Gravity Falls: Season 1, Episode 5
In order to impress Wendy, Dipper trespasses into an abandoned convenience store with a group of teenagers. As Mabel hallucinates from eating banned candy, Dipper, and eventually the rest of the group, soon discover the place is truly haunted.
July 13, 2012
Producer: Disney Television Animation
Director: Aaron Springer & Joe Pitt
Writer: Michael Rianda & Alex Hirsch
Starring: Alex Hirsch, Kristen Schaal, Jason Ritter, Linda Cardellini
Distributor: Disney Channel (later Disney XD)
Genre: Mystery, Fantasy, Comedy, Adventure
Gravity Falls is an American animated series created by Alex Hirsh and produced by Disney Television Animation. The series started on June 15, 2012 and ended on February 15, 2016. Gravity Falls has won numerous awards, including Teen Choice Awards, Kid’s Choice Awards and Annie Awards to name a few. The series ended with only two seasons of 40 episodes, as Hirsh desired to end on a high note and not allow the series to grow stale. Nevertheless, Hirsh commented in interviews about the possibility of revisiting Gravity Falls in future projects.
To the joy of many fans, all 40 episodes were released on July 24th, 2018, from Shout! Factory. Gravity Falls: The Complete Series [Collector’s Edition] includes audio commentary, deleted scenes, and many extra features. It is available on both Blu-ray and DVD.
Violence/Scary Images: Various poltergeist activity occurs, including disembodied eyes, mouth, brain, and partial nervous system (spectral, not real), characters appearing as skeletons in a reflection, objects moving by themselves, lights turning on and off, and a head twisting 180 degrees. Some characters are dematerialized into various scary traps, including a CCTV, dance video game machine, and hot dog grill roller. An elderly couple dies on-screen due to heart attack. Chalk outlines appear on the floor, implying two people died. Dipper makes Mabel fall off a globe. A teen punches another teen in a friendly manner on the arm.
Language/Crude Humor: One of the male friends of Wendy is shirtless, and used as a target for a jellybean toss. Mabel licks Dipper’s hand as he covers her mouth. Teens shoving ice down a teenage male’s pants, around the backside.
Sexual Content: Dipper develops a crush on Wendy.
Drug/Alcohol use: Mabel eats Smile Dip, which is a parody of Fun Dip. Although not drugs, it is banned in America and has the effects of a hallucinogenic drug.
Spiritual Content: Ghosts and poltergeist activity, as stated in the Violence/Scary Images. Mabel is possessed and channeled by said ghosts.
Other Negative Themes: Wendy skips work. Teens trespass in an abandoned building.
Positive Content: Telling the truth and the downfall of being “cool”.
At the start of episode five, The Inconveniencing, Mabel twirls on top of a globe and Dipper asks her if she believes in ghosts. Mabel responds she believes Dipper to be a dork, to which her brother stops the spinning globe, causing Mabel to fall.
Grunkle Stan leaves the Mystery Shack in the hands of Soos and Wendy. But, Wendy decides to slack off with the Pines Twins, much to the fear of Soos. Wendy reveals a ladder, which leads to a secret rooftop hangout. The hangout consists of a folding lawn chair, outdoor umbrella, and a blue cooler with the words “COOL” on it.
A bucket full of pinecones also sits on the rooftop. Wendy confesses she may or may not sneak up there during work, all the time and everyday. Wendy then chucks the pinecones at a red target on the totem pole, and gets a bull’s-eye. The Pines twins follow and Dipper hits a parked car, triggering the alarm. Dipper recoils in failure, but Wendy calls it a “jackpot” and extends a high five to him.
In that moment, wind blows in Wendy’s hair and she encourages Dipper to not leave her hanging. Dipper pauses, mesmerized by her beauty, but he regains his composure and high fives Wendy. Her friends then pull up in a noisy minivan; Wendy asks if the Pines twins are going to tell Stan. Dipper zips his lips shut and throws away the imaginary key. Wendy does the same, agreeing to silence.
Crushing on Wendy
Wendy expertly descends on the tops of nearby evergreen trees and jumps into her friends’ van. They speed off and Dipper giddily proclaims about the good time he had. Mabel notices the infatuation of her brother for Wendy and teases him about it. Dipper denies this, and says he just thinks Wendy is cool.
Dipper continues, saying, “It’s not like I lay awake at night thinking about her.” The rooftop scene immediately cuts to Dipper laying awake at night on his bed, staring at the ceiling. Realizing he does think about Wendy, Dipper says “Uh oh.”
Later, Mabel and Wendy have a random dance party as Dipper looks on pretending to write something. Wendy invites Dipper to dance with them, but Dipper objects. Mabel then interjects about how her mother made his brother do the Lamby Dance. Dipper urges his sister to be quiet, but the curiosity of Wendy is peaked. Mabel immediately pulls out a photo of a younger Dipper in a lamb costume. She explains Dipper pranced around and sung a song about grazing.
