Monday, March 7, 2016

Recap: Gravity Falls "Irrational Treasure"

Gravity Falls simply would not be complete without a government conspiracy episode. I mean, supernatural phenomena and government conspiracies go together so well that The X-Files became one of the longest-running sci-fi shows in history. Which is pretty impressive, considering the 50-plus years of Doctor Who.

Today, Gravity Falls stuffs The X-Files and National Treasure into a blender and slathers itself in the juicy remains.

Sorry, that description was a bit more visceral than it was in my head.
The episode opens up on the Pines stuck in the Stanleymobile in the middle of town. Mabel passes the time by making earrings out of her nachos as Grunkle Stan gets a better look at the rather odd traffic.

Grunkle Stan: "Covered wagons? Aw, no. No, no!"

He speeds off in the other direction, but no matter where he goes, frontiersy stuff follows him. Women gathering apples, farmers taking their wares to market, and cows in the middle of the street. The car ends up surrounded by wagons as Stan emits a scream of agony toward the heavens. Mabel, however, is enamored with the cow outside her window.

Mabel: "I've got a good feeling about today."

They exit the car and take a look at the suddenly-old-timey town as Grunkle Stan explains that it's Pioneer Day, where everyone dresses up to celebrate the day Gravity Falls was founded way back in 1863. Toby Determined comes up to welcome them, and Grunkle Stan responds in kind.

Grunkle Stan: "I will break you, little man!"

After Toby runs away past the old-timey pizza, the twins look at all the attractions the townspeople have set up. Candle dipping, giant turkey legs, gold panning, and a man getting married.

Dipper: "Oh, yeah, I remember this. In Gravity Falls, it used to be legal to marry woodpeckers."
Woodpecker Man: "Oh, it's still legal. Very legal."

But if he wanted to marry a male woodpecker, he'd have to wait until 2014.
Anyway, the main stage festivities are about to begin. The Mystery Twins are excited, but Grunkle Stan just wants to find a way to drive out of town.

Grunkle Stan: "Just remember. If you come back to the Shack talking like these people, you're dead to me."
Dipper: "There's a carpetbagger in the turnip cellar!"
Mabel: "Well, hornswoggle my haversack!"

I'm pretty sure my dad and sister had a similar exchange before she left for Texas to get her doctorate.

Mabel and Dipper head to the main stage, where Sheriff Blubs is in charge of the commencement ceremony. Deputy Durland, on the other hand, is simply having a lot of fun ringing the bell as town crier. So much so that when a woman gets her purse stolen right in plain sight, he reacts by ringing his bell some more.

Sheriff Blubs: "He sure loves his bell."

I'd say that Sheriff Blubs is the black Chief Wiggum... but Chief Wiggum is the yellow Sheriff Blubs.
And so, the ceremony begins as local brat, Pacifica Northwest, takes the stage to introduce her part in the town's legacy.

Pacifica: "You all know me, Pacifica Northwest, great-great-granddaughter of town founder, Nathaniel Northwest. I'm also very rich."

This gets around of applause. And for some reason, Pacifica's mom waves around a Texas-looking flag, as do many of the people in the crowd.

To be fair, American flags are hard to draw.
Pacifica asks for volunteers with "the pioneer spirit" to come up on stage and introduce themselves, which Mabel is more than enthusiastic to do. Dipper says that perhaps getting on stage might not be a good idea, what with their little rivalry from last episode. But Mabel heads up anyway and does some of her usual goofiness, which the crowd seems to actually enjoy.

Mabel: "USA! USA!"

And now, you know the origin of this picture I post every 4th of July.
Pacifica: "I hate to break it to you, but Pioneer Day is for serious people. And you look and act ridiculous."

And for the cherry on top, Pacifica criticizes Mabel's sweater of a dog playing basketball, despite the fact that no rule says they can't play basketball, and reminds her that she has chips on her ears.

Pacifica: "Wow, I'm embarrassed for you. Give her a hand, everybody!"

As Mabel sadly walks off the stage, Dipper runs up to her and offers his sympathy as the Northwests take a family photo.

Mabel: "I need some old-timey butterscotch."

Cures what ails ya.

As the Mystery Twins go to drown their sorrows, Grunkle Stan manages to get his car out of town! And stuck in the mud. Luckily, there's a man with a donkey who can help.

