Cookie Fonster’s Homestuck Commentary Part 54: Vriska the Bus Driver

Introduction (now updated!)

Part 53 | Part 54 | Part 55 >

Act 5 Act 2, Part 27 of 32

Doc Scratch Intermission, Part 2 of 6

Pages 3833-3873 (MSPA: 5733-5773)

Just warning you, this post is EXTREMELY long.

NOTE: Sorry about the late post. To make up, this is another really long one. I’ve decided to do only one more post, which will also probably be pretty long. This one took a while partly because I spent the past several days preparing for the SAT and applying for summer jobs, and all that should be mostly out of the way now.

NOTE 2: You probably have no idea what the title of this post is supposed to mean. It’s explained later on.

Where were we? Never mind, I figured it out instantly because the previous post helpfully listed where I was. Accompanied by a shot of various mind visions, we get a paragraph detailing the description of an ideal seer. I’ll analyze it thoroughly, specifically some parts that stick out, because of how much unlike Rose it sounds.

A Seer would support her allies in battle not with her weapons, but her vision. 

Rose fought with weapons very much, and while Terezi assisted largely in vision, she too is noted for skill in weapons. However, this is a pretty spot-on description of the Sufferer—also a seer by way of Kankri’s title—who had visions of a peaceful life on the other side of the Scratch.

She would have the sight to eschew the obvious gambits, and find the path to victory disguised cleverly as setback, or even imminent defeat. 

By listening to Doc Scratch, Rose does pretty much the exact opposite of this, following instructions to screw up horribly cleverly disguised as the path to victory.

She would behold the fortunes of friends and foes in totality, and appraise the contrivance of luck itself. She would know its mines were not to be plundered, but simply explored and charted carefully. 

Rose in fact plundered all the mines and resources of her planet, destroying temples to gather information.

All this is so unlike Rose that it makes me start to understand why role inversion theory is a thing that exists. Although many people think it’s absolute bullshit, I think that’s not entirely true given how often Rose is emphasized to do the opposite of what her god tier title implies, while Jade originally held the role of a seer. However, the whole idea of class pairings being themselves paired, allowing each title to have an absolute inverse, actually is complete nonsense.

As the envisioned thoughts transition us back to Terezi before letting Vriska go, we get a live demonstration of circumstantial simultaneity which I’ll comment on as I go. First, Clover flips a coin to summon Quarters, number 14 of the Felt. The coin flip matches up with Terezi’s coin flip in multiple ways. To explain how they’re connected, clarification of Quarters’ power comes into play. This time I’ll just quote Hussie’s explanation:

Quarters (14) has a collection of coins like the one Clover flipped. Each has numbers on either side, corresponding to a member of the Felt, most separated by 10, with a few exceptions. i.e.

1, 11

2, 12
3, 13
4, 14
5, 15
6, 9
7, 10
8, 8

When you flip the coin, it summons the member whose number is face up, from some place in space and time. If the opposite member is present during the flip, he trades places with that member, which is why Clover swapped for Quarters when he flipped 14.

If you flip your own coin, and the result is your own number, you die. As such, Quarters entrusts his own coin with Clover, who is so lucky, he will never flip a 4. He uses it to summon Quarters when things get too hot to handle. It’s not advisable to let Snowman flip her own coin.

Just as Vriska made the coin land on the scratched side with luck powers, Clover is so lucky that it’s impossible for the coin to kill him. Also, the outcome of the coin flip is in both cases a universal constant, rather than the timeline split depending on the flip. The connection between Vriska and Clover was also referenced a little earlier, when Doc Scratch said that Vriska had the luck of a Clover.

Quarters appears from, as explained above, “some place in space and time”; in this case it must be from the past, which explains how he got there when he should be dead. It’s a bit more of a handwave than the explanation of how Matchsticks got there but I suppose it makes sense, because what would happen if a Felt coin were to land with the number of someone who’s already dead if it only summoned the member from the present?

This panel is simply this one but edited so that it shows Terezi envisioning what would happen. This implies that the offshoot timeline is simply what would happen if Terezi didn’t envision what would happen if she let Vriska go, which I suppose makes sense.

As Terezi is about to kill Vriska, Doc Scratch says:

What sort of story would this be, with our Knight and Seer made to stay cadavers? Certainly not one the alpha timeline would allow. 

This line calls back to when he said the same about John and how he came back to life, further leading to the circumstantial simultaneity between Rose’s and Vriska’s fights with Jack. It’s also another line I’ll rephrase as follows: “What, you thought I was going to actually kill Karkat and Terezi? Even I’m not cruel enough for that.”

Below the page we get the one alternative [???????] option that I don’t think should be there. Why is that exactly? Because it borders on outright spoiling to the reader that Vriska will be un-killed—what else would the alternate pathway from Terezi about to kill Vriska be? Depending on the attentiveness of the reader, this may ruin the impact of her death scene.

But the problem with that is, if you removed this alternate option, it wouldn’t be consistent with all the other pages with alternate options. The whole concept of alternate page options being retroactively added is a clever metafictional idea. It gives us an intriguing mystery arc that didn’t even exist until years after the pages that now have a second option are posted. However, every such link comes at the cost of hinting at future events. And by hinting I mean blatantly hinting; obvious not only in retrospect but also when you’re reading the first time around. In this case, the problem of potentially spoiling future events outweighs the metafictional cleverness.

I am far from the only one who feels that bringing Vriska back was a questionable way to develop the story. I refuse to outright say it’s bad because in my opinion, very few things the comic does are intrinsically bad. It depends more on how such twists are executed. As I’ll explain later, the problems with Vriska’s return could be redeemed in several ways. Even the idea of Dave and Karkat being possibly in a relationship, which even though I haven’t brought it up in a while I still don’t think makes sense, might be alright if it wasn’t shoved in our faces following the retcon with no prior buildup. I know it’s kind of a silly example but at the same time it’s about one of the most debated topics in the comic.

Retconning Vriska’s death could be better if it kept more things relevant from the original timeline that was the main one for so long. Through the Omegapause, I thought of the idea of making the ghosts from Game Over relevant, or giving relevance to the so-called ringless Game Over timeline—it’s heavily implied that in some version of the pre-retcon timeline a universe was created—or even the idea of a second retcon, which is a prospect that I at first despised but later grew to like.

Alternatively, the retcon could’ve still been in place but done something completely different from bringing back Vriska. I’ve thought of the retcon being instead used to fix the creation of the genesis frog; perhaps in one timeline the frog became the universe Lord English came from, and in another it was the universe god tier Calliope came from, which would solve a lot of plot mysteries. This is exactly the sort of stuff that everyone hoped would be resolved in the ending of the comic, but instead we only got a dramatic presentation of things that were obviously going to happen, with excessive ambiguity to boot. That’s something about the story that is inherently bad, which of course is subjective but so are all my other opinions. It’s also another thing I could rant more about but I won’t.

Back to the point, how could the alternate pathway of Vriska being un-killed be kept without it being as “bad” as it is? Maybe there would be hints of an alive Vriska being up and about. That actually was done in the dreambubble storytelling scenes, but way later than it ideally would be. That idea would also only work well if the story was changed as said above.

Wow, this might be the longest tangent yet. The main point is, there’s a lot of problems with showing us a future alternate option of bringing Vriska back this early.

Meanwhile in the banner, Quarters immediately kills Slick. This parallels Jack killing Karkat and Terezi (and to a lesser extent Jack killing John for the second time). In both cases, a major character (or two) is suddenly unceremoniously killed in a scene that turns out to be a mind vision. Not only that, the death also is something the alpha timeline wouldn’t allow.

These pictures call back to John’s second death.

Of the trolls’ deaths, Vriska’s is by far stretched the longest. As shown above, there’s an extended sequence of panels dedicated simply to her dying. While all the other trolls’ deaths are quite abrupt, Vriska is given an extended death scene.

Strangely, Slick’s envisioned death accompanies Vriska’s death but more closely parallels Karkat and Terezi’s envisioned death earlier.

Spades Slick getting gunned down bloody turns out to be a mind vision, matching up with Karkat and Terezi’s deaths turning out not to be real, but condensed quite a bit.

Note Karkat in the background below Terezi’s cane sword.

And there Vriska is, dead on the ground. Even though it’s before her dead tag scene, now’s a good time to talk about her death since the next page is Karkat joining the scene. I will refrain from talking much about how her death is reversed because I already went on a long tangent about that. Instead, I’ll talk about this death scene for what it is.

