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:
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 trying to start the perfect summer romance, 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…
Leave him be, officer. I’m not pressing charges – as long as this sort of thing doesn’t happen to every tourist whose car breaks down on the side of the road in the middle of the night, right Stanford?
Of course. By the way, hope you enjoyed this opening because it’s the only part of the review you’re appearing in this week.
You’re barely even in this episode. Consider yourself lucky I’m such a big fan of the Mystery Shack that I’m not suing.
Oh officer, all this stress of spending over two weeks in a glass box is getting to me! I think I’m about to swoon!
So we open with Lazy Susan closing the local diner for the night and having a close encounter with the gnomes and their leader Jeff as they steal a pie off her windowsill. Terrified by the little freaks, she calls for help on a nearby pay phone but is absconded by hooded men in strange cloaks leaving behind an unusual symbol…
Meanwhile Dipper is overlooking a board he constructed of the Author’s possible identities. He’s no closer to finding him or her than when he began, however. Mabel interrupts with a message in a bottle she received from her long-distance boyfriend Mermando the merman. She hopes that this will finally be the letter where he proclaims his undying love and swims back to Gravity Falls to see her again, but sadly it’s the opposite of that – he’s being forced into an arranged marriage with the Queen of the Manatees in order to prevent a civil war in his kingdom.
A heartbroken Mabel shows Dipper a page in her scrapbook dedicated to what she hoped would be her first summer romance. Instead of true love all she’s found were posers –
Boy bands –
And a guy who makes out with his own hands.
With her parade of failed romances taunting her, Mabel wishes she could forget about them all. Dipper tries to console her with the fact that his search for the Author has been a bust, especially since the laptop he hoped would hold the answers was smashed. Then Mabel spies something through the bottle and urges Dipper to look. A miniature plate is sticking out of the computer’s remains, and a name is engraved on it – McGucket Labs. After rewiring the board with all his evidence, Dipper is aghast at the most obvious if unexpected conclusion –
Crazy old hillbilly Old Man McGucket wrote the Journal.
Dipper and Mabel grab Soos and Wendy and drag them to the dump where McGucket resides. He’s happy to have visitors (ones that aren’t vandalizing his shack at least). Dipper tells him he can drop the hick act and confronts him about the Journal and the laptop. McGucket doesn’t have a clue what he’s talking about though. In his mind he’s a nobody and always has been. He’s a town joke and he can barely remember anything from from the past thirty years, so that must mean he’s done nothing worth remembering. Dipper tries to show him some Journal pages to refresh his memory. It doesn’t seem to work until he flips to one particular image.
McGucket starts ranting about “The Blind Eye” and men in robes who did something to him. Unfortunately he doesn’t remember much else. The gang pieces together that maybe McGucket saw something he wasn’t meant to and someone messed with his mind to cover it up. After searching through his stash of newspaper clippings McGucket finds what he thinks is his earliest memory, him being found stranded and confused outside the History Museum, so that’s where they’re head to.
The five search the museum for possible clues and Soos catches a shadowy figure on the run. They chase it into a room filled with nothing but eyes. All of them seem to be staring at McGucket. Dipper realizes they’re all focused on one particular artifact, an eye carved in stone. He pushes it and it opens a secret passage in the fireplace. At the end is a large underground room where a group of cloaked men chant ominously.
Their leader has Lazy Susan brought in, locks her into a chair and demands to know what she has seen. She tells them about the gnomes. The man types it into a strange kind of gun with a light bulb attached and assures her that she’ll never have to worry about them again. The men close their hoods and he fires the gun at Lazy Susan, wiping her memory in a bright flash.
So we open with Lazy Susan closing the local diner for the night and having a close encounter with the gnomes and their leader Jeff as they steal a pie off her windowsill. Terrified by the little men, she calls for help on a nearby pay phone but is absconded by –
Wait, didn’t I do this already?
Oh, right. The episode.
A reel of Lazy Susan’s memories are sent out of the chamber through a pneumatic tube and the confused woman is sent on her way. With the meeting adjourned, Dipper, Soos and McGucket look for the Hall of the Forgotten to find McGucket’s stolen memories while Wendy and Mabel stay behind to make sure the evil society guys don’t come back.
Mabel opens up to Wendy about her poor love life and wonders why guys always leave her. Wendy volunteers to judge her opener and even pretends to be a guy for her to come on to.
