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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…
Dipper and Mabel are hanging out with Wendy and her friends in the graveyard watching the clouds go by when the sky is filled with hot-air balloons. Wendy tells them that it’s time for the Woodstick festival, an annual weekend-long concert featuring indie hipster folk music. When Dipper admits he’s never been to a concert before, everyone makes plans to go. A ghostly moan from an open grave disrupts the atmosphere. Thompson, the group’s butt monkey, is coerced into checking it out and finds it’s only Wendy’s ex-boyfriend Robbie Valentino, who’s been miserable since she dumped him and has been pining for her since.
Wendy tells him not unkindly that he should move on and she and the gang head for elsewhere. Only Mabel feels sorry for him and wants to help. Dipper tells her if he’s learned anything then getting mixed up in romance-related drama is pointless and painful. He also doesn’t want to ruin his chances of being officially a part of Wendy’s clique, especially now that Robbie has opted out to be on his own since the breakup. Mabel can’t let this go, however, and decides the best thing for Robbie is for her to play matchmaker. After finding his address – a funeral home – she braces herself to meet his undoubtedly equally dour folks.
Robbie’s mom and dad are shockingly chipper people, especially considering the line of work they’re in. Needless to say Mr. and Mrs. Valentino and Mabel get on like a house on fire. They gladly let her in to visit Robbie. There’s a great bit of visual storytelling where Mabel passes a line of portraits of Robbie getting progressively miserable as he ages from wide-eyed innocent child to sourpuss goth teen. Unlike his parents, Robbie yells at Mabel to get out since he hates the Pines family for ruining his chances with Wendy and thus, his life. Mabel assures him she’s here to fix everything for him and he reluctantly agrees to let her pair him with someone else in Gravity Falls.
While Dipper further ingratiates himself with the teens by showing them how to sneak snacks into the concert, Tambry gets a text from a secret admirer telling her to meet him at the diner. She goes and learns that it’s a set-up orchestrated by Mabel to get her and Robbie together. Neither one of the teens feels comfortable dating someone they’re already friends with and the date takes a turn for the worse.
But then…in comes The Love God.
The Love God (John DiMaggio) is one of the hipster performers here for the festival and he spreads his love throughout the diner, making couples instantaneously fall in love with each other. Amazed by his matchmaking prowess, Mabel introduces herself and asks what his secret is. He reveals that the title and little wings sticking out of his backpack aren’t just his shtick; he is the real deal.
Since pairing up lonely hearts is a business mostly done on the internet now, the Love God has branched out into music. But he keeps some vials of love potion by his side as part of his gimmick. Mabel offers her finest squirrels in exchange for one but the Love God warns her that using those potions on a whim could have disastrous consequences.
Um, forgive me if I wrong, but wasn’t this same guy who was making random people soulmates just moments ago?
Mabel snatches a potion while he’s autographing a fan’s face and sprinkles it on Tambry and Robbie’s chili fries. They both eat from them and suddenly find that the other isn’t as annoying as they once thought. Robbie becomes a lot more friendlier and Tambry makes the earth-shattering decision to put down her phone for a few minutes. Mabel considers it a success. I consider it witchcraft since you have to be with someone really special to forget about status updates if you’re a teenager.
The teens are ready for the concert and are waiting on Tambry to show up. Mabel informs them that she’ll be attending with her new boyfriend, Robbie. She expects everyone to be happy over the news but instead it rips the group apart; Nate now hates Robbie because he knew that he secretly liked Tambry and now stole his potential girlfriend, Lee is upset that Nate shared his crush with Robbie but not him, Wendy is angry that Tambry is now dating her ex without telling her, and since none of them are going to the concert now, Thompson is furious with Mabel for breaking up his only friends.
Mabel confesses everything to Dipper and he agrees to help undo the spell and break up Robbie and Tambry so everyone can be friends again. They sneak into the concert, find Love God’s van and Mabel steals a vial of anti-love potion. Unfortunately Love God catches them and won’t let Mabel use it to fix her mistake. He chases the Pines through the concert.
With Tambry and Robbie within reach, Love God resorts to his deadliest spell in order to get his potion back – Visions of Heartbreak Past. Dipper has no visions to taunt him, but Mabel on the other hand…
The visions trick Mabel into handing over the potion. Love God taunts them saying the only way to beat him would be an intervention from a greater being from the heavens.
Oh, I just realized, I forgot to mention what Grunkle Stan has been doing this whole time. You see he hates the festival for all the young folksy hipsters that come into town every year (for very good reason, hipsters suck), but Soos reasons that he could bring lots of visitors to the Mystery Shack if he finds something that appeals to them. Assuming the kids of today are into hot air balloons, Stan designs one of his own to show off at the concert –
Aaaand here’s the result.
Good God do I love that hideous flaming balloon. All the kids, hipsters and families are valid in their terrified reactions (“It’s heaven’s punishment for our terrible taste in everything!!”) Seeing it come down like the Hindenburg over the horrified sheep kills me every single time. It’s what makes the episode for me.
