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Recap / Gravity Falls S1 E8 "Irrational Treasure"

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The Northwest Cover-Up.

The eighth episode of Gravity Falls.

During the celebration of the town's founding, Pacifica gloats over being descended from the founder, and makes fun of Mabel for her silliness. But then Dipper and Mabel discover evidence that the town founder may have been a hoax, so they set out to expose the historical cover-up unaware that the local cops are under orders from someone to stop them. Meanwhile, Uncle Stan, who hates the town's obsession of reenacting the foundation, gets puts on stocks for misbehaving.

Tropes in this episode:

  • Always with You: Parodied; before he leaves Trembley assures Dipper and Mabel "I'll always be right here... on the negative-twelve dollar bill."
  • Anachronism Stew: Despite the clear assertion in the episode that Pioneer Days harks back to the town's founding in 1863, smatterings of Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe are found in the episode (and Stan is put in medieval-style stockades) and Gideon is wearing a colonial-era outfit, complete with powdered wig.
  • And There Was Much Rejoicing: According to the document about Nathaniel Northwest, "He was hated by everyone who knew him. He will not be missed."
  • Anti Climax Cut: The twins "breaking into" the museum, which turns out to involve just walking in and getting free passes.
    Dipper: We're in.
  • Artistic License – Law: Even if President Trembley never signed his resignation back in 1863, his presidency would've ended by the time his four-year term ended, so he wouldn't still be the president in the 2010s, as claimed in the episode. Justified since Blubs and Durland are too stupid to realise this.
  • Artistic License – Politics: Played for laughs with Quentin Trembley's whole career. He's said to have declared war on pancakes and appointed 4 babies to the Supreme Court, and although it is stated that he was taken out of office due to this (among other things), the fact that he was actually able to implement them in the first place would be impossible.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Stan's reaction to the wagons (especially in the promo) seems to be implying it's some kind of supernatural occurrence he wants to avoid, digging deeper into the "Stan knows more than he lets on" theory amongst the fandom (particularly on this site). Then we find out it's just a town holiday he dislikes.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Ben Franklin was a woman. Thomas Jefferson was two kids in a overcoat standing on each other's shoulders. The current president is Santa Claus.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Dipper gets even for Pacifica's insults to Mabel by showing her the evidence that the Northwest family legacy is built on a Government Conspiracy's manipulations. To make it funnier, Mabel was okay with keeping the secret and feel good about her own life.
  • Big, Stupid Doodoo-Head: Stan insulting Pacifica Northwest by writing down "you stink."
  • Break the Haughty: When Dipper reveals to Pacifica his and Mabel's findings about the history of Gravity Falls.
  • But Now I Must Go: Quentin Trembley leaves Gravity Falls because he's "needed elsewhere". Dipper thinks he's just going to fall off a cliff.
  • Caligula's Horse: President Trembley appointed babies to the Supreme Court. In The Stinger, he is seen pleading his case to them.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: President Trembley. He waged war on pancakes.
  • Continuity Nod: In "The Legend of the Gobblewonker", Stan criticized the kids for poor craftsmanship while counterfeiting $100 bills, stating that Ben Franklin looked like a woman. Mabel finds a trove of national secrets, including that "Ben Franklin really was a woman!"
  • Currency Conspiracy: One of Bill Cipher's Early Bird Cameos is on the -12 dollar bill where he replaces the Eye of Providence, complete with limbs and hat.
  • Darkhorse Victory: Trembley only won the presidency due to all his competitors being wiped out in a literal landslide.
  • Determined Expression: Dipper, while he and Mabel are "breaking into" the museum.
  • Disappointing Heritage Reveal: Pacifica, who is highly proud of her status as essentially local nobility, is horrified to learn that her great-great grandfather was actually a "local nobody" and village nutcase.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Pacifica's father is a background character who only has one line, voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson instead of Nathan Fillion. Every later appearance of the Northwest family has him play a major role.
