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Recap / Gravity Falls S 2 E 14 The Stanchurian Candidate

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After the mayor of Gravity Falls suddenly passes away and feeling inferior to his brother in the eyes of the twins, Stan decides to run for mayor—and his main opponent is Bud Gleeful. Not wanting Bud to win, the twins try advising Stan, but he refuses to listen to them. Dipper and Mabel resort to using a mind control tie that Ford invented to get Stan to act political.

Tropes in this episode:

  • 0% Approval Rating: Stan started with one. It gets worse after his first interview.
    Candy: Your approval ratings started at zero. Now it's a number lower than zero.
  • Adult Fear:
    • Dipper and Mabel being put in danger right after Stan had a big fight with them. No wonder he reacts quickly when he sees the situation.
    • Being under the control of another person in your family, the way Bud is by Gideon.
  • Always Someone Better: Stan feels this way about Ford, whom he believes seems smarter, cooler, and more heroic to the twins.
  • An Aesop: Like what Mabel told Stan through her scented-marker metaphor: everyone has a right to speak their mind and express their opinion, but sometimes, it's better to just keep your mouth shut.
  • Attack of the Political Ad: One of the promos for the episode.
  • Berserk Button: Dipper really loathes having his intelligence insulted, since (as we've learned in past episodes) he believes it's the only trait he has that's worth anything to others. When Stan disrespects this, his injured ego prompts him to reveal their entire mind-control scheme.
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  • Better the Devil You Know: Initially why Mabel and Dipper decide to help Stan. Although he may not be the best candidate, something is off with Bud Gleeful, and they should thwart him. In the end, neither Stan nor Bud wins—while Stan and the twins are kind of bummed that Stan lost the election, they're ultimately more happy that Bud didn't win.
  • Big "NO!": Gideon lets out a series of these when his plan to blow up the Mystery Twins fails.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Bud Gleeful lost the election, and Stan, Dipper, and Mabel buried the hatchet, but Stan ends up disqualified because of his criminal record, and Gideon is preparing to make another deal with Bill Cipher.
  • Black and Grey Morality: Dipper and Mabel basically used mind control to get Stan into public office. Stan himself is a former career criminal who already started stuffing the ballots the second he entered the race. But the twins were trying to defeat Bud, who would have pardoned Gideon had he become the mayor. Gideon himself tried to murder Dipper and Mabel, so the twins did have the comparably higher moral ground. Stan got disqualified, but at least they exposed Gideon and Bud.
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  • Bond Villain Stupidity: Gideon via his father tying up the twins and leaving them to die in the ensuing firework explosion from the monument. The twins' cries for help are audible to Stan and the audience in the debate.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: When controlled, Stan declares that he stands for "America, freedom, Ameri-freedom"
  • The Bus Came Back: Say hello to Li'l Gideon! (He only made a cameo in one of the first episodes of the season).
  • Call-Back:
  • The Cameo: Cecil Baldwin of Welcome to Night Vale fame stars as normal human Tad Strange. Night Vale and Gravity Falls share much Friendly Fandoms on account of both being odd towns where surreally humorous events take place. invoked
  • Character Development:
    • The ramifications of Ford living with and belong allowed to interact with the twins starts to take its toll on Stan, who is aware that he is not as "glorious" as Ford, but refuses to admit that he wants the twins' respect. By the end of the episode he finally admits that he wants the twins' admiration as he's rescuing them.
    • The twins in turn start to realize how much Stan wants his family to admire him, and Mabel knits him a sash saying "Our Hero" as a thank you and an apology for using him as a People Puppet.
    • On the villainous side, Gideon has become a much more competent Big Bad. After first using his father to manipulate the town for the election, he succeeds in incapacitating the twins and averting Underestimating Badassery on Dipper's part.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The bird seed piles that determine which candidate gets the highest ratings ends up cushioning Stan and the twins' fall from the monument.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Even though her husband is running for mayor and her son is no longer terrorizing her or the town, Mrs. Gleeful remains absent from this episode and hasn't been seen the whole season.
  • Comedic Sociopathy:
    • The entire Cold Open is full of this for Stan. No wonder he decides to run for Mayor when the news comes up.
    • Mabel testing out the mind-control tie on Soos and making him dance. Soos is visibly freaked out, but the twins are amused.
  • Conspicuous CG: The fake bomb Stan uses.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Robbie and Tambry are still a couple.
    • Gideon's partner in prison crafts class offers to start a riot, the way one was started in the TV shorts, to cheer him up.
    • Mabel while controlling Soos makes him eat a pinecone the way she did in "Mabel's Guide to Life."
