Act 6 Act 1, Part 1 of 4
Pages 4113-4121, 4163-4194 (MSPA: 6013-6021, 6063-6094)
NOTE: Tomorrow marks my two-year anniversary of first reading Homestuck. (actually I was wrong, I released this post exactly on the anniversary)
NOTE FOR THOSE READING THESE POSTS IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER: Warning you know, my early Act 6 posts are extremely rambly and weird, and I have no idea what I was talking about in them half the time. If you want to go to the part where the posts stop being absurdly rambly, then feel free to skip to part 80, a post that I released after going on hiatus for almost two years. Trust me, the posts are a lot better from there on.
Before I start Act 6, I’d like to talk about the alpha kids in general, just as I opened Act 5 by talking about the trolls.
Like the trolls, the alpha kids are a group of characters who didn’t exist from the start. However, unlike the trolls, they haven’t grown to become part of the comic’s premise. This may be because it takes quite a long time for them to be introduced and thus their existence is a major spoiler, or simply because the trolls have such a special appeal. When I was early in my first read of Homestuck, I accidentally found out early that there was a character named Jane, who I thought was some kind of fifth kid who shows up a lot later (which is half-true). I think this goes to show that the alpha kids are not as distinct and special as the trolls, especially when the beta kids have always been a group of four main characters. But despite that, the alpha kids are most certainly not simply a repeat of the beta kids. Even though they’re all young versions of existing characters (the guardians), they are still very much their own characters, since we only saw what the guardians are like from the kids’ often distorted perspectives. You can’t map each alpha kid to a beta kid without ignoring other major similarities between them; this second group of four kids is definitely its own group of characters, with a lot of new things about them that make their story a tale with a much more complex premise than the beta kids’ story. This brings me to the second part of my Act 6 introduction.
Act 6 starts off with the players of the kids’ post-scratch session. The Scratch was stated to reboot the conditions of the kids’ universe for a more ideal session. This applies not only to the story’s plot, but to its narrative as well. Act 6 Act 1 is not just Act 1 with a different set of main characters; it’s a remastered version of Act 1. While Act 1 starts off in a rather generic setting and builds up from there, Act 6 Act 1 immediately gives us a very colorful premise. In the scratched universe, Sburb is released by a company which clues already suggest is owned by an evil alien queen, rather than a seemingly generic mysterious technology company; Jane is the heiress to that company, and doesn’t know anything about what she’s getting into—not even whose company she will inherit—but we certainly do. There’s also a lot of other parts that refine what the beginning of the comic was like; I’ll go over them as I go. For now, you should know that the theme of remastering the beginning of the comic also applies to the post series, hence the title of this post. I will analyze Act 6 Act 1 the way I retrospectively wish I went over Act 1 when I started this big project.
Act 6 starts with a relaxing flash opening that gives me shivers every time I watch it, filled with vague teasers of the alpha kids’ universe. It’s one of my favorite flashes in the comic, along with Enter, Descend, Jade: Enter, Cascade, Caliborn: Enter, and Collide.
The very existence of Act 6’s opening says a lot about Act 6 Act 1’s role as a remastered version of Act 1. When asked on his Formspring about what he would change if he were to edit the beginning of the comic, Hussie said he would perhaps start it off with a cool Flash intro (although one could argue that would have problems of its own, like making the following pages seem even more dull than they already come off to many readers). Act 6 Act 1 starts off exactly that way, with an animated opening to a fresh beginning done right: it’s calm and not too flashy, meaning that it does not make the following pages seem more boring.
As we get a zoom-in from the universe to Jane’s home, we also get a brief teaser of our new protagonist, who is shown in full view later on. Jane’s first appearance is done quite differently from that of John, who is simply shown in his room on the very first page of Homestuck. This is another thing that’s refined in Act 6’s beginning: the protagonist is shown in a somewhat more showy way.
In the montage of the alpha kids’ homes and possessions, we get to see the items they landed with on the meteors: Dad’s hat, Grandpa’s guns, the mutant cat, and most importantly, a new version of Lil’ Cal. Cal’s appearance is noteworthy because at this point it’s not hard to guess the puppet is connected to Lord English, and this shows that English really is everywhere. Cal is also still in his dream outfit for some reason, which is an early hint at Dirk living in the future, and the puppet being empty as revealed in Caliborn’s Masterpiece.
Also in the montage, we see that Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff was made into a “moive” in the post-scratch universe. This brings me to another example of things being better off after the Scratch: the scratched versions of the beta kids are considerably more successful people than the old universe’s guardians. Jade’s grandpa is stated to be world-famous, but that is hardly ever actually demonstrated or talked about among the kids, and the others don’t seem to be of much fame. All four beta kids, however, grew to become legendary figures, and that is shown very strongly in the alpha kids’ storyline; SBaHJ the Moive lets us know very early on that Dave in this universe grew to do some incredible things.
Another thing this flash does, including in the picture above, is mislead readers from certain ideas. Roxy’s and Dirk’s homes are shown from the outside in the present, but from the inside in the future, making these pictures real in the scope of the comic’s universe, but misleading from the more depressing reality. Jake’s mostly destroyed home is not shown at all either.
The flash ends with a transition to a computer screen viewing the final scene, immediately followed by a teaser of a mystery character who appears to be a troll. This is yet another misleading thing that turns out to be completely different from what we’re led to believe. Early Act 6 is all about surprises and red herrings. It’s also all about setting up mysteries in a much more blatant way than the beginning of the comic.
A young lady stands in her bedroom… (again)
And now, we get a call back to the beginning of the comic, but with a couple of differences. First off, this time around it’s not the hero’s birthday, rather the launch date of the Sburb alpha, which is described as “a highly exclusive playtesting experience for a much anticipated game”. This special emphasis on the Sburb release, and more importantly, how exclusive it’s stated to be, makes it obvious that unlike the first time around, something is really up with Sburb. More on that when we learn more about Betty Crocker in Jane’s half of the selection screen, which I’ll cover next post.
