Act 6 Intermission 1, Part 2 of 2
Pages 4346-4390 (MSPA: 6246-6290)
alternate post title: Don’t Turn Your Back on the Juggalo
As promised, I’ll go right ahead and discuss the thing of kids and trolls meeting.
The very notion of all these characters here meeting in person marks a transition in the beta kids’ storyline, one that applies to John and Jade as well. After leveling up and earning Gift of Gab, all four beta kids no longer receive commands and are only occasionally playable or narrated. This is because in the whole first half of Act 6, the beta kids’ sections are not so much about getting through the game as they are about checking up on their new daily life in the three-year intermezzo between the old and new sessions, often with discussions of plot stuff to keep the story interesting.
I have mixed feelings regarding this narrative transition. After arrival in the new session, I think it would have been ideal for the kids and trolls’ story to return to being more like getting through a video game, but Act 6 Act 6, the subdivision where that stuff happens, ended up being kind of a mess instead. Not counting Caliborn’s narration interludes, it starts off with everyone really confused about what’s going on, and instead of having the characters work through it all, things get even more messed up to the point of the survivors having to fix the whole timeline. And after that happens, the versions of the kids who do get all the stuff done are from a different timeline (with only a few exceptions), different from the ones we followed for all of Act 6, while the original versions are shafted off to irrelevance. Even disregarding that disparity, a lot of stuff in the retconned session is glossed over (things like planet quests and denizen meetings), and at times it seems just too orderly. I think all this is a result of the story trying too hard to get through events in an even more convoluted way than previously, to the point of destroying certain major story points.
But just for the sake of things, I’ll comment on this whole kid/troll meeting sequence for what it is, without acknowledging that the retcon is a thing. As I’ve done in the past, this lack of retcon discussion will be a self-challenge of sorts, something I’ll see how easily I can stick to.
Alright, let’s begin.
ARADIA: you see??
ARADIA: i told you they would bring your body
This scene opens in an even better way than the opening battleship scene: with ridiculous dead body shenanigans. It’s so hilarious that it’s not even funny in a dark way.
SOLLUX: ok, well i believed y0u about that, but yeah, i can see that.
SOLLUX: eugh, can s0meone get rid 0f that thing please?
ARADIA: sollux lets do it!
ARADIA: the corpse party!
ARADIA: theres no better time and there are so many corpses here to work with
ARADIA: is everybody ok with that? do you want to have a big corpse party?
ARADIA: we can incinerate the remains in the sun it will be just glorious
My zodiac sign means I’m affiliated with a troll who’s borderline psychotic with this bizarre enthusiasm about death and funerals. But all things considered, I can’t really say I hate that given that I’m not stuck with someone like Eridan.
ROSE: Corpse party?
ARADIA: can you please explain to my friends what a human funeral is like?
ROSE: Of course.
ROSE: I would describe it as an occasion marked by a great deal of jubilation at the expense of one or more well dressed cadavers.
DAVE: hahaha oh god
ARADIA: i couldnt have put it better myself
ARADIA: could you go into more detail?
ROSE: Well, in my experience, a loved one, typically an elder, arranges to have the departed placed in a small box, and then forces you to stand in the rain all day.
ROSE: Then, presumably winded by all the deeply ironic catharsis, she gets drunk and passes out on the couch.
Here, Rose is doing two regularly done humorous things at once: portraying once legitimately sad events in a humorous light, and going along with a troll’s weird bullshit in a playfully ironic way.
SOLLUX: aradia, FUCK.
SOLLUX: will y0u co0l it on the c0rpse party shit for a minute?
ARADIA: whats the matter?
SOLLUX: i mean, everyb0dy here has just met, and i guess just went through a l0t of really heavy bullshit, d0 you think that maybe this isn’t the best thing t0 harp on right n0w?
ARADIA: i just thought it would be a nice thing to bond over
SOLLUX: not everyb0dy is as into death as y0u though. like, it’s c0ol t0 see you s0 excited about s0mething, i’m seriously thrilled ab0ut that.
SOLLUX: but frankly it’s all pretty fucking morbid t0 everybody, i just th0ught you sh0uld know.
While Rose went along with Aradia’s funeral stuff, Sollux is being, well, Sollux about it, which is to say calling her out on being creepy. As I’ve said before, that guy makes a pretty good straight man in situations like this.
ARADIA: am i really that bad?
TEREZI: Y3S >:|
ARADIA: i guess ive spent enough time here that i just dont see death as the terrible thing the living make it out to be
ARADIA: i honestly feel like its a reason to celebrate!
I think Aradia’s interest in death is an after effect of spending years as pretty much a force of predestination. She was so far removed from having normal opinions on morbid things that when she’s alive again, those apathetic opinions transform into unbearably positive opinions.
TEREZI: TH4TS OK 4R4D14, NO ON3S BL4M1NG YOU
TEREZI: 1 4CTU4LLY TH1NK YOUR WHOL3 D34TH F4NG1RL TH1NG 1S FUNNY 4ND K1ND OF CH4RM1NG >:]
ARADIA: death fan girl thing?
ARADIA: what do you mean
TEREZI: OH COM3 ON
TEREZI: YOU 4R3 PR4CT1C4LLY B3S1D3 YOURS3LF W1TH G1DD1N3SS 4T TH3 1D34 OF S3RV1NG 4S TH3 M41TR3 D TO 4LL DR34M BUBBL3S
TEREZI: YOU LOV3 B31NG TH3 C4R3T4K3R OF W4YW4RD SOULS 4ND DR34M3RS!
