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Recap / Gravity Falls S2 E10 "Northwest Mansion Mystery"

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"Generations locked away, my revenge shall have its day!"

The Northwest family are preparing for their annual party, but a mysterious force is causing things to fly around. Because of his budding reputation for dealing with weirdness, Dipper is asked by Pacifica to solve the problem before the party is ruined. While he has no interest in helping the Northwests, Dipper is convinced to do so in exchange for invitations for Mabel, Candy, and Grenda.

At the party, the girls fawn and fight over handsome tween aristocrat, Marius von Fundhauser. Meanwhile, Pacifica takes Dipper to the room where the strange events have been happening. There, they encounter a terrifying lumberjack ghost with a flaming beard. After a horrific chase leading to a secret room, Dipper traps the Ghost in a silver mirror. Caught, the Ghost reveals his origins;

In life, the Lumberjack was one of many commissioned by the Northwests to build their opulent mansion. Because the chosen site was so dangerous, the Northwests promised to hold a party for the entire town as an incentive. But when the mansion was finally built, the Northwests just shut the gates and kept the townsfolk out. The Lumberjack was caught in a mudslide caused by the deforestation, but before dying, swore that if the Northwests refused to honor their promise after 150 years, he would unleash a terrible vengeance.

Dipper, though royally pissed off that the Northwests used him to escape ghostly justice without fulfilling their promise, still performs the exorcism. The Ghost clearly suffers from Revenge Before Reason, and the young Pines knows that Evil Is Not a Toy. However, the Ghost manages to escape by heating the mirror, causing Dipper to drop and break it. Now free, the Ghost attacks the party, turning guests into wooden statues. Dipper realizes that the Ghost can only be stopped if a Northwest opens the mansion gates, and goes to find Pacifica.

Dipper finds Pacifica in the secret room, having hit the Despair Event Horizon; the room they found was where her family has kept evidence of their misdeeds hidden away. Dipper explains what's going on outside, and assures Pacifica that she doesn't have to be as bad as her predecessors are. Back at the party, the Ghost decides to burn the mansion down. Dipper tries to fight him, but is turned to wood. With Dipper's words and sacrifice weighing on her, Pacifica opens the mansion's gates, vowing to fix her family's broken name. With the pact finally fulfilled, the Ghost undoes his curse, and parts with these words; "Pacifica, you are not like the other Northwests. I feel…lumber justice."

The townsfolk of Gravity Falls swamp the party. Mabel, Candy, and Grenda make up, and it turns out that Marius has become rather taken with Grenda's forceful nature. Old Man McGucket finds Dipper, and reveals that he's fixed the laptop belonging to the Author. After making some calculations, he's discovered something terrible! But Dipper, exhausted after almost dying twice in one evening, decides that whatever McGucket's found, it can wait until the morning. But McGucket isn't so sure; according to the laptop, whatever's going to happen will occur in T-minus 21 hours!

Meanwhile, Agent Powers and Agent Trigger, having infiltrated the party, have their own meeting; They too have picked up on something, and have decided to take action. "It's go-time!"

Tropes in this episode:

