Cookie Fonster Critiques Homestuck Part 20: Enjoy Your Nap While It Lasts

Introduction

Part 19 | Part 20 | Part 21 >

Act 4, Part 6 of 6

Pages 1909-1988 (MSPA: 3809-3888)

Last post we went through the origin story of our heroes, and some other stuff. This post yet again opens up with AR’s past self, stopping to notice a meteor carrying the frog temple, because Dersites have this thing against frogs. He goes to see a time capsule and a computer screen in which we can see baby Nanna raised by Colonel Sassacre, who investigates an explosion outside his house. It’s a crater with baby Grandpa who shoots the Colonel with his gun, the kids thereafter raised by their dog Halley and Betty Crocker. Thirteen years later teenage Grandpa leaves his adoptive sister behind. Then DD appears as AR? watches, coming to throw away the wizard book and the Sburb betas next to the time capsule and into it respectively, and uses the MEOW code book with the machine. There’s a plot loop tied together: we now know the whole story of how Jade got Dave’s Sburb discs. It’s a pretty enjoyably convoluted sequence fueled mostly by mishaps and random choices, but unlike the paths of other objects that go through complicated journeys, this one doesn’t seem to have much relation to the forces of causing the events destined to occur.

John is trolled some more by Karkat, who warns him that he’s going to do something ridiculous, and that the Reckoning will start soon. He explains that Jack Noir is why the kids fuck everything up so badly, and how in his session Jack was an ally who helped the trolls exile the black queen. John doesn’t quite understand, and Karkat decides to explain it to him in terms of Earth video games:

EB: i see. 
EB: so after [jack] got exiled and all that, he came here into our game and caused all this trouble? 
CG: NO, GOD. 
CG: EGBERT YOU ARE THICKER THAN THAT HIDEOUS JOKE BOOK YOU WADDLE AROUND WITH. 
CG: TRY TO THINK MORE ABSTRACTLY. 
CG: THINK ABOUT VIDEO GAMES. 
CG: WHAT’S AN EARTH GAME YOU LIKED TO PLAY? 
CG: NAME ONE. 
EB: ummmm… 
EB: crash bandicoot? 
CG: OK I DON’T KNOW WHAT THAT IS, BUT I HAVE A FEELING IT’S A REALLY LAME EXAMPLE, BUT THAT’S FINE, IT’S NOT THE POINT. 

and uses it as an analogy for the deal with Jack. He hints at something causing the kids’ Jack to become even worse.

Then comes a hilariously ridiculous flash in which John reenacts the ending scene of Con Air using the baby girls while Karkat bonks his head at how dumb it is, making for the most breathtaking conclusion to an act yet—but it turns out to be a psycheout. I’ve seen readers fall for it and get upset that this bullshit is what concludes Act 4. Besides its hilarity I have one thing to say about the fake ending flash for Act 4: baby Roxy plays the role of the wife in John’s reenactment while baby Rose and Jade both play the daughter, which might count as (probably retroactively) foreshadowing him and Roxy being a thing—a bit of trivia I’ve seen lots of people point out. I wonder if John actually shipped himself with Rose’s mom or if he just thought the nearby baby would make an alright wife in the scene, just like how he reenacted the scene with salamanders as his wife and daughter.


Before we get to the real concluding flash, it’s time for some more troll conversations. First is Dave and Terezi. Their conversation starts with:

GC: D4V3 WH4TS 1T SM3LL L1K3 
TG: what 
GC: YOUR BLOOD 
TG: fuck off 
GC: D4V3 
GC: G1V3 1T 4 L1TTL3 T4ST3 FOR M3 
GC: T3LL M3 WH4T HUM4N BLOOD T4ST3S L1K3 
GC: 1V3 B33N SO CUR1OUS >:] 
TG: youre the annoying blind one arent you 

but as they trade pictures and jokes, Dave realizes that she isn’t a scaredy cat like all those other trolls and that they can have fun trading weird jokes and badly edited pictures, and their exchange ends with:

GC: D4V3 
GC: C4N 1 COM3 TO YOUR S33 P4RTY? 
TG: i guess but youll have to be careful not to stumble around bumping into all the gorgeous masterpieces hanging around everywhere 
TG: god so beautiful to look at with my perfect eyesight 
GC: C4N 1 L1CK TH3 P41NT1NGS? 
TG: yeah thats fine

This conversation is heartwarming, sad, and ominous, all at once.

