Cookie Fonster Dissects Homestuck Part 86: Oh God, It’s Those Characters


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Act 6 Intermission 3, Part 1 of 6

Page 5263 (MSPA: 7163) [Openbound: Part 1]

Welcome to eternal hell, as the saying goes.

Also, this is my first Homestuck post to only cover one page.

Time to begin Act 6 Intermission 3 of Homestuck! This act is unusual because most of its content is in three walkaround games focused primarily on Meenah and her Beforan friends. Those walkarounds are collectively referred to as Openbound; individually as Openbound Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3; and they’re one of the most polarizing parts of the comic. Many people hate Openbound with a passion, and it is my goal to see if it is really as bad as people say.

These walkarounds are interspersed with regular pages focusing on the beta kids, plus a flash at the end called Ministrife. I’ve said this before, but to reiterate, each walkaround game will take up an entire blog post; the intermittent pages will also take up one blog post each, including the pages after Openbound Part 3. This means Act 6 Intermission 3 will be divided into six posts total.

When I first read Homestuck, Openbound was two years old.

Now it’s almost seven. And everyone thinks it’s called Meenahquest now.

The Openbound loading screen gives me immense nostalgia. When I first read this part in 2014, I remember waiting ten minutes or more for it to load. Now it barely takes ten seconds. Oh, how the times have changed.

Openbound Part 1 starts with a little Flash cutscene where Meenah Peixes watches the Furthest Ring’s destruction and runs downstairs in excitement. To view it on, you need to be extra sure Flash is enabled and you may need to refresh a few times for it to work. If Flash isn’t enabled specifically for this page, the cutscene won’t play and it’ll skip straight to the walkaround, which is programmed in HTML5.

The Furthest Ring cutscene is cool but it isn’t a huge deal if you miss it, which is a good thing here because you might not be able to properly view it. The first A6I3 episode of Let’s Read Homestuck includes that cutscene, if you want to watch it.

After the cutscene, the walkaround itself begins with you playing as Meenah exploring a dream bubble. As per tradition, if you go out of your way to explore hidden places you’ll find lots of interesting stuff in chests. Here’s one of the first things you can find:

> open


Totally useless. This nasty trash isn’t coming anywhere close to your head. Doesn’t even have horn holes. Looks like something an archaeologist would wear. You wonder whose memory this is?

#hornless troll indiana jones hat

This is the first of many cool little hints for attentive readers. This one hints at the first character Meenah will meet in these bubbles, who is…

… none other than our old friend Aradia Megido, still wearing her fairy time outfit.

As Meenah is angered to see what she assumes is Damara, you’ll probably notice that the dialogue format in this walkaround is a bit different from prior ones. It now has elements inspired by social media, Tumblr in particular which was a HUGE hub for Homestuck fans back in the day. Some still use it, while others have moved to sites like Amino and, for reasons I can not even BEGIN to comprehend, Twitter.

But now’s not a time for a history lesson about the Homestuck fandom or complaints about sides of the fandom I find annoying. That’s much better discussed when we actually meet the other Beforan trolls.

Anyway, Meenah’s exchange with Aradia is brief and serves as a quick introduction to the world of this walkaround. 

> Meenah, talk to Aradia

ARADIA: greetings!
ARADIA: ive been meaning to say hello since you arrived
 #aw hell no
ARADIA: yes but not the one youre thinking of
MEENAH: which one then
ARADIA: i like to consider myself as something of a caretaker for this place
 #you know #the afterlife?
ARADIA: id refer to myself as an excellent host but that has become kind of a loaded phrase

Aradia starts by introducing her role in the story since she left the meteor crew behind. She now plays the role of a caretaker and guide to the dream bubbles, as we saw her do a few times back in Act 5 Act 2.

MEENAH: you look like megido
MEENAH: but you sure dont sound like any megido i know
ARADIA: i should hope not!

After that, we get a subtle hint that the alpha trolls’ Megido is an oddball among her group, in a much more negative way than Aradia ever was. This line also amusingly implies Aradia met her dancestor and couldn’t stand her, which begins a subplot where the Alternian trolls meet their Beforan counterparts. Every Alternian/Beforan pair of corresponding trolls is shown or implied to have met at some point in this act, except for Sollux and Mituna. Karkat provides a great discussion on this topic in Openbound Part 2.

