Act 5 Act 2, Part 32 of 32 + Intermission 2
Pages 4084-4112 (MSPA: 5984-6012)
This is my final post about Act 5, which ends right around the halfway point of Homestuck (unless the upcoming epilogue shifts this point’s position significantly). Needless to say, this is a major milestone point for this post series. I’m pretty proud of myself for making it this far in such a massive project, and not just because that means I can finally dissect Act 6; also because reaching such a major point, with a 13-minute dramatic animation that has left me floored every time I watched it (except maybe in my first read, when it was just plain confusing), seems like something I’d only get to in the far future. Now, nearly ten months after starting this post series, it is the far future, right here in front of my eyes, not a point I dreamt of reaching early in my other projects but abandoned long before getting there. If I had made this post series a few years ago I probably would have forgotten it by now, but I haven’t forgotten it at all. So, you know, it’s kind of cool that I made it this far.
The first thing we get after inserting Disc 2 is a 5x showdown combo flash. Though it may not seem that way, it’s more or less picking up the trolls right from where we left off 200-some pages ago—fitting because we just finally got Disc 2 back after a stretch of pages that is not actually the disc’s material.
Since Act 5 is almost over, it seems like the comic wants to give some last-minute ships between the Act 5 cast before the alpha kids come to be. Kanaya wants to mediate between Karkat and Gamzee, Terezi hate-loves Gamzee, and Sollux love-hate-love-hates Gamzee. The last of these ships is a weird little thing that’s never brought up again in the slightest.
The flash ends with Karkat and Gamzee facing off. Previously we were led to believe Karkat successfully killed Gamzee, and while the end of this flash points to this as well, we’re about to see what really happened.
In a drawn-out sequence of panels, Karkat gets blood all over himself not by killing Gamzee, but by touching his face to calm him down. This is a very strange thing to happen, but it beats Gamzee getting killed in surprise factor.
This transitions us to Hussie, who gives us one final bit of humorous narration written in an amusing blend of flowery language and profane slang before transitioning us to one final bit of story before the concluding flash:
And the Knight of Blood so embraced the Bard of Rage, and in each other’s arms they were aquiver. And with righteous pap and blessed shoosh he did quell his brother’s fury. For the Knight looked upon his Bard all acting up and completely losing his shit and he did resolve to calmeth his juggalo ass right the fuck down. And so calmed down his juggalo ass was and would continueth to be for all time. And the Knight in totally settling a murderous clown’s ludicrous shit down proper said, Let there be Moirallegiance: and it was so. And between moirails would flow bounteous mirth, and they did hug bumpeth plentifully, and honks of reconciliation echoed far and true into the darkness upon the face of the deep.
Hussie walks away to set up the Act 6 curtains, leaving behind a scrapped unfinished recap paper, in order to indicate he’s not doing recaps anymore. It’s clear that at this point, the author no longer feels like making these super long recaps every once in a while; it’s pretty much too late to do a fourth recap that isn’t at least twice as long as the last one, not to mention that a recap would fit better after Cascade than before it. I wonder if he forgot about recaps between the third one and posting this page?
And since Act 6 needs to be set up, Act 5’s final non-flash scene is yet another scrapbook scene, the last one in fact.
CG: THE PASSWORD IS
CG: SEE YOU SOON
CG: OK UH
CG: I’M GOING TO TAKE YOUR LACK OF RESPONSE AS TACIT VERIFICATION.
CG: THIS PRETTY MUCH HAS TO BE THE LAST CONVERSATION WE HAVE, RIGHT?
CG: YOUR TIMELINE CUTS OUT COMPLETELY IN A MINUTE OR TWO BECAUSE OF THE SCRATCH.
That’s kind of a sentimental password, because the trolls actually only ended up meeting with Rose and Dave. Jade is in fact the only kid who definitely could not have joined the trolls; when she and John talked after escaping the session, John had the option to leave Jade behind and join the trolls.
CG: OK, WELL THIS IS A PRETTY CRAPPY FAREWELL, BUT I GUESS IT’LL HAVE TO DO SINCE THERE IS SOME SERIOUSLY SHOW-STOPPING SHIT TRANSPIRING UP THERE IN FUCKING OUTER SPACE.
CG: LATER JADE, I’M GOING TO GO MAKE SURE JOHN KNOWS WHAT THE HELL HE’S SUPPOSED TO BE DOING.