Next is an exchange between Dream Jade and Tavros that shows us a lot of the other side of Tavros’s character, what he’s like when he’s not trying and failing to troll someone. Jade says that she needs to stay asleep in order for John to finally wake up. Tavros gives us some rather ominous messages, saying that it’s the last day before the trolls can’t view the kids anymore, that all the trolls’ dream selves are sadly dead because he only ever had fun in the game when he was dreaming, and reminding us that Jade’s dreambot will blow up. This exchange fleshes out Tavros’s character quite a bit; while in his previous conversations he’s mostly just a troll to laugh at how lame he is, this one actually makes you feel sorry for him. He says things like:

AT: i THINK, 
AT: tHE IDIOTIC THING ABOUT TROLLIAN IS, 
AT: iF YOU USE IT TO TROLL PEOPLE, i THINK YOU ARE JUST AS LIKELY TO GET TROLLED YOURSELF, 
AT: mAYBE EVEN MORE BADLY, 
AT: wHICH i THINK IS WHAT IS GOING ON HERE, jUST BETWEEN YOU AND ME, 

which definitely gives us a character for the miserably incompetent troll, showing views of things from his side. After that we get a little tease of the at-the-time fan theory that Tavros is crippled from the waist down because of the coincidental fact that he was the only seen troll whose legs had not been shown. I wonder what it would be like if Hussie did end up showing Tavros’s full body in one of Act 4’s troll scenes. Tavros might have been a rather different character who might have a different set of defining traits because he didn’t end up in a wheelchair due to Vriska jerking him around.

Third in line is Rose and Kanaya. Unlike the previous two conversations, this one is fairly short. Kanaya hits on her quite blatantly:

GA: It Sounds Like You Are Attempting To Be The Smart Rose This Time 
GA: Please Take Note Of The Subtle Scorn Underlying The Selection Of The Word Attempting 
GA: Smart Rose Should Get A Kick Out Of That 
GA: Smart Rose Is All About Subtle Scorn Isnt She 

and she tries to figure out the deal with the smart Rose vs. the stupid Rose and whether they are friends yet, but Rose can’t answer because she’s a little busy. Not much out of this exchange.

And last but not least, we get more dialogue between Dave and Terezi. After some more jokes, Terezi says something rather worrying: she claims that Dave will not see his brother again between now and the rift where the kids can’t view the trolls. She opts for helping Dave instead, telling him what will happen when he gets up to his first gate and about the crocodiles of his planet. Also in the conversation, Terezi finds it really obvious that what Dave is really worried about is how others see him (“1TS OK 1 WONT T3LL JOHN 4BOUT 1T / 1 KNOW TH4TS WH4T YOUR3 WORR13D 4BOUT”), and mentions that he stared at his blood for ten minutes, suggesting that he’s really unnerved by his own death despite his deadpan expression. And THEN comes the climax of Act 4, a whopper of a flash titled [S] Descend.

A lot of stuff happens in that flash, so much that it’s easy to miss some of it.

  • First we see how Dave entered the game: he climbs the tower and falls onto a rocketboard while his brother slices the meteor above his house in half;
  • the other guardians approach Skaia as they board the ship;
  • Jack Noir appears and kills all the soldiers in the battlefield except for WV?;
  • the babies in the lab are teleported to meteors;
  • CD gives Jack the white king’s scepter and uses it to start the Reckoning;
  • AR? watches DD create Bec out of an imprint of Halley;
  • Jade dreams on Prospit when Jack Noir appears and destroys the whole planet, slicing the chain to its moon;
  • he then goes to duel Dave’s brother who sticks his sword in the Beat Mesa;
  • Prospit’s ruins fall towards Skaia;
  • Dream John falls out of his room and Jade tries to slap him awake;
  • Dream Jade sacrifices herself to save John;
  • Prospit’s moon crashes into Skaia and Dream John wakes witnessing that;
  • Dave enters his first gate but Rose blows up hers;
  • and a huge meteor looms over Jade’s island.

