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Gravity Falls ‘Weirdmageddon:’ The Horrors of Adolescence Revisited

“You’re scared. Of growing up. And who could blame you? I’m scared, too.”

– Mabel (“Weirdmageddon Part 2”)

When we last left the Mystery Twins, Mabel had overheard a conversation between her brother Dipper and Uncle Ford. Dipper wanted to stay in Gravity Falls, effectively breaking ties with his sister. Mabel was devastated, but before she could confront Dipper, the apocalypse happened.

What follows is an incredibly strange, frightening, and moving three-part series finale that is at times epic and other times intimate, like some of the best series finales. Whether the central characters are dealing with personal fears or fighting to save the world, one thing remains as true as ever: no one does it alone.

“Weirdmageddon Part 1: Xpcveaoqfoxso”

Dipper

The episode opens immediately after the events of “Dipper and Mabel vs. the Future,” with Bill Cipher seizing control of the town of Gravity Falls and turning just about everything “weird.” Honestly, what he does is more grotesque and horrific than anything else, such as “weirdness bubbles,” which can cause whoever comes into contact with them to become insane.

Mabel's prison bubble in Gravity Falls.

However, the bubble Mabel comes into contact with seems to be a prison of some sort, complete with chains around it once it has swallowed her.

Dipper tells Ford that he needs to go and find Mabel in this madness, but Ford tells him that stopping Bill is the priority. Given that Dipper is now Ford’s apprentice, he listens.

They eventually find Wendy, as well as plenty of other familiar faces, hiding at the mall, and Dipper confides in her. He tells her of his conversation with Ford, as well as his subsequent fight with Mabel. Dipper believes the battle against Bill is over, but Wendy isn’t having it.

Wendy and Dipper began the series on an uneven playing field. The latter was the kid with a crush on the cool older girl. Once they got past that, though, they became genuine friends, so it means something when Wendy tells Dipper to not give up and to go find Mabel. It also means something that he listens to her:

WENDY: Look, dude, it’s not over yet. You’ve beaten Bill twice before, why is this time any different?

DIPPER: ‘Cause then I had Mabel.

WENDY: Then you need to get Mabel back. Look, this summer, I’ve seen some amazing things, but nothing as amazing as you and your sister. I don’t know if it’s dumb luck or yin and yang, or whatever, but when you two work together, there’s like nothing you two can’t accomplish.

For Dipper, this summer in Gravity Falls was truly transformative. The Dipper from episode one isn’t all that different from the one in the finale. However, there is one clear difference: he’s not afraid to be around Wendy, and hence, he believes in himself more than he ever did.

Dipper was a nerdy and curious kid who loved his twin sister. He became a nerdy and curious kid who loved his twin sister, but also someone willing to believe in himself. Dipper was horrified by his feelings toward Wendy. Once he overcame that fear, though, he gained a friend. He was also scared of the possibility that he truly was the lesser twin, but that proved to not be true.

They may be twins, but Dipper and Mabel are different people. Dipper comes to understand that. He’s not any lesser a person when Mabel is around. Sure, Mabel’s not nerdy, she can make friends easily, she’s more confident, she’s taller, and she seems pretty happy with her life. Still, that’s who she is.

Dipper’s series arc is concerned with defeating the horrors within just as much as defeating the horrors in Gravity Falls.

As such, it’s a big moment when Dipper doesn’t give up and he and Wendy go to Mabel’s bubble. However, Li’l Gideon stands in their way.

Li'l Gideon dressed as a cowboy in Gravity Falls.

Li’l Gideon

Given that he’s helping Bill, it would stand to reason that Gideon is still a series antagonist. However, as was the case with Pacifica Northwest, this show doesn’t want viewers to write off every young character. Li’l Gideon did some horrible things to Mabel, but the show wants us to understand that he does actually care about her.

What he needs to confront is the reality of the horrors he inflicted on her.

