Impressions: Gravity Falls- Summerween

Summerween is another in the “Mabel and Dipper are confused and have different opinions about growing up” episodes. I like these episodes, although I find them a bit bittersweet. I held onto my own youth in some ways and ignored it in others, and wish I could do it all over again… but that’s what growing old and looking back is. Either way, this is a pretty fun episode so let’s get to it.

Summerween starts with Stan talking about the fact that the people in Gravity Falls love Halloween so much they celebrate the holiday a second time in the summer. Otherwise known as, how a show set exclusively during the summer manages to pull off a Halloween episode. A quick digression, Summerween should 100% be a thing. At first, the twins are a bit put off by the tradition, but the reminder that Halloween, or in this case Summerween, means candy, and they are all about it.

Mabel and Dipper are at first excited and tell Mabel’s friends that twins are especially good at the holiday, but then in comes Wendy and Robbie. Robbie once again makes fun of Dipper for being young and asking him about going trick or treating; Wendy sticks up for Dipper, which pressures Dipper to blow the holiday off. Since it’s Gravity Falls, though, we get our twist. The Summerween Trickster, an entity that punishes kids with no Summerween spirit, challenges Dipper and Mabel to “trick or treat or die” and tells them they have to get 500 pieces of candy.

Dipper still resists still, until his lack of costume and enthusiasm proves a roadblock to their goals. He finally dresses up and gets into the spirit of things with Mabel. However, once again, Wendy and Robbie show up, and once again, Dipper feels pressured to hide that he is young and enjoying the holiday. There is a bit more drama and then a moment between Dipper and Mabel where Mabel expresses that she wanted to cling to their youth because she realizes it is one of their last chances…

Things happen (watch), and the episode resolves itself. Dipper ends up meeting Wendy back at the Mystery Shack and admits to trick or treating, to which Wendy barely seems to care, and also admits her own plans went bust. We get a rather funny but also slightly disturbing outro, and the episode closes.

I like this episode because it really does capture that odd in-between time a lot of us felt like we were in around Dipper and Mabel’s age. Dipper is desperate to seem “grown-up” in the eyes of people like Wendy and fights against being young…, but he is young, so he still enjoys things like dressing up and trick or treating. He is perfectly stuck in between and would honestly be well served to just embrace his youth, but it’s hard to do that. I think most of us could look back and think of moments where we were torn between “growing up and being a teen” and still enjoying being a kid, and some of us didn’t always make the right choice.

Meanwhile, Mabel is dodging growing up for the better part of the show. She likes being young and silly. She deep down knows she will have to let go of aspects of her personality and mature, but she is going to hold off until the last second. She fully acknowledges to Dipper that yes, they are reaching an age where they will change what Halloween (Summerween) and other aspects of being a kid mean to them, but she is not ready… yet. She wants to enjoy the last few moments as a kid while she has them. Something I also did at times.

Gravity Falls is good at presenting this conflict but always understanding that both sides of it are neither right nor wrong. Dipper is not wrong to want to go to a party; he is wrong to be dishonest with Mabel about what he is feeling and denying that deep down, he still wants to be a kid. Mabel is not wrong to want to cling to her childhood; she is wrong in not understanding that Dipper doesn’t always feel the same. Both of their approaches to growing up are valid, although, as usual with the show, there is a slightly larger push towards “be a kid while you can.”

Aside from the growing-up themes of the episode, it’s also just damn fun. The Summerween Trickster is an interesting bad guy. The later design reminds me a lot of No Face (Spirited Away) in the “No Face going bonkers” stage. The reveal of who the Trickster is, as well as his defeat, has that lovely, funny but kind of disturbing quality to it that happens a lot in this show. Grenda and Candy are also featured heavily, and while I am mixed on them, they are annoying preteen girls – yes, I realize I was an annoying preteen girl, please, god never make me relive that – but they are also entertaining. This was one of their better episodes, hands down; Candy, especially, I think, is a treat (ha) in this episode. Stan also has a pretty fun little side plot.

It also again manages to balance the idea of being a show that is meant to be about “summer break” while still tackling needing to do a non-summer-themed holiday. There are watermelons instead of pumpkins for jack-o-lanterns as a good case in point. I really do think it manages to stick with the overall “summer” vibe of the show itself but still be a decent Halloween episode.

It’s a decent message wrapped up in a fun version of my favorite holiday.

So bottom line? I will say, as usual, give this show a watch if you feel you have patience for a kid’s animated show. It is more clever than I think it seems on the surface and less in the “it has in jokes” way and more in that it has smart mysteries and supernatural elements and really does tackle the challenges of being a “tween” well. Summerween is one of my favorite episodes, both in how it tackles the dichotomy of Mabel and Dipper but also because of how it manages to be a summer Halloween episode.

Also, again… Summerween needs to be a thing. Let’s make this happen, folks.

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