ARADIA: anyway those of us who are concerned with the preservation of reality have been looking forward to this day for some time
 #even though ‘time’ is really just a figure of speech here
MEENAH: why would you be lookin forward to this shit
 #the sky just broke #stupid fairy
ARADIA: not the devastation so much as your arrival
ARADIA: you have some big plans yes?
MEENAH: whats it to you
ARADIA: oh nothing! i am merely extending the courtesy of a formal welcome
ARADIA: now off with you! go find your friends
ARADIA: that IS why youve finally come out of your palace isnt it?
MEENAH: yeah
MEENAH: guess ill get goin then
 #but i got my eye on you #megido lookin fairy

This conversation ends with Aradia demonstrating her caretaker role in real time by encouraging Meenah to find her friends.

At the end of each conversation in Openbound, we get icons based on the standard icons for reacting to a Tumblr post: spade, heart, and rebubble. Clicking the rebubble icon generates a randomized blurb poking fun at the workings of social media. Say what you will about Openbound, but going through it in the year 2019 I find the social media satire funny so far.

> open chest to the left of Aradia


Again, a strange thing to find. Who here would have a memory of these? Huge prehistoric green serpents have always played a major role in your people’s mythology, both before and after your session scratched. Of course, only people with an interest in ancient lore and dusty old bones give a crap about that. You’re much more interested in their monetary value. Hopefully you can find a sucker to pay up for them big time.

 #where’s the prawn shop in this bitch

It was speculated at one point that these bones had to do with Abraxas, the green serpent who is known to be Jake’s denizen and speculated to be Karkat’s denizen. Now of course it’s clearly an early hint at cherub biology, but I’m pretty sure the MSPA wiki still lists that as having to do with Abraxas somewhere.

Did I ever mention the MSPA wiki kind of sucks??? As do pretty much all wikis hosted on Wikia, wait I mean FANDOM. (Though to be fair, it’s not unreasonable to assume Abraxas is in some way connected to cherubs.)

If you go to that chest like I just did and then go back, Aradia will play her amusing little caretaker role once again:

ARADIA: lost?
MEENAH: i uh
MEENAH: went the wrong way
ARADIA: yes thats a dead end
ARADIA: where you want to go is
ARADIA: *nk-nkt*
 #double pistols #and a 😉
MEENAH: thanks
MEENAH: weirdo

I have to say, god tier Aradia is quite a treasure.

The scenery gets more interesting as Meenah explores the second area of the game. I’ve always liked to imagine the Openbound scenery is what the Beforus trolls’ Sburb planets looked like, though much of it could just as likely be Beforus itself or Alternian trolls’ memories. It’s probably up to the reader’s interpretation.

In this area you can find Aranea, Rose, Kanaya, and Dave in that order. Here’s a chest of note:

> open chest northeast of Aranea


Any sane adventurer would cast these instruments of the occult into the furthest ring and forget they ever existed. And… it looks like someone did just that?

 #a wise move

Good subtle character development right there. A bit of a surprise to see that there, after a bunch of inconsequential chests earlier.

Dave’s absurdist social media is gloriously revisited in the Meat Epilogue.

Also, just look at this 2012 Twitter interface.

Next to that chest we get a funny little demonstration of Dave’s love for absurdist social media: a little bubble that posts randomized Dave quotes much like real-world automated or otherwise gimmicky Twitter accounts.

(The three best automated/gimmick accounts on Twitter in no order are as follows: [1], [2], [3]. You’re welcome.)

(Actually, who am I kidding. The third is obviously the best.)

> Meenah, talk to Aranea

ARANEA: There you are!
ARANEA: Haven’t seen much of you since you joined us in the afterlife. I know you are “royalty” and all, 8ut it isn’t very socia8le of you to lock yourself in your lavish moon hive forever.
 #Everyone has missed you!
MEENAH: well im here now arent i
ARANEA: Yes. And it’s good thing you are. I was just a8out to come find you, so we could discuss the recent… Calamity. Out in the a8yss.
 #Wordplay #8 letter words #Oh yes
MEENAH: yeah!!! so you saw it too huh
MEENAH: that was the guy right
 #skull guy #laser breath
MEENAH: lord somefin
MEENAH: clamiborn? whatd you say his shit was again
ARANEA: I’d try to avoid saying his true name.
 #8ad juju
MEENAH: whats it matter
MEENAH: hes already here aint he
ARANEA: I guess. 8ut yes, the Lord of Time was responsi8le for the destruction of that dream 8u88le, and the murder of all those innocent ghosts.
 #Ghost murder #Second death #Soulicide

Openbound continues the tradition of following grandiose flashes with textual recaps, and what better character to recap things in detail than Aranea Serket? At this point in the comic, Aranea serves as the go-to character to exposit about mysterious things; I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s the reason Hussie decided to make her such a major character. She clarifies that Caliborn is Lord English if it wasn’t obvious already, and accordingly reveals his class.