TEREZI: LUCK1LY YOU M4K3 4N 4DOR4BL3 H4NDM41D TO TH3 M4ST3R OF D34TH, 3SP3C14LLY 1N YOUR CUT3 CH3RRY P1X13 3NS3MBL3
Aradia being weirdly not self-aware about her death fangirl thing is another side effect of having been a cosmic force of destiny. She seems to think it’s totally normal to be this excited about death, just as how the Sburb forces (this includes people like Doc Scratch) have no qualms with doing stuff that would normally qualify as horrendous.
TEREZI: OH, 4ND GUYS, JUST FOR TH3 S4K3 OF MULT1CULTUR4L CL4R1TY, W3 TROLLS TR34T D34TH 1TS3LF 4S 4 MYTHOLOG1C4L F1GUR3
TEREZI: H3 1S 4 M4N W1TH 4 FR1GHT3N1NG SKULL FOR 4 H34D 4ND 4 T3RR1BL3 HYPNOT1C GL4R3
TEREZI: 4LL TH3 L3G3NDS S4Y H3S GOT TH1S SUP3R FOXY H4NDM41D TO DO H1S D1RTYWORK
TEREZI: 1 M34N TH1S 1S 4LL F4NT4SY OF COURS3, BUT W3 C4NT R34LLY UND3RST4ND 34CH OTH3RS CULTUR3S UNL3SS W3 UND3RST4ND TH3 MYTHS B3H1ND TH3M!
The “fantasy” mythological figures Terezi is talking about are pretty obviously Lord English and the Handmaid. Even if we didn’t already know about all that, there’s no way a fictional alien would talk about myths like this if it really was fake nonsense. That’s kind of not how fictional mythology works.
DAVE: yo terezi weve got a grim reaper too
DAVE: shit isnt that novel
DAVE: i mean i think even a civilization full of the laziest sons of bitches are gonna make up a myth figure for death
DAVE: like oooh watch OUT death is coming for you hes got like
DAVE: a SKULL and shit
DAVE: i basically have no fucking imagination that sounds badass to me
DAVE: wait wait no how about hes got a BLACK ROBE too
DAVE: and a fuckin scythe to fuckin slash at you with in case you didnt die all the way or whatever
DAVE: daaaaaamn now youre talking bro
DAVE: lets go ahead stick that in our culture forever
Both Rose and Dave immediately talk about funny stuff when we first hear from them in Act 6. As flippant as it is, Dave’s discussion of humans’ death figure is also worth discussing in terms of the comic’s mythology.
I find it interesting that although trolls’ death figure actually turns out to be real, the same cannot be said about that of humans. Maybe it’s a side effect of the beta kids’ Sburb session turning out to be doomed? The beta kids’ world is about the only one in Homestuck where popular myths don’t turn out to be true. Well, that’s not entirely true considering things like the zodiac signs turning out to be legitimately meaningful and stuff in Sburb containing mythology, but there isn’t really such a thing as myths that the ICP is subconsciously inspired by a purple-blooded alien dude. What I’m saying is, the scratched version of Earth is the one that has myths that are specific to the comic turn out to be real, with things like the urban legends of the Condesce and George Washington’s nightmares about clown presidents.
Though stuff like the Greek gods do turn out to exist in a way in Homestuck’s world, the Grim Reaper most certainly doesn’t. Such a popular death figure doesn’t seem like one that would exist in a story with as colorful of a mythos as Homestuck; such a figure instead exists in Problem Sleuth, as something of a parody of the whole concept of a death figure. Even the characters from real-life mythology don’t turn out to be humans with magical properties, rather snake monsters.
TEREZI: SO WH4T YOU 4R3 T3LL1NG M3 D4V3 1S
TEREZI: TH4T W3 BOTH H4V3 D34TH *4ND* COTTON C4NDY???
DAVE: hell yes
TEREZI: W3 M1GHT 4S W3LL B3 TH3 S4M3 D4MN SP3C13S!!!
The first page of the kid/troll meeting ends with Dave and Terezi bonding about how much their species have in common, which seems like an awesome way to really get the party started, when all of a sudden:
Apparently Karkat was silent until now? Don’t ask me how that’s possible. Anyway, he’s going to go on a rant about how confused he is about everything, which simultaneously ruins the party and gets it REALLY started.
Karkat’s mouth animation is the verbal equivalent of doing the thing where he bangs his fingers on the keyboard.
Also, the whole chatlog accompanying this page is mostly just Karkat yelling.
KARKAT: WE FOLLOWED THAT GREEN BEACON OF WHAT I THOUGHT WAS THE AFTERMATH OF A SUCCESSFUL BLOW UP THE SUN MISSION
KARKAT: AND AFTER A BREAKNECK WARP SPEED JOURNEY IN WHICH MY BEST FUCKING FRIEND *EVER* PSYCHED ME OUT INTO THINKING HE DIED *YET A FUCKING GAIN* BY EXPELLING LITER AFTER GRUESOME LITER OF GRUBSAUCE FROM HIS EVERY ORIFICE
KARKAT: WHAT DO I FIND HERE?
KARKAT: WHY, IN ADDITION TO A PAIR OF HUMANS DRAPED IN CIRCUSWEAR AND ALL THEIR FLIPPANT GIBES LOCKED AND GODDAMN LOADED
KARKAT: IT SEEMS WE HAVE ALSO CHANCED UPON NONE OTHER THAN THE GREEN FUCKING SUN ITSELF
KARKAT: WHICH UNLESS MY RAW, RUDDY GANDERBULBS ARE STILL A LITTLE GRIEFBLEARY, STRIKES ME AS STILL BEING SOMEWHAT RATHER FUCKING *UNBLOWN* UP.