CG: AND IN CASE NONE OF THIS WORKS AND WE DON’T ACTUALLY GET TO MEET
CG: I GUESS I SHOULD SAY…
CG: SINCE APPARENTLY MY GUTLESS FUTURE SELF CAN’T EXPRESS HIMSELF AND NEVER GOT AROUND TO SAYING SO
CG: THUS LEAVING IT UP TO ME AS USUAL
CG: TO SAY
GG: oh sorry!
GG: i was distracted
Like Vriska, Karkat wanted to confess love for the kid he patronned in their final conversation, but in his case, he was interrupted. Not that it really matters though; only John has a hard time understanding that the trolls are hitting on him and his friends, and even he eventually figures it out.
GG: oh sorry!
GG: i was distracted
GG: no not by all the scratchy stuff in the sky
GG: theres something coming down…
GG: its hard to make out
GG: i think
GG: it might be…
GG: shaving cream?
CG: WHAT THE HELL IS SHAVING CREAM.
GG: its like
carcinoGeneticist [CG] ceased trolling gardenGnostic [GG]
This is Jade and Karkat’s final exchange in its entirety. I like how it’s not an emotional final goodbye conversation, nor is it really long like their other conversations; rather, it’s a brief exchange where both are confused which quickly cuts off. It’s not much longer than their first onscreen exchange, back when Jade hated the trolls. In contrast, Karkat’s first and last conversations with John are both quite long.
CD makes a dramatic entrance in his own ridiculous way, flying down a parachute with a huge pack of shaving cream rigged with bombs. Amazingly, he finally did something right: making a giant bomb out of shaving cream to kill the girl.
In these images, the 8-ball is huge next to Jade, but seems quite small compared to the house as it’s blown away by the shaving cream explosion. I think this once again gives a sense of scale for her house.
The frog falls into the volcano, not to be dealt with again until thousands of pages later. I think this is a pretty significant moment, showing us that the frog will be safeguarded for the long span of the time the beta kids’ session is on pause. At this point, the frog is fully bred, and the goal of the game is in fact almost finished, except for a handful of endgame tasks (setting up the grist rigs, dumping the rings into the volcano). This goes to show how much of Act 6 is focused on stuff way different from the kids completing the game. Aside from ridiculous relationship stuff, there’s Caliborn’s story, the subplot of trying to kill Lord English, and also obviously the alpha kids starting up Sburb.
Jack is shocked, Jade is dead, and CD does a merry victory dance. Jade’s death is the last major thing that happens before Cascade, finishing off the pattern of each kid dying at least once. It’s almost as if Hussie desperately finished off that pattern with a last-minute surprise murder because he knew it’s important to kill characters, which obviously isn’t true but it’s funny to think of it that way.
OK, on to Act 5’s grand final flash, [S] Cascade.
The animation’s loading screen is a remake of the Sburb loading screen, which is significant because it shows how far the comic has gone from its beginning, something that’s done several other times in this flash. The screen gradually gets more elaborate as it progresses, but still stays within the scope of the Sburb loading screen we saw in Act 1.
This flash does something no other animation has done: because it’s so long, it has a unique interface that lets you play it at your own will, with a special pause button* and a navigation system that lets you skip to different parts of it. A similar effect is achieved in the comic’s last two animations, which are both YouTube videos instead of Flash animation. This is for a very good reason: as you likely know, when Cascade was first posted it pretty much broke the Internet because so many people viewed it and tried to host it when it originally went down, leading to a massive chain reaction of websites crashing. Since it was a huge hassle making a 13-minute flash animation work out, the decision to make the final two long flashes instead be YouTube videos is completely excusable.
* You can actually pause (or un-pause) any flash by right-clicking and then selecting the Play option. But a pause button is still more convenient regardless.
The flash opens up with John scratching the session. Since that was something we already knew was going to happen, not too much time is spent on it, a little under a minute in fact. It’s mostly there for the sake of showing us these important events (and also for the sake of badass scenes), which is OK because the animation also has a lot of surprising events that completely twist the story. And yes, I am indeed implicitly moaning about the comic’s present ending.
A huge army of underlings confronts John as he scratches the session, and he easily destroys them all with magic powers without a trace of fear. And that includes first guardian underlings!!! There’s something that is indeed quite surprising: how powerful John has become from when he started off going through quite a hassle to kill a single imp.