  • 2D Visuals, 3D Effects: The front gates of the mansion, when opening and closing.
  • 555: Marius' phone number is 555-0176.
  • Abusive Parents: The Northwests. They even have Pacifica trained to respond to a little bell, and are very controlling of what she's allowed to wear (right down to very specific colors).
  • Accidental Hug: Pacifica gives one to Dipper. She then bribes him to never mention it again.
  • Aesop Amnesia: Once again Mabel puts her crush on a guy over the promises she made, albeit this time a promise made to Grenda and Candy instead of Dipper. Candy also bears some responsibility given that right after Mabel shows her lack of self-restraint, she suggests screwing Grenda over and breaking the girls' truce to not flirt with said guy.
    • Mabel also again uses her brother's dedication to making her happy to get things she wants at his expense. Mabel begs Dipper to accept a potentially dangerous job from a family they both know is corrupt and untrustworthy just so Mabel and her friends can get entry to the Northwests' fancy party. Dipper receives no benefit from the deal made in exchange for his labor, only Mabel; Mabel does none of the work, only Dipper. This is the exact kind of All Take and No Give situation Mabel was supposedly trying to be more self-aware of following "Sock Opera," but evidently she dropped the Aesop ball twice this episode.
  • All There in the Manual: The manual being the physical version of Journal #3. The ghost's name was Archibald Corduroy, pretty much confirming the theory that he is a relative, if not a direct ancestor, of Wendy's. Oh, and we also get some pretty solid evidence that Dipper has developed a bit of a thing for Pacifica, with him saying she looks good in a dress and smells like flowers.
  • Amazon Chaser: Baron Marius; he apparently liked Grenda's nose trick.
  • And I Must Scream: Pretty much anyone turned into wood by the lumberjack ghost, as upon being freed when the curse is broken, Dipper gasps for some air
  • Ax-Crazy: Fittingly, the lumberjack ghost. Dipper even describes him as "unstable".
  • Ballroom Blitz: Everybody gets into trouble while wearing formal wear.
  • Based on a Great Big Lie: Pacifica says the Northwest legacy is based on one, and she is going to fix it.
  • Beyond the Impossible: Old Man McGucket fixed the laptop that Bill Cipher supposedly damaged beyond repair. And got it to reveal a countdown to the apocalypse!
  • Big "NO!": Candy and Mabel let one out in unison when Grenda does the "got something on your shirt" trick on Baron Marius.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: The Northwest family has been a 150-year-long dynasty of duplicitous jerks. Pacifica, however, seems to be getting out of it and her act of opening the gate may have saved her from an Ironic Hell.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: The "Used-To-Be-About-History Channel", mocking the History Channel for its Network Decay, is this in a roundabout way. Disney owns half of the actual channel via A&E (the other half is owned by Hearst).
  • Black Comedy: When the lumberjack ghost attacks the guests, the mayor, a very old guy in a wheelchair, mistakes him for a grim reaper, and wonders what took him so long to show. He also has an entourage of vultures.
  • Blatant Lies: The promise Mabel, Candy and Grenda all make to avoid fighting over a boy at the party. Their nervous laughter after making it gives them away. And even so, Grenda is the only one that doesn't flirt with Marius until discovering Mabel and Candy did already, in order to get even.
  • Break the Cutie: Pacifica was already a Broken Bird and possibly a Stepford Alpha Bitch, but she gets even more broken in this episode after Dipper learns that he was used and that her family were frauds. Dipper also has a moment when he gets turned into wood; he lets out a series of little "nos" and screams for help for as long as he can.
  • Brick Joke:
  • Broken Record: Candy is entranced by the cheese and chocolate fondue fountains and gets stuck in what Mabel calls "a sweet/savory loop" dunking her fondue fork in both fountains while saying "cheese, chocolate" over and over.
  • The Cake Is a Lie: Nathaniel Northwest wanted to build a mansion in a specific location, but the lumberjacks of old Gravity Falls knew the ground was too dangerous to work. To compensate, he promised to invite all of the townsfolk to a yearly party, possibly not even paying them in the meantime. It took years of work and several people are shown to have died due to said dangerous ground but nonetheless they finished the mansion—and were immediately betrayed. As soon as construction was finished, Northwest closed the gates to everyone who wasn't rich and his family has kept them that way for a century and a half.
  • Call-Back:
    • Old Man McGucket finally fixed the laptop.
    • Dipper keeps reminding Pacifica that her ancestors were frauds.
    • Dipper's face is frozen in the same expression the Shapeshifter predicted, though it's still up in the air if this is actually what it was talking about.
  • Canis Latinicus: Dipper's exorcise incantation: "Exodus Demonus. Spookus Scarus. Aintafraidus Noghostus"
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin': Dipper for the one and only time in the show ignores Old Man McGucket's announcement that he fixed the laptop (!) which could reveal the Author's identity and it turns out the laptop has a countdown to the apocalypse. Dipper says he can wait for one day to deal with it. There's less than a day left on the countdown.
  • Can't Tie His Tie: Dipper is required by the Northwests to wear a suit and bowtie, with the boy chafing from wearing the suit and not putting on the tie, forcing Pacifica to help him with it before he begins the investigation.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Behind closed doors, seemingly the entire Northwest family for generations.
  • Character Development:
    • Dipper from previous episodes has learned that Evil Is Not a Toy and works to keep his sister safe. He finally puts aside his animosity for Pacifica to convince her to open the Northwest gates.
    • Pacifica rebels against her parents' influence to break the lumberjack's curse. Most importantly, Pacifica is ultimately revealed not to be a completely heartless jerk and does have a sense of honor. The moment she realizes her family's true history, she detests that they would lie and cheat the townsfolk.
    • McGucket's sanity has been returning, so that he can speak more coherently. He may even start to become a Bunny-Ears Lawyer or The Cassandra.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The lever that operates the main gates. It gets focused on when the butler opens the gates for Pacifica and her guests, long before the Northwests' broken promise to open it to the common folk is even heard, let alone before Pacifica ultimately fulfills that promise.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: The Northwests have been backstabbing everyone who ever helped them for over a century. Dipper expected Pacifica would do this, but Pacifica defied his expectation.
  • Circling Vultures: Immediately after a hundred and two year-old Mayor Befufftlefumpter is introduced, three vultures come in and start flying over his head.
    Mayor Befufftlefumpter: It's okay, they're with me.
  • Cliffhanger: McGucket fixed the laptop, revealing a countdown to what he believes is the beginning of the apocalypse. The counter was at 21 hours at the end of the episode.
