Pages 759-835 (MSPA: 2659-2735)
Act 3, Part 1 of 4
A silly girl naps by her flowers…
Two acts down, lots to go. Technically four acts, but acts 5 and 6 are both very long and have many subdivisions. So where are we now? In a brief interlude between acts 2 and 3, we get to read a note to John from his grandmother inside the Colonel Sassacre book. In it, there is very much written about the game he and his friends will play. You may wonder, how does Nanna know all this? One might surmise that she has some sort of foresight like Jade. However, it’s later revealed that she wrote the note after the became a sprite, and the book got sent through time. Nanna introduces several terms before we learn what they mean, and more significantly, it has the first hints of the class/aspect title system which fans love to theorize about. She mentions the four kids’ god tier titles without saying which one is which; typically, readers will guess that the Heir of Breath is John, the Seer of Light is Jade, the Knight of Time is Dave, and the Witch of Space is Rose. As it turns out, Rose’s and Jade’s titles are the other way around. Nanna also says that the book will travel through time somehow, marking the comic’s first mention of time travel. On to the start of Act 3 proper.
We finally meet our fourth kid, sleeping peacefully in some kind of atrium. She immediately subverts the running gag of characters having a joke name followed by a real name—since she is asleep, she is referred to for a few pages by her joke name before we read the note next to her, revealing that she knew she was going to be called Farmstink, and that her real name is Jade Harley.
Now thus far, Jade’s role in the story is little more than the person who has some kind of foresight. Of the five conversations in acts 1 and 2 with her in them, the first one is just a regular conversation, the second might make you wonder if something’s up with her, and the other three have to do with her knowledge of the future. While Dave and Rose are established by their traits before their respective introductions, Jade is established by that ability. I’m not sure if it’s the best thing for a character to be established by something he or she is weirdly able to do. Jade is in fact a unique case among the characters in that she is the only one first established as someone with a strange ability; none of the alpha kids, or any of the trolls, have a strange ability define their character before their introduction.
About Jade’s character: Although Jade is established by the narration as “silly”, she isn’t anything like, I don’t know, a spaced-out girl who constantly drifts around her weird thoughts and can’t focus on anything serious. She’s almost the opposite: she is almost always honest, courageous to do anything, doesn’t hide emotions at all (all three other kids do, even John with the way he bottles up emotions of grief), and always tries to be friendly except when she totally loses her shit. She is “silly” in the sense that she has a number of strange interests, but this comes from the fact that she was raised on an island in the middle of nowhere by a weird old man. Overall, Jade is reasonably likable, but often not given enough attention in the story. In Act 6, she has the least screen time out of all the beta kids: John’s actions are focused on very much (his dream bubble adventures like the pirate treasure hunt, or the retcon mission); Dave and Rose both get roughly equal amounts of screen time, participating in numerous insightful and/or humorous conversations; but Jade is focused on definitely less than those other three. She serves somewhat as a straight man to John’s antics in parts of act 6 (especially the scene where John throws a tantrum about Con Air), and after our heroes arrive in the new session, Jade is immediately turned into a loyal servant of the Condesce. In the pre-retcon timeline she remains this way until her death in the doomed timeline that stems from Aranea’s revival; in the post-retcon timeline, before she can do much she is put to sleep so that she will not be a threat, not to mention that she gets the EXTREME short end of the stick regarding the post-retcon three-year journey to the new session. Poor Jade.
OK, time to get back to the story and get to know that girl.
Jade wakes up and is then properly introduced.
Jade subverts almost every pattern we had when we met John, Rose, and Dave, and I’ll count every time that happens. Besides (1) the joke name gag, we see that (2) her shirt symbol is not static and constantly changes, and that (3) she is introduced in her atrium instead of her bedroom, (4) without listing all her interests right away. Some of the patterns are averted with red herrings, the most notable of which is how we’re led to believe that her guardian is her grandfather rather than her dog, an extreme odd one out. The next pattern subverted is by red herring: (5) her musical instrument appears to be the flute, but she doesn’t actually know how to play it—or where the flute came from (never explained later)—and her real instrument is the electric bass, seen later. One thing of note in the flute minigame where you can make a different note with each key is that “Z” makes Jade go to sleep. It’s later revealed that Vriska’s experimenting is why Jade falls asleep so much, so when you press Z, in a sense you’re playing as Vriska rather than Jade. Interestingly, Jade seems to retain the habit of sleeping a lot even after the timespan in which the trolls can view the kids; in Act 6 Act 6 Intermission 4, John says, “you know, [jade] does like to sleep a lot.”