KARKAT: SO WHAT AM I MISSING HERE
DAVE: dude chill out we just got hornswoggled is all
KARKAT: CASE CLOSED
KARKAT: OK THEN, LET’S START PITCHING DEAD PALS INTO THE LIMITLESS INFERNO. MY CURIOSITY WAS TOTALLY FUCKING SATED JUST THEN!
As usual, Dave “explains” what went wrong with a vague snappy description that would be completely unhelpful if the reader didn’t already know what happened. Usually characters don’t have a reaction to this sort of thing, but since Karkat is being irrational, the typical character reactions are all flipped on their invisible axis; going by his tone of voice, it seems like he would rather have a real explanation to why that happened.
KARKAT: WASN’T THE WHOLE POINT TO TAKE OUT THE SUN TO NEUTRALIZE JACK?
ROSE: It shouldn’t be a problem.
KARKAT: OH NO??? THEN WHAT’S THE PLAN NOW???
ROSE: It’s simple.
ROSE: We regroup, and then defeat him in person.
Who would even think such a plan is a good idea? Though a group Jack battle sounds pretty badass, it doesn’t make sense for Rose to suddenly think, oh, since our plan to neutralize Jack was actually a prank, let’s just do exactly what we tried to avoid doing for so long.
Also, John would’ve loved this so much. Karkat freaking out, not fighting Jack.
KARKAT: WHAT DOES HONK MEAN THIS TIME YOU WHIMSICAL PIECE OF SHIT?????
Here, at least partly due to freaking the fuck out, Karkat fully expects Gamzee randomly honking to be no good, probably because he was immediately reminded of how much of a shocking nightmare his first conversation with evil Gamzee turned out to be.
KARKAT: DON’T YOU START WITH ME
KARKAT: DO. NOT. START WITH ME.
KARKAT: I WILL GET YOU IN A HEADLOCK SO TIGHT IT WILL BE A MIRACLE IF PEOPLE DON’T MISTAKE OUR TUSSLE FOR AN ILL CONCEIVED VENTRILOQUIST ACT.
KARKAT: I WILL SHOOSH YOU AGAIN, SO HELP ME GOD. I WILL SHOOSH YOUR CLOWN ASS TO SHANGRI-BULLSHIT-LA AND BACK, AND FILL YOUR EAR WITH MY WHITE HOT PALEBRO SPITTLE.
KARKAT: I AM FULL AND FUCKING WELL PREPARED TO GET CONCILIATORY WITH YOU AGAIN IF YOU SO MUCH AS PASS GAS MURDEROUSLY, DO YOU UNDERSTAND?
KARKAT: IS THAT WHAT YOU WANT??? DO I NEED TO CALM YOUR FAYGO-STICKY TENTSQUATTING SHIT DOWN AGAIN????
GAMZEE: naw brother, i was just about to all say for you to try and get your settle down on, maybe.
Gamzee is suddenly back to normal again, apparently. I find it a bit odd that he was only temporarily calmed down before returning to being a hyper-enigmatic douche.
KARKAT: I GUESS YOU’RE RIGHT.
KARKAT: NO, YOU’RE RIGHT, I SHOULD RELAX.
KARKAT: AND BREATHE.
KARKAT: I MEAN, WHAT ARE MOIRAILS FOR, RIGHT?
KARKAT: THIS IS HOW IT WORKS, I STOP YOU FROM KILLING EVERYBODY, THEN YOU RETURN THE FAVOR AND CALM ME DOWN AND I JUST
KARKAT: SNIIIIIIIIIIIIFFFFFFFFFFFFFUCK, THAT SUN IS BRIGHT.
KARKAT: CALL ME CRAZY, BUT IT’S KIND OF HARD TO RELAX WITHIN A STONE’S THROW FROM, OH, I GUESS ONLY THE BIGGEST FUCKING STAR ANY MORTAL HAS EVER LAID EYES ON.
KANAYA: Actually I Was Just Thinking
KANAYA: Its Nice To Get A Little Sun After So Long
KARKAT: SURE, THAT’S ALL WELL AND GOOD FOR YOU.
KARKAT: BUT I MEAN, CAN THIS BE HEALTHY?
KARKAT: AREN’T WE GOING TO GET BURNED OR HAVE OUR RETINAS SCORCHED BY LOOKING AT IT?
KARKAT: OH GOD I THINK I’M HAVING A PANIC ATTACK.
TEREZI: K4RK4T YOUR3 3MB4RR4SS1NG US 1N FRONT OF TH3 HUM4NS
KARKAT: FUCK YOU
KARKAT: I CAN’T BREATHE…
KARKAT: IT’S SO BRIGHT, I NEED SUNGLASSES OR SOMETHING.
Apparently Karkat is the only one who is in any way distressed by being next to a huge sun. Also, of course he’s having a panic attack, do people think he isn’t having one?
Upon request, Kanaya gives Karkat Equius’s shades and…
KARKAT: I WAS JOKING, GET THOSE FUCKING THINGS AWAY FROM ME
This dude obviously isn’t exactly thinking straight. It seems like it’s now just about impossible to tell whether or not he’s being sarcastic about stuff.
TEREZI: 1 4M SO SORRY YOU GUYS
TEREZI: W3 4R3 4CTU4LLY 4 LOT COOL3R TH4N TH1S!