As I said, Vriska is a major character given a dramatic death, setting this scene apart from all the other troll death scenes, even Kanaya’s. But it still matches with the pattern of ironic deaths. In her case, she tried to manipulate fate into giving her what she wanted but was herself tricked into death. She thought Terezi couldn’t go through with killing her, but she could after all, after seeing what would happen if she didn’t. Adding on, while the other deaths were largely abrupt murders, Vriska’s is different. It’s only fitting for a character who has done many terrible things to meet such a fate. Even though she feels bad about some of the things she did, turning her around entirely instead of killing her feels a bit cheesy. Even after the retcon she isn’t really turned around entirely, but that’s a whole different matter that doesn’t apply to what I’m talking about here.

Some readers argue that Vriska’s arc should have ended entirely with her death. While it makes for a fitting end, I think the dream bubble afterlife provides enough of an opportunity to explore further into her psyche that it’s worth keeping her as part of the story.

One more thought about Vriska’s death. Have you ever heard of the moral dilemma where a bus is about to run over five people and you must choose to either kill the bus driver or let him run over the others? Well, Terezi’s decision to kill Vriska seems kind of similar to that dilemma, where she chose to kill the bus driver. That’s also how I came up with the title of this post.

Immediately following Vriska’s death, Karkat joins the scene. His appearance is particularly heartwarming because we previously saw him tragically killed, but here we see him alive and well.

We see that Gamzee wrote Karkat a note pretending to be Terezi. I somehow doubt he actually thought it was her like Terezi thought Vriska wrote the note. But whether or not he did, while it was weird enough seeing Gamzee underhandedly trick Terezi into confronting Vriska with the puppet, it’s a lot weirder seeing him try to troll Karkat with fake makeout notes.

And here is a heartwarming moment that needs no words. The author’s trollish ways dictate that the hug must be mostly offscreen, but it’s no less heartfelt of a reunion.

In the banner, mind visions transition us to Snowman, with stars in the background as well, to symbolize her tie to the life of the trolls’ universe. This is another parallel between the banner scene and what happened earlier: one turned out to be envisioned by Terezi, the other by her exile. This also makes for a kid/exile parallel, and shows us that Snowman has things in common with both of the players she commanded (the other is Vriska, with whom she shares an 8 theme).

It’s a little strange that Snowman happens to have such abilities when she’s really just the trolls’ black queen. Maybe she got the mind vision power from Doc Scratch? As I said a few months back, the kids’ white queen was mentioned to know a lot about the future, which implies that queens in general have prophecies like that? Who even knows.

Kanaya and Sollux are next to join the scene, the former undead and the latter blinded. I think this nicely serves to show how decimated the group of trolls has become. In addition, it’s somewhat heartwarming seeing that they joined the scene together, and less obviously, that Sollux took Feferi’s goggles; presumably to see better, though I don’t think that’s ever explained. I wonder if the goggles were just there as a bit readers may or may not catch; it seems a bit odd to loot possessions from a loved one’s corpse.

And finally, the scary part: Gamzee rounds out the surviving trolls as they gather to the roof of the meteor. He is colored considerably darker than the other trolls, making his appearance even more of a jumpscare. The page titles even switch from alternating “Tick.” and “Tock.” to “Honk”, matching well with the shock of his reappearance.

I believe this is the last picture we get for a while before we step away from the trolls’ incoming showdown. This leaves us at quite an odd cliffhanger. Instead of the characters being posed for a showdown, we only get it in a very odd perspective, with Gamzee’s leg in the foreground and the rest of them drawn really small. I think this serves as a nice cliffhanger because it isn’t a super dramatic view, rather a perspective from right behind Gamzee that gives an impression of uncertainty.

What sort of story would this be, with our Slayer meant to stay a cadaver? Certainly not one the alpha timeline would allow. 

(not an actual Doc Scratch line just to be clear)

In the banner, Snowman appears and kills Quarters before he can kill Slick. This matches up with Terezi killing Vriska before all the other trolls get killed. Since Snowman killed a fellow Felt member, you can say that Terezi and Snowman both killed team members to save others.

Now that Vriska is dead, we get to read her final monologue to John in its entirety. We only get to read the whole thing after her death, which allows for a lot of dramatic irony that you wouldn’t get otherwise.

AG: You see, we are 8oth the 8est there is, and therefore we have special privileges when it comes to mortality. 
AG: It’s hard to keep a god dead for good. We can only die under very specific circumstances. Didn’t I mention?

This is where we are reminded of how Vriska’s death must have a certain ruling in order for it to be permanent. If readers at this point haven’t already considered the ruling of her death yet, they will now. And because she’s Vriska, it’s quite a matter of debate, and it no doubt was when she first was killed.

Not shown: the clock swinging back and forth between Heroic and Just.

AG: Nothing too glorious a8out the way you just died, I 8et. 
AG: Let me guess, even after all my lessons, you allowed yourself to get sucker sta88ed, right? Pretty lame! 
AG: I mean, lucky for you it was lame. I guess 8eing lame pays off when dying a hero’s what gets you killed. 
AG: If our Hero of 8reath reached god tier, he would have 8een completely indestructi8le! Lol. 
AG: Damn, I forgot, I was going to stop ripping on that guy, since he got sta88ed through the chest and died. Haha, whoops. 

(1) I think this one-sided pesterlog does a good job at not making Vriska supremely sympathetic now that she got killed. She still can’t stop insulting Tavros, not even after killing him and feeling awful about it.

(2) She also is sort of lampshading how ridiculous the system of godhood in Sburb can be—a heroic player ascended to god tier would die quickly, while a total wimp would be indestructible.

(3) This isn’t the only time after killing him Vriska refers to Tavros as their hero of breath. I wonder if it’s because if she said his name, she’ll be asked “who’s Tavros?” and she’d have to explain yet again that she killed him? Speaking of which, she clearly has trouble acknowledging that she killed him, even when talking to someone who knows about it.

Also here’s a bit of trivia. We saw a dead god tier version of Tavros in [S] Caliborn: Enter, which means he must have died as a god tier somehow, thereby proving Vriska wrong.

AG: Anyway, I figure you’re pro8a8ly safe from a just death too, since I’m pretty sure you haven’t done anything all that despica8le. 
AG: Yet. ::::)

Once again, this log shows us that Vriska is still kind of messed up inside. To put it nicely, she hopes John will grow up strong and mighty. To put it less nicely, she wants him to become someone who takes dangerous risks.

AG: I don’t know for sure, 8ut I’m 8etting that if I go to fight Jack, it will wipe out all the 8ad things I’ve done. 
AG: I think if I die it’ll 8e a hero’s death, so it ought to stick. 
AG: Pretty good motiv8tion to win the fight though, don’t you think? 

Once again, Vriska still has this weird system of logic that doesn’t make sense. I don’t think heroic acts wiping out all the bad things you did is how it works. In addition, it’s more dramatic irony because it turns out that if Vriska were to fight Jack, the other trolls would all die.

AG: One way or another, I think this will 8e my last 8ig challenge as a gamer. 
AG: As such, I would like to pass my dice on to you. 
AG: It is very important to me that they stay in good hands, John. That you continue their legacy, and that of my ancestor. 
AG: 82THE8TH 
AG: Use the code! I’m sure I can count on you to make something awesome with it.

John does indeed make something awesome using the code: remember the Vriska-themed warhammer we saw a little earlier? Her death matches very well with the idea of passing her dice onto John, and also makes this whole bit quoted above a lot more emotional.

AG: Ok, I guess I should mention why I’m trying to contact you now of all times, rather than just skipping ahead. 
AG: Remem8er how we talked a8out your 8ackup plan? The one you have devised to defeat Jack, in the off chance I fail? 
AG: Well, it’s not going to work if Rose is dead, is it? 
AG: You have to wake her up! 8reathe some life into her. Do the windy thing, with your lips!!!!!!!! 
AG: You know what that means……..

So if I’m getting this right, Vriska is contacting John at this point because she wants to make sure Rose can continue the green sun mission and John must kiss her corpse to allow that?

John is alive once more, picks up Rose’s communication device, but as one may guess, he just barely misses Vriska’s message. I mean, it’s fairly obvious that’s going to happen. Otherwise, if John did talk to Vriska one last time, it would be less (or more?) tragic.