OK I probably didn’t need to list out all this. But I did. This flash dwarfs all other flashes so far in terms of how dramatic it is. It features a decent amount of guest art, and it covers a larger amount of events than any other flash so far. [S] WV: Ascend easily impresses viewers with its timelapses, but it doesn’t have things like an angry guy destroying planets and massacring soldiers, or a badass ninja dude slicing a giant meteor in half with his sword, or a girl sacrificing herself to save a sleeping friend and get crushed by a planet’s ruins. Seriously, nothing so far has been this epic. [S] Jack: Ascend and [S] WV: Ascend are its closest rivals, but Descend beats everything else so far in the first four acts of Homestuck. Its music is a combination of almost every song that’s been used so far, which I find really impressive, how they were able to combine such a variety of songs and still make it sound like one consistent piece.

There’s a few scenes in Descend I’d like to comment on. First off, Bro standing on top of a big meteor and slicing it in half is incredible and very “how the fuck did he do that”-worthy. Dirk even says that his adult self doing such a feat does sound kind of far-fetched. Second, I like the way Prospit’s destruction is played out, with Jade flying around Prospit with calm music, until we see Jack Noir’s shadow, giving people an “oh shit” reaction, and after a second of white noise, bam, Prospit’s burning down in flames and super deadly red shit. Jade’s heroic sacrifice scene shortly following that always makes me kind of sad. It also begs the question, what are Jade’s dreams like now that her dream self is dead?

Also regarding Jade’s sacrifice scene, I find it interesting how the poses in the scene of Jade slapping John to try and wake him up are reused in two other scenes with a very different mood: with Aradiabot beating up Equius for programming her to have romantic feelings for him, and with Jade slapping Jadesprite for being a whiny pussy. While the Jade/John scene is somber in mood, the other two scenes have more of an over-the-top mood, the first being simultaneously terrifying and hilarious because of its supreme absurdity (Equius’s character is all about being absurd), and the second giving readers a sense of aggravation at Jadesprite for being so unwilling to help others and dwelling on how sad it is that so many people died. That’s about all I have to say about this dramatic flash.

END OF ACT 4 (kind of)

We’re not quite done with Act 4. Next up is a 48-page epilogue which ties lots of plot threads and shows us the aftermath of Descend. Immediately after the curtains close in on Act 4, we see Rose’s final entry of her Sburb walkthrough. She says that she’s not doing a walkthrough for the game anymore because she’s been informed many times that her team will fail somehow, and that she will set off on a quest to break the rules of the game and find answers. Rose notably describes Skaia as “malevolent”, and explains that she ripped the walkthrough away from GameFAQs and to a server in the Furthest Ring. Her last lines in the walkthrough conclusion are worth quoting:

In case it wasn’t clear, magic is real.

Pardon my egress. You’re on your own now.

The epilogue continues with a stretch of pages with rather poetic narration and numerous tie-ups of plot threads, first showing us how WV got to Earth. Dream John, now on a Skaia covered in Prospit’s ruins and dead soldiers, takes the ring from Jade. PM? just decapitated HB—an impressive feat when you consider that the guy eats people’s heads. She brings Jack over, who gives her the package which she gives to John, frustrated at Jack’s deeds. She is shown to later go to Earth, though unlike with the other exiles, it’s not shown how she got there. We can only assume that she left out of frustration or something.

John reads letters from Jake and Jade. Jake’s letter tells that he made the present with Jade, how he’s excited to meet John, and what weapons are in the package. Typically, readers will guess that the writer of the letter is Jade’s grandpa or something like that because of the old-timey language like “kicking christ in a dirty diaper”. Hussie specifically designed the letter so that people will guess it’s Grandpa, which makes the further clues of the penpal’s identity a bit surprising, like Jade saying that her penpal claims to be her grandson.