MEENAH: anyway that explosion kicked ass
MEENAH: splosions rule the school!!! 38D 
 #like school of fishes i mean #38D #38D #38D
ARANEA: I agree that it’s more excitement than we’ve seen here for millenia. 8ut all of us here in the afterlife are in serious danger of 8eing extermin8ed!!!!!!!!
ARANEA: Again.
MEENAH: yeah i got that
MEENAH: i figured id have to be the heroe and bail you suckas out again
 #this time i might not even blow yall up w a bomb
ARANEA: Oh really?
ARANEA: What exactly is your plan?
 #I’m very curious!
MEENAH: to get all us ghosts here to team up and kill that asshole
ARANEA: Oh, Meenah. That is such a terri8le idea.
 #Poor death choices
MEENAH: yeah right
MEENAH: like you have a better idea
ARANEA: As a matter of fact, I do! ::::)

I’m quoting this part of the conversation because it’s a lead-in to the next thing Meenah and Aranea talk about: their respective plans for how to kill Lord English.

> Meenah, ask about friends

MEENAH: so where is everymoby i wanna talk to them bout somefin
 #dead fronds #ghostbros #haunt pals #idk
ARANEA: I 8elieve most of our friends have gathered in this dream 8u88le.
ARANEA: You should 8e a8le to find them if you explore a 8it.
ARANEA: What do you want to talk to them a8out?
MEENAH: gotta get the gang back together
 #alpha troll reunion yo

Let’s talk about hashtags. <- a sentence I never thought I would say in a Homestuck blog post before

Throughout the Openbound games, hashtags add a second layer to the dialogue that has so far been mostly used for side remarks or puns. But on occasion, they are actually useful for making clarifications that might be of place in proper dialogue, like the case shown above which confirms that the Beforan trolls are the alpha trolls just like the post-scratch kids are the alpha kids.

Hashtags have been a harmless addition so far, but keep in mind the social media satire will kick into HIGH gear the moment we meet Kankri.

MEENAH: take down the douche of time
MEENAH: you say hes invincible but i think thats exactly the kind of loser bs that made us lose like a bunch of fuckin losers in the first losin place
 #losers #losing experts #lossmasters #failpros

By claiming the trolls shouldn’t give up just because Lord English is “invincible”, Meenah demonstrates yet again that even though she grew up on Beforus, she’s an Alternian down to the core.

MEENAH: if we build an army
 #or maybe…
MEENAH: a G)(OST army 38D
MEENAH: think a how glubbin sick would that be
 #so sick
ARANEA: Sick, perhaps. 8ut not a very good strategy!
ARANEA: You will just 8e leading everyone into permanent o8livion. At least you will without coming up with a 8etter plan first.
MEENAH: then whats your awesome idea
ARANEA: To 8e a little more patient. 
 #Patience #Peixes #Alliterative assonance
ARANEA: I have 8een following clues regarding the wherea8outs of a secret weapon that may 8e the key to defeating him. 
MEENAH: oh reely
MEENAH: whats the weaprawn
ARANEA: The weaprawn…….. weapon, I mean, is not a what, 8ut a who.
 #Weaprawn? #Really, Meenah?
ARANEA: She is the other cheru8. The Lord’s female counterpart, who once occupied the same 8ody.
ARANEA: 8ut when they reached maturity, his personality dominated the host, assuming complete control. 
 #Xeno8iologically fascinating species
ARANEA: She technically died that day, and now her spirit presuma8ly roams somewhere out here in the Furthest Ring.
 #Or so the legend goes
ARANEA: We need to find her 8efore he does. He will surely want to finish her off.

The lost cherub part of the plan to kill Lord English has always felt weird to me. Aranea talks about it during the Openbound games without making progress, then it’s put on the backburner long before we meet the god tier version of Calliope, who is the actual lost cherub. I feel like this red herring could have been better executed, perhaps with some sneaky lies of omission that seem obvious in retrospect.