Also, I might actually be wrong about the computer John used to have his first conversation with Karkat being made from all four kids’ possessions except Rose. Maybe the hubtopband was also used to create the computer as well? If true, that computer makes for a very nice symbol of the four main characters’ collaboration.

In the banner, Doc Scratch is shocked to see Slick and Snowman hate-kissing, accompanied by the page titles changing to Scratch telling Slick to stop. This makes for some pretty interesting dual storytelling, where the page titles have nothing to do with what’s going on in the main scene, not even as some kind of parallel to what’s going on.

AG: I guess I could just shut up and skip ahead on your timeline a little, talk to you when you’re alive. 
AG: That would make sense. 
AG: So 
AG: I guess 
AG: I will do that. 
AG: 8ut then…….. 
AG: May8e if I did, I wouldn’t actually say what I wanted to say. 
AG: So 
AG: I will just say it.

Turns out that Vriska didn’t get to converse with John one last time because of a declaration of love. There’s already been evidence that she has romantic feelings for John, and it’s quite tragic that those feelings contribute to the fact that John never got to have a final conversation with Vriska.

AG: To 8e honest, I am nervous a8out this fight. 
AG: 8ut I’m still going through with it, for a lot of reasons. 
AG: To save my friends, or at least the ones who are still alive. Oh, and I guess to save reality itself from 8eing totally fucked up. There’s that too. 

As we know at this point, Vriska would have failed to save her friends had she gone to fight Jack, making these lines very filled with dramatic irony.

NOTE: This is not a banner image.

While all this happens, Doc Scratch adjusts the fenestrated wall to stop us from watching Slick and Snowman kissing. This is probably because he doesn’t want the banner to show things that aren’t “supposed to happen”.*

* I couldn’t decide whether I should put only “supposed” or “supposed to” in quotation marks so I just put the whole phrase in quotes.

AG: 8ut I think what’s motiv8ting me to win this fight the most is…….. 
AG: The possi8ility of getting to meet you when it’s all over! 
AG: May8e I can finally put all this terri8le stuff 8ehind me. 
AG: And I won’t have to worry a8out 8eing the 8est anymore, or proving what a ruthless killer I can 8e. 
AG: May8e I can try out whatever is supposed to 8e normal for a human. Who knows, it might not 8e as 8oring as it sounds! 
AG: May8e 
AG: If you’re not too freaked out 8y all the 8ad things I’ve done…….. 
AG: Or the fact that I am an alien 
AG: We could go on a d8? ::::O

There it is. The declaration of love is a success. While other times characters have failed to declare their love, this time she successfully does so, only for John not to respond and for her to get killed.

Another thought on this monologue: I think it’s really nice how it is spread throughout many pages (many of which I didn’t bother putting here), with about ten lines per page, rather than all shown as a massive wall of text on one page. This spread-out really sets this monologue apart from others. Dave’s usually humorous monologues especially tend to be all one giant wall of text, and Vriska’s may be spread throughout multiple pages to indicate that it is not that kind of monologue. Terezi’s monologue to Vriska way later on (starts this page) has a very similar thing going on.

AG: Don’t worry, it could 8e a human d8, whatever that entails. 
AG: No weird alien stuff, I promise! And no killing or murders, or even talking a8out killing or murders and such. Just whatever you like to talk a8out and think is cool. 

Vriska seems not only OK with, but interested in, the idea of being like a human. As I said in an earlier post, that interest strangely doesn’t carry on to her post-retcon self despite regularly having humans as company; this is probably because that part of the story is so much later on that Hussie forgot those developments. But you can’t really blame the author for forgetting about stuff from this long ago. This is yet another problem with the retcon storyline: it makes many things inconsistent with the way characters developed in Act 5.

AG: I could even 8e persu8ed to watch more of your a8surd human films. 
AG: Do you like any others which feature that rugged human with the long hair and wounded arm? 
AG: You know the one. The sweaty guy with the mutil8ed animal and the speech impediment. 
AG: Those would 8e tolera8le to watch, I 8et.

Bringing this up was such a bad idea. To John, it pretty much changes the meaning of what she’s telling him from a confession of love to a casual “hey, want to watch some Nic Cage movies with me?” Even that line would probably still come off to most people as flirting, John is so obsessed with those movies that he takes the message completely differently.

Doc Scratch switches the banner to what Jade is up to. Within the story it’s switching the screen away from things that aren’t supposed to happen, but outside of the story I bet it’s as follows: Hussie feels that he’s spent enough time showing what’s going on in the apartment and switches to a whole different parallel story that is once again circumstantially simultaneous to the “main” storyline, which I’ll once again comment on as I go.

AG: Well, think it over. 
AG: 8efore I go, I’ll get in touch one more time l8er on, when you’re alive and may8e have something to say a8out it. 

Needless to say, this never happens. Pretty much this whole pesterlog reads completely differently than it would had it been down before Vriska’s death.

AG: Oh yeah…….. 
AG: Sorry a8out your adult male guardian. I wasn’t trying to 8e deceptive 8y not telling you. 
AG: I decided not to, 8ecause I didn’t want to 8e the one to make you sad a8out it. 
AG: Was that selfish of me? I dunno. 
AG: You would have found out regardless. Like we all did. There are things we care a8out that we just have to leave 8ehind. 
AG: It just sucks for those who aren’t in as much a hurry to leave it all 8ehind as me! 

Vriska always wanted to be the one responsible for pretty much everything. Here, she says she didn’t want to be the one responsible for John feeling sad about his father’s death.

When Jade first made the dress she’s wearing right now, the narration said she would only wear it in super special occasions.
Look who she’s with right now.

In the banner, the part which readers might not pay as much attention to, we see a lot of important stuff going on: the volcano is erupting, the snow is melting, and Dave is helping Jade with frog breeding. All this is what constitutes Jade’s planetary quest. Notably, she is the first of the kids to go through with her quest. John doesn’t go through his until much later, while Dave and Rose don’t seem to finish theirs. I think the comic should have gone through all eight kids’ quests in a way that ties in with the story, rather than only with a handful of them. But on the other hand, I think that it’s part of the point for the characters to realize that the planet quests aren’t really necessary; I really don’t know.

Parts of the quest are kind of unclear at this point. How exactly did Jade get the volcano to erupt? I think it’s probably explained in text later but I’m not sure if all this volcano stuff is made totally clear. The denizen and planet stuff has always been kind of fuzzy for some reason.

Vriska’s monologue ends with leaving to deal with Terezi, and it is followed by her death about to be judged until this happens:

The omniscient have no need for facepalms, especially when they have no face, as Doc Scratch would probably say.

I always had the impression that Slick banging on the clock forced Vriska’s death to be judged just, and the actual ruling of her death is left ambiguous. However, Word of God is as follows: Slick banging on the clock may or may not have affected how Vriska’s death was judged. The clock might be what judges her death, or it might just represent how it was judged. While once can reasonably argue that it makes no sense for banging on the clock to affect the ruling of a death, I still think it’s easiest to infer that it does affect her death.

Note that Dave now has the Ribbitar sword that he tried to alchemize long ago.

Jade and Dave come across Jack and fight him, paralleling John and Rose doing the same. As characters themselves remark later on, it’s like Karkat’s shipping grid is coming true (but with some trollish twists).

Get the hell out of here, Nic Cage.

Vriska is now officially dead, getting a death panel that once again sets hers apart from others. The “DEAD” is written in a different font, she is lying face down on the ground, and the background is (mostly) solid black.

Unlike the previous fight between two kids and Jack, Dave and Jade both put up a decent fight with Jack.

While Doc Scratch beats up Slick as a punishment for breaking his clock, we get John’s response to Vriska’s message, together with Jade and Dave fighting Jack. This makes for telling not two, but three stories at once: one story in the banner, a second in the panels and page titles, and a third in the pesterlogs. The two-way storytelling might already be confusing to follow through this blog post, so prepare to have a lot at once that’s hard to keep track of in this three-way storytelling segment.

TT: vriska, wait! 
TT: oops, hold on. 
tentacleTherapist [TT] ceased pestering arachnidsGrip [AG] 
ectoBiologist [EB] began pestering arachnidsGrip [AG] 
EB: hey, are you there? 
EB: i did what you said… 
EB: but i can’t tell if it worked. 
EB: hello? 
EB: you didn’t fly off to fight jack yet, did you? 
EB: i hope not. 
EB: anyway, all that stuff you said sounds fun to me, i have hells of the cage flicks in my library. 
EB: i do not even care that you’re an alien! you see, cage is the universal constant which unites us all. 