Next, we attempt to enter her name, only for the girl to already have one: it’s Jane Crocker. Her last name worrisomely ties in with Betty Crocker, which is yet another example of a theme in the alpha universe: everything is considerably more meaningful of something, in a way that usually only makes sense in the comic’s context. Even our new hero’s name is ominous only for contextual reasons.
In response to the idea of changing Jane’s name, the narration says:
Luckily she is not the sort to hold a grudge, and she will let it slide this time. As long as you hurry up and get her big day started!
Unlike with John, the narration immediately gives Jane a personality; namely, an enthusiastic girl who has no idea what she’s getting into. This may be compared to video game terms as follows*: John’s story is (at first) like a video game with a generic hero, while Jane’s is like one with a defined hero.
* I’ve been comparing the narrative to video games a lot more in my Problem Sleuth posts, where half the commentary is just that, and the other half is comparing it to Homestuck. Now you could say I’m doing a bit of comparing Homestuck to Problem Sleuth, which I may start doing more of when I progress further through my Problem Sleuth post series.
Jane Crocker tends to get a lot of hate from fans for not having a good character arc. While she certainly hasn’t gotten any good resolution, she starts off poised for one hell of an arc of self-discovery. She is not only excited for a game released by a wicked alien sea witch, but she is the heiress to her company, and its number one fangirl, with Betty Crocker merchandise spread throughout her room, all without the knowledge of who really owns the company. At first, this arc is followed through with pretty well, with a lot of revelations gradually leading into her starting to feel terrible about a bunch of stuff. But her gaining direct control by the Condesce is the moment her arc kind of starts not being great. One could only think that if she is released from her control, she’d have an even bigger pile of stuff to feel awful about. But instead, after her evil mode comes to an end pretty much nothing is done with her arc, even though plenty still could be done. Where’s her grand reconciliation with Jake? Where’s her conversation with someone about how terribly she was brainwashed? Where’s her reunion with her father? Other characters eventually start taking her roles, with John getting the father reunion, Roxy stealing the role of the alpha kids’ protagonist, and Jake stealing the role of the one who feels terrible about stuff, which starts not being addressed with her at all after a certain point.
But for now, she is simply the “innocent good girl” protagonist. Her introduction makes it obvious she’s enthusiastic about stuff, and is a lot more elaborate than John’s. While John’s introduction gives us a short list of his interests, hers elaborates on many of them. Aside from the interests that are a part of her character, there’s a few oddities in her introduction. It’s mentioned that at one point she tried her hand at growing her plants, but her vegetables kept disappearing so she quit, which is one of those character interests that’s hardly brought up again. This one is probably here to set up a little plot point that’s resolved through the introduction of new cool technology. Also hardly brought up again is her supposed interest in contemplating “frightening fauna”, which as far as she knows is completely fake. Maybe it’s another hint at something that’ll be introduced a little later? Also, her introduction says she will waste no time getting to play the game she’s psyched about, which basically means she’ll waste a hell of a lot of time on such things as making an embarrassing mess of herself.
Jane’s first command is to retrieve her arms from the chest (a callback I recognized on my first read), which is not followed through with because we have to switch to Jake. This is another thing that’s different about this remastered version of Act 1: the ridiculous character commands aren’t quite as followed through with.
We immediately switch over to another one of our four new heroes, named Jake English. As before, the running gag of a joke name followed by a real name isn’t followed through with because he already has one. Also, his last name once again is very troubling: it’s the exact same as that of a demon we just got done seeing in full view, and it’s later made clear why that is.
Jake English is a character I see as a deconstruction of both John and Jade. His main character traits are sort of built off of John’s: he is completely sincere and honest about everything, but often tends to be thick-headed and does a ridiculously terrible job at understanding others. The first trait is pretty much exactly like John, but the second is a heavy exaggeration of something that only occasionally happens with John, something that may arise from what his character deconstructs about Jade: isolation from society. While Jade’s isolation from society only comes into play a few times, Jake’s plays a big part in his character. Oh, and he’s supposed to love adventure, but he eventually deconstructs that as a trait that’s only supposed to be true about him; this ties in with his character arc, which is another one many don’t like. He finally realized a bunch of stuff in the whole big post-trickster feelings jam, but once again there’s a specific moment his arc starts not being great; in this case, when evil Jane asking him to be his sex slave makes him start feeling even more terrible about stuff, making him in a sense the opposite of what’s made of Jane’s arc: an even bigger mess of feeling terrible about stuff, and that’s never really resolved. And no, pictures of him talking to Dirk are not character resolution. Oh shit I forgot to mention his trainwreck of a relationship with Dirk; pretend I mentioned that earlier among the things he feels bad about. It doesn’t really matter because there’s no way I’m not going to talk about that later.
As for his introduction, the first thing we learn is that he loves all movies. This is an exaggeration of John’s interest in movies, or as the narration says, really terrible movies. Although John has mentioned disliking certain movies, Jake likes literally all of them, apparently with no restrictions on what kind it is, though he does seem to gravitate towards action movies (and Weekend at Bernie’s). More on his interest in movies later. For now, there’s some other stuff of note in his introduction page. It talks about his pre-scratch self’s interest in exploring the whole world as something he’d hypothetically like to do, which references that despite being ridiculously clueless a lot of the time, he’s still a young version of Jade’s somewhat less clueless, somewhat more ridiculous grandfather, who I see as a version of Jake who got to live up to his page potential. Speaking of which, all the alpha kids’ introductions reference their god tier titles, something I noticed on my second read of the comic; these suspicious mentions of classes and aspects are more evidence of everything in Act 6 being more obviously loaded with meaning. His introduction also mentions his fear of frightening fauna, which are unfortunately very much real, which is basically the opposite of that odd little bit I mentioned when going over Jane’s introduction. I think this is meant partly to establish Jane and Jake as character foils, something that’s talked about in-comic some time later.