DAVE: are you actually
TEREZI: NO W3 AR3 NOT
Here’s the thing with the trolls. As I’ve said in previous posts, though they seem like a really cool and/or bizarre sci-fi race of gray dudes to outsiders, almost all the trolls are ridiculous or stupid in one way or another. Any hint of the trolls being remotely cool or above-it-all was thrown away a long time ago.
This image has even more funny shenanigans going on. Gamzee being extra suspicious, and Karkat still being grumpy.
After Karkat continues his tantrum by trying to find out who the leader is, we get this exchange:
ARADIA: karkat i dont know if anyone cares about formal ranks like that anymore
ARADIA: or if anyone ever did!
ARADIA: but for what its worth i suggest that from now on you all listen closely to the advice of our human guests
ARADIA: no need to be so modest dave
ARADIA: tactically speaking a knight of time and a seer of light is a nearly unbeatable combination
DAVE: i dont really have any orders to give though
DAVE: except for karkat to shut the hell up because that horseshit is more obnoxious in person than i ever imagined
Actually, pretty much everyone here has been even more ridiculous in some way in person. I think this whole first human/troll meeting has a theme of character interactions being even better and even more ridiculous in person.
ARADIA: the knight of time is not necessarily the tactician
ARADIA: he is a powerful warrior class which exploits the flow of time as a weapon
ARADIA: rose is the one who must play the role of the strategist
ARADIA: the seer class knows her aspect comprehensively
ARADIA: as a knower of all fortune she can see the circuitous path that will lead to the most favorable outcome for everyone
ARADIA: personally i would defer to her judgment!
Here’s a weird thing the story does a lot. Some classes and aspects have their meanings made explicit in the comic, as is done in the bit quoted above; others, not so much. I think the meanings of the classes and aspects are a story subplot of sorts, but as with other story arcs, this one doesn’t get a full conclusion, with aspects such as doom and rage remaining rather fuzzy.
ROSE: Just as you should trust me that by the time we leave, if we leave exactly within the designated window and are able to travel at nearly the speed of light, the meteor will trace a route through the Furthest Ring which will topologically resolve as a straight line.
ROSE: It will lead us directly to the new session.
ROSE: For a brief moment, the sun will be visible from that session.
ROSE: And we will be riding the chartreuse coattails of its photons.
ARADIA: this is why you all needed an advanced seer!
ARADIA: i have become familiar with the ways of the fabric out here but even i couldnt chart a journey that long or complex
ROSE: That’s because it’s almost impossible to do so voluntarily.
ROSE: If we were to head right now in the session’s true physical direction, it wouldn’t be long before we found ourselves traveling in just the opposite direction.
ROSE: This is not even to speak of the chronological peculiarities. After traveling some distance, we could discover we were suddenly tailgating our own meteor from several days ago.
ROSE: If we are particularly unfortunate, we might even collide in an intersection of spacetime with a meteor piloted by our future selves.
ROSE: And if we looked closely at that meteor before impact, we might notice a very large dent in it, which it originally suffered during the very collision we were about to experience.
ROSE: It takes precision and timing to reach your destination out here, and most importantly, the grace of the gods themselves.
Here’s Rose going through the specifics of how the meteor journey is going to go. Some of those details aren’t brought up again, leading to some oddities reading this in retrospect. First off, it’s a bit of a shame that those potential meteor time shenanigans don’t really happen, with the characters meeting their past selves and all that. Second, Rose seems to be in charge of figuring out the direction the meteor will go. When she started getting drunk, how exactly did that keep on working out? Not to mention the oddities of how piloting the meteor will work, as I’ll go over soon.
EDIT: Later it’s made clear how that stuff works out, but I forgot about that because I was stupid for a minute. I’m keeping this regardless as a discussion of story weirdness.
KARKAT: PPPFFUUUUUUUHHHHHHH……… WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEZE…
SOLLUX: kk, what the fuck?
SOLLUX: were you h0lding your breath that wh0le time?
TEREZI: OH GOD, YOU DUMMY
TEREZI: YOU DONT 4CTU4LLY H4V3 TO HOLD YOUR BR34TH WH3N YOUR3 B31NG QU13T!
KARKAT: OK YEAH
KARKAT: I MEAN, OF COURSE IT SOUNDS OBVIOUS WHEN YOU PUT IT LIKE THAT
DAVE: rose i told you this dude is fucking incredible
The thing with Karkat is that he’s not exactly completely stupid, but at the same time, he’s really kind of stupid sometimes. It’s also another one of those bits of troll weirdness that raises some unsettling implications.
KARKAT: ANYWAY, WHATEVER, SO WHAT YOU’RE SAYING LALONDE IS
KARKAT: WE’RE GOING TO BE ON THIS HORRIBLE ROCK A GOOD WHILE LONGER TO GET TO THIS PARADISE SESSION OR WHATEVER IT IS?
KARKAT: AND SINCE WE PROBABLY AREN’T GOING TO FORCE SOLLUX’S BULLSHIT “HALF GHOST” OR WHATEVER TO POP HIMSELF AGAIN LIKE A PACKET OF NASTY FETID MUSTARD SO HE CAN SHOOT THIS THING INTO HYPERSPACE…
SOLLUX: hey man, come 0n. not c0ol.
KARKAT: I’M GUESSING THAT MEANS IT’LL TAKE CONSIDERABLY LONGER TO GET THERE THAN IT DID TO GET HERE?