Like I said, John didn’t pay attention to Vriska’s suggestion to going on a date. He hears movies, in his mind that’s suddenly all that matters.

This is incredibly gruesome. Need I say more?

AG: OH GOD. 
EB: hey! 
AG: OH MY FUCKING HELL, THIS IS SO INSANELY AWKWARD AND SAD. 
EB: what is??? 
AG: HANG ON 
arachnidsGrip [AG] ceased trolling ectoBiologist [EB] 

carcinoGeneticist [CG] began trolling ectoBiologist [EB] 
CG: HEY. 
EB: karkat! 
EB: that was you? 
EB: where is vriska? 
CG: SHE 
EB: she what? 
CG: SHIT 
CG: I FEEL LIKE AN ASSHOLE FOR READING THIS WHOLE THING. 

Once again, Karkat can’t bring himself to tell people of his friends’ deaths. He mostly just keeps stuttering about it, and none of the people he talks to about that stuff ever gets the hint. In that one memo, Gamzee was somehow unable to process murdering stuff as bad news, Feferi was unable to believe that such awful stuff would happen, and Eridan thought Karkat was making shit up. John doesn’t think Karkat is lying, but he also doesn’t get that Karkat is unable to tell him that Vriska died.

CG: WOW OK 
CG: SO LET ME ASK. 
CG: DID YOU BOTH ACTUALLY LIKE EACH OTHER. 
EB: um… 
CG: LIKE I MEAN SOMETHING VAGUELY RESEMBLING ACTUAL GENUINE MUTUAL SENTIMENT OR WHATEVER, NOT SOME LOPSIDED PINING BULLSHIT. 
EB: what are you talking about? 
CG: DID YOU LIKE HER, YOU WINDSOCK HEADED SHITMOUTH. 
CG: IS WHAT I’M ASKING 
EB: well… 
EB: yeah. why? 

I doubt that Karkat would’ve been able to tell John that Vriska died even if he said no. He’s just not the kind of guy who can disclose such heavy news.

CG: OK 
CG: THAT’S FINE 
CG: THEN 
CG: WE’LL TALK ABOUT IT LATER. 
EB: talk about what? 
CG: I NEED YOU TO BE ABLE TO THINK STRAIGHT. 
CG: WE HAVE IMPORTANT SHIT TO GO OVER, AND I DON’T HAVE MUCH TIME.

Even though it sucks that John doesn’t find out the truth until much later, John needing to think straight is a fair reason for Karkat not to tell him.

This is the third fight against Jack to use an auto-parry reference. I love how Dave is casually using Jade as a shield like it’s not at all weird.

EB: alright. 
EB: like what? 
CG: PLANS. 
EB: what plans? 
CG: NEVER MIND THAT. FIRST, GET OUT OF THE FUCKING BLACKOUT TO A PLACE WHERE I CAN SEE YOU. 
CG: LEAVE NOW, I’LL CONTACT YOU IN A WHILE, ONCE YOU’VE LANDED. 
EB: landed where? 
CG: LOHAC. OBVIOUSLY. 
EB: oh, obviously. 
CG: WELL HOW ELSE DO YOU THINK YOU’RE GOING TO CAUSE THE SCRATCH, IDIOT. 
CG: DO YOU EVEN HAVE ANY CLUE WHAT’S GOING ON? 
CG: WAIT, OF COURSE YOU DON’T, YOU ARE WEARING PAJAMAS AND GIGGLING AT CLOUDS LIKE EACH ONE WAS SHAPED LIKE THE RUDEST BIT OF NAKED ANATOMY A HUMAN CAN RECOGNIZE. 

It’s sort of a recurring pattern with John that people perceive him as more air-headed than he really is.

EB: no i’m not! 
EB: i mean, yes, i am wearing some pretty nice pajamas. 
EB: but i know lots of things, like about the tumor, which i have already recovered… 
EB: wait, i mean <color=000000>the tumor</color> 
EB: wait, fuck. 

I’ve seen people think this is an actual formatting mistake rather than a joke about how John is bad at coding, or maybe about how nobody can ever remember the right code for colored text. It’s a pretty amusing somewhat xkcd-style moderately nerdy joke. But only moderately nerdy. Nothing like a reference to some math theorem.

Weirdly, “room” is still in the banner image URLs even though they no longer take place there.

For quite a while, this was the only time we ever saw a fraymotif in action. While Sburb game mechanics were typically explored in a good amount of depth, these aren’t elaborated on as well for some reason. Hell, only attentive readers getting to this point will even remember it’s a fraymotif!

Many readers longed for fraymotifs to once again be used. While many other reader hopes weren’t fulfilled in the end, this one was; fraymotifs were used several times in [S] Collide.

In the regular panels, instead of directly showing shots of what John and Karkat are doing, we get scrapbook pictures of them (along with shots of Doc Scratch throwing Slick out of his apartment). Even though panels normally have no restrictions on what they can show, for this stretch of pages the panels have the restriction of only showing things in Scratch’s apartment.

CG: LET’S GET DOWN TO BUSINESS. 
EB: aren’t you going to ask me how my journey was? 
CG: NO. 
EB: it was long! and windy. but a lot of fun. 
EB: i really like flying, it’s so much fun. 
CG: OH, I BET IT IS JUST THE BIGGEST FUCKING BLAST A GUY CAN HAVE WITHOUT A PAIR OF SHAME GLOBES SECURED IN HIS TWO TREMBLING FISTS. 
EB: you… haven’t tried it? 
CG: EVERY DOUCHE GOT TO FLY BUT ME, EVEN THE CRIPPLE. 
CG: MAY HE REST IN PEACE, I FUCKING GUESS. 
EB: :\ 
EB: wait, is that the guy who vriska killed? 
CG: OH GOD, YOU ACTUALLY KNOW ABOUT THAT? 

This is a hint that breath and blood may be opposing aspects. Breath is associated largely with wind and flying, while Karkat, a blood player, says that was the only one of the trolls who never got to fly.

EB: is something wrong? 
CG: WHAT 
EB: a while ago you talked to me and it sounded like you were in danger, and it sounds like some people died, but you never told me what happened! 
EB: then i got distracted by a lot of crazy stuff. 
CG: YEAH, SOMETHING IS WRONG 
CG: OR, WAS. 
CG: A BUNCH OF US DIED, THE END. 
CG: I DON’T REALLY WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT. 
EB: oh. 
EB: are you sure? 
CG: YES, AND NOT JUST BECAUSE, OH, THE CLOCK IS RAPIDLY TICKING DOWN TO SOMETHING WE’RE CALLING THE CRITICAL MOMENT, AND NO, I DON’T KNOW WHAT THAT IS, SO CLOSE YOUR REEKING QUESTION GEYSER BEFORE IT ASKS. 

How exactly does Karkat know about the countdown? Presumably there’s countdowns scattered about the trolls’ meteor.

CG: I JUST GOT DONE 
CG: UH 
CG: DEALING WITH GAMZEE 
CG: AND I’M FEELING PRETTY EMOTIONAL ABOUT IT. SO PLEASE, NO. 
EB: who is gamzee? 
CG: HE WAS MY BEST FRIEND. 

This bit and several others, together with Karkat being shown with Gamzee’s blood on him, implies that Karkat killed Gamzee. Though what actually happens is very different, for now it’s a reasonable conclusion to make, and there are several reasons why that would be fitting. Vriska, Gamzee, and Eridan, the three murderer trolls, would have been killed by Terezi, Karkat, and Kanaya respectively, who would be the only three trolls to travel on the meteor in that case. In addition, all three of the murderous trolls would have been killed by longtime good friends: Vriska by her old teammate, Gamzee by his old best friend, and Eridan by the one who would listen to his problems.

Also about Karkat incorrectly implying he killed Gamzee: it makes the characters who didn’t understand that he was trying to say that his friends got killed seem somewhat less stupid, because it really could mean anything.

