Snark Tank; Recap
Gravity Falls Recap S1E2: Monster Mash
Snark Tank is where we recap TV episodes. This Gravity Falls recap is for season one, episode two, Monster Mash.
Welcome back to Gravity Falls! It’s been so long!
Well, it has been a month. 221B Con was fun. You can see my write up of it here. Now, I’m back to recaps. Let’s get started!
“The Legend of the Gobblewonker”
We start off the episode with Mabel and Dipper having breakfast. Dipper sees a monster photo contest in the newspaper. They see weird crap everyday! Surely they can win it!
Grunkle Stan arrives claiming it’s Family Fun Day in Gravity Falls. They have to do awkward family bonding or something. He doesn’t know the real reason. Dipper worries because their last family bonding landed them in jail.
He admits he hasn’t been the best caretaker and wants to make it up to them. Then comes one of my all time favorite lines from Gravity Falls ever!
Grunkle Stan: Now who wants to put on some blindfolds and get into my car!
Dipper: Wait. What?
They arrive at their location. The twins remove their blindfolds to find Stan wants to take them fishing. Needless to say that they don’t match his excitement.
What the audience gets is a nice introduction of the colorful townspeople of Gravity Falls. We have Lazy Susan the diner worker, Manly Dan the Lumberjack (who you later find out is Wendy’s father), and Tyler the Cute Biker (voiced by the amazing Will Forte!). Yes, those are their official names.
Through mid-season two, many of the townspeople are there to add flair to the kooky world of Gravity Falls. Don’t let their silliness fool you. In season two, many of them ended up coming back against the Pines Twins. I won’t tell you who to look out for so you can make your own assumptions for future episodes.
The twins question Stan’s urge to go fishing with them. Stan says the guys from the fishing lodge don’t “like or trust” him. Mabel realizes that Stan actually wants to bond with them. Episode one, Stan is pretty cold to the twins most of the way through. We start to see a different side of Stan. He might be a con man, but he does care for these kids. Stan even makes fishing hats for them.
Like many ten year olds, Mabel and Dipper aren’t feeling up to a ten hour fishing trip with their bad joke telling Grunkle.
Lucky for them, the redneck shrieks of a hillbilly ring out across the shore. Meet Old Man McGucket.
He wails to the crowd about once again seeing an awful monster called the Gobblewonker out on the lake. His son, who is the ranger running the lake lodge, tries to silence his nonsense. McGucket claims that he has proof this time showing them his destroyed boat.
The police, his son, and the crowd don’t believe McGucket calling him a crazy old man. He slinks away upset. This is a sad moment as you can see the shame on his son’s face. What’s more heartbreaking is when you get more of Old Man McGucket’s back story in the future episodes.
The twins realize that if they can get a picture of the monster then they could win the picture contest. Mabel has a great fantasy of buying a human sized hamster ball and impressing some 80s style cartoon boys. That’s Xyler and Craz. They’ll be back later in the season.
Mabel is one million percent on board with the plan. Now they just need to break the news to Grunkle Stan.
Soos shows up in a bigger boat that makes Stan’s boat look like a shanty. He’ll help the kids find the monster. Stan can’t convince the kids to stay, and they ride off into the distance with Soos. Their Grunkle is truly hurt by this.
To me, this is a very important scene for Stan especially this early in the show. Up to this point, he’s been a comedic relief character. He’s constantly bending and breaking the rules and isn’t afraid to do illegal actions. But right here in this moment, this is the first time we see the real Stan. As mentioned above, he’s not uncle of the year. Hell, he’s hardly has a safe environment for the kids to stay in. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t care for Mabel and Dipper. He wanted to get to know the kids better and spend the day with them. Yeah, I know that kids don’t always want to spend time with elderly relatives. When I was younger, I wish I had the mentality to spend time with both of my grandmothers. This is a nice moment showing there’s more to Stan than the run of the mill con man.
In their excitement, the kids are unaware of the danger lurking in the water.
Dipper is a man with a plan providing the team with like twenty disposable cameras. There’s a great comedic bit of Soos and Mabel throwing the cameras overboard much to Dipper’s chagrin. It leads to Mabel threatening to break more of their equipment to be co-captain of the ship. They all have a good laugh as poor Stan glowers at them from another boat.
The crew sail into the fog to land on Scuttlebutt Island where the Gobblewonker supposedly is. Soos and Mabel joke around until she notices that Dipper isn’t laughing. Like any good sibling, she teases him for being scared.
….Until they hear a low growling in the trees.
Dipper drops his lantern in fear. An opossum rushes out and steals it. Yes, I did just write that.
Soos says he doesn’t think they should continue with the monster hunt. Let’s chat about Soos for a second. If Grunkle Stan is their caretaker, Soos is the big brother/mother figure for the twins. As the show progresses, he’s the one who protects the twins, gives them guidance, and tows them around. He never minds being the subject of Mabel’s girlie exploits like putting makeup on him or dressing him up. He’s incredibly supportive of both of the twins with their very different personalities. Soos is often the MVP of episodes showing he’s not just a comedic relief character.
