Review: Gravity Falls – Season 1, Episode 9

Producer: Disney Television Animation
Director: Aaron Springer & Joe Pitt
Writer: Aury Wallington & Alex Hirsch
Starring: Alex Hirsch, Kristen Schaal, Jason Ritter, Linda Cardellini
Distributor: Disney Channel (later Disney XD)
Genre: Mystery, Fantasy, Comedy, Adventure
Rating: TV-Y7

Gravity Falls is an American animated series created by Alex Hirsh and produced by Disney Television Animation. The series started on June 15, 2012 and ended on February 15, 2016. Gravity Falls has won numerous awards, including Teen Choice Awards, Kid’s Choice Awards, and Annie Awards to name a few. The series ended with only two seasons of 40 episodes, as Hirsh desired to end on a high note and not allow the series to grow stale. Nevertheless, Hirsh commented in interviews about the possibility of revisiting Gravity Falls in future projects.

To the joy of many fans, all 40 episodes were released on July 24th, 2018, from Shout! Factory. Gravity Falls: The Complete Series [Collector’s Edition] includes audio commentary, deleted scenes, and many extra features. It is available on both Blu-ray and DVD.

CONTENT GUIDE

Violence/Scary Images: Wendy (along with the stand attendant) gets hit in the face with a baseball(s) multiple times. Time Baby is seen destroying a city.

Language/Crude Humor: Pacifica mocks Mabel. Grunkle Stan mocks fair patrons.

Sexual Content: None.

Drug/Alcohol use: None.

Spiritual Content: None.

Other Negative Themes: Lying about inspection slips. Stealing the time machine.

Positive Content: Dealing with regret.

EPISODE RECAP

Episode nine starts with Grunkle Stan setting up a cheap fair for the Mystery Shack. Suddenly, a sky tramcar with Dipper in it falls next to Grunkle Stan and Mabel. Grunkle Stan hands the Pines twins a stack of fake safety inspection slips and tells them to slap it on anything that looks like a lawsuit.

As Soos rigs a water dunk tank, Grunkle Stan looks for his red screwdriver from the toolbox. Nearby, a mysterious man in a grey jumpsuit hides behind a few port-a-potties. He uses the red screwdriver to fix a device on his wrist, which causes the fill of his jumpsuit to flicker with various images.

Later, the Mystery Fair starts and Grunkle Stan sits in the water dunk tank. He rudely challenges guests to drop him. Dipper hangs out with Wendy, both getting question mark-shaped corndogs. Wendy goes to clean her shirt and Mabel walks up to her brother. Dipper admits Mabel’s advice of simply being spontaneous with Wendy works. Mabel asks if Dipper smells a gallon of body spray and Robbie walks up to them.

Robbie asks them about Wendy and says he has some super tight jeans to show off to her. Dipper tells Robbie to go down a bottomless pit. Robbie leaves, shoulder-checking Dipper as he walks past. Dipper says he needs to keep Wendy away from Robbie. In the middle of Mabel’s promise to help her brother, a pig contest sign distracts her.

Introducing Waddles

Mabel runs up to the pig pen, knocking into patrons. The particular pig oinks at her, seemingly saying her name. Pacifica then walks past Mabel with her crew, calling the pig her real brother. Mabel then proceeds to win the pig by guessing its correct weight. The farmer then hands Mabel her prize.

Dipper and Wendy stumble upon a tossing game, with the prize of a stuffed animal of indeterminate species. Wendy wants one of the stuffed animals, so Dipper buys a toss with his ticket. He gets one chance to knock down the milk bottles with a baseball. He throws the ball, only for it to ricochet back at Wendy’s face. Wendy’s eye swells and Dipper runs to get ice. As he runs back with the ice, Dipper slams into the mysterious guy in the grey jumpsuit. Dipper drops the ice, picks it up and continues to Wendy. But to his surprise, Robbie is already comforting Wendy. As he cools her eye down with a snow cone, Robbie asks if Wendy would like to go out with him. Wendy agrees, stunning Dipper. Mabel walks up to her brother with her new pig, named Waddles.

Mabel sees why Dipper is stunned, as Robbie and Wendy run off to a ride together. As the day comes to a close, Dipper laments his broken heart with a skee ball game. Dipper asks Mabel if she ever wished she could go back and undo a mistake. He then recounts the chain of events that lead to Robbie asking Wendy on a date. Dipper then spots the reason why he couldn’t get to Wendy in time with the ice: The man in the grey jumpsuit.

Future Shock

Dipper goes to confront the man, who he also says he has seen before. The man in grey realizes the kids compromised his position, and attempts to use his wrist device. But his jumpsuit only glitches between images as before. Mabel notices his tech and asks if he is from the future.