Jack kills CD and takes the wallet, answering the question of how he ended up with it. CD’s death is quite a tragic one: he finally does something right, but since Jack doesn’t like what he did, he gets killed in a fit of rage. I hope his alpha session counterpart didn’t die, because boy does the little guy deserve a break. And especially not DD’s post-scratch counterpart, because he became friends with Dad and all that.
Next is a scene that’s there for a similar purpose to John scratching the session: an animated rendition of Jack destroying the trolls’ universe. Once again, it’s something we knew would happen, and kind of already saw, but is worth showing in full view because it’s so dramatic.
As Jack uses his red miles, the animation window grows as shown above to extra large size. I can’t tell if the animation window literally grows, or if it was actually full size the whole time and until now the animation was only in the center portion of the screen. But in any case, it’s the animation’s way of saying “shit just got real”.
The frog zooming in to Earth gives us the second purpose of animating Jack destroying the universe: to provide a dramatic transition to the exiles, or more specifically, the end of the exile arc. The exiles have been out of focus for a long time now, with only a few brief appearances here and there, and their subplot is about to get completely ruined by Jack Noir. One could say he’s such an off-the-rails villain that he can destroy an entire story arc in just few minutes.
I can’t help but notice that unlike in the B2 universe, the Red Miles themselves don’t directly cause any harm to the exiles.
We see that AR made a device to blow up the exile stations so Jack will be unable to find them. It only now occurred to me that the exiles are heavily misguided in that regard, since the device Jack would use to barge in on their actions wouldn’t be destroyed at all.
WQ, meanwhile, is waiting next to the time capsule for the king to arrive. That is exactly the device that they should RUN THE HELL AWAY FROM once he comes out, and then immediately blow up. So there’s another thing the exiles do completely wrong.
The white king comes out of the capsule, and he and the old queen reunite. This is a brief heartwarming moment that shortly precedes a load of tragic murder. The feel of this moment, though it lasts ten seconds in-comic, is held on for a bit longer thanks to a scene switch.
Jack then uses his tentacle arms to carry Jade to her quest bed. I really like this because uses powers that one isn’t likely to think of. After becoming a dog, Jack has almost always been rendered only with three features from the prototypings: Bec’s head, the bird’s wings, and the doll’s loss of an eye and arm. Now he’s using a feature gained from Rose’s prototyping: since he only has one arm, he has to use a second source of arms to carry Jade. Also, he apparently can make his less-seen prototyping features appear and disappear at will. Is it because of first guardian powers? Because if it isn’t, a whole lot of nonsense could’ve been avoided. Maybe the trolls’ black queen could have turned off her frog appearance or whatever?
Jack then drops Jade off at her quest bed and leaves. As that happens, we zoom out to see LOFAF in its entirety. I can’t help but notice that it actually looks a lot like Earth, with its green land and blue oceans. More on Jade’s god tier ascension when it happens some time later.
Jack then goes to the frog temple meteor to escape the Scratch. This is one of many questions this flash answers: while we already knew before the flash that the Scratch indirectly causes Jack to enter the trolls’ session, only now do we finally understand how that happens.
The first thing Jack does is mercilessly decapitate the white king. This makes for a very dark subversion of the concept of the sixth ranger, a term TV Tropes uses to refer to an extra addition to an existing group of characters. WK doesn’t even get to do anything as an exile; he just is there for ten seconds and then Jack comes and chops off his head.
The queen’s death is even worse than the king’s. We only see Jack about to kill her, and then we switch perspectives to the other exiles; Jack goes there and WQ’s corpse is shown only as what he teleports his sword out of. Not much to say about that death other than that it’s unceremonious.
While the king and queen both get pathetic deaths, AR’s is quite a bit more special. After blowing up all the command stations, he hesitates to destroy the last one because WV is inside. This leaves him with not enough time to do anything before Jack cuts off his head. This means while the last two exile deaths were merely unceremonious killings, AR died saving a friend’s life, ultimately making his death a heroic sacrifice.
PM tries to kill Jack but barely misses, which is an easy-to-miss moment that shows her bravery; the reader will definitely feel her frustration at her coming so close to defeating Jack. The whole time, Jack has avoided PM instead of killing her. It appears that she is the one and only person he fears. And it’s for a good reason: a long time ago, he gave her a bargain that he believed to be impossible, but she followed through with it, and decapitated his biggest, toughest agent along the way.
