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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: Dipper and Mabel have learned that their family tree extends a bit further than they thought when Grunkle Stan returns the Author of the Journals and his long-lost twin brother the REAL Stanford Pines (“Ford” for short) from a distant dimension. There’s little cause to celebrate, however, since their reunion has brought old tensions to the surface. Dipper wants nothing more than to pick the Author’s brain but Mabel fears that this could be the beginning of the end for the Mystery Twins’ perfect sibling relationship, just like how it was for Stan and Ford. There’s no way one could lead to the other though, right…?
So it looks like things are settling back into how they used to be. Dipper’s got his head in the Journals, and Grunkle Stan and Mabel are hanging around doing their favorite activity together, absolutely nothing.
Then Ford emerges from his lab tackling a blood-sucking octopi-Cyclops.
As you do.
Ford subdues the creature and turns down Dipper’s offer to help dispose of it before returning to the basement. Stan warns Dipper to stay away from his brother and his crazy dangerous shenanigans, something that Dipper simply can’t do now that the Author of the Journals is living in their own home; not even Mabel planning a viewing party for Ducktective’s season finale can distract him from his thirst for answers.
As the town begins to recuperate from the “earthquakes” afflicting the citizens in “Not What He Seems”, Mabel writes a letter to her parents at home detailing the events of the past few episodes…
…And this raises so many questions that I am going to explode if I don’t state them all this very minute.
How does the revelation that there’s a long-lost twin that was sort-of-but-not-actually-dead affect the other members of the Pines family?
Has Mabel been relating her and Dipper’s adventures this way to her family the entire summer?
Does she receive any responses from her parents?
Do they even believe her?
Will Mabel be met with men in clean white coats waiting to escort her to the nut house on returning home at summer’s end?
Has Dipper been writing to them too or was he so caught up with the Journal he didn’t spare any time to think of his parents?
Or did he not say anything for fear of being perceived as crazy also?
Too many g-d-dammed questions we will never get the answer to because Alex Hirsch was – and as of this moment still is – determined to make Dipper and Mabel’s parents a non-entity in the show. And sure, I get it, they were just a means to get the kids over to Gravity Falls and kickstart the plot of the series; I’m not asking for an in-depth bio of Mom and Pop Pines because they don’t need them. But if you’re going to keep them offscreen, then why bother mentioning them again and torture the fans with so many possible repercussions?
Anyway, Dipper comes running in with his favorite game which he found while out thrift shopping: the roleplaying fantasy Dungeons, Dungeons & More Dungeons.
Dipper invites Mabel to play with him. She shows interest…until he begins explaining the lengthy rules to set up the game before even going into how it works.
Mabel of course backs out, Soos is too busy with his LARP-ing group to join in, and Grunkle Stan would rather make fun of a game that’s nowhere near as exciting as the box makes it look. When the teasing gets to him, Dipper tries playing by himself. He loses his 38-sided die under the Mystery Shack and winds up falling into Ford’s lab. Ford is about to scold him until he recognizes the die in his hand. It turns out DD&MD is his favorite game too; he loves it so much that he puts aside everything he’s doing and starts a new campaign with Dipper.
Both Dipper and Ford have a blast on their fantastical mathematical quest and they get to discussing the evolution of the game’s main villain, a wizard called Probabilitor the Annoying. Ford agrees he’s changed since he last played, but Dipper says it’s nowhere near as out there as when they tried to pander the game to kids in the 90’s.
Ford shudders at the idea and he and Dipper agree that was a rough decade where you were better off trapped in a wormhole. I should know; I spent the first ten or so years of my life growing up in that hellhole that was the 1990’s. When hand-drawn animation was alive and well, autotune was almost nonexistent in most music, the internet didn’t consume every waking moment of everyday life, and presidents actually gave a damn about keeping the country out of nuclear war. Remember those godawful days? Couldn’t we go back and change them to how they are now if we had the chance? Couldn’t we go back…
With the topic of interdimensional travel brought up, Dipper dares to ask Ford what he did during his thirty years away from home. Ford once again refuses to say since he feels no one could handle the answer, but he does share one neat thing he picked up on his travels – an infinity-sided die that can mess with reality in the most unexpected and improbable ways if rolled. Because of that he keeps it in a cheap, easily opened plastic case for protection.
