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Act 4, Part 1 of 6
Pages 1358-1454 (MSPA: 3258-3354)
Can’t think of a caption other than “The Land of Wind and Shade”, which would be redundant.
Act 4 of Homestuck, like a few other acts, opens up with a minigame. In this game, John explores his planet, a cloudy blue world named the Land of Wind and Shade, fights imps, gathers information about his denizen and the imps and stuff from salamanders, somehow talks to Nannasprite from afar, and like in the game where he explores his house, has a voice in his head give him commands, but the voice is definitely someone different from the Vagabond. It is very similar to the game very early in Act 2, but instead of exploring his house, he explores the planet he entered. This minigame really is rather complicated, with features such as sylladex access and sending objects through a mail system and multiple attack methods and a button to talk to Nannasprite and so on. Hussie has said that this game is somewhat experimental and that it probably could’ve been presented in a more effective way (which is what the famous YouTube series Let’s Read Homestuck does).
I have quite a lot to say about the Act 4 opening game. First off, the music used in the game (Doctor) is super memorable—it’s one of only three Homestuck musical motifs that I remembered how they went after my first read-through (the other two are Karkat’s Theme and Elevatorstuck). The song is memorable largely because it’s used in several other songs throughout Homestuck (Planet Healer, Savior of the Waking World, Savior of the Dreaming Dead, and some others to a lesser extent). Also, it’s easy to miss some stuff in that game, which is why a little later there’s a sequence of pages that recaps parts of it by showing the commands from the exiles’ perspective, and why it’s informed at the end that you can go back in case you missed some stuff. But in any case, it’s a cool way to experiment with new ways to present Homestuck’s content. Eventually walkarounds would start adopting an Earthbound-like art style and be focused more and more on conversations, culminating in the Openbound trilogy in which we get to know the pre-scratch trolls and hear from several other characters. Many readers are longing for one more walkaround game before the comic ends, because they’re a great way to get plenty of characterization without dragging it through stretches of pages.
After this walkaround, we see what the exiles are up to. The Renegade and the sentry worms wreak some havoc and the exiles get into a fight. Then we see that Jade got Dave’s Sburb discs and changes her fetch modus to Jenga briefly and then to Pictionary. She experiments with her new fetch modus. Sometimes it works perfectly, sometimes it refuses to recognize what she draws. It’s pretty clear that this is done by the forces of paradox space to avoid making things go differently from how they’re supposed to, because the bass and tangle buddies would end up with the exiles. I don’t recall the exiles having much of a use for those, though I could be wrong, and I’ll see when we switch back to them, which should be soon. Then Bec returns and warps Jade back to her room, because she’s finished doing things destined to happen and can’t prevent her other possessions from ending up in the hands of some desert wanderers. First guardians are always built to ensure occurrence of events that are meant to happen, a recurring theme I’ve brought up numerous times prior. A great example is Doc Scratch’s role in the trolls’ cycle of revenge that would lead to Aradia becoming a ghost and becoming an agent of destiny in a beautifully and tragically convoluted way (also a recurring theme I’ve mentioned before).
Jade installing Sburb.
Jade installs Sburb at an enviably fast hypercomputer speed and gets alerts from three trolls: Karkat, Vriska, and Gamzee. Karkat talks to Jade many times throughout Homestuck, but the other two haven’t once spoken to her. It would be interesting to see what those two would have to say to Jade, especially Vriska, since I believe that Vriska decided to only troll John. Must be a continuity error, and it’s not the first one regarding the trolls.
John pesters an unresponsive Rose, then talks to Jade. He is convinced at this point that she is indeed psychic like Dave and Rose say, which for all intents and purposes means that he is finally just as in the loop on her as they are. Jade tells John that she really isn’t any more psychic than he is, which is … half-true? Her knowledge of the future doesn’t come from a magical mind, it comes from the whole notion of dream selves and whatnot, which is not exactly psychic but still knowing stuff she shouldn’t. Jade explains that after John’s dream self finally wakes up she won’t have to be so coy with him; she had to be coy like that so things wouldn’t get messed up, which is something I still don’t understand, what exactly would have happened if she told him? I wonder if Jade ever looks back on how she acted back in the day with a thought of “wow I was so ridiculous”; her fellow space player, Calliope, certainly does. Dave also pesters Rose, but unlike John and Jade, he tends to ramble on for quite a while if someone doesn’t respond, a trait he shares with Roxy. He complains about how wordy Rose’s Sburb walkthrough is, as if she’s trying to write a literary masterwork instead of a snappy game walkthrough, mentioning retarded ghosts and whatnot in figures of speech. He talks to Jade about how she just installed Sburb and will get Dave in the game.
Then, for the first time in the comic, John and Karkat converse. Instead of being an asshole, Karkat tries to get John to talk to him and tolerate him, claiming that they are “friends”. He tells John about how he’s been trolling him backwards through time, which everyone besides him agrees is dumb. Karkat exposits about how he and his friends have a session entirely separate from the kids’ session but refrains from saying too much because he explained it several times prior in John’s future, and he asks John to get Jade to talk to her. This is the first of many troll chatlogs in Act 4 in which we get exposition through the trolls. I don’t have much else to say about that exchange, other than that it shows us the one end of John’s dynamic with Karkat, where Karkat tries to be half-friendly with him but John thinks he’s stupid and rude; the other end is entirely vice versa, where John is happy to talk to Karkat but Karkat loathes him, in that way.
