If you’re new to the blog or just want to revisit Gravity Falls from the beginning, click HERE to read the review for “Tourist Trapped”.
Previously on Gravity Falls:
Twelve year-old twins Dipper and Mabel Pines are spending the summer in Gravity Falls, Oregon, a little town where the strange and supernatural are almost everyday occurrences. When Dipper’s not trying to learn the identity of the Author of the enigmatic Journal that’s been aiding him in his adventures, or Mabel isn’t crushing on a new boy, they’re evading ghosts, monsters, zombies, living mini-golf balls, and attracting the attention of a powerful demon who once sought to wreck their great-uncle’s mind…
After days of tuning up, Soos has the laptop he found in the Author’s bunker in working condition. The only problem is it needs a password in order for Dipper to unlock it and hopefully learn more about the Author of the Journal. He and Mabel decide to sleuth some potential passwords in the Gravity Falls library. Mabel promises her complete undivided attention on the task at hand – but then she sees him.Mabel introduces herself to the teenage puppet master, Gabe Bensen (Matt Chapman). Gabe asks if she shares an interest in puppets and Mabel is so desperate to impress him that she tells him she’s planning a big sock puppet show for that weekend. Mabel begs Dipper to help her, promising that it will only be a few days of work. Reluctantly he agrees, even though it means taking time away from digging into the laptop. They go home to get started, unaware that they’re not alone.
So Dipper and Mabel make headway on Mabel’s sock puppets, and Dipper works on finding the laptop’s password late at night. Mabel urges him to get some rest as he’s too exhausted to do anything the following morning when he’s too sleep deprived. Dipper takes his laptop to the Mystery Shack roof to get some peace and quiet, but he’s still unsuccessful. If only there were someone who knew a thing or two about codes…
Oh joy, look who’s back.Listen pal, I’m only tolerating your presence here because you’re in the episode. You can’t mess with my head anymore and I know your weak points. If you even THINK about raising an evil tree from the dead you’ll have to crawl your way back to your own dimension. How droll. Now beat it before I call the Dream Warriors. So Bill says hello in his usual way by giving Dipper a screaming disembodied head that dissolves into nothing. Dipper wants nothing to do with Bill after he worked with Gideon to destroy them and Grunkle Stan’s mind, but Bill says he’s only there because he’s impressed by Dipper’s persistence in uncovering the laptop’s mysteries. He even offers to help in exchange for a favor. Dipper’s too smart to accept, however, but Bill promises that he’ll be keeping an eye on him in case he changes his mind. He also does a perfect impression of Dipper screaming that causes him to wake up screaming.
Dipper heads down to breakfast looking more tired than he was before he went to sleep. He tells Mabel about his dream with Bill, but promises that he trusts that triangle as far he could throw him. Mabel assures Dipper that today’s the day she’s going to help him crack the laptop code since she’s handing the rest of the work over to her production crew of Candy and Grenda…until Gabe checks in and blabs about how he deleted a girl from his contacts because she was inconsistent with her puppet design (“Single stitch on one puppet, cross-stitch on the other?! I was like, nuh-uh!”)Mabel goes into panic mode and reneges on her deal with Dipper so her puppet show will be up to Gabe’s abnormally high standards. Dipper rightfully calls her out on ditching him for her crush of the week, though Mabel isn’t entirely wrong when she points out how his obsession with the laptop is taking a toll on his health (“You look like a vampire, and not the hot kind!”) Dipper brushes off her attempts to win him back with tickles – oh yeah, forgot to mention we learn Dipper is super ticklish and Mabel knows all his weak points – and vamooses.
Alone in the attic, Dipper attempts to unlock the laptop, but his frustration with Mabel interferes with his concentration. After one too many failed entries, a warning pops up that all data will be erased in less than five minutes unless his last guess is the correct one. And speaking of time, Bill chooses to reappear at that perfect moment to reopen his offer. Dipper is more inclined to listen now in spite of the ticking clock. Bill says he’ll help with the laptop in exchange for one thing – a puppet. He reminds Dipper that for all the sacrifices he’s made for his sister, she’s never returned the favor; so what’s the harm of one of her puppets going missing? It’s a small price to pay to learn the secrets of the Author that she never helped him find.