The man fretfully denies this and throws a memory wipe at Mabel’s face (which is only a baby wipe). The man finally admits he is a time traveler; Dipper deduces he must have a time machine. Seeing Robbie with Wendy on a Ferris wheel, Dipper asks if he can use it.

The man refuses to let Dipper use the time machine, which looks like a tape measurer. Mabel thinks the man is just crazy. But the man proves himself by time traveling back in Renaissance clothes from a costume store 15 years previous. The man finally introduces himself properly as Blendin Blandin, a member of the Time Anomaly Removal Crew from the future. Blendin needed to stop a bunch of anomalies from happening at the location of the fair, but he doesn’t see any. Dipper suggests Blendin takes a break and Mabel offers a few tickets for the Mystery Fair. Blendin goes on one of the rides, which requires the removal of his tool belt and the time machine. As Blendin enjoys himself, the Pines twins manage to steal the time machine.

Inside the Mystery Shack, the Pines twins study the time machine on a table. Dipper determines to go back in time and undo the mistake that resulted in Wendy going out with Robbie. Mabel also wants to go back to relive the moment she won Waddles. The Pines twins stretch out the measuring tape and go back in time six hours.

Back in Time

The day resets to noon, when Grunkle Stan’s dunk tank initially opens. Mabel runs to wins Waddles again, automatically answering the weight of the pig. Dipper catches up with Wendy again, and tries to win the stuffed animal for her. But, the baseball ricochets into Wendy’s eye yet again. Everything repeats again, including Robbie asking Wendy out on a date. Dipper is confounded by the repetition of events, and Mabel calls it a time curse. He wonders if time itself will always undo any new outcomes.

Dipper and Mabel go back a third time, as well as a fourth, fifth, and sixth. Each time Wendy always gets hit in the face, sometimes in happenstance ways, and Mabel still wins Waddles. Dipper finally tries to solve the problem, drawing up equations on the side of a popcorn machine. He also figures out the one variable that always causes him to accidently hit Wendy.

Wendy congratulates him and goes to win Waddles again. But Dipper needs her for his plan, which he promises will only take a few minutes. He once again tries the tossing game, this time throwing the baseball in the air. At first, it looks like he missed. But with the help of Mabel, the baseball eventually hits the bottles, without hitting Wendy in the eye. Dipper wins the stuffed animal for Wendy. Robbie once again walks up to his love interest, but this time Wendy shows off Dipper’s prize. This disheartens Robbie, who sulks away inside his hoodie. Wendy notices his moodiness and says she went to the fair with the right guy.

Butterfly Effect

Mabel congratulates Dipper and goes to win Waddles again. But she is too late; Pacifica wins Waddles in the time it takes to help Dipper. Pacifica drags Waddles by the collar and Wendy runs off screaming in terror. Meanwhile, Dipper and Wendy ride a corndog boat in the Tunnel of Love. Wendy goes to get funnel cake and the freaked-out Mabel finds Dipper. Mabel wants to go back in time to win Waddles before Pacifica. But Dipper does not want to disrupt the current timeline where Robbie doesn’t go out with Wendy. Brother and sister then fight over the time machine. Amidst the tussle, the time machine accidently hooks onto the corndog boat. It activates and sends the Pines twins all the way back to pioneer times.

On a forest trail, the kids narrowly dodge being trampled by bison. They run off a cliff and fall into a covered wagon on the Oregon Trail. Upset about losing Waddles, Mabel purposely messes with the past, introducing the pioneers to future customs, technology, and events. Dipper takes the time machine from Mabel and they accidently travel to Prehistoric times, where they are attacked by a T-Rex. They escape, only to go into a future where Time Baby ravages society. The Pines twins then time travel through events of several past episodes.

The Pines twins land back in the present where Dipper wins Wendy, but Mabel loses Waddles. Mabel struggles to grab the time machine from Dipper, but Dipper gains the higher ground on top of the port-a-potty. Dipper tells his sister to give it up, despite Mabel’s pleas. Dipper asks his sister if she really wants Wendy to date Robbie, to which Mabel doesn’t know. Depressed, Mabel then walks away and starts thumping her head on the totem pole.

Acceptance

Dipper refuses to be guilt-tripped and says she will forget losing Waddles. He time travels a day into the future to prove his point, but she’s still beating her head. He does this for a week and eventually a month into the future. But, she still beats her head on the totem pole, to the point where vines grow on her. Dipper then realizes what he must do. He pulls the tape of the time machine to return to the present.