  • Coincidental Broadcast: Mr. Northwest sees a news article about Dipper solving the latest paranormal mystery after he laments about how nobody can help the Northwests.
  • Color Motif: Pacifica's red gloves. Which according to board artist Alonso Ramirez Ramos, symbolized the blood on the Northwest family's hands.
  • Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are: The phantom says this verbatim when Dipper and Pacifica are hiding under the table.
  • Compressed Hair: In her disguise Pacifica hides her huge hair under a headscarf and trenchcoat.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The newspaper showing Dipper fighting a giant vampire bat, which is the same as the one shown in the journal in the very first episode.
    • Dipper getting turned into wood mirrors the Shapeshifter's final form almost exactly.
    • The earrings Pacifica takes off and flings at the painting of her parents are the same ones she told Mabel cost more than the Shack.
  • "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: This is why Dipper gets infuriated after the ghost explains his tale. If the Northwests had just opened the gates, they would have satisfied the ghost, but instead they tried to use him to get out of it, endangering everybody there (and himself and their daughter). And they had 150 chances to do so before he tried to take his revenge!
  • Could Say It, But...: When Pacifica invites Dipper to stay at the party, even though she doesn't say it, it's pretty clear why she really wants him to stay.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Pacifica had prepared a tuxedo with matching shoes in Dipper's size, anticipating her father's demands for Dipper to clean up nicely.
  • Creepy Changing Painting: The lumberjack ghost is first seen in a painting. When Dipper looks at it again however, the lumberjack is gone.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: How the lumberjack died; he got washed away by a mudslide that the deforestation caused, and then received an axe to the head. He died slowly enough to leave a Dying Curse on the Northwest family.
  • Darker and Edgier: One of the darkest episodes yet, what with the all but stated child abuse, the villain of the episode having come about as a result of a Cruel and Unusual Death, said main villain inflicting And I Must Scream on innocent civilians that got caught in the crossfire of his revenge, and the revelation that the Northwests are a family of Card Carrying Villains that take pride in their treacherous behavior. Oh and there is the fact that a Disney cartoon shows a mass grave of all things. Not to mention the taxidermied heads oozing blood.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Pacifica and her parents get a lot of screen time here. Specifically, this episode was subtly geared towards Pacifica's redemption.
  • Death by Genre Savviness:
    • Dipper won't release the ghost for fear of endangering Mabel. The ghost gets free anyways and turns everyone at the party, including Mabel, into wood.
    • Grenda and Candy realize that flirting with Baron Marius might tear the two of them and Mabel apart. Despite this foreknowledge, they all flirt with him anyways and fight.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Marius von Fundshauser is described "as the richest rich boy in Richardson Richington's Rich Boys Richcademy. Furtherrich, he richly riched rich rich rich rich rich, rich rich rich. Rich,"
  • Didn't See That Coming: Dipper getting himself turned into wood as he attempts to distract the ghost in the end.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Mr. and Mrs. Northwest would rather have their family hide out in the panic room than open the gates to the common folk. No one points it out, but it's obvious to the viewer that if the lumberjack had turned everyone into wood and burned down Northwest Mansion, the world's richest and most famous people would be dead from a mysterious freak fire, ruining the Northwest's reputation anyway even if they had survived.
  • Did You Think I Can't Feel?: Pacifica snaps at Dipper every time he reminds her that her family is a fraud but she later admits that she hates that the Northwest legacy is a lie.
  • Dirty Coward: Pacifica's parents are willing to let everything and everyone burn to save their own hide.
  • Disappeared Dad: According to Marius von Fundshauser's profile, he was seven years old back when he inherited his father's cravat and epaulets factory.
  • Doomed New Clothes: Averted on everyone's part; although Dipper has to wear a tuxedo in his size, he only gets mud on his shoes. Mabel's handmade pink gown also avoids disaster, though some concept art showed it covered in mud.
  • Dramatic Irony:
    • Mabel and her friends fawn over Pacifica's glamorous life and wish they were in her shoes. Not too long ago, the audience just bore witness that behind closed doors, Pacifica's parents are very cruel and controlling.
    • Pacifica is genuinely happy to see Dipper came back to the party until she finds out the reason why he returned.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?:
    • After saving the Northwests from the ghost (catching him in the first place), risking his own life and saving Pacifica's as well, Dipper is still insulted and mocked by Pacifica's father.
    • Similarly, the family curse started precisely because of the Northwests being ungrateful bastards to the townspeople that built up their mansion.
    • Averted at the start of the episode, where Dipper's exploits in stopping a monster are front page news.
  • Dying Curse: The lumberjack left one on the Northwests as the axe went into his head.
    And so I said with final breath,
    "One-fifty years I'll return from death,
    And if the gate's still closed to town,
    ''Wealthy blood will stain the ground!"
  • Eating the Eye Candy: Mabel, Granda and Candy do this when Baron Marius is introduced, complete with flowing locks of hair. When he says "Guten tag," Mabel cries out, "Guten take me now!"
  • Enemy Mine: The plot of this episode, as the Northwests asked Dipper to investigate a haunting. It ends up being subverted because Dipper realized he was on the wrong side of things, and that Pacifica isn't all bad compared to her family.
  • Epic Fail: Mabel's attempt at flirting with Baron Marius:
    Mabel: So, Australia, huh? Do you eat kangaroo meat down there or are they strictly pets?
    Baron Marius: [beat] I am from Austria.
  • Evil All Along: The Northwest Family have been this for over a century, and Pacifica learns it the HARD WAY. She may have been a jerk, but even she wasn't in on her father's villainous legacy.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Horribly averted with the ghost and Mr. Northwest.
    • Mr. Northwest knew very well to rely on Dipper's good nature when hiring him to get rid of the ghost. Dipper may be angry at being used, but he is not vengeful enough to release a psychotic ghost that could injure his sister. Played straight when Mr. Northwest can't understand why his daughter would open the gates and disobey him, although the last one was more Evil Cannot Comprehend Rebellion.
    • The ghost is able to escape by asking Dipper for a "last request" before being banished, that is to see the trees. This is after Dipper refused to release him as a form of revenge.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: Dipper averts this. Despite being angry with the Northwests for being used, he recognizes that the lumberjack is "unstable" and refuses to let him out of the mirror. Unfortunately, the ghost was able to heat up the mirror and cause Dipper to drop it, which let him out anyways.
  • Evil Is Petty:
