Cookie Fonster Critiques Homestuck Part 5: Grandmotherly Expositation Station

Introduction

Part 4 | Part 5 Part 6 >

Pages 358-428 (MSPA: 2258-2328)

Act 2, Part 2 of 5

NEW: Link to rewritten version (I recommend you read it instead of this post)

NOTE: I know “expositation” isn’t a word, I just wanted to make “exposition” rhyme with “station”.

Here’s another title picture, in case you forgot. This one is meant to match the name of this post.

Lousy goddamn stupid wizards.

Last time, we got a taste of the weird shit that happened to John now that he made it into a mystery world, and we learned how Dave lost those Sburb discs. Now we see what Rose is up to. She examines her wizard-adorned house, and we see how strongly she believes that her mother has no real love for all those wizards she litters her house with. One thing I just now caught is how Rose sometimes has guests visit her house: the narration says, “There is the sound of rushing water beneath the floor. It tends to strike guests as a strange presence in a living space, but it’s become hardly audible to you through familiarity.” What’s the deal with those guests? Are those her mother’s fellow scientists or something? It’s weirder because Rose’s house is pretty much in the middle of nowhere, way out in the forests of upstate New York to be specific. “Forest” and “New York” are two words that sound a little weird together, given that New York makes most people think of the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building.

We learn of Rose’s supposed passive-aggressive battles with her mother as she examines the stuff in her house, and it’s made pretty clear that Rose has a strangely backwards view of her mother. It’s even weirder when you consider that Rose’s deal is knowing the deal with people, and maybe her mother has a void (her post-scratch self’s aspect) in Rose’s knowledge? That would be kind of upsetting if true. And this makes her reunion with Roxy, a young version of her mother who is nothing like the passive-aggressive lady Rose makes her mother out to be, even better than them both having to watch their young guardian die in front of them already makes it, though not quite as emotional as Dave’s reunion with his young guardian. Other characters even note Rose’s misconceptions—as Dave puts it some time later:

TG: oh man thats so messed up 
TG: that you think that 
TG: she probably digs wizards for real just like you and youre blowing shit out of proportion like pretty much always 
TG: you and she could probably have been chatting up how awesome wizards were this whole time but no 

Rose then does something exceptionally useful and important: she puts on her magnetic letter W on as a mustache. Also, we have the first appearance of the symbolistic velvet pillow, which appears every so often later on. Then Rose sees her mother, and has to sneak around avoiding her, just like John does with his father. Childish antics galore.

Dave Strider, your neighborhood window repair expert.

Now we switch back to Dave, who almost finished doing a piss-poor job at repairing his window. Then he talks to Jade, and for the first time in the comic—and not once more for quite a long time—he smiles (by a few pixels). Andrew Hussie once said that Dave’s infamous pixel smirk was done to demonstrate that a single pixel (technically a few) can serve as shipping fuel. And when Dave and Jade talk, you notice that their interactions are quite a bit different from when he talks to Rose or John. He’s a lot more lighthearted talking to her, and he even plays along with her silly jokes. This is a bit unexpected given that he is portrayed as a cool dude while she is portrayed as ridiculously weird and silly. Later when we actually meet Jade, we learn that she and Dave even make electronic music together. As it turns out, Dave/Jade is the closest any pairing of beta kids has been to being canon, because Jade was in a relationship with Davesprite for a while, though this is only revealed after they broke up.

Anyway, this exchange between Dave and Jade establishes a lot of things about Jade. First off, this conversation firmly establishes that Jade has some unexplained knowledge of the future; she somehow knows what will happen to her present to John. Also, we learn that the “Bec” she mentioned while talking to John is a pet (through her line “i have to feed bec which is always a bit of an undertaking”), which is weird considering what else she said about Bec (he doesn’t want her to go near the meteor impact). Bec is described by Dave as a “devilbeast”, and Jade says that she couldn’t blow his head off if she tried, which strongly implies that Bec isn’t an ordinary dog. Also, Jade’s grandfather is mentioned for the first time, and Jade says that encounters with him are usually intense; this was done to mislead readers into thinking her grandfather is alive to make his twist extra surprising. In short, this conversation establishes irrefutably that there’s something up with Jade.

After this we switch back and forth between John and Rose. John talks to Dave who says he left his room to look for his brother’s Sburb discs, Dave mentions Lil Cal for the first time, and John tries to convince Dave that his white rapper puppeteer hipster brother is not cool. Then, he reads “Data Structures for Assholes”, a Karkat-esque parody of the For Dummies book series, and in a series of three interactive pages he fights an imp, establishing that despite what was set in stone previously, monsters are real; after he kills the imp, he levels up on his echeladder and does a victory dance.

