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; Dipper and Mabel, usually along with their friends Soos and Wendy, have encountered everything from ghosts, zombies and demons to shapeshifters and time-travelers. One in particular has a bone to pick with the Mystery Twins after using him to mess with the space-time continuum…
I owe you both my life. One more round of tic-tac-toe with Mabel and I thought I’d lose my mind. Thank you, Baron.
…Actually, there is something. You say you’re friends with Trembley?Would you be able to reach him quickly and deliver him here? Trembley said he’d return when this country needed him most, and I’ve got a feeling that day’s not far off…it’s time to get ready.
Oh, wait. There’s a review to do first.
The episode opens in the year Twenty-sneventy…you know, I haven’t the courage to try to spell it. Here it is.
A shadowy figure dodges through the streets of a futuristic hellhole chased by Lolph and Dundgren, officers of the Time Police. They catch up to him and reveal the fugitive is former Time Officer Blendin Blandin, recently escaped from time prison after being incarcerated for wreaking havoc in the 21st century. Before he can be carted away, Blendin shocks those present by publicly invoking “Globnar”. The officers put away their handcuffs and ask who it is that Blendin wishes to challenge – Dipper and Mabel Pines.
Meanwhile in the 21st century, Dipper and Mabel are deprived of their rightful treat by the fickle whims of the vending machine (a cruel mistress we have come up against at some point in our lives). Soos saves the day by showing them a neat trick someone once taught him as a kid that opens the machine and allows them to eat all the candy they can stomach. It’s no big deal for the fix-it chappie; he just loves helping out the Pines family and he goes on his way.
Dipper then notices that Soos dropped his wallet. He and Mabel can’t resist taking a peek before returning it to him. They find a laser tag membership card, emergency snacks, and that his birthday is today. Feeling horrible that they forgot Soos’ birthday – or the fact that he never even told him when his birthday is – they quickly throw together a surprise party for him. Soos is oddly somber about this gesture.Soos gets hush-hush about why he’s not so enthused and makes an excuse to leave. Wendy and Grunkle Stan stumble upon the party. Neither of them are happy with what they find. They thankfully don’t get mad at the twins because they didn’t know, but Wendy informs them that for some unknown reason Soos has hated his birthday since he was a child. It all goes back to a mysterious postcard he received on that day and has kept with him always.
Wendy suggests the best thing would be to leave Soos alone, but it’s Dipper – not Mabel this time – who believes they should try harder, because no one should be alone on their special day. It’s time for Plan B – laser tag. The local laser tag place used to be a mattress store but it’s got everything that Soos loves. The big guy’s more pleasantly surprised this time but is still a little hesitant to join in the fun.Mabel and Dipper promise that they’re gonna have the best time and they’re never gonna give him up, let him down, run around or desert him. This convinces Soos, but he stays behind to tie his shoes while Dipper and Mabel run into the game area – and promptly get spirited away by the Time Enforcement Squad, leaving Soos to fend for himself in laser tag.
Blendin has the twins where he wants them at last, but is infuriated when Dipper and Mabel don’t even remember his name. He reminds them who he is – earlier that summer he appeared at the Mystery Shack carnival to correct some time anomalies, but Dipper stole the measurement tape that allows him to travel through time and he and Mabel made a mess of things. Blendin was blamed and after being forced to fix their paradoxes, he was dismissed from his job and sent to prison. Ever since then he’s been planning his revenge, and he’s going to get it through the gladiatorial combat trials known as Globnar. Think American Gladiator meets Hunger Games, Tron, and Portal, and it’s about as cool yet bizarre as it sounds. The winner of these games decides the loser’s fate and gets an exceedingly rare rule-free time wish. Blendin decrees that when he wins he’s going to wish Dipper and Mabel out of existence as payback for ruining his life.
That won’t stop Dipper and Mabel from keeping their promise to Soos, however. Mabel tricks Lolph into giving her his time measurement tape by pretending to be his extra-great Gam-Gam (Yes, he actually falls for it. But I want to see if in the future she really IS his Gam-Gam!) They manage to elude the time cops, but accidentally go back too far by ten years, landing in the mattress store that was once the laser tag building. What’s worse, the time tape is broken and they need to fix it before the police find them. The only place they know to find the right tools? The Mystery Shack. On their way they pass by several familiar faces, and even bump into a little girl who develops an instant crush on Dipper.Once they’re at the Shack, Dipper and Mabel sneak past Grunkle Stan and look for the toolbox. Mabel also helps a young boy get some snack from the vending machine when they get stuck using the trick she learned. Then Mabel realizes just who this boy is.
Dipper fixes the tape but Mabel says this could be the birthday that ruined all the others for little Soos. If they learn the reason why, they might be able to find a way to cheer him up. They covertly follow Soos and Abuelita back to his house where a party is being held. Everything seems to be going great until a kid sits in a “seat of honor” Soos is saving for someone who hasn’t arrived yet – his dad.
Oh boy, lemme get the music ready:
Soos answers the door hoping that his father’s finally come to see him after eight years, only to be disappointed when it’s the mailman with a postcard from New Orleans. On it is a scribbled apology and a promise that he’ll come the following year. Soos puts it in a box with other postcards stating the same thing. Too sad to cry or even drown his sorrows in cake and presents, he spends the rest of the day alone in his room.Dipper wisely states that a hurt this big is beyond them. Laser tag is one thing, but parental abandonment issues? How can two kids fix that? They hide when Lolph, Dundgren and Blendin search the area for them. When Dipper and Mabel overhear Blendin reminding the cops of the limitless time wish at stake, their path becomes clear – defeat Blendin at Globnar and use the time wish to make sure Soos’ dad comes to his birthday. The two surrender themselves and promise to kick Blendin’s butt. They poof to the future, leaving behind a screwdriver in Soos’ yard.
