Well, we had a good run, didn’t we? Two years/one summer of mystery – with Mr Mystery, of course – gone in the blink of a blind eye. The lights fade; Hirsh puts down the pen and closes the journal. The mysteries are solved.
So maybe I’m being a tad dramatic – a Tad Strange, if you will – for mourning the end of my favourite cartoon in recent years? Well, frankly, I disagree. Sure it’s over and it ended in the most apt way possible, but what about the lives the characters would lead after these life-changing events? Wendy Corduroy hinted that the twins would return next summer, but the Stans have decided to venture forth, so does that mean they’ll be lodging with Soos and his Abuelita? How would that affect the dynamic? I can’t help but daydream, even if that’s all I can do.
Whilst some fans have suggested that the signed note from the twins’ friends is a teaser for future series of the show, I admire Alex Hirsh’s decision for it to be a closed narrative. It’s refreshing to see someone create a show with a definite goal in sight, rather than making a format to be replicated endlessly until even its writers resent it (here’s looking at you Spongebob!) So while I know I’ll miss the characters and the humour of the show, its grand narrative and cryptic codexes, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I don’t think the show could’ve ended any differently. Bill Cipher needed to be stopped; Stan and Ford needed to move on from their old grievances and summer had to end, Mabel and Dipper had to go home. The finale achieved all of that. I’ll admit, I was rolling my eyes a little as Wendy took control of a flying eyeball, but after watching the behind-the-scenes special Between the Pines, I now know that that’s just the way they designed her character “an amalgamation of every cool person.” Sure, the giant monster vs. mecha fight is the essence and lifeblood of animes and blockbusters of ages past, a little á la Godzilla, Transformers or Gurren Lagan, really. Then again, Soos was mentoring McGucket in the ways of anime, so despite having all the clichéd trappings of a blockbuster’s “final showdown,” it was handled in a way that still rang true for the characters.
So of course Stan wants nothing to do with a paranormal event or heroics – unless it holds a profit for him – but he can’t abide being up-staged by Ford again. He’s lived in his brother’s shadow all his life, so, at the risk of the whole world, he forces a “thank you” from Ford before cooperating. It’s simply the kind of man he is: tired of being the black sheep and wanting recognition for the time Ford wasn’t the perfect twin.
For me, the episode excelled in the areas that Gravity Falls always does best: the small moments between the characters; the bittersweet opportunity to watch relationships grow or crash and burn. It’s a story-telling element I adore in any show, live-action or animated, and lately there’s been a wealth of shows that do it well, particularly GF and Steven Universe. Pacifica’s acceptance and new-found friendship of Mabel and Dipper was perfect – a direct contrast to her original appearance in the show, but still showed her being embarrassed by them. This had been a long time coming though, after all the twins had given her new perspective on family life and Dipper had saved the lives of her and her parents before. Her new respect of them has a good foundation from this point of view, but her snarkiness is still an intrinsic part of her personality and serves to remind us that there’re different types of friendship.
Soos’s outrage of Stan’s plans to leave Gravity Falls and the Mystery Shack is both telling of his love of his job (and the heart-warming speech he gave solidifies this), and his respect for Stan as a father-figure to him. I can’t help but think Soos’s desperation for Stan to remember their manager-employee bond is a reflection to his abandonment issues, caused by his biological father’s absence throughout his life. After all, Stan offered Soos the job when he saw him as a down-trodden child, who had wanted nothing more than a visit from his dad, on his birthday. And, of course, if Stan left, so too would Soos’s fan-fiction muse!
Stan’s planned adventure with Ford, aboard the Stan o’ War II, makes good on his wish to be able to get on with his brother like they used to. From the cutaway to Stan punching a sea-monster in the face, and laughing with Ford, it seems to go well. Heck, even though they’re not as fresh-faced as your typical cartoon protagonists, I’d love to see a show about the older Pines twin’s adventures!
The show ends as it started, narrated by Dipper, a snap-shot of an awesome summer with dreams fulfilled; they return to California. While it seems that Gravity Falls is no longer keeping it weird, since the instatement of Mayor Tyler’s “Never Mind All That” law, there’s still very much an air of mystery, an ambience of the bizarre about the place. As for all the speculation I still have about the lives of the characters I’ve come to know and love? Well, let’s just say, that’s what fan-fiction was made for!