    • Though she's not as bad as her parents, Pacifica grumbles when Dipper (albeit reluctantly) asks for three party invitations for Mabel, Grenda and Candy in exchange for busting the ghost. It takes her a while to invite Dipper to stay as well.
    • Mr. Northwest plans to not let Dipper enjoy all of the party, telling the butler that certain appetizers aren't for "his kind".
  • Evil Versus Evil: The lumberjack ghost with the Northwests. They both suckered Dipper into giving each what they wanted, and neither was pleasant.
  • Failed a Spot Check:
    • Somehow Dipper misses the Northwests' tapestry of Bill Cipher while busting ghosts.
    • One of the federal agents dresses as a woman, but forgot to add boobs to add to the cover. No one commented on that.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: The lumberjack's death. Getting an axe to the head is pretty graphic, even by the standards of this show.
  • Fatal Flaw: Mabel's desire for romance causes her, Candy and Grenda to argue when the lumberjack attacks.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Mr. Northwest; Mrs. Northwest is more of a Trophy Wife. He is polished, derisively polite to Dipper while insulting his clothes... and a pretty awful father to Pacifica. In addition, he uses a child to handle a ghost problem that Mr. Northwest should've handled on his own (just by doing the simple task of letting the commonfolk in). Having Nathan Fillion voice him adds to the charisma.
  • Fiction 500: Apparently the "sultans," "sports players," and celebrities of the world visit the Northwest party, and receive quails in gift baskets.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Double Subverted. At first Dipper and Pacifica seem to bond after trapping the ghost, but Dipper gets angry at her after he learns he was used. Then Pacifica placates the ghost by opening the Northwest gates, saving everyone, and Dipper finally lets go of his animosity towards her.
  • Forced into Their Sunday Best: Dipper is made to wear a tuxedo before being allowed to ghost hunt in the mansion.
  • Foreshadowing: Mr. Northwest's first reaction to the haunting is "Oh no. It's... happening." He already knew the curse was due, even though it's not revealed until much later.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
  • Frothy Mugs of Water: The rich people drink a golden brown liquid from fancy glasses and there's even a fountain full of it, but both are clearly labeled on-screen as "cider". It may or may not be the hard kind.
  • Full-Name Ultimatum: Preston calls his daughter "Pacifica Elise Northwest" when he orders her not to open the gates.
  • Gilded Cage: Pacifica's life. Candy mentions wanting to have her life, with the imminent wealth and high social status, but the price is dealing with Abusive Parents and owning their legacy of deception and fraud.
  • Gold Digger: The girls are a G-rated version, wanting to flirt with rich boys at the party. They only mention a wedding at the end.
  • Grew a Spine: Pacifica, through Dipper's words, manages to resist the urge of her Abusive Parents and does her own part to fix the family name, and opens the gates.
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: The Lumberjack has a legitimate reason to hate the Northwests, but the only one he actually encounters and attacks is Pacifica, while he's also willing to kill dozens of completely unrelated people apparently just because they were at the Northwest's party.
  • Haunted House: The Northwest mansion is haunted by a lumberjack ghost. Turns out the Northwests already knew, and have waited years to find some Unwitting Pawn to aid in their treachery.
  • He Cleans Up Nicely: Dipper looks adorable in a tuxedo, though he doesn't enjoy having to wear it. Mabel, Candy and Grenda's formalwear also has a certain charm, though clothes homemade with a glue gun understandably don't look as nice as actual formalwear.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Pacifica turns away from her heel side once and for all.
  • Heel Realization: The seed of doubt was planted in Pacifica's mind about the upstanding reputation of the Northwest Family after Dipper accused them all (herself included) of lying and backstabbing. Pacifica discovers the painful truth about her family, and about what she's becoming.
  • Heroic BSoD: Pacifica gets this when she uncovers the paintings in the hidden room, seeing how she comes from a legacy of liars and cheats. She ends up in a Troubled Fetal Position, flicking a flashlight on and off.
  • Honor Before Reason: Or rather, dishonor. The Northwests were willing to let the partygoers turn into wood rather than honoring their deal.
  • I Am a Monster: Pacifica believes she's just as bad as the rest of her family because she wasn't brave enough to stand up to them. She gets into Heroic BSoD in the portrait room of their treacheries.
  • I Lied: This is a common family trait in the Northwest family; there's even a hidden room that features portraits of their historical treacheries. Dipper wasn't the least bit surprised, because he was suspicious of it from the start, and they ended up being vindicated.
  • It Meant Something to Me: Pacifica was starting to bond with Dipper after they caught the ghost. Her expression when he calls them out for using him, namely Pacifica asking for his help, shows that she regrets her role.
  • It Only Works Once: Dipper manages to trap the ghost once with a silver mirror. The second time, he tries to use a silver platter and taunt the ghost into entering it. The ghost doesn't fall for it the second time, knocking the platter and journal out of Dipper's hand before turning him to wood.
  • Jerkass: Mr. and Mrs. Northwest, and it's quite an understatement. They could easily solve the curse by just fulfilling their ancestors' original obligation, but instead they do all they can to avoid doing so to keep out the "riffraff". They even try to save themselves while the rest of the partygoers are petrified.
  • Just Following Orders: Pacifica is genuinely apologetic for her part in the scheme, saying her parents made her do it... before immediately being cut off by the bell and backing off in fear.
  • Karma Houdini: Discussed at the end; Pacifica mentions that her parents will probably shut everyone out again next year.
  • Keep the Reward: Dipper casually declines Pacifica's offer to stay during the party after he captured the ghost, instead continuing on with his business of trying to banish him.
  • Kicking Ass in All Her Finery: Pacifica is in a velvet dress when confronting the lumberjack ghost, though it's more like "dodging axe swings and darting between hiding places in all her finery." (Which is still pretty improbable and impressive.)
  • Lack of Empathy: Another apparent Northwest trait.
  • Lame Pun Reaction: Mr. Northwest gives a flat response to the sports player that jokes the party was a "slam dunk".
  • Laser-Guided Karma:
    • Toby, the newspaperman who used to be part of the Society of the Blind Eye, has put Gravity Falls and Dipper's shenanigans on the front page. Probably due to the Laser-Guided Amnesia that Dipper gave him, which made Toby forget about the Society and its mission.
    • A minor one: in his last encounter with Pacifica, Dipper nearly got her killed by encouraging Mabel to cheat with the Lilliputtians. Here, Pacifica and the Northwests nearly get him killed by hiring him and using him to get rid of the ghost.
    • Mabel, Grenda, and Candy, who all get turned into wood while still fighting amongst themselves to woo a rich kid they like for their own selfish needs. They all eventually get turned back to normal and forgive each other.
