Cookie Fonster Critiques Homestuck Part 18: Snooping Nerds and Dream Dancers

Introduction

< Part 17 | Part 18 | Part 19 >

Act 4, Part 4 of 6

Pages 1660-1776 (MSPA: 3560-3676)

He was that close.

Last post we saw how Davesprite came to be, ending with the two Daves chatting and John blasting off despite Dave asking him not to. Now, John has a flashback to Act 1, where he is delighted to get the bunny from Con Air from Dave, and we get to read the letter Dave sent with it. He talks about how ridiculous it is that John unironically likes that horrendous movie, but his sincere naiveté is what’s cool about him. John remembers getting this letter and reconsiders blasting off to his seventh gate. He talks to Dave about how he came to his senses and remembered how Dave does care about him.

John then talks to Karkat about the whole backwards time march thing, how parts of their conversations fulfilled themselves (like the jokes John plays on Karkat). Karkat explains that unlike the cryptic ways of all the guides in Sburb, he will freely answer anything John asks him about the game—and then subverts what he says:

EB: ok…
EB: what’s the point of the game.
CG: ASK SOMETHING ELSE.
CG: ALREADY TOLD YOU THAT.
CG: IT WAS THIS WHOLE BIG CONVERSATION WE HAD.

Karkat does explain that he and his fellow trolls are in a meteor in the remnants of their session’s Veil, and explains the deal with the whole chess and Reckoning stuff Nannasprite talked about but didn’t say why it’s important. He talks about something that’s easy to forget is a thing: how Veil meteors are used by both kingdoms for things like genetically breeding chess soldiers. One continuity error is that Karkat lists guardians among the various types of people in Sburb, but trolls refer to neither their lusii nor their ancestors as “guardians”.

Then comes the flash posted on Homestuck’s first anniversary, [S] Jack: Ascend. Here’s a brief rundown of what happens there:

  • The Black Queen tries to get Jack Noir to wear ridiculous outfits;
  • Jack Noir doesn’t want to;
  • Rose discovers that Jaspers’ secret unlocked genetic code she wrote on her walls;
  • the guardians fight some monsters;
  • Jack Noir uses whatever’s inside the package to kill the queen;
  • and proceeds to put on the ring left behind and thereby gain her powers.

The main focus of this flash is as a villain upgrade. It’s one of rather few flashes dedicated mainly to a villain getting a power upgrade or similar. Jack Noir’s transformation into Bec Noir is only one of many events happening in [S] Jade: Enter, a favorite flash of mine, and [S] DD: Ascend more casually is more or less a parody/subversion of Homestuck’s dramatic flashes. I think Intermission 2 and [S] Caliborn: Enter (another favorite of mine), both focused on Caliborn/Lord English, may be the only flashes of nature akin to Jack: Ascend. The music is very fast-paced, combining electronic sounds with pianos and saxophones, making for an odd but charming mix of dark jazz and regular Homestuck-style music. It’s also commonly noted that it’s about a dress code causing a villain to flip out and become very dangerous—that’s one thing to like about Homestuck, silly or mundane things causing serious shit to take place. The scene where Jack kills the queen is of particular note because it clearly shows us that he used whatever’s in the package to slice the queen to pieces while keeping what’s inside the package a secret. It gives readers a clue as to what’s inside it—apparently it must have weapons of some sort inside. Why would Jade give John something so deadly? This is the whole mystery arc thing ubiquitous in countless works of fiction, in action.

Recap time!

Now that Homestuck has gone on for a year, it’s time for a recap starring none other than Andrew Hussie himself. I unsurprisingly didn’t read the recaps in my first read-through, not did I read them in my second read, but this time I read through the whole thing because this is meant as a full read-through, no skimming period. The recap is really really long (5511 words), and the story itself notes how boring readers may find it. Homestuck has a total of three recaps, with a fourth recap shown to be started but scrapped away in order to indicate that Hussie’s not doing recaps anymore. The recaps are all lengthy and scrolled through by many; it’s not that essential of a part for readers unless they really want things clarified, in which case it’s pretty useful. It spells out the deal with the trolls and much of the intermission stuff for those who couldn’t figure it out themselves, among other things. I should note that the recap is over five thousand words long, and it’s about a bunch of stuff that happened over of only a year of updates. Half of it was about the last two months of content (i.e. Act 4 so far), which is really impressive, giving readers a sense of how plot-dense this part of Homestuck is. After we learn that Hussie owns a copy of Lil’ Cal, he takes us back from his simultaneously self-deprecating and self-aggrandizing metafiction to what John is up to, using Photoshop as a transition device.