MEENAH: ok i didnt really follow any of that junk so uh
MEENAH: you go right ahead and find your cherub girl
MEENAH: ima be right here building my ghost army B–E-EYOTC)(
 #ghost army #beeyotch #fyeah
ARANEA: Very well. 8est of luck with that!
ARANEA: 8ut try to remem8er it has 8een a very long time since any of our friends have done anything important at all.
 #Like, almost eternity
ARANEA: It may 8e more difficult to find recruits for your army than you think.
 #I hope you like frustrating conversations

Through hashtags, Aranea gives readers a sort of warning as to what to expect in Openbound. This is another use of hashtags in these walkarounds: to insert text that may slightly break the fourth wall.

The next character Meenah meets is Rose Lalonde, standing in a small bit of Derse scenery.

> open chest next to Rose


Wow this looks really… huh? It just disappeared from your hand in a crazy blur. What the… oh, that human girl has it. She looks like she’s enjoying it a lot more than you ever would. You’ll let her have this one.

 #probably wasn’t worth jack anyway

This is another interesting Rose-related bit. In the pre-retcon timeline, it looks like she managed to get her hands on her post-scratch self’s literature and seems to really enjoy reading it. It pleases me that Rose discusses her scratched self’s work in the epilogues (especially with Dirk in Meat), so that little bit isn’t forgotten.

(god, I love the Homestuck Epilogues so much)

> Meenah, talk to Rose

MEENAH: hey!!!!
ROSE: Hello.
MEENAH: its uh
ROSE: Yes.
MEENAH: human right
 #where da horns at #so weird
ROSE: That’s right.
ROSE: Rose, more specifically.
MEENAH: who cares listen human girl wanna ask ya somefin
ROSE: You’re not very good at this, are you?
ROSE: Talking to people.
MEENAH: hey eff you
ROSE: It’s ok that you are. I’m not trying to criticize.
 #I can kind of relate, actually.

Rose starts the same as ever when talking to Meenah, but when you get to the last line quoted above you can immediately tell Rose’s personality has changed quite a bit.

ROSE: I’ve heard some things about you. That pink rocky environment back there. That’s a memory of your home, right?
 #Beforan moon
ROSE: You renounced the throne and ran away to the moon, didn’t you? And then you lived there completely alone for… how many years?
MEENAH: what are years
ROSE: I think I’m starting to lose track of what a year is myself. That seems to be what happens when you spend enough time out here.
 #Abyss madness #Meteor fever
ROSE: I’m just curious about you. You seem like an interesting person who probably has a lot of stories to tell.
 #Also, I like your braids.
ROSE: From what I understand, you discovered something on the moon which originally contained your copy of the game? Is that true?
 #dot #dot #dot
ROSE: Maybe we could spend some time together and get to know each other? When you have the chance, of course.

For whatever reason, Rose is now flirting HARD with Meenah—almost Roxy-tier flirting. My guess is she’s going through a flirty lesbian teenager phase, acting unusually polite to the ladies. Makes sense because the beta kids are now about the same age as the alpha kids.

I’ll discuss Rose’s current flirtiness in more detail when Meenah talks to Kanaya, but for know let it be known that Rose is blatantly, unmistakably gay. Maybe even more so than Dirk is.

> Meenah, ask Rose to join

MEENAH: sooooo
MEENAH: extra talky human
MEENAH: its me again
ROSE: Hey!

OH GOD, THE SMILEY FACE. Flirty Rose is wonderfully discomforting.

MEENAH: got a porpoisition for ya
MEENAH: you know that bad guy
MEENAH: just wrecked the sky and killed some dead mofos
 #rainbow barfer
ROSE: Lord English?
ROSE: Yes, I know of him.
MEENAH: wanna team up with me and kill him or…
ROSE: Absolutely.
MEENAH: yay!!!! 38D
ROSE: But later. 
 #Much later, really.
ROSE: We can’t interrupt the plan which has been put into inexorable motion. Or for that matter, the meteor we’re traveling on, which has been similarly propelled.
 #Troll Isaac Newton
ROSE: We have to rendezvous with our rebooted “ancestors,” as it were, and help them win their game.
 #Alpha players #Teen guardians #Fun
ROSE: In the process, we will ideally become stronger and more experienced. Only then will we be ready to help you defeat him.
 #Additional fun
MEENAH: oh my glub you really are serketting the fuck outta this
MEENAH: come on stop overplanning lets all just fly away together and wreck his shit
MEENAH: there are like billions a ghosts out here right we got numbers on our side
 #BILLIONS #i mean #probably
ROSE: Yes. But even if I agreed, I couldn’t just fly away with you now.
ROSE: I’m not even standing here. I’m asleep on our meteor. This is a dream projection you’re talking to.
 #Kind of like a hologram, I guess?
ROSE: You’re new to dream bubbles, aren’t you.
ROSE: I would be more than happy to explain to you how they work in extensive detail.
MEENAH: later rosefang