Grunkle Stan: "Donkey Boy. Gimme a hand with my car, huh?"
Donkey Boy: "Here in 1863, I have never heard tell of a 'car.' Pray tell, what is this magic wheel box?"
Grunkle Stan: "Ugh, come on, Steve, you're a mechanic, for Pete's sake. Cut me some slack!"
Donkey Boy: "'Slack'.... I am unfamiliar with this bold new expression!"

Grunkle Stan tries to shake some sense into Donkey Boy, which gets the attention of the police.

Grunkle Stan: "What're ya gonna do, throw me in ye stocks?"

We then cut to Stan in ye stocks as Gideon, dressed up like a dandy, out fopping around.

Grunkle Stan: "Hey, Gideon. Nice outfit. You actually look less girly than usual!"

Hey, an outfit like that was considered the epitome of masculinity back in pre-revolutionary France.
But Gideon is cosplaying as a foppish tomato farmer. Albeit one who keeps "dropping" tomatoes right on Stan's face. As Grunkle Stan curses Pioneer Day to the heavens, Mabel and Dipper sit beneath the statue of Nathaniel Northwest.

Mabel: "Do you think I'm... silly?"
Dipper: "Uh... noooo...?"

Mabel, upset that no one respects her, removes her nachos and ties her sweater around her waist. Pacifica's words have taken their toll.

Dipper: "Why does she think that being related to the town founder means she gets to treat everybody like garbage?"

It's mostly the "being rich" part of the deal. Occupy Gravity Falls!

But Dipper remembers a little something he read in the Journal about Nathaniel Northwest. After briefly trying out a goofy narration voice, Dipper reads a passage about how Nathaniel Northwest may not have been the true founder of Gravity Falls. And there's an enclosed document that the Author believes holds the key

Dipper: "This could be a major conspiracy!"
Mabel: "Really?"
Dipper: "I gotta investigate this!"
Mabel: "Wait! I'm coming with you. Conspiracies are serious, right?"
Dipper: "Oh, yeah, definitely."

And with Mabel's quest to become serious getting a major shot in the arm, they prepare to investigate.

Dipper: "Mystery Twins?"
Mabel: "I thought you hated that."
Dipper: "I'm starting to accept it."

They fist bump and run off, leaving behind nothing but a trail of butterscotch wrappers, unaware of Sheriff Blubs hiding behind the statue. He calls this in as a Code Sepia, causing a shadowy G-Man on the other end of the walkie-talkie to spit out his coffee and give Blubs new orders. The G-Man speaks with the same voice actor as Sheriff Blubs (Kevin Michael Richardson), and it's actually a little distracting.

Blubs gets the order to follow the kids and maintain the coverup with the help of his over-enthusiastic bell-ringing deputy.

Sheriff Blubs: "If being delightful was a crime, you'd be breaking the law."

Oh, just kiss already, you two.

In the library, as Old Man McGucket teaches children about how pioneers ate books to survive, the Mystery Twins examine the document and try to figure out what the chicken scratches mean. Dipper theorizes that the large triangle represents the alchemical symbol for fire and guesses that he needs to burn the document. As he turns around to get a candle, Mabel has turned the document into a paper hat. She criticizes himself for being silly again, but Dipper realizes that she folded the document into a map.

Dipper: "And I was gonna burn it."

Yeah, it's a good thing that Nicolas Cage didn't bring Dipper along to steal the Declaration of Independence.  But there are two strange people at the front desk. And one of them's ringing a bell.

"Deputy Durland, town crier. I'd like to ask you a few questions. One: Where's the fife? Two: Gimme the fife."
Sheriff Blubs: "We were on the lookout for two kids who might be reading."

In a library? Good luck. Kids these days use the library to print things and play games in-browser. Why, I bet that some kid's reading this Recap in the library when they're supposed to be looking up information on... I don't know, the Battle of Hastings, maybe? Get back to work, kid! This blog has occasional swears; you're too young to be reading this.

Anyway, the map leads the twins to the Gravity Falls Museum of History, as the real National Treasure parody begins.

Dipper: "You realize what this means, Mabel? We're gonna have to break in."

And in the space of a cut, they have their free Pioneer Day museum passes and complimentary balloons.

Dipper: "We're in."

Well, there's our parody.

They find some weird, triangular bit of art, which they can't decipher. that is, until Mabel gets bored and sits upside down in a bench. She recognizes the resulting image as a statue in the cemetery, and the twins hurry off, avoiding the cops, who are hung up over the lack of pink balloons.

Deputy Durland: "Why did we even come?"

