Cookie Fonster Critiques Homestuck Part 23: Unpleasant Blueblood Avenue

Introduction

< Part 22 | Part 23 | Part 24 >

Act 5 Act 1, Part 3 of 7

Pages 2155-2237 (MSPA: 4055-4137)

I used to read this troll’s name as /nuh-peeta/.
Then I watched all these YouTube videos and for some reason NOBODY said her name like that.

Six trolls down, six to go. Next in line for us to meet is the trolls’ furry. Nepeta Leijon is somewhat infamous among the trolls because of her general irrelevance to the storyline. Fans love to joke about her because of that, throwing around theories with various degrees of facetiousness regarding potential connections between her and Lord English or whatever else. I think she gets the least screen time and least plot relevance of the trolls. I would have stopped here to give a summary of what she’s like if not for recent updates in which Jasprosesprite^2 noted her irrelevance in-story and brought her back as a sprite, which simultaneously backfired and, uh, “forwardfired”, when she combined with Davesprite to create a giddy androgynous being who believes themselves (themself?) to be the perfect thing to take on Lord English. Although Nepeta’s introduction pages emphasize her hunting prowess with her cave walls depicting paintings in blood, most fans remember her for her affiliation with cats and her zeal for shipping, which of course are all her dancestor Meulin cares about. Cats are understandable because she pretty much is a cat, but shipping is a little weirder; it’s something towards which people are naturally inclined because the purpose of life is to reproduce and shipping characters transparently relates to that.

Nepeta examines her cave hive, and here’s something I previously didn’t notice: it’s mentioned that she has a frustrating fetch modus. It’s also implied that at some point during the trolls’ session she might have made her drawing tablet into a Pictionary fetch modus. She then talks to Karkat in a conversation I have a few things to say about. It starts with Karkat mocking her roleplaying:

CG: HEY. 
AC: :33 < *ac perks up curiously* 
AC: :33 < *she wiggles her rear end a bit and then chases something she s33s bounce into one of karkats shoes* 
CG: KARKAT CAN’T BELIEVE HE HAS TO SINK THIS LOW.
CG: KARKAT CAN’T BELIEVE HE’S ASKING AN AUTISTIC GIRL IN A CAVE TO JOIN HIS TEAM.
CG: KARKAT MYSTIFIES IN INFINITE BEFUDDLEMENT OVER THE FACT THAT YOU ARE PRESENTLY THE BEST REMAINING CANDIDATE FOR THE RED TEAM.
AC: :33 < i am???
AC: :33 < i mean *ac says i am??? wondrously*
CG: YES AND KARKAT CAN’T FUCKING BELIEVE THAT.
CG: KARKAT THINKS ABOUT THAT A BIT AND HIS JAW DROPS OPEN AND BREAKS A HUGE COLUMN OF BRICKS LIKE A FUCKING KUNG FU MASTER.
AC: :33 < *ac gathers up all the brick pieces and builds a cute little house and invites karkat inside* 

Karkat recruits her for the red team, claiming that she is the best remaining candidate, and that he’s gathered up all the sane candidates for the red team. Interesting that he apparently doesn’t consider Feferi to be one of the sane trolls, though that could be because she plans on joining the blue team, I don’t know if that’s ever stated. Karkat claims Nepeta to be autistic, which she says nothing about; she seems unfazed by his insults, much like Gamzee. Nepeta says that she has to talk to someone else about it, which Karkat thinks is stupid.

Then we get to know what Nepeta’s unseen “boss” is like. Turns out it’s the creepy robot-building dude. In the very first conversation with Equius in it, Nepeta lampshades how ridiculous everything about him is. For example:

AC: :33 < i s33 right through your stupid act, who are you trying to kid! 
AC: :33 < look how you go out of your way to use words that have x’s in them so that you can use your silly purrcent signs 
AC: :33 < or use these absurd words that you can shoehorn a ‘100’ into, even if its not strictly replacing ‘loo’!!! 
AC: :33 < you are so transpurrent
AC: :33 < i can tell you like to play games, d33p down you are a guy who likes to play games!
AC: :33 < i can smell a guy who likes to play games from so fur away with this nose, you have no idea X33
CT: D –> If you’re 100king for a 100phole through which you may e%tract concessions from me, you’ll have to 100k elsewhere
AC: :33 < s33! what the hell??? 