John talks to Terezi again, who he now finds to be kind of creepy. She gives him a map that works like Google, in order to send him to his second gate. I should note that this is the last time in a long while that John and Terezi converse; they don’t talk again until Act 6 Act 6 Intermission 1, followed by some fleshing of their dynamic through the retcon mission and their subsequent declaration as a potential black romance. Terezi’s dynamic with John is scrapped in favor of other dynamics, which in turn are eventually scrapped in favor of still others; Terezi’s character seems to have something of a history of her dynamics being scrapped in favor of others. For example, what happened to her relationship with Karkat post-retcon?

When John enters his second gate, he is transported above Rose’s house and crashes into Rose’s room. He answers Davesprite, and talks about how he thinks Terezi tricked him again; Davesprite corrects him and explains how the Seven Gates work, while Dave says dubious things about his bird self, which I’ll go into more depth about:

EB: hey no offense, but do you think i could talk to the real dave for a second?
TG: god dammit
TG: i am the real dave
TG: you know the one who saved your life
TG: im more real actually cause ive been through some heavy shit already hopping around on red hot gears and i-beams for like a year
TG: and grinding shit out for your ungrateful ass

[…]

EB: i think i pissed off your future self.
TG: what did you do
EB: i said he wasn’t the real dave.
TG: ahahahahaha
EB: i think i might have really hurt his feelings though!
TG: pff
TG: dont worry about it
EB: why not?
TG: cause i wouldnt give a shit
TG: and hes me

This is a pretty great example of the contrast between Dave and Davesprite. Davesprite is obviously upset about John not thinking of him as the real Dave. John tells Dave that he really thinks he hurt Davesprite’s feelings, but Dave assures him that he and Davesprite are the same and that neither would care. At this point, Dave still does the thing where he acts as though he doesn’t care about anything, while Davesprite moved beyond that and openly wants people to appreciate him and the important things he did. Dave talks to John more and gets him to show him the code for Rose’s journals.

Dream Rose meets Dream Dave in his room (which has subconscious drawings of Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff) and hits him in the head with a ball of yarn, causing Dave to fall asleep and his dream self to knowingly wake up. Remember how I counted all the patterns Jade breaks in my Act 3 posts? Here’s another one: (14) John has subconscious clown drawings on his walls, Rose has her subconscious MEOW code, and Dave has subconscious drawings of Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff, but Jade is not known to have any such drawings. John, meanwhile, opens his present from Rose: an identical bunny to what Dave gave him, but tattered and stitched up together. The letter from Rose shows her friendship with him in her own obtuse way. My favorite part of it is when after she talks about how she always thinks people do affectionate things ironically, she says, “John, please stop rolling your eyes. The letter is down here.” This demonstrates both her recognition of the weird way she likes to act and her complacency in being that way. Overall, the letter is heavily saturated with Rose prose and self-poking but weirdly cathartic.

John answers Kanaya, who is having her first conversation with a human, under Rose’s name. The conversation is hilarious because of how deliberately awful John is at impersonating Rose. He sends Kanaya a few burns about how ridiculous the trolls’ actions are:

GA: Now That I Think About It It Is Pretty Conceivable That I Will Talk To You Again In The Past After This Conversation 
TT: that’s because you guys always do things the hard way. 
TT: and the dumb way. 

[…]

TT: why don’t you talk to john? 
GA: Maybe 
GA: When Along His Timeline Would You Recommend Communicating With Him 
TT: oh man, i don’t know. 
TT: why don’t you pick the time that will make the most complicated mess out of everything imaginable? 
TT: you know that’s what you’re gonna do anyway. 

From Kanaya’s perspective, this is her finally having a chance to talk to the amazing beautiful girl who wrote the wondrous Sburb walkthrough, but she weirdly turns out to be an idiot. This is what leads to a negative opinion of her at first. I wonder what it would be like if Kanaya didn’t get John the first time she talked to Rose. It’s kind of hard to imagine, because her interactions with Rose in Acts 3 and 4 are built upon her mixed feelings about the humans’ intelligence and her confusion over Rose’s apparent “ways” with the smart Rose and the dumb Rose and whatnot. It’s also worth noting that John, both in this exchange with Kanaya and his other exchange with her a few months in the past for him, unknowingly induces a friendship between the two of them. He jokingly asks that the two of them cut to the chase and be friends already in this conversation, and tells her that Rose is actually really great in the other conversation. He remains unaware of the fact that he played a part in his friend getting together with her cool girlfriend, a relationship which he really approves of.

