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 in the small town of Gravity Falls, where their Grunkle Stan runs a tourist trap called the Mystery Shack. On his first day there, Dipper uncovers a journal that chronicles some of the unusual happenings and inhabitants of the town. While unraveling the mysteries of Gravity Falls with Mabel and their friends, Dipper must also keep Gideon, a fake psychic who’s Stan’s business rival, from stealing the Mystery Shack at all costs.
Before we get the review underway, there’s something I haven’t been completely honest about that I need to confess. I do my reviews on my own, by myself, with little to no input from others – or at least I thought I did.
You might recall some weird codes appearing at the bottom of each Gravity Falls review, usually spelling out some stupid stuff.
Well…I didn’t write those.
I don’t know who’s doing them or why, but if I finish writing a review one night and go to bed then by morning they’re in there. I didn’t really question it until one time it didn’t show up. Someone asked why and as I was writing a response I blacked out. When I came to, there it was. And what it translated out to was…unsettling. Add that on top of some weird and frankly disturbing dreams I’ve been having as of late and I’m starting to get a little wary of supernatural-related things.
So let’s get this over with, all right?
It’s a dark and stormy night. Grunkle Stan calls Dipper and Mabel away from their game to laugh at a cheap commercial for Gideon Gleeful’s Tent of Telepathy playing on TV. The commercial ends announcing that a second location will be opening soon – right where the Mystery Shack is now standing. Dipper is concerned but Stan says the only way Gideon could get the Mystery Shack was if he broke in and stole the deed, which, by a staggering coincidence, Gideon is in the middle of doing. They catch him in the act and Stan chases him out with a broom. Something that cracks me up the more I think about it is Gideon crying out “Oh no, not the broom!” because it feels like this exact thing has happened countless times before. Stan locks the deed in a safe declaring the only place he keeps the combination is in his brain, the one place Gideon can never get into. What none of them know is that this recent humiliation has forced Gideon to unleash the most powerful – and dangerous – secret in his Journal to settle the score.
Back at the Shack Mabel tries to get everyone to watch her favorite radical 80’s movie “Dream Boy High” when Soos informs them a bat has gotten into the kitchen. Without hesitating Grunkle Stan makes Dipper go deal with the problem. Dipper, who’s sick of always being pushed around by Stan whenever there’s a mess to be cleaned, stands up to him, but backs off after Stan wins an epic stare-down competition. Later, as Soos swabs on disinfectant and Dipper prays to God that he doesn’t have rabies, he wonders why Stan always seems to pick on him and no one else. Soos writes it off as another one of the Shack’s mysteries and he and Mabel run off to fool around some more.
In the woods Gideon undergoes a ritual to summon forth the mysterious triangular being, unaware that Mabel and Soos have stumbled across him. Gideon becomes possessed and speaks in tongues, the forest turns black and white and time slows down to nothing. And out of the sky appears –
Don’t be fooled by the cute little bow tie and hat, people. This is Bill Cipher, one of the deadliest and most cunning demons this side of the multiverse.
Wait, did it just…
No, no, it’s just a picture. It’s ok. Everything’s fine. I have a firm grasp on reality and my dreams are just dreams and nothing more. Moving on.
Bill informs Gideon he knows who he is and gives him a gift of teeth ripped from a living deer’s mouth as his way of greeting, which Gideon finds horrifying (clearly he doesn’t know that’s the usual form of salutation in Washington DC). Gideon lays down his demands – he wants Bill to enter Stan Pine’s mind and steal the combination to his safe. At the mention of Stan’s name Bill Bill agrees to do it if Gideon promises to help him out with a “project” Bill has in the works. They seal the pact with a handshake that engulfs their hands in demonic blue fire.
Bill vanishes and Soos and Mabel run back to the Shack to warn Stan. Dipper is doing more cleaning for Stan when they come in and tell him the news. The image of a “triangle guy” sounds familiar to Dipper and he consults his Journal. Inside is an entry on Bill, which lists him as the most dangerous creature the Author has ever encountered.
JESUS WHAT THE –
…No, it’s cool. You can do this. You can do this.
Bill chooses that moment to possess a sleeping Stan, and honestly it’s a little horrifying. You see Bill’s shadow lowering over Stan before he screams in terror and his eyes pop open revealing nothing but two glowing white voids. Mabel finds an incantation in the Journal that will let them travel into Stan’s mind and hopefully stop Bill’s chaos, but Dipper, in spite of seeing an unspeakable force of evil take hold of his great-uncle as he sleeps, is reluctant to do anything. After doing a bunch of menial chores for Stan he’s sick of having to do more things for him and is willing to let him stay possessed. It’s only when Mabel mentions Gideon’s behind it as part of his ploy to take over the Mystery Shack does Dipper shrug and say “Ugh, fine.”
