Gravity Falls returned last Monday night, after an almost three-month hiatus, with another terrifyingly hilarious episode.
It probably goes without saying, but…warning! Major spoilers ahead!
“Northwest Mansion Mystery” opens at the Northwest manor, with the Northwest family getting ready for a huge annual party. The as-of-yet unnamed Mrs. Northwest chastises Pacifica for wearing a “lake-foam green” dress, instead of “sea-foam green” and Preston silences any argument from Pacifica, by ringing a small bell. Pacifica turns dejectedly to leave the room but, just then, the house starts to rumble and the table settings begin to fly around the room, smashing all around them. The family dives under the table to hide from the supernatural attack, and as they wonder what to do, a newspaper with a story of Dipper’s heroics falls in front of them.
Across town, Dipper is settling in for a ‘Ghost Harassers’ marathon, when a breaking news bulletin announces that tonight is the night of the Northwest Family’s Annual High Society’s Shindig Ball Soiree. Mabel, Candy, and Grenda, diving into the room at the first mention of the ball, excitedly explain that this is the best party on earth, and everyone wants to go, but no one but the richest of the rich are allowed. Townsfolk camp outside for days leading up to the party but are never allowed in.
Dipper does not know how they can even think about going to the party held by Pacifica and her family, who have been nothing but terrible to them since they got to Gravity Falls. As he tells them this, Pacifica herself shows up at the door to ask for Dipper’s help with the ghost. He refuses at first, but finally accepts on the condition that Mabel and her friends can attend the party.
At the party, Mabel and her friends mingle while Pacifica finds Dipper a tuxedo. The girls peruse the guest list and find an extremely cute boy, Marius von Fundshauser, a baron from Austria. The girls are all instantly drawn to him, but Candy stops them saying, “He is a white whale, hunting him will destroy us.” The three vow to leave him alone, but all laugh to themselves, knowing that they will do anything but.
After getting Dipper into some better clothes, Pacifica takes him to the room where the ghost activity has been happening. As they enter the room, a lumberjack disappears from the largest painting, and the many mounted heads of bears, deer, wild hogs, and rabbits, appear to begin bleeding from the mouth. The room begins to fill with swirling clouds, and the dead animals begin chanting in a collective deep voice, “Ancient blood and blackened skies, the forest dark shall once more rise!” As they finish the chant, a huge flaming skeleton crawls out of the fireplace, regenerates into the lumberjack from the painting, and chases Dipper and Pacifica out of the room.
Downstairs, Preston is welcoming a variety of guests and the three girls are sampling the food, when Marius von Fudshauser arrives. Candy and Mebel decide to go after him without Grenda, as they are afraid that her aggressive flirting style will scare him away. As if to illustrate their fears, Grenda is across the room flicking a cute boy on the nose and spilling his drink.
Outside in the garden, Dipper and Pacifica are running from the ghost while frantically flipping through his journal. As they run back inside, Dipper discovers that they can trap the ghost in a silver mirror. The two argue about whether or not to enter the room with the silver mirror, because they would have to ruin the carpet with their muddy shoes. As Pacifica tries to push Dipper away they fall into a hidden room behind a painting, where Dipper finds a small silver hand mirror and traps the ghost inside. In her excitement, Pacifica hugs Dipper, and promptly pays him to pretend it never happened.
The Northwests thank Dipper and he leaves to dispose of the ghost, despite Pacifica’s request that he stay for the party. As he leaves the Northwest’s property, he says that Pacifica might not be as bad as he thought. The ghost laughs at him from the mirror and says that Dipper is just like he was 150 years ago, believing in the good of the Northwests.
The ghost explains that he was one of the lumberfolk who built the Northwest’s mansion. The Northwests promised them and the townsfolk a yearly party in exchange for the mansion. As soon as the mansion was built, the Northwest family locked them out and refused to let them attend the party. It started raining and, with the trees gone, a mudslide formed, killing the lumberjack. Well, that and an ax. As he sank dying into the mud, he cursed the Northwest mansion saying he’d return in 150 years to kill the Northwest family if the gates were not opened to the public.