Wendy approves of Mabel’s unorthodox flirting methods and tells her to just forget about her past crushes, but Mabel has an epiphany; she can use the gun to erase her memories of her past romances. Wendy isn’t sure it’s a good idea since something like that could unintentionally wipe out half her brain, but Mabel convinces her otherwise when she brings up the possibility of removing that one annoying summer hit that’s been playing over and over in her head.
After being chased by some of the Blind Eye guys, Dipper, McGucket and Soos find the hall where thousands of memories of the citizens of Gravity Falls are being held. Dipper watches one of Robbie where he is made to forget about his buttwhoopin’ at the hands of Rumble McSkirmish, but still doesn’t answer the question of why people’s memories are being erased. McGucket finds a container of his memories on a high shelf; unfortunately removing it triggers an alarm. The three split up but Soos and Dipper are caught.
The Blind Eye thugs tie up the prisoners and since they plan on erasing their memories anyway they reveal themselves.
Sadsack reporter Toby Determined, Gideon’s father Bud Gleeful, the club bouncer Tats, witch-hunting Farmer Sprott, and the guy who married a woodpecker on Pioneer Day; all citizens of Gravity Falls. And at the center is their leader, Blind Ivan (Peter Serafinowitcz). Ivan tells them of the society’s origins, how their founder, a man they can’t remember since they used the ray on themselves so much, sought to bring peace of mind to Gravity Falls since the citizens were once aware and afraid of the supernatural things they came across daily but had no idea what to do about them . He formed the Society of the Blind Eye, where people can now live in blissful ignorance thanks to the memory ray, and, as a bonus, help the society’s members forget things in their lives that make them unhappy (Shandra Jiminez’ rejections, Gideon’s tantrums, etc.)
Dipper asks if they feel any guilty whatsoever for ruining peoples’ lives like Old Man McGucket. Ivan admits maybe he does, but he zaps himself with the ray to make him forget about that. He prepares the ray gun to erase their memories of the entire summer but McGucket swoops in to save the day with weapons he raided from the museum. They have a fun battle and play keep-away with McGucket’s memory tube though it ultimately winds up in Ivan’s hands. Ivan warms up the gun and points it at Dipper. Just as the ray is about to hit him, someone pushes him out of the way – Old Man McGucket.
He takes two full blasts to the face, but he doesn’t flinch. Instead he keeps on marching towards a confused and terrified Ivan. “Hit me with your best short, Baldy! My mind’s been gone for thirty years. You can’t fix what’s already broken!!” he crows before slapping the gun from his hands And with a single blow to the head, McGucket knocks him out cold.
With the Society all tied up, Dipper uses the gun to erase all memories of it from their minds. The former members walk out of the museum in a daze having apparently enjoyed Gold Miner Appreciation Night. Ivan, whose identity is so deeply entrenched in the Society that he literally has no idea who he is now, finds contentment with the new one Mabel bequeaths him: Toot-Toot McBumbersnazzle, wandering banjo minstrel.
Everyone returns to the Hall of the Forgotten and settle in to find what it is that the Society wanted to keep McGucket from remembering. The old man is understandably nervous about what he might find, but goes through with watching it. It plays out like a videotape: The first memory shows Fiddleford McGucket thirty years younger in his homemade lab. He confesses that he was the assistant of a researcher and scientist who came to Gravity Falls six years ago and chronicled his findings in a series of Journals.
After an experiment with a machine meant to better mankind went catastrophically wrong, McGucket was overcome with remorse and quit, but was still haunted by the effects of his and the Author’s unethical work. To that effect he created a prototype for a ray gun that should be able to erase any memory that you want to forget. He tests it out and it works.
And from there it’s a series of entries chronicling his steep descent into amnesia-fueled madness through the form of extreme hillbilly tics.
Any time McGucket sees something that even remotely reminds him of what he’s done, he uses the ray on himself. This includes anything out of the ordinary that’s commonplace in Gravity Falls.
He forms the Society of the Blind Eye to help the citizens of Gravity Falls forget what they have seen as well.
McGucket grows more paranoid and erratic with each zap. His lab is in shambles, his normal conservative appearance is rapidly falling apart and his speech is full of stutters and lapses in vocabulary. He begins to wonder if the ray has any negative side effects.
And it ends with a once brilliant mind now dressed in scarecrow rags scrounging for food in the dump spouting gibberish.
Needless to say everyone is in shock. McGucket, on the other hand, is glad that he is finally able to remember everything, even the bad stuff. He sums up that despite the mistakes he may have made he knows who he is now. This convinces Mabel that learning from the bad things in the past is better than pretending they never happened and she decides not to erase the memories of her old romances. McGucket thanks Dipper by doing what he can to regain his memories of the Author, starting by fixing his laptop.