I’m not even gonna follow up with the usual face palm because I’m safely assuming you already know what will eventually happen and have already done the same.
Meanwhile Stan and Mabel are preparing for Ducktective’s finale by stocking up on choice snacks. Mabel also builds a device that pours everything into your mouth without having to look away from the screen.
Both get wondering to where Dipper is until it’s time for bed. Mabel can’t go to sleep because Dipper’s staying up planning his next dungeon adventure. Dipper is thrilled that the man he’s looked up to all summer is someone he can at last have his kind of fun with. Picking up from the last episode, Mabel is beginning to feel a little left out…
The next day Grenda arrives for the Ducktective party (though Candy is conspicuously absent). Unfortunately the living room is occupied by Dipper and Ford and their widespread graph paper dungeon and there’s nowhere else for them to move to. This sparks another fight between Stan and Ford; despite Ford offering to let Stan join them and give the game a chance, Stan declares there’s no way he’d ever play the nerdiest game in the world and tosses down the bag which contains all the dice – including the infinity-sided one which, sit yourselves down for this one, breaks out of its cheap plastic case and causes havoc! Who could have possibly foreseen that?!
The outcome of the die brings Probabilitor and various other minor villains from the game to life. In this incarnation, Probabilitor is voiced by none other than musical parody artist and one of the greatest comedians of this century, Weird Al Yankovic. He brings the right amount of ham and cheesiness to the role that makes me wish he was in the episode more. Probabilitor declares (sadly not through song) that since Ford and Dipper are the smartest players of DD&MD he’s ever met, he’s going to kidnap them and eat their brains to absorb their intelligence. He and his ogres carry them off into the woods, leaving behind a distraught Mabel, Grenda and Stan. They realize that in order to rescue them they’ll have to go on an epic fantasy quest not unlike the one in the game. It goes by faster than they anticipated when Grenda cuts the crap and knocks out a riddle-spewing ogre with an armchair rather than waste time solving his many quests. They find Dipper and Ford about to be cooked up and the wizard proposes a deal.
Probabilitor wages their lives against his in a real-life simplified edition of DD&MD; Mabel and Stan play by rolling the dice and casting spells that Dipper and Ford can use to protect themselves, the potency and type of which are determined by what they roll on the dice. If they win, Probabilitor will return to his game. If not, well, you know the rest.
The game begins and Dipper and Ford shout out tips as they avoid Probabilitor’s ogres. There are no set moves so they can make them up as they go. It involves imagination and a thirst for risk taking, two things Mabel and Grunkle Stan have in spades. Soon enough Dipper and Ford are bouncing around on springy shoes wielding giant flaming swords and making short work of Probabilitor’s minions. But Probabilitor has one more trick up his oversized sleeve.
The Impossi-Beast is a Lovecraftian-Giger-Bottin nightmare baby banned from most versions of the game that can’t be defeated with any old roll of the die; the only thing that will beat it is rolling a perfect 38. Stan, an experienced gambler, promises everyone he’s got this, and…
…he does it.
Probabilitor is defeated and everything goes back into the game. Dipper asks how he did it though Stan says a gambler never reveals his secrets (mainly a little help from his old friend Bazooka Joe who knows how to stick a landing, if you get my drift). Mabel and Stan admit they had fun playing and apologize for making fun of Dipper for liking the game. Stan admits though DD&MD isn’t up to his tastes, that’s not gonna stop him from letting Dipper play it and hang out with Ford. They return to the Shack with just enough time to catch the replay of Ducktective’s ending, though they’re disappointed that this deeply involved kid’s show with an adult following and sense of humor that skews towards both demographics has a plot twist where the main character had a secret twin brother all along. Man, what a cheap resolution, am I right?
