Thursday, November 19, 2015

Recap: Gravity Falls "Dipper vs. Manliness"

Let's face it, "Dipper vs. Manliness" is the most unfair match-up until... well, untill Dipper gets matched up with the next unfair opponent. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's go watch a small boy have adventures in puberty!

...Okay, that might have come out a bit wrong.
Just another day at the Mystery Shack. But on this particular day, the character known only at this point as "Cute Biker" has taken a break from egging on Manly Dan with his cry of "Get 'em! Get 'em!" to shop at the Mystery Shack. And he's being one of those customers. If you've ever worked behind a counter, you know exactly what I mean.

Cute Biker: "I like to get my Christmas shopping done early. Do you have anything that's in the spirit of the season?"

Pff. You call that early? True story: When I graduated high school a few years back, my great-aunt got me a watch from Disneyland's 25th anniversary. Which happened before I was even in kindergarten.

Grunkle Stan tries to appease him with some "crystals," but the Cute Biker correctly identifies them as broken glass.

Grunkle Stan: "What're you, a cop?"

The Mystery Twins enter to complain that they're hungry and smack their stomachs together in a clip that would subsequently be used in Subway commercials.

I may or may not do this every time I go to Subway now.
But Grunkle Stan insists that he's got a customer to take care of. Then he comes to his senses and they lock the biker inside while they haul it to Greasy's Diner.

It seems as though the whole town has turned up to eat there. Free Pizza Guy is putting up with a woodpecker getting sawdust all over his food, Old Man McGucket is OD-ing on coffee, Manly Dan is taking his daughter Wendy for a nice meal, and Deputy Durland is timing how fast Sheriff Blubs can eat a whole stack of pancakes with the radar gun.

The Pines sit down at a booth, whereupon Stan greets their waitress, Lazy Susan (Jennifer Coolidge).

Grunkle Stan: "There's my little ray of sunshine! Where were you yesterday?"
Lazy Susan: "I got hit by a bus!"

They share a laugh over this, and Grunkle Stan, ever the cheapskate, asks if they do split plates.

Lazy Susan: "Maaaaaaybe!"

Well, I guess with one eye permanently closed, you kind of have to announce your winks.
Grunkle Stan: "We'll all split a one-fourth of the number seven, plus a free salad dressing for the lady, and a small plate of ketchup for the boy."

But Mabel protests that she was kind of hoping for pancakes.

Grunkle Stan: "With the fancy flour they use these days?"

Grunkle Stan is made of money. Myth confirmed.
But Dipper spies one of those strength-tester machines in the corner. And as luck would have it, the prize is free pancakes.

Dipper: "Don't worry, guys, pancakes are on me. I'm gonna win some by beating that manliness tester."
Grunkle Stan: "Manliness tester?"
Mabel: "Beating?"

Mabel and Stan get a good chuckle out of this.

Dipper: "What? What's so funny?"

Well, first of all, there's all the masturbation jokes that could be made regarding you "beating" your "manliness tester."

Mabel and Stan try to break the news gently.

Grunkle Stan: "Ya got no muscles, you smell like baby wipes..."

And, as we all know, he sneezes like a kitten.

Grunkle Stan: "...and let's not forget last Tuesday's... incident."

We get to see said "incident" when Grunkle Stan caught him in the bathroom. Not beating his "manliness tester," but singing to "Dancing Queen" "Disco Girl" by ABBA BABBA.

Dipper, desperate to prove his manliness, pulls down his shirt to show his nonexistent chest hair, blinding Mabel and Stan from the glare. Undeterred, he marches forward and gets ready to go to work.

Dipper: "Time to manhandle this... man-handle."

He unleashes all his strength, rating a "Wimp," which is just below "Middle-Aged Woman."

So, there's no rank between Middle-Aged Woman and Baby?
Dipper, trying to save face, claims that the thing is obviously broken, but Manly Dan comes over and proves otherwise by breaking it with just his pinky, earning pancakes for the whole diner.

Dipper: "I need to get some chest hair and fast."

Take it from me, kid. Be careful what you wish for. I used to have a smooth chest. I took off my shirt to do a bit of yardwork last summer. Suddenly, the Magnum P.I. theme started playing and the guys from Finding Bigfoot suddenly showed up.

A fair approximation.
Stan wonders how he could be related to such an unmanly kid, but Mabel suspects that Stan probably has a soft side, too. And when Stan stumbles over his words to Lazy Susan, Mabel starts suspecting that perhaps Stan has a thing for her. Grunkle Stan fesses up, but admits that he hasn't dated for so long that he wouldn't know how to court a classy woman like Lazy Susan. Who is currently smacking the dessert display because it stopped spinning.