As the Woodpecker Man argues with his wife over going South for the winter, Grunkle Stan fails to pick the lock of the stocks with a hairpin. Pacifica walks up and taunts him for a second, but Stan smells a deal when one's about to be offered and asks what she wants.

Pacifica: "I want you to say that the Northwest family is the best family in Gravity Falls."
Grunkle Stan: "Oh, sure, you want that in writing?"

Maneuvering a pen with his mouth, he manages to write "YOU STINK" instead. But Pacifica has a small army of tomato-wielding townsfolk behind her, ready to toss their produce. Over in the cemetery, Dipper and Mabel don't know what to make to the angel statue pointing its finger.

All I know is that I'm not blinking.
Dipper theorizes that it's pointing to the next clue, but when Mabel sticks the statue's finger up her nose, she unlocks a secret door.

Mabel: "Who's silly now, Pacifica?"

Still you.
Mabel and Dipper descend into the depths, looking out for booby traps.

Mabel: "Hah. Booby traps."

Heh. Traps.
Being on the lookout for traps, of course, means that she steps on one, sending knockout darts shooting out of the wall. The twins manage to dodge them all and find their way into a secret chamber of secrets.

Mabel: "It's a treasure trove of historicy secrety things!"

Does he also have a fist under his beard like Chuck Norris?
Mabel: "Ben Franklin secretly was a woman!"

I wonder if "his" real name was Silence Dogood? Either way, Grunkle Stan should be apologizing for his criticism of that money he had them counterfeit.

To make things easy for the Mystery Twins, there's a manila folder labeled "The Northwest Cover-up."  Dipper reads some of the text inside the document, but not all of it. Which is a shame, because there's some comedy gold inside that wall of writing. But the main truth is that Nathaniel Northwest was the village idiot, set up to be the town's "founder" then they retconned the history books to remove evidence of the true founder: Sir Lord Quentin Trembley, III, Esquire.

Mabel: "Who's Quentin Trembley?"
Sheriff Blubs: "That's none of your business."

After they give Durland a little time to recover from the knockout darts that got stuck in his back, Sheriff Blubs ends up revealing all the information the kids aren't supposed to know, with the help of a convenient black-and-white film strip.

Narrator: "If you're watching this, then you are one of eight people in these United States with clearance to view this information. In fact, I myself will be shot as soon as the filming is complete. ...What? No? Oh, well, that's a relief. Of all of America's secrets, the most embarrassing was that of Quentin Trembley, the 8th-and-a-half President of the United States."

Apparently, the guy won the election in a literal landslide that killed the other candidates, and proceeded to wage war on pancakes, and appoint six babies to the Supreme Court. Which, technically, is possible to do, since there are absolutely no guidelines or age minimums preventing something like that. Like how dogs can play high school basketball. After that, he issued the De-pants-ipation Proclamation and gave a State of the Union address.

Trembley: "The only thing we have to fear... is gigantic man-eating spiders!"

The guy was kicked out of office, so he ventured West, riding his horse backwards like Dudley Do-Right. He discovered and founded Gravity Falls after riding his horse right off of the eponymous falls.

And so, they retconned William Henry Harrison in as the official 8th president and Nathaniel Northwest as the founder of Gravity Falls.

Narrator: "The whereabouts of President Trembley's body... are unknown."
Sheriff Blubs: "Until now."

Among the many national secrets in this secret chamber is Quentin Trembley himself, encased in peanut brittle in an attempt to live forever. And now, Sheriff Blubs's mission to recover the body is complete, thanks to Mabel's trail of butterscotch wrappers.

The real moral of the story? Don't litter; the Feds will track you down.
Blubs is under orders to ship Trembley and the twins over to Washington. Forever. In no time, Blubs and Durland are riding to D.C. on a train in style, while Dipper, Mabel and the body of Quentin Trembley are inside of a crate that somehow has light inside of it. Mabel blames herself for the whole ordeal and starts munching on peanut brittle that was already old when her Grunkle was a kid. But removing a single hunk breaks the whole thing, and Quentin Trembley emerges, very much alive and ready to de-pants himself.

As is his right.
Mabel realizes that the peanut brittle must have worked, meaning that Trembley (Alex Hirsch) is actually a genius.

Trembley: "And so are you, dear girl, for following my clues and freeing me from my delicious tomb!"

With Mabel's spirits restored, Trembley takes a look at the situation.

Trembley: "By Jefferson! We seem to be trapped in some sort of crate-shaped box!"
Mabel: "It's a crate, Mr. President."