Also, the image above has the frog switch facing to the left when it previously faced to the right, implying that someone must have used a key to flip it although that shouldn’t be possible, as explained in this Reddit post. This is a legitimate continuity error that has become a meme in Homestuck’s fanbase due to how shamelessly unresolved it remains to this day.
Jack ripping the uranium out of WV’s stomach answers the question of how he got his bloody hand, something that’s been a mystery for over a thousand pages. It’s quite unexpected, not like something he’d get from one of his many other murders.
And there WV is, tragically dead on the ground with his eyes shut. His death has several things in common with other deaths that don’t stick, John’s and Kanaya’s to be specific. All three of those deaths are sudden and tragic, and dramatic once they happen with the body on the ground in one piece with eyes closed, without ridiculous bits or crazy decapitations. While WV’s death is very sudden and out-of-nowhere, it’s also exactly the kind of death in the comic that doesn’t stick.
Turns out all this is how Jack entered the trolls’ session, answering a question that, unlike some others, is very difficult to come even close to guessing. WV’s command base is the only known way to go to the session that created your session, which is kind of a weird random ability but also makes for a clever Chekhov’s gun. It’s revealed that this is the case through a fast-forward through his rampage, which I think is nice because it makes it extra obvious that it’s answering a longtime mystery.
The flash is divided into four sections, each accompanied with a different song*; I just finished covering the first section. I originally planned on watching the first section, writing up the commentary for it, then the second section, and so on until the end. Though I did pause to write stuff after the first section, after the second section was finished I decided to just watch the whole way through, and I seriously started to tear up.
* The animation’s interface actually gives us eight sections for the flash, the beginning and parts 1-7. However, it’s not as easy to remember as going by the songs for each section. Not to mention that the sections of the flash don’t match up with the music.
The first thing we get in section 2 of Cascade is DD’s death. Turns out that Dave came and decapitated him before he could cause any more trouble. That right there is a real act of heroism. Even if he’s not as much into murders as Jack is, DD really was a dangerous guy.
Rose and Dave then find their second quest beds in the core of Derse’s moon. I can only imaging* them thinking, maybe we’re not screwed after all. Rose already knew that there was a second way to reach god tier, but I bet she felt really stupid that she didn’t realize it was right inside Derse’s moon all along.
* EDIT (10/24/2018): I am keeping that typo, it’s just too good. I can never stop misspelling “imagine” as “imaging”!
The two then deploy the Tumor, only for it to reveal a red and blue tube device. Once again, one can only imagine their thoughts about this; it’s definitely unexpected given that it was always referred to as a bomb. This scene probably could’ve been accompanied with more funny dialogue, but this time I feel that it’s a scene that leaves their dialogue to the reader’s imagination.
The red tube zooms in to the kids’ universe, followed by blue tube transitioning to the trolls’ universe. Although it’s not clear what exactly the tubes do to create the Green Sun, it’s clear that they’re meant to symbolize the two universes, matching up with the mass of the Green Sun.
Spades Slick and Snowman face off on the roof of a building. We last saw Slick beaten bloody by Doc Scratch, leaving it an open question how he recovered. This is one of several moments where he somehow recovers from a major death or injury; it’s sort of a running gag how he never actually ends up dead. First Quarters gunning him down turned out to be a mind vision, then he survived Doc Scratch beating him bloody; next up, we’ll get something that’s far more absurd—Slick turning out to survive the destruction of the universe. With that in mind, surviving decapitation doesn’t seem too hard for him, right?
Slick shoots Snowman in the heart, destroying the trolls’ universe. While many other events in this flash solve mysteries, this one fulfills a Chekhov’s gun. Right after Snowman’s debut, it was stated that if you kill her you destroy the universe, which basically means that’s going to happen at some point, because why else would such a thing be mentioned? The destruction of the universe Slick lives in doesn’t happen until the scope of the comic expands to the point where the destruction of the universe isn’t a big deal anymore. Same goes for the destruction of the kids’ universe.
The destructions of the kids’ and trolls’ universes are in fact circumstantially simultaneous, as are many other events in this flash. In this case, both universes are destroyed by their versions of Jack Noir. They’re not only circumstantially simultaneous to each other, also to the creation of the Green Sun, a body the mass of two universes.
The zoom out back to the Tumor reveals something important that’s easy to miss: there is no Green Sun near the moon waiting to be destroyed. This also marks the end of the second section of the flash, which is right around the halfway point.
