The episode starts at night, showing Dipper and Mabel sleeping in the attic. Ford is also sleeping in his old room, and begins to dream. In his dream, Ford is standing in a field of wheat, with a swing set, the ruined Stanowar, and the ruined Universe portal in the background. Ford stares in shock as the wheat is flattened into the pattern of Bill Cipher.
Bill appears to Ford, calling him his "old pal." Bill says that he's been going around making deals and preparing for the "big day." Bill grabs a copy of the interdimensional rift, warning Ford that he can't keep it safe forever. Bill throws the rift down to the ground, opening a red triangular portal in the sky and burning the wheat field. Ford yells at Bill to leave his mind, telling him he has no dominion in the real world. Bill leaves through the portal, telling Ford that things can change. A series of cryptic images flash as Ford wakes up, telling himself he has to warn his family.
In the morning, Dipper and Mabel try and find a board game to play, as Stan continues his pug trafficking scheme. Ford calls a family meeting, and Dipper and Mabel attend while Stan ignores. Ford asks the twins if they know about Bill Cipher, to which the twins explain their last two encounters with him. Ford, slightly shocked, explains that Bill is growing in power. Luckily, he has a way to shield the Mystery Shack from Bill. To do so, he needs several magic ingredients, including unicorn hair. Ford, looking through Journal 1, shows how unicorns reside in an enchanted glade, and that their hair can only be taken by the pure of heart. Mabel jumps at the opportunity, saying she loves unicorns, and she's probably the most pure of heart in the room. After no objections, Ford agrees to send Mabel on the quest and gives her a crossbow and Journal 1 to help her. Mabel calls Candy, Grenda, and Wendy to help her out. After Mabel leaves, Dipper asks Ford what the plan is to stop Bill. Ford brings Dipper to the second level of the basement, where Ford has made a private study. No one, not even Stan, knows it exists. Ford tells Dipper that if Mabel can't get the unicorn hair, they'll have to block their minds from Bill instead. He shows Dipper a network of terminals, with a helmet connected to it.
Meanwhile, the girls continue their quest. Mabel, Candy, and Grenda are all excited to see a unicorn. Wendy claims she doesn't believe in unicorns, and only agreed to come along to keep the kids from getting into any trouble. When the girls step into a magical area in the forest, Mabel consults Journal 1 and finds that to summon a unicorn, one must utter a deepest chant once used by ancient druids. After Grenda successfully does so, the glade rises up out of the ground, and the girls enter.
Inside, sitting on a rock, is the unicorn Celestabellebethabelle, apparently the last of her kind. Mabel steps forward and explains that she needs a piece of her hair to protect her family. Celestabellebethabelle examines Mabel's heart and comes to the conclusion that she is not pure. The unicorn tells Mabel to come back when she is pure of heart. Distraught, Mabel realizes that Celestabellebethabelle was right and that she has been "slacking off on the whole goodness department." Mabel decides to do a ton of good deeds to make up for it. Meanwhile, Ford flicks the switch on the terminals and puts the helmet on Dipper.
Back at the Mystery Shack, Dipper asks Ford what Bill really is. Ford answers that no one knows for sure, but they do know that he is incredibly ancient, "older than our galaxy and far more twisted." Bill comes from an alternate dimension known as the Nightmare Realm, but he doesn't have a physical form on Earth. He is limited to interacting with people in the 'mindscape', but he could use the dimensional rifts to open a portal straight to Earth. This is why Ford disabled the Universe Portal. Ford tells Dipper the machine he's hooked up to is designed to scramble his thoughts to outside entities so that they can't interact with his mindscape. The terminals show Dipper's thoughts as this process occurs. When Dipper asks Ford what his history with Bill is, Ford dodges the question and tells Dipper to focus on the machine for now. A montage occurs as Mabel performs many good deeds throughout Gravity Falls, with sometimes unintentional results.
Eventually, Mabel succeeds in performing 1,000 good deeds, believing this will make her pure of heart in Celestabellebethabelle's eyes. However, the unicorn still says she is not pure of heart. She explains that doing good deeds to make yourself look better isn't pure at all and that Mabel is literally a bad person. Mabel runs away, crying. Outside the glade, Mabel is curled up into a ball. After the girls give Mabel an unsuccessful pep talk, Mabel tries to brainstorm good ideas to make her pure of heart. Wendy leads Candy and Grenda away from Mabel and tells the girls that since getting the unicorn hair the nice way failed, they should now try it "the Wendy way," without Mabel's knowledge. Wendy then comes up with a plan to get Celestabellebethabelle's hair and whispers it to Candy and Grenda.
