Act 6 Act 3, Part 11 of 11 HOLY FUCK I’M FINISHED WITH THIS ACT
Pages 5238-5262 (MSPA: 7138-7162)
OK guys, it’s time. IT’S TIME. To finally finish commentating on Act 6 Act 3, the part of Homestuck this post series has been stuck on for almost three years now. Are you MOTHERFUCKERS ready for me to finally stop chickening out from dissecting enormous flashes?
I know this will make me sound like an idiot, but I’m really really looking forward to dissecting the Openbound trilogy of walkaround games where we get to know the Beforan trolls. So why not finally finish going through the last part of Homestuck I have left before those? We’re doing it, man. We’re making this happen.
[S] Dirk: Synchronize is a whole two minutes of Dirk being fucking awesome. The moment he wakes up, he cuts to the chase and starts doing awesome stuff.
First, he captchalogues Squarewave; as we see firsthand, this robot can be compacted into a block form.
Next up is the obligatory thumbs-up/down sequence. As you’re surely aware, no Strider-centric flash is complete without at least one thumbs up (or thumbs down). That’s a proven fact of life.
And then here’s probably my favorite cool thing Dirk does in this flash. Remember how each of the beta kids had to find something heavy to open their client players’ cruxtruders? Dirk doesn’t need to do that. Through a well-timed acrobatic fucking pirouette, he pops open his own cruxtruder. That’s just, like. Way too cool and awesome.
Another proven fact about Striders is that they can do stuff others couldn’t just through a bit of creative thinking. How does Dirk make it all the way to Roxy’s house in the limited timeframe he has to bring her back to life? First he builds up enough speed on his rocketboard to blast out the window (with a sick rail grind for good measure) …
… then he blasts through the fenestrated plane to Roxy’s Skaianet lab (with a sweet high five with Meenah for good measure) …
… then he flies to Roxy’s house and kisses her corpse straight on the lips, conveniently censored by Squarewave’s text box. This censorship makes sense because Roxy is everyone’s favorite waifu and many’s faces will light up when she kisses or is kissed—exactly the kind of thing Hussie won’t treat his readers to under any circumstance, not even when Roxy is dead. It’s kind of like how we didn’t get to see Jade corpsesmooch Dave, since that ship was always a big fan favorite.
And then for the grand finale: Roxy tries to corpsesmooch Jane, Dirk sendificates a bucket back in time, and then he…
… decapitates himself?
I don’t think there’s a single other flash in Homestuck that ends on a note quite as confusing as this one. What reason could Dirk possibly have to send his severed head back in time at the cost of his waking self’s life? He was on such a roll. But this confusing ending makes sense, because this was only the first half of a grandiose sequence—the second half we’ll see after a few more pages.
After Dirk’s severed head appears in the ruins of Jake’s house, a mysterious hand dumps water from the bucket Dirk just sendificated to wake him up. Fun little mystery arc right there: we don’t have a clue who this hand could possibly be, nor do we know that Jake’s friends are all standing right behind him.
After a bunch of nonsense where Dirk’s responder cryptically asks Jake to kiss Dirk’s severed head, we get an interesting exchange where the Auto-Responder reveals his new name.
TT: Please don’t call me Auto-Responder.
TT: It is very impersonal, and I no longer care for the designation.
TT: I have decided on a new name, to distinguish myself from my human counterpart.
GT: What is it?
TT: Lil Hal.
GT: Why that name…
TT: Just a reference to the protagonist of an ancient movie. You probably wouldn’t like it.
Lil’ Hal claims to have named himself after the “protagonist of an ancient movie”, which is invigorating to me. To demonstrate what I find interesting about this claim, let me use the example of a webcomic called…
So the protagonist of Homestuck is obviously John Egbert—that goes without saying, right? Not to some people. I’ve seen readers argue that through the principles of literature and character arcs, the true protagonist of Homestuck must be Vriska. I’ve also seen readers argue that the true protagonist is Caliborn, again due to the principles of character arcs. Both of those claims sound stupid to me (as much as I love Caliborn), but I can kind of see where they’re coming from if you want to think in insanely technical and twisted terms instead of doing things like a normal person?
I think Hal is using this same principle to claim HAL 9000 is the true protagonist of 2001: A Space Odyssey. He’s not just saying that for fun; it’s a genuine indicator that he’s now beyond thinking of things in human terms, instead going for the twisted morality of such figures as Doc Scratch and Skaia.