    • The "riffraff" finally being allowed into Northwest Manor, much to the dismay of Mr. and Mrs. Northwest.
  • Last-Name Basis: Dipper is shown to only ever refer to Preston as "Northwest", even doing away with "Mr." Justified, considering Dipper has absolutely zero respect for the Rich Bastard he is and is completely repulsed by his behavior outside of that.
  • Laugh of Love: In a Ship Tease moment, Pacifica and Dipper laugh happily after they trap the Lumberjack Ghost in a silver mirror, and Pacifica then hugs Dipper. Happens again later while they trash Pacifica's parents' favorite carpet.
  • Let Us Never Speak of This Again: Pacifica, in a moment of joy, hugs Dipper. As soon as she realizes what's happening, she offers to pay him to promise not to tell anyone.
  • Lying Finger Cross: One of the hidden paintings show a Northwest doing this while making a deal with a Native American chieftain.
  • Mad Scientist: One of the "distinguished" Northwest ancestors.
  • Meaningful Echo: The first time the name "Northwest" is shouted, it's the seemingly ruthless lumberjack ghost. After Dipper learns the truth about why the lumberjack ghost hates them so much, it's Dipper's turn to call out "Northwest!!"
  • Mighty Lumberjack: The paranormal variety.
  • Morality Pet: Due to their new friendship and Ship Tease, Dipper becomes this for Pacifica. His scathing words after learning he was lied to and his apology to her later have a clear effect on her. Also, when her parents order her to leave the guests to their fate, it took one look at a petrified Dipper to convince Pacifica to rebel against them.
  • Mundane Made Awesome:
    • The food displays at the Northwest party, including a root beer fountain and cheese and chocolate fondue. One great moment is Candy coating her fondue fork alternatively with cheese and chocolate.
    • Mabel, Grenda and Candy handmade their dresses using a glue gun. Ridiculous as they look, that is impressive.
  • Never My Fault: None of the Northwests want to take responsibility for what their haughtiness caused for generations. Defied and later subverted by Pacifica, who's genuinely apologetic about having used Dipper and says she wanted to warn him, and later on is utterly disgusted when she finds out the full scope of just how far back the Northwests' swindling goes, enough to briefly succumb to a Heroic BSoD.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: By agreeing to bust the ghost so that Mabel and her friends could go to the party, Dipper inadvertently endangered his sister. To be fair, the latter wouldn't have happened if he hadn't fallen for the "sympathy" trick.
  • No Ontological Inertia: No one suffers long-term damage from being turned into a tree. Any damage to the house gets even more damaged when the "common-folk" stampede inside.
  • No Party Like a Donner Party: Mr. Northwest says that they're keeping a butler in the family's panic room so they can eat him if they run out of food.
  • Not Afraid of You Anymore: Having cowed to her parents' wishes throughout the episode, Pacifica finally rebels against them in order to open the manor gates and break the curse. Later on, she gleefully tracks mud across her parents' favorite carpet, having feared the consequences of doing so before.
  • Not Hyperbole: When Dipper said that he'd tell Pacifica to her face that she's the worst, he was completely serious, if deadpan, about it.
  • Nothing Personal: Neither Dipper nor the ghost hold a grudge against each other, at least until the ghost turns Mabel into a tree, but each has a conflicting agenda. Dipper seems to hold no grudge that the ghost defeated him the second time.
  • Not Now, Kiddo: DIPPER! McGucket has fixed the laptop that possibly contains the secrets to Gravity Falls and the Author's identity... and you decide to enjoy the party and wait until the next day to hear what he says?! According to the laptop, they only have 21 hours until a great evil is coming.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity:
    • McGucket is apparently pretending he's still a complete loon around everyone but Dipper (likely with Mabel, Soos and Wendy as well) since rediscovering his memories.
    • Nathaniel Northwest is revealed to have been a lot smarter (as well as crueler and more villainous) than the United States government gave him credit for in their official records from "Irrational Treasure", implying that his waste-shoveling village idiot persona was all a ruse to win him the town. He even has the foresight to believe the Lumberjack's Curse and writes a message for his descendants to warn them about it.
  • Oblivious Transformation: Implied. Judging by Mabel, Candy and Grenda's angry expressions when we see them as wooden statues, they were so caught in arguing over Marius, they didn't know or realize that the lumberjack ghost had already turned them into wood.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome:
  • Oh, Crap!: This is written in the Journal, in terms of how to handle a Level 10 ghost: "PRAY FOR MERCY."
    Dipper: "Aw, seriously?!"
  • Only in It for the Money: Not for himself, but Dipper only agreed to help Pacifica if she got party tickets for Mabel, Grenda and Candy (not that he wanted to ask for it). Though Pacifica does invite him to stay after he catches the ghost.
  • The Only One: Preston knew the day of reckoning had come for his family, and he knew that Dipper was the only one who had the experience dealing with supernatural threats.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Pacifica going to Dipper for help? Not making a snide or resentful remark at Mabel for her behavior at the party? Yeah, things are that bad for her.
  • Only Sane Man: Dipper at the party and when handling the ghost; when the ghost turns him to wood, Pacifica adopts this role, thanks to Dipper helping set her straight.
    • When the common folk enter, much of them cause trouble and trash the place, but only a few guests didn't necessarily come for festivities; McGucket apparently spent the whole day nervously looking for Dipper to break the bad news, and the two government agents went in undercover because there was something they needed to investigate.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: Ghosts are apparently divided into 10 classes, and the Lumberjack is class 10, the most powerful and dangerous of them all.
  • Pet the Dog: Pacifica is on the receiving end of a lot of petting this episode:
    • This is the first episode where Pacifica doesn't insult Mabel for being a Genki Girl; in fact, she even gives a little smile when Mabel gushes over the "fancy floors, fancy plants, fancy man!" Then again, Pacifica was too concerned over the current situation to resent it.
    • Though Pacifica keeps insulting Dipper, she takes the time to make a proper bowtie for him.
    • Rather twisted, but Pacifica's parents coming out of their panic room to "save" their daughter (but she'd be in for trouble anyways).
    • The ghost telling Pacifica that she isn't like the other Northwests after she opens the gates, especially since immediately beforehand she was in a Heroic BSoD at the idea of turning out like them.
    • After coldly giving her a "Reason You Suck" Speech and later finding her sitting gloomily somewhere outside the panic room, sadly conceding that Dipper was right about her, Dipper apologizes for what he said and tells her it isn't too late to do the right thing and learn from the world around her instead of her parents.