Wendy, Candy, and Grenda break into a secret gnome tavern called Gnasty's, asking if anyone knows how to knock out a unicorn. A decrepit gnome in the back of the room tells them a bag of fairy dust will do the trick. He's willing to give some fairy dust to the girls, but he wants a bag of butterflies in return. The deal is done in secret, since butterfly trafficking is illegal. The girls get the fairy dust from the gnome and give him the butterflies. But this turns out to be a sting operation as the gnome cops come out of hiding and arrest him, with Grenda paying one of the gnomes a bribe with one of the bags of fairy dust.
At night, Mabel is still outside the glade. Wendy, Candy, and Grenda sneak up behind Mabel, throw fairy dust at Celestabellebethabelle, and knock her out. As Wendy gets a pair of scissors and prepares to cut a piece of unicorn hair, Mabel storms into the glade and yells at Wendy. Mabel takes the scissors away, telling them what they're doing is wrong. The unicorn then wakes up, sees Mabel holding the scissors, and goes into a rage. She tells Mabel she will never be pure of heart as Mabel tries to explain herself.
Suddenly, two male unicorns appear from behind the forest and admonish "C-Beth" for pulling the pure-of-heart scam again. They explain to the girls that unicorns can't really see into your heart, and that C-Beth was lying. She tells every traveler they're not pure of heart to get humans to leave her alone. Mabel becomes furious, saying that C-Beth is even worse of a being than she is. C-Beth admits that what the other unicorns are saying is true, but gloats in the girls' faces, telling them they can't do anything about it. Mabel screams and punches C-Beth right in the nose. As the girls call for a fight, C-Beth is more than willing to oblige. The two parties yell and run at each other, getting ready for an epic fight sequence. As Dipper is hooked up to the machine, Ford is asleep at his desk. The machine shows that Dipper is thinking of using it on Ford to reveal his past with Bill. After a brief internal struggle, Dipper puts the helmet on Ford. Bill himself appears on the screen. Several images flash on the screen, including one showing a young Ford in his mindscape making a deal with Bill, calling him "a friend." Ford wakes from his sleep and stands up, staring at Dipper with shining glasses. He angrily tells Dipper he shouldn't have done that.
Ford takes the helmet off and throws it across the room, causing shades to fall off the walls. Posters and sculptures of Bill are revealed all over the walls, as if the room were a shrine to him. Dipper takes the rift and shields it from Ford, who begins walking towards Dipper, yelling at him to give him the rift. Dipper frantically asks Ford questions about his involvement with Bill, as he picks up a memory erasing gun and points it at Ford, preparing to wipe Bill out of Ford's mind. As Ford walks closer and closer, Dipper fires the Memory Eraser. The shot hits Ford's glasses, bouncing across the room, and hits the terminals, destroying them. Ford picks up Dipper, telling him to calm down. His glasses stop shining, revealing he has normal pupils. Dipper apologizes for almost erasing Ford's mind, which Ford accepts. He reveals his backstory with Bill to Dipper, saying Bill tricked him when he was younger. Long ago, he had hit a roadblock in his investigation of Gravity Falls. He found ancient writing in a cave, incantations to summon Bill. When Ford read them aloud and went to sleep, Bill appeared in his mindscape. He lied to Ford, telling him that Bill chose to inspire one great mind every century. Bill subsequently made a deal with Ford. Bill would help Ford with his research, but in exchange, Bill would have free access to Ford's mind. At first, it seemed Bill was helpful. Although McGucket was wary of him, the Universe Portal was completed with Bill's guidance. But during the test run of the Portal, McGucket was accidentally transported through the Portal and discovered Bill's true colors. Ford confronted Bill, and Bill admitted that he had lied. He said the Portal would act as a gateway to the Nightmare Realm so that Bill and his fellow demons could show Earth "how to party." Panicked, Ford shut down the portal for good, even though Bill said that wouldn't change anything.
Ford hid the instructions from his journals so no one could finish what Bill started. However, the dimensional rifts could be the next best way for Bill to enter our dimension. If Bill got his hands on the rift, it would mean the end of Gravity Falls and the world. Back on the main floor of the Shack, Ford tells Dipper that there will be no more secrets between them. They will both do anything to stop Bill. Dipper realizes they have no way to Bill-proof themselves, as he broke the machine. Suddenly, Mabel and the girls appear, covered in various unicorn fluids. Mabel managed to get some unicorn hair and a treasure chest full of unicorn goodies. Ford is ecstatic, telling Mabel she is a good person. Mabel tears up and thanks him, but says that she's also realized morality is relative. As if on cue, Stan runs into the room and steals the money from the treasure chest.