    • Gideon's arrest and Stan's cons throughout the town are brought up.
    • One of Stan's Long List of crimes on his record is teaching a bear to drive.
  • Cool Old Guy: Stan scales a monument railing and pulls up the twins with his bare hands to save their lives.
  • Disqualification-Induced Victory: After both Stan and Bud are disqualified from the election for mayor of Gravity Falls, Tyler Cutebiker (the only other person running for mayor of Gravity Falls) wins the election by default.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Tyler Cutebiker receives the mayor sash and a bouquet of flowers like a beauty pageant contestant winner.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Stan has this all throughout the episode, though by the end he admits that he only wants the twins' respect.
  • Easily Forgiven: Stan isn't angry at the kids (and, by extension, Ford) for temporarily depriving him of his free will. However, he seems to acknowledge that it was probably for the best, because he wouldn't have had much of a chance of winning on his own.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Bud Gleeful can be mean, unethical, and is only running for mayor to try and free Gideon from jail, but even he realizes that using black magic to win is a seriously bad idea.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Stan starts his run by attempting to fix the ballots. By the end, he gets disqualified because of his criminal record.
    • When Dipper is talking to Ford, a page is noticeably missing from one of his journals. It later turns out Gideon kept it.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: When Shandra is reading Stan's crimes, one listing says, "Telling jokes that go on and on, I mean we have things to do today really."
  • Freudian Slip: When the youngsters behind Stan at the cashier line insinuate that, because he's an old man, he'll use some slow method to pay for the light bulb he impulsively reveals he's stealing it.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    • Gideon mentions that he has no pillow because his cellmate is using it "for a wife."
    • Gideon's Mind Rape of his father is seriously dark.
    • Gideon also pretty explicitly plans to murder the Pines twins for putting him away.
    • "Pug" Trafficking is a clear pun on drug trafficking.
  • Godzilla Threshold: Gideon making another deal with Bill Cipher counts as this, since all his other plans didn't work out.
  • Gosh Darn It to Heck!: When Stan pulls ahead in the polls, Bud launches into a tirade of nonsensical euphemisms in front of his campaign staff. He immediately apologizes for his language.
  • Hammerspace Hair: Gideon hid a page of the journal in his over-sized pompadour.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: The twins in trying to stop Bud Gleeful from winning stoop to Gideon's level. Gideon lampshades this. It doesn't pan out in the end, but Gideon putting them in danger ends up making his dad lose.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • The Mayor was a pretty interesting guy before his death. It's actually said that he may have possibly started World War I.
    • Bud Gleeful can be a lot nastier than he lets on. Even so, he balks at using Gideon's black magic to win.
    • Stan wants the twins to look up to him as much as they look up to Ford.
    • Dipper and Mabel make surprisingly good campaign managers, seeing as how a pair of twelve-year-olds managed to almost win the election for Stan essentially by themselves. On a lesser note, Mabel apparently knows how to break dance.
  • His Name Really Is "Barkeep": Tyler the cute biker's full name is....Tyler Cutebiker.
  • Humiliation Conga: The cold open has Grunkle Stan going through a very bad start to his day.
  • Ironic Name: According to Soos, the only citizen of Gravity Falls who isn't a tad strange is a man whose name is Tad Strange.
  • It Only Works Once: Gideon's page mentions that the spell is "one time use."
  • Just Between You and Me: Gideon announces to the twins how he plans to murder them once his father is elected.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: As "morally ambiguous" the mind-control tie was, Stan is forced to admit that the twins weren't completely in the wrong when his attempt at campaigning his way costs him popularity.
  • Karma Houdini: Dipper and Mabel face no consequences from essentially mind-raping Stan (and Soos). Neither does Ford who came up with the idea. Even Stan doesn't seem that upset. Then again, they were trying to help him out and, in the end, even Stan realized that he had no chance of winning the election on his own. Not to mention Gideon almost kills them twice during the election finals.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Averted for Dipper, who wears a campaign T-shirt throughout the episode in place of his usual shirt and jacket. He even ditches his pine tree hat for a boater and a visor.
  • List of Transgressions: Stan's rap list is shown on TV, the number of pages is five inches thick, including crimes such as woodpecker baiting, impersonating a dentist, golf cart theft, telling overly long jokes and pug trafficking...
  • Long List: When Sandra announces her intent to read Stan's List of Transgressions, she's given a stack of papers at least a foot thick.
    Dipper: What did you do?
    Stan: What didn't I do?