Jake’s inevitable “retrieve arms” command is averted in an even more unexpected way: by leading into a character selection screen where you can pick either Jane first or Jake first. As with the scrapbook scenes, this seems like a bit more experimental storytelling, giving the story multiple orders that are all just as logical. As promised a while back, I’ll start with Jake, even though I’m kind of tempted to start with Jane to keep discussing parallels to Act 1. But I must stick to my promise and do things the less common way.
Now for the character introduction sequences, I’ll skip over any pages I don’t have much to say about, much like I’m doing with my Problem Sleuth posts. All this similarity to Problem Sleuth brings to light how this whole section is a throwback to the comic’s early days.
2019 EDIT: Holy shit, I could have made the most obvious Regular Show joke possible and I didn’t do it!!! Shame on me, shame on me, shame on me. You know who else misses opportunities to make the most obvious jokes possible? MY MOM!
It’s your authentic TOMB RAIDER SEXY THIGHSTRAP DOUBLE HOLSTER, complete with cool skullbuckle and everything. You like to think you pull it off about as well as Croft herself.
One of the first things we see about Jake is that he thinks of things in terms of movies even more than John does. We’ll see a lot more of that later.
You like to think that, but in truth you look ridiculous. You think you probably need shorter shorts to make it work? Probably skin tight shorts too. As it is, the cuffs of your baggy shorts get kind of bunched up underneath the thighstraps, which is uncomfortable and makes you look like a tool.
I wonder if this bit is foreshadowing of Jake’s god tier outfit, with shorts that are so short and skin tight that it’s actually underwear. It’s also possibly foreshadowing of Dirk’s god tier outfit, which has similar poofy pants which he refers to multiple times as “poofy asshole pants”.
Note that the monsters on the bedsheets are in fact the trolls’ lusii.
The bedsheets were given to Jake by his late grandmother, and I wonder if their design has anything to do with how she was raised by the Condesce?
You think your bed is some sort of electronic gadget. You’re pretty sure those bedpost globes are supposed to glow like light bulbs under certain circumstances. But you’ve never been able to figure out what purpose it serves. Just more mysterious junk inherited from your eclectic GRANDMA.
I wonder if the light bulbs simply glow when Jake falls asleep, but he never figured that out because he’s always asleep whenever that happens.
So Jake apparently considers Smurfette close enough to be a blue lady?
Also, note the poster titled “The Time Traveling Demon”. It’s not a real movie. Come on, you know why it’s there.
This is your collection of beauties. But you don’t call them that to anyone but yourself in private, because somehow even you are aware of how dorky that sounds.
Previously, when Jade explored her house, she thought it was only a little strange that her grandpa is obsessed with blue ladies, who he refers to as “beauties”. Now, the story directly remarks how utterly ridiculous that is.
I remember when Avatar was all anyone ever talked about, but I’ve myself only seen parts of it. For a while I thought it was affiliated with the other Avatar, the one with airbending and all that shit.
This image calls back to John leaning to kiss his Liv Tyler poster, and it’s another example of the principle of callbacks in action. This image brings to mind that page with John from long ago, and Jake’s attraction to that blue space furry alien lady makes John’s obsession with Liv Tyler seem completely normal.
It’s worth taking note of the posters the narration doesn’t comment on as well. For example, on top there’s Little Monsters, one of John’s favorite movies. Despite Jake’s more bizarre interests, it’s still heartwarming to see the teams’ movie-loving dorks have common favorites.
Anyway, here are some other great movies. Weekend at Bernies? Classic. You really think John would like this movie, if the things you have heard about him are true. Guys in cahoots make the silly corpse of Bernie Lomax do zany puppet antics so their schemes can succeed, guffaws aplenty, as you have tried to tell Jade before practically verbatim. She doesn’t much care for great movies like that, but that’s alright. You love her anyway and you think she’s a blast. She says you sound just like John when you say stuff like that though, and that the two of you would get along famously. You can’t wait to meet him.
This is one of the few times I’ll give my opinion on works of media described in the comic. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I saw most of Weekend at Bernie’s during a livestream of movies referenced in the comic, and I really enjoyed it. It does a good job of being ridiculous and funny without coming off as cheesy, probably because all the absurd humor in trying to pretend a dead guy is alive overwhelms any unfunny nonsense.
The part about sounding like John when he talks about his favorite movies sort of implies that Jake doesn’t find it weird that John, to his knowledge from the early 20th century, supposedly loves movies of this sort, which probably didn’t exist in the era of old-timey silent films? I have no idea.
Also there are some Cage flicks there. But who doesn’t love a good Cage flick? Nobody is who. Dang, you would kill to get your hands on some authentic Cage movie memorabilia. But that’ll probably have to remain a crazy dream.
It seems like Jake is also a fan of Nic Cage, just like John. This is another example of Jake and John having specific interests in common. When you consider Jake’s interest in action movies and Jane’s interest in comedy, you could say that John inherits interests in media from both of them. Just as Jake is a fan of Nic Cage, John’s more classic comedic tastes would probably be more up Jane’s alley.
Speaking of John, this is his birthday present. It is the project that has been taking up all your time lately. And today is the deadline to finish it! You have to send it to Jade so that she has time to ship it to him across the Pacific ocean.
The part about the Pacific Ocean is kind of weird when you consider that post-scratch John and Jade were raised together and thus the birthday present shouldn’t have to be shipped this far. Unless actual old lady Jade at this point already ran off and left John behind? I have no idea how any of this makes sense. Did adult Jade live somewhere in Asia for a few years as a teenager? That would be completely ridiculous but it’s not like any other explanations for why Jake believes that would make much sense.