Rose, meanwhile, strifes her mother in a humorous interactive page with 8-bit music, with such things as Rose’s mother attacking by giving her a beautiful pony named Maplehoof. She then goes over to her cat’s mausoleum while the forest outside her house is on fire, and connects to John once again. Dave talks to her about how his brother’s puppets might indeed be unnerving like John said, and talks about how unnerving Lil Cal is, and his nightmares about that puppet; also, Rose mentions that she likes Dave’s brother’s websites, which is remarkable because his post-scratch self (Dirk) is largely a male version of Rose. Dave even remarks that maybe John was right about the puppets; this is an early example of John’s specialty in convincing people of things and leading them in the right direction, commonly speculated to tie in to his role as a breath player. Then Nannasprite pranks John by throwing a bucket on him …

HOO HOO HOO!

… to open up a grandmotherly exposition session. Accompanied by some rather neat animations, Nannasprite tells John the following:

  • his father was kidnapped by some imps;
  • the place he entered is called the Medium which is inside the Incipisphere and outside our universe;
  • the seven gates lead to a place called Skaia;
  • in there, the forces of light and darkness are locked in stalemate until now;
  • the battle turned into a chess game thanks to the kernelsprite;
  • the kernelsprite took its information (the clown prototyping) to some towers on a light kingdom (Prospit*) and a dark kingdom (Derse*);
  • the light kingdom (white) is always destined to lose the chess game;
  • the clown prototyping also affected the appearance of the imps;
  • for now he must find out what weird withheld shit he will encounter when he enters his first gate;
  • build up his house to get to that gate;
  • and also solve the so-called Ultimate Riddle (something that remains an unsolved plot point as of the Omegapause).

* Names for those planets are not revealed until Act 3 and Act 4 respectively.

All this is quite the info dump, and maybe it’s a little hard to swallow. It’s also a little weird—if the white kingdom is destined to lose the chess game, then why does it matter? Well, I promise this stuff is going to come up later when we get to all the crazy shit Jack Noir does. And in any case, we still have a bit more exposition to go. Before we go on I’d like to note some things.

One thing of note in the info dump is that it appears that imps kidnapped John’s father, and Nanna says that his father was “apprehended by the very forces of darkness which your presence here has awakened”. This implies that imps are affiliated with Derse, which is a little weird given that aside from Mr. Egbert’s kidnapping (which I think doesn’t go any further than act 3) said affiliation is hardly referenced at all again. This is the effect of early installment weirdness in action; another example in Homestuck is the mouse cursor moving objects around John’s room in the comic’s first few pages. It’s also worth noting that the first thing John wants to do is save his father.

After this, Nanna delivers the punchline:

JOHN: and then after that, we solve this ultimate riddle thing and save earth from destruction!!!
NANNASPRITE: Oh no, I’m afraid not!

(next page)

NANNASPRITE: Your planet is done for, dear! There is nothing you can do about that!
JOHN: oh…
NANNASPRITE: Your purpose is so much more important than saving that silly old planet, though!
JOHN: and that is?
NANNASPRITE: HOO HOO HOO HOO HOO!

As it turns out, our heroes’ goal is not to save the world, but something way bigger which remains a mystery up until the very end of the trolls’ arc. For now Nanna leaves to bake cookies for John.

So what do we get from this exposition dump? We know where the hell John is, and we know what actually happened in the silent flash animation near the start of act 2 in which the kernelsprite divided and whatnot. And we know that he’s not supposed to save the world from destruction, not to mention that this is the comic’s first big dump of weird plot shit. But a lot of information is withheld (the Ultimate Riddle, what it means for Skaia to be a dormant crucible of unlimited creative potential, John’s ultimate goal), exemplifying the recurring theme of withholding information—something that is particularly true when it comes to Homestuck’s sprites. Also keep in mind that this is us learning about Sburb’s mechanics right here, in a really weird way. A teenager’s grandmother guiding him through a video game?? Talk about really fucking weird.

I think that’s enough for today. From this stretch of pages, the most important thing we get is an exposition dump from the ghost of the protagonist’s dear grandmother, not to mention Rose’s house, Jade’s foresight, and Dave smirking. See you next time as John flips out about cookies, Dave enters his brother’s domain, and more.

>> Part 6: Imp Madness and Can Openers

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