When Rose explains in detail why she can’t join Meenah’s army just yet, Meenah is annoyed and compares her to Aranea. Typically readers will think, “holy shit that comparison makes perfect sense”, but I think Rose’s similarity to Aranea is a newfound side effect of her slight change in personality.

Standing near Rose is of course her maybe-girlfriend, Kanaya Maryam.

> Meenah, talk to Kanaya

MEENAH: oh hey the maryam looking girl
MEENAH: what is the deal with you
KANAYA: The Deal With The Maryam Looking Girl Is That She Is Wondering What The Deal Is With The Peixes Looking Girl And Specifically Why The Former Has Piqued The Latters Curiosity
 #The Deal With Things #The Topic Of Wonder #People Looking People

Kanaya gets off to a strong start in this act. Also, she uses hashtags in a much more detailed, organized way than other characters seem to. Surprisingly different from how Rose does, actually.

MEENAH: looks like you got the rainbow drinker thing going on too
 #damn #ur blindin me girl #the goggles do nofin
KANAYA: I Suppose
MEENAH: you go around lookin like that all the time or
KANAYA: To My Knowledge Yes
 #Kind Of Personal?
KANAYA: Is There An Alternative Degree Of Auto Luminescence I Should Be Aware Of
KANAYA: And If So How Foolish Should I Feel For Only Learning About It Now
 #On A Scale Of One To Idiot
MEENAH: im no drinker buff but yeah our maryam figured out how to control it
KANAYA: Really
MEENAH: she probably had more time to figure it out than you
MEENAH: when youre stuck in a busted session for three sweeps without much to do you figure some stuff out about yourself

Through discussing Porrim’s status as a rainbow drinker, Meenah reveals that the alpha trolls’ session lasted three entire sweeps before they scratched the game. That’s over six human years, which is pretty head-spinning. This timespan demonstrates the Beforus trolls’ inertia and incompetence incredibly well. They weren’t even stuck in a void session waiting five months for help like the alpha kids were. So I guess it makes sense that with this much time on their hands they figured out things our other heroes couldn’t.

MEENAH: not my buzzbug wax but maybe you should axe her
 #buzzbugs #bzzzzz #hehe
KANAYA: I Dont Think So
MEENAH: why not
KANAYA: Id Like To
KANAYA: But I Cant Get Up The Nerve
MEENAH: aw come on shes cool
 #you check out her ink yet #fucken dope
KANAYA: She Is An Amazing Person
KANAYA: And It Is Very Intimidating
KANAYA: I Had The Same Feelings Of Trepidation The Last Time I Encountered Someone I Admired

Kanaya is the second Alternian troll to discuss the topic of meeting her dancestor, and it provides some pretty neat insight into her character. Around most people Kanaya is a cold, dutiful meddler, but that shatters into pieces when she finds someone she admires. First she had conflicting feelings with Vriska which made her feel terrible when she realized Vriska fucking sucks, then she was an embarrassing mess trying to obliquely win Rose’s heart, and now she won’t talk to her cool inspiring ancestor because she doesn’t want to get into a similar mess.

MEENAH: oh yeah who was that
MEENAH: you mean
MEENAH: her over there
MEENAH: talky girl in the orange nighty jams
 # # 
MEENAH: i seaaa
MEENAH: saw you two hangin together last time
MEENAH: she your g frond
MEENAH: the red sort i mean
 # # # 
 # # # # #Additional Bashfully Blank Hash Tags

THE BIG REVEAL. Or half-reveal, more accurately. This whole act has a subplot of teasing Rose and Kanaya as a pairing until they finally kiss, the former extremely drunk. Now’s a good time to discuss Rose and Kanaya’s relationship as a whole, or more specifically what it has in common with a different ship.

