I am still burnt out on this blog, that’s still a thing. Only a week since hiatus and I already wince at the thought of reviving my Homestuck posts, especially on a platform that’s not convenient at all for hosting these posts. I’m sick of gaining pretty much no traction because Blogger and search engines go together like jelly and hot dogs. I currently plan on switching to a different platform, maybe even purchasing a personal web domain because I’m 20 and that’s what 20-year-olds do (EDIT: this has now been done). But for the time being, I might as well write a post providing my full thoughts on the Homestuck Epilogues.
4/20, read through Meat: epilogues pretty good
4/20, started Candy: what the fuck
4/21, stopped: aaaaaaaaughhhhh bluh i hate everything
4/24-ish, continued Candy: epilogues alright i guess also i am sad now
4/27-ish, finished: I LOVE HOMESTUCK
Meat was a wild ride that started as cool plot stuff and things that make you go “OH FUCK”, continued as basically chapters 7-9 of Detective Pony (which I naturally enjoyed a lot), and ended as a mess of sheer chaos and destruction. My thought process ended as, “oh duh, this is the bad ending, candy must be the good ending”. I was in for quite the nasty surprise.
I quit reading Candy just a few pages in. It didn’t take long for it to suddenly become the weirdest fanfiction ever. Frustrated, I started skipping and searching through later parts and got rather salty when it turned out both sides were the “bad ending”. I saw firsthand what vfromhomestuck meant by “clear your whole week”: this is not something most people can just read in one sitting. Then I recovered a few days and read Candy in earnest, in a somewhat anachronous order and with many parts read multiple times. Slowly, I started to hope that the epilogues would be followed up with a true happy ending for real this time. I may or may not have written a snippet of some form of fanfiction paving the way for a happy ending.
Once I finally accomplished the equivalent of reading Candy as intended, I got hit HARD with feels. I accepted that the epilogues have many issues but as a whole (not just the sum of parts) are an absolute masterwork, sometimes because of those issues. It didn’t take me long to realize the brilliant duality either. Meat is a side-splitting metafictional farce that (for me at least) is impossible to treat as anything resembling a story of people doing things. Candy is a tale of FEELS, and I don’t use the word FEELS lightly. FEELS means I almost cried, like I did when I watched the Futurama episode Luck of the Fryrish.
DETECTIVE PONY AND METAFICTION
Before I move on and talk about the CHARACTERS, I’m going to discuss the meat epilogue’s resemblance to sonnetstuck’s Detective Pony. I love everything about Detective Pony, more than almost anything else in existence. My abnormal love for that godlike fanwork probably skewed my perception of Meat a bit. Starting from page 17, Dirk takes over the narration then fights over it with god tier Calliope; both do rather questionable deeds and Dirk was hit hard by fans as a result. Seeing other fans react towards that character with such hostility gave me a very distinct feeling of “what, am I missing something?” Dirk’s takeover felt like a lengthy work of comedy to me; a story that never strips away from the fact that it’s fiction, in a vein near identical to that of Detective Pony. I like to think I am in the right for perceiving that arc this way, because I think everyone who has read Homestuck should read Detective Pony. One of the epilogue authors read Detective Pony after writing the epilogues and was struck by it; I take this accidental mirroring of (post-)canon as proof that sonnetstuck understands Hussie’s ways through and through. I like to think I have a solid understanding of Hussie’s ways by now, but this guy is on a whole new level.
That said, the meat epilogue gets a bit carried away with metafiction to the point of making me think, “god when will things go back to normal”. Towards the end of Detective Pony, Dirk goes through an existential crisis followed by a powerful revelation, and then resolves to do whatever it takes to erase his abominable creation. But the meat epilogue ends with (both figurative and literal) crashing and burning; no ultimate redemption for our poor Strider. Homestuck doesn’t usually have much of a problem with getting carried away with stupid nonsense; maybe a few rare occasions in cases like Hussie’s self-insert scenes. But getting carried away is a major criticism I have with cool and new web comic. I love that comic to death, but the parts that take a long time to dwell on the cool and new characters being creepy or weird are a chore to go through. o (the author of CaNWC) seems to have improved in that regard; the cool and new trolls’ arc is much more to-the-point with such nonsense.
