It's been a hell of a ride. Gravity Falls has finally ended, and the last episode was definitely worth the wait. Weirdmageddon III: Take Back The Falls was emotional and exciting, with every relationship resolved and most plot threads neatly tied up. All those characters you know and love got their moment in the sun, however brief. In true Alex Hirsch fashion, many of the highlights of the episode were callbacks to hints and Easter Eggs earlier on in the show. And just in case you missed them, here they are!
The Zodiac Prophecy
Many fans had picked up on the fact that the Cipher Wheel (used to summon Bill) featured symbols which corresponded with characters on the show.
This symbol has been present throughout the show, even in the opening sequence. The finale finally confirmed that yes, these symbols do match up with the characters as the fans suspected, and this was because of an ancient prophecy, which explains why Ford found the wheel painted on a cave.
"Woah, destiny hoodie..."
With such a grand build up, you'd expect the Cipher Wheel/Zodiac Prophecy to have more of an impact on the showdown between our heroes and Bill. Instead, the tension between Stan and Ford escalated into a conflict, which prevented the circle from reaching full power..
This was actually the best thing for the finale, and very representative of the show's themes. Instead of victory thanks to a supernatural deus ex machina, Grunkle Pines sacrificed his memories to trap Bill Cipher in his own mind. Which is awesome for so many reasons!
You Can't Trick A Trickster
Gravity Falls isn't really about the big mysteries - at the end of the day it's the characters which matter most. Stan and Ford were forced to resolve their issues to save the kids, which was a long time coming. But best of all, Stan beat Bill Cipher at his own game, proving that while Bill might be an all powerful trickster, Grunkle Stan's got the monopoly on sneaky gambits.
The twins switching clothes and trading identities was a neat callback to the fact that Stan adopted his brother's identity for years. Trapping Bill in Stan's mind also meant we came full circle: the first time we encounter Bill properly is the season 1 episode Dreamscaperers, where Bill traps Soos and the twins in Stan's mindscape. Neat.
There's another way the finale came full circle: thanks to the hiatus, the date of Gravity Falls' last episode (2/15/16) mirrors the airdate of the first episode (6/15/12). Was this just a coincidence, or did Alex Hirsch and Disney XD conspire to make this happen? We'll probably never know.
All The Callbacks!
Take Back The Falls utilised plenty of elements that had popped up earlier in the show, and here are some of our favourites.
- Larry King's wax head has been hiding in the vents of the Mystery Shack since the Headhunters in season 1, returning for the finale.
- The dinosaur from Land Before Swine formed one arm of the Mystery Shack mecha.
- The tail of the mecha was McGucket's mechanical Gobblewonker, also from season 1.
- Dipper finally made use of the embiggen torch from Little Dipper.
- The Gnomes returned, including fan fave Shmebulock.
All our favourite minor characters made cameos, from Mabel's idol band Sev'ral Timez, to Tad Strange (voiced by Welcome To Night Vale's Cecil Baldwin). And McGucket was finally able to use his mad genius to create the survivors' best weapon against Bill, which leads us to...
Anime & Pop Culture References
Take Back The Falls included plenty of subtle nods to the animes which have become iconic, and guided by Soos the gang were able to use mecha animes to build their own mecha to battle Bill. This fight sequence was one of the show's best, and mirrors the mecha battle at the end of season 1. So which animes in particular did Weirdmageddon III draw from?
Well, the entire concept of the Mystery Shack getting up and moving around was straight out of Howl's Moving Castle, and before it went full mecha there were plenty of parallels in how the Shack moved to how the castle moves in the Studio Ghibli film.
Fullmetal Alchemist was also referenced in the finale, in a subtle way...
...and there were so many references to Neon Genesis Evangelion that fans were able to reconstruct the opening to the popular anime using scenes from Take Back The Falls!
But anime isn't the only thing that Gravity Falls referenced: there were also many homages to Western pop culture. Pacific Rim was the most obvious, as Grenda and Candy piloted the Mystery Shack mecha in the same way the Jaegers of Pacific Rim are controlled. Also, when Rumble McSkirmish (the video game character from Fight Fighters) died, he casually referenced the Terminator's final gesture in T2.
Nice move there, Alex Hirsch.
Ultimately, this was a very satisfying conclusion to a fantastic show, following through on plenty of character development hints as well as referencing the highlights of seasons 1 and 2. So where do we go from here? It's possible that Disney will released some comics or games to continue the story, but as far as the show is concerned, it looks like our visit to Gravity Falls really is over.