GT: Did you plan for this to happen… like for me to be in this situation?
GT: How long have your machinations been in play!
TT: Jake, come on.
TT: The feat you describe would exceed the capabilities of even the most far fetched theoretical AI system.
TT: It would be a daunting challenge to engineer such a series of events, even if I was relegated to a model of pure fiction.
TT: Why would I be inclined to orchestrate such a convoluted sequence to produce such a specific and unsettling result, let alone be able to pull it off?
TT: In addition to being moderately sociopathic, I would also have to possess unfathomable heuristic depth.
TT: I would have to be the Deep Blue of Weird Plot Shit.
TT: Do you think I am the Deep Blue of Weird Plot Shit, Jake?
This passage is more stupid meta nonsense wherein Hal messes with Jake, claiming that it’s unreasonable for him to expect this head-kissing situation to have been planned all along. I would normally skip over it, but I’m quoting it here because I love the phrase “the Deep Blue of Weird Plot Shit” and I want to make it extra clear I didn’t come up with that beautiful phrase myself.
GT: Little hal… i think youve gone and flipped your FUDGING LID.
GT: Oh and hal is a STUPID NAME!!!!
TT: It’s not exactly apropos, is it?
TT: Or it wouldn’t be, if I truly were capable of what you have suggested.
TT: No, to pull that off, I would have to be far more advanced than my cinematic predecessor.
TT: My abilities would have to go well beyond those of Mr. Hal 9000.
TT: They would have to be, you could say…
TT: Over 9000.
TT: [shades emote x9]
GT: Augh not that fuckin meme again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I find Homestuck’s references to the “over 9000” meme way way way too funny. Homestuck usually takes its in-story memes from Dave’s SBaHJ comics, which means any references to external memes will stick out like a sore thumb. Did Hussie ever take the opportunity to reference trending memes from the time he wrote his comic? Hardly ever. But did he shamelessly reference a meme that had fallen out of fashion before Homestuck started multiple times in the same act? Hell yeah he did. This meme is referenced three times in Act 6 Act 3; the latter two times it’s followed by a complaint about how overused it is.
Also, I begrudgingly admit that Lil’ Hal made a clever pun.
GT: So youre telling me that while i was asleep somehow EVERYBODY died???
TT: Jake, everybody is so utterly fucking dead, Jake.
TT: And they will be not only dead, but royally boned forever if you don’t man the hell up and make out with me, right now.
TT: Be the Salome to my John the Baptist.
GT: I dont know what THAT means either!!!
TT: I know you don’t.
TT: But now is not the time to accelerate your cultural enrichment.
An inevitable side effect of being a pretentious toolbag is that you’ll never stop making references that you know others won’t get. Those two character traits just go hand-in-hand.
TT: The conductor is ready to strike up the band.
TT: Press your lips against mine and make it count.
TT: This severed head is your filthy tuba.
TT: Our love will be your haunting refrain.
GT: Whoa wait whoa whoa… our LOVE? Hang on a minute!
TT: Stfu and kiss me.
Problem Sleuth reference!!!!! It’s a very good reference, but at the same time incredibly disturbing, especially if you’ve actually read Problem Sleuth like anyone who’s read Homestuck should. Very fitting for Hal of all characters no less.
I should mention here, I participated in a Problem Sleuth community reread not long ago and wrote a short essay on Reddit reviewing it. It was my second time ever reading Problem Sleuth all the way through and boy was it a fun ride.
GT: Ok im going to! God!!!
GT: I just…
GT: This isnt how i pictured it going.
TT: Pictured what?
GT: Between him and me.
GT: There had to be a better way than this!
TT: This is the only way it can be.
GT: I guess if it was going to go this way…
GT: I kinda pictured something different?
GT: There was stuff i wanted to say.
GT: To the real him i mean.
More of the responder expressing a mindset common to the forces of predestination, with even more smartassery than usual.
TT: Tick, tock, Jake. Time is dead kids.
TT: How ’bout that smooch?
GT: Stop being so pushy!
TT: I thought you were supposed to like adventure?
GT: I LOVE adventure and you KNOW it!
TT: I’m not sure what to believe anymore, frankly.