Meat getting carried away with metafiction is a major cause of my initial burnout shortly after starting Candy. I was sick of this mass dump of metafiction and expected Candy to be a refreshing change of pace. Haha, if only. My fault for reading Meat first. At night I sometimes ponder in envy of the parallel universe me that started with Candy. Actually I don’t do that, I just thought it was a funny thing to say. Though I have on more than a few occasions sat in bed fantasizing about how awesome my life probably is in some parallel universe. What point was I making again? Oh whatever, it doesn’t matter. I guess I should write a similar overview of Candy’s narrative nature. Here goes:
LUCK OF THE FRYRISH AND SADSTUCK
Sad things are sad.
^ There, that’s my candy overview. How hard was that?
With the two summaries out of the way, I figure the best way to dump out my residual thoughts on the epilogues is going character by character. I won’t do every character, mostly just the ones who played large roles and were already characters in Homestuck proper. I’m sorting these characters in tiers of how well I think the epilogues handle them, mostly from worst to best.
N is not the lowest tier; it’s the tier that cannot be ranked. N stands for two things here: “Not Applicable” and “Narrators”. Naturally enough, two characters fit into that tier.
Dirk Strider: I’ve already talked about this guy quite a bit. I have a fondness for Dirk’s character and I think his dialogue and narration in meat do a good job portraying some ascended, ultimate version of his character without straying from his voice, the tone that makes him Dirk. That said, I’m a bit peeved that “normal Dirk”, the one iteration of Dirk Strider that isn’t total bonkers and just wants his friends to be happy, doesn’t exist in this story. In Candy, Rose suddenly loses the memories of her alternate selves, but for some reason Dirk keeps those memories and soon after commits suicide; he’s left out of the picture until Candy’s postscript, which I guess is a reasonable balance considering his indulgence throughout Meat. But why is only one of the succulently verbose Strilondes let off the hook? Some readers imagine Dave as the comic’s protagonist and Dirk as the antagonist; I’ve toyed with that idea myself and can see it symbolized, but it just feels so wrong to me. Maybe the authors did too good a job writing Dirk for me to be complacent with such a shift in role. His conversations with Rose were just as delightful as I had hoped and they aren’t weighed down too much in light of his shift in role, at least not for me.
Alt Calliope: The narrative rival to Dirk, as I mentioned previously. I’m not totally sure what to say about her, other than that one could see her as a counterpart to let’s say Anna Harley; a necessary piece in the Detective Pony analogy. Alt Calliope’s narrative arguments with Dirk were hilarious and that’s all there is to say on the matter.
I’m lucky Gamzee’s name starts with a G, because this means I can give him a tier of his own worse than F. As an individual arc that is; he’d get a much higher rating when taken as part of a whole.
Gamzee Makara: Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. I despised reading every word that came out of this guy’s mouth as soon as his “””redemption arc””” started. But I can clearly tell that was the point and that the suffering that is reading his words has a much greater purpose. Before you deem me a masochist or the kind that insists everything is “bad on purpose”, know that I am neither of those things but really do mean what I say here. Gamzee’s role in Candy draws tension between individuality and the whole. Reading this guy’s hogwash is suffering in and of itself, but ultimately it serves a role of showing us how fucked up the world of Candy is and helps the reader experience John’s existential crisis with him.
As before, these tiers are strictly about character arcs in isolation and not the big picture. This tier is home to none other than the legendary…
Jane Crocker: Boy did I predict the future on that one. A bit like Dirk, I would’ve liked it more if in only one epilogue did sweet innocent little Jane become such a monster. No way in hell am I going to run through the asshole things she does; it’s a load of sensitive topics I’m not comfortable discussing in any capacity. Instead, I’ll say that if I had to choose only one epilogue where Jane ran through her crazy presidential campaign it would be Candy; as with Gamzee’s arc, this campaign serves well as a part of John’s existential crisis. What’s weird here is that in Candy she originally cancelled all this, but later ended up basically doing it anyway with Dirk gone. I can imagine Jane going back to normal in Meat, maybe? Or in the hypothetical “true ending” I discussed prior.