Mabel: "Grunkle Stan. You are a cranky, gross, weird old man. But we will get Lazy Susan to like you because nothing is stronger than the power of..."
Grunkle Stan: "Love?"
Mabel: "Mabel."

After Mabel celebrates with a shot of ranch dressing, we cut to Dipper, out and about in town. He watches the cops "investigate" (see: run around and play with) a broken fire hydrant, accidentally bumping into a woman looking for the mailman. Dipper, hearing the words "male" and "man" takes this the wrong way and runs off into the forest, where he starts working out. Seeing as how he's having issues bench pressing twigs, he's got a long way to go to earn that chest hair.

Dipper: "Is it physical? Is it mental? What's the secret?"

Taking out his bag of beef jerky, he wishes for help. Suddenly, the forest starts rumbling. Animals rush away from the area. Even Manly Dan Corduroy tells Dipper to run for it as he flees the scene.

What, you didn't want to stick around at the diner and eat your pancakes, Dan?
Dipper doesn't make it out in time. After Dipper screams like a little girl, we see a legendary creature of the forest.

So majestic.
He spies Dipper, who begs to not be eaten, but the giant beast just wants some of that jerky.

Dipper: "Are you some kind of minotaur?"
Manotaur: "I'm a man-otaur! Half man, half... uh, half taur!"

Dipper is impressed with this giant-size man thing....

No, not that one.
And his raw, manly way of smashing trees and rocks. But the manotaur senses emotional issues, and listens to Dipper about his manliness issues. Dipper recounts the tale of earlier that day and asks to get some pointers, so the Manotaur agrees to take him deeper into the forest.

Manotaur: "Climb atop my back hair, child!"

Dipper gets an action-filled trip to the Man Cave, the home of the manotaurs, and is introduced to them all.

Manotaur: "This is Pubertaur, Testosteraur, Pituitaur, and I'm Chutzpar."

It's like, how much manlier could those names be? None. None more manlier. We've got references to puberty, the pituitary gland, testosterone, and "Chutzpar" combines the Yiddish word for "audacity" with the Hebrew word for "bull," tying in physical manliness stereotypes with the idea of manhood ceremonies by alluding to Jewish culture, more specifically the Bar Mitzvah ceremony.

Now that's showing your work.

Dipper curries their favor by introducing himself as Dipper the Destructor, but not enough for them to agree to teach him how to be a man. As they roughhouse with each other about whether or not to teach Dipper, Mabel is busy trying to turn Grunkle Stan into a proper gentleman over at the Shack. And after taking the "before" picture for the scrapbook, they try some roleplay, where Soos is taking the role of Lazy Susan.

Soos: "I'm soft, like a woman."

Yep. Wendy's going to have nightmares tonight after seeing her boss flirt with the handyman in drag.
Grunkle Stan's first instinct is to spit on the ground and ask for some money. Classy. Speaking of spitting, back with the manotaurs, they deny Dipper's request. So Dipper tries reverse psychology, telling them that it's okay if they don't think they're man enough to do it. They don't take it well.

Testosteraur: "I have three Y chromosomes, six Adam's apples, pecs on my abs, and fists for nipples!"

Can we change the meme from "Chuck Norris Facts" to "Testosteraur Facts"?
But Dipper whips out his secret weapon. He calls them a bunch o' chickens. It works like their names were all "Marty McFly," and they agree to help.

For his first Man Test, Dipper must plunge his hand into the pain hole, which even the Manotaurs think is painful. Dipper is hesitant, but they egg him on while Mabel tries to teach Stan to smile. The result is so horrifying that I will not show it here, but I can tell you that it scares Soos away.

Mabel: "This is going to take some really great training music."

And so, she puts on a parody of "Eye of the Tiger" that I would actually listen to while mopping at my old job. Here's an excerpt from the lyrics.

Never lose sight of the sights you see/You gotta believe your beliefs are real.

It's wonderfully inspiring, despite the fact that Mabel listens to it while fighting a losing battle.

Trust me, Mabel. It's a lost cause.
After sharing that training montage with Mabel, Dipper relaxes with the Manotuars in the Gravity Falls hot springs. But one final task remains. Dipper is given temporary tattoos and brought before an old, decrepit manotaur.

Dipper: "Is he like the oldest, or wisest, or...?"

But the frail creature gets eaten by a giant manotaur.

Chutzpar: "Nah, he's just the offering."

And so, Dipper beholds the giant, fire-breathing leader of the Manotaurs, Leaderaur. Leaderaur rips a spear out of his chest and demands that Dipper climb the highest mountain and bring back the head of the fierce Multi-Bear, their sworn enemy. Dipper's not too sure about the whole killing thing, but when they find his BABBA CD in his backpack, Dipper gives into peer pressure and vows to conquer the Multi-Bear.