The three set up their own candlelit ritual similar to Gideon’s summoning and with the magic words poof into Stan’s ruined mindscape.
The representation of Stan’s mind and the Mystery Shack is spooky, surreal, and perfect. There are lots of shadows and weird angles, a creepy derelict swingset, and other little details that hint nothing is as it seems in the world of Stan Pines.
Bill appears and in his infinite knowledge recognizes them too, but refers to Mabel, Dipper and Soos as “Shooting Star”, “Pine Tree” and “Question Mark” respectively. He informs them that inside the Shack are countless doors leading to Stan’s memories, one of them being Stan putting in the code to the safe, and he challenges them to find it before he can. Then to mess with them further he blasts a hole through Dipper’s chest and makes Xyler and Craz, the “dream boys” from Mabel’s video (Alex Hirsch and Matt Chapman) appear to flirt with her. Mabel recruits their help and they begin their search in the winding maze of Stan’s memories. Most of them are scenes we’ve seen play out in the series before, but some, like Stan doing time in a Columbian prison, going on a date with Lazy Susan, and his failure as a door-to-door salesman are new.
Dipper comes across a door marked “Dipper Memories”, but Soos insists that he Dipper can’t resist seeing just what Stan really thinks of him and ventures inside. He chooses one door which features Stan forcing Dipper to chop some wood while he and Soos watch. Soos asks Stan why he’s always so hard on his great-nephew and Dipper overhears Stan say “The kid’s weak. He’s a loser. I just want to get rid of him.”
Meanwhile as the search continues, Soos finds Stan punching in a code to the vending machine. It opens, revealing a secret door. Stan wonders aloud what would happen if people knew he had a hidden –
Ah, who care about those little details. I’ve got a review to do.
Mabel realizes that if they want to find this memory they have to think like Stan does, and comes to the conclusion that the memory must be hidden under the most obvious place where Stan doesn’t want things found – the rug! Sure enough they do find it there, and Soos insists on destroying it himself since he’s the strongest of the five. Mabel gives it to him just in time for Soos to come back from searching a different part of the Shack wait WHAT?!
Of course! How could I have been so blind? The Soos that’s been helping them all along is really…
…Anti-Soos from the Tent of Telepathy!
I get this all the time from Cynicism, I don’t need it from you! Wait, why am I talking to a screencap? Oh Lord I’m glad I’m halfway through this.
Bill flees with the combination in time for Dipper to return, but he refuses to help the others based on what he saw in Stan’s memory. Mabel tells him it’s not important now and THEY ARE GOING TO LOSE THE FUCKING SHACK IF THEY DON’T DO SOMETHING, but Dipper tells them this is Stan’s problem, not his.
Fuck you too, Dipper.
No, seriously, your home and friends’ and family’s livelihood is about to be stolen and you’re willing to let it happen because you think your uncle is a prick. That is the most selfish excuse I can ever think of. You may think you’re standing up for yourself, but really, you’re not, and I should know. My ex was a whiny little patsy who felt his whole family was against him because he wanted to be a filmmaker instead of following the family accounting business (which, granted, wasn’t entirely false) but instead of proving them wrong by focusing on his dream, he thought he was being rebellious and a real man by barely socializing with them at gatherings, or flat-out insulting them to their faces, or not getting a real job and keeping it, or dragging his girlfriend in the middle of his issues and crying that I wasn’t on his side when I tried to play devil’s advocate and you get the idea. The point is letting your loved ones’ lives be ruined because you’ve got a hangup with one doesn’t make you a hero. It makes you a douche. And when freaking Soos, the nicest guy in the room, tells you that you’re doing isn’t cool, you should KNOW that it isn’t fucking cool.
Bill starts reading the code to Gideon but Mabel catches up and shoots it out of his hands with a dart gun, knocking it into a memory of the Bottomless Pit. Gideon angrily calls off the deal and announces he’s moving on to a new plan. Bill is infuriated that his scheme is ruined and quickly turns his wrath on the four of them.
Dipper, meanwhile, is looking for a way out and stumbles across the earlier memory of Stan. Before he can shut the door he hears “He’s a loser, he’s weak, I just want to get rid of him…those are all things people said about me when I was a boy.” Intrigued, Dipper listens to Stan tell Soos about how he was a big wimp when he was Dipper’s age and got beaten up a lot. Memory doors start opening up revealing that he isn’t lying. It got to the point where Stan’s father signed him up for boxing lessons to defend himself. Though he initially got his ass handed to him even more, they paid off, even allowing Stan to save a girl from a mugger. What he thought was torture from his old man was really a favor for him.
“That’s why I’m hard on Dipper. To toughen him up so when the world fights, he fights back […] When push comes to shove, I’m proud of him. Just don’t ever tell him that. Kid’s got a big enough head as it is.”
