in Review, Shocktober

Gravity Falls – “Summerween” (2012)

Season 1, Episode 12
October 5th, 2012

This is the only episode of a show for this year’s Shocktober that I’d seen before picking it. I’ve seen it a couple of times. You could say it’s a Halloween tradition. Even though it’s not technically a Halloween episode. No, we’re talking about Summerween.

If you don’t know, Gravity Falls was an animated series created by Alex Hirsch that ran on Disney Channel and then Disney XD from 2012-2016. The show lasted 40 episodes, told a complete mytharc, and ended on its own terms. It’s also one of the funniest and most clever animated shows I’ve ever seen.

I like to describe the show as The X-Files for kids. Dipper (Jason Ritter) and Mabel Pines (Kristen Schaal) are twin preteens who go to spend the summer with their great-uncle or “Grunkle” Stan (Alex Hirsch) at his curiosity shop the “Mystery Shack” in Gravity Falls, Oregon. With the help of a mysterious journal, the siblings unravel the dark secrets and mysterious creatures that inhabit Gravity Falls.

The show does follow a storyline regarding the mysterious journal but like The X-Files has its fair share of Monster-of-the-Week episodes. In this instance that monster is the Summerween Trickster (Jeff Bennett), a seasonal candy-crazed boogeyman who’s like a mix between the Scarecrow from Batman and No-Face from Spirited Away.

Like I said earlier, this episode is about the holiday “Summerween” though the only real difference is that it happens in June and that people carve Jack-O-Melon’s (watermelons). The reasoning behind this holiday is that Gravity Falls loves Halloween so much they had to give it another day. Think of it as Christmas in July.

Dipper and Mabel plan to rake in the sweet stuff with a themed twin costume (Peanut Butter and Jelly) while Stan prepares to scare as many children as he can back at the Mystery Shack. Mabel and Dipper also find Stan’s cheap supply of reject candy and toss it out the window which leads to the shop’s dimwitted cashier Soos (Also Alex Hirsch) to tell the story of the Summerween Trickster who preys on children who do not show the proper Summerween spirit.

Dipper’s crush, Wendy (Linda Cardellini), who also works at the Mystery Shack shows up and tells Dipper about a party later that night, only for her angsty boyfriend, Robbie (T.J. Miller) to make fun of him for being childish. This leads to Dipper reconsidering whether or not he’s outgrown trick or treating with his sister. But there’s little time to dwell on that because the Trickster shows up and threatens the children. If they can’t get him 5,000 pieces of candy before the last Jack-O-Melon goes out he will eat them. Tough but fair.

So there’s a montage, they get the candy, they lose the candy, Stan struggles to scare a pair of cynical preteens it’s all good fun. Until Dipper runs into Wendy and Robbie and hides the wheelbarrow of candy in a bush. The candy ends up rolling down a hill and floating down a river. The Trickster shows up and that’s when he reveals his true form.

The Trickster doesn’t just want candy HE IS CANDY. Not just any candy but the crappy candy that gets thrown out every year. He saw Dipper and Mabel toss Stan’s cheap candy at the beginning which is why the Pine siblings become his target. He turns into a man-eating black spider blob and attempts to eat everyone he can! Even Soos!

Dipper and Mabel make up with each other believing the end is nigh until Soos bursts through the Trickster like an Alien and starts eating him. The Trickster is happy someone finally wants to eat him and all is well. Oh yeah, and Stan finally scares those two pesky kids after they seem in his boxers. Good stuff.

Though I wouldn’t say this is one of the stronger episodes of the first season it is very festive and very fun. The mashup of summertime and Halloween helps the episode standout and the Trickster is a surprisingly unsettling monster-of-the-week. The originality and variety of monsters on the show is one of the highlights of the series and provides for some memorable imagery. Check it out on Disney+.

Also, this is pretty funny.