The TRANSMATERIALIZER you have been using to ship it back and forth is wired to sync up your flow of time with hers, so it’s not like you can just take forever with it, and send to the exact time she needs it – you’ve thought of that! And considering this bunny is PROBABLY going back to the early 20th century, when she and John were around your age, you figure the mail was extra slow back then, so there is not a moment to spare. Whew, time stuff is pretty complicated! But you are FAIRLY sure you’ve got this figured out.
There’s special emphasis here on Jake being mostly certain he understands everything about time travel. I think this is to make it obvious that this is all not actually true; we in fact already saw what really happened with the bunny, let alone what time period John and Jade really live in.
Sure is gonna be a sweet gift. Reminds you a lot of the old ratty bunny you inherited from your GRANDMA, who of course is exactly who you are collaborating with to make this thing. Time loops make you feel a bit fuzzy in the head, but you’ve always suspected it could very well be the same bunny. At some point in the early 20th century, Jade gave this robo-rabbit to John, and then later it must have been wound up back with Jade… somehow? Then she… uh… removed all the robot parts, hung on to it until she was an old woman, and gave it to you?
Strangely enough, this time around Jake’s wrong about the two bunnies being the same. They’re only the same in the sense that Dave and Davesprite are the same, which is to say they are duplicates of the same bunny, but one won’t go back in time and become the other.
You guess crazier things have happened. Like the way this whole project started in the first place. Jade tells you this little rabbit here, or Terry Kiser as you like to call him, will save John’s life! He will be sitting there on some sort of chess board battlefield, in yellow pajamas, reading a letter, when POW! Kiser to the rescue. So you are taking this responsibility very seriously. You have been for years already.
Is Jake assuming chess board battlefields existed in the early 20th century? Or is he just not really thinking about all this hard enough?
In fact, this project gave you a neat idea for what to do for Jane’s 13th birthday a couple years ago. You and your other pals all coordinated gifts, each sending a customized rabbit. Lalonde happened to have another bunny heirloom like yours, and Strider… well, Strider was resourceful as usual.
Obviously enough, this described event of Jane getting three rabbits for her birthday is a parallel to John also getting three rabbits for his birthday. But there’s a major difference: in Jane’s case, the three rabbits are not actually the same one.
There’s just one problem! Mr. Kiser here cannot be completed and tested today without a source of power! You will need a little chunk of URANIUM to power the robot, and you are fresh out of the stuff. You have been plundering all of your devices for uranium to refuel the TRANSMATERIALIZER, which requires huge amounts of power any time it sendificates or appearifies the package from the past. Seems to you like excessive energy consumption for just a simple time machine, but what do you know? Unless it’s doing something besides shipping it across time. You couldn’t imagine what, though.
Why exactly does Jake think it’s strange that time machines are powered like that? The time machine car in Back to the Future works pretty much the same way, and it’s powered by plutonium which is way more radioactive than uranium; since it’s from a movie you’d expect him to think of it in such terms. Come to think of it, is the whole thing of radiation-powered time travel a homage to Back to the Future? It probably is.
You really should have remembered to ask Jade for some uranium in your last letter to her. Now you’re in a fix. You even yanked the uranium out of your COOKALIZER and REFRIGERATOR. You haven’t had a decent meal in weeks! Just a lot of canned food from the ruins.
I should’ve mentioned this sooner, but Jake’s life is portrayed as a lot less magical and wondrous than Jade’s. It seems to be a deconstruction of how Jade lives in the middle of nowhere, and portrays the idea of having nothing but supplies inherited from his late grandmother in a considerably more realistic light. It’s also really weird that Jade had access to uranium but not Jake. Presumably her dog Bec regularly stole uranium with magic teleportation powers for her. There’s another thing about Jake’s home life: it’s very different from Jade’s, but the only real major difference is that he doesn’t have a magical dog to watch over him.
As much as it troubles your pride to admit, this project wouldn’t be possible without help from your other two technologically savvy friends.
The reveal that Roxy and Dirk assisted in this project means that the robot bunny made for John is even more of a collaboration than we already thought it was. Not only did all three of his friends play a part in its existence, three of the alpha kids did as well, along with Calliope. Think about that for a second: John’s future love interest helped make his super robot birthday bunny.
And you are slowly coming to the regrettable conclusion that you will not be able to solve this uranium dilemma without asking for Strider’s assistance. He’s your best bro and all, but the dude never makes anything easy.
This line basically sets up a subplot of Jake trying to get uranium to finish the bunny project. More on that later, when we start seeing that he and Dave have things in common due to complicated relationships with versions of Dirk.
Jake puts the bunny in his fetch modus, which is a lot more convenient than the beta kids’ ridiculous fetch modi. This is yet another thing that’s refined in Act 6; more on that when we get to Jane’s ridiculously convenient recipe modus. Oh, and there’s a big thing clogging up his sylladex but I don’t feel about talking about it just yet because it’s just another Chekhov’s gun.
On your worktable there are a few comic books starring your favorite heroine of all, SPIDER-GIRL. You don’t know what it is, but there’s something about a girl who has spidery powers and a sassy attitude that is just so cool to you. It’s just another quirky fact about you that definitely doesn’t have any greater significance, and never will.
Any reader with half a brain would see this as blatant Vriska foreshadowing. But in the subversive manner typical of Problem Sleuth, it’s actually foreshadowing of Aranea, the so-called “other Vriska”.
Note Jake’s placronym on the pile of guns, and how it bounces a bit.
Here we get a small bit of sylladex mishaps. It’s not as big as all the nonsense from the early acts but it’s definitely a bit of a throwback.
On his laptop computer, Jake talks to Calliope in Act 6’s first pesterlog for readers starting with Jake instead of Jane. It’s considerably longer than the comic’s first pesterlog—over three times longer, in fact. I think this says a lot about Act 6’s beginning as a remastered version of Act 1. While Act 1 began with rather short pesterlogs that ease readers into the long rambly exposition dumps of later acts, Act 6 kicks off with lengthy conversations right off the bat. Dave’s, Rose’s, and Jade’s first pesterlogs are all rather unremarkable, but as for the alpha kids, and even the trolls for that matter, their first pesterlogs all establish a lot of stuff about their characters. I like to think characters in Homestuck typically have two introductions: their first pesterlog and their introduction page. This is true regardless of whether a character’s introduction or first pesterlog happens first.