  • Fake Ultimate Hero: Nathaniel Northwest, known as the founder of Gravity Falls, was in reality a waste-shoveling village idiot whom the government used to hide the existence of its 8th and a 1/2 president and the real founder of Gravity Falls, Quentin Trembley.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Trembley made a speech about fearing "gigantic, man-eating spiders"; we meet one in season 2's "Roadside Attraction".
    • The line seen above at And There Was Much Rejoicing becomes worse in "Northwest Mansion Mystery", as that episode shows why everyone hated Nathaniel Northwest.
    • The secret document on Nathaniel Northwest mentions that there is an evil time-devouring baby from another dimension frozen in an Antarctic glacier. As "The Time Traveler's Pig" reveals, Time Baby will be defrosted and in control of the world by the year 207̃012.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: The secret document about Nathaniel Northwest contains all sorts of weird secrets.
  • Funny Photo Phrase: Pacifica and her parents say "Northwest!" when posing for a photo.
  • Government Conspiracy: The government is trying to keep all evidence of history's silliest US president covered up.
  • Heh Heh, You Said "X": Dipper warns Mabel about potential booby traps in Trembley's tomb. Mabel chuckles, "Hah! Booby traps."
  • He Knows Too Much: Dipper and Mabel assume the cops are going to kill them for finding out about Trembley. They aren't, but still want to take them away to Washington for the rest of their lives (assuming the government wasn't just going to kill them eventually).
  • Hesitation Equals Dishonesty: After Pacifica embarrasses her, Mabel asks Dipper if he thinks she's silly. Dipper can only respond with "Uhhhhhh... No?" awkwardly. Mabel can only groan in disappointment at herself.
  • I'd Tell You, but Then I'd Have to Kill You: Possibly subverted. The narrator of the government film says that President Trembley's term is so top secret that he himself is to be killed when the recording is complete. The camera crew corrects him, much to his relief, but they may well be lying to him.
  • I Have No Son!: Grunkle Stan warns Dipper and Mabel that if they start talking like pioneers with the rest of the town, they're dead to him. The two begin talking like that anyway, leading to him screaming "DEAD TO ME!"
  • It's All My Fault: Mabel, after she and Dipper end up trapped in a crate. It results in a short Heroic BSoD.
  • Jerkass: George Washington was one according to Trembley (see "Noodle Incident" below).
  • Landslide Election: Trembly won a literal one by default.
  • Let Us Never Speak of This Again: Trembly orders Blubs and Durland to pretend that sending him, along with Dipper and Mabel to Washington never happened. So the two sheriffs decided to go to a water park.
  • Loophole Abuse: President Trembley never signed his resignation letter and is technically still the President of the United States, which goes somewhere into Insane Troll Logic territory as his term ended more than 150 years ago anywaynote . Of course, it's not likely the dim-witted Blubs and Durland would realize that.
  • Never Filled Out Official Paperwork: Inverted. Dipper gets Blubs and Durland to back off by telling them that they now have to take orders from Trembley, saying that since he never signed an official resignation, he's still technically the President of the United States.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Mabel's wrappers are what allow Blubs and Durland to track down the twins and Trembley's hiding spot.
  • Noodle Incident: At some point in his life Trembley was chased around by George Washington, who then spanked him with a paddle for three hours straight. We don't know why though, only that Washington was "a jerk".
  • Origami Gag: While following a series of clues, Dipper and Mabel find a parchment full of seemingly nonsensical symbols. Believing the triangle to be the alchemical symbol for fire, Dipper concludes that a clue will be revealed by burning the parchment. Before he can, however, he turns to see that Mabel has already taken the parchment and folded it into an origami hat... which actually turns out to have been the correct thing to do, as she has unknowingly folded it into a map that leads to the next clue.
  • Pink Girl, Blue Boy: When Dipper and Mabel "break in" to the Gravity Falls Museum of History, the woman working at the front door gives them free day passes as well as two balloons; she hands a pink one to Mabel and a blue one to Dipper. Played for Laughs when Blubs and Durland enter the same museum, and Durland (who, as far as we know, is not a girl) gets upset that they've run out of pink balloons.
