack, literally eating its profits, and playing with a singing salmon novelty toy nonstop. With Wendy out with her friends and Soos getting lost in the woods while taking a relaxing nature walk, Dipper and Mabel are the only ones who can stop it. Dipper reads in the Journal that they should use water, which Mabel does…then on the next page it continues that water should be the last resort as it makes the monster more dangerous. It evolves and nearly paralyzes Mabel its fearful gaze, but Dipper uses a mirror to expose its own fears.
The Gremloblin flees as the third day approaches. Wendy and Soos arrive asking if they can take the day off, but Mabel has had enough. She lets them both have it for making her do their jobs for them and screams at them to get to work pronto before Stan returns. Mabel’s attitude doesn’t stop there. She jacks up the price of admission and pictures, put Soos on display as the “Horrifying Question Baby”, and runs Dipper and Wendy ragged.
It all pays off as they make enough money to fix up the Shack, but after they do so there’s only one dollar left in the profit jar – and then Stan returns home. He’s excited to share the news that he won $30,000 on Cash Wheel…but lost it all when he couldn’t guess the final word: please. It turns out that word CAN get you money. That means Mabel has won the bet, but she and the others insist that Grunkle Stan continue running the Mystery Shack. Mabel’s learned her lesson, and Stan has learned the power of politeness. All is right with the world.
Though there is the matter of a certain dance routine Stan promised he’d do…
“Boss Mabel” is a simple straightforward episode, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less fun to watch. Though you could probably guess what happens as the plot progresses, seeing things fall apart for everyone involved is hilarious. I consider the lesson Mabel learns another step forward for her character, and while Stan is still kind of a jerk by the end, that “please” is going to pay off in dividends. Also, what happens when Dipper tries to show off the Gremloblin is an interesting commentary on the nature of tourists and entertainment in general. Fry from Futurama once said something that sums it up nicely: “Smart things make us feel stupid, and unexpected things make us feel scared.” It says a lot that people would rather see the obviously fake and tacky exhibits than something fascinating that they can’t comprehend. Even then, when they first see the Gremloblin, they think it’s not real. They’d rather ignore something new and turn to something comfortable and safe. Who says a children’s cartoon can’t be deep? The jokes and the characters are what really keeps me coming back to this episode, and while I don’t know if I’d put it among my Top 10, it’s pretty close.
And the Internet Went:
A fun little episode that gives us some insight as to why the five main characters of the show work so well, both on their own and with each other, with plenty of laughs to be had. Well done, writers.
End Credits Craziness: Enjoy.
Callbacks: Some of Stan’s exhibits from other episodes make a return. The cloning copy machine is still in his office.
Crowning Line of Hilawesomeness: Mabel’s acronym of S.E.L.V.E.S. to help motivate her employees – “Satisfied Everyday Living life Very much Everyday Satisfied”. It’s something that’s so her and also perfectly in line with the position she’s holding.
Mabel SWatch (Sweater Watch): Burger and fries pattern. Mmm, anyone else feeling hungry?
Dear Princess Celestabelleabethabelle: I’ve learned that sometimes you gotta be cruel to be kind, but don’t lose yourself in order to get ahead either.
Where’s that wacky triangle at?
Next time, tales of horror abound in “Bottomless Pit!”. See you then!
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