Better known as “meh” tier. Mostly the characters that don’t do much and I wished did more.
Meenah Peixes: Needed more screen time, god damn it. She survives the Furthest Ring apocalypse, nabs the Ring of Life, then makes her way to Candy Earth and joins Karkat in the rebellion. Maybe it makes sense that her and Karkat teaming up in war is relegated to the background, to show how far the shouty guy has come in comparison to everyone else. I’ll come back to this point when I talk about Karkat.
Roxy Lalonde: Doesn’t do too much in either side, but does go through some touchy topics I’m not sure what to think about; I’m most certainly not ready to talk about those topics now. And regardless, Roxy’s role in the epilogues is better discussed when I talk about John and Terezi a few tiers up.
* UPDATE: I have now written a post about these touchy topics. Read at your own discretion.
Calliope: Doesn’t do all that much either, full circle to being the exposition alien with mysterious morality. I’m actually pretty OK with that. Certainly beats out the slog of endless “ur pretty” conversations. Calliope pretty much fades into the background on both sides, which is sad but fitting.
(About pronouns: I’ll keep referring to Roxy and Calliope as “she” unless I find reason to talk about the little those two do in Meat. I just avoided using pronouns in those paragraphs above.)
Better known as “meh” tier, but with a more positive “meh” than before. It’s the “meh” that indicates lukewarm satisfaction rather than annoyance at mediocrity.
Jade Harley: Really should be on a lower tier, because she did dick squat other than being horny and painfully oblivious to all the nonsense going on. But I’m a sucker for Jade being “Jade” and was happy to see even a trace of that early in Meat. As before, I’ll avoid the controversial topics surrounding Jade in the epilogues, aside from pointing out that this post reads very different now.
* UPDATE: I have now written a post about her in the epilogues too.
Karkat Vantas: This guy’s a bit of an odd spot. His leadership role is addressed in the absolute last way I expected. Could’ve gotten more attention from the story I suppose, but damn if his character arc didn’t get the most triumphant return imaginable.
Kanaya Maryam: I touched upon Rose and Kanaya’s relationship when I discussed the “buddy system” in my first epilogues post and I still stand by what I said there. Her strong attachment to Rose is integrated well into Meat without seeming like fluff or defining her entire character, because she actually does other things there too. In Candy they remain a stable happy relationship and I guess I’m cool with that.
Aradia Megido: Role is the same as ever and I’m fine with that. Death fangirl who works for predestination and has ambiguous morality. Her arc with alt Calliope ends with a cliffhanger that is easily the biggest reason to hope for a follow-up to the epilogues; if such a follow-up were to happen, I really look forward to hearing more from Aradia.
Sollux Captor: Sollux is by nature the other guy, that’s an immutable fact of life. He doesn’t do much other than snarking at whoever’s nearby and I can’t imagine it any other way.
Jake English: If not for a scene near the end of Candy, I’d put Jake at D-tier. Through all of Meat and most of Candy, Jake’s role is one of the oddest spots of all and it’s pretty hard to pinpoint what the authors were going for, lest I dabble in controversial topics some more. But Jake’s scene with John near the end of Candy is uniquely touching and makes the most out of his role as a second John. He moves in with John, bringing his son Tavros with him, and encourages John to reconcile with his former wife and make amends of sorts, ultimately giving a small portion of the cast a pseudo-happy ending. That whole part of Candy made me tear up.
Talking about the really GOOD parts is a perfect point for me to move on to…
Stuff that didn’t make it into A-Tier, which I’ve reserved for what struck me HARD.
Dave Strider: In both epilogues, Dave’s behavior generally seems based on how he acted in Act 6 Act 6 Intermission 5, which is actually a LOT better than it sounds and hell if I know why that is. Dave’s rants about politics and sexuality now have a charm I can’t quite describe. His absurd fixation specifically on the economy matches shockingly well with the nature of Homestuck. The three-way romance between him, Karkat, and Jade goes in very different directions on either side, which I’ll discuss a bit later. The epilogues even made Dave x Karkat an actually decent ship, how crazy is that??? The writers deserve a big badge of honor for doing that. Not sure what to say about specific things, but Dave was really well-written in an unexpected way.