Here we get circumstantially simultaneous events again. John and Karkat, the kids’ and trolls’ respective team leaders, both have a shocked reaction to the idea of spending forever to get to the new session. For the battleship this revelation comes as a complete surprise; for the meteor the team leader sees it coming but is no less horrified when Rose confirms it a little later.
But for the meteor, the explanation as to why the journey will take so long is a bit of a handwave. Jade makes it clear why she can’t use first guardian powers to teleport the ship to the other wall, but as for Sollux he’s just not going to be asked to use super-psionic abilities again? Or is it because “half ghosts” can’t do that stuff for whatever reason? The range and limits of troll psychic powers have never been well explained.
KARKAT: I JUST KNEW IT
KARKAT: THIS IS MY WORST NIGHTMARE REALIZED
KARKAT: WHEN WE FIRST FLED TO THIS METEOR I HAD THIS WEIRD FEELING WE’D WIND UP SPENDING FOREVER AT THIS MISERABLE PLACE, ASSUMING WE ACTUALLY SURVIVED.
KARKAT: I’M ALMOST AFRAID TO ASK, HOW LONG IS THIS TRIP GOING TO TAKE?
KARKAT: PROBABLY SOME ABSOLUTELY PREPOSTEROUS AMOUNT OF TIME, LIKE THREE LONG MADDENING SWEEPS, RIGHT???
John and Karkat both refer to three years/sweeps as an “absolutely preposterous amount of time”—John in response to that revelation, Karkat in anticipation thereof.
ROSE: Don’t be ridiculous. It won’t take nearly that long.
ROSE: It’ll only take about three years.
KARKAT: THAT’S NOT SO BAD I GUESS.
KARKAT: WAIT, HOW LONG ARE YEARS SUPPOSED TO BE AGAIN?
KARKAT: WAS IT LIKE TWO WEEKS OR SOMETHING?
ROSE: Yes, two.
ROSE: And then fifty more.
The meteor crew’s equivalent of the three-year trip reveal basically lets you know that they’ll be going through much of the same character development stuff the other group will go through.
Also, I love how Karkat’s elongated “fuck” has the exact same number of U’s as it did before.
ARADIA: this is going to be a wonderful adventure for everyone
ARADIA: im a bit jealous honestly!
ARADIA: or i would be if i wasnt having such a good time with my death fangirl thing :p
KANAYA: You Arent Coming Then
ARADIA: i still have important work to do here
TEREZI: 4WW >:[
ARADIA: but that doesnt rule out the possibility we could meet again in bubbles along your journey!
TEREZI: 1 HOP3 SO
Aradia’s reason for not going on the meteor journey can be rephrased in narrative terms as follows: she has a role in the story as not a main player in the story’s adventure, but as a guide to the dream bubble afterlife, much unlike Dave and Rose (among the four main characters) and the other trolls (who are either major characters or plot-armored clowns). We see this role in action later on when she meets Meenah and introduces her to the afterlife.
SOLLUX: yeah, i think i’ll hang behind here t0o, if that’s 0k with you guys.
KARKAT: WAIT, WHAT?
KARKAT: NO COME ON, DON’T BE LIKE THAT
SOLLUX: be like what? a ghost??
SOLLUX: i d0n’t think i belong with the living anym0re.
KARKAT: YOU’RE A *HALF* GHOST, ASSHOLE.
KARKAT: WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN? HOW ARE YOU EVEN TAKING THIS IDIOTIC “HALF DEATH” SERIOUSLY IF YOU JUST GO HOG WILD AS A FUCKING WHOLE-GHOST, AND SAY STUPID SHIT LIKE, BLAH BLAH, I BELONG IN THE AFTERLIFE NOW LIKE A DUMBASS.
SOLLUX: kk, SORRY.
SOLLUX: i’m just d0ne with this crap, this insane adventure bullshit, it’s nothing pers0nal.
SOLLUX: i just want to spend time with aa and chill 0ut and catch up with some 0f our dead buddies, is that 0k?
In narrative terms, Sollux is deciding out of his own volition not to be much more important than the fully dead trolls. But with that in mind, his treatment by the story in Act 6 is sort of an odd case compared to the other ones who aren’t going on the meteor. He gets some screen time due to essentially being the sidekick to Aradia*, a character with her own designated role, but far less than the dead trolls given decent story relevance (Vriska obviously, and to a lesser extent Tavros as a counterpoint to her arc, and Aradia for reasons I just explained). He shows up again in the treasure hunt scenes but leaves the spotlight once again when he decides he’s tired of Vriska’s bullshit. All this seems like it should be building up to Sollux inadvertently doing something very relevant, which sadly hasn’t happened despite him showing up at the beginning of the grand battle. As I said in a previous post such a thing is one of my top epilogue hopes.
* I think it says a lot that he’d rather be with Aradia and his other dead friends than with his supposed best friend just because he doesn’t want to go through any crazy adventures anymore.
KANAYA: Maybe I Will Stay Here Too
KANAYA: As Nice As It Sounds To Move On
KANAYA: I Dont Know If I Can Stand Three Of Your Human Years Of More Darkness
KANAYA: I Like This Sun Its Comforting In A Strange Way
KANAYA: Like Home
ROSE: But what if we need your help?
KANAYA: What Could I Possibly Do
KANAYA: Aside From Providing A Light Source As You Navigate The Dim Corridors
KANAYA: I Would Function As A Premium Escort To The Load Gaper And Thats About It
ARADIA: but kanaya you still have important work to finish too!
