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Gravity Falls Weirdmageddon Part 2 Analysis Essay

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While Dipper, Soos, and Wendy try to save Mabel from a strange new world, Bill's forces plan their next move.

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Genres:

Animation | Adventure | Comedy | Family | Fantasy | Mystery | Sci-Fi


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TV-Y7

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Details

Release Date:

23 November 2015 (USA) See more »


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Disney Television AnimationSee more »

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Trivia

Jon Stewart's second time voice acting in an animated Disney show. The year before, he the voiced the character Mr. Random in an episode of Phineas and Ferb. See more »


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Spoofs Game of Thrones (2011) See more »

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SPOILERS, YO.

“What’s ‘Disney clean’?”

I looked up from my spot behind the ticket counter at the movie theater where I work, having been idly cleaning some mimosa residue from the bar to occupy my time on an at-that-point-slow-moving Monday morning. The manager was on his phone and walking by.

“Hm?”

“The review says that the bathrooms need to be ‘Disney clean’,” he explained.

“Oh. Um. I’d say that that means that the floors need to be clean enough to eat off of and then sing a dramatic solo piece about, probably.”

Which I thought was a fair interpretation.

Later that evening, after leaving work in a hella inconvenient snowstorm, I watched the finale of Gravity Falls on its second and final go-around of the night, and it left the strangest taste in my mouth — as though something felt incorrect, nearly-but-not-quite genuine, almost AU about it, but I couldn’t put my finger on what. It was a fine finale, really. Tear-jerking in its own way, tied up most of the loose ends in the way that shows like, say, The X Files don’t[1]; as they went about answering the majority of the question marks that Hirsch & Co leave hanging throughout the two seasons we got in Gravity Falls, Oregon, the final three Weirdmageddon episodes were borderline clip shows, bringing back everything from way back when as little in-jokes for those of us who had been there the entire time. Yes, the ending was perfectly fine. Satisfying. Conclusive. And yet it felt too…happy? Too tied up?

Except this guy. Is he really dead? Can you really kill the master of Time just like that?

“That was good, but it felt very clean.” A friend said thoughtfully, quite literally stroking his beard.

Aha! That was it. That phrase I’d heard earlier in the day: Disney clean. Perhaps in this context it doesn’t mean a floor clean enough to eat off of and then sing a dramatic solo piece about[2], but finalized neatly in a very Disney-feeling way, which felt awfully disconcerting considering how downright dark and eerie of a tone the show adopted in its final episodes.

BACKING UP…BACKING UP…

Weirdmageddon Part 3 started out as a direct continuation of the final scene of Part 2, in which Our Heroes burst through the door of the Mystery Shack to see a haphazard grouping of both one-off characters and favorite recurring faces, including (but not limited to) Grunkle Stan, the Multi-Bear, Old Man McGuckett, Chutzpah, Grenda, Sheriff Blubs, and Schmebulock, and those anthropomorphic French golf balls from the Putt Putt episode.

…no, not THAT Putt Putt.

They’ve all been hiding out in the Mystery Shack since this whole fiasco started because it turns out that the unicorn magic from what on first watch appeared to be a clever throwaway episode earlier in season 2, Dungeons, Dungeons, and More Dungeons, has blessed the place with a protective bubble that makes it effectively invisible to the legions of probable evil running around the town. Further, Unicorn MagicTM acts as a protective shield that prevents the place from being damaged when, after this is discovered and Mabel and Dipper rouse the remaining townsfolk into a revolution, they all magically build a robot/borderline Eva in no time at all using the Mystery Shack and other assorted parts from the town junk yard.[3] Finally, as McGuckett exclaims, a robot he’s making that won’t be used for evil!