UU: hello there, darling. ~3u
GT: Ahoy madame!
For the sake of this post series, Calliope’s first line is a friendly greeting followed by a weird Japanese emoticon. It’s directly remarked later on how she pretends to be British for some reason, but I think she may have a bit of Japan mixed into her fake alien nationality as well.
UU: i dont relish troUbling yoU with more arm twisting.
UU: im sUre for all ive done so far yoUve had a jolly good workoUt already :u
This line reveals that Calliope is the person implicitly mentioned in Jake’s letter as the one who got him starting the project through a callback that is probably moderately difficult to recognize. The callback is to Jake’s letter when he talked about arm twisting and having his arm twisted to get the bunny project going. I’ll say more about Calliope’s role in the story when I get to her first conversation with Jane because if I recall that one doesn’t have as much plot stuff.
Also, here’s a bit of early installment weirdness: in her early pesterlogs, Calliope uses less punctuation than she does later on.
GT: Terry needs fuel and i dont have any left. I think im at striders dubious mercy for a solution YET AGAIN.
GT: I will have to ask him for help. And soon.
UU: well there yoU go, love! better hop to it.
GT: Yes i will.
GT: But also…
GT: Theres the matter of the rabbits armaments.
GT: I dont imagine hell do a lot of friggin good in helping grandfather crocker from kicking the old bucket without them.
GT: Did you not say youd supply these?
UU: i did indeed say so!
UU: and have already done.
GT: You did??
UU: in yoUr fUtUre.
UU: i relayed the information enabling yoU to create the powerfUl weaponry yoUrself.
UU: and yoU did!
UU: yoU then sent them back in time. yoU may recover them in the rUins, which conveniently is where yoU mUst go to ship the package once and for all.
Ridiculous time shit is back in action. I’m fairly certain Calliope is talking about the message Jake got after he woke up from the dream where he met a bunch of trolls.
GT: That is what im doing right? Giving it to my grandma when she was a kid growing up on the same island i did?
UU: that is somewhat close to the trUth, and i can see how yoU woUld draw that conclUsion.
UU: bUt theres more to it yoU dont Understand yet! yoU will sort it all oUt in time.
GT: These are among the dadblasted causal spoilers you refuse to dish out?
UU: it woUldnt hUrt yoU mUch to know the trUth, i imagine.
UU: its jUst the trUth is a wee bit complicated.
UU: perhaps a draft of the cascading seqUence from which yoUr reality has arisen will pUt yoUr mind at ease.
Calliope’s lines are filled with foreshadowing and continuity nods. One that readers will likely recognize is that she refers to the events leading to the B2 universe’s existence as a “cascading sequence”, referencing the name of Act 5’s concluding flash.
UU: imagine two Universes, A and B.
UU: now imagine there are two instances of each Universe, A1 and A2 and B1 and B2.
UU: the first instance of each is like a test rUn, that does not qUite sUcceed.
UU: the second instance thoUgh will meet all of its pUrposes!
UU: now consider that A1 begets A2.
UU: A2 begets B1.
UU: and B1 begets B2.
This is the introduction of a nice clean way to denote the universes relevant to the comic. It’s the kind of thing that fans may come up with, which makes sense because Calliope’s entire character is a parody of Homestuck’s fanbase.
UU: and the participants of B2 are the ones who will make an effort to exit all this tUrbUlence and falderal.
UU: yoU are one of them! :U
Calliope says the kids will make an effort to exit all the crazy stuff going on. Since she only says they will make an effort to do so, is this meant as sneaky wording that implies they won’t actually succeed? The current ending of the comic makes that very ambiguous, which perhaps fulfills the sneaky wording but that doesn’t make the ambiguity any less frustrating. Dammit I got off track into ending salt discussion, which I’ve decided to start trying to avoid falling into unless it’s particularly relevant. Back to the actual commentary.
GT: So you are still in contention that i will meet our elders as youths?
UU: oh yes! ^u^
GT: Ah ha! Then i WILL be traveling through time. I knew it.
GT: Or… they will be. Whichever it is.
GT: Which is it, btw?
UU: caUsal spoilers, sir english!
The beta kids had the misconception that in the scratched session, they’ll meet alternate versions of themselves. Now, the alpha kids have a very different misconception: some of them believe that they would directly meet their ancestors, rather than alternate young versions who themselves play the game.
GT: I remember you mentioned your race doesnt really jive with ours familially speaking?
UU: correct. i never knew those who one woUld identify as my parental eqUivalents. U_U
UU: it is in the way my race propagates. oUr ancestors precede Us by millenia.
As with Doc Scratch’s lies of omission, what Calliope says about her race is a lot of fun to read in retrospect know she’s not a troll, but a cherub.
GT: When do i get to learn your name by the way?
UU: hm trUthfUlly?
UU: it may be for the best that yoU never know it.
UU: it coUld stir Up some things best left in their present eqUilibriUm.
The weird thing is, Calliope’s name is never actually successfully used to swap cherubs’ places or whatever; neither is Caliborn’s, despite many readers speculating his name would be uttered leading to chaos. The whole “say a cherub’s name” thing is a weird fake Chekhov’s gun which I have no idea if it was forgotten or what.
After Calliope decides to leave Jake to his own devices, she gives one last bit of cryptic stuff:
GT: Just please tell me in the least causally spoilery way possible…
GT: What are we even trying to accomplish here? What is even the rootin tootin POINT of this game?
UU: i think yoU will have more fUn than yoU can imagine finding oUt.
