Cookie Fonster Critiques Homestuck Part 16: Paradox Eggs and Alchemy Bacon


Part 15 | Part 16 | Part 17 >

Act 4, Part 2 of 6

Pages 1455-1577 (MSPA: 3355-3477)

Link to rewritten version (unfinished)

This title picture matches even better with the post title than I thought it would.
Look at that little egg on the alchemiter. Better still, the cruxite dowel to the left of the egg looks kind of like bacon.

Once a dutiful lawyer, always a dutiful lawyer.

Time to start the exiles’ backstories. Before becoming an exile, the Renegade was an authority regulator (noted AR?) and the Mendicant was a parcel mistress (PM?). AR? is hanging around LOWAS and finds John’s dad’s car sitting there parked illegally, marking the scene with caution tape, and giving the owner a ticket. He loots the green package and John’s server copy of Sburb from the car. PM? is also walking around there, and sees AR? with the green package.

Then we switch to John. He’s getting his ass kicked by these basilisks and giclopses, until Jade’s grandpa, who is somehow there and alive, saves him from them, leaving behind the creatures’ severed heads for the old man to mount as trophies. Most people will wonder, how the hell did Grandpa get there? This is one of these things that remains a mystery for a long time. Homestuck certainly has its share of mysteries like this—they’re practically a driving force for much of the plot, and it’s certainly not the only work like this. There’s Jaspers’ death, the Ultimate Alchemy, the identity of Jade’s penpal, Lord English’s identity, and so on. The question of how Jade’s grandpa came to the medium is answered in Act 6 Act 3 when we see transportalizers to Prospit and Derse in Jake’s frog temple.

The exiles stargaze, then PM remembers what she must do with John. Her past self finds a parcel pyxis with a picture of John’s server copy of Sburb he drew. Being the faithful delivery lady she is, she gets AR? to give her the envelope, but he keeps the green package. John accidentally starts a fire, but a convenient breeze saves the salamanders, who gleefully congratulate John as if he did it. It’s like John is some dude from Avatar who is known by everyone except him to be the true master airbender. Is there a protagonistic character in the Avatar franchise who was some kind of “chosen one” like that and doesn’t know his own ability? Damn, maybe I should have actually watched that show. Also, PM tells John to carve the envelope into the pyxis, completing one of Homestuck’s most fundamental time loops, i.e. the characters themselves playing Sburb.

Homestuck is rather well-known for its planet artwork.

Rose is told by her exile to find her sprite, and explores her planet some more, going through a passage that stands in place of her cat’s mausoleum. We see that her mother left to do important stuff, leaving behind a boat and martini, and leaving Rose to fend for herself. Many take this as an indication that her mother is somewhat neglectful. Of all the guardians, Rose’s mom might be the most open to interpretation regarding how she raises her kid. John’s dad is established as a normal loving father; Dave’s bro is established as a sly freak who raises Dave through aggressive training and mind games; Jade’s grandpa is shown to be eccentric but loving her dearly; and Bec is shown to be exceptionally dutiful to Jade. Rose’s mom, meanwhile, is simultaneously suggested to be overtly affectionate, ostensibly passive-aggressive, and apparently neglectful. Rose herself gradually comes to the conclusion that her mother loved her very dearly and she somehow misunderstood her entirely, and spent a large amount of time trying to understand her through drinking.

WV and AR build imaginary towns out of cans and bullets, then an eggy looking thing appears in the sky, followed shortly by Jade creating Dave’s cruxite egg. The crow kernelsprite puts the egg in a tower atop a nest of puppets and swords. How did the crowsprite move it up there? Dave and Jade together learn more about the Sburb interface, and how each player who connects to the previous gets provided with more grist and more devices to deploy. Dave takes a CD and his own Sburb discs which he doesn’t need anymore, and reminds us that captchaloguing is still a thing. He uses the CD to download GristTorrent on his computer and uses it to leech John’s accumulated grist.

John and Rose discuss their respective planets. I’ll note one thing in their exchange that’s probably really tangential: John uses the word “they” to refer to either Karkat or the trolls in general. To me it sounds pretty unnatural to refer to someone whose gender you don’t know as “they”, but hey, just about everyone does it and I’m sure I sometimes do it inadvertently. I’ve myself been referred to a few times on the Internet as “they”, which really kind of puts me off, like hey, I’m presumably multiple people because someone doesn’t know that I’m a boy! What’s weirder and a bit conflicting regarding who “they” is referring to is that John refers to the troll bugging Rose as “him”, presuming the troll to be male (and also suggesting that “they” referred to the trolls in general, not Karkat), which is something I do pretty much all the time, assuming it’s male unless it’s clearly female.