ARADIA: we cant ignore our duties
KANAYA: What Are You Talking About
ARADIA: our race is extinct remember
ARADIA: and after a few more casualties it is now hanging by a thread
ARADIA: your job was to see to the resurrection of our people
I think it’s pretty obvious at this point that the characters’ decisions whether or not to join the meteor all have to do with narrative roles; in Kanaya’s case, she was always meant to deal with restoring the troll race and thus is persuaded by Aradia and Rose to stay. Though I didn’t talk about it when I got to her introduction, Kanaya straddles the line between being a main and supporting character, which may relate to her considering staying behind. Though Sollux is almost by nature a supporting character, views among readers are somewhat more conflicted when it comes to Kanaya’s story role. While some adore her character, others accuse her in Act 6 of being little more than “Rose’s naive girlfriend” or “Rose’s girlfriend who occasionally says funny things”. She’s certainly not a major character in the sense that Karkat and Terezi are major characters, which may be why she gets such a role, but I can totally see why that’s off-putting.
Speaking of Karkat and Terezi, it seems sort of like it’s a given that those two are going to travel on the meteor, likely because they’re right up there with Rose and Dave on the character ladder.
ROSE: What outcome would you like the most?
KANAYA: I Would Like To Have The Orb Again And To Keep It Safe This Time
KANAYA: And I Guess To Not Be A Total Failure
ROSE: If you follow my advice, I can at least promise you will find yourself in the best position to determine whether that may come to pass.
ROSE: Can you please come?
ROSE: Between the two of us, you with your inexplicably heretofore unmentioned phosphorescence, and I with my nigh-reflective traffic cone orange sun-sari, the meteor should never be too dark.
KARKAT: (sollux, oh my god is it me or is everybody already just fucking hitting on each other left and right? oh god i can’t take sweeps of this shit, don’t leave me alone here, please don’t)
This is the comic’s first definite indication of the Rose/Kanaya romance thing going in the opposite direction from what it was at first. While at first it was strange that the trolls immediately started hitting on the kids, now it’s even weirder that the humans, the supposedly normal people, are hitting on trolls. I’m pretty sure bits of dialogue like this are deliberately meant to make readers think, “come on, just kiss already“. But you have to understand that their dynamic really isn’t just “cute smartass lesbians”, because not being just that is what makes their relationship somewhat interesting. First Kanaya is attracted to Rose, then she gets over that, but then Rose is attracted to her when they meet in person, which leads to some complications over time with alcoholism and all that. Eventually they do become a lesbian relationship played completely straight, which might be an alright ending for them if it didn’t happen because of the retco—god dammit I broke my promise.
KARKAT: SOLLUX, WHERE DID YOUR BODY GO???
SOLLUX: hell if i kn0w.
ARADIA: oh nooo 😦
KARKAT: WAIT A MINUTE.
KARKAT: WAIT JUST A FUCKING MINUTE, WHERE’S…
KARKAT: VRISKA’S BODY IS GONE TOO!
DAVE: shes dead too
DAVE: you guys are so messed up
KARKAT: WHERE ARE THEY?
KARKAT: DID ANYONE SEE WHAT HAPPENED??
KARKAT: DAMMIT, WHEN THE FUCK WILL I LEARN NOT TO TURN MY BACK ON THE BODIES.
This is the return of a recurring motif in Homestuck: the rule that you should never turn your back on a dead body. When Doc Scratch warned him about that, I wonder if he was also referring to this scene where Karkat turns his back on Sollux’s body?
KARKAT: HOLD ON
KARKAT: OH NO, WHERE’S GAMZEE
KANAYA: He Took Them
KANAYA: Look At The Trails
KARKAT: OHHHH FUCK
KARKAT: NO, FUCK NO, FUCK THAT CORPSE HOARDING SACK OF HORRIBLE GARBAGE.
KARKAT: YEAH, HE DOES THIS
KARKAT: HE SORT OF COLLECTS BODIES AND DECAPITATES THEM AND STUFF
KARKAT: STICKS THEM IN BIG SCIENCE JARS, FOR SOME REASON??
Here’s Karkat lampshading the recurring theme that everything Gamzee does makes no sense. I’ve discussed this motif before; it’s not only nonsensical to readers, but also to the characters, who have no clue why Gamzee does this stuff.
DAVE: wait has the juggalo troll been giving you guys fits like this or something
DAVE: like this is a thing
DAVE: like a pattern
KARKAT: NICE GUESS SHIT HEAD!
DAVE: oh man one of you has got to sit me down and tell me what actually happened here it all just sounds fuckin amazing in sort of the stupidest way possible
DAVE: i mean like personal tragedies notwithstanding
The weird thing is, most of the funny ridiculous things that happened on the meteor are as a direct result of tragic murders. The events of Murderstuck are so darkly humorous that even to an outsider in-comic who recognizes that personal tragedies happened it all sounds hilarious.
KARKAT: IT’S LIKE
KARKAT: YOU KNOW HOW EVERY NOW AND THEN YOUR LUSUS WILL BRING SOME RANDOM ASS DEAD ANIMAL BACK TO YOUR HIVE FOR NO FUCKING REASON
KARKAT: AND THEY DON’T EVER STOP DOING THAT NO MATTER HOW MUCH YOU YELL
KARKAT: IT’S LIKE THAT, YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN
DAVE: not really
DAVE: oh wait
DAVE: against all odds i sorta do
DAVE: mine actually did do that once
KARKAT: YES, THERE YOU GO.