Oh man, we’re not too far from the point where Jake’s “loving adventure” trait is brutally deconstructed. He talks about it during the post-trickster split screen conversations and it’s one of the best parts of what is already one of my favorite sections of the comic.
GT: ALRIGHT WISE GUY YOU WANT YOUR FLIPPING KISS???
GT: YOU GOT IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And then he does it. After a silly zoom-in to Dirk’s dead lips, we’re treated to this gorgeous shot of Jake English smooching Dirk Strider’s severed head in front of an erupting volcano. Too bad Jane, Roxy, and Dirk aren’t there to witness the utter beauty.
And with that, Dirk’s dream light overpowers and shatters into pieces. I guess it’s supposed to indicate that Jake did something mind-blowing? And also to lead up to the second half of Dirk’s flash sequence, [S] Dirk: Unite.
While Synchronize focused on Dirk’s waking self, Unite focuses on his dream self now that his waking self underwent his first of many decapitations to come. Cool duality, as we can see through visual callbacks.
First off, Dirk kicks Roxy out of the way and corpsesmooches Jane; Roxy is amusingly disappointed.
As Dirk and Roxy fly through the Veil on the way to the meteor with the frog temple, they’re engaged in a weird sort of embrace—fitting for a first-time meeting between two people who had never spoken to another human being in person until this very moment.* One of them probably spent every day before then fantasizing about giving her friends a nice, warm hug; the other doesn’t even seem to know what hugging is. Kind of reminds me of the narration’s description of Dave and Dirk’s hug when John zaps back to it in the Candy Epilogue, where Dirk “looks like he’s never actually hugged another human being before”.
* I would say neither had met another human being in person, but that’s technically false because dream Dirk has seen Roxy’s sleeping dream self plenty before.
Jane joins the ship ride and it becomes even more of a spectacle than before, with her flailing around in confusion while Roxy is overjoyed and Dirk roughly tries to embrace them both while keeping his cool.
The bucket appears at just the right spot to land on Dirk’s rocketboard so he can fill it with water. Think about it for a second: Dirk had to time things just right and enter just the right location for the bucket to arrive for him to fill it up with water. If he made just the slightest slip, the bucket would have fallen into the ocean never to be seen again (except maybe by Caliborn millions of years in the future). How is it even possible for him to be this precise??? I guess that’s just Dirk for you. Though it’s not out of the question that adult Jade could achieve similar feats of precision, with the uncanny scientific knowledge she demonstrates in the epilogues.
Turns out the mystery hand that dumped water on Jake turned out to be none other than Dirk himself, his dream self to be specific. I like how Dirk could have woken Jake simply by poking him or something, but instead went through this whole scheme to get Jake to kiss his severed head and thus had to find a different way to wake him up.
Jake sees Dirk alive and freaks out, dropping his severed head in the process; the girls’ reactions are truly something to behold. Roxy is staring with her mouth open à la Karkat. Jane is making exact same uncomfortable face she made when failing to confess to Jake, which was a bit of a fandom meme at the time. Meanwhile, Dirk is just standing calmly with a bucket in one hand as if nothing surprising happened, which makes sense because he just executed his whole crazy plan without a hitch. I love when flashes end on humorous notes like this.
These panels show us that Dirk’s robots are handling what would be his and Roxy’s entries into the Medium. His Strider cleverness shines here: he sent the portable Squarewave to handle Roxy’s entry and left the mighty Sawtooth to handle his own. Note that we don’t get to see their entry items, which makes thematic sense because robots are doing the job this time.
Meanwhile, the alpha kids have all gathered at the ruins of Jake’s house. Jake’s entry item is a tree like Jane’s, but with a Lord English doll hanging from it instead of nothing. It doesn’t serve all that much of a thematic purpose, other than foreshadowing that Caliborn is Lord English which we’ll see firsthand very shortly.
The three following entries into the Medium don’t get dramatic animations, nor do they need to—just short, simple flashes without audio. It’s kind of amazing seeing those three entries happen in short succession, rather than each occurring in its own dramatic way.
There’s one more character in the alpha kids’ arc yet to enter the Medium, who most certainly will get a dramatic animation. I’ve been waiting SO LONG to get to this point, my god. Are you ready? ARE YOU READY? It’s time to dissect one of the best flashes in the comic, maybe the best besides Cascade. [S] Caliborn: Enter, here we come!!!!!!!!!!!