Since the end of Season 1, Li’l Gideon has been in prison for trying to take over the town and nearly killing Dipper. It’s been mostly played as dark humor, but as Dipper and Wendy face him and his goons on the way to save Mabel, one thing becomes clear: Gideon is following Bill in order to protect Mabel:

LI’L GIDEON: Bill explained it to me nice and simple: she was always destined to be mine! And now that I have her in a cage she’ll learn to love me! I have an eternity to wait!

Unlike Dipper, Gideon hasn’t learned what it means to care about someone. In the episode’s climactic moment, Dipper and Wendy (as well as Soos, whom they’ve just met up with) have essentially been cornered. Wanting to get through to Gideon, Dipper tells him this:

DIPPER: Gideon, listen to me, if I’ve learned anything this summer it’s that you can’t force someone to love you. The best you can do is strive to be someone worthy of loving…Look inside, Gideon. If all this is for Mabel, then ask yourself what Mabel would want you to do.

At one point in his life, Gideon had the so-called love of the town, but the only reason they loved him was that he had conned them into believing he was a good guy. Once in prison, his honesty allowed him to form bonds with his fellow prisoners. If he does care for Mabel, he can’t rely on his old tricks. He has to be a better person, so he decides to help Dipper get to Mabel.

With the newspaper photo of their first “date” in hand, this final exchange happens:

LI’L GIDEON: Dipper. Will you tell her what I did?

DIPPER: Of course.

By the episode’s end, both Dipper and Gideon have completed their journeys, having confronted their horrors. Whether those horrors came from within or their past actions, they end up better people.

Dipper, Wendy, and Soos make it to Mabel’s bubble and enter her prison.

“Weirdmageddon Part 2: Escape from Reality”

Mabel

Right away, we know something’s off in Mabel’s bubble. The whole place looks designed to be her heaven. In fact, we come to find out that the inside the bubble is called “Mabeland.”

Mabeland sign in series finale of Gravity Falls.

Dipper understands immediately what’s going on. As Wendy and Soos become seduced by the world inside the bubble, Dipper pleads with them:

DIPPER: Can you guys just hold on a second? Do you see what’s happening here? Don’t forget this world was created by Bill…Bill’s using Mabel’s own fantasies as some sick trap. We need to grab Mabel and get the heck out of here.

This snaps them out of it. They storm a tower where she is being kept, but when they find her, she appears to be fine, complete with the powers of a god. She can do whatever she wants in this place, even moving Dipper, Wendy, and Soos around as she sees fit.

According to Mabel, she woke up here and realized how this world is so much better than the real one. Outside the bubble, there are things like growing up. She appears cognizant of her beliefs and actions. However, Dipper understands that Bill is making her feel the negatives far more than the positives, which are clouding her judgments.

Mabel wants this world because everyone can be happy here. Dipper rejects it, though, and walks out on her and the gang. Her world tries to seduce him with everything that he would want, like being old enough to date Wendy, but Dipper’s a new person now. He doesn’t need anything of this, especially since it’s all fake. As such, he rejects all of this, too.

He exclaims that they all have to get back to the “real world.” This is the one rule of Mabeland. You do not talk about the real world. Dipper gets arrested and taken to plead his case of Fantasy v Reality in court.

What follows is a fantastical courtroom sequence, complete with a kitty cat judge, involving Dipper trying his best to snap Mabel out of this reality bubble she’s trapped in. Arguments are made on both sides, but ultimately, Dipper has had enough. He tries to get through to Mabel, but she covers her ears, not wanting to hear anything that could derail her perfect world.

It’s interesting that given everything Dipper believed Mabel had going for her, she has just as many fears as he did. I believe that he gets this, and that is why he cannot allow Mabel to run away from those fears. He confronted his own, and it’s now her time.

DIPPER: Look, real life stinks sometimes, okay, I’m not gonna lie. But there’s a better way to get through it than denial, and that’s with help from people who care about you. It’s how we’ve gotten through our whole lives.