Back in the arena, Globnar commences with Time Baby presiding over it. It may be two against one, but Blendin’s been training in prison. On my initial viewing I kind of hoped that the titular game would take up the bulk of the episode and was a little disappointed that it was cut down to a montage of some of the random matches. They’re fine and chock full of references to the previously listed movies and games I listed before, but at the time I couldn’t help but feel the title was a bit misleading especially at the climax.As the game closes on a tie, Time Baby announces the final challenge shall be a centuries-old game where the players must rely on every skill they possess to survive – laser tag. The first one to reach the time wish orb untouched will be the winner. Blendin gets ready to blast his opponents, only for Dipper to casually shoot him in the middle of his gloating and Mabel instantly grabs the wish.
The Pines twins are declared the victors and Blendin is put back in chains. Time Baby congratulates them. Before he grants them their wish, he asks what Blendin’s fate will be.
I kid, I kid. In spite of Mabel getting a little carried away and Blendin wanting to wish they were never born if he won, Dipper and Mabel can’t help but finally feel responsible for what happened to him. Mabel herself admits Blendin’s too much of a sad sack to be a genuine villain. The best they can do is treat him nicely now so hopefully he can be a better person in the future. So Dipper and Mabel decree that Blendin will be given back his job and some nice stylish hair to cover up his baldness. Blendin is moved by their kindness and takes them back to their time so they can give the wish to Soos.
Back at laser tag, Soos is disappointed that his friends have abandoned him. He flips a coin to determine whether or not to go home. It freezes in midair, along with time itself. Dipper and Mabel reappear looking like hell after what they went through. They apologize to Soos for getting caught up with time travel and the deadly time games, but it was all worth it to fix his birthday with the wish that could reunite him with his father. Soos is beyond touched that his friends would go through such lengths for him. He closes his eyes, and he wishes…
…for Dipper and Mabel to be cleaned up.
Blendin is apoplectic that Soos would waste a perfect wish like that, but Soos explains that was only part of of his wish – he also asked a slice of infinite pizza (good wish!) After seeing what Dipper and Mabel did for him, Soos has come to the conclusion that if his dad never bothered to spend one birthday with him, why should he wish for that when he’s already surrounded by people who he cares about? He tosses out the postcard and the three friends go back to laser tag.
“The Time Traveler’s Pig” may be the fan favorite time travel episode, but as you can probably already tell, I love “Blendin’s Game” much more. Though the game itself doesn’t figure into the story as much as the title and promos let on, there’s an unexpected emotional heart to it that gets me every time. Disney giving their protagonists only one or no parents or bumping them off is nothing new, but the rare times when they go into the issue of a parent up and leaving and how it affects the child, (Treasure Planet, Aladdin and the King of Thieves, Meet the Robinsons) they excel at it. It’s another episode that shows a deeper side to Soos than we would ever think he had, revealing he’s more than just a decent guy and loyal handyman to the Mystery Shack. By the way, infinite pizza? Not bad as far as wishes that can break the laws of time and physics go. It cannot solve world hunger however since, according to Journal #3, only Soos is able to take a bite and have it reappear instantaneously. A small caveat, I suppose.
It’s fun getting a look at Gravity Falls and the people in it long before Mabel and Dipper’s adventures began. The easter eggs and cameos are too numerous to mention, but the continuity is excellent, particularly one running gag with Toby Determined. Setting up that the laser tag was once a mattress store is a great way to let us know we’re not in the right time anymore once the shenanigans with the tape begin. Speaking of, one of the problems I had with “The Time Traveler’s Pig” is that Dipper and Mabel don’t take any responsibility for screwing over Blendin at the episode’s end. Here, that comes back to bite them; and they not only acknowledge what they did was a mistake, but they do right by him in the end. I joke about Justin Roiland’s voice being annoying and even the episode itself does that too (more on that below) but I can’t imagine him without it, it just cracks me up. There’s nothing more I can say than this is a really enjoyable episode, and one I can consider among my favorites even with the titular game rushing by with the speed of a hungry cyclocks.
And the Internet Went:
End Credits Craziness: Having found a screwdriver labeled “Property of the Mystery Shack” in his backyard, young Soos goes there to return it. Stan is in the middle of firing a teenage Durland from the handyman post after screwing up one too many times and hires Soos on the spot, giving his his trademark question mark t-shirt.
Crowning Line of Hilawesomeness: My favorite joke in this entire episode, which I was saving for here. When the Pines promise to do battle in Globnar, Blendin lets out a long battle cry in Justin Roiland’s trademark grating scream – which is cut short by Lolph discovering the reality-bending capabilities of his gauntlet and testing them out.
Lolph: Hey, turns out I can mute him!
Dundgren: Man, I wish we knew that earlier.
Mabel SWatch (Sweater Watch): Lavender with a donut.
Dear Princess Celestabelleabethabelle: …Eh, I’m not repeating myself today. Just read what Soos said after his wish. That sums it up.
Have You Seen the Agents?
The agents are doing reconnaissance elsewhere…
Where’s that wacky triangle at?
Next time on Gravity Falls, love and music are in the air in The Love God. See you then.