Rose Lalonde: Again not sure what to say about anything in specific. Just really enjoyed reading Rose on both sides of the story. Shoutout to the heartwarming moment with John near the end.
Oh boy. Oh boy. Time for the big guns.
Vriska Serket: My mind hurts to process just how good Vriska’s appearance in Candy was, after leaving the Furthest Ring and landing on Earth. First she talks with John rather aggravated, then she brutally murders Gamzee, then she sits down and has an honest talk with her ectobiological clone raised by Rose and Kanaya, and in the end gets in touch with Terezi which leads to a cliffhanger. The story somehow created the PERFECT balance of sincere reflections and typical Vriska flavor, which was deeply lacking in A6A6I5 with its horrific polar opposite versions of Vriska. The two Vriskas’ conversation late in Candy is incredibly endearing and almost feels like an apology for the controversial Vriska/Vriska encounter back then. I accept the apology with open arms. Why is everything always so wonderful?
John Egbert: < 3 < 3 < 3 < 3 < 3 < 3 < 3. WHY IS EVERYTHING ALWAYS SO WONDERFUL? John gets a deep meaningful existential crisis arc in both epilogues; both cases I easily latched onto and found a bit of myself in. I absolutely loved seeing him and Terezi interact as a duo of people with some perception of canonicity; I’ll get back to that point soon enough. John’s marriage to Roxy not working out is a testament to both his issues with canon and Roxy’s issues dealing with harsh situations. Roxy latches onto John and their son as a huge carefree pushover and he doesn’t like that at all. And that’s actually cool with me because John x Terezi is better in every way, as the epilogues made me realize. If that wasn’t enough, the end of Candy spoils our little hearts by having John reconcile with Roxy anyway and give hope for a better future. Though a part of me does want to see a true happy ending where John and Roxy date with their delightful dynamic from their first interactions, I’m beyond pleased with the epilogues’ handling of John either way. Swaying deep into some rather sad territory while remaining 100% faithful to his character that I’ve always loved so much.
Terezi Pyrope: FUCK YES FUCK YES FUCK YES FUCK YES FUCK YES. Every scene with Terezi in the epilogues was so goddamn awesome. Her interactions with John were such a blast to read, with exactly the mix of humor and touching aspects that make both of the big John/girl ships what they are. How did the authors pull it off, making deeply emotional scenes without ever sacrificing that goofy Terezi flavor???
S in rating systems these days is way misused in my eyes. Normally A is meant to be the highest rating and S is used for the very rare absolutely exceptional case A doesn’t do justice. But now you see shit like SS, SSS, SSSS everywhere like one S isn’t the ultimate badge of honor? S is a rating I’d gladly give Detective Pony and may or may not give cool and new web comic. Same goes for my very favorite Futurama episodes. I’d give a few of Neil Cicierega’s works that rating if I’m feeling up to it. In this post, I’ve reserved the S rating for:
Barack Obama: THE BEST PART OF THE EPILOGUES, HANDS DOWN. His conversation with Dave near the end of Candy is perfect in every way, it really transcends words. Humor, emotional touching, plot revelations, and straight up “Homestuck feel” are blended into the most delicious melting pot imaginable. When Dave confesses that he might be gay and explains troubles in his three-way romance, Obama responds with a truly inspiring speech about identity that raises an excellent point about the differences between the epilogues involving aspects of people that may seem immutable to some. I think Obama’s speech leaves a powerful message I never expected Homestuck of all things to convey so well. I hope readers take that speech’s message into account, though I know many will probably be a bit naive about it.
If you refuse to read the epilogues at all costs, then I implore you to read Dave and Obama’s conversation anyway. You won’t be disappointed.
This post was so much fun to write, holy shit. I so badly needed to get all this out of my system. The only thing stopping me from continuing my Homestuck post series (plural) is that I don’t want to do it on Blogger anymore. The move to a new platform will happen soon enough, once I have some real-life things sorted out.