Snark Tank; Recap
Gravity Falls Recap S1E1: Trust Me
Aw man, Gravity Falls! Gravity Falls, you guys! GRAVITY FALLS!
This show is amazing. Everything about it is freaking fantastic! I wish there were stronger words for “love” to describe my feelings for Gravity Falls!
I adore it. I contemplate it. I put it on repeat constantly. I watch new episode numerous times. I browse Tumblr for hours to see what new codes, ciphers, and cryptograms the fandom has found.
I love Gravity Falls.
As I mentioned in my Avatar blog, there’s been a decline in plot based children’s television. This is stupid. Kids are smart and deserve season long arcs just as much as adults do.
Speaking of adults, here’s a show that reaches well beyond its target demographic into the realm of stellar adult programming. This fandom is one of the smartest I’ve ever been in. The writers hide cryptograms throughout the episodes as clues to the bigger plot. Within an hour after an episode airs, you can find all the codes and ciphers already solved. They find the minutest details hiding in the background. If I ever lose my car keys, I’m putting this fandom on it to find them.
The continuity in this show is astounding. The writers laid down points in episode one that came back halfway into season two. They hide Easter eggs everywhere. Something you think is not important is actually huge! Don’t trust anything in Gravity Falls at face value.
Since we hit a midseason hiatus for season two and I’ll be watching the show anyway, I decided to write recaps for the episodes. In these recaps, I’ll talk about the progression of characters and plot. I’ll point out the hidden codes. I’ll also lay out why this is one of the best shows around no matter what age you are.
Here’s the quick rundown of the show.
It was created in 2012 by animator Alex Hirsch.
Twins Dipper and Mable Pines are sent to Gravity Falls, Oregon to stay with their great uncle Stan (who they call “Grunkle” Stan). Their Grunkle had converted his house into a tourist trap called the Mystery Shack where they quickly learn he’s a con man. One day, Dipper finds a mysterious journal describing the weird happenings in this sleepy town. Dipper and Mable set out with their friends Soos and Wendy to find the author of the journal. But things are not what they seem.
Gravity Falls is more than your run of the mill Disney Channel show. They pushed the boundaries so much it had to be moved from the tamer Disney Channel to the older demographic based Disney XD.
I’m hella excited to share this experience with you.
I will note that I will not give away spoilers for future episodes unless presented in the current recap. For example if a character shows up in one episode, I might mention to keep an eye on them. I’ll only lay down important clues to look out for. That way if you’re watching this for the first time, you can form your own assumptions. These will be like, “See Stan pick up that object there? That’s a clue!”
Let’s get started with episode one!
In the cold opening, it’s summer vacation. Families grill up some hamburgers. Children are playing. Then, Dipper and Mabel crash through the town sign on a golf cart running from a terrible monster out to kill them.
Already good times!
We then jump into the theme song.
This is probably one of my favorite theme songs around. Seriously, it’s my alarm that wakes me up in the morning. It lays out that this is a weird little town where not everything is what it seems. It’s upbeat getting you pumped for the show.
All that boring stuff aside, there’s already clues and Easter eggs to look out for! Here’s just a few:
-At the end of the song, you hear a whispers. Play that backwards, and it’s the key on how to solve the cryptograms throughout the episode. This changes throughout the season so always check back on that.
-There’s a shot with a bunch of Polaroid photos:
These are some of your antagonists for the show. Note that some of these don’t show up until season two!
-Keep a keen eye out. For a blip of a second, you can see Big Foot!
-Then at the very end, you see a flash of one final picture. It’s hard to catch, but this fandom is so good at putting these images out there:
Every. Single. Thing. In. This. Picture. Is. Important.
I will point out some of the codes at the end of this recap. That way if you don’t want to be spoiled, you can choose not to read that. Or if you want to try and solve the codes yourself, you can do that too.
On with the episode!
Dipper narrates their parents have shipped them to Gravity Falls, Oregon to stay with their Grunkle Stan. We get a nice introduction of the difference between the twins. Dipper is the logical of the two. Mable is a free spirit who loves the little things like grass and splinters.
Stan has my favorite introduction. He scares the shit out of Dipper and chokes while laughing his ass off.
I love him already.
