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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: Summer in Gravity Falls has gotten a bit more crazy ever since Grunkle Stan returned his twin brother and Journal Author Ford Pines from another dimension. Though the brothers are still at odds over a decades-old falling-out, this hasn’t stopped Dipper from trying to get to know the side of his family he shares his brains from, Grunkle Stan from running the laboratory-turned-tourist trap known as The Mystery Shack, or Mabel from her calling of matchmaker, even with the looming threat of a demon with universal aspirations…
Now that the Mystery Shack has become the one place on Earth that is completely safe from the machinations of Bill Cipher, there’s only one thing that the Pines family can do now –
Did Ford even bother to warn Stan about Bill and the threat he imposes? And wouldn’t a road trip far from the Mystery Shack’s borders leave the Pines MORE open to an attack from Bill? Well, the Journal has the answer to why Ford thought it would be such a good idea for an unplanned day out, though it would be a bit of a spoiler for the following episode.
Regardless, Grunkle Stan does have a good reason to drag the kids from the Shack and onto the road…sort of. Every year fellow roadside tourist trap competitors prank the Mystery Shack, and this time it’s Stan’s turn to repay the favor. Soos will be joining them, as are Candy and Grenda. Mabel thoughtfully packed Dipper’s luggage for him, which includes a box he keeps under the bed. Unfortunately she accidentally spills the contents on the ground.
Sadly, Dipper’s secret is out; he isn’t as completely over his crush on Wendy as he said he was.
Annoyed as they are, they tell Dipper that maybe going on this road trip will give him the chance to rediscover a part of himself and maybe meet someone new, which he is all for.
With the trip underway, Candy absorbs as much knowledge as she can through the various travel pamphlets on the sights they’ll be seeing. But Grunkle Stan says she’s wasting her time. This gets a very unexpected reaction from the usually demure and kindhearted Candy that they spend several uncomfortable seconds on.
They approach their first stop, a giant yarn ball. While the girls immerse themselves in it – literally – Dipper works up the courage to talk to another girl and strikes out. Grunkle Stan notices his grand-nephew’s looking down and listens to his fears that he’ll grow up to be a sad loner. Eager to help him feel better, he gives him some tips on remaining confident the next time he tries to meet a girl, mainly having confidence in yourself and making her laugh to catch her attention. It’s actually not bad advice, and after all that Grunkle Stan has put Dipper through, it’s nice to see him help him like this.
The Pines hit the road again, but not before tying up the end of the yarn ball to their RV’s bumper and unraveling it as they drive away. The little old lady who owns the ball does not take this well.
The next tourist trap is an upside-down house which is actually pretty cool; not only is everything topsy-turvy but you have to wear velcro shoes to walk through it. Dipper tries Grunkle’s Stan’s technique on the first girl he meets, Emma Sue, and the two manage to hit it off with her giving him her email before leaving. In his overjoyed state Dipper swings past Mabel and her pal paying each of them an extensive compliment, unaware of the effect it has on Candy.
The Pines split after Stan and Soos turn the house right-side up, rendering it completely ordinary. Dipper shares the news of his success with Grunkle Stan and presses him for more. Stan tells him not to get in touch with Emma but instead use his newfound confidence to practice talking with other girls. Everywhere they go, Dipper meets a new girl and his flirting prowess increases, while Stan finds a new way to vandalize each and every tourist stop they come across.
Also take this moment to say goodbye to Soos for this review; he wanders into a corn maze while Stan is busy screwing around and everyone uncharacteristically forgets about him until the very, very end, leaving him stranded and alone for God knows how long. Yeah I get having Soos along for the rest of the trip would make him superfluous but then why bother having him join at all?
At a rest stop Dipper opens up about his reservations on wooing that many young ladies since he doesn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings; but Stan says there’s no chance of him running into any of these girls again and it’s the best way to help him move on from Wendy. Meanwhile Candy, Grenda and Mabel play Truth Or Dare and on her turn Candy confesses she may have a crush on Dipper. His newfound charm and confidence has caught her attention and Mabel couldn’t be more excited. Immediately she begins planning to pair the two up before the road trip ends.
The final stop on the trip is Mystery Mountain, a skytram through a creepy mist-filled mountain with a real mummy exhibit. Grunkle Stan won’t stand for such authenticity threatening the Mystery Shack’s livelihood and is determined to bring the Mountain to its knees.
On the way there Mabel and Grenda play with the seating arrangement in the RV and get Dipper and Candy alone together. I don’t think I need to detail how awkward the conversation is, especially when Candy asks Dipper if they can go for a walk through the Mountain alone together. In private Dipper asks Stan for more help since he doesn’t feel about Candy the way he fears she does about him. Dipper resolves to be honest but Stan, in his first misstep of the episode (apart from, you know, ruining countless other people’s means of support throughout this entire venture), tells him that voice of reason is really his desire to get back with Wendy and he’s better off saying yes to any opportunity for romance that comes his way. To prove his point, Stan wastes no time in flirting with Darlene (Chelsea Peretti) the charming and chatty middle-aged proprietor of Mystery Mountain who immediately asks Stan to take a ride on the tram with her.
Dipper joins Candy on their “date”; as she tries to get the conversation moving towards the two of them, Dipper is more confused as to why the mummy exhibit advertises itself with “New Mummies Daily”. And as if things couldn’t get more uncomfortable for Dipper, Emma Sue AND all the other girls he flirted with on the trip happen to show up right there. What are the odds? Candy is crushed (pun not intended) that he’s been talking to other girls after he agreed to take her on a date, and they demand to know which of them he really likes. Dipper panics and admits he was only trying to learn to talk to girls and they all leave in disgust, even Candy.