EB: really? i thought terezi was your best friend. 
EB: or wait, maybe she was your girlfriend, i forget… 
CG: MY THINK PAN, IT HURTS 
CG: IT IS PRESENTLY THREATENING TO MAKE ME ITS BITCH, JOHN. IS THAT WHAT YOU WANT? 
CG: DO YOU WANT YOUR COOL ALIEN PAL TO BECOME THE BITCH OF A RAW, THROBBING THINK PAN????? 
CG: SUCH IS THE SCENARIO BEFORE US. 

I love how Karkat can be really emotional and a second later angry about John suspecting Terezi is his girlfriend.

EB: sorry, i don’t mean to be nosy. i just want to know some things about your situation! 
EB: i am concerned. 
CG: GAMZEE WAS MY VERY GOOD FRIEND, WHO WAS THIS GOOFY LOVEABLE BULLSHIT CLOWN UNTIL HE WENT PSYCHO AND KILLED SOME PEOPLE. I LIKED HIM A LOT. 
CG: I DON’T KNOW, I GUESS MY BEST FRIEND IS REALLY JUST THE GUY WHO I HAPPEN TO BE FEELING MOST SENTIMENTAL TO AT THE MOMENT, IS THAT A FUCKING CRIME. 

Karkat always found Gamzee to be really annoying, but now he’s saying that he was his very good friend. It seems like Karkat always thought of Gamzee as a friend regardless, probably mostly by nature.

Also I think Karkat has expressed annoyance at all twelve trolls (including himself) except Kanaya.

Doc Scratch, who is supposed to be a gentleman, can be quite brutal.

Every image in the scrapbook album shown above relates in some way to what’s shown here. John’s legs above the Beat Mesa is obvious; pictures of John’s dad, Rose’s mom, and Karkat’s lusus are there because they’re brought up in the conversation; Rose’s dream self waking up ties in with John corpsesmooching her; and Kanaya punching Vriska is what Scratch throwing Slick above calls back to. I never realized that all those scrapbook pictures are shown here as way more than just random pictures.

EB: oh!!! 
EB: i can’t believe i almost forgot, i’ve been dying to know since i left the battlefield… 
EB: do you know if rose is ok? 
EB: did it work??? 
CG: SHE’S FINE. 
CG: SHE WOKE UP ALIVE ON DERSE. 
EB: really?? 
CG: THAT’S THE RULE, JOHN. YOU KISS A DEAD PLAYER IN TIME, AND THEIR DREAM SELF TAKES OVER, ASSUMING THEY STILL HAVE ONE. 
EB: oh, wow. 
CG: IT’S INCREDIBLE YOU REACHED GOD TIER STATUS WITHOUT EVEN UNDERSTANDING THE MORE MUNDANE MEANS OF RESURRECTION AVAILABLE. 
CG: WAIT, YOUR UNFAILING CLUELESSNESS MAKES IT THE OPPOSITE OF INCREDIBLE, MY MISTAKE. 

Karkat is insulting John just like he did in all those earlier conversations. Even after a bunch of traumatizing murder stuff, he still does just that. Kind of like how shortly after being freaked out by Gamzee turning evil, he treated past Gamzee exactly how he always treats him.

EB: so, i guess… 
EB: it would not have worked on my dad then? 
EB: or rose’s mom… 😦 
CG: NO, BUT THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT I WANTED TO PICTURE HAPPENING BEHIND THE BLACK CURTAIN, JOHN. 
CG: YOU SNOGGING UP YOUR DEAD HATTED MAN LUSUS. THANK YOU FOR THAT MENTAL IMAGE. 

If kissing his father’s body would indeed bring him back, then it’s an open question whether he would follow through with it. It’s obviously a really gross thing to imagine but John definitely wouldn’t want to miss an opportunity to save his dad.

CG: OR ROSE’S ADULT WOMAN LUSUS. MAYBE A DEAD WOMAN SWEEPS YOUR SENIOR IS MORE YOUR CUP OF SAUCE, SINCE APPARENTLY YOU ARE “NOT A HOMOSEXUAL”, WHATEVER THAT EVEN MEANS, NOT EVEN TO SPEAK OF YOUR RACE’S ABSURD QUALMS WITH THE NOTION OF INCEST, WHICH AGAIN, STILL SORT OF WONDERING HOW THAT CAN EVEN BE A THING. 
EB: er… 
CG: IS THAT YOUR GAME, EGBERT. HAVE YOU HAD YOUR EYE ON MADAME LALONDE, AND YOU’VE BEEN WAITING FOR A CONVENIENT RESURRECTION OPPORTUNITY TO BUST OUT YOUR MOST PASSIONATE SMOOCHMOTIFS KEPT IN RESERVE? AND IN FRONT OF HER DEAD FEMALE “OFFSPRING” NO LESS! JUST SHAMEFUL. 
EB: well… 
EB: she is a very pretty lady, but that seems like a really inappropriate thing to think about, karkat. 

Karkat speculating on John being attracted to Rose’s mom, and especially him saying she is a very pretty lady, foreshadows his future relationship with Roxy. If it’s intentional, then it’s rather clever foreshadowing—foreshadowing that is sneaky, but obvious in retrospect. It’s still before we have any idea that the alpha kids are going to exist, and thus may well be forgotten about by the time we learn that the Scratch swaps the players’ places with their ancestors. But if you’re rereading, it isn’t hard to catch this as foreshadowing.

CG: JUST CLAM YOUR SHIT UP AND FORGET YOUR STUPID GUARDIAN, LIKE I DID WITH MY DEAR CRAB MONSTER CUSTODIAN, WHO I ADORED IN NO WAY WHATSOEVER. 
EB: you are being a douche!!! 
EB: wait, what am i saying, you are always a douche, hehe. 

John is giving Karkat a friendly insult the way he insults people.

Since Jade is around, Jack has to kill Dave undercover, which he does in an especially nasty way: redirecting Jade’s bullets so that they kill Dave, similar to how her grandpa died.

Once again, all the scrapbook pictures here relate to what John and Karkat are talking about. The picture on the top right corner, aside from featuring Aradia who is mentioned in the conversation, is probably there to show what the shot of dream Dave waking up in the center calls back to.

CG: ANYWAY, SHE AND DAVE DO A LOT OF FROG BREEDING, ACCELERATING THE PROCESS SIGNIFICANTLY BY EXPLOITING TIME TRAVEL, WITH HELP FROM ME AND KANAYA, SINCE WE WERE IN CHARGE OF FROG DUTIES IN OUR SESSION. 
EB: frog duties??? 
EB: wait, which one is kanaya again? 
CG: DON’T INTERRUPT, I AM FOLLOWING A TRAIN OF THOUGHT. 
CG: OK, KANAYA IS MY OTHER BEST FRIEND, AND SHE WAS THE HERO OF SPACE LIKE JADE WHICH MEANS SHE’S THE STOKER OF THE FORGE AND IS BASICALLY IN CHARGE OF FROGS, WHICH SOUNDS RETARDED, I KNOW. YOU BREED THE RIGHT FROG TO MAKE THE UNIVERSE YOU WANT TO MAKE, WHICH IS A LONG ARDUOUS PROCESS AND I KIND OF FUCKED IT UP IN MY GAME, BUT THAT’S A WHOLE OTHER STORY WHICH I’LL GET TO LATER, OK? 

Here’s some kid-troll parallelism. In both the kids’ and trolls’ sessions, the space player and the knight were in charge of frog breeding. For the kids, Dave assisted because they were in a time crunch and needed someone who can exploit time travel. But I don’t think it’s stated why Karkat was needed to help Kanaya with frog breeding. If we want to extend the parallelism, his role in frog breeding may have to do with the blood aspect but I don’t know what that would mean.

Speaking of the blood aspect, here’s some more thoughts on aspects. While breath deals heavily with physical abilities, more so than any other aspect, blood probably deals the least with physical abilities, which fits well for a guy who has no special powers. His fight against Clover, although sometimes resented for putting a major character in a “joke” fight, may fit with that idea: he is tiny and not at all intimidating like the other villains, but has extreme luck that makes him hard to fight.

CG: SHE AND DAVE RAN INTO JACK, WHICH I’M SURE HE MUST HAVE SAW COMING BECAUSE I’VE NEVER SEEN ANYONE EXPLOIT TIME TRAVEL SO SHAMELESSLY AS HIM, NOT EVEN ARADIA. 
EB: aradia? 
CG: JUST ANOTHER DEAD TROLL, WHO CARES. 
EB: 😦 
CG: STOP FROWNING, SHE WAS ALREADY DEAD BEFORE SHE DIED. 
EB: … 
EB: 😦 
CG: SO SHE AND DAVE FOUGHT WITH HIM A WHILE, AND LONG STORY SHORT, HE DIED. 