With the clock almost at zero, Dipper shakes Bill’s hand.
Dipper casually asks which puppet Bill is going to take. Bill replies “Hmm, let’s see. Eenie, meenie, miney…”Dipper’s soul is ripped from his body and is helpless to watch as Bill takes control and smashes the laptop. He realizes too late that Bill was using him to make sure he never came any closer to finding out more about the Author. Bill tells him all he needs to do is destroy the Journal and he’ll won’t be able to interfere with his big plans for the future. He quickly grows accustomed to his new body and enjoys inflicting as much pain on himself as possible (“Pain is hilarious!”) Bill searches high and low for the Journal, but Dipper says he’ll never find it – until Mabel comes in, tells her “brother” that she borrowed it to use as a prop in the show without asking and leaves just as quickly. Dipper tries to warn her, but since he’s essentially a ghost now nobody can hear or see him, a fact Bill takes far too much glee from.
Once the Pines reach the theater Mabel realizes that there’s no one to play the part of the Preacher for the wedding finale. Bill volunteers so he can get closer to the Journal. With the stage set and Gabe sitting front row center, the show begins. It’s as unsubtle, crazy, over-the-top and colorful as, well, Mabel. It goes over well and Mabel takes a break in her dressing room at intermission. By this point Dipper has figured out that without some kind of vessel he can’t hope to make contact with anyone and he finds the perfect way to reach Mabel – through a puppet version of himself. Mabel is unsurprisingly terrified until she recognizes her brother. Dipper urges her to find the Journal to help get his body back. Then Gabe appears to let Mabel know how much he’s digging the show, and he’d like to take her out should it end on a high note. Mabel asks Dipper if it can wait until after the show but come on, how can you resist this?
Dipper takes control of the puppets on stage while Mabel fetches the Journal from a wedding cake hanging from the rafters. Unfortunately Bill-Dipper (or Bipper for short) has her cornered in the second scariest reveal of the episode.
Mabel refuses to hand over the Journal but Bipper twists the knife, reminding her that she never had a problem taking things from her brother before or ditching him when he needed her most. He tells her to give him the book or he’ll make sure the opera is ruined. Mabel is about to hand it over when Bipper gloats “Who would sacrifice everything they’ve worked for just for their dumb sibling?”
Mabel has only one answer to that:
Mabel grabs back the journal and she and Bipper fall to the stage. They wrestle over it, confusing the audience (not Grunkle Stan though; kids fighting always regains his interest). Mabel uses her knowledge of Dipper’s ticklish spots to beat this demon of infinite energy and outruns him as the fatigue from Dipper’s pain-riddled and sleep-deprived body finally catches up to him. At last Bill gives up and collapses, and Dipper seizes the opportunity to steal his body back.
Bill seizes control of the Dipper puppet and shouts that they can’t keep thwarting his plans forever. He doesn’t realize that he’s perched on a crate of fireworks meant for the finale. Though it means destroying everything she worked for, Mabel activates them and blows Bill and all her puppets sky high. It’s okay though, when this kind of thing happens the audience always thinks it’s part of the show and loves it right?
Actually no. The audience boos and leaves in disgust. Had it not been for Mabel foreshadowing it I wouldn’t have seen it coming. Gabe is among the furious attendees, though at least he’s got his puppets to fall back on.Dipper tries to apologize for ruining the show, but Mabel won’t let him finish. Through her last remaining puppet she says she’s sorry for not putting her brother first and they depart the theater together.