How ordinary people clean ordinary houses.
The exiles, meanwhile, eat some food in the sunset. It’s also sunset outside Dave’s meteor-ridden neighborhood, and this is when Jade starts working as Dave’s server player, deploying the first few devices. Dave tries to get Rose’s attention, but she says “Hold please”, which is her first line in Act 4. Jade is having trouble deploy stuff in Dave’s house, saying that she wished she played more games. I can kind of relate because the only real video game I’ve ever played is Minecraft. Dave talks to Rose about what Jade is up to, and lets it slip that he “loves” John, slipping out his repressed feelings of affection. His line “i love him” is pretty open to interpretation; does he mean that he has feelings for John (dubious), or just as a friend (likely), or sarcastic (???), or what? Nowadays Dave does openly admit to feeling affection for one person in particular: the Mayor. Next up is exemplification of how far removed Jade is from regular human culture: she dampens a towel by dunking it in the toilet in order to clean Dave’s apartment, and then tries to get the towel out but ends up ripping the toilet out, saying “oh fuck!!!!!!” as she does that.
Then an animation introduces the bright colorful planet Rose entered. I don’t have much to say about that fairly short flash, other than that I really like the way the waterfall that goes through Rose’s house is replaced with a waterfall native to the planet, incorporating it into her house in the Medium. Meanwhile with the exiles, AR goes back to the frog temple to get stuff to heat food (namely Jade’s old technology), also getting the Squiddle dolls. WV goes to his station to introduce PM to John, and that’s when she gives him commands like we saw earlier in the Act 4 opening game. Rose is commanded by a fourth exile, and Jade accidentally drops the toilet in Dave’s room. When (pre-retcon) Dave returns to his old room three years later, he would comment to himself that Jade doing that might be his favorite memory. He complains at the now asleep Jade about how the toilet’s in his room and how he can’t pee because Jade could look. I think it’s pretty amusing how they talk about urination in the first place, like, oh we REALLY need to know how characters will use the bathroom without others being able to see their genitals, that’s so much more important than finding out what stuff Rose is up to now that she entered the game, or getting through how Dave enters the game, or how Dave’s discs ended up in Jade’s time capsule, or whatever else. Dave also contemplates sending a bottle of his urine to John as a prank, but decides against it because it’s stupid and pees in the shower.
Jade, meanwhile, prototypes the cute dead bird into Dave’s sprite despite being told not to put something dumb in in it, and here’s something worth discussing in a bit more depth. Dream Jade is generally portrayed as far more ditzy and forgetful than waking Jade. Remember when I said that despite being called “silly”, Jade isn’t portrayed as a girl with her head up in the clouds all day? I think that is a pretty apt description of dream Jade though, her head being up in the clouds in a very literal sense. Although Jade and her dream self certainly have differences, we don’t see any personality differences at all between anyone else and their dream selves. I’ve seen readers remark that the concept of dream selves could have been fleshed out more rather than relegated to serving as extra lives. I mean, all eight kids except Jake were revived at some point with their dream selves; we don’t know too much about the trolls’ dream selves other than that they were all either killed by Jack Noir or used as extra lives; and among the little we know for certain about the pre-scratch trolls’ dream selves, Meenah’s and Rufioh’s were used as extra lives.
An excuse for the lack of expanding the concept of dream selves as a second self might be that Jade is an odd case in that her dream self has been knowingly awake for years and thus had a lot of time to diverge in personality from her waking self, while the other kids didn’t have that time. However, other long-awake dream selves don’t exhibit differences from their real-world counterparts. Dirk’s dream self has been knowingly awake for years, but both of his selves are simultaneously controlled by the same personality, meaning there’s no personality difference. We don’t know of any personality differences for Kanaya’s long-awake dream self either, but that’s because of how much of the troll stuff is glossed over compared to the kids’ session. The personality differences between Jade’s selves are vastly amplified when dream Jade, after much time being a ghost in dream bubbles, gets prototyped into the lazy mellow un-Jade-like sad sack called Jadesprite, something comparable to the vast contrast between Vriska and (Vriska).
That sure was a tangent up there. Above two paragraphs in a nutshell: Hussie totally could have fleshed out the concept of dream selves but instead demoted their role to serving as extra lives.
Up next is a shining moment for Dave. He does something that’s pretty clever: he gets Jade to wake up from her nap by making her dreambot slap her. Then we switch back to the exiles.
The exiles have a cookout and eat warm food, the Vagabond favoring veggies and the Renegade favoring meat. Then here’s where the use of those old Squiddle dolls comes in: AR uses them to remind PM of her past. I’m still not sure what the point of the bass staying there was, maybe to clog the platform and prevent AR from descending to the bottom floors of the temple? I guess I’ll find out in this reread. Besides that, PM somehow remembering stuff via Squiddle dolls serves to transition us to the exiles’ backstory, intertwined with the kids’ session, and with each other’s stories. This serves as a good stopping point because the next post will open up that backstory. See you next time as we delve into, well, the exiles’ backstory. And some other stuff.