Top 11 Gravity Falls Episodes
October 18, 2016
(NostalgiaWeen 2016 opening)
NC: Hello, I'm the Nostalgia Critic. I remember it so you don't have to. If you haven't noticed, I'm kind of a fan of Gravity Falls. (shows the beginning of the opening) (dismissively) Yeah, yeah, yeah, we got it. But who can blame me? There's no bad episodes of it.
NC (vo, as scenes from the show play): The show about a boy and girl who spend the summer with their con artist uncle in a supernatural town has caught on like wildfire. There's cosplay, fan art, fan fiction, disturbing fan fiction [of Dipper and Mabel]. The show has touched a nerve with its hilarious writing, engaging story, and unforgettable characters. It's like Adventure Time meets X-Files, there's no other show like it.
NC: Except maybe... Adventure Time and X-Files, but together.
NC (vo): There's no doubt that this show brings back the nostalgic feelings of growing up in the 80s and 90s, mixed with the technique and storytelling of today's kid shows. Even if you're an adult, you feel like a kid watching Gravity Falls. And seeing how this is the month of dark shadows, spooky creatures, and things that go bump in the night, we're going to look at the Top 11 best episodes here today.
NC: Why Top 11? (as Mabel) Because (shows a photo of Mabel with the grappling hook) grappling hook! This (takes off his hat, and puts on a hat that looks like Dipper's) is the top 11 best Gravity Falls episodes.
NC (vo): "Sock Opera". Mabel comes across yet another boyfriend she wants to throw her heart at, and it turns out he's a puppeteer. So, she wants to put on her own sock rock opera to win his attention. The downside is Bill Cipher, the silliest, yet somehow also scariest creature, switches places with her brother, Dipper, and forces his body into that of a sock puppet, resulting in not only a ton of funny imagery involving Dipper's new form...
Mabel: (laughs) Sorry, it looks funny when you're mad.
(Dipper screams in frustration with his mouth closed)
NC (vo): ...but also a viewing of Mabel's not so subtle opera trying to possess the heart of another shallow fop.
Mable (voicing Gabe Benson's puppet): I'm sorry, Mabel, but I have to go fight...in the war! (A helmet drops on the puppet, and a fake set of muscles appear in front of it as it heads off stage with a war cry)
NC (vo): The songs are fun, the suspense is surprisingly intense, and the idea is perfectly ridiculous. This poster alone is enough to make the episode worth it. Nothing more to say, except it will definitely make you laugh your socks off.
Mabel: Cue applause!
(Instead, everyone boos and walks out)
NC (vo): "Soos and the Real Girl". Everyone can get sucked in too deep into the digital realm, but sometimes, the digital realm can get sucked in too deep into us, too. Soos is trying to work on his love life and comes across a dating simulator game. The game's character, Giffany...
NC: Or is it Jiffany?
NC (vo): ...trains him to go out on a date, but then becomes too obsessed and tries to date him in real life, sabotaging any chance he has for real love. The episode's great for showing the pros of the online world, but also the dangers of becoming too consumed by it. Soos becomes too invested in his false pixelated reality, but even when he tries to leave the pixelated reality, that reality isn't done with him.
Giffany: What's important is you don't have to talk to real girls ever again.
Soos: Wow, that's awesome! Sort of a red flag, but mostly awesome!
NC (vo): A surreal example, but nevertheless, it shows how unhealthy an extreme lack of social interaction, mixed with engulfing yourself in a fantasy world, can go. Many people online suffer with this kind of dilemma, and in so many various ways. Well, this is Soos' way, and he shows that you can start over again and make the best of reality. It just might take a few pixelated hurdles to get through.
Soos: I'm making eye contact, going on dates, and I haven't seen any natural sunlight for thirteen hours.