This is another part that parallels with what’s going on in the banner, but in a much more mundane way than previous: Karkat is talking about what happened up there. I think his description of what Jade and Dave did serves partly to keep people who didn’t pay attention to the banner in the loop.

You are not supposed to kiss her, Mr. Noir. 

Why isn’t the gun facing the other way??? It kind of ruins the dramatic shot.

Doc Scratch clearly doesn’t want Slick to kiss Snowman because it’s not supposed to happen, and as shown by the crazy flashing text, he really doesn’t want that to happen. The fact that things here are going so much against his way is another piece of evidence that sometimes characters do have free will.

In the banner, Jade holds Dave’s body about to kiss it, calling back to John kissing Rose’s body, a circumstantially simultaneous event.

The scrapbook pictures give us a second x2 corpsesmooch combo. Hussie said that the callback here was obviously going to happen, but the way it’s presented to us wasn’t quite as obvious. Also it’s kind of trollish: he is nice enough to show us John kissing Rose’s corpse, but refuses to show us Jade kissing Dave’s body because he knows Dave/Jade is a popular pairing.

EB: did she kiss him too? :O  
CG: YEAH. 
CG: RIGHT THERE, WHILE JACK WATCHED LIKE A FUCKING CREEP. 
CG: BUT IT WORKED. 
EB: omg, karkat. it is like your shitty shipping grid is coming true before our very eyes. 
EB: haha, remember when you made that ugly thing? 

I do remember. Karkat’s shipping grid is a hilariously simplistic parody of the standard romance tropes (heavy romantic tension between lead male and lead female, plus a second male/female pair whose relationship is less complicated) that have been clichéd to hell and back. It’s a great demonstration of how childish Karkat can be sometimes, thinking he’s a man of supreme intelligence for coming up with the two most stupidly obvious ships possible. Just like how I thought I was a man of supreme intelligence when I realized that John/Rose and Dave/Jade correspond to these extremely boring tropes, in a paragraph that I replaced three years later with what you’re reading right now.

The banner switches back to Scratch’s apartment. While the wall first switched right after kissing, the scene switches right before kissing.

Here is Doc Scratch using his first guardian powers the same way Bec does. I’m noting this because we don’t see him doing that very often.

Once again, most of these scrapbook pictures are things John and Karkat are talking about. Gamzee on top is there because Karkat calls back to his line “it was. A MOTHERFUCKING. joke.” The statue of Echidna on the bottom right is probably there as a reminder of how we briefly saw it when Jade fought the uranium imp, and how it’s actually a depiction of her denizen—once again doing the thing of reminding people of foreshadowing from a while back.

CG: WHO GIVES A FUCK ABOUT SHIPPING, OR MY LUDICROUS STRANGLEHOLD OVER ALL TOPICS CONCERNING ROMANCE, I’M STILL TALKING. 
CG: HE WOKE UP ALIVE ON DERSE, AND MET WITH ROSE. 
CG: THAT WAS THE END OF THE LINE FOR ALPHA DAVE. TO MY KNOWLEDGE, HE DOESN’T TIME TRAVEL AFTER THAT, AND HE AND ROSE STAY ON DERSE WAITING FOR THE BOMB UNTIL YOU START THE SCRATCH. BUT I CAN’T SEE EITHER OF THEM BECAUSE OF THE BLACKOUT LINGERING AROUND ROSE FOR WHATEVER REASON. NOBODY KNOWS WHAT’S UP WITH THAT. 
CG: REGARDLESS, HIS JOB IS TO PLOT A COURSE THROUGH THE RING TO FIND THE SUN. 
CG: WHEN HE DOES, EITHER HE OR ROSE WILL DELIVER THE BOMB. 
CG: I DON’T KNOW WHICH. 
EB: but now they don’t have dream selves left! 
EB: who ever goes will be risking their life for good, won’t they? 
CG: THAT WOULD BE THE LOGICAL EXTENSION OF THOSE FACTS, YES. 

When you’re rereading, the problem of Dave and Rose risking their lives in the suicide mission is very easy to forget.

EB: this is unacceptable! 
EB: couldn’t i do it? 
EB: i am apparently immortal, because of this god tier business, so the bomb probably would not kill me! 

John says he is apparently immortal, which matches well with how he always sees himself as a regular kid rather than a legendary hero.

CG: OK, BUT DON’T YOU THINK THERE’S A REMOTE POSSIBILITY THAT GOING ON A SUICIDE MISSION TO SAVE ALL OF REALITY WOULD COUNT AS A HEROIC DEATH? 
EB: hmm… 
EB: maybe i could try to be not all that brave while i do it? 
CG: YOU ASSHOLE, OF COURSE YOU’D BE BRAVE. THAT TENDS TO BE WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU DO SOMETHING REALLY FUCKING COURAGEOUS. 

Here’s another recurring pattern with John. He has a notable tendency to refuse to accept bad things everyone takes for granted. He said several times that he never believed how everyone said the kids were doomed for failure and that despite all that he still thinks there must be a way to win.

CG: JADE’S DREAM SELF IS DEAD TOO, SO SHE’S OUT. OR TO BE MORE SPECIFIC, HER DREAM SELF IS AN OVERLY EMOTIONAL DOG WHO WENT OFF WHIMPERING SOMEWHERE. I’M PRETTY SURE SHE WILL BE COMPLETELY USELESS. 
EB: oh, yeah. 
EB: she mentioned something about that. she said she prototyped her dream self?? what happened with that? 
CG: SHE DOESN’T LIKE TO TALK ABOUT IT. KIND OF A SORE SUBJECT. 
EB: why? 
CG: SHE THINKS SHE’S SELFISH AND COMPLETELY HYSTERICAL AND I GUESS HATES THE PART OF HERSELF SHE REPRESENTS. 
CG: BUT I MEAN, THE THING IS SHE SPENT A LONG TIME BEING DEAD AND MOVING ON, IT’S NOT LIKE YOU CAN JUST BRING SOMEBODY BACK AND EXPECT THEM TO GIVE A SHIT ABOUT ALL THE STUFF YOU THINK IS IMPORTANT. 
CG: I’VE TRIED TO TELL HER THAT HER SPRITE SELF IS PROBABLY NOWHERE NEAR AS DESPICABLE AS SHE’S MAKING OUT WITH HERSELF TO BE. 
CG: I MEAN 
CG: MAKING HERSELF OUT TO BE. 
CG: YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN. 
EB: … 
CG: LOOK, I’M JUST SAYING 
CG: WE’VE ALL GOT FLAWS, EVEN HER 
CG: AND FOR ALL THE SHIT SHE’S GIVEN ME ON THIS VERY SUBJECT, SHE KEEPS HERSELF DANGLING FROM A VERY HIGH HOOK. 
CG: SHE’D BE DOING ME A MAJOR PERSONAL SOLID BY MAKING AT LEAST SOME ATTEMPT TO GET HERSELF OFF. 
CG: WAIT 
CG: FUCK 
CG: WHAT DID I JUST SAY 
EB: wow. 
CG: I MEANT LET HERSELF OFF. 
CG: THE HOOK. THE FUCKING HOOK, IT’S A FIGURE OF GODDAMN SPEECH. 

Whenever Karkat starts talking about Jadesprite, his bizarre lesbian fantasy kicks in. If you think about it, these repeated Freudian slips give some pretty weird implications regarding Karkat, and how he probably really likes to imagine Jade and Jadesprite making out.

EB: /raises eyebrows 
CG: PUT THOSE THE BACK DOWN, BEFORE MY HOT ACID RAGEBREATH BURNS THEM OFF YOUR IDIOTIC FACE. 
EB: ok, i am putting them back down as not suggestively as possible. 
CG: WHAT WERE WE EVEN TALKING ABOUT, IT WASN’T THIS, WHATEVER THIS IS. 
EB: what is what this is? 
CG: IT’S NOTHING, YOU SHIT. IT HAS BEEN THE CONVERSATIONAL EQUIVALENT OF US WHISTLING THROUGH OUR SNORT BARRELS WHILE TOUCHING EACH OTHER INAPPROPRIATELY. 
EB: was… 
EB: was that another weird erotic slip of the tongue? 
CG: NO, THAT WAS ME BEING WORKED UP INTO THIS RIDICULOUS FUCKING CONNIPTION AND SAYING SOMETHING INFLAMMATORY, GOD. HOW DOES THAT NOT BE CLEAR BY NOW??? 