This is one of my top ten favorite episodes, bar none. Not just because it’s a very Mabel-centric episode, not just because Bill makes his glorious return, and not just because it delves further into Dipper and Mabel’s relationship and repairs what many consider its biggest flaw, but because it does all three in a creative, theatrical, and, well, operatic way. I confess I’m a bit of an opera lover, and the whole storyline is rich with drama, sacrifice and heartbreak that you usually find in one. Now I’ve gone on quite a bit about how I love Mabel and her relationship with Dipper is the best brother-sister one I’ve ever seen, though there are plenty of outspoken critics that have complained about Mabel being selfish and that she hasn’t made the same sacrifices for Dipper that he did for her yet. There are plenty of other experiences that have proven Mabel truly does love her brother so I’d never write her off as totally selfish or at all heartless, but I will afreee that this episode was the kick in the pants she needed to realize just how much her brother has done for her. I’m proud of her giving up her “dream” guy in such a spectacular way and that the writers didn’t cop out in the end by keeping Gabe around (he was a puppet-kissing tool anyway). It’s a big step forward in her character that we all can embrace – unless you’re one of those people who say she regressed by the finale but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.
Now let’s talk about Bill. In the space between “Dreamscaperers” and this episode” fans have speculated the part he would play in things to come, with some hoping his alignment would be more chaotic neutral or good than his first appearance. Safe to say this episode proved them wrong. “Dreamscaperers” may have only hinted at his dark side, but “Sock Opera” gave us a great show of his unadulterated villainy. In fact, the Journal entry on this episode takes it a step further – apparently Mabel found a note in the car on the way home from the opera that Bipper wrote earlier saying that once he destroyed the Journal he was going to throw Dipper’s body off the water tower so he would have no way of returning to the physical world and people would think he went crazy and committed suicide…and asks if she wants to join him next. This triangle can be bone-chilling terror incarnate – and yet side-splitting funny at the same time. Bill’s penchant for darker-than-black comedy is in full force and seeing these two sides of his personality come into play is one of the episode’s best qualities. This with everything previously mentioned makes “Sock Opera” worthy of a standing ovation.
And the Internet Went:
End Credits Craziness: Um…just watch.
Callbacks: Mabel and Dipper visit the Gravity Falls Library and refer to themselves as the Mystery Twins for the first time since “Irrational Treasure”. Mabel brings up her failed romance with Mermando from “The Deep End”. Bill shows clips of Dipper’s sacrifices made for Mabel in “Tourist Trapped”, “The Time Traveler’s Pig” and “The Deep End” when tempting him into his deal. He also calls Dipper “Pine Tree” as he did in “Dreamscaperers”. The carpet from “Carpet Diem” and the pinball machine from “Bottomless Pit!” are stashed in the attic. Mabel’s mug from “Boss Mabel” pops up, as do her sweaters from “Legend of the Gobblewonker”, “The Hand That Rocks the Mabel”, “Fight Fighters” and “Bottomless Pit!”. Blink and you’ll miss a transmitter left behind by the agents hidden in between the floors of the Mystery Shack when Dipper passes through them in ghost form. And of course, the “Eenie, meenie, miney, You” from “Tourist Trapped” is used here in a more horrifying context.
Crowning Line of Hilawesomeness: One of the ultimate black comedy lines in the show belongs to Bill: “Hey Soos, wanna know the exact time and date of your death?”
Mabel SWatch (Sweater Watch): Pink with a horse with a yarn mane sewn on, the heart with sunglasses from “The Legend of the Gobblewonker”, the blue umbrella sweater from “The Hand That Rocks the Mabel”, the four leaf clover sweater from “Fight Fighters”, and the watermelon sweater from “Bottomless Pit!”
Dear Princess Celestabelleabethabelle: I’ve learned to know what your priorities are – and one of them should be to never trust obviously evil geometrical entities.
Have You Seen the Agents?
Agents Power and Trigger are secretly enjoying the show – unless they’re there for more nefarious purposes…
Where’s that wacky triangle at?
Next time on Gravity Falls, it’s date night for one of Gravity Falls’ most eligible bachelors. See you in two weeks when I’ll be reviewing Soos and the Real Girl.