Rose and Kanaya’s relationship has a lot in common with John and Roxy’s relationship knowing how things go in the Candy Epilogue. Both pairs of characters very obviously make a good match and are extremely cute together; both have plenty of joyful shippy conversations after they meet; both have one member nervously say “maybe” when asked about their relationship. But in both cases, once they get together their relationship goes way downhill. One hurt by Rose’s alcoholism and Kanaya’s excessive trust; the other hurt by John’s canonicity issues, Jane’s fascism, and possibly also Roxy’s identity issues.

Homestuck has a strange pattern where when two characters are officially dating, they hardly say a word to each other onscreen when not influenced by alcohol or cherub candy. The epilogues keep that pattern alive with married couples, which unfortunately includes John and Roxy; the only exception is Rose and Kanaya, who indeed say many words to each other. Those two were lucky enough to get a second chance at a good relationship after the retcon, which led to their marriage. The end of Candy seems to offer John and Roxy a second chance too, with Roxy having cut ties with Jane, and her and Jake helping John get over his canonicity issues.

That sure was a tangent there, about an observation I just made. Let’s go back to Meenah—how does she react to Rose and Kanaya maybe being a relationship?

She simply says:

MEENAH: thats adorbs yo

which is unexpectedly sweet of her. Kind of reminds me of Terezi’s reaction to John and Roxy’s flirting.

> Meenah, ask Kanaya to join

MEENAH: hey maryam lookalike lets go kick the fuck outa skullzilla
KANAYA: I Was About To Respond Favorably
KANAYA: But Then I Glanced Over At Rose
KANAYA: And She Was Just Shaking Her Head At Me Very Slowly And Kind Of Knowingly
 #The Limitless Mysteries Of Her Wisdom Know No Bounds #Human Sarcasm

This bit is obviously evidence that Rose and Kanaya are together. But you could see it as a hint at a negative aspect of both the two ships I just talked about: one insistently does whatever the other wants, which eventually leads to upsetting tension.

… I’m probably talking out of my ass here, but overanalyzing things is FUN.

MEENAH: no u silly drinker shes just fucking with you
KANAYA: Oh Probably
KANAYA: But Lets Be Realistic Here The Answer Was Probably Going To Be No Anyway
 #Bad Plan
MEENAH: aight well guess im going to drink skull guys blood all by my shellf then
KANAYA: I Bet It Tastes Really Bad
 #Gross Monster Blood
MEENAH: haha yeah
MEENAH: well later

And either way, Meenah’s recruitment fails as usual.

Meenah traverses more Derse scenery and opens more chests. Many we’ve seen so far relate to Gamzee or Lord English (through the Felt), which I guess is a good way to remind use those people are up and about.

> open chest in Derse area


Says some human girl is dead. You don’t recognize her. Inside is the usual kind of sensationalizing sleaze you’re used to seeing from these. You spent a long time on Derse during your game. You always enjoyed reading these. They were almost always about assassinations.

 #some of which were yours

This passage implies that Meenah killed Dersites and Prospitians during the alpha trolls’ Sburb session. I wonder if those included their equivalents of the Derse agents we’ve met so many iterations of? Maybe Meenah killed her version of Jack Noir early in the game or something?

A lot of the chests in this area bring back memories of the Doc Scratch intermission.

Next in line for Meenah to meet is Dave Strider, standing next to his ebubbles in memories of Derse.

> Meenah, talk to Dave

MEENAH: hey cape guy
MEENAH: youre uh
MEENAH: human whats his cape
 #with the shades
DAVE: thats exactly my name
 #see also #shaggy 2 cape

DAVE: everyone stupidly insists on calling me dave though

Dave’s hashtags are easily the best ones. He makes so many clever callbacks and SBaHJ references in those, much like his Internet social media. “#shaggy 2 cape”, for example, is a callback to his conversation with Terezi months before the story started where he claimed his name was Shaggy 2 Dope.