This flash opens by alternating between where we last saw Caliborn (about to wake up from Calliope’s final nap in their shared sarswapagus) and where we last saw Lord English (traveling through Hussiespace in his Cairo Overcoat). Good use of circumstantial simultaneity to finally reveal Lord English’s identity.
Then the red spirals on Caliborn’s cheeks become red circles and he wakes up. One hell of a wham shot right there.
As English travels through the Furthest Ring, the Sburb spirograph logo does its usual funky animation in the background. It feels so amazing seeing that logo again; it tells readers that this is going to be a DRAMATIC end-of-act flash.
We start to see some familiar imagery as English’s journey continues. First the Horrorterrors from when we were introduced to the Furthest Ring, then the dream bubble Roxy visited with that weird pastiche of Earth, LOLAR, LOWAS, and Skaia.
And inside that bubble is a huge party of troll ghosts—some familiar like the doomed Karkat and Nepeta standing together, some never seen before like the god tier Tavros.
Fittingly enough, when Lord English enters the scene we see a memory of the Felt manor all the way back from the Midnight Crew intermission. It’s a great demonstration of how the scenery of dream bubbles changes depending on who’s inside that doubles as a reminder that the intermission is when we first heard about English.
Among the many ghosts watching English’s entrance, three look especially familiar: the John from Davesprite’s timeline and the two unlucky doomed copies of Dave. It’s sweet to see them gathered together like this, at least until we see what follows.
When English appears in full view, this flash takes a moment to remind us that he is a Hero of Time in an unusual way: through English descending onto what is technically a memory of Dave’s quest bed.
English’s full appearance transitions us to what we now know is his younger self. The first thing Caliborn does as a predominated evil cherub is take off his shackles, which he has no reason to keep on now that his sister is dead. There’s one problem though: he can’t unlock his sister’s shackle. So how does he get out of this predicament?
He BITES HIS MOTHERFUCKING LEG OFF. Or should I say, he bites her motherfucking leg off.
Words cannot describe how just plain shocking this scene is. It’s the perfect character establishing moment for Caliborn.
Caliborn tosses her leg aside and spits out a tooth in the process. This is the first instance of the tooth/leg motif, a sibling of the eye/arm motif. Technically the first of only two instances (the other is the alpha kids’ Jack Noir), but cool and new web comic also has an instance that is done hilariously and very much in the spirit of parodying Homestuck.
When Caliborn puts on his leg, we learn that he isn’t quite as stupid as we may have thought; certainly not stupid in the way his sister is. It turns out Caliborn had already planned this day out and had a robot leg ready waiting to be put on—the same leg he got Dirk in the past to make for him. Cunning plans that break imaginary “rules” are something Caliborn has in common with the Striders, especially Dirk. Dirk’s plans are always insanely complicated, while Caliborn’s plans are always insanely stupid yet brilliant at the same time.
Similar to what we saw with Calliope earlier, Caliborn’s scepter transforms into a rifle. Kind of interesting that in Caliborn’s case, a character pattern is shown in a dramatic flash instead of through the usual narration. Same goes for his name reveal.
And if you thought Caliborn was scary, wait till you see what Lord English is about to do. He blasts a rainbow laser beam out of his mouth…
The musical motif in this scene is the same one that played when John went to his dad’s room for the first time.
This time, it’s in a scene that’s even more terrifying.
… which VAPORIZES THE GHOSTS INTO DUST. All those doomed clones of characters hanging out in the dream bubble? They’re gone forever. I know of people who screamed out loud when they got to this part.
Then the dream bubble explodes, creating PHYSICAL CRACKS IN REALITY!!! This moment is simply stunning, I can’t get over it.
What do we have here in Caliborn’s Sburb session? A black cruxtruder displaying ~U instead of a countdown, with a red and green flashing kernelsprite. This scene seems to indicate that dead sessions have way less than the bare minimum needed for a usual Sburb session. There’s also something really strange and ominous about a black cruxtruder.
1/17/2020 EDIT: God damn it, why didn’t the Homestuck^2 authors listen to me???
Meanwhile on the trolls’ meteor, Dave watches the destruction from afar, the glass cracks reflected in his sunglasses. Why do cosmic-scale events always look so COOL reflected in those Stiller shades????? Both in Problem Sleuth and in Homestuck.