Equius forces Nepeta to be on the blue team. Although she teases him a lot in this conversation, she follows his orders anyway. She tells Tavros (who mentions his Chekhov’s cat allergy way before it becomes relevant) that she can’t be on the team, and Tavros gives us part of why it isn’t so bad that she listens to the creepy guy: he’s the one who stopped her from getting sucked into nasty accidents stemming from a roleplaying incident, which transitions us to the first flashback in the trolls’ arc, but not before Tavros notices that his lusus was killed, which I think was done because it’s easy to miss that he ran him over with a wheelchair.

The start of how things went to shit.

Flashback time: way in the past, Tavros was an enthusiastic Flarper with a clean hive and functional legs. He pesters his teammate Aradia about it, and we get to know what she how fun-loving she was before she became a ghost. She uses exclamation points and everything! Everything was just peachy back then. Tavros and Aradia have the following to say about the game they play:

AA: y0u picked a t0ugh class tavr0s! 
AA: n0ne 0f the really useful c0mbat abilities c0me int0 play until y0u reach a very high level 
AA: but i supp0se it will be rewarding when y0u get there
AT: yEAH, i THINK YOU’RE RIGHT, bUT,
AT: iT’S THE CLASS i THINK IS MOST FUN, aND, bATTLE SKILL IS NOT ALL THERE IS,
AT: tO BEING A GREAT ADVENTURER,
AA: i c0uldnt agree m0re
AA: y0u might be the 0nly flarper in the w0rld wh0 really understands the true spirit 0f the game
AA: every0ne else is s0 aggressive and treasure hungry!
AA: but thats what makes beating them all the m0re satisfying 

Then Vriska pesters him, her zodiac symbol warning you that things are going to go bad. She urges Tavros to make a move, but he refuses because a favorable outcome is impossible. Then she breaks the game’s rules and uses her psychic powers to make Tavros fall off a cliff, which is how he lost the use of his legs. She’s already stomped over all the signs of being an asshole and then some, and we still don’t even know her name yet! After falling off a cliff, Tavros tells Karkat what happened, just like how Dave told John what happened after he got beat up by his brother; the visual callback makes the scene with Dave seem a lot more fucked up in retrospect. Karkat responds by saying, “HEY ASSHOLE, STOP PLAYING GAMES FOR GIRLS.” There’s a few things interesting about that last thing. First off, Karkat is the guy Tavros tells about what happens to him. It seems like the trolls all see him as a guy to go to for advice on stuff, especially dating problems. And Karkat’s line is a bit open to interpretation: does “games for girls” refer to stupid games or overly dangerous games? The last is speculated by some because there’s evidence to suggest that female trolls may be more violent than male trolls.

Back in the present, Karkat answers Vriska, immediately following the scene with Terezi and the toilet. He throws some great insults at her:

AG: Anyway, I was just joking a8out wanting to 8e on your team.
AG: I’m already on the 8lue team.
CG: OH! OH REALLY?????
CG: WAIT, LET ME COUNT OUT EIGHT OF THESE THINGS, HOLD ON. ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
CG: THERE, I AM NOW AN ENORMOUS TOOL FOREVER. 


[…]


CG: I’VE GOT THE BETTER SCOURGE SISTER ON MY TEAM AND IF YOU BREAK YOUR TRUCE YOU’LL HAVE TO ANSWER TO HER. 