Even with Soos’ warnings, the twins press on to find the monster.
Another growl echos from the trees. Sneaking ahead to the lake, they see the silhouette of a large Nessie like beast. They ready their cameras, give a mighty roar, and rush ahead to find…
Making monster noises with chainsaws.
I freaking love this show.
Dipper finally feels guilty for ditching Stan. They could have spent the day with him but chose to go after a wild story from a crazy old man. The shore suddenly shakes as a tale rises up. Something big is swimming in the water towards them. Rising up behind Dipper is the Gobblewonker.
It scrambles across dry land giving chase to our heroes. Here’s another great example of Soos protecting the kids. With Mabel on his back, he grabs Dipper who has stopped to try and save a dropped camera. Yeah, Soos knows what’s up.
Jumping into the boat, our heroes race away from the island. The Gobblewonker dives into the water to give chase.
Let’s pause a moment and get back to Stan. Throughout the episode, we’ve seen mini scenes of him having a rough time of it. He’s upset at the kids, lonely watching other families together, and reaching an angry breaking point. Granted, his great niece and nephew left him to find a supposed monster.
I wanted to point out this one scene in particular as a possible clue. Key word here is possible. This other set of siblings pops up on occasion throughout the series. The fandom usually calls them the “other Dipper and Mabel” or “Schmipper and Smabble” since they look so much like the Pines Twins. These two are sugar sweet perfect and what society would consider normal. As of this moment, they only seem to be background characters. Some think they’re only foils to Dipper and Mabel to show what normal life could be like. Other fans believe they’re going to have a bigger role to play in the long run. Until we know more, we have to chock it up to a possible clue.
The Twins and Soos continue to speed away from the Gobblewonker. Heading towards a dead end with a waterfall, Dipper consults his journal found last episode saying there might just be a cave behind the falls. They take a leap of faith and plow into a cave hidden there. The monster swims in and gets stuck in the cave’s entrance.
Ecstatic at their luck, Dipper takes this opportunity to capture a photo with his last camera.
This is what they were waiting for. They’re going to win the monster photo contest!
Insert METAL CLANK SOUND!
A stalactite falls from the ceiling smacking the monster in the head. It sparks and whirls down as the lights in it’s eyes go out. Dipper investigates to find it’s not a real monster. It’s a mechanical beast made by…
OLD MAN MCGUCKET!
Told you there was more to him than meets the eye.
Here’s where the crazy comes back in. McGucket figured he could catch his son’s attention with a killer sea bot. He ends with saying, “You don’t know the lengths us old timers go through for a little quality time with our family.”
Once again, I wish I had the mentality when I was little to spend more time with my grandmothers. If you still have your grandparents or elderly relatives, go call them and tell them you love them.
The Pines Twins look at their handmade hats from Stan as the reality of their actions against their Grunkle sink in.
Soos: I guess the real lake monster is you two. I’m sorry. That like BOOM just popped into my head there.
The twins and Soos sail back to shore as Stan arrives. They apologize for their mistake. Stan welcomes the three of them aboard. The episode ends with an adorable montage of their fishing trip photos.
…and the real monster lurking under the water!
Final thoughts on the episode
There’s great character work for both Soos and Stan here. Where episode one was focused mainly on the Pines Twins, we see the groundwork of Stan and Soos throughout the series. Stan is tough but loves the kids. Soos isn’t bright but has shining moments of brilliance. They are the right guardians for Dipper and Mabel.
I also love the introduction of some of the townspeople. They truly add flavor to the world of Gravity Falls. They’re not just random background person #6. They have personality. It’s great writing on Alex Hirsch’s part.
It’s still early in the season, so the dire world ending stakes aren’t there yet. This is a lighthearted romp still in the introduction phase of the show.
I give “The Legend of the Gobblewonker” 6.5 Butt Islands out of 10.
Warning: Below there are going to be some spoilers below for future episodes.
Quote of the episode
Dipper: What is the number one problem with most monster hunts?
Soos: You’re a side character, and you die in the first five minutes of the movie. Dude, am I a side character? Do you ever think about stuff like that?
Media of Gravity Falls
The television shows and books in Gravity Falls are hilarious. They need to be mentioned.
Best Character of the episode
Mabel’s best sweater of the episode
The heart with sunglasses
In Case you missed it
When they catch McGucket, he mentions he created a bio-mechanical brainwave generator. Think about that when we get to season two.
On the back of Dipper’s magazine, there’s an advertisement for a child psychic.
That character comes into play in a few episodes.
Also, do you remember the guy I pointed out last recap? He makes another appearance in this episode.
“QHAW ZHHN: UHWXUQ WR EXWW LVODQG.”
“NEXT WEEK: RETURN TO BUTT ISLAND.”
Stan’s license plate reads “STNLYMBL” probably standing for “Stanley Mobile.” Creator Alex Hirsch later said in an interview that it’s “the wrong name.”
See you next time!