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Recap / Gravity Falls S 2 E 4 Sock Opera

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The laptop found in the Author's bunker has been fixed, but its data is password protected. Meanwhile, Mabel falls for Gabe Benson, a handsome child-puppeteer, and decides to impress him by putting on a massive puppet show. She cajoles Dipper into helping, and in-between prop work the male twin tries to unlock the laptop's secrets, staying up into the night. One night, he's approached by none other than Bill Cipher. Bill offers to help out, in exchange for a favor, but Dipper refuses, remembering how Bill once invaded Stan's mind. Bill departs, but makes it clear that the offer stands...

The next morning, Dipper relates to Mabel his encounter, and his sister assures him that she'll help with the laptop, now that Candy and Grenda are helping with the show. However, Gabe stops by and makes it clear that he's expecting A-1 work, and that Grenda and Candy's won't qualify. Mabel once again abandons her brother to work on her puppets, leaving Dipper frustrated, not just with the laptop but with his sister. However, too many failed password guesses causes a failsafe in the laptop to trigger, threatening to delete its data.

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Enter Bill, who repeats his offer. All he wants is a puppet, and now the Mystery Shack has a surplus. Dipper is uneasy about letting Bill have one of Mabel's props, but the demon reminds the young Pines about all the times he's helped Mabel, and that his sister has never returned the favor. Pressured by the ensuing deletion, Dipper agrees to give Bill his puppet. The minute they shake hands, Bill rips Dipper's spirit out and takes control of his body! "Sorry, kid, but you're my puppet now!" Bill destroys the laptop, as Dipper's search for the Author may interfere with the triangle's plans. All Bill needs to do now is destroy Journal 3. It turns out that Mabel decided to use it as a prop in her show, so Bill hitches a ride to the theater. Dipper attempts to warn his friends and family, but without a physical body, he might as well not exist.

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During the intermission of Glove Story: a Sock Opera, Dipper manages to contact Mabel by possessing a sock-puppet version of himself, and bring her up to speed. Not wanting her show to be ruined, Mabel has Dipper perform in her place while she gets the Journal. There, she encounters Bill, who threatens to spoil the act unless he gets the Journal. With Gabe weighing on her mind, Mabel almost caves in- until Bill remarks, "Who would give up everything for their dumb sibling?" Reminded of her brother, Mabel fights Bill, and their brawling spills onto the stage. And even though Bill is an Energy Being, he's still in the body of kid who hasn't slept in days. Exhaustion forces Bill out, allowing Dipper to retake his body. Possessing Dipper's puppet, Bill gloats that "Big things are coming". Mabel removes Bill entirely by using the Big Finish, a fireworks display that destroys every puppet and parts of the theater. The audience hates the show, and Gabe, believing Mabel has mocked his art, goes off to make out with his own puppets. Dipper and Mabel make up, and go home in good spirits.

That night, Mabel has a dream that makes her rethink her opinion on puppets.


Tropes in this episode:

  • All for Nothing: Two episodes after it was introduced, the laptop reappears... only for Bill to smash it after gaining control of Dipper's body.
  • All Just a Dream: It's implied that the laptop beginning to erase its data was really Dipper passing out and Bill manipulating his dreams to make him desperate. After all, Bill's first appearance in the episode was in Dipper's dream.
    • The realistic puppet show in the credits turns out to be a dream by Mabel.
  • All Part of the Show: Subverted. Mabel hopes the audience will think the fight with Bipper and fireworks explosion was all part of the show and applaud even saying that's how it happens on TV. The audience, however, is unimpressed and jeers. One person even calls out how they nearly died.
  • All Take and No Give: Bill paints Mabel and Dipper's relationship this way, and not without reason. He doesn't expect Mabel to move past it.
  • All There in the Manual: The official Journal 3 provides some Ascended Fridge Horror by revealing that, if Bill had won and destroyed the journal successfully, his plan for Dipper's body now that he no longer needed it was to kill it by throwing it off the water tower, making it look like Dipper went crazy and committed suicide and leaving him trapped as a mindscape-ghost forever.
  • Bi the Way: Gabe makes out with his puppets at the end of the episode. Only one of them was "female."
  • Bittersweet Ending: Mabel and Dipper managed to defeat Bill with Dipper regaining control of his body; however, the laptop is still destroyed with its secrets lost and Mabel's play flops with Gabe walking out on her after all the effort Mabel put into it and the risks she had to take, which Mabel apologizes to Dipper for.
  • Call-Back:
  • The Cameo: It was revealed on Tumblr that Puppet!Old Man McGucket was manipulated by Matt Chapman.
  • Cargo Ship: In-universe, Gabe makes out with his puppets after rejecting Mabel. Mabel is glad to have dodged that bullet.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Dipper has one after waking up from his conversation with Bill. Bill even imitates Dipper before he leaves. Mabel has one too in the ending credits, after dreaming of a realistic puppet show starring herself and Dipper.
  • Character Development: For Mabel. Yes, she was already a very complex character whose morality has been shown higher than Dipper's, but this episode tries to sort out her biggest flaw; her selfishness. Dipper has sacrificed a lot for her in order for her to be happy, and she has never returned the favor (biggest examples are "The Time Traveler's Pig" and "The Deep End"). When Bill mocks her for being self-absorbed and just using Dipper, she realizes that he has a point and thus pulls her own sacrifice for Dipper's sake. When Bill is defeated and Dipper back in his body, Mabel apologizes to Dipper for her behaviour.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Mabel's able to outrun a worn out "Bipper" on the stage thanks to the "four megashots" of Mabel Juice that she had.
  • Concert Climax: Mabel's big puppet show, Glove Story: A Sock Opera, serves as this. The epic self-destruct sequence at the end really drives this trope home.
  • Continuity Cavalcade: Bill Cipher tries to persuade Dipper into making a deal with him that will affect Mabel's efforts, stating "What has she ever done to return the favor?" whilst showing flashbacks of his sacrifices in Season 1.
  • Continuity Nod:
  • Deal with the Devil: Bill offers one to Dipper, telling him that he could help figure out the laptop's password. Dipper rejects the deal at first, but when the laptop threatens to wipe its hard drive when Dipper makes one too many wrong guesses, he breaks down and takes the deal. Naturally, Bill screws him over, not fulfilling his end of the deal; Word of God says that Bill still owes Dipper a favor but is not to be trusted. invoked
  • Demonic Possession: Dipper has his body stolen by Bill Cipher.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Mabel's play is in the Theatre Time Theater.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Bill deliberately self-harms whilst in Dipper's body due to the sheer euphoria of experiencing human senses. He seems to enjoy himself at first, but it comes back to bite him in the climax.
  • Energy Being: Bill, and he refers to himself as such. Unfortunately for him, he chooses to highlight this fact while possessing Dipper, who very much isn't.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: This is apparently why Bill's "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Mabel fails.
    Bill Cipher: I mean, who would sacrifice everything they've worked for just for their dumb sibling?
    Mabel: ...Dipper would.
  • Exact Words: Dipper should really have given more thought to Bill's request for "a puppet". And besides that, he said "I can help you, kid, you just gotta listen to my demands!" Once he had a body, he could help him, but never said he would.
  • Foreshadowing: A rather literal example; in the scene at the library, you can see Dipper and Mabel being followed by Bill Cipher's silhouette.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
    • Part of the montage of Dipper's attempts to guess the password to the laptop include a brief shot of pages covered in attempted guesses, which also include a Caesar-encoded secret message:
    PURE ENERGY, NOT SKIN AND BONE
    RISING LIKE THE SHEPARD TONE
    • When the disembodied Dipper passes through the floors of the Mystery Shack, you can see some sort of listening device hidden in the floorboards, bearing the eagle-with-a-magnifying-glass symbol of a certain secret government agency.
    • On a related note, Agents Powers and Trigger can be briefly seen in the audience of the puppet show, their faces obscured by playbills. Seems those two are keeping an eye on the twins...
    • Noted on Tumblr, but when Bill approaches Dipper the second time, a Rubix cube also appears in the Dreamscape.
  • Gargle Blaster: Stan describes Mabel Juice as "if coffee and nightmares had a baby."
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language: Candy mutters a couple of sentences in Korean.
    Candy: (In Korean) I must steal him away from Mabel.