The rest of the episode follows an unsurprising trajectory: our motley crue of beloved characters work together to bring down the greatest of wrongdoers, Bill Cipher, while Grunkle Stan has a minor conniption and almost ruins it all but then turns around, levels up morally, and sacrifices his mind, that which makes him uniquely Him, in the end…only to get it all back by looking at Mabel’s photo album (and, as a side note, McGuckett gets his memories and intellect back too in the process of working their giant mechanical house-beast). His sacrifice wasn’t in vain, but it was reversed. Dipper and Mabel go back to Piedmont, the Stans finally get to go on their epic sailing adventure, Grenda gets that handsome royal boy-toy we see her with from the party at the Northwests’ mansion, and our favorite gay cops are all but confirmed to be just that, gay cops.

OTP

And yet the creators dealt with some very adult things. Bill Cipher, again, murdered a baby. We see characters dealing with the uncertain limbo or certain death of their closest friends and allies, such as the shots of a traumatized Sheriff Blubs in the intro credits. Death is flippantly handled, and while that is more likely than not due to network constraints that don’t allow them to actually talk about it, this constraint gives a feeling of such finality being Not a Big Deal. We see innocent people being stalked and turned into stone, Bill making a throne of his enemies’ frozen bodies a la the villains of old sitting on thrones of skulls.[4]

In short: while the entire ending saga is rather dark, the final episode itself is happily ever after. Everyone good gets their time in the sun, and everyone bad is decimated. When Detective Durland is finally freed from purgatory, Blubs runs to him, crying out to “never scare me like that again!” Bill Cipher gets punched in the face by the visual metaphor of Grunkle Stan’s consciousness. Dipper doesn’t get Wendy, probably, but that’s honestly okay, because the age difference (even with the 13th birthday having rolled around!) would still make it a little bit weird. It is distinctly Disney, in that everyone gets a nice, good final chapter to their story except the Big Baddie and everything is magic and kittens.

Now, of course, there is much more than the finale to that, and it could (and probably will) merit several essays on its own.[5] “Disney clean” doesn’t mean bad — it’s the sort of comforting predictability I think many of us probably /wanted/ from this show. Everyone gets to live happily ever after, hallelujah, the end. There are very few characters that I actively wished ill upon.[6] And in Gravity Falls in particular, I think the clean ending itself actually suits the aforementioned eerie nature that the show took on in the end.

Because very rarely do things get such a finale, in life OR on television. Very rarely do people, living or fictional, get such a positive sendoff. And that’s what makes this finale so fitting and perfect: it doesn’t quite fit. The bizarre feeling I got from its conclusion is the same sort of bizarre feeling I got from the rest of the show, but it felt discordant because you don’t expect a Warm, Fuzzy Feeling to have bizarre undertones. Gravity Falls as a series really pushed the limits of what’s acceptable to air on children’s television while simultaneously being extremely dark in tone, and I suspect that the creators had to tie it all up and slap a big old smile on it for the show to still be kid-friendly. In so doing, though, they created a three-episode saga that, intentionally or otherwise, embodied the perfect blend of both Disney Clean and Creepy. Giant, horrifying monsters terrorizing and traumatizing the mostly innocent residents of this wooden enclave? NEVER MIND ALL THAT. People being turned quite literally inside out? NEVER MIND ALL THAT. Everything is fine. It retains that dystopian feel we all know and love, in its own published-by-Disney way. It’s very nearly Orwellian.

_____________________________

1. And this new season isn’t doing it any favors so far, sigh.
2. Besides, they covered that already in Scary-Oke…sort of.
3. I guess that makes unicorn magic the AT field???
4. Also, the Stans pass around a canteen that is probably “filled with water” but we all know what’s up, that is TOTALLY a flask of bad scotch.
5. I’ve actually already got one up my sleeve about Gravity Falls and the nature of memory — keep an eye out!
6. Even Bill; much like Dolores Umbridge, I loved to hate him. I was pretty anti-Robbie, though, but that’s because he was pretty irritating, and I admittedly am the sort of person who hates The Catcher in the Rye.

Images courtesy of Disney, Nickelodeon, and Humongous Entertainment

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