DAVE: when i was really young
DAVE: he made this stupid leather bib for me out of a goddamn horse
DAVE: for the ironies obviously
This is the first time Dave talks about his bro when we now have an idea of what Dirk is like; a similar effect was achieved a little earlier when Rose recounted her cat’s funeral and talked about how absurd her mother was. From here on out, anything any of the beta kids say about their guardians can read somewhat differently with the alpha kids in mind. In this case, considering Dirk’s interest in irony it’s a lot easier to believe the leather bib Dave wore was indeed meant as ironic. What’s also interesting is that even after starting to see his guardian in a completely different light and despite implications that Dave only thinks his bro was all about irony, Dave still believes just that; he thinks Bro treated the very concept of parenthood as something to be ultra-ironic about.
ROSE: Was that the one you mentioned had a pink heart on it?
ROSE: It’s just that with the clarity afforded by my new abilities, it occurred to me just now that dead horse was likely the beautiful pet pony my mother gave me recently.
ROSE: It was crushed to death by your newborn ass.
ROSE: You bastard.
DAVE: well shit
DAVE: thats a hell of a mystery no one thought was a mystery and didnt even really need solving
DAVE: but damn if it didnt just get solved so nice work
The weird thing about this Maplehoof mystery is that it was never a mystery to the readers, making this even less of a straight-up mystery than it would be if we didn’t know that. This may match with Dave’s deadpan reaction to this “solved mystery”.
Random thought: Kanaya is sort of the PM to Gamzee’s Bec Noir.
KARKAT: KANAYA WHERE ARE YOU GOING?
KANAYA: Clown Hunting
KARKAT: OH NO…
KARKAT: ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO DO THAT?
KARKAT: I MEAN WHO EVEN REALLY CARES IF HE STOLE MORE BODIES.
KARKAT: HE CAN HAVE THEM FRANKLY, AS LONG AS IT KEEPS HIM OUT OF TROUBLE.
KARKAT: WE DON’T NEED TO HAVE A FUCKING CORPSE PARTY, SERIOUSLY, FUCK THAT DUMB IDEA.
Here Karkat is having another one of those moments where he worries about his friends. He even says that it’s OK if Gamzee plays with dead bodies if it keeps him from killing people. It seems like what he truly cares about isn’t Gamzee not being a creepy asshole, rather his friends not being dead.
KARKAT: ALRIGHT IF YOU’RE REALLY GOING TO GO
KARKAT: BE CAREFUL
KARKAT: NO MORE POINTLESS BLOODSHED, OK? THAT’S AN ORDER!
KARKAT: WAIT FUCK
KARKAT: I’M NOT LEADER ANYMORE
KARKAT: ROSE CAN YOU ORDER HER TO DO THAT?
KARKAT: SAY WHAT I JUST SAID, REALLY ANGRILY
KARKAT: ASSUMING YOU CAN EVEN *BE* ANGRY.
Whether or not Karkat says he is the leader, protecting his friends, or should I say leading them, is just as well among his instincts.
Up next, though it was a given that John sending his letter in a bucket will lead to hilarity, the way it plays out is itself a surprise (picture montage abridged once again):
(bucket bouncing off Karkat’s head and falling down omitted)
Let’s play match the shoes surrounding Karkat with the people around him!
While a slowed-down montage of Karkat getting hit in the face with a bucket is hilarious regardless of context, it gets a lot better when you imagine that this must be the troll equivalent to a dildo smacking him in the face.
In this image, we get to see what Davesprite did to the movie poster. I think the letter in its entirety is a bit symbolic of the kids’ cooperation: John wrote the letter, Jade sent it, and to complete the trifecta, Davesprite SBaHJ-ified it. This is probably stupid as hell but I’ll say it anyway: the people on the Armageddon poster are a trifecta as well, as are the three main characters of Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff.
As shown above, John’s latter is inadvertently sexual as hell. Presumably influenced by the fact that this is all in a bucket, he’s probably thinking, god I didn’t know John was such a sick fuck.
karkat, i deeply regret that i will not be present for these highly touted “TROLL/HUMAN SLOPPY MAKEOUTS”, ha ha. maybe in three years, assuming you all aren’t totally smooched out by then!!! (i am just kidding around, btw.)
In his letter, John says a thing or two to each person traveling on the meteor who he knows about. For Karkat it’s teasing him about sloppy makeouts, which makes putting the letter in a bucket one hell of a mistake. I bet he felt like Karkat no longer is that worried about the meeting not turning into a sloppy makeout fest, but now he way the hell is.
rose and dave, you both look totally sweet! i can’t believe you’re both god tiers now. did you know jade is too? also, she has dog ears. she looks fantastic. how cool is it that we’re all god tiers? it’s like we’re a super hero team, or some kind of anime squad. like the sailor moons, i guess, but not as lame, or as sexy.
You know what would’ve been cool? If the beta kids actually did work together as a superhero team or something, by which I mean all four together. The magic chest attack scene in Act 7 doesn’t count because we don’t see the kids themselves, nor do we have any clue whether the attack meant anything. I think the events of Caliborn’s Masterpiece might come close to that sort of thing? Or more accurately, a dark subversion thereof in which things go very wrong.
i’ll even miss talking to the trolls too. say hi to them for me, even though i didn’t get to know many. except karkat obviously, and oh yeah, vriska too. vriska, if you read this, thanks again for all your help. i don’t think i’d have made it this far if not for you! i just thought you should know that.
I think it’s a little interesting that John teases Karkat about the stuff that sets him off but gives Vriska a sincere thanks. In narrative terms this is pretty obviously done for the sake of dramatic irony, but I’m not sure why John himself does that. Maybe because he knows that Karkat is the sort of guy he can tease while also being friends with him?