  • Phantom-Zone Picture: Dipper traps the ghost in a silver mirror.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: Several examples amongst the invited guests in the background as is appropriate for a formal party, but in particular:
    • Played straight: In the opening, Pacifica was wearing a simpler dress that she liked, but her parents vetoed the idea in favor of the much fancier one she wore at the party.
    • Played with: Mabel's idea of a fancy party dress involves glue guns. The glue gun is still stuck to her fluffy pink gown when she arrives with Candy and Grenda. The other two are dressed fancier but way more understated than Mabel's explosion of pink.
  • Pink Is Feminine: Mabel's dress. Given its fluffiness and rose theme, it could be a Garden Garment.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: One of the Northwests is shown cheating a Native American, while Preston is a snobbish slime.
  • Poke the Poodle: While the new guests that barge in cause trouble and trash the place, the Cute Biker's idea of trouble-making is disorienting a fork.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Mr. Northwest. Although he does some Evil Gloating after Dipper calls him out, he allows Dipper and the others to stay at the party and honors his end of the deal, if only because he realizes Dipper could probably bring the ghost back. He's also fairly petty about it, having the chimp butler deny Dipper any snacks.
  • Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: Pacifica when she finally stands up to her parents.
    Preston: Dingly dingly! Is this bell broken?!
    Pacifica: [stomps] Our family name is broken! And I'm gonna fix it!
  • Prophecies Rhyme All the Time: The lumberjack ghost talked in rhymes while cursing the Northwests with his last breath. He also rhymes whenever he's being dramatic over fulfilling his revenge.
    Dipper: Pacifica! The ghost is turning everyone into wood and... started rhyming for some reason.
  • Quieting the Unquiet Dead: The ghost of a lumberjack who helped build the Northwest Mansion has placed a curse on the family because they broke their promise to let the townsfolk into the party to celebrate the construction. After Pacifica upholds the deal for her family (despite her parents' protests), the ghost is able to finally move on and the curse is lifted.
  • Race Against the Clock: The Northwests have a party in 24 hours, but something keeps throwing around silverware. Since "dodge the butter knives" isn't an ideal party game, Dipper has to rid the ghost before it ruins the party.
  • Red Right Hand: The lumberjack ghost is missing an eye.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Dipper gives one to the Northwest family. Sadly, Pacifica is the only one who cares. Preston, on the other hand, gives Dipper a final warning for trying to cross him.
    Dipper: (to Pacifica) I was right about you all along. You're just as bad as your parents. Another link in the world's worst chain!
  • Rescue Romance: The romance part is downplayed to Ship Tease, but Pacifica is notably nicer to Dipper after he saves her from the ghost.
  • The Reveal: The Northwests aren't just a bunch of arrogant and classist Jerkasses, they're a family of Card Carrying Villains that take pride in their underhanded and treacherous actions. Needless to say, Pacifica is completely horrified by the lows they've descended to.
  • Revenge Before Reason:
    • Defied by Dipper. He sympathizes with the lumberjack ghost and does want to see the Northwests punished, but refuses to release the ghost because he recognizes how unstable he is and doesn't want Mabel to get hurt.
    • Played with by the ghost. While he originally has no trouble seeking Revenge by Proxy, he gives Pacifica a chance to keep her family's promise before taking revenge on her personally, and gladly lifts the curse when she follows through.
  • Revenge by Proxy: Instead of going after the Northwests and perhaps threatening their daughter as he had initially done during the evening, the ghost instead gets revenge by turning the party guests (who have no idea about the curse) into wood and bringing the taxidermied animals to life.
  • Rewatch Bonus: When Dipper returns to the party and Pacifica comes running, Pacifica's parents just continue looking forward with blank expressions, not acknowledging her presence. Even the senile mayor looks to the side as she runs up.
  • Rock Bottom: When beheaded animals are talking and objects levitating, Dipper assures Pacifica "It can't get worse than this". The lumberjack ghost immediately comes out of the fireplace.
  • Rule of Symbolism:
    • According to the Official Tumblr page of the Gravity Falls Art and Design Team, Pacifica was made to wear red gloves along with her gown to be symbolic of how her family has blood on its hands.
    • Possibly Candy combining cheese and chocolate. A yellow and a brown that couldn't be more different and that nobody would sensibly think would combine well, nonetheless came together in this episode.
    • The weather in this episode is rather dark. It's raining the night the curse first begins to take effect, and the next day (with the ghost looming overhead) is noticeably damp. Thunder and lightning happen before the ghost actually shows up, though it dissipates for a while when the ghost is captured. The weather briefly picks up again when the curse is explained, and becomes a full-blown storm when the ghost escapes. When the curse is lifted, the storm seems to disappear entirely.
    • While in the secret room where her family's dark secrets lie, Pacifica removes her diamond earrings and throws them in a corner. It can be interpreted as Pacifica (on top of being fed up with her Abusive Parents) no longer wanting her family's luxury if it means being tied to their legacy of dishonesty and treachery.
    • Pacifica's unwillingness to ruin her parents' favorite carpet pattern is an indicator of how deeply they've psychologically conditioned her never to disobey their rules, even when it's life-or-death. Her resisting her father's bell marks the turning point where she's breaking free from her conditioning. By the end, she's able to freely muddy her parents' favorite carpet without thought, showing she's finally freed herself from the conditioning.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Dipper, who is turned into wood during the climax which allows the true hero of the episode, Pacifica, to step up and save the day.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Subverted by Dipper; he was about to turn down Pacifica for busting the ghost, but Mabel talked him into obtaining three party invitations instead. Given Dipper's history with Pacifica, this sentiment is quite justified; he suspected it was probably another one of her schemes. As a result, he just treats the whole ordeal as if it was strictly business. He doesn't stay for the party even after Pacifica wants him to, but external events changed his mind.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: After seeing Dipper turn into wood, Pacifica has to open the main gate to fulfill her ancestor's promise, but her parents try to use their bell to get Pacifica to go into the Panic Room, but she stands up to them and tells them that she's gonna fix the family name by letting the common folks into the manor.
  • Shipper on Deck: After battling with each other for Baron Marius, Mabel and Candy squee when he gives Grenda his phone number. Candy calls being Grenda's bridesmaid, while Mabel calls "co-bridesmaid".