I think “Society of the Blind Eye” is a prime example of two of Gravity Falls’ best traits: excellent setup and payoff, and character development. Looking back at Season One it seems an unusual choice to make the local hobo crackpot capable of designing, building and operating giant robotic machinery, but most fans viewed it as either a punchline or a possible clue to the Author’s identity. Now in Season 2, we have the answers to both. Gravity Falls is a show that loves to build up and then completely subvert conventional stereotypes for its characters. Look at Soos: it’d be easy to peg him as the dumb fat fun-loving manchild, and sure, he may not be the brightest bulb in the box, but he’s smarter than most give him credit for, often fixes more problems than he causes, and feels things much more deeply than he lets on (just wait until the next episode). And that’s why we feel so sorry for McGucket. Up until this episode he was a seemingly one-dimensional old fool we were supposed to laugh at and did without even stopping to think about his situation or state of mind. Show of hands, how many of you thought they’d ever give such a deep, tragic backstory to a character like him?
Speaking of subversions, another theory that was going around at the time was the Society’s true purpose. Look up most videos predating this episode and you’ll find several – even ones listing true, confirmed facts about the show – that claim the Society of the Blind Eye was an ancient cult dedicated to stopping Bill Cipher (the symbol they’re associated with may have had something to do with that). It’s an interesting idea to be sure, though perhaps having a small clan wise in the ways of Bill would have made it too easy to defeat him by the series’ end. I’m happy with what the writers created and the important message that comes with it. Fans have drawn parallels between McGucket’s use of the memory ray to constantly escape his actions and an addict’s drug or alcohol abuse to escape the past or current problems, only to have it spiral their life out of control. Even the image of McGucket holding the gun to his head while ranting about his regrets strikes up an uncomfortable image of someone on the brink of suicide. In a way he kind of has given in and killed himself, albeit metaphorically by killing his mind over and over with the ray.
As for the long term consequences of permanently disbanding the Society that forced the townsfolk of Gravity Falls to turn a blind eye (get it?) to the supernatural, I’m not at liberty to say. What I can say is that they’ve created an episode that is truly unforgettable.
So we open with Lazy Susan closing the diner for the night…
And the Internet Went:
End Credits Craziness: While McGucket’s memories slowly return as he looks through the Journal, the portal beneath the Mystery Shack grows stronger, even pulling a notepad, pen and mug out of Grunkle Stan’s hands and dragging them inside. It also sucks in a pipe that cuts his hand. Stan bandages himself and he proclaims that nothing’s gonna stop him – as the camera focuses on a picture of Dipper and Mabel.
Callbacks: Suspects that appear on Dipper’s board on the Author’s identity include Lefty from the Dipper’s Guide to the Unexplained short of the same name, the disgruntled Summerween Superstore employee, Toby Determined, Lazy Susan, and assorted unnamed background characters. Dipper briefly mentions the laptop’s destruction in “Sock Opera”. The Mystery Twins return to the Gravity Falls Museum of Natural History for the first time since “Irrational Treasure”. At the end of McGucket’s memory video, he makes the same warning symbol about Bill Cipher that Mabel does in “Sock Opera”.
Crowning Line of Hilawesomeness: McGucket’s one-liner before taking out Blind Ivan makes an honorable mention, but since I already included it in the review I’m putting all of the gang’s confessions they make before they’re about to get their memories erased –
Soos: Mabel, for half the summer I thought your name was “Maple”, like the syrup. No one corrected me!
Mabel: I only love SOME of my stuffed animals and the guilt is killing me!!
Dipper: Sometimes I use big words and I don’t actually know what they mean. I mean, I’m supposed to be the smart guy! If I’m not the smart guy, who am I??
Wendy: Ok, I’m not actually laid back. I’m stressed, like, twenty-four/seven! Have you MET my family?!
Mabel SWatch (Sweater Watch): Green with a dachshund circling the sweater.
Dear Princess Celestabelleabethabelle: You read what McGucket said. Learn from your mistakes, don’t do drugs, etc.
Have You Seen the Agents?
Blink and you’ll miss the Agents watching their suspects on the way to the museum.
Where’s that wacky triangle at?
Next time on Gravity Falls, llllllet’s get ready to TIME-RUMBLLLLLLLLLEE!!!! It’s Round 8 of Season 2, and that means it’s Blendin’s Game!
Oh hey Cynicism, don’t see you around here that often.
Oh? What’s that?
…We should discuss this in private.