UU: bUt stated concisely, and short of spoilerly as yoU so charmingly pUt it,
UU: yoUr objective today is to pave the way for the arrival of gods.
uranianUmbra [UU] ceased cheering golgothasTerror [GT]
I should have mentioned this sooner, but there’s a thought that’s been in my head for a while now: Calliope is essentially the Jade of the alpha kids. Her last lines remind me of Jade’s similarly cryptic words of reassurance that concluded a conversation with Rose from a long time ago. One could see this as the legacy of Jade’s tendency to break patterns: among the alpha kids’ storyline, the one most similar to Jade isn’t one of the kids at all.
These were also inherited from your grandma. In addition to being quite the globe trotting adventuress, she was rather enterprising as well. Her company made many products like this, to compete with the corporation owned by the cruel baroness who raised her. Sadly, BCCorp eventually crushed her company and forced her into exile.
In the early acts, there were a lot of hints that the kids’ guardians are wrapped up in Skaianet, though the story always seemed to dance around explicitly stating that idea. Now, in this remastered version of the early acts, we get such a thing stated, with a backstory more explicit and blatantly meaningful than all the guardians’ implied machinations combined.
You have always hoped that when Jane takes over that foul conglomerate, she will right all of its unspeakable wrongs. You know she will! You believe in her, after all.
I kind of hope the epilogue addresses Jane’s role as the heiress to Betty Crocker, maybe with her turning the company away from its evil deeds or something like that.
Jake messages Dirk, and the conversation starts off with a ridiculously long opening I’m not going to quote which is basically the most tedious way possible way to say, “Hey.” “What’s up?” This is kind of causing me to understand why some people say Act 6’s dialogue is really rambly. I’m not going to do much Dirk character analysis because as is revealed soon after, this is actually his auto-responder, a character I’ll treat as separate from Dirk for the sake of this post series. The part of the conversation that actually matters starts as follows:
TT: You are out of uranium.
TT: It’s basically mathematically impossible that’s not why you’re contacting me.
Arguably this pesterlog, our supposed first impression of Dirk, would be better off with this as the start, with everything before it cut off. It would do a great job at establishing Dirk as seemingly impossibly all-knowing.
GT: Christ what an insufferable awesome friend you are.
GT: Ok can you please just sendificate me some more already?? Im in kind of a hurry!
TT: You do know my offer still stands.
TT: You know. I’ve offered to construct the rabbit for you many times before. I would craft a much deadlier model.
GT: Oh i know you would its just…
GT: Damn it man ive told you this is just something i have to do myself.
GT: Its a promise i made to jade and im going to live up to it even if im not the best or even second best robosmith i know!
TT: Yeah, I know this is your policy. You’ve done a good job and you should be proud.
TT: But it’s my responsibility as your friend to offer one last time.
TT: Just as it’s my responsibility not to just fork over a bunch of uranium just because you ask me in a moment of weakness.
GT: Why not???
TT: It’s too easy.
This is basically Dirk’s responder forcing the story to be a lot more complicated than it needs to be, all for the sake of trying to toughen Jake up and all that. This mirrors Dave’s treatment by his guardian who does all sorts of mysterious nightmare schemes. In both cases, a kid goes through a whole lot of nonsense thanks to not the true Dirk Strider, rather a splinter of him. It also makes the whole robot bunny subplot even more complicated than it already was, all just to save John’s life one time.
TT: I know that every ounce of your premium behind can be accounted for in that rabbit, and there’s no goddamned denying it.
TT: And you know perfectly well where some more uranium can be located.
GT: Jesus christmas you are such a fucking douche.
TT: It seems you think I am a fucking douche.
TT: That’s your opinion, I guess. That’s cool.
GT: I knew you were going to suggest this. I dont know why i bothered asking!
GT: Strider why must you always be such an obstinate stick in the mud???
TT: It seems that you consider me to be, no less than one hundred percent of the time, an obstinate stick in the mud.
TT: I unironically respect your position on this matter. Hey, let’s continue to exchange ideas.
GT: “It seems”??
GT: Oh for fucks sake.
TT: Is something the matter, Jake?
GT: This is your auto responder.
And so, Dirk’s first impression conversation is actually just his auto-responder. I think this mirrors how Dave’s bro was always described as mysterious and elusive. Though Dave later talks about how he no longer sees his guardian that way, I think he still can be touted as mysterious because it’s a mystery whether or not Bro cared about Dave.
This image above gives something of a vague teaser of what Dirk is like: there’s some robot parts in his bathroom, giving an early hint at one of Dirk’s most prominent interests, one that’s a lot more prominent with him than with his pre-scratched self.
TT: Look at that statement you just made.
TT: It’s time for me to respond with some words, ideally chosen and arranged in a way that will wreck your shit, in a subtle and psychologically devastating way.
GT: Har har har!
GT: Just soooo “*irooooonic*!!!” Quotes quotes quotes.
GT: Im laughing my caboose STRAIGHT OFF THE TRACKS! A lot of families just died in the tragic derailment.
Ironically (har har), Jake is being a lot funnier than Dirk’s responder, who is clearly supposed to be the one who makes witty remarks, by talking about how unfunny the responder is being.
The conversation then deteriorates into a ridiculous argument why the auto-responder is the way he is, where the responder stays deadpan and smug and Jake is understandably frustrated. Basically, this means that the only meaningful thing we get is Dirk’s responder refusing to tell Jake about it. Their exchange ends with the responder questioning whether he’s really that different from Dirk:
GT: I cant stand this. Every time we do this and i just wind up whistling sweet dixie out of my bum hole!
GT: This is pointless im not having this conversation unless its with my REAL LIFE FRIEND. THE ONE WITH HUMAN FEELINGS WHO ISNT A PRETEND PERSON INSIDE SUNGLASSES.
TT: Ok, but I’m pretty sure he’s going to share my position on the matter.
