Pre-Gravity Falls finale It is not like this that Stan expected the end of the world.

For one, the final days are lasting too long. Not the kind of fast bullet he would have wanted to go with. The small crowd in his home does not provide much comfort, either – to shiver and sit in silence, without a sign of improvement, is little help for their shared mood.

The point is that, alone or not, they are going to be done for. And a near complete week is an awfully long time to wait.

Fatigue cannot unsettle him, at least. Tending to the survivors isn’t much of a hassle, when the offending creatures hail from a stoner’s high dream and nobody knows what to do. If nothing else, he gets to boss around the gnomes, racking up unpaid employees in exchange of his hospitality.

Well – if the alternative is focusing on what was left outside, Stan himself will take up heavy labor any moment.

While he cannot claim to have been through worse, the rest of his life was not so far from this. There were all the times he left on the run; there were the cold nights he barely slept through, slumped in his car. So many.

In the end, not even that could prepare Stan for the silence.

The absolute worst comes, in fact, with the hours they spend saying nothing. They follow one another, crumbling to dust like the town they shut out, only paused by the rare knocks on the door.

Outer contacts grow less and less likely, too. It means fewer distractions – fewer chances to break their wait in pieces.

He does not complain. As long as they stay here, they are also safe. But their eyes remain low, their mouths still.

Stan knows what it means. He can feel them think, just like he does.

And it is the thought of the missing to make the air denser.

Over and over, he pulls his mind away from that idea. Dwelling on things that will never be fixed only makes it all less bearable. He cannot see any other sensible choice than just being here, now that every purpose he used to fight for has vanished into thin hair.

He has learnt his lesson now, yes. The anger of that certainty helps him smash the cans of food against the floor. There was never a point in anything, given that life is one giant ungrateful bastard.

Which is why Stan opts for drowning in his chair, rather than focusing on a past he has no control over. Nothing of what happens out there is his concern, at the edge of an apocalypse which has swallowed the last drop of his patience. Much better to live by the moment, without the long-term plans he constantly watched dissolve into failure, and chase away hard truths that are too painful to even begin considering.

To run after remedies in vain is no longer a good plan. Nothing of what he did produced results, so why bother?

He never did any good, didn’t he?

He might as well go by his own rules. With that in mind, Stan keeps the leading role for himself; everyone follows, for lack of better options. He can at least take control over the last game he is playing, the only one he ever was any good at – survival.

Who broke the dam open – who unlocked the door these monsters must have crossed, or how else, where from? – is something he prefers not to dwell on.

This is fine, Stan’s head aggressively repeats. This is the best he can bargain for. If his life lessons count for anything, he must let it suffice.

He chooses to embrace that belief. To what extent he is free to do so, well, that’s another matter entirely. Each time he thinks of the reason why, a bitter emotion confirms it right away; like it or not, he must walk that path.

Because, if he does not fill the silence with that, the other things are forever going to return.

For once, Stan is the leader – he gets the first ration, the massages and the comfiest chair. He can enjoy all that during the day, as a distraction.

By the time he goes to sleep, the rest catches up with him anyway.

It isn’t the end of the world that finally breaks him, in the darkness of his solitary room. Whether he starves today or tomorrow, deep down he couldn’t care less. His own was never in the number of the lives that counted. What he cared about is long lost to this mess, to the pointless silence that spread across his actions – and guess why, he screams within himself, they are never coming home. Guess whose fault it is, again.

When Stan bites his pillow, to cry all he has left in tears, he does it alone. Whatever meaning they may have now that his kids are gone, the rules of their shelter are established. He is the chief.

That he can barely stand this does not mean the others have to see. If they so choose, he must help them carry on.

And in his own way – without leaving his chair, who do they think he is? – he is going to remain the strongest one. He is staying true to everything his role implies, even if it means hiding his pain.

It’s not just Dipper and Mabel, after all. He helped ruin everyone.

Since this was his fault, it is about time he began to take responsibility.