CG: THE FUNNY THING IS SHE WAS ALWAYS WAY BETTER THAN YOU EVEN WITHOUT ANY POWERS. 
CG: YEAH THAT’S RIGHT, I KNOW YOUR WHOLE STORY.
CG: YOU WERE ALWAYS JEALOUS SHE COULD MANIPULATE PEOPLE SO WELL WITHOUT RESORTING TO CHEAP MIND TRICKS. 

(I think I may be quoting too much stuff.)

Vriska pretty much just messes with him, bragging about her plan on joining the blue team and leading it alone rather than along with Aradia like she said to her. Karkat knows better than to think she’s as clever as she likes to think she is. Any time in the trolls’ arc when someone throws burns at Vriska is an enjoyable moment where you can’t help but cheer on whoever is insulting her, because at this point, Vriska is incredibly unlikable and that’s really all there is to say on the matter. She’s just someone who you can only love to hate, because she likes to act so full of herself but is really transparently not all that great. Equius poses for an incredibly disturbing teaser with broken robots, a bruised centaur lusus, and posters of nude horses, followed by a vague teaser of Feferi, rounding out the count of trolls who have appeared to a full twelve.

This is so spooky but badass.

Up next, Aradia does some stuff. She rides the frog temple head to her old hive, which is pretty ridiculously awesome. There we see an abandoned ravaged home with vegetation growing over the walls and old excavation sites. It’s stated that trolls don’t bury their dead, rather they leave the bodies to be consumed by the wild. She starts the blue team’s session, entering second in order, and having one of the blue bloods start the session. I like how the text is worded in a way so that it makes just as much sense for said blue blood to be Vriska as it is to be Equius (who it actually is): not using any gender pronouns, having all the things Vriska plans on doing also be what Equius plans on doing, and using the phrase “one of the blue bloods”. Aradia prototypes her sprite with the frog head because it supposedly ensures success, enters the game, and then prototypes herself into the sprite, while Nepeta watches in confusion, not being able to see Aradia until now, because she was dead all along. Aradia gives what seems like a reassurance for those who didn’t figure out that beforehand:

AC: :33 < wow 
AC: :33 < dead 
AC: :33 < really?
AA: like a gh0st
AC: :33 < huh
AC: :33 < well i hope this doesnt make me sound dumb
AC: :33 < but i am completely blown away by that stunning revelation!
AA: y0u d0nt s0und dumb
AC: :33 < whew! :33 

Then we meet Vriska.

The most controversial character in Homestuck.

Vriska Serket is an incredibly controversial character, easily beating anyone else in the whole comic in terms of how much debate she generates. According to Hussie, this was fully intentional. As he put it on his Formspring: “She gets people legitimately riled up. Both in the story, and even more importantly, outside it. There is no other troll, or really even any other aspect of Homestuck, which generates more debate. This was intentional, and continues to be.” Like I said, at this point she is incredibly unlikable, and makes everything into something to be smug about when she isn’t actually all that great or clever at all. This isn’t helped by the fact that she regularly kills people in order to feed her lusus, which is fairly average by troll standards, but still not exactly something you can like, given that most of the other twelve trolls, like Karkat who is incredibly likable, don’t do anything like that kind of stuff. Or her addiction to destroying those pointless magic 8-balls scattered about her hive. Or her passion for doing that violent roleplaying in the first place. Or her interest in building doomsday devices for the hell of it. Or her blatant Mary Sue roleplaying character. Or her absurd superstitions regarding luck. Later her psyche would be explored in-depth greatly, arguably starting with the conversation with John about her horrible feelings about killing Tavros. She turns into someone you can kind of feel bad for despite how much of an ass she tends to be. If that wasn’t enough Vriska stuff, her arc would eventually branch in two directions: alive Vriska and dead Vriska. Those two iterations of Vriska are juxtaposed at one point, where on the surface one seems to be nice but the other is an asshole, but it’s clear that neither is anywhere near perfect. As I’m writing this, I often feel uncertain as to what I should say about this Vriska stuff. When it all comes down to it, I wouldn’t say I hate Vriska, despite the fucked up things she does. Unlike many people, Vriska’s acts don’t cause me to hate her, because they cause me to judge her character almost the way you would judge how good an antagonist of a story is. She is a compelling character with her tendency to be outright evil but heavy struggles with morality and how to be a good person.