:(

The letter from Jade stings pretty hard to even read. She explains to him how she knows the future and how super-excited she is to show him around Prospit, which as we know, got reduced to flaming ruins along with its inhabitants, and Jade herself. John sheds a tear when he reads the letter. Jade herself notes that John looked so sad when he was reading the letter and tried to cheer him up, but that caused it to be even worse, arguably making John’s sadness an ontological paradox. The last paragraph of the letter stings the hardest:

john i am REALLY looking forward to seeing you when you wake up!!!!! its been nice playing with my prospitian friends and all, but also kind of lonely knowing you were in the other tower sleeping and having lousy dreams. :( im not sure where i am when you are reading this but im sure ill make it down to where you are soon! (jeez how did you get down there??? oh well ill find out) i cant wait to fly around the moon with you and show you all my favorite places. itll be so much fun!!!!!!!!! :D

Then we get to see the present John got, answering a question that has been tingling readers since Act 1. It’s the bunny he gave Jade, but turned into a robot with four weapons. (Trivia: I saw a Minecraft mod recipe of the Warhammer of Zillyhoo, one of the rabbit’s weapons, way before I even knew about Homestuck.) Think about that for a second: the package that was first seen in Dad’s car contained a quartet of exotic weapons and a letter from a parallel universe. The bunny serves to save John from getting killed by Jack Noir, which is pretty interesting—the cloud visions Skaia shows dreamers won’t stop Jack Noir from fucking everyone over big time, but they will save John’s life so that he can take over Jade’s role in following the clouds’ orders to do whatever is destined to happen. And the simple task of saving John’s life is done in a really convoluted way, using a bunny from his favorite movie given to him by Dave, sent back in time with baby Rose, given to John again by Rose, sent back in time with baby Jade, and then sent back and forth between her and Jake, all for the purpose of having someone replace Jade in doing things meant to happen. I suppose what I’m saying is this: Sburb’s forces are practically always douchebags.

AR? goes to the meteor where John created the babies. John is now asleep, and AR? gets him out of there with the rocket pack and some caution tape. AR? lands on Earth and becomes an exile. Grandpa’s battleship lands on Skaia, dropping off John’s dad and Rose’s mom, who wave goodbye. He takes Jade’s body, stuffs it by family tradition (let that sink in), and rides the ship back home.

WQ leaves her fallen kingdom and goes to Earth, where she eventually finds a broken egg station where Dave’s house once stood. She uses a spirograph key to fix the station. Where did that key even come from? Does the queen have a lot of random objects like that on her hands, and when she fixed the station, did she think to herself that she knew this thing would come in handy? Later still, the former queen is shown with all the other exiles. WV presents the queen’s ring which he has apparently safeguarded for a long time.

Finally comes a rather nice transition scene. The ring in WV’s hand is shown in a Skaian cloud John sees; Skaian clouds are a fairly common transition device in Homestuck, used even in fairly recent updates. In a neighboring cloud John sees the lab atop Jade’s house, in which resides the fourth wall stolen from Jack’s office, along with Dream Jade’s and Halley’s stuffed corpses. The narration tells us that if the fourth wall was turned on, we would see Hussie recapping the rest of Act 4. This recap, the second one in Homestuck, is the last page before Act 5. It’s 3567 words long (2/3 as long as the first recap), and it covers only two months of content. I should note that it contains some speculation of Jack’s motives (sparing WV?, and appearing pleased with PM? fulfilling his bargain)—one of many things in Homestuck left indeterminate—and like the other recaps, it clarifies a few things, especially regarding the contents of Jade’s package. I’ll also note that it mentions that someone else coerced Jake into starting the bunny project—that someone turns out to be Calliope, meaning that both of the cherubs are alluded to fairly early on in Homestuck.

And that’s the end of Act 4. Time for a recap of all the stuff that went down in this act.

The last page of Act 4.

Overall, Act 4 is one hell of an act. It has so much plot going down in a stretch of about 600 pages, introduces so many new concepts and plot points, and builds up a good amount of characterization as well. I’ll give a quick rundown of what each of the main characters does in this act:

  • John explores his planet, talks to Karkat and Terezi a lot, almost gets killed by Terezi’s instruction, goes to Rose’s land and then to the Veil, creates our heroes, and has his dream self wake up right when Prospit is destroyed. His character gets some development through his interactions with Dave and Davesprite, and with the trolls. At first he hates the trolls but he gradually warms up to them, realizing that they’re often kind of stupid, outwitting Karkat more and more through his reverse train of conversations with him, and even snarking at some of them (especially Terezi). He also has something of a life trial when he almost blasts off to his seventh gate despite future Dave’s warning.
  • Rose also spends time exploring her planet, talking mainly to Dave and Kanaya. About halfway through the act, her dream self wakes up on Derse, so that she starts listening to orders of the Horrorterrors. Through those dark gods, she comes to the conclusion that the game is supposedly unwinnable, and in the end of the act she decides to begin a mission to find answers and break the game. Traits exemplified in her are her recognition of game patterns and predictable plots, calling people out on oddities, and refusal to do what the game tells her.
  • Dave gets a lot of development in this act, most especially in the stretch of pages where Davesprite becomes a thing. It is made pretty evident that Dave cares for his friends a lot more than he lets on, most especially in his letter to John, and when Davesprite urges John to get off the rocket. Also, he is pretty much all about humorous dialogue, like some of his exchanges with Rose and his conversation with Kanaya. His dynamic with Terezi is introduced; they really seem to click, as Terezi is one of the few trolls who he can’t just scare off, irritate, or confuse.
  • Jade spends the first third of the act messing with Dave’s house and helping him get into the game. She doesn’t get much screen time in the rest of the act which she entirely spends dreaming—she advises Rose about dream selves, takes the ring from the Droll, chats with Tavros about dreaming on Prospit, and in the end, sacrifices herself after a futile attempt at waking up John’s dream self while her waking self falls out of her blown-up bedroom. She doesn’t get too much development, and talks to trolls the least of the kids in this act. However, her heroism is played out pretty strongly in the concluding flash.

The trolls feature prominently in this act, mainly to exposit about various concepts in the game. Here’s a rundown of what each troll featured in Act 4 does:

  • Karkat mostly talks to John in this act, telling him about things ranging from ectobiology to the Reckoning to his session’s Jack Noir. We see a progressive dynamic between the two based on trolling backwards through time, whose one end is Karkat wanting to be semi-friendly with John but John hating him, and whose other end is John enjoying Karkat’s trolling and seeing him as a buddy but Karkat hating him.
  • Terezi talks to John, Dave, and Rose, explaining things like denizens and exiles. She talks to John a lot and tricks him into getting killed in an alternate timeline, but at some point she seems to decide to talk to Dave more instead, who she seems to go together with.
  • Kanaya talks to Rose, Dave, and (unintentionally) John, and doesn’t give much exposition, mostly shown as the troll who has this weird gay crush on Rose and may well be a good match for her. She is, however, the first to tell us how the trolls contact the kids, though that’s in Act 3.
  • Tavros talks to Rose, Dave, and Jade, and though he is first established as a troll who sucks at trolling, his exchange with Jade shows us what he’s actually like, and also gives some exposition about dream selves.
  • Sollux does two things in this act: he opens Kanaya’s viewport, and he finds the code for the rocket pack offscreen. I think this gives us the impression that he’s the trolls’ grumpy tech support guy. Also, I forgot to say earlier that he mentions that he has some knowledge of the trolls’ fate, akin to Jade.

Carapacians are also featured prominently in Act 4, with the quartet of Derse agents, the exiles and their past selves, and miscellany. I like how the exiles’ backstories are played; all of their pasts except for WV’s start and end in Act 4, unless you count PM?’s cameo in Act 3. The Derse agents and their organization admirably mirror the Midnight Crew. The exiles are featured in the first half of this act, but later it’s focused more on their past lives. I don’t have much else to say about them.

As for plot stuff, there’s so much that I can’t even list all that. I think I covered a lot of it in the bullet list about the trolls. In this act, we learn the whole deal with almost all of what Nannasprite alluded to in Acts 2 and 3. There’s a lot of stable time loops dealt with in Act 4, the most overarching of which might be the whole thing of Jade’s package and the bunny, which as we know has a complicated timeline that is recapped in a montage in Act 6 Act 3. Let’s not forget about the kids’ and guardians’ origins either, or the whole thing of Davesprite’s timeline.

I think that’s about all I have to say about Act 4 of Homestuck. Like I said, it’s a very eventful act filled with humor, action, characterization, plot development, and emotional moments. Also, this is a hell of a long post, clearing the 4000 word mark and putting post number 17 (an old record breaker) to shame.

Next time I’ll dive in to Act 5 where we finally start getting to know all these gray kids who have candy corn on their heads in absence of those human kids.

>> Part 21: Down the Chitinous Windhole

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s