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 spending the summer with their Grunkle Stan, who runs a tourist trap called the Mystery Shack along with loyal goofball Soos and the ever-cool Wendy. Dipper finds a journal chronicling some of the unusual happenings and inhabitants of the town, and he vows to unravel Gravity Falls’ mysteries while bonding with his wild sister and cranky Grunkle and crushing hard on Wendy. Mabel, meanwhile, has her heart set on finding love before the summer is over and isn’t picky as long as it’s not the nefarious Gideon Gleeful.
It’s the hottest day of summer, and what better way to spend it than at the public swimming pool… as someone who’s been a summer camp counselor, I can think of a few good places. Yeah, I’m with Grunkle Stan on this one; “Nothing like sitting in a moist tub with strangers. It’s like the bus but wet.” Mabel’s attention is immediately drawn to a handsome teen stranger with flowing locks hanging out by an inflatable raft. Soos tells her he’s never seen him actually leave the pool, which adds to his intrigue. Since Mabel can’t go a week without having a new crush, she sets out to make him hers. Dipper reveals to Soos and Grunkle Stan that for all her boy craziness, she’s never actually had her first kiss yet.
Grunkle Stan gets pelted by water balloons from the lifeguard tower, and it turns out Wendy is the one who’s throwing them. She signed up to be a lifeguard for the privileges and recommends Dipper interview to be an assistant. Dipper, who would do anything to hang out with Wendy in a bathing suit, agrees, but he has to be approved by her boss Mr. Poolcheck first.
Emotionally unstable doesn’t even begin to describe this guy. He feels like he came out of an episode of Ren and Stimpy. The outrageous animation, the hair-trigger temper, the obsession with pool rules, Poolcheck is a character that, ticked off or not, is terrifying and die-hard hilarious.
Grunkle Stan finds the perfect lawn chair to relax in, unfortunately Lil’ Gideon takes it and begins a war of minute proportions between the two. For manhandling Gideon, Wendy locks up Stan in pool jail while she and Dipper go abuse their power. Stan realizes he’s going to have to get tricky if he doesn’t want to end up in solitary.
Mabel begins putting the moves on her crush and he is quickly taken with her as well. When she suggests they go to the snack bar, however, he dramatically tells her he has a terrible secret and she must stay away. This doesn’t stop her from trying to uncover the truth about him, all while being as unsubtle about it as possible. Finally, he reveals it to her.
His name is Mermando, and he is a merman from the Gulf of Mexico. While swimming with the dolphins he was caught in a fisherman’s net and taken to Gravity Falls to be feasted on. He escaped his captivity but his attempts to swim upstream back home failed and he wound up stuck in the pool. He thinks this will scare Mabel away, but this makes her even more enamored with him.
Mabel promises to return that night after the pool closes to spend more time with Mermando. She brings her scrapbook and shows him pictures of her and her family and all the wonderful things they can do with their legs, which Mermando asks if they can skip.
Seeing pictures of the Pines’ together makes Mermando feel homesick for his family. He tried escaping once, but it was as short-lived as it was hilariously painful. He’s not too despondent over being trapped in the pool because he met Mabel, though he’s clueless when it comes to her attempts to kiss him.
The next day Poolcheck pulls Dipper aside after he catches him and Wendy using Blubs and Derland as ring toss targets with the life preservers. He is furious that someone broke in last night and broke the pool skimmer, and he puts Dipper in charge of catching the culprit. Mermando, meanwhile, can’t stop thinking about his family, and Mabel decides that she’s going to break him out that night and get him home.
Dipper goes on a stakeout and he catches who he thinks is the perpetrator – Stan. Turns out he’s only there to get the perfect seat hours before Gideon can steal it, though the idea of messing with pool supplies is one he’ll come back to later. Soos also appears to liberate the inflatable ducky floats (yeah, Wendy and Dipper trick him into thinking they’re alive and he spends the entire episode trying to rescue them. Yes, it’s as funny as it sounds.) While Dipper chases Stan away, Mabel pulls in with the golf cart and a cooler full of water to transport Mermando in since her idea of making a pair of legs out of fish sticks didn’t go as planned.