The third part of Cascade starts up with Jade’s ascension to god tier. Her entire ascension is a massive callback to John’s ascension; even the music is an epic remix of the song that played when John ascended to god tier. First, her exile screen shuts off …
… and then, the non-consort creatures of her land gather around her corpse. All these match up exactly with John’s ascension to god tier. Both of those ascensions were even facilitated in some way by Jack; John’s with malicious intent, Jade’s with good intent. Just as the two Prospit kids ascended to god tier in similar ways, the two Derse kids also ascend to god tier together some time later.
A difference between John’s and Jade’s ascensions: John’s dream self took over as his real self as he ascended to god tier. Jadesprite, however, ceases to exist and is instead taken over by dog tier Jade.
When Aradia ascended to god tier, it seems that Hussie came up with the idea that characters ascending to god tier will always first have parts of them shown and then a full view, since all ascensions after that—Jade, Rose and Dave, the alpha kids—are shown to us that way.
While John explored Skaia after ascending to god tier, Jade immediately starts doing awesome stuff. The first thing she does is halt the reckoning by shrinking all the meteors down. Needless to say, this is all super badass.
When Jade pilots the ship and shrinks down Skaia, we finally get to see how she is able to take all the planets with her where she goes. It sounded completely impossible, but once Jade ascends, she follows the instructions to the letter. Not just her denizen’s instructions, but also Doc Scratch’s, which, amazingly enough, are actually followed through with successfully.
Carrying WV’s body, PM notices the ring and takes it, soon to put it on. This means that Jade and her exile both ascend to a super-powerful form in Cascade, gaining the powers of a first guardian. Though player-exile parallels aren’t as common as things like human-troll parallels, they’re certainly there to an extent. It’s kind of like how both AR and Dave are capable of surprising moments where they save their friends.
Before shrinking the other four planets, Jade takes John with her. While seeing John easily destroy an army of first guardian underlings is impressive in its own right, there’s just something about him being shown alongside god tier Jade that shows how incredible and mighty she has become.
Jade takes the kids’ planets one by one, in reverse order by when their players were introduced. This reverse order is likely symbolic of how everything is being undone as the kids escape. Also, John simply watches her do that the whole time; we can only assume he is amazed at her god tier powers.
As Jade flies the battleship, we get a montage of all the major events that are happening in this flash, which is probably to emphasize how many important things are happening “at once”. PM putting on the ring in particular is spread across multiple scenes in the flash, and the moment she puts it on is shown for only a split second right before the Green Sun is created. It’s very difficult to catch that moment, but it’s easy to find with this storyboard, the same one I’m using for all these pictures.
Next is another Chekhov’s gun: the fourth wall Jade turned off a long time ago. Now, she takes it out of her sylladex, and expands it with space powers. This basically means that literally breaking the fourth wall is the only way for her and John to escape the session.
The fourth wall rewinds through the pages of Homestuck. If you look closely, you can see that it skips a lot of pages; it mostly rewinds through scenes focusing on John, skipping all pages focused on the trolls. More specifically, it rewinds through pages focusing on John, then pages focusing on Rose, then more focusing on John, and then to pages following Jade, skipping the pages where she learned about frog breeding. This rewind through parts of Act 5 Act 2 is yet another unexpected transition device: in this case, to Gamzee at the critical moment.
I already said stuff about this scene a long time ago, so I’ll just say it again here: “It’s later* revealed that Lil’ Cal was with Gamzee, so some think the most important character actually refers to Cal. However, this is probably another case of fans reading too much into things; Gamzee’s supposed status as the most important character is alluded to twice later (1, 2).” Now that I look at this picture again, I think the most important character could just as likely refer to either one, or maybe both at once. After all, Cal at this point contains Gamzee’s soul.
* i.e. right now
There it is, Doc Scratch’s final words, the words that conclude the third section of the animation. It’s put there because we’re about to see exactly why our heroes are suckers—an unconventional way to bring a story revelation to light that may not be apparent from the scene alone.
The final section of Cascade open with a surprise twist: instead of destroying it, Dave and Rose end up creating the Green Sun. A large portion of readers getting to Cascade don’t understand that, because it’s really kind of confusing. I’ve already discussed confusing scenes in flash animations a lot, and this is perhaps the best such example. Though it may be confusing now, later when we get back to the beta kids Jade explains exactly what happened in words. This may be seen as something of a substitute for a fourth recap.
