Last month we saw what is likely to be our last episode of Gravity Falls for quite some time (less time now that it took me so long to get this review done), but boy did it go out with a bang!
It’s probably needless to say, but if you haven’t seen the episode yet this is your last chance to turn back. There are many, many spoilers ahead!
The episode opens in the secret basement of the Mystery Shack. Grunkle Stan is tinkering with his mysterious portal device. He pulls a lever, which floods the machine’s tanks with a green liquid and activates an 18-hour countdown. One of the books, likely book one, warns him that whatever he is doing will active gravitational anomalies. Of course he ignores the warning and activates the portal, causing everything inside and around the mystery shack to start floating. When the anomaly has passed, Grunkle Stan excitedly says that in 18 hours everything will change. Cue opening credits.
The next day, at their crazy rooftop fireworks party, Grunkle Stan tries to tell Dipper and Mabel something, but cuts off just before the Mystery Shack is raided by Agents Powers and Trigger (as well as an entire SWAT team). Powers accuses Stan of stealing 300 gallons of dangerous waste from a government facility. As he’s hauled away, Stan yells that he is innocent and was restocking the gift shop the previous night. Powers tells the twins that their great uncle is hiding a doomsday device in the Mystery Shack, and that they don’t know their uncle at all. He tells Trigger to take the kids away.
At the police station, Stan is unable to decide whether or not he is “Guilicent” or “Innoguilty” and asks to have his one phone call. He uses the call to contact Soos, and tells him to guard the vending machine in the Mystery Shack with his life.
The twins, on their way to Child Services, realize that if Stan was restocking the gift shop there will be video surveillance evidence exonerating him back at the Mystery Shack. After tricking Manly Dan into running the government vehicle they are being transported in off the road, the twins hightail it back to the shack.
At the police station, Stan’s wristwatch alerts him that another anomaly is in progress. Everything in his cell and in the entire town rises off the ground a few feet, revealing that the gravity fluctuations are getting stronger. At the dump, Old Man McGucket panics that the end times, predicted by his laptop at the end of the previous episode, are coming and shoves everything he owns in a sack (including his raccoon wife).
Back at the shack, Dipper and Mabel find the surveillance tapes, which prove definitively that Grunkle Stan was lying. He did steal the government waste. As the twins try to rationalize his actions, they find a hidden box of fake IDs, as well as an old newspaper-clipping reporting that Stan Pines is dead and an unnamed grifter is at large. The unnamed grifter pictured is Grunkle Stan. As they search for an explanation they find the secret code to the hideout behind the vending machine.
At the police station Stan is in the process of moving to a prison in Washington. As Powers unlocks his cuffs another anomaly sends everyone into the air, allowing Stan to escape the agents handily. He pays a nearby cab to speed away from the jail, leading the police on a wild goose chase and allowing him to make his way back to the shack.
Back at the shack the kids try to get into the vending machine, but are stopped by Soos. After a brief struggle, the kids show Soos that the machine opens and they all enter. As they ride the elevator down, Stan sprints across town, trying to get to the Mystery Shack by the time “it” happens. When Soos and the twins reach the basement, they discover the other journals. Dipper is understandably enraged that Stan would hide the journals from him. A brief perusal of the open pages tells them that the portal, if allowed to open, will destroy the entire world.
Just as they are about to shut the machine down, Grunkle Stan bursts in and tells them that the machine has to stay on. As he tries to explain, another anomaly, this one stronger than any before, sends everyone flying into the air. With no one but Mabel anywhere near the shut down button, Dipper shouts at her to shut the portal down and Stan yells for her to not press the button. Mabel is extremely conflicted, as Dipper yells that she should not trust Stan and Stan yells that he’s not a bad guy. Mabel relents, tells Grunkle Stan she trusts him, and lets go, floating into the air just as the countdown reaches zero and an explosion of light seemingly obliterates the world.
The anomaly passes and everything violently crashes back to earth, but the portal is still open. As the four look on, a six fingered man steps out and picks up journal number one. Dipper asks, “Who is that?”
“The author of the journals,” Stan says, as the mysterious figure pulls back his hood. “My brother.” The face of the man, an almost exact duplicate of Grunkle Stan, is revealed and the episode ends.
This episode was amazing. It was one of the most exciting and revealing episodes of the season, if not the series, so far. It was also one of the most serious. It was not quite as funny as usual, which was a good thing in this case, but when it was funny the humor was on point. Grunkle Stan realizing he was alone and saying, “I can swear for real now!” was very funny. Also funny was Wendy saying, “Heading into work, doot, do, do, do, doo,” then seeing the agents surrounding the Mystery Shack, and turning right around with an, “Or maybe not.”
The episode also had a lot of just plain amazing, beautifully animated scenes. The scene where Grunkle Stan escapes from the agents, with the help of the gravitational anomaly, caused my jaw to drop as I cheered him on. The scenes of the gravitational anomalies were all amazing, cumulating in the most amazing scene at the end with the final anomaly and the portal opening. The revelation of Stan’s brother, even though I sort of knew it was coming, was no less shocking.
As well as answering one of the biggest mysteries of the show, the question of who the author of the journals was, and confirming one of the most popular fan theories, that Stan has a secret twin brother, this episode also opened up a whole new crop of mysteries. Where was his brother? Where does the portal lead? Was Old Man McGucket’s computer pointing to this event or is there something else coming? Was Bud Gleeful affected by the gravitational anomalies (he didn’t rise up like everyone else) or was that just a fat joke?
The character development was so great in this episode. It was almost heartbreaking to watch Dipper and Mabel’s steadfast belief in their uncle’s innocence being crushed. Soos’s unquestioning worship of Stan changing to his acceptance of his new mission to protect the kids, even from Stan, was excellent. And Mabel’s decision to trust her uncle, even though everything and everyone was telling her not to, was just an amazing scene.
Grunkle Stan is such a fascinating character. He is not a “good” guy by any means, but you can’t help rooting for him. You don’t see a character this complex in many “children’s” television shows. He is one of the biggest things that sets Gravity Falls apart from just about any other “kid’s” show out there right now. I want to believe that everything he did was for the good of his family, but only time will tell if I am right to trust him as Mabel did.
Gravity Falls will return this summer on Disney XD.
What did you think of the finale of “Not What He Seems” (S2E11)? What was your favorite scene?
Edited by: Hannah Wilkes