Review: Gravity Falls Season 2 (1-10)

Same format as before. Thoughts on episodes first. Then overall.

Scary-oke: The show shifts gears almost violently. Stan is revealed as a very different character at last. The conspiracy rises though it won’t quite emerge fully for a long time. The tone darkens. Overall an excellent start.

Into the Bunker: We get teased about the author as the show puts a bullet in the much maligned Dipper/Wendy plot almost immediately. This is a creepy episode. You guess what’s going on fast but it’s very effective. Mark Hamill brings his genius to the shapeshifter. I’m glad it kills my least favorite thread and even lays out why it was bad.

The Golf War: Patton Oswalt makes his inevitable guest spot on a kids show in this era. After two great episodes, just a very good one is fine. This is a very ludicrous episode but it teases how hellish Pacifica Northwest’s life is. It’s a lot of good world building.

Sock Opera: It seems safe to guess in the first few moments what’s going on. Wrong. This is a very creepy, very dark episode that brings Bill Cipher back. The side plot about Mabel falling for a puppet obsessed weird guy is entertaining but maybe more unnerving than the demon plot.

Soos and the Real Girl: We hit on the inevitable killer AI plot. Could’ve seen that coming. This is good stuff all the same. It’s nice seeing Soos get an episode. I like the touch that the guy getting caught up in the dating simulator isn’t a misogynist who needs to learn a lesson but a good guy. Not that those aren’t fun but I like seeing the awkward guy get a win.

Little Gift Shop of Horrors: Another anthology episode. Not as good as the first. In fact the closest to a dud in this set. Still decent but the stories are phoned in. It’s also not without notice the show has Neil DeGrasse Tyson to add to TJ Miller in the list of men credibly accused of harassment in the guests. Eek.

Society of the Blind Eye: A vital episode in explaining the mythology. I love the concept of a cult that’s focused on preserving an illusion of normalcy. This is some dark material as the horror of the cult shines through. What’s learned about Old Man McGucket is nightmare fuel. This is really a disturbing episode, more than the conventional horror.

Blendin’s Game: Soos’ birthday is an excuse to bring back the time travel plot. And this is probably the most depressing episode yet. I genuinely had trouble not crying watching it. The topic of a child being abandoned is a trigger for me, even worse now that I’m a dad. This is gold.

The Love God: A funny episode but I am lost on the message. Don’t play god except when it works out? That’s a horrible idea. It’s really well executed but this is a baffling episode.

Northwest Mansion Mystery: This is what the show sings at. The commentary is laser focused, not just rich people are bad but why. It’s well animated. A good classic ghost story. But more than anything it’s a potent study of Pacifica and it makes you see her story as a tragedy. She’s gone through hell from parents that hate her. You feel for her. The use of the bell is nightmare inducing because you don’t want to know why it works. Great stuff.

It can’t be ignored the first 10 episodes of Gravity Falls are the best so far. Only one eh and several utter greats with a sizable median is something to aim for. It feels like Hirsch went back and reevaluated the show for a dramatic step up.

The show here proves worthy of the best genre comparisons. It’s a tight, well made sci-fi horror show. Despite being for younger audiences it never plays down. It’s surprisingly potent. The scares are common and they’re very effective.

What’s interesting is how we are slowly building to the big reveals. We know a lot but we aren’t yet there. What we know is enough to suggest a tense week to come. I like the teasing. It’s all well built.

If I have complaints, they’re that I still find some of the humor a bit regressive. I don’t need to cringe at Mabel’s friends. I also admit the show is just a bit at an angle for me. I’m not a Twin Peaks guy still. But it’s very good to great.

Next week: closing time.

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