We also see some great visual gags with the attractions in the Mystery Shack like the Sascrotch.
While working in the Shack, Mabel is out to find an epic summer love. It’s a great montage to show the confidence she has in herself even if her methods are forward. Nothing will stop her from finding her dream man! Mabel stalks a turtle guy, rigs her love questionnaire, and everything in between.
We then get our introductions to Soos, the handyman, and Wendy, a teenager who works at the Shack.
Soos is a comedic relief character. He wishes to be included among the group but is okay with himself when not addressed. Wendy is a bit apathetic and lazy. This is just a job for her. I like they introduced her like this, because you’ll see how far she grows throughout the show.
*whispers* There’s an Easter egg that continues throughout the series in that last picture…
Stan needs someone to put up signs in the woods and targets Dipper. Dipper states the woods are super spooky and he “feels like he’s being watched.” Stan blows him off that it’s local lore made up by con men like himself.
In the spooky scary woods, Dipper tries to hammer a nail into a tree and hits metal. It’s a fake plant. He pries open the door and reveals a switchboard.
He flips a few nobs until a second door opens in the ground. In it is the mysterious Journal #3.
Dipper reads the account about how the unknown author has documented the strange occurrences in Gravity Falls. The author says he’s being watched and the journal must be hidden before He finds it. In big letters, it states “TRUST NO ONE.”
Mabel arrives, and Dipper shows her the journal. There are a lot of great interactions with them that’s one of the best parts of the show. They’re portrayed as real siblings. Hirsch writes the duo based on real life examples from him and his own twin sister. Dipper and Mabel like each other which is pretty refreshing. In a lot of children’s television, siblings hate each other or take different stances. While the twins do tease and get into fights, they clearly love each other. You’ll see many examples of Dipper and Mabel going out on a limb for their twin.
They’re interrupted by the doorbell, and Mabel reveals she’s got a hot date. Summer romances are underway!
In an interesting side scene, Dipper hides the journal from Stan. While he trusts his sister, Dipper doesn’t have that in his Grunkle yet.
Mabel introduces her brand new boyfriend who she met at the cemetery.
Mabel, dear, I know you love the world and all, but RED FLAGS. I love that Mabel is optimistic about life, but sometimes you have to question her gullibility. The new boyfriend introduces himself as “Normal Man” which she corrects to “Norman.” He crashes into the wall as they leave on their date to hold hands and stuff.
Apparently that’s jam and not blood on his face.
Dipper questions his sister’s new boo instead of trusting Mabel on the issue. He consults the journal to see if Norman is even possibly human. Dipper finds there is one possible solution to what boyfriend is…
Soos overhears Dipper talking to himself. For years, Soos has noticed strange things around town letting the viewer know he’s more insightful than first appearance. He advices Dipper to get some evidence so he doesn’t seem crazy.
In an 80s pop scored montage, Dipper spies on his sister and Boofriend with a camera. He finally confronts his sister with the evidence. He tries to convince her that Norman is a zombie, but Mabel wants nothing of it. Trust again comes up in the episode as she implores Dipper to trust her on this.
Both twins are right in this argument in a way. Dipper’s only cares for his sister’s safety, while Mabel continues to try and see the best in people.
Mabel leaves for another romp with Boofriend leaving Dipper to question his instincts on the matter.
Until he reviews the tape and see Norman’s hand fall off!
Dipper freaks the hell out and gets no help from Stan who’s in a deep argument with a tourist over a rock that looks like a face. Rushing to Wendy, he blurts out that Mabel’s in danger. What’s great is that Wendy doesn’t question the fact a zombie might eat the girl. It makes you wonder how much people around Gravity Falls actually knows about the supernatural. She gives him the keys to the golf cart. Soos stops him giving him a shovel to fight the zombie and a baseball bat in case he sees a pinata.
I love this show!
In the middle of the woods, Norman declares he has a deep secret to share with Mabel. Dramatic music rises revealing that Norman is actually…
If you look back earlier in the episode during Dipper and Mabel’s argument, he had flipped to the wrong page of the journal teasing the gnomes.
SHABAM indeed, Mr. Hirsch. I hear you cackling in the distances.