  • Memetic Mutation: In-Universe, Stan becomes the subject of memes mere seconds after his first radio interview. One of them even parodies the Boromir meme.
    Wendy: You're memeing fast, and none of them are good.
  • Mind Rape: Dipper and Mabel essentially do this to Stan and Soos (who suffers much worse effects from the tie). Gideon later uses a much more explicit version on his father. Neither the twins nor Gideon face any consequences for their actions.
  • Might as Well Not Be in Prison at All: Gideon's power runs far beyond his cell, and he has plenty of backup plans handy. If all else fails, he can call Bill Cipher.
  • Misplaced Sorrow: Shandra breaks down while reporting on Mayor Befufflefumpter's death...because it's the first actual news she has reported on in a long time.
  • Mood Whiplash: The Stinger starts with one of Gideon's fellow inmates consoling him on his plan failing by asking him to join a riot...but then it ends with Gideon summoning Bill Cipher again.
  • My Life Flashed Before My Eyes: Soos experiences this when Mabel tests the tie on him.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: When Stan disrespects his intelligence and disregards his plans, Dipper snaps and reveals the entire plan to him, causing Stan to storm out and refuse to wear the tie. This nearly costs Stan the election.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: Gideon nearly murdering the twins during the debate ends up costing his father the election, since Stan risks his life to save his family and earns the top-rated approval points (even though he ultimately doesn't win the election).
  • Noodle Incident:
    • Mabel borrowed Stan slippers to carry milk in them. She never explains why.
    • Stan (being controlled by Mabel via the tie) mentions having released a swarm of bees at an elementary school a few years earlier.
    • Mayor Befufflefumpter may have started World War I.
    • One of the crimes that disqualified Stan from being mayor was a crime that he apparently invented called "burglebezzlement." He also engages in "pug trafficking", and committed llamacide because the llama knew too much.
      • In addition, Stan admits he's relieved they didn't get the really bad stuff, and doesn't specify if that refers to his previous crimes.
    • According to the town charter, in order to become the Mayor of Gravity Falls, you need to be able to count to ten, cast your hat into a ring...and cast a shadow.
    • Ford mentioned he made the mind-control ties for Ronald Reagan's "masters" (presumably Republican Party leaders or something).
  • Non-Answer: Toby asks Bud if he's still in contact with Gideon, he tells Toby that's a good question and offers him (and everyone in the room) 50% off a used car.
  • No-Nonsense Nemesis: Gideon has learned very well from the last time he encountered the Pines twins. He uses his father to grab both Dipper and Mabel, tie them up, and plan to murder them. If he hadn't engaged in Bond Villain Stupidity...
  • "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer: Dipper, while explaining Gravity Fall's electoral process: "I couldn't make this up even if I wanted to."
  • Not So Different: Gideon takes some time to point out that the Mystery Twins are just as immoral in using science to control someone against their will as he is.
  • No, You: Soos, controlled by the twins during the big debate.
    Soos: That doesn't make sense, Mabel. You don't make sense, Dipper!!
  • Oh, No... Not Again!: Played for horror when Bud yells "Please, not this again!" when Gideon casts the mind control spell on him, implying Gideon has used magic spells from the journal before.
  • The Pardon: Gideon wants his father to become mayor to get him one.
  • Paying in Coins: When Stan is at the grocery shop, Robbie expects him to pay in pennies because he's old.
  • People Puppets:
    • Ford gives Dipper a tie that can do this.
    • A spell Gideon kept from his journal allows him to take control of his father.
    • Ronald Reagan was one to his "Masters."
  • Portmanteau:
    • Amerifreedom.
    • Burglbezzlement
  • Raised by Wolves: Mayor Befufflefumpter was apparently raised by bears.
  • Reality Ensues: Stan may have electrified the town with his heroics, but because of his criminal record, he's disqualified from running for public office, even though the election process itself is unrealistic.
  • Revenge: Gideon is still bent on getting his vengeance on Stan, Dipper and Mabel.
  • Ridiculously Average Guy: Tad Strange, who's so average that he proclaims his love of...bread.
  • Rushmore Refacement: Mayor Befufflefumpter's face is carved in a nearby mountain as a memorial. Gideon blows up part of it while trying to kill the Pine twins.
  • Sand In My Eyes: Stan claims he got confetti in his eyes when Dipper and Mabel notice him crying.
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: Tyler when Dipper and Mabel scream for help.
  • Second Place Is for Winners: Even though Stan and the twins are kind of bummed that Stan loses the election for mayor of Gravity Falls, they're happy that Bud didn't win and Stan's happy to have mended his bond with the twins, and nearly tears up when they give him a handmade sash saying "Our Hero."
