Act 5 Act 1, Part 4 of 7
Pages 2238-2322 (MSPA: 4138-4222)
I usually think “ew” at kissy scenes, but this one’s hilarity given its context is so much of a redeeming factor that I’ll use it as a title picture. Also, it’s a very infamous scene.
This picture doesn’t correspond with the very beginning of the post.
But Doc Scratch standing here character introduction-style fits pretty well for starting one of these posts.
EDIT: Now I have another panel as a title picture but I’ll still stick with having this as the first non-title one.
This post opens with another flashback. First, Aradia and Terezi discuss what happened to Tavros, and how they’re all done with gaming and putting up with Vriska. Terezi advises Aradia not to do anything in retaliation because it’ll end badly, but her voices urge her otherwise. She summons ghosts to haunt Vriska, who proceeds to talk to Doc Scratch. It’s amusing how easily Scratch gets her to do stuff. He outright tells her, “Aren’t you going to kill her?” Scratch reveals more about himself: how he oversees events and nudges them in the right direction, and how he’s almost omniscient but has gaps in his knowledge existing by design. Vriska does what she is asked and kills Aradia in the most fucked up way imaginable: mind-controlling her boyfriend into eating some mind honey and blasting her to death (though the scene cuts before her death is shown). I’ve seen some people argue that Vriska probably didn’t mean it when she referred to Sollux as Aradia’s boyfriend, but I doubt it. I think it’s more likely that Hussie decided to make Aradia’s own boyfriend be the one controlled into killing her, in order to make the scene sting extra hard, twofold (wink wink). Twofold because it’s Sollux—a guy who beats himself up about a lot of stuff—who killed her against his will.
Then we’re introduced to Doc Scratch. In his introduction page, the concept of first guardians is explained, with how they originate and their abilities and roles. Also it’s stated that he’s an officer of Lord English. Scratch talks to Terezi, whose clever ways are about to come in hand when she tells him about the cheating things Vriska does. Terezi talks to Vriska about how annoyed she is about what Vriska did to Aradia, and threatens to do something to her. What she does is a pretty awesome move: she tells Scratch about the magic cue ball Vriska has, and he blows up the ball in a fit of rage, blowing off Vriska’s eye and arm and ending the flashback sequence. Before we go on, I’d like to note the narration’s statement that the magic cue balls and the lore surrounding then; it’s interesting how Doc Scratch is seen as a mythological figure by trolls despite being real instead of thought-up; same goes for Lord English and the Handmaid, who form the trolls’ personification of death.
Now’s a decent time to discuss some Vriska stuff. In this act so far, pretty much everything Vriska does, says, or thinks has come off to me as extremely childish and immature, with how obnoxiously stubborn she is despite almost all the trolls having more common sense than her. The weird thing is, even though she’s Vriska, I can sometimes relate to her attitude and the things she says, because I am not a perfect person. When I compare how amazingly immature Vriska is during the trolls’ arc to the very mixed signals recent updates have given us about her character, I can understand why some people had such hostile reactions to Vriska’s portrayal as someone who successfully fixes everyone’s problems in the Vriskagram flash. What’s weird about the way Vriska is that few of the trolls share her attitude, making her much unlike a child who agrees with all his friends that parents are stupid. At this point, Tavros, Aradia, Kanaya, and Terezi all serve as foils for her in some way, and the rest generally don’t have anything resembling a Vriska-like attitude to the world. Karkat is a bit of an exception because he has similar tendencies to be pretty outspoken, but even he totally owns Vriska. I think Eridan is somewhat comparable to her because they’re both very theatrical, but unlike Vriska, Eridan was generally intended as a gag character until a little before his death.
OK let’s shut up about Vriska for a second. Where were we in the story? Uh, let’s see … one moment please … well what do you know, we’re focusing on Vriska! She sees her lusus almost dead, and deals the blow herself by using her fluorite octet to decapitate Spidermom. Then Equius’s hive falls and is zapped into the game. Vriska flips out, realizing her asshole neighbor usurped her (yes, even this guy totally owns her), and thinking that it’s revenge on her by Aradia. Aradia explains that Vriska has to be on the red team, but Vriska just gets even angrier and foreshadows something Aradia herself would do a bit later:
AG: You’re so infuri8ing! Why c8n’t you just h8 me? It would 8e a lot easier th8t way.
AG: Or at least feel 8othered or annoyed or S8METHING! God!!!!!!!!
AG: May8e I sh8uld just rip my he8rt out of my chest and pound it to a 8loody pulp here on my desk with my sup8r strong ro8ot arm.
AG: Pound pound pound pound pound pound pound pound!
AG: Look at that, more nasty 8lue 8lood all over me. Why not! Might as well op8n the floodg8s and p8nt my whole hive with this oh so envia8le cerulean SWILL.
AG: 8ecause clearly it’s up to me to feel em8tions for the 8oth of us, you misera8le soulless witch!
I chuckled a lot reading this conversation. Then Equius, having entered the game, talks to Aradia in another humorous conversation. Aradia explains to him that she is in a position of control over him, which gives him a boner. He lets loose an F-word and asks her to call things by blue-blooded terms (i.e. human terms), and he weirds the ghost girl out. He asks her to be his secret leader, just because it arouses him. Although the comic only says that Equius is sweating and says stuff like “yes, that was good”, it’s heavily implied that he finds all this sexually pleasing. God this guy is deranged.
Equius jumps to his second gate as his planet is explored in an appealing sequence of panels, then he lands in Aradia’s hive, giving her the robot body. She flips out when she realizes the robot is programmed to have feelings for him, rips her heart out of her chest, pounds it to blood, beats up Equius, and if that wasn’t crazy enough, she then succumbs to her programmed emotions(?) and makes out with him.
