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GRAVITY FALLS: "The Love God" Review
Gravity Falls has always been very strong at developing its characters, and this episode is further proof of that.
With what could be a disastrous premise, actually turns out to be a heart-warming, hilarious episode with character development and world-building, although flawed and with unfortunate implications; especially in the ending.
The plot isn't the strongest, but the humor and development are what hold it together.
The episode opens with Dipper, Mabel, Tambry, Nate, Lee, Wendy and Thompson watching the clouds.
I'm so glad we're finally getting the teen-centric episode Hirsch promised. They are easily some of the best-written supporting characters in a cartoon.
While watching, Mabel notices a heart-shaped hot air-balloon cloud, which Dipper says is actually a hot air balloon. Wendy uses this to tell Dipper of the upcoming "Woodstick" concert, again further developing the town of Gravity Falls itself. She talks about all the bands there, (including the Love God) which lead to some great visual gags.
Dipper is surprised by the mention of an actual concert, having never been to one, and Wendy promises to let him go as long as he's with the "crew."
Cut to Thomspon doing something ridiculous, licking a dirty sponge. What might be a throw away gag is a subtle character moment, something this show is skilled with.
Mabel hears someone groaning, and Wendy decides to lead the group to an open grave, which Thompson discovers to be a weeping Robbie, mourning his previous break-up with Wendy.
This moment actually makes me sympathies with Robbie, something the show had previously struggled with. Before, Robbie was an arrogant, unlikable nuisance. He attempts to hide the fact he is mourning Wendy, which is again more humor and a subtle character moment. Mabel sees Robbie upset, and vows to help him. Dipper is unsure, of course. This may seem insignificant, but it really shows how well-developed the main characters are. The group leave, and it cuts to Dipper, Mabel and Wendy at the shack. Mabel says she is going to help Robbie find a new girl, saying that Waddles and Gompers' relationship panned out. (I love this gag); while Wendy thinks Robbie should "let it go." Man, this show really digs deep into what ticks these characters and their complex emotions. We also see Soos and Melody and their relationship. It's pretty obvious I didn't really care for "Real Girl", but I do think Soos is a great character when used in small-doses. Speaking of that, this episode also has one of the funniest Stan-Soos subplots of the show, in where they attempt to attract performers from the concert using a disturbing hot air balloon. Stan only decides to do this, after Soos encourages Stan not to shoot down the balloons with an arrow. (Funniest gag of the episode by far) Mabel treks to the Valentino's funeral home, and are greeting by his unusually candid (and oblivious) parents, a nice gag. The two instantly warm up to Mabel, and they hand her Robbie's lunch, which he hadn't eaten, another subtle character moment. She hands him his lunch, but Robbie still has a grudge against the Pines family, claiming Dipper "ruined his life.", while Mabel thinks she will be the one to change it, while Robbie sorta rethinks his grudge against the whole family. She leaves, and she looks for a probable match for Robbie, which turns out to be Tambry, a seemingly unusual, but eventually obvious mate for him. In the background, we also see she wants to pair up Dipper and Candy. Ah yes, the show references the fan base and it's pairing and theories once again.
Mabel invites Tambry and Robbie to Greasy's Diner, and they are of course not really that good of a fit then. Upset it's not working out, she steals a potion from a real Love God, and puts it in the two's chili fries, and they then walk off to the concert and "kiss in public."
Meh, I'm not too fond of the Love God. This is kinda one of the episode's flaws. He's funny, I guess, but kinda flat and boring. I guess he serves his job, though.
Cut to Dipper and the gang getting ready for the concert. Secretly, Nate sends Tambry a hilarious text claiming to be a secret admirer. Lee teases Nate about his crush, another great character moment. Mabel walks in, saying she successfully paired Tambry and Robbie, to the group's disdain, which momentarily break up, and shows how lonely Thompson is without a friend. He is personally one of my favorite characters on the show. He feels so real with his insecurities and constantly stresses over being accepted. This really shows how good the characters are, and the show's strengths.
The broken up group walk to the concert, and they are immediately disgusted by the two. Of course, Dipper thinks it was a terrible idea for Mabel to pair up people without their consent, and they decide they must undo it.
This is hindered by Stan and Soos' hot air balloon backfiring. It burns up and crashes to the sky reading "I eat kids", and the townsfolk scream, assuming the worst. This is a really good gag.
After that, the twins run into the Love God and chase him after a potion. He creates an illusion of Mabel's past crushes, and we see just how fragile and how easily Mabel gives in to others. He is then crushed by the balloon, and gives up. He walks to his concert, and the two proceed with their plan.
However, Robbie and Tambry appear to be enjoying themselves, so Mabel begrudgingly decides not to undo it.
This is a really good character moment, showing Mabel realizes her ideas aren't always the best, but she really cares about others and their feelings.
The ending is slightly awkward, though. I get that they're a good fit, but they didn't have a say in the relationship.
I have a feeling in a previous draft they had Mabel undo the potion or something, but the writers thought that would be too cliche.
I know it's cliche, but would you like to be unknowingly forced into a relationship?
This unintentionally makes Mabel seem like the bad guy, or an intruder.
I hope this gets focus in future episodes.
Thompson is then caught by security hoarding snacks from earlier in the episode, (one of Dipper's suggestions and character building for him and how he works well with the teens and how he interacts).
I honestly feel bad for how Thompson is treated, but it is nice insight into how the group interact and how they are affected by Tambry and Robbie dating.
The other teens (and twins) notice and cheer him on. They notice they are having fun, and they are friends again.
The episode then ends.
This was a good episode. Not great, but not horrible or even mediocre. My gripes with the episode were the ending, somewhat weak villain and the lack of representation of the LGBTQ community. That is to be expected, since this is a Disney show. Then again... I also think the Mabel crush plotline was beginning to grow thin, and this episode hopefully resolved it.