Then we get a glimpse of stuff from the trolls’ perspective: Kanaya asks Sollux to turn on her viewport to spy on the kids, and he gives her advice but wants her to find it out herself. This exchange is our very first impression of Sollux’s character. He is shown to be a grumpy guy who knows everything about computers, finds it juvenile to troll the kids, and types like a douchebag. Something of note about this exchange is that Sollux mentions the president, sex offenders, and schools, which suggests that the trolls have all those; yet another troll continuity error, because trolls actually have a ruthless empress instead of a president, and they don’t have sex in person, rather they do the whole thing of putting their genetic material in buckets that are all mushed together to produce infant trolls.

Oh hey, it’s that one gray dude with the 3-D glasses.

Sollux then makes his first physical appearance in the comic. Kanaya throws her F1 key at him and pokes him to try and get him to help her out. By appearance, I find Sollux to be easily the most memorable of the trolls. Like many other readers, I had seen pictures and videos of Homestuck characters abound before reading Homestuck, so I knew stuff about how there were all these trolls; I recall thinking of them at one point as “12 gray aliens with black hair and orange horns and colored symbols on their black shirts, one of whom wears 3-D glasses”. I knew his full name before reading Homestuck, and I even used to think Sollux and Sollux Captor were two different characters, no joke (as in Sollux Captor might be the “captor” of whoever Sollux is). I’ll get into Sollux’s memorability later when I get to his introduction and discuss how his memorable appearance and numerous special traits contrast with how surprisingly little screen time this guy gets.

In another interactive page, Dave and Rose hang out and dance to electronic songs in the former’s dream room. I’ve used that page to listen to its songs when doing my regular computer stuff quite a few times; some of them aren’t really that electronic or only partly are, which I guess is because Hussie ran out of songs of that kind to choose from existing songs after the guy who made the songs that used to be on the page rage-quit the music team because of an incident involving said songs. As of this writing I have a shot from that page as my desktop wallpaper, with Sweet Bro’s and Hella Jeff’s dream selves against a background of Lil’ Cal’s face in dark red. After that flash Rose throws Lil’ Cal out the window, getting rid of that creepy puppet.

Maplehoof follows Rose’s mom to collect grist from a monster she killed and follow her to transportalize to the Veil. I love how the story is narrated from the perspective of a horse’s mind for these few pages. The horse narration is brief but amusing, constantly reminding us that horses are too stupid to think stuff stated in the narration. I think this must have been done because guardians are avoided being given much of the focus protagonists have (e.g. no commands and almost no dialogue). Next is something even more absurd: the story shifts to the perspective of a hat so that we can see John’s dad and Jade’s grandpa also transportalizing there.

She was that close.

John uses Davesprite’s code to make the Fear No Anvil hammer the latter got from his denizen Hephaestus, and pesters him about it. This is the first time a denizen is referred to by its name. Dream Rose and Dave look at his computer to see John at Rose’s alchemiter, and then Rose wakes up, just in time to see John leave, preventing their opportunity to talk face-to-face. Sollux opens Kanaya’s viewport so she can spy on Rose. Dream Lil’ Cal lands on a rocket board, and he and AR? transportalize to the Veil. I should note that we don’t know it’s the Veil until a little later, but whatever.

John blasts off his rocket, taking the kitten Vodka Mutini (who he names Dr. Meowgon Spengler) with him, and lands in the ruins Rose’s mom went to, while Rose finds the salamander Casey and names it Viceroy Bubbles Von Salamancer. I find it pretty appealing how different characters come up with different-styled names for animals: John names them after Con Air and Ghostbusters, while Rose names them after wizards and beverages. There’s a few other examples of this kind of thing (Liv Tyler/Terry Kiser, Serenity/Twinkly Herbert, Jaspers/Frigglish). John then kills two monsters with his new time-freezing hammer and transportalizes to the Veil, and only now do we know that’s where he and the guardians went to. He sees a bunch of objects we saw with the guardians there, which serve as evidence that the guardians did stuff there while we weren’t looking. The kids’ guardians have an interesting tendency to have clues of a whole separate storyline which we largely don’t get to witness. John explores the Veil meteor to see an outfit that seems made for him—did Rose’s mother make it for him? That would be rather adorable if true.

This seems like a decent stopping point. Looking through a rundown of the remaining pages of Act 4, I’ve decided that Act 4 will probably still have six parts, even if my last two posts will end up extra-long, like last post was. See you next time as we go through our heroes’ paradoxical origin story, among other things.

>> Part 19: Protagonist Origination Station

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