It’s then that Dipper understands that to reach Mabel, he must understand something obvious about recent events.

DIPPER: Mabel, I thought you were living a fantasy, but look at me! I actually thought I was gonna stay here and be Ford’s apprentice! Spend my entire teens cooped up in a basement with a lab coat? How ridiculous is that? I don’t know what’s gonna happen in the future, but whatever it is, you don’t have to fear because we’ll do it together. I’m not taking Ford’s apprenticeship. We’ve traveled to Heck and back to get you and we’re goin’ back together. Leave this fantasy world. Let’s beat Bill and grow up together.

With that, the twins hug one another, the spell is broken, and the Mystery Twins are reunited once more. Everyone is able to escape the bubble.

Mabel's prison bubble is destroyed in Gravity Falls.

“Weirdmageddon Part 3: Take Back the Falls”

Stan, Ford, and The Wonder Twins Reunited

Part three of this finale is twice as long as a normal episode of the show, but that’s okay because things move at break-neck speed at this point. The plot really takes over. Still, there are plenty of solid character moments.

To defeat Bill, Grunkle Stan and Ford swap places, fooling Bill into entering the mind of Stan. Once there, Ford wipes Stan’s mind, along with Bill. It’s incredibly emotional when Mabel tearfully tries to bring Stan back. It’s heartbreaking.

Thankfully, the memories Stan shared with his niece and nephew over the past summer are enough for his mind to start returning. By the episode’s final minutes, Stan’s memory has fully returned, and he’s also finally reigniting his relationship with his twin brother.

“Weirdmageddon” is ultimately about two sets of twins realizing just how much they need one another. Though middle age, Stan and Ford still have plenty of time together, but they also recognize all the time they lost. Dipper and Mabel, having witnessed this, decide to keep their bond, regardless of what’s in store for their future.

As they pack up for the ride home, friends and family say their goodbyes to the twins. Summer is now over, and as time passes, everyone will get a little older. Mabel has come to terms with that.

Dipper, our main protagonist, gets the series’ final moment. Wendy gives him a note before he leaves, telling him:

WENDY: “Read it the next time you miss Gravity Falls.”

As the car pulls away, Dipper opens the letter, which reads:

“See you next summer.”

He smiles, knowing that when he and Mabel do return, things will have changed, but the connections they made in Gravity Falls will always be there.

After all, horrors, whether in adolescence or adulthood, are always there. Having family and friends to back you up, give your strength, or pull you out of your fantasy bubble is what everyone needs to survive.

Dipper smiles in series finale of Gravity Falls.

Conclusion

Gravity Falls is one of television’s most underrated series because it works on two levels. It is a fantastical animated horror show aimed at younger viewers, and it is also a close look at how our relationship with the world affects who we are as people.

We are a fearful species. We fear threats, whether real or imagined, both from outside ourselves and the inside of our minds, as well as existential threats, like the fear of growing up.

As we reach adulthood, a lot of us come to understand something: we never stop growing. Stan and Ford are examples of this. In fact, no adult in Gravity Falls is a perfect role model, which matches up quite nicely with real life. When we’re young, it seems as if adults have all the answers. We eventually find that’s not true. Still, like Stan and Ford, it’s possible to learn and become better, regardless of one’s age.

The horrors of adolescence are one thing, but the fact that horrors are always there as we become adults is truly scary.

Dipper and Mabel have just started their journeys to adulthood. Their summer in Gravity Falls changed them. They are better people, too, now. But they (and we) know that they will continue to grow. It’s a beautiful, scary thing to grow up. With works like Gravity Falls, it allows a viewer a chance to not feel alone. Animated or not, we can identify with these characters.

We can be scared, but we can also face our fears. When we do, the sky’s the limit, and we don’t need to hide in a fantasy bubble to do it.

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Written by Michael Suarez

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