We are introduced to Jade’s fetch modi, leading to another pattern somewhat broken: (6) unlike the other kids, who each have a set of fetch modi revolving around a particular idea, Jade has a set of ten different board game fetch modi to choose from, but we’ve only see four of Jade’s modi in action, three by her and one by Aradia. She got the set of modi for Christmas from her grandfather; since he died when she was young, it must have been a Christmas when she was at most 6-ish years old. I do remember a few things I got for Christmas around that age, like SpongeBob Lego sets, but my parents sold the pieces from those sets a long time ago. Also, (7) Jade actually performs the silly command given to her.
Up next, Jade teleports upstairs. Yes you read that right: she can literally go upstairs by standing on a transportalizer which teleports her. Her house consists almost entirely of weird sci-fi technology like this. Notably, the technology in her house strongly resembles that in WV’s command station, or the technology found in the Skaianet lab near Rose’s house seen later; this, combined with the branding of the technology, heavily implies that her grandfather had something to do with both Skaianet and the development of Sburb, which is only further supported when we learn during the trolls’ arc that the code for the game always comes from the planet’s frog temple.
Jade’s room in full view.
Then Jade examines her bedroom and we learn of all her interests. She has various weird technology, a Problem Sleuth-style fenestrated wall, a bass, a poster of Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff as furries from Dave, other furry fandom posters, dolls, guns, flowers, and plushes. We also learn that her grandfather is a Renaissance man who excels at everything. This pretty obviously ties in with Jake (his post-scratch self)’s status as a page (vast amounts of hidden potential), given that Jake is portrayed similarly to John but as more of a doofus. Even though for the time being Jade’s grandfather is essentially a Mary Sue, we later learn just how weird he is—he goes on dates with blue dolls and taxidermies deceased people by family tradition. Also, the narration flat out lies about her grandfather by talking about him in the present tense and thereby implying that he is alive. This is one of very few times the narration just plain lies; even the narration’s statements that Rose’s mother has no real affinity for wizards at least represent what she thinks. The narration lies like that in order to make the twist that Jade’s grandfather is taxidermied extra-surprising, and also to scare the shit out of readers.
Another thing I missed or forgot in my first two read-throughs: it’s stated that Jade’s house runs on the power of geothermal activity from the volcano near her house. Also, Jade examines more of her items, like the magic cue ball (another Chekhov’s gun), a green version of Rose’s velvet pillow, and her magic 8-ball (which she considered smashing, foreshadowing Vriska?). She breaks the fourth wall by (not really) letting us play memory, and regrets doing so because we are apparently so bad at it. Then she plays her real musical instrument, the electric bass, as we zoom out to see what her house looks like: a giant tower with a sphere on the top, on top of a hill on an island. An airplane flies overhead and drops a package.
Jade breaks two more patterns as we go on, both minor ones. First, (8) while John’s fridge has a drawing of a green slime ghost, Rose’s fridge has a drawing of her cat, and Dave’s fridge has a drawing of Hella Jeff, Jade’s fridge doesn’t have a drawing on it and is small and portable. Second, (9) all the other kids have regular computers with operating systems that resemble real life ones, but Jade’s is nothing like anything in the real world, with a sci-fi movie-like 3-D computer interface. She opens Pesterchum, and for the first time, we see screen names of some of the trolls. There are a few inconsistencies with the list of trolls regarding what we later learn about them. First, Karkat is shown to be online while the other trolls are shown to be offline, but the trolls actually live outside the time continuum of the kids’ universe and can contact the kids at any point in time. Second, Sollux’s screen name is listed, even though he chose not to participate in trolling the kids.
Jade gets a message from Dave, in which he rambles like he always does. He sends her a music remix he made at what would be 5:14 AM for him. This implies that Dave doesn’t sleep very much, which actually makes sense, a cool dude only sleeping 4 hours a day or so. He also mentions that he has a fursona, playing along with Jade’s weird furry stuff—something about Dave that’s pretty easy to forget. She opens FreshJamz and we get to see some of the songs she and her friends made (mostly by her and/or Dave). Some of the remixes are made pretty poorly. Given their friendship, it’s a little sad that as of the Omegapause, Jade and Dave are yet to have a proper heartfelt reunion after three years apart. At least Dave sits next to her sleeping body on the frog platform, which I find rather heartwarming. Jade then reads MSPA and has a conversation with Dave which we already saw. The next page focuses on Dave, meaning that I’m at a good stopping point—a whole post almost entirely about Jade.
See you next time as we frantically switch back and forth between a whole bunch of different characters like the Easter Bunny running late for his annual job of delivering candy and eggs to the world’s children, even though it’s nowhere near Easter.