This is yet another time characters are talking about the most useless nonsense. But I don’t even care that it’s pointless because it’s so funny and ridiculous.

The next section of the pesterlog is some plot stuff, parts of which I’ll skip over because I don’t have anything to say about it. I’ve done that sort of thing before sometimes, like when Rose told Dave about the suicide mission.

CG: SHE GOT THEM FROM HER DENIZEN, OR WILL LATER ON HER TIMELINE, NOW THAT SHE LIT THE FORGE AND WOKE THE MONSTER UP. 
EB: aren’t those the really tough to kill guys? 
CG: YEAH 
EB: did she kill him? 
CG: HELL IF I KNOW, HER EXPLANATION OF THE ENTIRE ENCOUNTER BOILED DOWN TO AND I QUOTE “shenanigans 
CG: LIMED FOR INFURIATINGLY VAGUE. 

“Infuriatingly vague” sounds a lot like how Jade was at the start of the story, hinting at maybe some reverse character development? I don’t know. I guess I’ll see when I get to Jade’s scenes in the scrapbook section.

CG: ANYWAY, AFTER SHE GIVES THAT TO YOU, SHE THEN HAS TO GO THROUGH WITH THE REST OF THE PLAN, WHICH IS MAKING SURE YOU ALL SURVIVE AFTER THE SCRATCH, MINUS ONE OF THE DERSE DREAMERS OF COURSE. 

I never realized that at the time, it was thought that one of the four beta kids might be killed off. If the mission of destroying the sun ended up successful and was done by Dave, then that would be a fitting heroic end for him*, but no such permanent heroic ends happen for any of the main characters. Well, some alternate versions but that’s not the point.

* You may have heard of theories that Dave would not make it to the end of the story, which some people claim is heavily foreshadowed. I never thought such a thing would happen; the only major character who I could see not making it to the end of the story was Vriska, and even her fate is currently ambiguous.

CG: THE PLAN REVOLVES AROUND SOME REALLY BAFFLING HAND WAVEY MUMBO JUMBO WHICH I DON’T REALLY UNDERSTAND, BUT SHE TOLD ME TO TRUST HER ABOUT IT BECAUSE THE INFO COMES FROM A “Reliable informant. 
CG: WHITENED FOR SMUG TOOL. 

The weird thing is, even though the plan was given to Jade from Doc Scratch, who readers are meant to be really suspicious about, her plan, unlike Rose’s, is a success. The plans have a major difference that relates in a metafictional way to their outcomes; Rose’s was explained in depth, while Jade’s was only vaguely described.

CG: SWEET BLEEDING JEGUS, EGBERT, YOU KEEP BRAGGING ABOUT YOUR IMMORTALITY, AND THEN BRAINLESSLY ANNOUNCE PLANS TO GO OFF AND DO SOMETHING HEROIC! YOU’RE GOING TO HAVE THE SHORTEST LIFESPAN OF ANY IMMORTAL IN HISTORY. 
EB: sorry. 😦 
CG: BESIDES, IT’S A TOTAL NON ISSUE. JACK WOULDN’T HESITATE TO STAB YOU AGAIN, BUT HE WON’T HURT JADE FOR SOME REASON. 
CG: IF ANYTHING, YOU COULD USE HER PROTECTION. 
EB: really? 
CG: I NEVER NOTICED WHEN LOOKING THROUGH HER TIMELINE EARLIER. IT WASN’T UNTIL I WAS TALKING TO HER IN THOSE TIMEFRAMES AND SHE TOLD ME. HE JUST KEEPS FOLLOWING HER AROUND. I CAN SEE HIM OFF IN THE DISTANCE IN SOME FRAMES, JUST LURKING THERE, SHADOWING HER MOVEMENTS. IT’S INCREDIBLY DISTURBING. 
CG: HE LINGERS AROUND HER UNTIL THE SCRATCH BEGINS AND I LOSE THE FEED, NEVER ONCE DOING ANYTHING THREATENING. SHE SAYS SHE THINKS IT’S BECAUSE JACK INHERITED LOYALTY OF HER LUSUS. 
CG: IF SHE’S RIGHT, I GUESS HER LUSUS REALLY DID OFFER HER THE MOST PROTECTION POSSIBLE BY PROTOTYPING ITSELF, ALBEIT BY DOOMING US ALL. THE IDIOT. 
EB: d’aw, that’s actually kinda cute. 

When [S] Jade: Enter was first posted, Hussie said that it’s a mystery why Bec prototyped himself. I previously thought that meant it was something left indeterminate, though now that Karkat says that Bec gave Jade extreme protection by prototyping himself, it seems more like an actual mystery to be resolved, the answer of which is Jack gaining inability to hurt Jade.

Still more pictures of what John and Karkat are talking about. A few explanations for some of them: Jade and some trolls on the top right are there because Karkat brings up the stuff she learns in dreams, John and Karkat to the right are there because they are going to have their first conversation from Karkat’s perspective. I’m not totally sure why Aradia is there to the left; maybe it has to do with talking about the Green Sun?

CG: IF WE CAN RIDE THIS OUT FOR A LITTLE LONGER UNTIL THE CRITICAL MOMENT, AND DAVE/ROSE CAN DESTROY THE SUN, JACK SHOULDN’T BE A THREAT. 
CG: CONVENIENTLY, IF THEY’RE SUCCESSFUL, THAT WILL SIGNAL THE BEGINNING OF OUR OWN ESCAPE PLAN. 
EB: what is your plan? 
CG: APPARENTLY THE EXPLOSION WILL BE SO HUGE, IT WILL BE VISIBLE AT GREAT DISTANCES THROUGHOUT THE FURTHEST RING. 

Another clever lie of omission, presumably originally something Doc Scratch told Jade. There will indeed be a huge explosion visible at great distances, but it’s actually the creation of the Green Sun.

EB: jade knows so many things lately, what is even her deal? 
CG: HELL IF I KNOW, THIS IS BASICALLY DREAM INTELLIGENCE, EVERY TIME SHE GOES TO SLEEP, SHE HAS MORE TO RAMBLE ABOUT. 

Jade is the new Rose, isn’t she?

EB: so then, this is how we’re supposed to meet. that is kind of exciting. 
CG: YEAH, I GUESS, IF ENOUGH OF US ARE ALIVE BY THEN TO MEET. 
EB: so, i guess you are not worried about it turning into a huge sloppy makeout fest anymore… 
CG: UH 
CG: RIGHT! HAHAHA, JOHN, YOU AND VRISKA BETTER KEEP YOUR HANDS TO YOURSELVES, OR EVERYONE’S GOING TO BE REALLY UNCOMFORTABLE. NO INTERSPECIES FUNNYBUSINESS, IS THAT CLEAR! 
CG: BLAAAAAAARGH, I AM CONVINCINGLY FLIPPING MY LID ABOUT THIS, WAVING MY ARMS AROUND A LOT, AND MAKING ALL MY BEST YELLING FACES. WOW, LOOK AT THAT! IT’S TIME TO CHANGE THE SUBJECT AGAIN. 
EB: huh? 
CG: POOF! SUBJECT CHANGED. 

(Note: I’m saving discussion of the idea of kids and trolls meeting until Act 6 Intermission 1 when that stuff partly happens.)

Karkat is a terrible liar, but conveniently, John believes pretty much anything people say. I guess Karkat couldn’t come up with a better response to John talking about sloppy makeouts.

EB: won’t there be other players in the new session? 
EB: like, alternate universe versions of ourselves or such? 
CG: PROBABLY. 
CG: BUT THOSE CHUMPS WON’T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT US, OR ALL OUR PLANS. WHY WOULD THEY? 

As it turns out, the alpha kids do indeed know stuff about the beta kids, but not quite in the way one might expect. Wait what am I saying, how would you expect the alphas to know stuff about the betas? I sure can’t think of anything one might expect at this point.

EB: yeah… it’s just kind of a weird thought. 
CG: SO OUT OF EVERYTHING WE JUST TALKED ABOUT, THIS IS THE THING THAT HAS YOU TRIPPING GLOBES? WHATEVER YOU SAY! 
EB: but i guess it’s sort of comforting too. 
EB: if rose or dave have to go off and die, at least i get to see them again, in a way. 
EB: even if i will only be alternate universe john to them. 
EB: maybe my dad will be alive in that session too!!! 