Jake never ends up talking to the real Dirk about this stuff, but I’m pretty sure the two versions of Dirk discuss the whole thing with Jake later on. Jake seems to think Dirk will be far more helpful than his responder, but what he doesn’t understand is that Dirk’s responder only amplifies his own annoying traits, which is kind of the thing with him.
He’s just so infuriating sometimes! Or at least his responder is. Ok, the real Strider is too.
There’s barely any difference between them anyway. The responder just uses a few more generic response templates. And even those you suspect the AI is savvy enough to use on purpose for the sake of irony, or to get a rise out of you or whatever. That silicon bastard knows damn well what it’s doing.
The narration basically says what I just said. It’s later stated that Dirk deliberately made his responder give those stereotypical responses, so one could say that Dirk’s ironic schemes are why Jake sees his responder as so frustrating to talk to.
GT: Forgive my botherations. I know this is meant to be a spanking ripsnorter of a day for you and all.
GT: But do you happen to know where the devilfucking dickens mr strider might be?
GG: Oh, that’s fine!
GG: I had been meaning to message you sooner actually, but I suppose in all the hubbub today, it plumb slipped my mind.
GG: Which is a shocking fact on its lonesome, considering what I have to tell you!
Oh my fucking god, every conversation from here on out is going to start with this tedious pointless greeting nonsense, isn’t it.
GT: I really need to ask him something but hes got his blasted auto responder turned on.
GG: Hoo hoo.
GG: I love that thing. :B
GT: He wouldnt be pleased to hear you say that.
See, Jane knows better than to get stuck in the same infinite loop of ridiculous auto-responder mind games, probably because she’s slightly less dumb than Jake. But only slightly.
GT: Today is the day i have to finish it and send it. Not a day later!
GT: So you see why i am feeling really friggin discombobulated at the moment.
GG: Sorry, J. 😦
GG: This would be the birthday present… for your grandmother?
GT: It is for your grandfather simply to be *relayed* to him by my grandmother. A joint gift to him from she and i.
GG: Her and me.
GT: What? Who and you now?
GG: “A joint gift from her and me.” Grammar, Jake!
Apparently Jane likes to correct people’s grammar? That’s a random character trait that’s just kind of there. Probably to establish her further as a “good girl” or something? Or maybe as an implicit way for the author to brag about his grammar.
GT: Look jane i know youve never believed me and you think everything i say is some big cockamamie goofoff but i think today of all days is when you should start taking some things more seriously.
GT: Especially since i have always had your back. I have always believed in you!
GG: Hey! I have believed in you too.
GG: However, believing somebody isn’t the same thing as believing IN somebody.
GG: But that much said…
GG: I think that maybe I am getting ready to believe some of the wild stories I’ve heard?
GG: Or, if not believe outright, reserve judgment on, at least.
Parts of this conversation, like the bit above, show us that Jane has been getting up to some stuff offscreen; a similar effect is achieved when you first read this conversation from Jane’s point of view, when Jake talked about trying to get in contact with Dirk.
GT: Is that so!
GG: I don’t know!
GG: I’m still not sure what to think. But what I wanted to tell you this morning was…
GG: I had a really wild dream last night.
GG: And you were in it.
GT: Oh my. *glasses fog up. fumbles for kerchief.*
GG: Sh! Not like that.
GG: It was so real! I think we were in the game, even though we haven’t started playing yet.
GG: I don’t know what to make of it. Whether it was a vision of the future, or somewhere that exists now, or if it was just a really lucid dream due to excitement.
GT: What was i doing there?
GG: Not a heck of a lot!
GG: I really want to tell you all about it, but it will take some time to explain, and we both have things to attend to.
Jane’s brief touch upon a dream she had starts up a bit of a mystery arc, another one that’s kind of there maybe? I don’t know, probably better to figure what’s up with that little arc when I cover Jane’s pages.
TT: Hey, it’s me.
GT: Oh hey!
TT: The auto-responder, I mean.
GT: What is it now?
This bit says all you need to know about Jake’s dynamic with Dirk vs. his responder.
TT: I’m just wondering,
TT: If you still have your stupid old-fangled knickers in a twist.
TT: Because that’s the sort of thing you would say.
GT: In regard to what exactly?
TT: To my proposal. Well, our proposal.
GT: Whose proposal now? Man what are you even prattling about.
TT: Mine and DS’s. It’s a joint proposal. I’m always authorized to speak on his behalf, because I’m basically fucking him.
TT: And try not to take those last four words as a clustered literal sentiment. That would be lame and unfunny.
Oh hell. First Jane talked about having a dream with Jake in it and immediately said it was not that kind of dream, and now Dirk’s responder talks about him and his real self giving a joint proposal to Jake. I see we’re getting vague hints of ridiculous relationship nonsense before it kicks into high gear some time later on. I think this high gear is already kicked into earlier on for readers who started with Jane (i.e. most readers), in Roxy’s introductory pesterlog, but it’s the same general idea.
GT: You mean making the rabbit for me?
TT: No, I know you don’t want that.
TT: I meant my recommendation for how to go about procuring a new supply of uranium.
TT: Operation U-235 Brocurement. Codename: Big Man Hass the Rock.
GT: Oh yeah.
GT: Well ive thought about it.
GT: Even went downstairs to check the great vaulty doodad.
GT: And predictably the infernal contraption is nowhere to be found.
TT: Well yeah, Jake.
TT: That’s sort of the point.
TT: Thrill of the hunt and all.
TT: I thought you liked to manicure the image of a dude who shits his pants over a good adventure.
GT: I do!
GT: I mean i wouldnt put it in a way like that or come out against a solid policy of clean trousers. But yes adventure is awesome.
GT: I just prefer the idea of adventures which i can actually win.
Here’s the thing of Jake being supposed to like adventure again. But his idea is completely different from Dirk’s, going by what his responder says. This may be a hint at Dirk and Jake not really understanding each other, just like how it’s suggested that Dave and his bro might not have really known each other well.
TT: It seems there is a 76.10395784% chance you are pussying out on me. Are you pussying out on me, Jake?