    Candy: (In Korean) Wait, Gabe! Candy still loves you!
  • Hand Puppet: There's plenty in this episode, and (as the title implies) most of them are sock puppets. Mabel somehow manages to manipulate up to six of them at once.
  • Heel Realization: Mabel realizes she has been very self-absorbed when Bill mocks her about it, and thus defeats Bill so Dipper can get back into his body. She then apologizes to him. invoked
  • Her Code Name Was "Mary Sue": In the opening of the puppet show, all the characters sing about how great Mabel is, and the rest of the show is one giant Wish Fulfillment story about Mabel getting together with Gabe. Even funnier, Candy and Grenda wrote the script!
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: "Pain is hilarious!" says Bill. Yeah, say that again after you're too exhausted and in too much pain to get the Journal back from the hyperactive and very well-rested Mabel, Bill.
  • I Let You Win: Bill implies this when Dipper brings up defeating him in "Dreamscaperers."
  • I Lied: Bill, when he immediately reneges on his promise to give Dipper the password to the laptop, stating that he's getting way too close to some secrets Bill wants to keep hidden.
  • Is It Something You Eat?: Inverted. When Gabe invites Mabel for a biscotti, she asks "You drive a Biscotti?"
  • Ironic Echo: Bill's line "Eenie, meenie, miney.... YOU!!!" is the same one Stan used to pick Dipper to go nail directions to the Shack in the spooky woods in "Tourist Trapped". Except this time, instead of being funny it's terrifying.
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • When Dipper tries to point out that Mabel is getting obsessed with the puppet show, she calls him out on being obsessed with solving the mysteries of Gravity Falls that she notices it starts to take a toll on both his mental health and more visibly, his physical health, which was something Mabel had warned Dipper earlier in this episode.
    • To help push Dipper into making a deal, Bill reminded him of all the times Dipper has made sacrifices for Mabel's sake and how she has never returned it.
    • Bill points this out to Mabel when she stands between him and the Journal, that she was willing to use it as a prop in her play and didn't seem so concerned for Dipper's feelings.
      Dipper!Bill: Hmm, you didn't seem to have a problem taking Dipper's journal for your own play, or ditching him when he needed you!
  • Jerkass Realization: Mabel realizes how much Dipper's sacrificed for her in the past and, in turn, how little she has sacrificed for him in comparison. This results in her giving up on the show she obsessed over for a week in order to save her brother.
  • Laser-Guided Karma:
    • After spending the entire episode obsessing over her puppet show, to the point that she refuses to help Dipper with accessing the laptop after promising to do so, Mabel has her show turn out to be a flop and the boy she was interested in wanting nothing to do with her (though she admits that she "might have dodged a bullet" with him after seeing him make out with his hand).
    • Adding with a bit of Reality Ensues, when Bill was hurting Dipper's body For the Evulz, it came back to bite him when the damage, combined with Dipper's sleep deprivation, weakened him to the point where he was expelled from the body.
  • Logical Weakness: As Mabel points out, since Bill is in Dipper's body, he's only as strong as Dipper, and he's gone for days without any sleep. It also didn't help that Bill put Dipper's body through a lot of abuse For the Evulz earlier. Or that Mabel knows all her brother's ticklish spots.
  • Magic Countdown: Inverted from its usual application. When Bill offers his deal to Dipper, the supposedly five-minute countdown goes down in little over a minute.
  • Medium-Shift Gag: Mabel's dream in The Stinger, which is acted out with real sock puppets.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Mabel's puppet show. She doesn't settle for a tiny stage in a library the way Gabe was; she goes all out by renting a theater, creating larger-than-life sets with a tentacled monster, and assembling fireworks for the finale.
  • Must Have Caffeine:
    • Dipper while on the roof at night has a bunch of empty soda cans next to him.
    • Probably it has more sugar than caffeine, but Mabel drinks five shots of her namesake juice before the show, which has plastic dinosaurs. Stan describes it as if "coffee and nightmares had a baby."
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • By outright refusing to help Dipper with the laptop, Mabel is indirectly responsible for the laptop's destruction and Bill taking over her brother's body.
    • Dipper by insisting on working on the laptop after getting no sleep puts himself in a vulnerable position to accept a Deal with the Devil.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: Bill bluntly stating Mabel's selfishness is what causes her to have her Jerkass Realization.
  • Not Helping Your Case: Mabel is having a hard time taking Dipper possessing his sock puppet self seriously because of how silly he looks when mad, at which point Dipper pulls off an angry Kermit face while comically growling in frustration.
  • Nothing Personal: When Dipper brings up Bill entering Stan's mind in his last appearance, Bill insists it was just a job.
  • One-Woman Wail: There's an audible-only-to-the-audience-and-Gabe version of "Ave Maria" playing as Gabe watches in horror as Mabel's puppets go flying in flames into the audience.
  • The Password Is Always "Swordfish": The first password Dipper tries is 'password'. Unfortunately, it's not that easy.
  • Password Slot Machine: Averted; the computer rejects incorrect passwords outright and goes into an automatic self-destruct once too many incorrect guesses are made, though Dipper is able to try for three days straight before the machine finally hits a limit.
  • Production Foreshadowing: In the end credits, puppets of Stan and Old Man McGucket appear, fulfilling a Shout-Out to Statler and Waldorf. These same puppets were used by Alex Hirsch at the Gravity Falls SDCC panel.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Bill claims to be this, that invading Stan's mind was only a "job". It's not confirmed or denied in this episode, though we see his sadism...