Happily, John was right about the part about his dad, but the other stuff is way off.

After telling John about performing the Scratch, Karkat says the following:

EB: what should i do right now? 
CG: GET PREPARED, MAKE ALL THE EQUIPMENT YOU THINK YOU’LL NEED, STAY OUT OF TROUBLE. 
CG: WAIT FOR JADE TO SEND THAT CODE, WAIT FOR ME TO CONTACT YOU FOR THE FIRST TIME, AND DO YOUR BEST TO HUMOR HIM WHILE HE IGNORANTLY ATTEMPTS TO FLAME YOU BACK INTO THE PUDDLE OF SLIME YOU CRAWLED OUT OF. 
CG: PLEASE. 
EB: oh, man. 
EB: our “first” conversation ever? i can’t wait. 
CG: YEAH, BUT CAN I JUST SAY SOMETHING IN MY DEFENSE BEFORE THAT HAPPENS? 
CG: I DON’T ACTUALLY HATE YOU, AND I NEVER DID. I WAS DELUDING MYSELF. 
CG: DEEP DOWN I’M SURE I WAS ALWAYS PRETTY OK WITH YOU. 
EB: thanks karkat! 
CG: IT WASN’T A FUCKING COMPLIMENT.

This is such a perfect note for a long conversation to end on. It’s heartwarming to see Karkat say he never actually hated John immediately followed by him saying that wasn’t a compliment, and we also see that John is the last one to join the club of people who do a lot of stuff offscreen.


At this point I recommend that readers go back and reread John’s first conversation with Karkat and see how different it is in retrospect. For a bit of bonus material, I will do just that. What’s even better about doing a second commentary on this conversation is that it’s the first pesterlog I commented on in my new posting style.

CG: THERE ARE NO MIRACLES IN STORE FOR YOU, HUMAN. 
CG: ONLY MY HATE. 
CG: IT IS A HATE SO PURE AND HOT IT WOULD CONSUME YOUR SAD UNDERDEVELOPED HUMAN THINK PAN TO EVEN CONTEMPLATE. 
CG: IT IS A HATE THAT TO FATHOM MUST BE PUT INTO SONG. 
CG: SHRIEKED BY THE TEN THOUSAND ROWDY SHOUT SPHINCTERS PEPPERING THE GRUESOME UNDERBELLY OF THE MOST TRUCULENT GOD THE FURTHEST RING CAN MUSTER.
CG: IT IS A HATE THAT MADE YOU AND WILL SURELY DESTROY YOU. 
CG: MY HATE IS THE LIFEBLOOD THAT PULSES THROUGH THE VEINS OF YOUR UNIVERSE. 

Karkat goes on and on about how much he hates John right after his future self told him that he never truly hated him. This makes his pompous poetic speech, which previously was pretty dramatic, hilarious in hindsight.

EB: you and your alternian troll buddies help me and my earth human buddies hatch a plan! 
EB: which we are busy putting into motion right now, as you can see. 
CG: THESE ARE LIES. 
CG: I KNOW WHEN I AM BEING TROLLED, WHO DO YOU EVEN THINK YOU ARE TALKING TO HERE. 
CG: I AM YOUR GOD, REMEMBER. 
EB: yeah yeah, i know. 
CG: WHY WOULD I TROLL YOU BACKWARDS? THAT DOESN’T MAKE ANY FUCKING SENSE. 
CG: AND WHY WOULD I HELP YOU AND YOUR IDIOT FRIENDS? 
CG: I WOULD JUST BE HELPING YOU BLUNDER DOWN THE PATH THAT ENDS WITH YOU OPENING THE RIFT LIKE A BUNCH OF MORONS. 

It’s amazing how Karkat refuses to believe any of the things John says he will do only about five hours later.

CG: BUT MAYBE IT MAKES SENSE ACTUALLY 
CG: THAT YOU WELCOME MY ACRIMONY SO READILY 
CG: ON ACCOUNT OF PROBABLY SOME WEIRD GLAND HUMANS HAVE, LIKE A PUNISHMENT THROBBER OR SOME SILLY SOUNDING THING LIKE THAT. 
CG: IT MIGHT MEAN THAT I’M RIGHT ABOUT YOU. 
EB: right about what? 
CG: I MEAN THAT IT SEEMS LIKE WE ARE CONNECTED IN SOME WAY, DON’T YOU THINK JOHN. 
CG: SORT OF COSMICALLY. 
CG: LIKE OUR HATE FOR EACH OTHER IS SO STRONG IT MUST HAVE BEEN WRITTEN IN THE STARS. 
CG: YOU KNOW, THE ONES I FUCKING MADE FOR YOU. 
EB: ha ha, i don’t hate you! 

It’s not just typical John that he doesn’t care that Karkat is saying he hates him. The last thing Karkat said to him before this conversation is that he doesn’t hate him, and never did.

EB: hey, i don’t have a problem with your weird sort of alien hate-love thing! 
EB: it is just that, uh… 
CG: WHAT 
EB: i am not a homosexual. 

In John’s previous conversation with Karkat, Karkat mentioned that John is apparently “not a homosexual”. Now, John uses the exact phrase he heard Karkat say a while back. This may mean that the infamous line “i am not a homosexual” is possibly a time paradox that originates from itself.

EB: anyway, i kind of got the impression that you and terezi were a thing. 

It’s even more hilarious than previously that John just randomly brings up his impression that Karkat and Terezi are a thing. It’s just so random and out-of-nowhere. Arguably out-of-nowhere things are bad, but this is just so funny and sudden that I’m completely OK with it.

EB: karkat, i am going to be honest… 
EB: this first conversation is not going how i thought it would at all! 
EB: it is really kind of… 
EB: awkward. 

This line reads even better when you know that John said multiple times that he thinks his first conversation with Karkat will be legendary. It is indeed legendary; legendarily* awkward.

* That probably isn’t a word.

CG: I THINK WE NEED TO GET BACK ON POINT HERE. 
CG: WHICH IS ADDRESSING THE MATTER OF WHAT INCOMPREHENSIBLY PUTRID GARBAGE YOU AND YOUR FRIENDS ARE AND HOW MUCH I HATE YOU. 
EB: you mean platonic hate? 
CG: SHUT THE FUCK UP, WE AREN’T TALKING ABOUT THAT, REMEMBER. 
EB: oh yeah. 
CG: SO YOU WANTED TO GET TROLLED, WELL YOU GOT IT. 
CG: PREPARE TO GET YOUR PUNY HUMAN BULGE FLAMED INTO NUCLEAR HATEBLIVION. 
CG: WELCOME TO THE TROLLOCAUST. THE PAINSTAKING GENOCIDE OF YOUR FRAGILE SELF ESTEEM WILL BE MY SWAN SONG. 
EB: oh boy, this sounds great. 
EB: but… 
EB: we’re out of time! 
EB: i have to go put this plan into motion. 

I think that despite the conversation going incredibly awkward, John still got a good laugh from his final time hearing from Karkat with his rants about stuff that he knows now isn’t true.

CG: I WILL BID YOU ONE FIRST AND FINAL FUCK YOU. 
CG: FUCK YOU, JOHN EGBERT. 
CG: FUCK YOU AND FUCK THE JOKE BOOK YOU RODE IN ON. 
CG: FUCK. 
CG: FUCKING. 
CG: YOU. 
EB: 😀 
EB: see you soon! 
CG: WAIT 
CG: WHAT 

Though the “see you soon” line was at first meant as a surprise mystery arc line, it’s now clear what it means. All in all, it’s not that weird anymore for John to not be affected at all by Karkat flaming him.


OK I’m done with that. Back to what little is left of what I’ll cover in this post.

Here, the events of the main panel immediately succeed the events in the banner, which makes for some interesting non-redundant parallel storytelling. Later on, the banner and the panels once again show the same thing happening, but for now I guess it’s to speed the panels up somewhat, and to decrease the need for redrawing the same things.

Doc Scratch lets us examine the clippings in his scrapbook, which leads to even more unconventional storytelling. It’s also exactly where I’ll pick up next post. See you next time as I start the rather lengthy scrapbook section.

>> Part 55: Scrapbook Examination Station (SBES) Volume I

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