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story:
    • Stan trying to change a lightbulb in the Cold Open, then it turns out he forgets his brother is a genius who can make another one.
    • Stan wins the election for Gravity Falls' new Mayor with 95% of the vote, but he gets disqualified due to his criminal record making him inelligible for office. Not that he cares anymore, but he's at least glad he got a chance to try. On the bright side, the twins prevented Bud from winning, which was their main goal; except Bud (along with the majority of the ballot) was also disqualified from the election due to incorrectly filing his paperwork for his candidacy.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Single-Minded Twins: This episode probably comes closer than any other to portraying Dipper and Mabel as a single unit — they're nearly identical in motivation, lack of scruples with mind-control, etc.
  • Sleazy Politician: Both Stan and Bud almost became this.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Ford takes a backseat in this episode, but his actions play a big role in this episode. His fixing the lightbulb is what makes Stan consider running for mayor and Dipper's words that Ford would have been a great mayor is what finally convinces him to do it. Ford is also the one who provides the twins with the mind-controlling ties.
  • Smoke Out: Stan tries to pull this off, but the smoke bomb he uses has passed its expiration date.
  • Status Quo Is God: Stan becoming the Mayor would have ruined the dynamic of the Mystery Shack, as would Soos or Bud Gleeful, meaning Tyler was the only character expendable enough to be allowed to become Mayor. They just had to make sure Gideon doesn't get what he wants.
  • Take That!: After Stan's disastrous Q&A session, Wendy mentions that Stan is being used in memes and that 'none of them are good' while showing a parody of the 'One does not simply' meme with Stan in Boromir's place.
  • The Last Dance: The former mayor's death makes Stan realize that he's not getting any younger, and his legacy consists of the Mystery Shack (which he's soon going to lose) and a lifetime of national and international cons. He tries to be mayor both to add something positive to his legacy and to earn the twins' respect.
  • The Un-Reveal: Tad Strange. Before this episode, fans had an array of out-there speculations such as Tad being the same type of creature as Bill Cipher (but a square) to Tad being Gomper's real name (when asked in a Q&A about the goat, Bill said he 'like(s) him better this way'). This episode reveals that not only is he just a normal guy, he's probably the most normal person in Gravity Falls.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Gideon tells Dipper and Mabel that they've "gotten much eviler since I last saw you," in reference to the fact they are mind-controlling their own uncle.
  • Traumatic Haircut: Gideon tears out pieces of his pompadour when his father loses the election.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Gideon is so enraged at his failure that he destroys the journal page with the mind control spell.
  • Vote Early, Vote Often: Stan commits voter fraud and stuffs a ballot box at the start of the election.
  • We Win... Because You Didn't: Dipper and Mabel's goal when they agreed to help Stan's candidacy was to prevent Bud from winning. While they are kind of sad that Stan ends up losing the election, they're at least happy that Bud didn't win either.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Inverted; Stan wants to win the twins' respect, which was his main motivation in running for mayor.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The twins resort to unethical means to help their Grunkle win and keep Bud Gleeful from becoming Mayor and freeing Gideon.
  • Wham Line: Gideon delivers it to a chalk picture of Bill:
    "I'm finally ready to make a deal."
  • Wham Shot: Gideon has drawn a chalk picture of Bill Cipher and his circle, hiding it behind a poster in his prison cell.
  • Why We Can't Have Nice Things:
    • The monument that the town built for their former mayor ends up damaged when the explosions that Gideon set up detonate.
    • Gideon tore a page out of Ford's Journal #2, and later tore it up. And we know how Ford hates to have his work messed up...
  • Wins by Doing Absolutely Nothing: Stan was disqualified for his criminal record, and Bud for trying to murder the other candidate, meaning that Tyler, who was in third place, won the election by default. Though he did do one thing the other candidates didn't: his paperwork.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: Mayor Befufflefumpter is mentioned as being 102 years old in the espide "Northwest Mansion Mystery" and the series takes place during the summer of 2012. The Mayor is mentioned as having potentially having fired the "shot heard round the world", a.k.a. the event commonly said to have started World War 1. He was 102 years old when he died in 2012 meaning he would have been born in 1910, making him 4 years old when the war started and only 7 when it ended.
  • Yandere: After announcing his plan to murder the twins, Gideon says he'll spare Mabel if she marries him. He even made her a dress in crafts class. You can imagine Mabel's response.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: Gideon seems to regard the Mystery Twins controlling Stan to be a Worthy Opponent move. Driving the point home, he tells them this as he's bodysnatching his own father.


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