[obligatory reference to the Easter egg flash omitted]
Next, Karkat suffers a mental breakdown at the unbearable thought of sloppy makeouts between Rose and Kanaya, and between Dave and Terezi. This sort of sets both of those pairings as things that are probably going to happen.* His mental breakdown may also be in part because he feels that the bucket hitting him on the face is symbolic of the idea that those dreaded makeouts are going to happen after all.
* I almost want to go on another tangent about shipping Dave and Karkat (still a pairing I hate) because that kind of relates to this sequence. But I don’t really feel it. Besides, that would break my “no retcon discussion” rule yet again.
“BLAAAAAAARGH, I AM CONVINCINGLY FLIPPING MY LID ABOUT THIS, WAVING MY ARMS AROUND A LOT, AND MAKING ALL MY BEST YELLING FACES.”
This image is above is a wordless character reaction shot done right. We’ve already had our share of Karkat rants so presenting one in amusing visuals is completely OK. I say this because the very fact that all those pages between Collide and Act 7 are wordless is kind of off-putting considering the nature of the comic as a tale of people talking about stuff.
After yet another first guardian zoom-out, PM sends WV’s body to the Green Sun. It seems like she must know that help can be found there, which may be due to first guardian knowledge? In any case, this action seems almost like sacrificing time with a friend, despite the fact that WV is dead regardless.
For some reason all these character poses look familiar to me, except Aradia. Might be because they’re used in earlier or later panels, or something. It kind of looks like this panel has all the character poses ripped from other pages.
After Rose talks about the situation with the dead mayor guy, we get the following exchange regarding how to get the meteor going:
KARKAT: SOUNDS LIKE IT’S TIME TO HIT THE FUCKING ROAD THEN
KARKAT: HOW DO WE MAKE THIS THING GO ANYWAY. DOES IT HAVE ROCKETS OR SOMETHING I DON’T KNOW ABOUT??
ROSE: Maybe it does. I’m not sure.
ROSE: But one good push in the right direction should be all we need.
ARADIA: i can help with that!
ARADIA: sollux do you think you can lend me a hand?
ARADIA: theyll need the biggest push we can give them
SOLLUX: yeah sure.
KARKAT: WHAT, SO JUST ONE “PUSH” IS GOING TO LAST THREE YEARS?
KARKAT: LET ALONE OUTRUN JACK?? BULLSHIT.
SOLLUX: calm down kk, it sh0uld be fine.
SOLLUX: y0u won’t sl0w down.
KARKAT: HOW THE FUCK DO YOU KNOW THAT?
ROSE: Troll Isaac Newton told him.
Here, Rose is pretty much lampshading that the way physics works in their reality has no semblance of logic behind it. The weird thing is, the reason why the battleship journey has to last a solid three years is based largely on real physics, but the reason the meteor journey is just as long is pretty much handwavey nonsense that’s even remarked in the story as such.
ARADIA: ok you guys can keep arguing if you like but im going to send you on your way now
ARADIA: then after you leave i should be able to buy you a little more time
KARKAT: HOW’S THAT?
ARADIA: when jack comes ill slow him down for a while
ARADIA: it wont be for very long but its the best i can do!
The weird thing is, Aradia slowing Jack is only ever mentioned once and never brought up again, nor is the whole idea of defeating him; if anything, that’s the last thing on anyone’s mind when they finally enter the new session. Even during the battle plan sequence following the retcon, Vriska doesn’t see that as much of a priority.
I really like how the meteor flashes with Aradia and Sollux’s blood colors.
Sollux and Aradia pilot the trolls’ meteor, and I guess that’s how that stuff happens. I feel like an idiot for forgetting about this. Anyway, this scene shows us that Sollux does get to do a little bit more relevant stuff than I thought, and the big psychic meteor push sort of gives us a bit of a legacy for the trolls who aren’t joining the meteor.
Act 6 Intermission 1 concludes with a flash that serves mostly as a transition back to the alpha kids. It’s the first flash for which the handy storyboards on readmspa.org are not available so I guess I’ll have to do screenshots the old way once again.
First, PM flies away from the trolls’ Skaia, forever leaving it behind; that world is what the curtains close in on. I like this choice of an act ending image, because it shows us that the whole world of the first five acts is essentially left behind, with the beta kids’ session scratched and the trolls’ session destroyed.
Remember when I said Skaian clouds could transition us from anything to anything? Well, I wasn’t kidding. These clouds make a surprisingly graceful transition from the beta kids to the alpha kids, perhaps because it’s so drawn out.
Next is a series of clouds showing future events. Those are mostly all pretty vague predictions, but there’s one of particular note. The cloud with Dirk above has a red background when it should have a blue sky background—why is that? It can’t just be to obscure the fact that he lives in the future, because that doesn’t fly with things that actually happen. My guess is that the red background is actually the Crockercorp imperial drones.
This ultimately zooms us out to the new alpha kids’ version of Skaia, which gets blurry just like the trolls’ Skaia did. The flash starts with leaving behind the old and ends with returning to the new.
EDIT: I just realized I completely forgot to do a recap of Act 6 Intermission 1. Ah well, it doesn’t really matter that much; I already discussed the main points of this intermission throughout this post and the last one.
See you next time as
we finally read Pony Pals, which is the only part of the comic that matters. Never mind, that’s actually going to happen the next post after that. Instead, see you next time as, uh… the alpha kids’ version of Jack makes his debut? Detective Pony will have to wait I guess.