The trolls watch what they think is the destruction of the Green Sun from far away, and point Sollux there so he can fly the trolls’ meteor. Come to think of it, the trolls don’t do much in Cascade. The flash is mainly about the beta kids, the four main characters of Homestuck, making it much unlike a fan video that emphasizes the trolls above all else.
However, Sollux, the troll who is infamous for being simultaneously important and unimportant, does by far the most in this flash. He pilots the meteor to the Green Sun, making him the reason why the trolls and kids were able to meet. He starts dying as he uses his powers really hard. This solves the mystery of his second death, which is even more of a foregone conclusion than his first one.
Next up, PM follows Jack into the trolls’ session. Unlike with Jack, we don’t see PM stepping on the transportalizer with WV’s corpse. While Jack’s entry to the trolls’ session is an answer to a question, PM’s is a surprise that we see from Jack’s perspective, so we can feel his shock.
Dave and Rose rise up out of the sun, ascended to god tier and looking like complete badasses. With those two, the wow factor is not what they do after ascending, but simply the way they ascend. Their outfits both look really fancy with the hoods up like that: Dave looks like a weird medieval superhero, and Rose looks like some kind of Egyptian prophet. That effect later wears down after they decide to wear the clothes without their hoods and start looking a little more like regular people. Their dual ascension answers the question of why Aradia said two humans will be joining the trolls.
The Derse dreamers meet up with Aradia and Sollux right outside the sun. Even though such a meeting has been touted to happen for a long time, this first non-dreaming encounter between humans and trolls is just so satisfying to see. Watching this little scene gave me a real big sense of satisfaction.
As shown above, PM brought WV’s body with her when she entered the trolls’ session, though she didn’t do the same with the other exiles. Her other friends probably would have been too much to carry, so she probably chose to bring WV because she knows he is meant to achieve great things and hopes he can be restored somehow. WV’s prophecies and all that are completely ignored for a very long time, until he finally once more does something relevant: he is given the task of destroying the queens’ rings, together with PM. This is one of the ending things that actually made me happy; I was really amazed to find out that WV will do something important for the first time in forever.
The fourth wall rewinds through the early acts now, with all the nonsense Jade did back in Act 3. This whole animation seems to have special emphasis on how far Jade has come, which is notable since Jade is infamous for not usually getting special emphasis. Same goes for Sollux actually. The lack of emphasis, not how far he has come.
The battleship blasts through the fourth wall just in time to escape the scratch, which is represented in an unusual way: by the ship blasting through a little before the symbolic rewind through the comic’s pages is finished.
Act 5 of Homestuck essentially concludes with the scratch’s completion, but shown in an unusual way, the same unusual way I discussed previously. It’s shown with the rewind finishing, and tattered curtains surrounded by fire closing in on the first page of the comic.
And that is, of course, exactly what the act’s curtains close in on.
All in all, Cascade is an animation with an impact no other has. It is dramatic in a way that keeps on going and going for so long that the impact just picks up steam throughout its course. Most other flashes are too short to have this effect, and only two of them are of comparable length. Collide is amazing in its own right, but in a completely different way from Cascade. Act 7 is a subject of discussion for another time, though it should be apparent by now that I’m not completely happy with it for a multitude of reasons. The second great thing about Cascade is that it answers so many plot questions and mysteries in surprising ways, so many that you may need to re-watch to catch all of them. It is the ultimate containment of the story’s plot twist-ridden nature.
Now to recap Act 5 Act 2:
NO FUCK THIS.
OK, I actually will do a recap of Act 5 Act 2. But it’ll be quick, without any of that tedious “this character does this, this, and this” nonsense.
Act 5 Act 2 is
my favorite 2018 EDIT: the objectively best part of Homestuck. It may be the only part that successfully combines every good aspect of the comic. It has a lot of humorous scenes, emotional scenes, ridiculous scenes, nightmarish scenes, a lot of video game satire, and most of all, a hell of a lot of crazy plot stuff. Crazy plot stuff is one of the two main reasons I like Homestuck; the other one is humor. The later portions, though they have their own sort of merit, don’t always live up to all these standards; the early acts, meanwhile, build up compelling aspects of the plot, and have even more silly humor, but don’t yet have the satisfying payoff that’s given throughout this sub-act.