MEENAH: so davecape
MEENAH: wheres your bro
DAVE: my bro
DAVE: hes dead
 #like #the ghostless kind of dead i think
DAVE: unless you mean the kid version as in the guy we both saw with the pointy shades
 #kid bro #wtf
DAVE: remember he grabbed my sleeping teen mom and flew away and that was the last i saw of him
 #thats sorta what he does #just vanishes like a mysterious motherfucker
MEENAH: no no
MEENAH: not that guy
MEENAH: actually i gave him a sweet high five a little while ago but thats not who i mean
 #one of the best hi 5s eva #dudes a pro
DAVE: what when did you give him a high five
DAVE: why wasnt i informed of this high five that took place
 #not cool

Dave and Meenah’s conversation about Dirk is funny but also a bit sad. Dave got the exact same impression of teen Dirk as what he remembers from pretty much the worst possible version of Dirk (the one who raised him).

MEENAH: who cares im talking about your other bro
MEENAH: the cool shouty kid who got po’d and went to clamscray the f out
DAVE: oh karkat you mean

Meenah referring to Karkat as Dave’s “bro” is characteristically blunt of her, just like her immediate presumptions on Rose and Kanaya’s relationship. It also reminds us that she’s a newcomer to the world of dream bubbles and doesn’t know who’s who yet.

DAVE: i dunno hes around
DAVE: i saw him talking to his ancestor a while ago
 #or uh #being talked too
DAVE: dont think he likes him very much
 #hilarious toolparty
MEENAH: what
MEENAH: shouty shouldnt be hanging out with that glubbin dork
DAVE: i doubt he actually wants to but you know how it is with ancestors
 #ancestors #you know how it is

This isn’t the first time Meenah has warned us that her Vantas is very different from Karkat. She downplays it though, making it surprising when Kankri turns out to be a neverending stream of nonsensical red words.

DAVE: ok maybe you dont since i guess youre actually an ancestor yourself
DAVE: or you were to some dead girl i never met but anyway
 #i think her name was fieri or something

Dave’s hashtag misspelling Feferi’s name serves as some sneaky foreshadowing of how Guy Fieri came to be according to Skaianet Systems. I feel like that was something Hussie meant to bring up in-comic but never got around to doing. I thought for the longest time the Condesce recruited Guy Fieri just because his name sounds like Feferi.

> Meenah, ask Dave to join

DAVE: yeah i saw it
DAVE: i was looking up in space doing a little monster gazing right
 #daves private chill time #eldritch red lobster #bargain seafood buffet #bored
DAVE: when suddenly i thought my glasses shattered
 #ben stiller almost fucking tornadoed in his grave
DAVE: but it wasnt the shades turned out it was space itself that cracked
 #fuckin relief #best bro gave me these

Dave’s first few hashtags are humorous, but the last one lets it slip that his Stiller shades mean the world to him, at least partly because they were a gift from John. At one point in Openbound Part 3, Dave goes on a long ramble about how much he misses John; I’m looking forward to analyzing that part.

DAVE: and i listened and i heard the screams and killing and stuff
 #monsters dying #ghosts dying #atrocious problems
DAVE: havent slept well since that
DAVE: well i guess im sleeping alright at the moment
 #oh yeah #i forgot
DAVE: cause im here in a bubble talking to you but yeah in general my shuteye has been boned up the protein chute
 #troll anatomy #lewd #maybe?

Dave thinks “protein chute” might be a troll sexual term, even though if you use your brain for a moment you’ll know it refers to the esophagus. I am amused by the implication that despite being used to wacky troll lingo, Dave doesn’t know a thing about troll anatomy. Similar gags are done in the epilogues, with such things as trolls having two dicks being an offensive stereotype.

DAVE: keeping myself busy with awesome projects helps a bit i guess
 #awesome projects
MEENAH: then you must want to kill the guy even worse than me
MEENAH: why dont you join me we can fly away and fuck him up together 38)
 #what good is a cape even #if you wont fly away to clobber badguys
DAVE: nope
DAVE: appreciate the offer but im just gonna hang tight and work on my ebubbles
MEENAH: e what
DAVE: ebubbles theyre awesome
 #how is this not awesome
DAVE: its just some ridiculous shit i figured out how to do here
DAVE: this whole place runs on memories so ive been messing around with that 
 #just as long as you dont ask me how #we are cool
DAVE: turns out i dont even really need the internet for shenanigans i can just exploit the afterlife

It always feels good when the comic (or book commentary) is on the same wavelength as me. I didn’t need the story’s help to figure out that Dave’s ebubbles mirror his comedic social media back before the world ended.