Holy mother of God that was a pretty long paragraph, longer than any other character summary paragraph for any of the trolls so far, and I doubt the ones for the remaining trolls will be quite as long. I think the length of that paragraph speaks for itself.

Practically everything following Vriska’s introduction page screams “this troll is so fucked up and ass-backwards”. Like I said, her roleplay character, named after her incredibly fucked-up ancestor named Marquise Spinneret Mindfang, is a blatant Mary Sue, exactly the kind of original character you might come up with as a 10-year-old and look back on as idiotic. I just noticed that her character’s outfit is the same one she wears during the pirate treasure hunt, which makes me wonder just how much of her earlier days she looks back to with regret, especially her post-retcon self. She goes to her computer and steps on a 4-sided dice, which she blames on her supposed bad luck. Then she answers Doc Scratch, who gives us a decent first impression.

After nary a peep from him for a long time, Doc Scratch informs Vriska that he manipulated her to cause events meant to occur, and gloats about how easy it was. He has the following to say about Vriska:

But of course it was your unpleasant, simplistic temperament that made you so easy to control.
Vicious and predictable, like an insect.
If you turn a swarm of wasps on a crowd, the outcome is certain.
It takes no skilled strategist to understand this. You were in fact a waste of my talents.
A primitive expedient.

I just love the way Scratch tells Vriska exactly why she’s so easy to manipulate. I also love how Vriska doesn’t actually believe that Scratch used her as a pawn, even though in a flashback I’ll cover in the next post, Scratch outright suggests that she kill Aradia, which she does in an incredibly fucked up way. Although he’s later portrayed as an incredible toolbag, the mere fact that his first pesterlog in the comic is with Vriska means that our first impression of Doc Scratch is a good one. Even though I explicitly stated that I don’t hate Vriska, I still strongly enjoy reading other characters tell her why she sucks.

Vriska goes on answer Kanaya, who asks her about her lusus, how her own lusus just died, and how all the trolls’ lusii will die soon. Vriska throws a fit about what she sees as Kanaya meddling. Vriska pretty much acts like an obnoxious stubborn kid:

GA: What Would Happen If You Just Cleaned Up A Bit 
GA: Dont You Think You Would Step On A Few Less Hard Triangles 
AG: Why do you try to help me and stuff? What’s the point!
AG: It’s kind of bothersome. And insulting sometimes!
AG: So I have a messy room. 8ig deal. My luck fucking 8lows! It’s got nothing to do with it and you just don’t even know.
AG: Meddler. Why you so meddley, Miss Meddlesome McFussyfangs???????? 

I think this conversation largely serves to portray Kanaya as a rare example of a troll who is actually sensible, putting her next to Vriska to bring out traits in both of them. I think that if you sort out the trolls by how sane they are, Kanaya would probably fall in first place, with Karkat and the like somewhere up there, while about half the trolls would be tied for last place.

Vriska goes downstairs, and we see a doomsday device she built for Eridan a while ago, and her monstrous spider lusus. A zoom out transitions us to her similarly fucked-up neighbor.

No comment.

Equius Zahhak is the trolls’ freak show. He’s a character intended mostly for readers to laugh at how absurd everything about him is. He is gifted with extreme strength that is demonstrated when he bruises his lusus a bit later; he has those broken robots and bows strewn about his hive; he thinks nude horses are fine art; he gets off on people bossing him around; and he takes the caste system absurdly seriously. He looks like a bodybuilder, talks like a Victorian poet, has a first name that sounds like a Roman emperor, and all his interests are just plain creepy. Hussie described him on his Formspring as all the weird messed-up things he did for fun in his earlier works, “rolled into a character”. Like I said in an Act 4 post, his entire character is all about absurdity. He is one of several trolls who you can’t help but see as incredibly messed up, but unlike some of them, he was always intended as a gag character.