  • Reality Ensues: As mentioned above, Bill possesses Dipper's body and begins to hurt it, both out of morbid curiosity and a desire to sadistically inflict pain on his host. This eventually leaves him possessing an injured and sleep-deprived boy's body, which he can no longer fight on with.
  • Sadistic Choice:
    • Dipper's faced with one when he tries one too many wrong passwords and the laptop threatens to self-terminate with only one more attempt allowed. Cue Bill Cipher and his "offer" to help out. So either take a long-shot and risk deleting potential data you and your friends nearly got killed recovering, or take up the "deal" of a dream demon that's bound to backfire on you. Dipper's smart enough to realize his position, but goes with Bill anyway because his next guess would've been a shot in the dark at best.
    • Bill offers another one to Mabel when he has her at his mercy: either she hands him Dipper's journal to destroy, or he drops her from the catwalk onto the stage. If not for his Evil Gloating, Mabel would've chosen option one.
  • Sense Freak: Bill, once in control of Dipper's body, gets a blast out of the sensations he feels—specifically, pain—and goes out of his way to hurt himself. (*Slap!* "Woo!" *Slap!* "Woo! Pain is hilarious!") He realizes too late that Dipper's body can't handle the constant abuse.
  • Skewed Priorities: Mabel breaking her promise to help Dipper in favor of trying to woo a guy she's barely even spoken to would be a minor case of this. It kicks up a notch when Dipper has his body stolen and comes to her for help and she still tries to put him off in favor of impressing Gabe. Though she's willing to go find the journal with Dipper continuing the show for her, when Bill gives her the Sadistic Choice between the play going well or the journal, which Dipper has told her he needs to get his body back, she actually begins to hand it over. Thankfully, Bill's gloating prompts her to realize what exactly she's doing.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In Mabel's dream, Stan and Old Man McGucket appear as Statler and Waldorf.
    • Plus, the Dipper puppet's angry expression bears a distinct resemblance to Kermit's.
  • Sinister Minister: Bill in Dipper's body when dressed as the priest for Mabel's puppet show. It's specifically supposed to make him look like Harry Powell.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: A opera melody of "Ave Maria" is heard when Gabe looks on in horror at seeing the puppets destroyed in flame by Mabel.
  • Spanner in the Works: Bill thinks Dipper's hunt for answers could seriously inconvenience his plans, so he destroys the laptop and tries to destroy Journal #3 so Dipper can't find them.
  • Title Drop: The title of the episode refers to Mabel's puppet show, which is called "Glove Story: A Sock Opera".
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Mabel, to a degree. She isn't overly harsh about it, but she does prioritize her puppet show over anything else, to the point she refuses to fulfill a promise to Dipper. Also, while she has always shown some disinterest in Dipper's focus on solving the mysteries of Gravity Falls, here she outright trivializes his search for answers, merely just to retaliate against Dipper's What the Hell, Hero? call out over her own puppet show obsession. Thankfully, Bill's mockery makes her realize what she's doing.
  • Too Kinky to Torture: When Bill Cipher possesses Dipper's body, he enjoys being in a physical body so much that he starts inflicting pain on himself, including slapping himself, falling backwards down the stairs, smashing his arm in a drawer and stabbing it with forks. When Dipper later gets his body back, it's revealed that Bill hurt his body so much that he feels the need to go to a hospital. Subverted, as eventually, Bill starts to feel all the damage and sleep deprivation Dipper's body is experiencing at the climax, and he's clearly not enjoying himself.
  • Trapped on the Astral Plane: Dipper, thanks to Bill Cipher performing a Demonic Possession on his body, is temporarily trapped as a ghost that can only interact with the rest of the world trough possessing a innanimate object.
  • Trailers Always Lie: Trailers and synopsis of the episode pointed to it being another Breather Episode, but then Bill shows up.
  • Vagueness Is Coming: Similar to his last appearance, Bill Cipher announces "big things are coming" before he flees. The only new thing we learn this time is that he will be in some way responsible.
  • Villain Has a Point: Bill manages to sway Dipper into his deal by pointing out that Dipper continually sacrifices and compromises what he wants for what Mabel wants, and up to this point she's hardly ever returned the gesture.
    Bill:' Besides, what's your sister done for you lately? How many times have you sacrificed for her huh? And when has she ever returned the favor?
  • We Will Meet Again: Before Mabel shoos him off with her fireworks, Bill tells the Pines Twins that "big things are coming" and they can't stop him.
  • Wham Episode: What was originally shown off as a light-hearted episode with a goofy premise quickly turns very dark when Bill shows up.
  • Wham Line:
    Dipper: So what puppet are you gonna pick anyway?
    Bill: Hmm, let's see. Eenie meenie mynee... You.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Dipper gives one to Mabel when she refuses to help him figure out the password to the laptop in favor of focusing on her puppet show, with him pointing out that she is obsessing over doing this for her crush of the week.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Mabel thinks that the audience will believe her fighting the Bill-possessed Dipper and blowing the stage up was part of the show and applaud like in cartoons. The opposite happens.
  • Younger Than They Look: Gabe at first looks like an adult, but when we see him on the other side of the puppet show curtain he actually isn't much taller than Mabel, putting them at around the same age. Hopefully.

Alternative Title(s): Gravity Falls S 2 E 4 The Sock Opera

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