Afterwards Dipper and Ford put the infinity die away in a fully secure locker. Now that Ford believes he’s found someone he can trust, he confides in Dipper what he’s been up to since he’s returned. He shows him the remains of the Portal, now fully dismantled. The power of the dimension it connected to was too much for this world, which was why, though he acknowledged that he did indeed rescue him, Ford was angry with Stan for using the Portal to save him. As he suspected, a bit of the machine’s instability created a highly dangerous rift between the dimensions which Ford was able to contain. He asks Dipper not to tell anyone; not Stan, not even Mabel. Dipper assures him mum’s the word and they ensure the rift is locked up tight.
“Dungeons, Dungeons & More Dungeons” reminds me of the Friendship is Magic episode “Dungeons & Discords”, which teased the characters getting literally sucked into a D&D-style adventure and having fun toying with its cliches only to have that actually happen in the last third of the episode. The first two acts are them setting up the game with some characters enthralled by it and others making fun of how dull it is before the ball finally gets rolling. It’s the same issue I have here; the commercials promised a fantasy quest in this vein but in the end it takes up such a small portion of the episode. It’s not one of my favorite entries of Gravity Falls, though that doesn’t make it a bad one by any means. It feels like a story that would happen in Season One but with elements of Season Two grafted on. To prove my point, in this season there was originally going to be an episode that parodied the movie Labyrinth but Disney shot it down because they thought no one in the demographic they usually aim for would understand what they were spoofing (personally I think anyone who believes Descendants counts as quality entertainment could use a faceful of David Bowie’s spectacular package, but that’s just me); “Dungeons, Dungeons & More Dungeons” comes off as an afterthought, the last-minute backup plan after their first idea was shelved, with bits and pieces of the Labyrinth spoof thrown in at the end to make it appear more whole.
I’ll give it this over “The Love God” though, it knows how to use its guest star as a one-shot antagonist infinitely better. Weird Al Yankovic can do no wrong in my eyes, and even with the disturbing lack of polka medleys in this outing he makes Improbabilitor such a fun villain. It’s no wonder Disney looked at him and said, “Yeah, he can totally headline an animated series.” Also, while I’ve never played Dungeons & Dragons and have no desire to, they perfectly capture how the game is played and what people like about it (though “Homework:The Game” is still an accurate description for it). Once again it shows how well the Gravity Falls team does their homework, even with something they find ridiculous. It does a decent job continuing the growing divide between Dipper and Mabel now that Dipper is beginning to grow closer to the Author as well as featuring their similarities to Ford and Stan respectively, and I enjoy the meta commentary on the fans’ reactions to Ducktective’s finale and “Not What He Seems”. Other than that, it’s a perfectly average episode. If you want a D&D parody that lives up to the potential in less than half the duration of this entire episode, watch the one in Dexter’s Laboratory, “D&DD”. You won’t regret it.
And the Internet Went:
End Credits Craziness: While Soos is in the middle of his LARPing session with Toby Determined, Blubs and Durland, Durland gives some very insightful commentary as to why they seek out imaginary adventures in this way to spice up their own lives…then Toby gets kidnapped by Probabilitor’s griffin. Nobody cares.
Callbacks: Hinting towards this episode there’s a DD&MD box seen in Ford’s room in “A Tale of Two Stans”. The game is made by the same company that made the Tumbleweed Terror pinball machine in “Bottomless Pit!” While running through things to do to pass the time, Dipper briefly considers obsessing over Wendy again despite learning to get over his crush in “Into the Bunker”. The flying saucer keychain Ford used to lock up the infinity die is the same one Mabel had in the Hide-Behind short from Dipper’s Guide to the Unexplained.
Crowning Line of Hilawesomeness: Have to give it to Probabilitor’s punny final words –
“I’m dissolving into pure math! What are the odds?!”
Mabel SWatch (Sweater Watch): Magenta with purple puzzle pieces, orange with the Ducktective logo
Dear Princess Celestabelleabethabelle: I urge you to find someone to make a D&D parody episode that lives through to its potential, ’cause I have the Dexter’s Lab one memorized I’ve watched it enough times. There’s gotta be more out there than that!
Where’s that wacky triangle at?
Next time, Stan is out to make Gravity Falls great again in The Stanchurian Candidate. Will he succeed? Pray that he doesn’t. See you then.