Equius examines his block, looking for his humanimal lusus named Aurthour who gives him a glass of lusus milk. Aurthour is used to demonstrate just how strong Equius is: he is the strongest of all lusii, but he’s bruised when Equius pats him. I like how it’s outright stated that he’s super strong because he’s kind of a freak. He has a conversation with Nepeta we already read, and then he talks to Gamzee. It’s stated that he talks to Gamzee every day for some reason, but despises him because his high blood caste conflicts with his relaxed demeanor and foul language and stupid beverage preferences. Equius’s exchange with Gamzee is hilarious because of how ridiculous it is. There’s a few notable lines in that conversation. Gamzee talks about how he’s sharing pie with some imps rather than killing them, which is actually pretty impressive, how he can chill out with some guys he’s normally supposed to fight; it’s almost that Gamzee has a special ability to remain calm and blissful. He also foreshadows Equius’s death (iF i CoUlD mAkE yOu SmIlE iT’d Be ThE bEsT fUcKiN mIrAcLe I eVeR dId PaRt Of). They exchange views on the blood caste system as well:

CT: D –> Honestly I’m confused by the social order 
TC: mAn, Me ToO. i DoN’t KnOw WhAt Of FuCkIn WhAt CoLoR iS wHaT, sO i DoN’t BoThEr WiTh ThInKiN oN tHaT mOtHeRfUcKeR. 
CT: D –> See, that’s what I mean
CT: D –> How is it possible for one of your distin%ion to be so ignorant
CT: D –> And loathesome
CT: D –> Whereas
CT: D –> A member of the most abject, verminous b100dline of all
CT: D –> Can conduct herself with such grace and possess nothing but admirable mannerisms 

It’s just like what I said last post, with how most of the 12 trolls don’t care about the hemospectrum at all. Vriska and Equius discuss how they’re both definitely not planning on betraying each other and kicking the other out of leading the blue team. Vriska tries to read his mind, which Equius can feel, and pays back with a robo slap.

What the hell does he even see in her.

Equius goes downstairs to reveal to us the robotic body he plans on delivering to Aradia. He swoons over how amazingly perfect the body is for the beautiful girl born in the wrong caste. Then he punches a robot who blows up and triggers a second explosion through the doomsday machine that kills Aurthour and injures Vriska’s lusus. 

Then we see what Terezi is up to. She entered the game a while ago, and if you look at her hive, Gamzee did a surprisingly good job building it up, assuming it wasn’t someone else who did it. Near the end of the trolls’ arc you get a cool view of her hive built all the way up pretty neatly. I wonder if at some point, Terezi and Karkat decided to build up each other’s homes instead of letting Gamzee build Terezi’s. Terezi talks to Vriska, and they discuss their former friendship. Vriska claims to remember those days with fondness, but Terezi really doesn’t, finding her to be a filthy liar. Interesting how in the post-retcon timeline they return to being on friendly terms and even became moirails, which we don’t get to see how that happens, not even learn how through exposition. I guess they must have gotten over their conflict or something. This is going a bit into retcon complaint land, but it would have been pretty cool to follow the post-retcon meteor journey—the one that the iterations of characters that are the most relevant as of the Omegapause went on—more closely, seeing in action how the relationships as they stand were forged rather than having it through rather vague exposition.

Next up is a flashback segment, meaning that this is a decent stopping point. This post was 50% conversations in which we can’t help but cheer on whoever Vriska is talking to, 50% miscellaneous stuff. See you next time as we go through a flashback sequence of a rather nasty cycle of revenge.

>> Part 24: Robot Kisses and Blood Alliances

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