As the credits roll, Ford and Dipper finish the Bill-proof barrier. Anyone inside the Mystery Shack will be immune to Bill's mind tricks. Bill is revealed to be watching the Shack in the Nightmare Realm. He comes to the conclusion that if his next pawn won't be inside the Shack, it'll have to be outside it. His eye flashes between all the citizens of Gravity Falls as he searches for his next target.
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- Ford's middle name is Filbrick, after his father.
- Ford has a metal plate inside his head to protect himself from having his mind read by Bill.
- Mabel had a deep obsession with unicorns until this episode.
- Mabel's first word (at least according to her) was "unicorn."
- Mabel has been banned from a petting zoo for taping a traffic cone to a horse's head to make it look like a unicorn.
- Bill is older than our galaxy.
- Bill and Ford designed the portal together.
- Ford feels guilty about what happened to McGucket.
- Ford's Electron Carpet, first seen in "Carpet Diem," returns in this episode.
- The interdimensional rift created by the portal in "Dungeons, Dungeons, and More Dungeons" appears.
- Stan is seen pug trafficking, first mentioned in "The Stanchurian Candidate."
- Dipper and Mabel recall their previous defeats of Bill in "Dreamscaperers" and "Sock Opera."
- The door to Ford's private study from "Not What He Seems" appears.
- The Nightmare Realm, which Bill first brings up in Dipper's and Mabel's Guide to Mystery and Nonstop Fun!, gets further mention as well as a few glimpses.
- When Stanford confronts Bill for lying to him, the silhouettes of Pyronica, Keyhole and 8 Ball are seen laughing in anticipation of showing Earth "how to party." They later show up in the events of Weirdmageddon.
- When Dipper is plugged into Project Mentum:
- Scenes from "Tourist Trapped," "Into the Bunker," and "Not What He Seems" appear in Dipper's thoughts.
- Text of Dipper's thoughts include "I miss Tyrone," the first Dipper clone from "Double Dipper."
- Text of Dipper's thoughts include "Who stole the capers?", referring to a book from The Sibling Brothers series called "The Case of the Caper-Case Caper," which he was seen reading in "Carpet Diem". Another book from the same series, "The Telltale Fable of the Unstable Table," can be seen in this episode resting atop Dipper while he sleeps.
- Text of Dipper's thoughts include "Eeeny meeny miney you," which is what Stan said when he made Dipper put up the signs in "Tourist Trapped," and also what Bill said before he chose Dipper's body as a puppet in "Sock Opera."
- Text of Dipper's thoughts include "That red bathing suit, man!", referring to Wendy's lifeguard outfit in "The Deep End."
- Text of Dipper's thoughts include "I should really try out the president's key sometime," referring to the President's Key that Quentin Trembley gave Dipper in "Irrational Treasure."
- Audio and text of Dipper singing the song Disco Girl from "Dipper vs. Manliness."
- Ford's thoughts contain Stan's line, "My brother is a dangerous know-it-all," from "Dungeons, Dungeons, and More Dungeons."
- One line of text in Ford's thoughts contains the name of his and Stan's childhood bully, Crampelter, who was seen in one of Stan's memories in the episode "Dreamscaperers" and was seen again while Stan was retelling his backstory in "A Tale of Two Stans."
- Ford's initial trust of Bill could briefly be seen in a section of the Journal 3 entry in "Dreamscaperers," in which Ford fondly regards Bill as a friend. The section is scratched out and replaced by a warning not to trust Bill.
- The unicorn entry of Journal 1 was briefly seen in "Not What He Seems."
- The rave music one of the unicorns plays is the theme from Dancy Pants Revolution in "The Inconveniencing."
- Before Dipper triggers the memory erasing gun, he repeatedly says, "Trust no one." This is a reference to the paranormal TV show The X-Files, and also one of the first things Dipper reads from Journal 3 in "Tourist Trapped."
- In a flashback, where Ford is seen in front of a cave wall, there is a phrase: "... when gravity falls and the earth becomes sky, fear the beast with just one eye." McGucket says this in "A Tale of Two Stans."
- Bill's plan was briefly alluded to in Dipper's and Mabel's Guide to Mystery and Nonstop Fun!
- A prototype of the Quantum Destabilizer (aka Experiment 618) can briefly be seen on Ford's desk in his room near the beginning of the episode, before Bill enters his mind.