An owl clock suddenly hoots and Wendy’s shift ends. She leaves to hang out with her friends, and Dipper awkwardly asks if he and his sister can join. Wendy asks how old the Twins are and Dipper lies, saying they are 13 years old. Wendy agrees to let them tag along. After Wendy walks off to get her stuff, Mabel realizes Dipper just wants to hangout with Wendy. Dipper then flips Mabel’s hair back over her face in response.
Meeting the Teens
Outside the Mystery Shack, Wendy’s friends toss jellybeans at the bare stomach of their other friend, who they are hanging upside down by his legs. One of the jellybeans lands in his belly button and the thrower is shown to be Wendy. She introduces the Pines twins to her friends, which include Robbie, Thompson, Tambry, Lee, and Nate. Robbie introduces himself as the one who spray-painted the water tower with a red explosion. Dipper thought it was a muffin, which catches on with Wendy’s other friends. This angers Robbie. Wendy calls them to get going and they all carpool in the minivan. Dipper tries to take shotgun, but Robbie claims it for himself. Thompson drives the gang to their destination.
In the minivan, Mabel crosses off the phrase “You Stink” with a red marker and replaces it with “you look nice today!” Mabel attempts to shout about Dipper’s crush, but Dipper holds her mouth closed. Mabel licks his hand. Back at the Mystery Shack, Grunkle Stan watches TV in his sofa chair, when a black-and-white movie comes on called The Duchess Approves. He screams for the kids to get the remote, as he is too lazy to get up form his seat.
At night, the Pines twins and teens reach their destination: An abandoned convenience store called Dusk 2 Dawn. Dipper asks why it was closed down, and the teens respond some people died inside. Nate says it’s been haunted ever since. A “No Trespassing” sign hangs on the wire fence surrounding the store. Instead of “Violators will be prosecuted!”, it is tagged “Violators will be dead”.
Trespassing in the Store
Everyone jumps over the fence, except Dipper, who lingers on top. Nate grabs him and plops him down. Robbie fails to break inside the store, and Dipper offers to help. Robbie mocks him while Wendy inadvertently patronizes him. This emboldens Dipper to climb onto the top of the roof, break into the ventilation shaft, and open the store door from the inside. The teens congratulate Dipper, including Wendy. But Robbie ignores him. Inside, however, the “Yes We’re Open” sign ominously turns to “Get Lost! We’re Closed” on the front door, unknown to the group.
The Pines twins and the teens stand in awe of the interior of the dilapidated store. Dipper finds an old newspaper, marked May 2, 1995. After Wendy turns the lights on, the group plays around. This includes a food fight with desserts and placing mints in a liter of Cola. Mabel discovers Smile Dip and starts to devour it by the bag.
Dipper and Wendy hangout on top of the aisle shelves, eating popsicles. Wendy notes everyone is having fun (to one degree or another). As Mabel hallucinates from the Smile Dip, Wendy says Dipper is mature for his age.
The teens request more ice to shove down Thompsons’s pants from the back end. Dipper goes to the freezer, but to his horror, discovers a disembodied brain, eyes, and mouth connected by nerves floating inside the freezer. Dipper immediately shuts the door and drops the ice. He opens the door again and finds nothing. The teens hear him screaming, and ask Dipper if he is scared. Dipper refutes this, despite the spilled ice. Dipper distracts the teens with Dancy Pants Revolution, a dance video game booth.
As the teens watch Thompson play the dancing game, Dippers sees skeleton reflections of everyone in the glass doors. Dippers breaks away from the group and attempts to call Grunkle Stan. He does not pick up, as he is now caught up in watching The Duchess Approves. Dipper explains the problem to Mabel, but she is still hallucinating from the Smile Dip.
Then, Robbie stumbles upon a chalk outline on the floor, implying two people died there. Robbie dares his friend to go lie down in the outline. But, before Nate can do this, Dipper stops him. Dipper warns of the possibility the store is haunted, bringing down the mood of the group.
The teens ridicule Dipper, which aggravates him. Dipper lays back in one of the outlines, which causes the chalk to light up and shut down the electronics in the store. Tambry suddenly dematerializes in a green glow, dropping her cellphone. She rematerializes in the CCTV screen, much to the dread of the entire group.
Tambry screams from inside the CCTV screen and Robbie wants to leave. Thompson still dances on the Dancy Pants Revolution, against his will. Thompson dematerializes and rematerializes inside the video game screen. The direction arrows of the game begin stabbing Thompson.
Robbie tries tossing the cash register to break the door, but the register disappears, causing a flash of green light. Dipper realizes whatever is causing the horrific phenomena must be doing it for a reason. Some of the teens deride his reasoning, including Lee. Lee then levitates into the air and dematerializes. He rematerializes onto the box of a Froot Loops parody. The toucan says, “I’m bonkers for eating you alive” and attacks Lee with a spoon.