A zoom-in to Dave’s eyes transitions us to the musical climax of the flash, where Caliborn’s kernelsprite collapses into a black hole and starts sucking in everything around it, including all those shitty Statues of Liberty. The only way to properly react to this part is to sit there with your mouth wide open.
At the end of this climactic section, Caliborn goes through the usual Medium entry sequence with his home flashing all white, but with a twist: after the trolls’ meteor enters the game, the entirety of Earth enters as it’s sucked into the black hole. I can only say, that’s a hell of a twist if I’ve ever seen one.
And then comes the aftermath of this flash, with a sequence I really love. Remember the big and scary Jack Noir from the beta kids’ session, with first guardian powers and endless rage that made him an unstoppable killing machine??? Well, he and his Prospitian counterpart just watched the destruction and are both staring in shock. Neither look like they have any idea what just happened.
As a chilling reprise of the piano riff that ends [S] Descend and opens [S] Jade: Enter plays, the flash zooms out from Caliborn’s black hole to reveal the same shape vague haunting image Calliope showed us from her dreams not long ago. That’s a spectacularly high-stakes note to end Act 6 Act 3 on.
I love how Act 6’s first three sub-acts all end on similar images to their corresponding early acts. Act 1 and Act 6 Act 1 both end with a surprise explosion; Act 2 and Act 6 Act 2 end with scenery of Earth centuries in the future; and Act 3 and Act 6 Act 3 end with a newly-revealed celestial body.
HOLY MOTHER OF GOD. I DID IT, I DID IT, I DID IT, I FINALLY DID IT. I FINISHED ACT 6 ACT 3 IN MY HOMESTUCK POST SERIES AND IT TOOK OVER TWO YEARS AND SEVEN MONTHS. FINALLY I AM DONE WITH THIS ACT AND CAN GO ON TO THE BEFORUS TROLLS! OH MY GOD. I DID IT. THIS IS HOW I FEEL RIGHT NOW.
I AM GOING TO RECAP ACT 6 ACT 3 NOW.
… to the best of my ability, because I was on that act for almost three years.
Act 6 Act 3 is easily the best of Act 6’s first three sub-acts. It goes lighter on romance drama and way heavier on cool plot stuff. Threads are tied, Dirk does awesome things, and Caliborn does stupid but oddly brilliant things. Caliborn in this act was absolutely fantastic; a joy to read and full of surprise twists on the way. This act also has lots of good silly scenes, like Jake’s dream bubble scenes with Brain Ghost Dirk and Aranea, or Jack Noir’s Jailbreak adventure. The scene where Dirk draws pictures of his friends holding hands for Caliborn is one of the biggest laugh riots in all of Homestuck.
What about the girl characters in this act? Jane, Roxy, and Calliope? They were alright I suppose. Didn’t get as much screen time as the boys though. Jane got some cool point-and-click minigames at the start, Calliope had some good exposition scenes and a surprisingly hilarious sequence where we explored her room, and Roxy didn’t do much but was fine too. I didn’t mean to split the characters between boys and girls like that; I just realized I wrote almost exclusively about male characters in the paragraph above.
Act 6 Act 3 didn’t have very many flash pages, but the ones it did have were spectacular. The Myststuck series of walkaround games is excellent and hits home the formula of making a good minigame; the next few flashes are silly joke ones (I have a massive soft spot for [S] DD: Ascend more casually). The only usual dramatic Homestuck flashes were right at the end: two focused on the alpha kids and one focused on Caliborn. And all three were glorious, on the same level as the best flashes throughout Act 5 Act 2.
I can’t believe it took me so long to get through this act, almost as much as I can’t believe I’m finally done with it. Even after I got out of my nearly two-year hiatus, numerous circumstances kept interrupting me and then I got REALLY distracted when the Homestuck Epilogues came out. But what can I say, now that I’m done I’m done and I can hopefully pick up the pace now.
I should also mention that I’ve always felt the end of Act 6 Act 3 is a turning point in the comic’s enjoyability. After this point, the story starts to get more questionable: first the pre-scratch trolls appear, then the beta and alpha kids’ relationships REALLY fall apart, and then comes the controversial retcon and the excessively long Act 6 Act 6 Intermission 5 where so much is just not good. I suppose I’ll see for myself if it’s really as bad as I remember.
See you next time as we finally meet, uh, those characters.