The balloon crashes on top of Love God and Mabel steals back the anti-love potion. Thankfully he’s immortal and emerges mostly unharmed. Love God yells to go ahead and use the potion, but be ready to accept the consequences of interfering with problems that aren’t hers. Mabel and Dipper sneak up behind Robbie and Tambry and prepare to fire, though Mabel hesitates long enough for Robbie to notice her and thank her for bringing him and Tambry together. For the first time since Wendy broke up with him, he’s happy and ready to enjoy life again.
So Mabel decides not to break them up, stating that any time they’ve interfered with people’s lives it’s always turned out for the worse and Robbie and Tambry are kind of perfect for each other. And thankfully there’s something that does bring the whole group of friends back together; their mutual love of watching Thompson make a fool of himself for attention.
“The Love God” is…not one of my favorite episodes. It’s not awful by any means, I just think it’s pretty forgettable compared to other adventures in the series. Look at the previous installments; we go from a secret society that neuralizes people and an action-packed heartfelt time-travel adventure to…a folk rock concert and teenage drama? I get they can’t all be winners, but I think at this point the creators were capable of delivering better. You could easily skip this one and not miss much in terms of plot or character development. Not even John DiMaggio, freaking Bender can make his character that interesting (though I can’t help but hear Jake from Adventure Time anytime he speaks). This is the one and only time any kind of god from a set mythology appears in the series and they don’t even bother to give him a name other than “Love God”. Come on man, that’s just lazy.
The most frustrating thing about this episode is the conclusion; how could Mabel not break up Robbie and Tambry when their “perfect” romance was the result of a love potion fed to them without their knowledge? Are they really happy together or are they truly forced into being happy? Believe it or not, the Journal provides an answer to this thorny dilemma: the potions sprinkled around by the Love God are only temporary, lasting little over a few hours; however if the couple is still in love after that time, then they were truly meant to be together. The love potions act as a way to get the ball rolling in that regard. According to Mabel’s entry, Tambry and Robbie were still making out and holding hands well into the night so the feelings they had for each other were indeed genuine, just buried under mountains of teenage sarcasm and cynicism. That’s a load off my mind, but in the large time gap between this episode’s premiere and when the Journal came out, a lot of fans jumped to the obvious conclusion which resulted in Mabel becoming an even more divisive character than she already was at that point.
Is the episode without any redeeming qualities though? Of course not. I sort of like how they dive into the dynamic of Wendy’s group of friends with Thompson of all people being the linchpin. It does a decent job going into Robbie’s backstory and making you want to see him find happiness with a new love. The moment where the Love God tries to trick Dipper and Mabel with visions of past heartaches and Dipper doesn’t see Wendy like you think he would is a great show of how far his character development has come. The commentary on hipsters and millennials is spot-on and pretty funny. And of course, there’s that wonderful terrifying abomination that is “I EAT KIDS”. God bless that thing. I look forward to seeing it in my nightmares tonight.
And the Internet Went:
See my earlier statement.
End Credits Craziness: A romantic montage of one of Mabel’s mixed success matchups, Waddles and Gompers, on their wedding day as seen in Mabel’s scrapbook.
Callbacks: Early on we see Soos and Melody on an adorable video chat date. Nice to see their relationship is still blossoming. Robbie’s posters for his band seen in “Fight Fighters” cover his bedroom door. His trademark explosion muffin graffitti and the skeleton hoodie he wore on Summerween are in his room. Blind Ivan – I mean, Toot-Toot McBumbersnazzle – is seen walking around the Woodstick Festival. Also there is Sev’ral Timez rooting through a trash can. Strangely enough one of the potential soulmate figurines Mabel considers for Robbie is Multi-Bear. Mabel’s heartbreak visions are made up of Mermando, Sev’ral Timez, Gabe, Norman, and the “Do You Like Me? Check One” boy she flirted with in “Tourist Trapped”.
And it’s interesting to note that this is not the first time an effigy of Grunkle Stan has been destroyed, or set aflame if you want to be more specific…
Crowning Line of Hilawesomeness: Grunkle Stan and Soos’ reactions to the balloon liftoff going awry, starting with the letters falling off.
Stan: Let ‘er rip!
Soos: Oh no! A letter ripped!
Stan: What the H?!
Mabel SWatch (Sweater Watch): Colorful rainbow stripes from neck to hem.
Dear Princess Celestabelleabethabelle: Forcing people to fall in love is wrong, but forcing them to break up is wrong, so we’re all stuck in a mobius loop of wrongness until an author’s saving throw comes along to save us from ourselves…I need coffee.
Have You Seen the Agents?
The agents are staking out the Woodstick Festival.
Where’s that wacky triangle at?
Next time on Gravity Falls, you are cordially invited to the social gala of the season. It’s a Northwest Mansion Mystery, and I’m sure Pacifica will simply die if you don’t show up…