  • Police Are Useless: Zig-zagged; Blubs and Durland make a tremendous number of incompetent mistakes, but still manage to capture Mabel and Dipper anyway thanks to the trail of candy wrappers Mabel left behind them.
  • Pre-emptive Declaration: Gideon does this twice when he's "dropping" tomatoes on Stan.
  • Revenge Is Sweet: Dipper comes to this conclusion after he shows Pacifica her ancestor is a fraud in retaliation for making fun of Mabel's silliness.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The document warns of an "enormous, evil, time-devouring baby from another dimension" frozen in a glacier in Antarctica. "Fortunately glaciers never melt, so we should be fine."
  • Selective Enforcement: Sheriff Blubs and Deputy Durland ignore a snatcher stealing an old lady's purse, but quickly react to Stan when he causes a minor scuffle.
  • Shout-Out: The episode's title is a takeoff on National Treasure, and the plot is a gentle spoof thereof, as Dipper and Mabel solve a series of arcane clues to find a hidden secret.
  • Skeleton Key: The President's Key can open any lock in America. Trembley gives it to Dipper as a reward for freeing him.
  • Skyward Scream: "PIONEER DAY!!!"
  • Spoof Aesop: Mabel decides not to spring the knowledge that Pacifica's ancestor is a fraud on her, being content with herself. Dipper, on the other hand, gladly does so, and declares that revenge is awesome.
    Mabel: You know what, Dipper? I've got nothing to prove. I've learned to see silly as awesome!
    Dipper: Well, I haven't learned anything! Hey, Pacifica!
    (Dipper gives Pacifica the document about her ancestor being a fraud)
    Dipper: Nathaniel Northwest didn't found Gravity Falls, and your whole family is a sham. Deal with it!
    Pacifica: What?! Moooom!!!
    Dipper: Man, revenge is underrated. That felt awesome!
  • Stock Punishment: Stan spends most of the episode in the stocks.
  • Success as Revenge: Played straight with Mabel deciding to not show Pacifica the evidence of the Northwest legacy being a government lie and feel content she had the adventure. Defied by Dipper, who shows Pacifica the evidence and leaves her whining to her mother to get revenge on Pacifica's bullying of Mabel (and is happy about it, too).
  • Take That!: The man who begins outright sobbing during the “USA” chants is a jab at people who become way too overzealous with their patriotism (and how easily they can be swayed because of it).
  • Tempting Fate: Stan taunts the cops about putting him in the stocks. Cut to just that happening.
  • Totem Pole Trench: Thomas Jefferson was two kids in an overcoat.
  • Understatement: In the cave, after Durland collapses, revealing that his back is absolutely riddled with darts.
    Blubs: He got hit with quite a few of those darts.
  • The Greatest Story Never Told: The Pines Twins discovering the existence of the Trembley presidency also supplies evidence on how much the Northwest legacy is built on a government lie. Mabel decides to keep the secret when given the chance to rub it in Pacifica's face. Dipper doesn't.
  • Un-person: Apparently, the US government was so ashamed of their real 9th president (who also founded Gravity Falls) that they completely erased him from history, officially calling William Henry Harrison the 9th. This makes President Trembley 8th 1/2th.
  • Weaponized Landmark: The heads of Mount Rushmore are actually robots that will protect America in its greatest time of need.
  • Wham Line: "This is Sheriff Blubs, we've got a Code Sepia!"
  • Worthless Currency: Exaggerated at the end, when Quentin Trembley gives Dipper a negative twelve dollar bill with Trembley's face on it as a parting gift. Looking at the text on the bill, you can see it's not legal tender.
    Dipper: Whoa. This is worthless!
    Trembley: It's less than worthless, my boy!
  • You Were Trying Too Hard: All of Trembley's clues to his location were designed so that no serious treasure hunter would ever be able to find him because they all required them to stop thinking so hard and be silly.



Video Example(s):


-12 Dollar Bill

Exaggerated at the end, when Quentin Trembley gives Dipper a negative twelve dollar bill with Trembley's face on it as a parting gift. Looking at the text on the bill, you can see it's not legal tender.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (32 votes)

Example of:

Main / WorthlessCurrency

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