- Mabel's good deed list reads:
- Save snails
- Plant tree
- Make Stan smile
- Donate blood
- Guide ducks
- Bezazzle Nathan
- Tip Susan
- Old lady biz
- Massage Waddles
- Sponsor clown
- Water tulips
- Take out trash
- Wash Soos
- Scratch Waddles
- Polish Tyler's boots
- Abolish electoral college
- Clean gutter
- Polish shack floor
- Mowed Dan's lawn
- Later, after being rejected by the unicorn a second time, Mabel also writes down: sharpen Stan's pen, fill honey jar, knit Soos a scarf, and brush a cat.
- Other good deeds were planned in production for Mabel, but they had to be cut. The deeds were: changing a car tire, giving an apology letter to Gideon for putting him in jail, paying parking meters, saving Lazy Susan's cat from a tree, writing an apology letter to Pacifica about how she "started that rumor that your butler picks your nose for you," filling Soos' cabinet with cereal, and chasing after a garbage truck for the plastic bottle she didn't recycle. Furthermore, when Mabel put the two snails on the plant, they were promptly eaten by a dog. On the list of "Bad things I did" she writes that she brushed Waddles' teeth with Dipper's toothbrush.
- When Celestabellebethabelle passes out due to the effects of fairy dust, the faun next to her blows S.O.S. on his panpipes.
- The "Cipher File" contains the following piece of information about pyramids:
- Pyramids, also known as "Square cones," are found all around the globe and have deeply mysterious origins. engineers marvel at their seemingly impossible construction, but many don't realize they are actually just the skeleton remnants of an ancient race of large triangular dinosaurs who had very blocky bones. The Cycloptostoneosaurus was a feared predator and roamed the plains of Northern Africa where it subsisted on a diet of warthogs and meerkats.
- Is made tender by their carefree lives and trouble-free philosophies. The reign of the pyramid continued well into the 18th century where a young George Washington once saw one on summer vacation and swore that he would found a nation with the sole purpose of putting an image of it on the backs of dollar bills. Pyramids today are mainly tourist attractions and settings for conspiracy movies. Like that one where the guy has to steal the Declaration of Independence. You know the one, "Conspiracy Hank goes Overboard". If you ever get a skateboard, go to Egypt and try riding downside a pyramid, I hear that's really encouraged.
- The "Cipher File" page titled "Alligans Contractus" contains the following account of an encounter with Bill Cipher:
- There was once a wise Roman philosopher who spent his days in the [unintelligible] of the great emperor Julius Juneus Mayus Marchus. He advised the king in all matters of philosophy and knowledge and soon taught him the value of flossing. Turns out it’s really really really really really important. Start doing it. It’ll change your life. He was considered by many to be the smartest Roman that ever lived. However, this philosopher was not content with simply being the smartest Roman- nay, he desired to be the smartest human EVER. He requested that the Roman army, while conquering, bring back all books and scrolls instead of feeding them to dolphins as was the custom at the time. Soon the pilosopher’s library was filled with more knowledge than any ordinary man could consume in his lifetime, but the philosopher was not satisfied. He needed more. He swore to the heavens he would find it!
- One night, while sleeping, he was visited by a specter. This character, geometrically perfect in form, introduced himself as Billius Cipherus and told the man he could bring him the knowledge he sought- with just one catch. The philosopher was intrigued. “Whatever you need i will grant if it;s within my power!” Billius explained he would need to enter the philosopher’s mind. You know, to hold the door open. For the knowledge. All that sweet sweet knowledge. The philosopher saw no problem with that and let Billius Cipherus into his mind. What followed horrified him. Billius took possession of his form and used it to deceive the Emperor into making a lot of really bad decisions, like giving cats the right to vote and having his army wage war on itself in a game he called “stab the guy to your left”. Only one person survived. They also recalled all gladiatorial combat at the coliseum and replace it with curling, which as we all know is the worlds worst sport. Soon, the empire collaped and it was all the philosopher’s fault. By the time he got his body back, he had been branded a traitor and was sentenced to death, which would have happened except Billius name through on his end of the bargain and filled the philosopher’s head with knowledge. It was really cool for like thirty seconds, but then it became overwhelming and resulted in what the Romans call “Explodus Dome-icus” which as you can guess is fatal.
- The fight between Mabel, Wendy, Grenda, Candy and the unicorns was originally going to be included but was cut due to time constraints.
- Dipper's thoughts displayed on the screen are, in order:
- "Oh man, I can't believe I'm with the author!"
- "Gosh, I hope no one was looking!"