As for Stan, his date with Darlene is running smoothly. They take a shortcut to the tram through some woods that are supposedly the hunting grounds of a race of half-spider people.
Stan puts on the brave tough guy act to further woo this bleach-blonde floozy and convince her he’s a catch; and Darlene responds he’s a catch all right.
There, I’m done. Lozenge, please.
All screaming aside, Darlene is a perfect one-off villain. She is nightmare-inducing, sure, when she opens her mouth and speaks like she normally does, it’s hilarious. Her nasally voice and mannerisms stay with her even out of her human disguise, making a perfect jarring juxtaposition. Also, having her be a spider plays excellently into the themes of this episode. Darlene, like Stan has gotten what she want from the opposite sex with flattery and lies while obscuring the truth about their purposes, ie. luring them into a web. It also explains the “Fresh Mummies Daily” sign; they’re all Darlene’s victims. And it looks like Stan is about to join them.
So while Dipper is running around looking for Stan (most likely to smack him upside the head for covertly teaching him to be a player), Stan alerts him of his situation via walkie-talkie before Darlene snatches it away. Dipper finds the girls, quickly apologizes and they find and free Stan from his cocoon before Darlene gives chase. Candy rounds them into the skytram where they make their very slow moving getaway. Unfortunately this allows Darlene to catch up and she begins wrapping up their car in web. But thanks to Candy’s knowledge of Mystery Mountain she gained from the “useless” travel pamphlet, she has a plan. She pulls the emergency drop brake, causing them and Darlene to plummet to the ground, though Candy timed it so they would be passing over the local geyser as it’s about to go off. They are blasted out of the air, bounce through the woods, and land outside the attraction with nothing but a few concussions and broken bones while Darlene winds up trapped under the boot of the giant novelty Paul Bunyan statue. Everyone congratulates Candy on her resourcefulness. Darlene makes one more attempt at seducing Stan in her human disguise to trick him into freeing her (sadly she’s not completely squished) and warns Stan that as long as there’s men like him who try to catch ladies with cheap pickup tricks she’ll never run out of prey. The Pines rightly hightail it out of there.
On the way home, Grunkle Stan admits to Dipper that he’s not the expert on women he claimed to be, having been slapped with almost as many divorce suits as he’s actually been slapped. At the end of the day, all pickup artists are just losers strutting whatever little confidence they have in the hopes that the next woman they come across won’t see them for the shallow idiots they are. Dipper hasn’t come out of the experience completely blue however; his mind has been off of Wendy the whole trip, and he genuinely feels more confident in talking to other women. Speaking of, he makes a heartfelt apology to Candy via a homemade pamphlet. Candy warmly accepts it and says seeing Dipper flee from the giant spider made her get over her crush anyway.
And Stan returns home feeling glad that there were no repercussions for his pranking whatsoever.
Similar to “Dungeons, Dungeons & More Dungeons”, “Roadside Attraction” feels like a Season One episode; however this one is filler from start to finish with almost no bearing on the overarching story that unfolds in Season 2. I’ve heard somewhere that this was originally supposed to be released earlier in the season and Disney got a little crazy with the scheduling, which, if true, makes a lot of sense. Somehow I managed to completely forget this existed until I started diving into the latter half of this season. And yet for a filler episode, it’s a nice bit of fluffy fun. I love everything about Darlene from her voice to her creepy design, Candy gets some time to shine, I like the lesson taught here, and I suppose you could call it a leap forward for Grunkle Stan and Dipper’s characterization and their relationship as a whole. They also nail the look and feel of those real-life cheesy tourist stops that are peppered throughout the middle of nowhere as well as helped inspire the creation of the Mystery Shack. As for Dipper crushing on Wendy again, well, I’m glad they acknowledge that falling out of love with someone doesn’t happen overnight, but it feels odd that they tried to make it a thing again here. Apart from that, you could skip this episode and not miss anything. It’s a perfectly fine, serviceable one-off episode – or a last bit of calm before the storm.
And the Internet Went:
End Credits Craziness: Soos still waiting for help in the corn maze, either from a friendly scarecrow or a trio of lost house pets, whichever comes first.
Callbacks: The letter Dipper originally intended to give Wendy from “Into the Bunker” is in the box of his Wendy pictures. On Stan’s map of all the tourist traps in Oregon, only the Tent of Telepathy, Gideon’s former enterprise, is crossed off since it’s gone out of business after his arrest. Other attractions on there include the Ye Olde Putting Hut from “The Golf War” and the petting zoo that was featured in the Mabel’s Scrapbook short of the same name. Stan’s former girlfriend Carla is mentioned here. Mabel attempting to get Candy and Dipper together was hinted at in “The Love God” where she put wooden figures of them together in a section labeled “Future Matches?” In “Irrational Treasure” there’s a snippet of a speech by Quentin Trembley where he states the only thing they have to fear are man-eating spiders. Could he have been referring to Darlene and her kind, perhaps?
Crowning Line of Hilawesomeness: Gotta give it again to my man Stan – “I was blinded by flattery. Also this acid she spit in my face.”
Mabel SWatch (Sweater Watch): Purple gradient stripes with pine tree silhouettes.
Dear Princess Celestabelleabethabelle: If you want to pick up the opposite sex, don’t be a jerk about it. They’re people, not objects, sheesh.
Where’s that wacky triangle at?
It’s gonna be the future soon, and Dipper and Mabel won’t always be this way as the things that make them weird and strange will get engineered away…or will they? Up next it’s Dipper and Mabel Vs. The Future. See you then.