Then Rose talks to our fourth troll, Terezi. Terezi types like an asshole and makes a pretty good first impression to readers, actually screwing with people in a relatively decent fashion. She doesn’t do the idiotic backwards angry time march Karkat does, makes up fake stuff about trolls to screw with her, and goes on to give us exposition about the deal with exiles, and how they have several things in common due to both being seers. She even mentions four of the trolls’ god tier titles (Seer of Mind, Page of Breath, Knight of Blood, Maid of Time) without specifying which is which, adding two classes and two aspects to the class/aspect pool. Maybe you’ll assume those are the four trolls we’ve heard from so far, mapping each title to one of them. As it turns out, one of the titles she drops is that of a troll who mostly doesn’t talk to the kids (namely Aradia, who she also talks about in an exchange with Davesprite a little later) but the rest are among those first few trolls. She also talks about how exiles serve to fulfill stable time loops, something that’s particularly common here in Act 4:

TT: Paradox space?

^ Quoting this because I like Terezi’s explanation of the ubiquity of paradoxes in Homestuck’s universe. Terezi goes on to explain more about the repopulation purpose of exiles, but cuts off after starting with who exactly is being exiled.

Remember the flashback in which Jade and John talked about the trolls? Well now we see who Jade was talking to. Karkat way later in the timeline than when he constantly shouted at the kids tries to be constructive with her, warning her that her dreambot will explode and that she has to contact him when that happens. She thinks it’s a stupid prank, and Karkat is shown making an irritated face which I have as my profile picture on some websites as of this writing (see below).

Poor Karkat.

Still in the past, Jade receives a package from some unspecified penpal of hers, and then for the first time in the comic, John and Terezi converse. Terezi laughs at him, but when John starts laughing back, she stops and threatens to kill him. John decides to change his chumhandle to the thing Terezi said he was a disgrace to. Also this conversation reveals that Terezi is a girl, which is interesting because people often mistake her for a boy but she says she’s a girl immediately before her first physical appearance. I’ll stop here for a moment to say some stuff about John and Terezi. Lately, Homestuck has been really pushing John and Terezi as a potential black romance, as hard and as blatant as can be. Their conversation I just went over is seen by many as hate-flirty in retrospect given her death threats. John and Terezi always had an interesting and enjoyable dynamic, but it got forcibly cranked into a whole new direction after it was declared as a potential black romance. Karkat first sold it pretty well and made readers think “whoa it really adds up”, but later the comic started continuously screaming “JOHN ♠ TEREZI!!!!!“, using the fake character selection screens to show that they are trading insults and black flirting without letting us hear what they’re saying. Why force it so damn hard? My theory is that it’s done so that John hooking up with Roxy, which will almost certainly happen, won’t be so easy.

Where were we. After we see what Terezi looks like, PM? transportalizes to Derse. She is noticeably nervous to be there, and the Black Queen directs her to the archagent’s office. Rose’s exile says goodbye, and Rose takes a sip of martini but spits it out in disgust. Then her exile is revealed to be the Windswept Questant, who suddenly appears in front of the two male exiles from her egg base. PM commands John to send the parcel pyxis and her past self enters the office, finding the green package on the desk and running into Jack Noir. (Side note: This is where reader-driven commands end.) He makes a bargain with her regarding the package, telling her that if she kills the white king and queen and gives Jack their crowns, she can have the package. Jack opens the package, the contents as amazing to him as they are withheld from us. I’ll note that the whole package arc with past PM and stuff really is kind of confusing and difficult to remember in its entirety, even if you read the recaps. I remember several months ago reading an audio version of the first recap and thinking “wow this is complicated”, and this was after I actually understood Homestuck’s plot.

Dave and Jade experiment with the alchemiter upgrades and stuff, and they figure out how to upgrade it so that people alchemizing stuff don’t have to go up and down the stairs to use each different device, how to make objects bigger or smaller, and how to plug punch cards in to let it do different things. I really like stretches of pages like this where characters experiment with the game, answering questions about the Sburb interface and giving insight on ways to do cool stuff.

I think that’s enough for today. This post is on the high end for how many pages it covers but it isn’t quite as long as some of my recent posts. See you next time as we hear from even more trolls and learn how Davesprite becomes a thing.

>> Part 17: Coolkid Duplication Station

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