Their leader, Jeff, awkwardly explains they’re looking for a new queen, and they want to marry Mabel. Maturing up, Mabel kindly tells them it’s not going to work out. She’s still a girl and not ready for that kind of commitment. Plus the gnome thing weirds her out a bit.
Jeff answers with, “We understand. We’ll never forget you, Mabel… because we’re gonna kidnap you.”
Dipper rushes into the gnome hideout to find Mabel punching the crap out of some little men. She hits one so hard that it pukes rainbows. There’s no known weakness in the journal for them. Dipper threatens Jeff in another show of protecting his sister. Once again, it’s great how much the twins love each other. Dipper cuts Mabel free, and they flee in the golf cart.
Jeff shouts, “GNOME AVENGERS ASSEMBLE!” They all come together to form one large gnome behemoth of adorable terror.
The Pines Twins frantically drive back to the Mystery Shack to fight Gnome-Zilla. Trapped with no way out, Mabel bravely steps forward willing to marry Jeff and the gnome race. Dipper begs her not to, but Mabel implores him to trust her.
She flips on her womanly wiles to charm Jeff into kissing her. As he leans in for the kiss, Mabel snatches up the nearby leaf blower sucking him up in it.
Mabel gives a mighty EFF YOU! YOU LIED TO ME JERK BUTTS! LIKE I WOULD EVER MARRY SOMEONE WHO DOESN’T RESPECT ME! I AM TOO MUCH QUEEN FOR YOU! YOU HURT MY BROTHER TOO! ONLY I CAN MESS WITH DIPPER SO PISS OFF YA POINTY HEAD WANKERS!
Together, the twins blast Jeff into Gnome-Zilla breaking it apart. Jeff flies away swearing vengeance on the Pines Twins. Without their leader, the gnomes flee into the forest.
The twins apologize to each other. Mabel should have listened to Dipper, but he states they would have been toast without her quick thinking. He also encourages her to not give up on love.
In the first real show of kindness, Stan notices they had a rough day. He lets them each choose an item from the gift shop (but they better hurry before he changes his mind. Stan, I hope I become you one day). Dipper chooses his trademark pine tree ballcap, and Mabel goes for the GRAPPLING HOOK!
The episode ends revealing that Stan has a secret door behind the vending machine leading to who knows where.
Final thoughts on the episode:
I’m going to say something controversial, but let me explain.
This is actually one of my least favorite episodes of Gravity Falls. It’s not a bad episode by any means. “Tourist Trapped” is a strong first showing. It just wasn’t my first episode. My introduction to the series was “The Time Traveler’s Pig” which is the ninth episode of season one. I got everything I needed about the main plot, the characters, and the theme of the show from that. Going back and watching “Tourist Trapped” was a bit boring for me. It was laying out stories I already knew.
That being said, it’s a really strong pilot. Mabel and Dipper balance each other as the leads with neither stealing the spotlight. You get a good idea of the setting and supporting cast. The only missing point is Stan as the third lead, but you get more of him soon.
If I had started with this one, I would still get hooked on Gravity Falls.
I give “Tourist Trapped” 5.5 dirty Sascrotches out of 10.
And I’m only grading it this low so I have room to go up for future episodes. In reality, it’s a solid 7 out of 10.
Warning: Below there are going to be some spoilers below for future episodes.
Quote of the episode:
Norman: Mabel, now that we’ve gotten to know each other, there’s something I need to tell you.
Mabel: Oh Norman! You can tell me anything! *internal thoughts* Please be a vampire! Please be a vampire!
Media of Gravity Falls:
The television shows and books in Gravity Falls are hilarious. They need to be mentioned.
Best character of the episode:
Mable’s best sweater of the episode:
The shooting star
In case you missed it:
While fighting Gnome-Zilla, for a split second you see an Easter egg.
Look behind the monster and you see a guy in the bushes. He becomes important later on.
At the end of the credits, a cryptogram comes on the screen.
“ZHOFRPH WR JUDYLWB IDOOV.”
“WELCOME TO GRAVITY FALLS.”
Remember the picture of the triangle guy in the circle that flashes at the end of the opening credits? To the right of him is another cryptogram.
“VWDQ LV QRW ZKDW KH VHHPV”
“STAN IS NOT WHAT HE SEEMS”
Thanks for reading!