NC (vo): "Northwest Mansion Mystery". Mabel's enemy, Pacifica Northwest, has been described even by the show as a one-dimensional character. But that suddenly changes when her family throws a big party leaving all the riff-raff out, leading to a ghost haunting the place demanding that they be let in. This is one of the few times we see Pacifica and Dipper team up to fight the menace, leading to a surprisingly sweet kind of romance. Though they never become a full-on couple, these two share an amazingly likeable chemistry. But not just in how well they work together, but in his, as well in our, understanding of what Pacifica's upbringing is like. There's a seriously uncomfortable series of sequences where her father rings a bell whenever she disagrees with him, and she immediately silences herself. Like a dog. It's legitimately unnerving every time it happens, and it actually makes us feel sorry for a character that seemed like a comically simple antagonist. On top of that, the episode is gorgeous with popping colors, heavy shadows, and visually strong layouts. It manages to be both funny and emotional over a character many of us never thought we would feel either for. Such a stick in the mud can suddenly be so complex and interesting. It teaches us that underneath all that shallowness, there might be something more fragile than we realized.
NC (vo): "A Tale of Two Stans". So much of Stan's background is a mystery, from where he grew up, who he grew up with, and, of course, how honest he is. So much of his story, as well as the story of his family, is finally shown here. Proving to be both comic and tragic, his ability to both connect very well, but also be polar opposite with the ones he loves most, adds to the complexity of what originally seemed like a self-centered con artist. But, as the previous episode on this list showed, everyone has a deeper side. It's nice seeing what made Stan who he is, both good and bad. This also starts the possibility of a rift between Dipper and Mabel, wondering if their connection can be severed similar to how Stan's was to his family.
Dipper: I don't know if this is good or bad.
Mabel: Yeah. I liked the way things were here before.
NC (vo): Seeing the parallels between them in both how well they got along, but also in how distant they can choose to be from each other, it's hard not to get emotionally invested in the future of what may happen to them. Definitely more of a serious episode, but certainly has a lot a laughs as well. Complex and interesting with just the right amount of laughs thrown in.
Grunkle Stan: (to Ford) You stay away from the kids, I don't want them in danger. Because as far as I'm concerned, they're the only family I have left.
NC (vo): "Boyz Crazy". With a 'z'. Mabel and her friends have tickets to see their favorite boy band, Sev'ral Timez. No, like, that's their actual name, Sev'ral Timez, again with a 'z'. Upon further inspection, they realize that they aren't really people at all...well, sort of. They're actually all clones, and it's up to Mabel to free them, and show them how to live a normal life. But, will she be able to give them up when the time comes? Do her sweaters change every episode? Not only does this one satirize the craze of the boy bands perfectly, but it even kind of mocks the ones that Disney made as well. Yeah, I know it's supposed to be a Backstreet Boys, NSync kind of thing, but you know you get Jonas Brothers out of this, too. Come on, you know you're all thinking it. The idea of the band being clones is clearly a commentary on what many people have been saying about boy bands for awhile on how they are all the same, with a corporate mastermind making only slight differences. Even with all that said, though, it's surprisingly never too mean-spirited. The boys are just products of a system they were created in, and they're are still wide-eyed and kind to anyone that wants to help them up. I think it would have been so easy to go a meaner route, especially with some of the celebrities (shows Justin Bieber's mugshot) out there, but they keep it innocent while still funny. They even got (picture of) Lance Bass to do the voice of all of the clones. That has to show this is being done in some good spirit. Super clever, but not overly mean, this is the episode to win any vulnerable girl's heart.
Sev'ral Timez: (singing) Mabel girl, we know you love us soooo!
(Mabel is shown crying)
NC (vo): "Weirdmageddon 2: Escape from Reality". Mabel is easily a favorite for most people, so it's no wonder that a world, completely ran and controlled by her, would be amazing to witness. Technically a prisoner of Bill Cipher, Mabel is given her own reality that is determined to make her happy, so she'll never want to leave it. The world is everything you would imagine Mabel would create. Super bright, super silly, totally insane, but also tons of fun. They even got a great cameo with Jon Stewart after he left The Daily Show, playing a strange cat judge.
Judge Kitty: We are here to try Dipper Pines in the case of fantasy vs. reality!