GT: It seems it seems it seems!!!
GT: It seems there is a million percent chance that you say it seems way too much and do it just to sound more like a lame robot from a movie and also probably just to piss me off!
GT: And it seems there is a BILLION POINT BILLION percent chance that youre a shitty stubborn jerk of a program who wont listen to reason and that if theres even a 1% chance my REAL LIFE FRIEND would be cool and help me out here then i think i LIKE THOSE FREAKIN ODDS!!!!!
This is the principle of every conversation between two people going the exact same way; here, Jake goes on a rant about how annoying Dirk’s responder is. The narration just directly remarked that the responder is really just Dirk with automated messages, but apparently they’re that annoying to Jake.
GT: Oh malarkey.
GT: YOU ARE A TIN CAN. ROBOTS DONT HAVE FEELINGS.
TT: I think you knowingly confuse the field of robotics and artificial intelligence to engender some sort of cavalier attitude about technology that a rough-and-tumble guy who’s all about brawling and fisticuffs would probably have, and if this is cultivated to a humorous effect then I commend you.
TT: But you’re wrong.
TT: I do have feelings. And you’re shitting on them.
TT: It sucks.
GT: Im sorry then if thats the case.
TT: No problem.
GT: It can just be difficult to drum up sympathy for a program that presents itself as an impostor so often.
GT: Maybe if you werent so ready to insist you were the genuine article all the time? Or didnt make it so confusing for me…
GT: I think it would be best if we henceforth treated you as a totally distinct… uh… THING from my buddy.
So basically, we’re only in the second conversation with Dirk’s auto-responder and his role as someone who takes over for Dirk when he’s not available is already thrown out the window. I see this as sort of a deconstruction of the whole concept of an auto-responder, which may or may not be a thing that often exists in stories.
This reminds me of a rather strange pattern going on with the alpha kids in early Act 6. The day they start up Sburb, they all start on friendly terms, in a sort of “blank-slate” state. But all on that day, Dirk’s responder starts wanting to be his own guy, Jane starts believing the crazy things her friends tell her, and many of the friendships start getting destroyed due to relationship drama horseshit. Though it’s easy to explain why all that is the case—Jane’s dream self waking up, for one—it’s still a rather odd pattern.
Is that robot leaning in to take a piss or something?
Come to think of it, Dirk’s robots probably are able to use the bathroom somehow.
GT: But seriously that brobot has been the bane of my existence ever since you sent it.
TT: I didn’t send it. I sent the parts.
TT: Or, correction, DS sent them.
TT: You then assembled it. You were therefore complicit in your own spectacular, daily humiliations.
GT: Yeah whatever.
TT: You wanted somebody to wrestle with. DS was being a kickass bro if you ask me.
GT: I didn’t expect it to be nigh impossible to spar with!!!
So basically, Dirk’s response to Jake wanting to wrestle with someone is to build him a nightmare robot who beats him up regularly? I’m not sure whether the fact that his responder is saying all these things colors the viewpoint differently from how it would be if Dirk himself says it. I guess I’ll see for myself when we get to hear from the real Dirk.
TT: You know damn well there are adjustable difficulty settings.
TT: I have always recommending setting it to Novice, as has DS.
GT: I know.
GT: Ive tried that.
GT: Its just…
GT: When hes pulling punches…
GT: And taking it all easy and such…
GT: And we start wrestling up a storm and whatnot…
GT: Its just that the whole proceeding seems to become…
GT: A bit tender for my liking.
TT: I don’t understand.
TT: Isn’t that what you want from a Novice setting?
TT: Sparring with minimal discomfort?
GT: No i know.
GT: Its all fine and dandy martially speaking.
GT: Just the way he…
GT: Sort of…
GT: Man its so awkward trying to convey this just never mind.
It seems that Jake is having a hard time trying to say that he doesn’t like things about Dirk. This is yet another parallel with Dave’s relationship with his bro; Dave, too, for quite a while insisted that he thought puppets were cool and all that.
TT: Seriously, what does this simple, loyal brobot have to do to prove his worth to you?
TT: What does he have to do to make you at ease with the alkaline sting of his gentle robogrope? I really want to know.
TT: Maybe he should just rip his heart out of his chest and pound it into green gravel there in the jungle with his hella strong robot arm.
TT: Invoke_Onomatopoeia(Pound * some ridiculously precise value retrieved at astonishing speed from my rad neural net);
TT: Check it out, little green rocks all over the goddamn place. More than you could ever hope to cram in a shoddy metal rabbit, or any other pliable orifice which might be convenient.
TT: Because clearly its up to a soulless droid to feel emotions for the both of us, you callous, corporeal carbon ape, all trotting around with your fancy fuckin’ DNA and shit.
This is a callback to Vriska ranting to Aradia about how infuriating it is that she doesn’t feel things. However, it’s somewhat inverted: Jake is the one infuriated by a robot, but the robot is the one giving the heart-ripping foreshadowing rant. It basically tells us that the robot is going to rip its heart out of its chest, which may be why when that happens some time later it’s only in the background of a horrendously awkward conversation; it’s something that we essentially knew would happen.
TT: You know what, I’ve just decided.
TT: If the brobot’s Novice setting makes you uneasy, I’m going to disable it remotely.
TT: Now you got nothing to worry about.
GT: Awww maaaan!
GT: But now hell be impossible!
TT: Happy hunting, Jake.
GT: SHUCKS buster. 😦
As if it wasn’t bad enough for Dirk’s responder to already say no to doing the uranium thing the easy way. I never realized that this guy is kind of an ass.
Jake prepares to leave his house, armed with his guns. As with Dave, it seems that he’s now angered by a version of Dirk doing some mean things, and now prepares for a nightmare battle. Jake leaving the house transitions us back to the selection screen, which is exactly where I wanted to stop. See you next time as I go over Jane’s section of the character selection screen.