See, that was short and sweet, without much review of what happens in the act. I might do the review stuff again to an extent in the comic’s later subdivisions, but this one is so long that it’s too much work to go over everything that happens, and even then, the later reviews won’t be nearly as long-winded.
Up next is Intermission 2, which is just a single flash. While the first intermission was a break from the main storyline, Intermission 2 is an intermission in a more literal sense: it can be considered an intermission between the first half and the second half of the comic. Some readers like to think of Act 6 as being like a sequel to Acts 1-5, especially those who don’t think Act 6 is very good. Intermission 2 falls between the first half and the “sequel”, making it a very fitting name, especially since Act 6 ended up a lot longer than Hussie planned it to be. He thought it would be shorter than Act 5, but it ended up as long as the first five acts combined.
The animation opens with firing yet another Chekhov’s gun: the virus Sollux found early in the trolls’ arc, with its purpose explained here. This is notable partly because it shows us that Intermission 2 resolves several plot points that weren’t addressed in Cascade, a flash focused mainly on the humans. Intermission 2 and Cascade perhaps could’ve been tied together, but it’s logical for Lord English’s reveal to get its own flash because he is so significant to the story.
Now comes a nightmarish scene: Lord English makes the strangest dramatic entrance possible, by coming out of Doc Scratch’s body. It’s a very unusual entrance, but that’s what makes it especially dramatic.
In my first read, I completely misinterpreted this whole scene as Doc Scratch turning into his gruesome second form, who I obviously didn’t know was Lord English because that was only ever stated in long walls of words I never read. I recall thinking of Lord English as Doc Scratch’s second form the next few times we saw him.
In a way, however, Doc Scratch actually is more or less replaced with Lord English, because following the transformation English appears several times but Scratch never does.
Lord English’s reveal is done in the style of a classic dramatic character reveal: by showing more and more parts of his body until we get a full view a little later. It’s a pretty common thing to do, but at the same time it really works here.
As the clock rapidly goes through time, presumably backwards, we get a reversed version of the piano melody that plays. As with all songs from the Felt album, the one used in this flash, titled English, makes use of reversed music, so all the songs may reveal the same song or a second one when reversed. It’s particularly appropriate here because of the Great Undoing that takes place throughout both of the big flashes covered in this post.
Just as the first intermission revealed its plot relevance right at the end, Intermission 2 takes a moment to connect to the kids’ storyline. This little scene with the fourth walls gives us a quick look at where John and Jade are now, and addresses the potential plot hole of how they’re going to go through the walls with the Cairo Overcoat in the way, by having Lord English teleport it away with his first guardian powers.
The final stage of Lord English’s transformation is Scratch’s cueball head breaking open to reveal his own. I think this whole thing is likely symbolic of Doc Scratch proving that he is indeed Lord English’s puppet or whatever. I would say this is Scratch proving himself as an “excellent host” but that’s kind of one of those things I’ve heard a lot other people say.
Amidst English’s dramatic body horror-ridden transformation, we get a little funny bit in the flash: the flash cuts to the shots of wolf head (AAAAAAHHHH SO SCARY!!!!!), which adds a bit of amusing faux horror to the animation’s load of real horror.
And there it is, Lord English in full view. Though English’s entrance is a foregone conclusion, the way it’s played out, and especially his appearance, is more of a surprise. If I had to guess, I’d say that few people expected Lord English to be a huge muscular skull monster.
This is yet another one of those scenes that is clearly meant to convey information through visuals but mostly just confuses readers. In this case, the scene is supposed to tell us that Lord English’s Cairo Overcoat can transform into a sarcophagus, which he uses to travel through time. Even if readers may not get just that, it’s still clear from earlier text that Lord English entered the trolls’ universe at its end and traveled back in time from there.
Finally, Lord English releases the Vast Honk—a loud honk followed by an even louder honk—which is the last plot point this intermission fulfills. The Vast Honk was mentioned several times as a mysterious event prophesized by Gamzee’s religion, and it turns out to be a Lord English thing. Since it’s way later revealed that Gamzee is part of Lord English, one could say it’s also a Gamzee thing.
Intermission 2’s curtains close in on a symbolic image. Just as Act 5 began with a picture of Alternia, Intermission 2, which one could say is the epilogue to Act 5, ends with Alternia surrounded by pool balls, showing that Lord English was behind the corrupted troll world the whole time.
See you next time as I finally start begin my journey through Act 6.