When Dipper questions her for stealing pool supplies and she refuses to reveal Mermando’s existence, they embark on a high-speed chase to Gravity Falls Lake. Dipper throws water balloons to slow her down and one of them hits the spigot on the cooler, draining the water from it and causing Mermando to start suffocating. Mabel is forced to introduce Dipper and Mermando to each other. She begs him to save Mermando by giving him “reverse-CPR” from his lifeguard training. Dipper gargles water down Mermando’s throat until he’s able to breathe. He thanks Dipper for saving him…but mentions he could have just rolled him into the lake.
Mermando’s throat is too sore from coughing to call out to his family. Mabel wants to give him the pool megaphone but Dipper says that if he loses any more supplies he’ll be fired. Mabel replies with a sentiment that hits very close to home – “Don’t you know what it’s like to fall for someone, even though you know in your heart that probably it’ll never work out, yet you’d do anything for them?” Dipper reluctantly gives it up for love. It’s goodbye for Mabel and Mermando, but he leaves her a couple of things to remember him by: their first kiss, and also this –
They return to find Poolcheck in an even greater rage on seeing the mess the pool area is in. Dipper takes the blame and hands over his whistle. He’s sad about it at first, but Wendy also got fired for taking too many snacks, so they decide to go have fun together elsewhere. Gideon finds Stan on his chair and is willing to concede defeat, but when Stan goes to shake his hand, he can’t move. Gideon gloats that he foresaw his plan and coated the chair in glue before Stan arrived. Mabel, meanwhile, receives the first of several messages in bottles from Mermando, hinting at the beginning of a beautiful long-distance relationship.
This is a fun episode, one of the rare ones in this show that could count as “slice-of-life” in my opinion. Sometimes, if you have the right characters, all you need is to see how they would spend a day by the pool in order to make an entertaining 20 minutes. Gideon and Stan’s escalating rivalry reaches new levels of pettiness, Dipper and Wendy grow closer and raises the question as to how aware she is of his crush on her, and Mabel and Mermando are so over-the-top romantic and goofy that they feel perfectly made for each other. Speaking of, Mermando is voiced by Matt Chapman, a writer on the show who does other miscellaneous voices, though his biggest claim to fame is that he’s one of the creators of Homestar Runner. He lends his voice to Homestar, Strong Bad, and nearly all the characters of Free Country USA, and working with him was a dream come true for Alex Hirsch because he’s a major fan (as evidenced here). I too enjoyed Homestar back when the site was something of an underground viral favorite, and learning that one of the men behind it was one of Gravity Fall’s top writers made me love this series even more. It also explains some of the really bizarre fast moments of comedy that appear every now and then that I can’t cover in reviews because they’re best enjoyed when they play out in front of you.
Also, a word to the wise if you plan on watching this episode: shortly after it aired, the Disney Channel demanded a line change from Grunkle Stan. When he tries to reflect some light on to Gideon to get him off of his chair, he says “Yes, burn the child…” It was revised to “Blind the child”, which makes more sense, but I find the previous line is funnier and more in line with Grunkle Stan’s character. Some online versions of the episode still keep the line. It’s a minor change, but one I felt worth mentioning.
And the Internet Went:
Another fun romp with the Pines family. What more could you ask for?
End Credits Craziness:
Keep strong, little guy in solitary. Keep strong.
Callbacks: Wax Grunkle Stan makes an appearance in the opening stinger to prove how hot it is by melting. Mabel mentions Norman in both “zombie” and gnome form when listing off potential weird boyfriends she already had before meeting Mermando (though the “cute vampires” she didn’t tell Dipper about have yet to make an appearance). Also, after a long absence, Tyler “Get ‘im!” Cutebiker is back!
Crowning Line of Hilawesomeness: The capper to Mermando describing his humiliating escape attempt: “…And then the wolves came.”
Mabel SWatch (Sweater Watch): She’s in a bathing suit for most of the episode, but in the last act she’s in a blue sweater with bubbles and a sea horse on it. Appropriate for this episode.
Dear Princess Celestabelleabethabelle: I learned…ah, I got nothing for this one. I’m gonna go count down the minutes until summer is here.
Where’s that wacky triangle at?
Next time on Gravity Falls, seize the rug! It’s “Carpet Diem”. See you then!
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