Dipper is so moved that he accidentally stumbles into the memory itself. Stan doesn’t really question why there’s two of him, but he does fix the hole in Dipper’s chest (symbolism, perhaps?) Dipper asks how he did that and Stan reminds him that anything is possible within the mind. The sounds of Bill’s maniacal laughter and Mabel and Soos’ screams reminds Dipper his friends are in trouble and he goes to save them.
Bill has trapped Soos, Mabel, Xyler and Craz on a platform above a black hole where he is subjecting them to their worst nightmares – Soos is tormented by an anthropomorphic British bulldog, Mabel has her cuteness stolen from her and her dream boys are blasted into oblivion.
I can’t take this anymore! Why are you torturing me?! I’m just trying to do a review!!
Please, I don’t know what I did to piss you off but make it stop and leave me alone!! I’ll do anything!!!
I made a promise to see this series through to the end. You may be messing with my mind, but no flaming dorito is gonna stop me from finishing this episode, even if he has all the powers of hell on his side!
Before he can deliver the final blow, Dipper flies up and blasts a hole through Bill. He tells Soos and Mabel that they can conjure up anything they think of while in the mindscape, and they use the power of imagination to fend him off with some kickass fighting moves like kitten fists and hamster ball shields.
Wait a minute, Bill is an incorporeal being. He can only torment people in their minds when their asleep.
…I’ve been dreaming this whole time! This review is happening in my sleep!
And that means…oh, you demons had this coming a long time.
Finally they all create a portal that will whisk Bill from Stan’s mind forever. Before that can happen Bill banishes the scene entirely, leaving them all in a floating white void. He admits that he underestimated the three and he’ll leave them with a warning – a day will come when everything they know and care about will change, and until then he’ll be watching and waiting. Bill vanishes, and with Grunkle Stan about to wake up, Mabel has to say goodbye to her dream boys. They reawaken in the Mystery Shack safe and sound with Grunkle Stan none the wiser for what happened (but very confused as to why he dreamed of two teenage hunks).
And it looks like everything is wrapped up nicely…
…until Gideon sets off the dynamite.
Since trickery didn’t work he turned to Plan B, brute force. With the door blown off the safe, Gideon now has the deed to the Mystery Shack, and demolition has begun. Immediately.
“Dreamscaperers” is a creative episode that feels like a perfect Part 1 for the season finale. It has fun with memories and mind-wandering tropes while providing some creepy atmosphere and visuals. Admittedly on rewatching it I realized how much of a jerk Dipper is in this one, almost letting Gideon and Bill win because of his hatred of Stan, and that kind of affected my original more positive thoughts. It’s true Grunkle Stan is a jerk who made Dipper do the brunt of the work and we’re supposed to feel bad for him, but the way Dipper goes about it once the shoe is on the other foot is really cold. Still, this episode is a good look at how they both view each other and their relationship. When Dipper comes around to Stan you can see that he means it. We also get a glimpse into Stan’s past that explains quite a bit about why he’s the way he is, with plenty of hints towards the future if you know where to look. The episode is paced well, the climax is awesome, and that cliffhanger at the very end is such a punch to the gut, and the perfect way to lead into the Part 2 that is the season finale.
And of course how can I not mention that it’s a great introduction to the series’ biggest antagonist, the funny and purely demonic Bill Cipher?
There! I finished! What do you have to say to that, chippy?
And the Internet Went:
And that’s just the reaction to Bill Cipher.
End Credits Craziness: A slow eerie version of the theme song plays over a view of the forest, where the knotholes in the trees look like very suspicious eyes…
Callbacks: Grunkle Stan’s mind is full of this, from mentioning his jail time in Colombia, to the Bottomless Pit. Xyler and Craz made their first appearance in Mabel’s hamster ball fantasy back in “Legend of the Gobblewonker” and now they play a big part here, same with the life-size hamster ball now multiplied by three.
Crowning Line of Hilawesomeness: UHDOLWB LV DQ LOOXVLRQ WKH XQLYHUVH LV D KRORJUDP EXB JROG EBBBHHHHHH!!!!
Mabel SWatch (Sweater Watch): A pretty pink and purple sunset.
Dear Princess Celestabelleabethabelle: For the love of God make sure you know the full story before you condemn your family to wrath and ruin. Also see Crowning Line of Hilawesomeness.
Where’s that wacky triangle at?
Next time on Gravity Falls, things come to a head in the season finale, “Gideon Rises”. Now if you’ll excuse me I’m gonna try to find some way to deal with this head-messing dream business.
23-5-12-12, 20-8-1-20 23-1-19 6-21-14. 19-8-5 19-8-15-21-12-4 18-5-1-12-12-25 7-5-20 2-1-3-11 20-15 20-8-5 2-9-7 2-12-21-5 23-5-20 20-8-9-14-7, 4-15-14’20-3-8-1 20-8-9-14-11?