NC (vo): It's Mabel's mind, what do you expect? The episode also does well in rekindling Dipper and Mabel's fallen relationship, as they have to prove to each other the importance each plays in their lives. This helps add a little weight to what is an otherwise madhouse of goofiness. One that, like Mabel, many of us would like to leave. Totally nuts, but also a hilarious adventure: what else would you expect from Mabel's mind?
Mabel: This world always knows what you want. Sometimes, even before you do.
(A chinchilla appears and drops into Mabel's hands)
Mabel: Apparently, I wanted a chinchilla.
NC (vo): "Fight Fighters". All of us have either played or seen someone else play a popular fighting game, whether it be Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, the Capcom games, and so forth. Well, in this episode, all of their blood-hungry cheesiness is brought to the limelight, as one of Dipper's games, "Fight Fighters", is brought to life when one of the characters enters the real world.
Rumble McSkirmish: Now, I must defeat the world's greatest Fight Fighters! Take me to the Soviet Union!
Dipper: That's going to be tough...for a number of reasons.
NC (vo): Everything about these awesomely corny games of the past wreaks havoc on the town, and Dipper tries to find a way to stop him before he destroys everything. The winks and jabs in this are just as funny as the...well, winks and jabs in the original games. They can only be done by someone who loves this type of stuff. Everything from the inability to hold still, the bizarre need to beat up cars, and their talent of absorbing items just by walking on them.
Dipper: Have a taco.
Rumble: Place it on the floor!
(Dipper puts the taco on the voice, and Rumble absorbs it. He then brings up the items box, and selects the taco)
NC (vo): The animation style, the voice acting, the attention to detail is perfect. You won't want a cheat code to skip any of the comedy in this one.
Dipper: I said "stand still".
Rumble: (standing while also swaying left and right) This is as still as I can stay.
NC (vo): "Gideon Rises". This was the end of the first season, and by God, it feels like one hell of a big ending. Dipper and Mable are forced to leave Gravity Falls after Stan's Mystery Shack is bought by their arch-nemesis, Gideon. When Gideon doesn't find what he is looking for, though, he builds a gigantic version of himself to chase down Dipper and Mabel. It's as epically silly as you can get. The fight sequence between the three of them is so creative, so large, but also so funny. You watched impressed, but also laughing at the same time. For a season that has such great moments, both in humor and in scope, this is an episode that brought it all together. It was a completely satisfying climax to the first half of the show. And on top of that, it has one of the biggest cliffhangers ever. We finally see what's downstairs behind Stan's vending machine. It's finally revealed that he knows more than he's letting on. But how much does he know, and what will it lead to? Of course, you have to wait until the next season to find out. What a finale! What an episode! It's huge in all the right ways.
(Cut to NC twitching his eye and smiling a little bit)
NC (vo): "Summerween". Well, you can't have this on a Halloween list without taking about the Halloween episode. Gravity Falls has a slight disadvantage that it talks about a lot of things Halloweenish, yet takes place over the summer. So, how can you do a Halloween episode? Well, it turns out that the neighborhood loves Halloween so much that they do it in the summer as well, and call it Summerween. It's mainly the same thing, except instead of Jack-o' lanterns, it's Jack-o' melons. And it even comes with its own scary story. The Trickster haunts anyone who doesn't have the Summerween spirit, and Dipper wants to skip out so he can go to a Halloween party with Wendy. It's up to the gang to escape this evil entity while also trying to keep the Summerween spirit alive. Almost any episode of Gravity Falls can be seen as the Halloween episode, so even more care had to be taken to separate this from the others, and it totally pays off. From the costumes, to the cheap novelties, to the traditions, it still stands as a very clear send-up to the holidays.
Stan: It's a day when the whole family can get together in one place, and celebrate what really matters... pure evil!
NC (vo): I won't dare reveal the story behind what the Trickster is, but let's just say it's beyond clever, and anyone who has ever trick-or-treated before can recognize and identify with it very quickly. With so many specials to watch around Halloween time, this is a perfect one to add to the list.