Hello, green blood of censorship.
The journey is long and difficult. Also, Dipper's only wearing a loincloth, which probably makes it more difficult.

Over with Mabel, her makeover of Grunkle Stan has gone horribly, horribly wrong.

Not even the Queer Eye team could salvage this.
Mabel: "Is that throw-up on your shirt?"
Grunkle Stan: "...I don't know how to answer that."

Wendy breaks the bad news to Mabel: Her Grunkle's as unfixable as the spinning pie trolley at the diner. But this gives Mabel an idea, and she tells Grunkle Stan to come with her to the diner.

Mabel: "And leave your pants at home!"
Grunkle Stan: "With pleasure."

Meanwhile, Dipper is discovering what a Multi-Bear is.

It's pretty much what you'd expect.
The lead head asks why Dipper has come, and Dipper matter-of-factly replies that he's here for its head.

Dipper: "Or... one of them, anyway, there's like, what, six?"

The Multi-Bear refuses to go down without a fight, though. Dipper manages to hold his own and actually overpowers the poor thing.

Dipper: "A real man shows no mercy!"
Multi-Bear: "Very well, warrior. But will you grant a magical beast one last request?"

All he wants is to hear his favorite song one last time.

"Disco Girl" by BABBA.

Apparently, all the manotaurs have been making fun of him for it. But having found a connection with his prey, the two of them start singing together. But Dipper still has to kill the Multi-Bear to complete the ceremony. But that doesn't mean he will. He heads back to the Man Cave and throws down his spear.

Dipper: "Listen, Leaderaur, alright? You too, Testosteraur, Pituitaur, and... I don't know, whatever your name is. Beardy."
Beardy: "It's Beardy."

He tells them all that all these stupid aggressive macho tests? Malarkey.

Dipper: "You heard me. Malarkey! So maybe I don't have muscles, or hair in certain places, and sure, when a girly pop song comes on the radio, sometimes I leave it on. 'Cause dang it, Top 40 hits are in the Top 40 for a reason! They're catchy!"

You know what? Dipper's right! In fact, I'm going to listen to "Wrecking Ball" right now! Yeah, you read that right! It's not a bad song and the main reason people criticized it is because that stupid music video and Miley Cyrus's increasingly ridiculous self-sexualization have made her an easy target for ridicule.

Speaking of ridicule, the Manotaurs are decidedly unimpressed with Dipper. They claim that if Dipper doesn't kill the Multi-Bear, he'll never be a man.

Dipper: "Then I guess I'll never be a man."

The Manotaurs all go off to build something and knock it down, while Dipper is left to return to his family.  Speaking of them, Mabel and Grunkle Stan have just arrived at the diner, whereupon Mabel gives an impassioned speech.

Mabel: "Lazy Susan. Listen. I know he's not much to look at, but you're always fixing stuff in the diner. And if you like fixing stuff, nothing could use more fixing than my Grunkle Stan."

Well, that's...

Mabel: "Also, women live longer than men so your dating pool is smaller, and you should really lower your standards."

Blunt.

But it works, and Lazy Susan gives Stan her number. And a piece of pie.

Lazy Susan: "On the house. For you!"

After Mabel spots Dipper outside and Stan eats his pie, Dipper comes in and tells his tale of peer pressure and non-manliness.

Grunkle Stan: "You were your own man and you stood up for yourself."
Dipper: "Huh?"
Grunkle Stan: "You did what was right even though no one agreed with ya. Sounds pretty manly to me, but what do I know?"

And to top it all off, Dipper has his first chest hair! Which Mabel promptly rips out for her scrapbook.

Grunkle Stan: "Don't worry, kid. If you're anything like me, there's more where that came from."

And after they all have a good laugh over Stan's thicket of chest hair...

Dipper: "Seriously, that's disgusting."

Not as disgusting as ripping out Dipper's chest hair and taping it to a scrapbook. Ew, Mabel.
We cut to Stan at home, listening to a message (the 36th one) Lazy Susan left on the answering machine, where she put all of her cats on the phone to say hi.

Grunkle Stan: "How do I get outta this!?"

And with a final message of PU. FDHVDULDQ ZLOO EH RXW QHAW ZHHN. PU. DWEDVK ZLOO VXEVWLWXWH, which translates to "Mr. Caesarian will be out next week. Mr. Atbash will substitute" (referring to the following messages using the Atbash cipher instead of the Caesarian cipher), the episode ends. Which means it's time to review the first episode that could be considered a "Mabel episode," at least in part. Which... I haven't been looking forward to. And you'll see why.

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