The Possession of Mabel Pines
Mabel appears, floating with a ghostly green glow around her. She is possessed by the entity, which causes the paranormal activity. Wendy apologizes and Dipper asks to leave. The ghost agrees, also pushing the hotdogs from the roller grill. Robbie and Lee scream and attempt to leave, but the door slams in their faces. Lee yells at the ghost, which irritates it.
Lee then levitates and dematerializes. He rematerializes inside the roller grill as a humanoid hotdog. As her eyes glow, the possessed Mabel announces, “It begins.” All items begin to float and gravity flips upside down in the store. Dipper and Wendy hide in a cabinet. Wendy wonders why the ghost is attacking; Dipper says maybe the ghosts want revenge. But, Wendy says everything they did were normal teenage things, to which Dipper deduces is the cause.
Dipper exits the cabinet. As the ghost levitates him into the air, Dipper tells it he is 12 years old, and not a teenager. Some of the paranormal activity ends and the entities show themselves to be a dead elderly couple. They stop possessing Mabel and drop her in a pile of canned foods. The spectral couple recounts why they hate teenagers. When they were alive, teenagers were a scourge on their store. So, they banned them. But, the teenagers retaliated with rap music. The music and lyrics traumatized them so much the couple got double heart attacks and they died in their store.
Dipper asks if there is anything he can do, as the present teenagers are his friends. Pa ghost asks if Dipper knows any funny little dances. Dipper responds if there is anything else he can do, which triggers Pa ghost to react with a fiery, “No!” Dipper quickly agrees, saying he knows “The Lamby Lamby Dance.” He tries to get out of it, as he does not have a lamb costume. But, Pa ghost snaps his fingers and one spontaneously manifests on Dipper.
Dipper takes a deep breath and performs the “Lamby Dance” along with the song. The routine satisfies the ghost couple and they free the teenagers. The lights of the store turn back on; the ceiling and floor flip back to their proper place. The teens crawl from their respective traps and an ill Mabel denounces the Smile Dip as evil.
Lee asks what happened and Wendy begins to explain. But, Wendy lies to protect Dipper’s dignity, saying he fought the ghosts off with a bat. Dipper and Wendy then both zip their mouths shut and throw away the invisibility key. With the teens in the minivan, Dipper and Wendy discuss the events of the night. Dipper is enthusiastic about the prospect of hanging out with Wendy. As the minivan leaves Dusk 2 Dawn, Mabel still suffers from a stomachache. She spots her previous message “You look nice today” in the minivan, and calls it a cruel joke. The end credits show Grunkle Stan really getting into Duchess Approves, to the point where he throws the TV out the window in rage against a character.
Dipper develops as a character, as he tells the truth about his age by the episode’s end. Mabel has no true character development, as she is trapped in her candy hallucination for most of the episode. Wendy still lies for Dipper, even though is it a white lie. In my mind, she could have said something not as false.
The humor lands in this episode. My favorite bit is Dipper laying in bed thinking about Wendy. As we see the first sparks of Dipper’s crush on Wendy, part of the humor revolves around that. On that note, his infatuation also serves as a point of empathy for the audience.
Being a high school teacher for four years, this episode captures the mood of teenagers. The major theme of being “cool”, including peer pressure and rebelliousness, is analyzed perfectly. The structure of the episode flows well. The music fits, though nothing really stands out as memorable. Robbie is a suitable rival for Wendy’s affections, although he is strangely absent for the climax of the episode.
Episode five marks the first instance of ghosts in Gravity Falls. This is a very common theme throughout the entire series. When I was younger in the 90’s, I carried an interest in almost all things paranormal. A logical explanation exists behind much paranormal activity. But, in some instances, there may very well be no logical explanation. What is the Christian’s response to that?
The Bible says there is a spiritual world. Angels are spirits sent forth by God to be minister to believers (Hebrews 1:14). On the demonic side, Ephesians 6:12 says we wrestle against spiritual forces of evil, not just flesh and bone. But, when a human dies, he or she is judged (Hebrews 9:27) and goes to heaven or hell.
According to Scripture, ghosts cannot be deceased human beings. Fallen angels are demons. And 2 Corinthians 11:14-15 says fallen angels can masquerade as “angels of light” and “servants of righteousness”. Thus, it is completely understandable a fallen angel can easily impersonate a human “ghost”. This masquerade is all under the goal of leading people away from Christ.
With all that said, do I believe this episode will condemn a person to Hell? No. This opinion goes for the entire series. It is fiction, and most children would be aware of this as they watch it. If anything, this would be a good opportunity for parents to discuss how the world perceives the spirit world. However, if a person or family has a background with witchcraft or paranormal activity, then I would recommend against this episode (and the series).
+ Good lesson addressing "coolness" and making impressions
+ Appealing visuals during haunting scenes
- Subject of ghosts may turn off some Christians
- Some of the poltergeist images may scare younger viewers