Having heard the ghost’s side of the story Dipper marches back to confront the Northwests, since they could have stopped the curse just by letting the townsfolk attend their party. He yells at them for lying to him and getting him to do their dirty work for them. Preston says that the party is only for the most powerful, and they would never come if “his kind” were there. Pacifica is visibly upset and tries to apologize, but is stopped by her father’s bell. Preston dismisses him, saying it will be the last time his kind will ever come. Dipper goes back to exorcise the ghost, but is tricked by the ghost, who escapes and flies back to the mansion.
Inside the party, Mabel and candy unsuccessfully try to flirt with Marius, and are caught by Grenda. They explain that they didn’t think Marius would like her style, and Grenda angrily flicks Marius in the nose and marches off. Marius watches her, love-struck.
As Preston proposes a toast, the ghost appears and sends the party into chaos. Preston and his wife head for the panic room. Meanwhile, the taxidermy comes to life, scrambling around the room after the guests, and the ghost begins turning everyone into wood. Dipper finds Pacifica in the hidden room, upset about her terrible legacy. Dipper tells her it’s not too late to change her family’s course. Pacifica could break the curse herself if she let the townsfolk attend the party.
The two head to the main ballroom, where Dipper is promptly turned to wood. As the last living person in the room, Pacifica tells ghost that she’s going to open the gates herself. As she reaches for the lever, her parents come up through the floor from the panic room and tell her not to open the gates. Preston rings the bell for her to obey, but she is able to resist her Pavlovian training and opens the gates. By allowing the townspeople into the mansion, Pacifica breaks the curse and restores everyone to life.
As the citizens of Gravity Falls flood through the gates Marius asks Grenda for her phone number, while Dipper and Pacifica laugh together and destroy one of her parent’s expensive carpets. When Pacifica goes to find someone to clean it up, Old Man McGucket runs gleefully up to Dipper, yelling, “Scoobity-Doo! Hornswoggle my goat-knees!” He pulls Dipper into the next room where his entire demeanor changes, and he anxiously tells Dipper that he’s fixed the laptop Dipper found in the bunker and it is now counting down to an apocalypse! Dipper decides not to worry about it until tomorrow, and leaves as the camera pans up to a tapestry on the wall that depicts an all seeing eye, likely Bill Cipher, floating above a burning scene of destruction littered with skulls and bones.
In an end tag over the end credits, two of the party guest sneak away into a closet and take off their disguises, revealing themselves to be none other than Agents Powers and Trigger! Powers tells Trigger, “They’re seeing activity on the machine, it’s go time!” They then argue over where Powers’ phone is, as Trigger, who is disguised as a woman, should have had it in his purse. At that moment, Tambry walks in, looks at the two, and walks right out again saying, “Not even gonna ask.”
This is a fantastic episode. I am always amazed at how there never seems to be even a subpar episode of Gravity Falls. Even with a seemingly reused ghost plot device, they manage to tell a completely new story with plot and character development. At the beginning of season one, Pacifica was a terrible person who you just loved to hate, but this episode single-handedly turned her into a sympathetic character and by the end you were all-out rooting for her! The twist at the end with Old Man McGucket’s revelation was an unexpected and much appreciated addition. It really leaves you on the edge of your seat for the next episode.
This episode had a lot of memorable moments, not the least of which was the possessed animal heads, chanting, and bleeding while the ghost materialized. I was actually pretty shocked by this scene, not because it particularly disturbed me, but because it was actually allowed by the Disney Channel and Disney XD. I’m sure it helped that the whole scene was eerily lit, making the blood a non-specific color. But, it was still blood. I wonder how difficult it was to get this particular scene past the network censors and how much flack over it Disney will get from concerned parents. Regardless, I thought it was a wonderfully creepy scene, and it is just one more item in a long list of things that sets Gravity Falls apart from pretty much everything else on the Disney Channels.
“Northwest Mansion Mystery” was one of the best episodes so far and, since most of the episodes have been top-notch this season, that’s saying something. I can’t wait for the next episode!
Gravity Falls will return with “Not What He Seems” on March 9.
What did you think of”Northwest Mansion Mystery”? Were you surprised at how many creepy sequences Disney allowed? What was your favorite part?
Edited by: Hannah Wilkes