But Trembley has an artifact known as the President's Key, which can unlock any lock in America! There's just one snag. No doors on a crate.

Trembley: "Wood! My age-old enemy...."

"Tell me about it."
They need a silly plan to escape, so Mabel suggests that they escape through a knot hole. Trembley fails to do so, but he gets a finger through it, attracting a woodpecker.

Trembley: "Is that my third wife? Sandy?"

Through the powers of convenience, the woodpecker taps on the crate, breaking it to pieces.

Trembley: "Well, we didn't fit through the hole. Let's rebuild the box and try again!"

Dipper talks some sense into him, and they all run off. And because they're in a moving train, of course they end up confronting Blubs and Durland on the tops of the train cars. Why would you expect any different?

Just as all seems lost, Dipper has an idea when Blubs says that his orders come from "the very top."

Dipper: "Wait! Quentin! Did you ever sign an official resignation?"
Trembley: "No, sir! I ate a salamander and jumped out the window."
Dipper: "Then... technically, you're still the President of the United States!"

Uh... no? His term was up four years after taking office, regardless of whether or not he signed a piece of paper. And even if not signing a piece of paper was a valid way to remain president, there's another flaw. If you pause the episode and take a look on that book of secrets form earlier, it's revealed that Trembley never was the President.

Says so right here.
But luckily, that excuse is good enough for the cops. Trembley orders them to stop chasing them and take a vacation.

Sheriff Blubs: "What place have you always wanted to visit? One... two..."
Durland/Blubs: "Silly Water Fun Slides in Grand Lakes Michigan!"

Meh. Speaking as a Michigander, I'd recommend Castaway Bay instead, even though it's in Ohio, technically.

Anyway, Blubs and Durland end up taking another train to Michigan, and Trembley thanks Mabel for her help by making her a congresswoman.

Mabel: "I'm legalizing everything!"

Whoooooooooo! Smoke 'em if you got 'em!

Trembley: "And Roderick..."
Dipper: "Uh, actually...."
Trembley: "You, dear boy, are on your way to unlocking the mysteries of this great land! So I'd like you to have my President's Key!"

Spoiler Alert: This amazing tool will only be used once.

And so, as our heroes walk back into town, Trembley regales the twins with stories about how George Washington was a jerk before Mabel tries to rub the story in Pacifica's face. But the story about uncovering the 8th-and-a-half president in a slab of peanut brittle is incredibly silly, which doesn't help Mabel's image.

But in the end, Mabel has learned to accept herself for who she is. Dipper, on the other hand, wants some good old-fashioned revenge and hands Pacifica the document they uncovered.

Dipper: "Nathaniel Northwest didn't found Gravity Falls and your whole family is a sham. Deal with it."

Dipper hands Pacifica the only evidence of the truth as she and her family drive off. Which is why the truth will be swept under the rug by later episodes.

But alas, it's time for Quentin Trembley to roam this great land. But before he leaves, he says farewell as only he can.

Trembley: "Just know that I'll always be right here... on the negative-twelve dollar bill."
Dipper: "Wow. This is worthless."
Trembley: "It's less than worthless!"

Hey, it's still probably more valuable than those gimmicky coins they keep having commercials for.
And so, Trembley rides a nearby horse backwards into the sunset. And probably off a cliff, if history's any indication. With their adventure complete, the twins rescue their Grunkle who tells them about the worst part of the day.

Grunkle Stan: "And then Soos came and talked to me for, like, an hour!"

Dipper frees him from ye stocks in the show's only only use of the President's Key, and Mabel reveals to him that she's now a member of Congress.

Grunkle Stan: "Pardon me?"
Mabel: "You are officially pardoned."

"Good. I've been dodging those felony charges for a while."
Mabel jumps away backwards, and the episode ends. During the credits, Trembley attempts to actually do business with the babies he appointed to Congress.

Trembley: "Chief Justice Num-Num, you're spitting up on yourself!"

Hey, they're accomplishing more than the actual Congress.

Trembley: "This is a dark day for America."

And with the cryptogram of "V. KOFIRYFH GIVNYOVB" (E. Pluribus Trembley), it's time to review.


  1. The map has a triangle on it, then you fold it into (triangular) paper hat, and then you find triangular picture... What's up with mysteries in this town being connected to triangles?

    - Faceless Enigma

    1. Hmmm... you know, Phineas and Ferb's art design features a lot of triangles. Maybe it's a Disney thing?

  2. I desperately need this library poster in my life