  • Ship Tease: Pacifica and Dipper spend a lot of time getting to know each other in this episode. Let's see, there's Pacifica hugging Dipper then getting embarrassed and trying to bribe him to forget about it, Dipper walking into a column due to trying to act suave in front of her, and of course the tender moment the two share when Dipper tells Pacifica You Are Better Than You Think You Are.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: Neither Grunkle Stan nor Soos appear in this episode to provide humor, given its darker tone.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Pacifica's "incognito" outfit with the scarf and shades is a visual Homage to The Exorcist.
    • The journal's illustration of a level one ghost resembles Casper the Friendly Ghost.
    • The illustration of a level nine is a more family-friendly Freddy Krueger.
    • The way the Lumberjack Ghost appears behind Pacifica in the secret room, with his shape appearing under a curtain, is reminiscent of a similar-looking iconic scene from the first Nightmare on Elm Street movie.
    • Part of Dipper's exorcism incantation is "Aintafraidus Noghostus", which sounds a lot like lyrics in the Theme Tune to Ghostbusters.
    • The "Ghost Harassers" are dressed like Ghostbusters, but physically resemble Jason and Grant, the original Ghost Hunters.
    • "Northwest, you got some splainin' to do!"
    • An incredibly subtle one that somehow transcends Getting Crap Past the Radar: when Old Man McGucket comes to Dipper about fixing the laptop and warning him about the the apocalypse, Dipper pinches the bridge of his nose and tells him to have some fun for once while they're at the party, despite the former wringing his hands and attempting to show Dipper the words Imminent Threat on the laptop. This mimics the interaction between Whitey and Jack Nicholson's character Gittes from Chinatown, where Gittes says "level with me for once, my tit's in the wringer and it's beginning to hurt..." after he believes he was refused help from his old colleague Escobar, right down to Dipper sporting Gittes' tight smile after he walks in the other direction from McGucket and the two of them talking in the corner of the party room.
  • Shown Their Work: Deforestation does cause mudslides. The removal of trees due to logging destabilizes the ground, and rain causes soil to slide. The fact that the mudslide that killed the lumberjack resulted from the building of the Northwest mansion makes it more horrific.
  • Shut Up, Kirk!: After calling out the Northwests (specifically Preston) for selfishly making him help cover their own asses from the lumberjack ghost(s), Preston condescendingly tells him to reevaluate who he's talking to and that no person of authority would ever risk their reputation to party near Dipper's "kind", before implying that his Persona Non Grata in the future literally means that Preston will prosecute him and his family.
  • Skewed Priorities:
    • Pacifica won't let Dipper use the first silver mirror they find to trap the ghost because she's afraid that her parents would be upset if they put mud on the carpet. Dipper yells at her about it.
    • Mabel was apparently prioritizing fighting with her friends over a boy they all like over being aware of the lumberjack ghost's rampage around them and that they were being turned into wood in the process.
    • Mr. and Mrs. Northwest deciding to try to keep the party going even in light of the curse and knowing how to stop it. It gets to the point of Too Dumb to Live when the ghost practically spells out that all he wants is for them to open the gates, and Pacifica is the only one with the common sense do so, while her parents instead hide in a panic room, perfectly willing to let their guests become trees and let the manor burn down than let the "riffraff" in.
    • Mr. Northwest found it important to dress Dipper up in a tuxedo before letting him bust ghosts. An uncomfortable three-piece suit with a bowtie is really impractical for chasing down a psychotic spirit.
    • Dipper decides to have fun at the party rather than listen to McGucket's warning about the countdown to the beginning of the apocalypse near the end of the episode. Though this may have been more due to fatigue at dealing with the supernatural than anything.
  • Snobs Versus Slobs:
    • What the Northwest family has been seeking to avoid for 150 years, and finally have to encounter to their dismay when Pacifica breaks the curse. Also why Pacifica offered a bribe to Dipper so he'd never mention she hugged him.
    • When the townsfolk get into the party, Wendy's father (who is in all likelihood a relative to the Lumberjack ghost) does a cannonball into the cider fountain, people dance on the tables and the Sheriff stuffs his face full of snacks, two-fistedly.
  • Soft Glass: Prevalent throughout the episode.
    • Dipper and Pacifica fall through a glass window but are uninjured. Although it might be justified, as the curtain in between the two and the glass could have protected Dipper and Pacifica from scrapes and cuts.
    • The ghost shattering the guests' cider glasses does not appear to cause any flying glass injuries. Not that it matters much, considering they're all turned into wood in a matter of seconds.
  • Stage Whisper: Played for dark laughs when Preston Northwest declares that: "We'll eat the butler!" right in front of the bulter, who doesn't even react even though he heard everything.
  • Stealth Pun:
    • If you look closely at the ice sculpture of Pacifica as a mermaid you'll see she's using a shell phone.
    • Dipper describes Pacifica as another link in the world's worst chain, a sentiment which she herself later echos. Overcoming personal obstacles such as anxiety or emotional trauma (something Pacifica does with flying colors) is sometimes called 'breaking one's chain'.
  • The Stinger: The federal agents are prepared for whatever is coming. Tambry walks in on them and they get Mistaken for Gay.
  • Taking the Bullet: Dipper would've done this if he hadn't been holding a silver mirror, the only object that can trap the ghost. He leaps in front of Pacifica when the ghost tries to attack her, and uses the mirror to catch the ghost. Neither of them get injured, though they crash through a glass window.
  • Take That!: "The Used To Be About History Channel" is a shot at the History Channel's Network Decay.
  • Taxidermy Terror: With glowing red eyes and oozing blood of all things. Yes, in a Disney show.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • At the start of the episode, Dipper is ready to watch a 48-hour marathon of "Ghost Harassers", telling his bladder that they're not moving from the spot. Cue We Interrupt This Program to show coverage of the Northwest party instead; Mabel and Candy knock away Dipper's marathon snacks, while Grenda smooshes him.
    • When Dipper and Pacifica first enter the haunted room, Dipper remarks that, based on the ghost's prior activity, it's only a Category 1 (out of 10), and therefore easily dealt with. One display of Taxidermy Terror later, Dipper realises it's actually a Category 10.
    • While hiding in the portrait room, Pacifica smiles and says maybe she and Dipper are safe. Then the ghost appears...
  • Technicolor Fire: The lumberjack's beard is a bright blue flame.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Pacifica and Dipper, initially at least.
  • Think Nothing of It: Dipper doesn't expect any praise or reward from catching the ghost—he treats this as another day in his regular life, partly because he wanted nothing to do with the Northwests after the whole ordeal. When he finds out he was tricked, he retracts his statement.
  • Title Confusion: Is it "Mystery" or "Noir"?