- "Maybe if I cross my legs, no one will notice!"
- "I'm kinda hungry, but I could also not eat."
- "I should really try out the president's key sometime."
- "I could probably rob a bank."
- "I miss Tyrone!"
- "That red bathing suit, man!"
- "Is my fly down?"
- "Disco girl! Coming through!"
- "Wendy! Wendy! Wendy! Wendy! Wendy! Wendy! Wendy!"
- "Ugh, this is so hard! I've been here forever!"
- "Eeeny meeny miney you."
- "Does Ford like me?"
- "Is Bill indestructible?"
- "What's his secret?"
- "Who stole the capers?"
- "Why does he have to be so mysterious about Bill?"
- "I can handle the truth!"
- "I wonder what great uncle Ford is thinking?"
- "Use the machine, it'll show you his thoughts!"
- "Just a peek!"
- "He wants your help; he just doesn't know it."
- "Yes, you are!"
- "Good observation, Dipper! Astute, I'd say."
Additional thoughts mentioned in Gravity Falls: Journal 3:
- "I'm itchy. Why am I always itchy? Will I be itchy forever?"
- "I hope Ghost Harassers lasts another few seasons."
- "Stan needs to hide his magazine collection better."
- "I hope Ford's not looking too closely at these thoughts."
- "Try to think of nothing. Ugh, that was something."
- Ford's thoughts are:
- "I can't tell him, he's not ready."
- "I'm so close to the unified theory of weirdness."
- "I miss dimension 52."
- "I'm sorry, Fiddleford."
- The phrase "you shouldn't have done that" was inspired by Ben Drowned.
- In Ford's dream there are more journals than the 3 known red ones: blue and brown journals with yellow six-fingered hands and a brown journal with a yellow triangle on the cover may be seen, among others.
- The people in Bill's eye shown during the credits are, in order:
- Wendy; Old Man McGucket; Candy; Pacifica Northwest; Tyler Cutebiker; Lazy Susan; Manly Dan; Robbie; Lolph; Dundgren; Sheriff Blubs; Deputy Durland; Toby Determined; Preston Northwest; Sprott; Blendin Blandin; Shandra Jimenez; Soos; Gorney; Tambry; Bud Gleeful; Grenda; Lee; Priscilla Northwest; Mr. Valentino; Mrs. Valentino. [Once it reaches Mrs. Valentino, the list repeats itself, ending at Bud Gleeful before cutting to the end cryptogram page.]
- This episode can be heard "literally" by Mabel, it is reference to Lori from the Nick show "The Loud House".
- During the flashback, Bill and Stanford play "interdimensional" chess, which seems to have different rules due to them both making illegal moves.
- The rave music the unicorns play is the same music in The Inconveniencing from the game Pants Pants Revolution.
- The cryptogram in the end credits is S UPYTYH DIP GAVO QETHI MCBK OHK XEXJB VRW YOUWCHIA VRSV OQ LRDIA, which when decoded with the Vigenère key SCHMENDRICK reads, A SIMPLE MAN WITH EAGER EARS MAY TRUST THE WHISPERS THAT HE HEARS.
- The key is found on a stump when Candy, Grenda, and Wendy enter the Gnome's tavern.
- The cryptogram in the episode's end page is 15-10 21-15-8-16-19-6'5 17-23-11-19 16-19 10-19-19-20-5 23 8-23-1-10, 22-19 5-3-6-19 4-9 13-10-9-1 1-16-15-21-16 5-15-20-19 25-9-3'6-19 9-10 which, when decoded using the Combined Cipher, reads: IN CIPHER'S GAME HE NEEDS A PAWN, BE SURE TO KNOW WHICH SIDE YOU'RE ON.
- When Dipper is looking through The Cipher File under "Mind Scape" there is a cryptogram that reads " & ." Once decoded using The Author's symbol substitution cipher, it reads "BLACK & WHITE."
- The many codes and cryptograms found on Stanford's chalkboard are as following (next to the cryptograms are the decoded text using The Author's symbol substitution cipher. Separated by a semicolon means they are written above each other):
- On the stone wall in the cave Ford found there is a cryptogram that reads: "." Once decoded using The Author's symbol substitution cipher, it reads "IT STARTED WITH BAD DREAMS WHICH BECAME NIGHTMARES. I WAS FOOLISH, I WANTED ANSWERS, I PAINTED THE SYMBOLS, I SAID THE WORDS: WHEN GRAVITY FALLS AND THE EARTH BECOMES SKY FEAR THE BEAST WITH JUST ONE EYE."
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