(Everyone in the living room laughs maniacally, and then all suddenly stop.)
NC (vo): "Weirdmageddon 3: Take Back the Falls". Well, of course, the final episode would make it on to here. It's everything the show has been building up to, and, unlike some final episodes (Lost, The Sopranos), it not only answers everything, but it delivers exactly what we have been looking for. The plot is very simple. They have to stop Bill Cipher from destroying the world...that's about it. But the lengths they go to to make this battle as epic, creative, smart, and uproariously funny completely pay off. Practically, every episode is building up to the end of the world, and this is pretty much how the end of the world, according to Gravity Falls, would go down, by paying homage to every other end of the world. From Mad Max to Walking Dead to the majority of heavy metal covers, it's every over-the-top extreme that you can imagine. But it also has the emotional side. It is the final episode, so that means every character has to say goodbye. And every one of them is given a satisfactory exit. It really takes its time allowing you to let go of these characters you shared so many laughs and adventures with. And it knows how to not go all Return of the King on us and not overstay its welcome. It's about as perfect a send-off for the show as you can get, bringing the action, the suspense, and hilarity. What a way to end.
NC (vo): "Not What He Seems". You might be wondering why I am putting this one over the final episode, which seems so perfect.
NC: Well, on top of this one being the first episode where gravity does fall...
NC (vo): ...and also being one of the most sought-out reveals in the show's history, this is also the first time an episode made a lot of their fans actually second-guess themselves, which, for a TV show, especially a kids' TV show, is very difficult to do. Stan is arrested for apparently not being who he says he is. We all know Stan has done a lot of wrong things in the past, but as Dipper and Mabel dig deeper and deeper, they discover his lies are part of a web that can never be untangled. The stories just get worse and worse, and Stan isn't really able to defend himself. All he can say is that you have to trust him, you have to trust him, a line he's used to trick so many people before. And with everything that this episode throws at us, we find ourselves, the audience, also having a hard time trusting him, too. What's so brilliant about this episode is that it completely makes us forget what's obvious. It's a main character, in a kids' show, from Disney. They wouldn't suddenly turn him this unlikeable or into an bad guy....w-would they? With yet another apocalyptic climax, we find the fate of everything rests in the trust our characters have for their uncle. And one of them doesn't completely trust him, and the other wants to trust him, even if she doesn't know if she can. It works because nothing but facts and logic from the show's environment are thrown at you, which completely makes you forget the facts and logic of your own environment, that Disney, most likely, wouldn't go the path with this character that you think they might go. This sucks you in so much that you completely forget your better judgement and completely get lost to what's going on. It's one of the few times so much of the audience surrender themselves to the show.
NC: How do I know I'm not the only one who went through this?
(A montage of the scene and various pieces of fan art of the aforementioned scene is shown)
NC (vo): Because the fan art from one of the final scenes is everywhere. People remember this image of Mabel holding her hands up because people remember how torn they were at this scene. They were completely with her in questioning that trust, which makes the moment all the more powerful. It was one of the only times most of us forgot we were watching a show with focus groups, strategic writing, and statistical choices, and became lost to the world and the characters they presented us. They were real, and we didn't know if we trusted them. And we feared that someone would make the wrong choice. Hell, we feared if we were in the situation, we would make the wrong choice! It's everything that made us realize why it was so powerful in one single episode, hell, one single image. It was when it stopped being a show for many of us, and became something much more real and much more special.
NC: Are there any that I missed? Well, leave them in the comments below, and explain why they're your favorite. Hmm, I feel weird talking so positively for so long. If only there was a movie that one of the actors from the show was in that had a connection to Halloween, and somehow used the word "bitch" a lot in it.
(Suddenly, the camera cuts to NC's face turning to it as the organ sting plays and NC smiles. It abruptly stops when the camera gets back in the normal position)
NC: No, no, I got nothing. (The sting plays again as NC holds his index finger with a smile and an idea, but stops again as his smile fades) No, no, no.