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Mabel, Candy and Grenda, who attempt to backstab and eventually spitefully argue with each other before splitting up in an outrage to compete to woo a boy they all like for their own selfish and manipulative needs. They eventually all get their comeuppance by being turned into wood. Once they turned back to normal, they forgive each other and reunite as a friend group once more.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Pacifica, finally.
  • Toxic Family Influence: This episode reveals that Pacifica's toxic behaviors were a result of her parents molding her to be that way. Fortunately, she eventually decides to free herself from her parent's influence and become a better person.
  • Transflormation: The lumberjack ghost turns all of the party guests into trees.
  • Tsundere: Grenda's idea of flirting with boys involves flipping their nose when she pulls the "got something on your shirt" trick.
    Grenda: Ha ha, gullible. Loser!
  • The Unmasqued World: Without the Society of the Blind Eye, people are finally starting to notice the strange stuff going on in the town. In fact, Dipper's fight with a giant vampire bat getting in the paper is what prompted Mr. Northwest to bring him in to fight the ghost.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: What wound up cursing the Northwests in the first place. One of them asks the folks of Gravity Falls to build his family a manor with the promise of a yearly party for the entire town as payment. However, after many years of building (in which many of workers died), when it came time for the Northwests to uphold their end of the bargain, they laughed in their faces and shut them out. The ghost that haunts the family is the one that cursed them, having died shortly after they shut him out.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Dipper ended up this to Mr. Northwest. Dipper unwittingly helped Mr. Northwest maintain his Villain with Good Publicity status. He was not pleased after the ghost told him.
  • Vagueness Is Coming: McGucket has fixed the laptop and tells Dipper that there is impending doom. Unfortunately, Dipper has had enough of the supernatural for one day and tells McGucket that the conversation can wait until tomorrow.
  • Villain Ball: Mr. Northwest indulging in Evil Gloating when Dipper confronts him about the truth surrounding the curse. The older man could have invoked Villains Never Lie, but he was fine with Dipper giving a "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Pacifica; the speech later affected Pacifica so that she was willing to open the gates and save everyone.
  • Villain Episode: Although Pacifica was always more of an Alpha Bitch Jerkass than an outright villain, this episode ends up being centered on her, though it's subverted when she redeems herself in the climax.
  • Villainous Legacy: Nathaniel Northwest's refusal to keep his word to the people of Gravity Falls resulted in the Lumberjack's ghost haunting his descendants. His influence even spread for generations into the modern day Northwest family, as they're a bunch of greedy, egotistical Abusive Parents that made Pacifica the way she has been up to this point.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Mr. Northwest, in line with his ancestors.
  • Was It All a Lie?: A downplayed, apparently platonic version with Dipper singling Pacifica out about her family's lie to him.
  • Watch Out for That Tree!: Pacifica warns Dipper of the peacocks in the garden right before he runs into several peacocks, much to his displeasure.
  • Weird Beard: The lumberjack ghost has a beard of blue flame.
  • Weirdness Censor: None of the party guests comment on being turned into trees, probably distracted by the "riffraff" storming the Northwest Mansion. Mabel doesn't even remember what happened, so it could be a case of Laser-Guided Amnesia.
  • Wham Episode: At first it may seem like a bizarre filler episode, but after Bill Cipher said that "big things are coming" in the episode "Sock Opera", the episode ends with McGucket discovering that it's only a matter of time before he stays true to his word. What's more, the government agents are preparing for whatever's coming as well.
  • Wham Shot: Two of them:
    • When Dipper and Pacifica see everyone in the party, including Mabel, Grenda and Candy, turned into wood.
    • The final two shots of the episode are of the Author's laptop, with a countdown showing 21 hours until an apocalyptic calamity, followed by a tapestry of Bill Cipher with people bowing down to him while being consumed alive by flames.
    • The Stinger, which shows the agents mentioning their preparations for something as well.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Did the federal agents remember being turned to wood, or were they able to evade the ghost, or did they even care?
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Though not at "hero" at that point, Dipper calling out Pacifica for lying to him, after he protected her from the ghost and risked his life handling a problem that wasn't his. She takes it to heart quite badly.
    • Grenda calls out Mabel and Candy for breaking the truce to not flirt with Marius and "leaving her behind," refusing to take their criticism that her flirting style is aggressive.
  • What You Are in the Dark: For both Dipper and Pacifica. Dipper had every reason to hate Pacifica, and could've let the Lumberjack Ghost exact revenge after hearing of the Northwests' misdeeds, but he refused to do so. Likewise, Pacifica had every opportunity to leave Dipper to deal with the ghost to save her own life, but she put her own life on the line for him. Plus, when Dipper and everyone turned to wood, she had the opportunity to escape with her parents, but she decided to honor the promise that should've been honored a long time ago.
  • White Sheep: Pacifica by the end proves to be the only Northwest in centuries to not be 100% a vile villain, which luckily means she is more than willing to let the commoners into the mansion.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Dipper in-universe acknowledges the lumberjack ghost as this, the "destroyer" part more than the "woobie".
  • Would Hurt a Child: The lumberjack ghost in the beginning came very close to killing Pacifica several times.
  • Xanatos Gambit: The ghost turning everyone except the Northwests to wood at the end and almost burning down Northwest mansion. If one Northwest opened the gate — which Pacifica did — his spirit would be laid to rest. If one didn't, the Northwests would lose their reputation with the rich and famous dead in a scandalous freak fire; Mr. Northwest would lose his status as a Villain with Good Publicity.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are:
    • Dipper, when realizing that a Northwest can break the curse, helps Pacifica realize that she is not her father and has the choice of saving all the party guests. Pacifica shows this when she's willing to open the gates to save the guests that have been turned into wood, including Dipper.
    • The Lumberjack Ghost affirms this when he tells Pacifica that she's not like the other Northwests before ascending into the afterlife.



Video Example(s):


Northwest Mansion Mystery

When the Lumberjack Ghost first manifests itself to Dipper and Pacifica, it makes a room full of mounted animal heads speak in unison and ooze blood-red ichor.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (21 votes)

Example of:

Main / TaxidermyTerror

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