Dipper returns to the moment he and Wendy walk up to the tossing game. Before repeating everything, he makes a short speech about forgiving mistakes to Wendy, which confuses her. He then proceeds to follow through with the preordained events, allowing Wendy to be hit in the eye and Robbie to ask her out.

Dipper says it is done. Mabel tackles Dipper out of nowhere and thanks him. Mabel says Waddles thanks him too, as Pacifica walks by holding a chicken pecking her head. Dipper admits he couldn’t break his sister’s heart. Suddenly, Blendin snatches the time machine from Dipper. The time traveler asks how many time rules they broke, before the Time Paradox Avoidance Enforcement Squadron materialize. The Squadron states the displaced time anomalies and arrest Blendin for breaking the rules. Blendin promises vengeance on the Pines twins as the Squadron drag him away.

Conclusion

Grunkle Stan continues to mock the crowd for not being able to dunk him in the water tank. With bullhorn in hand, Grunkle Stan tells one of the Squadron police to take their best shot. He pulls out a laser gun and completely destroys the target, finally dropping Grunkle Stan in the water tank. The crowd cheers, as the Squadron and Blendin dematerialize into the future. Dipper then realizes him and his sister caused the time anomalies.

Dipper then sees Robbie sharing a caramel apple with Wendy. Mabel says she will handle it, and sends Waddles after them. Robbie flees from the pig, causing him to drop the caramel apple. Robbie then bumps a table with a pot of hot water, causing the water to fall on him and shrink his already tight pants. Everyone at the fair laughs, including Wendy. Dipper looks down at Waddles, and says, “That’ll do pig; that’ll do.”

In the ending credits, Time Baby commands Blendin to clean up all of the anomalies caused during this episode. The result is Blendin’s various cameos in past episodes.

REVIEW

The Time Traveler’s Pig is another solid episode of Gravity Falls. The theme of regret fits so well in the sci-fi trope of time travel. Considering how difficult this trope can be, this episode handled it pretty well. In fact, this episode can be seen as a reward for loyal viewers, as Blendin’s cameos from past episodes are brought to light. Only one confusing plot issue crossed my mind concerning time travel and the Pines twins: I wondered why Dipper and Mabel never crossed paths with their past selves during the fair. I assume their consciousness simply shifted to their past selves. But if that is the case, how did they time travel to a past before they were born, like the pioneer times? In any case, this discrepancy is small and dismissible. Issues like this are common with time travel, and no series is above that.

The humor lands in this episode as well. Understandably, much of the humor revolves around time travel. For example, the grandfather paradox comes up when Blendin threatens to erase the Pines twins from existence by making sure their parents never meet. I couldn’t help but think of Back to the Future when Blendin said this, which is one of my favorite film series. A lot of humor can be found in Dipper’s vain attempts to prevent the fated outcome with Wendy.

The plot moves smoothly, from start to finish. Nothing gets confused, which is important for time travel plots. As always, the voice acting was great. But, one stood out in particular: Blendin Blandin, voiced by Justin Roiland. If you are also a fan of Adventure Time, you might recognize his as the voice of The Earl of Lemongrab. Roiland brings that same energy to the nervous Blendin, which works.

Spiritual Application

Philippians 2:3-4 (NIV) says, Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. This verse can be applied to the conclusion of The Time Traveler’s Pig.

When Dipper finally wins over Wendy, he finds it costs his sister Waddles. Although initially self-centered, Dipper sees how much it hurt Mabel. He decides to sacrifice his own happiness for the interests of his sister. Note the sacrificial nature of Dipper helping his sister, as there is no benefit for him to do this. Not causing others to stumble can also be loosely applied as well (Romans 14:13).

Regret is a major theme of this episode. Dipper wishes he could go back and change the mistake of accidentally hitting Wendy in the eye. Unlike reality, he is actually offered this chance through time travel. Sometimes like reality, his subsequent trying to fix the mistake only makes things worse.

I made mistakes in my life, in jobs, relationships, and various decisions. And in the moment, I would carry regret. Like Dipper, we wish we could go back in time and change things. But, I would find later on that God used those mistakes to bring about a particular end I could not plan. We must trust that all things work for the good of those that love God (Romans 8:28)…even our mistakes.

The Bottom Line

Gravity Falls covers the trope of time travel brilliantly, which is no easy task. The series really finds its groove at this point. Minor concerns include a few plot holes involving time travel. Justin Roiland is an excellent addition as the minor character Blendin Blandin. Regret is a fitting theme for this episode to explore.

 

8.8

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Armand Azamar

Armand J. Azamar is a freelance writer and artist from the Chicagoland area. Armed with the Word of God (and a love for superheroes, comic books and speculative fiction), he teaches at New Life Assembly Church and Kankakee Trinity Academy.

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