As you might know, that was the note Homestuck ended on when it paused for a week known as the Week of the Great Robosmooch of 2010. I think that kind of absurd over-the-top scene is a great thing to have as a last update before a pause. It’s like, the last thing Homestuck gives you before it goes on yet another pause is your funniest crack ship miraculously becoming canon in the most outrageous way.
The Great Robosmooch of 2010 is followed by a humorous fandom jab: Nepeta updates her shipping wall, noting that she didn’t see Equius x Aradia coming. I think it’s pretty likely that this scene is where Nepeta’s interest in shipping was born. Given that shipping isn’t mentioned on her introduction page, I think Hussie might not have intended Nepeta to be a shipper on deck from the start, but when he followed the Robosmooch with a fandom jab, he might have decided that Nepeta (Aradia’s server player) would be the easiest character to have as a witness to the scene, and thus gave her a shipping wall. Like I said last post, shipping may be Nepeta’s most defining interest, but her interest in it didn’t seem to be one of her planned traits when she was introduced.
Karkat recruits Vriska for the red team, asking her to connect to Tavros and get him in the game; at this point readers’ hearts sink, because we all know how Vriska treats that guy. Vriska doesn’t want to connect to him because she hates him, and Karkat goes on to explain how Vriska (who throughout this conversation remarks how boring his troll romance lecture is*) is broken in the head in a way that prevents her from being able to have proper troll relationships of any kind, with her special yet dull hate for Tavros, who is broken the opposite way. This conversation is the first time troll romance terms are used, although the quadrants are alluded to in Nepeta’s shipping wall which has both heart and diamond symbols. Karkat mentions the terms black romance, kismesis, moirallegiance, moirail, matesprit, redrom, and blackrom, but their meanings are only implied. Readers who get to this conversation will typically be confused by all those weird words, which is why I think this conversation reads better if you’re rereading Homestuck. I said in a post a little while ago that I think the quadrants section was made because having them explained through conversations between characters didn’t work. I also think Hussie first came up with the idea of quadrants a little before this page was posted. Some people argue that when Vriska referred to Sollux as Aradia’s boyfriend, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the two were in a relationship because “boyfriend” is not one of the troll romance terms; however, I think the term “boyfriend” was used because at this time Hussie hadn’t come up with quadrants yet.
* I didn’t really think Kankri’s lectures were very similar to those of his dancestor, but now that I think about it they really sort of are. I guess Karkat’s lectures on topics that interest him (which is also something I did a lot as a kid) are yet another one of the traits trolls have that are vastly exaggerated by their respective dancestors.
Anyway, one could argue that Karkat’s statements about troll romance might not be that accurate because of where he gleaned all that information:
CG: BASICALLY ANY FEATURE OF YOUR EMOTIONAL PROFILE THAT USUALLY MAKES SOMEONE VIABLE IN THE REDROM DEPARTMENT MUST BE TOTALLY FRIED.
CG: YOUR BLACKROM POTENTIAL’S PROBABLY TOAST TOO.
CG: ARE YOU THERE.
AG: Oh, yeah.
AG: I started tuning you out.
AG: Are you done?
CG: NO WAY, I COULD GO ON.
CG: THIS IS FASCINATING, TELL ME HOW THE FUCK THIS ISN’T FASCINATING.
AG: Did you learn this crap from your awful romance movies?
CG: THEY’RE REALLY INTRIGUING SOCIOLOGICALLY.
CG: INCREDIBLY COMPLEX, SOPHISTICATED STORIES, YOU WOULDN’T GET IT.
AG: Hey asshole, stop watching movies for girls.
CG: WHAT PART OF INTRIGUING SOCIOLOGICALLY DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND.
CG: ALSO THEY’RE AWESOME, SHUT UP.
I think that’s something Karkat has in common with John: having a knowledge base of information garnered mainly from media they are interested in.
Karkat goes on to tell Vriska that he met his session’s Jack Noir, who greeted him by stabbing him and has some information about the black queen, who he’ll need Vriska’s mind powers to help overthrow. Then we go back a few minutes to when Jack Noir stabbed Karkat, and it’s revealed that his blood is bright red. Karkat panics, so Jack stabs his hand and shows that he also has red blood, which he thinks is normal. This scene is interesting because it shows us the compassionate side of one of Homestuck’s main villains, and just how different from each other separate versions of him can turn out to be. Karkat and Jack shake hands, leading to another expository interlude.
It’s explained that the red team works with Jack Noir to overthrow the black queen, who takes off her ring because while she can tolerate looking like a mutant freak with all kinds of wacky features of the lusii (the body horror described in detail, and her shadow shown), she cannot bear looking like a frog. The narration explains that the queen got exiled and Doc Scratch recruited her to the Felt, and spells out that the red and blue teams were playing the same session the whole time. I think this was done so that less attentive readers wouldn’t be confused; there already were plenty of clues pointing to this, like both red and blue team trolls being shown in the same Veil meteor, and imps on Equius’s land having crab claws and dragon wings. The picture of the trolls’ incipisphere represented with each trolls’ sign drawn on their respective planets transitions us to Kanaya’s introduction, which the narration says will be after pages and pages and pages, but actually the transition works, and we go on to meet Kanaya. That’ll be for next post though.
This post was shorter than my last few posts; I guess there were some stretches of pages here that I didn’t have too much to say about. See you next time as we get to know Kanaya, Vriska fucks with Tavros, and we learn all about the wonders of troll romance.