MEENAH: the fuuuck
MEENAH: i know youre down in the dumps kid but that sounds like a stupid waste of time
 #stupid waste of time
MEENAH: now come on lets go whale on a cherub
DAVE: nah
 #yes lets #just fucking with you #no
DAVE: i mean
DAVE: i think i might be “supposed” to kill him anyway?
 #air quotes

DAVE: thats the feeling i get like there are all these clues about that ive kinda noticed
 #remember that bullshit about the pimp being in the crib? #hahaha oh god

Here’s the introduction of this really weird arc where Dave is supposed to kill Lord English. I’m going to talk about that arc’s conclusion for a second.

A while after Homestuck originally ended, I figured that Dave killing the alpha kids’ Jack Noir was the resolution of his prophecy of killing Lord English; mostly a “close enough” sort of deal, like how Spades Slick (god rest his soul) also wanted to kill English. But the Meat Epilogue gave that arc a proper conclusion with Dave—not just any Dave, but pre-retcon Dave, the one we’re following here right now. And god damn does that conclusion feel surreal.

DAVE: so if i am THE GUY that needs to take him down then fine ill do that if and when i get hornswoggled into some big showdown with a ridiculous green space pimp or whatever he is
 #i heard he has a gold tooth #are you fuckin kidding me
DAVE: i dont know i think im not really cut out for the whole reluctant hero shtick
 #im better at comics
DAVE: like the whole scene is so obvious and trite and i cant even tell if my reluctance is ironic or if im playing it straight
 #reluctant before it was cool #and before i was willing
DAVE: like ill wonder if im being reluctant enough to cut it or if im actually just being reluctant to be reluctant
 #how reluctant do you even have to BE to DOOOOO something like etc etc #sbahj
DAVE: it turns into like meta reluctance and then all i can think about is how fucking stupid the whole thing is
 #i also think about puppets sometimes… #unrelated
DAVE: i think im probably just too self aware for this hero bullshit so dont even waste your time on me
 #ironic self pity

I find it funny that although the concept of defeating Lord English usually leads pre-retcon Dave to rant about heroism, all he needs to actually want to fight him is a bit of convincing from adult John.

And Meenah’s reaction to Dave’s reluctance ramble is:

MEENAH: sooooo cooooooool

Dave has a lot of traits in common with Karkat, but Meenah clearly likes the latter’s demeanor far more. Another thing I find amusing.

> Meenah, be Dave

DAVE: wait
 #uh #w #t #f
DAVE: you want to “be me”?
 #air quotes
MEENAH: yeah why not
DAVE: ok well without getting too deep into the issue of how absurd that request is on the very face of it
 #a face presently being palmed
DAVE: its just not going to happen
DAVE: i mean not yet anyway not this early in your little dream bubble quest you got going on here
MEENAH: shut up dawg just lemme walk around as you and stuff
 #talk at peeps in your koolkid way #maybe play a different tune
DAVE: no
DAVE: i really dont think we should get too meta about this

Meenah’s third and final conversation option with Dave is some extremely shameless fourth wall breaking, even by Homestuck standards.

DAVE: maybe when you catch up with your posse you can be some of those guys
DAVE: hell maybe you can be some of us too after the whole thing youre trying to do winds up being this huge predictable disappointment
DAVE: but that would have to be in a different area
MEENAH: what area
 #what? #you cray
DAVE: like a different goddamn bubble zone
DAVE: like someones memory of a magic fucking forest or home village or some shit

The fourth wall breaking does have a purpose though, especially to serial readers back in 2012. Homestuck was paused for an entire month to work on Openbound, so it’s only fair for the comic to tell readers through its characters what to expect from these huge walkaround games. Dave even spoils that Meenah’s recruitment quest will be a “huge predictable disappointment”.

Out of context, this image looks adorable. Like two long-lost brothers meeting.

In context, it’s a nightmare that would send Lord English running for cover.

As Meenah enters the Prospit/Derse amalgamation memory, she encounters Karkat and Kankri Vantas having a nice, heartfelt conversation. Why don’t we listen in?

I’ll do my obligatory character paragraphs for Kankri, Latula, and Porrim near the end of this post.


Kankri’s social justice blogger parody is hilarious now that I know more about Tumblr stereotypes than I ever would have liked. I mean, what is there to even say? Kankri has it all: absurd acronyms, words being phased out and replaced with newer ones once they are deemed offensive, Latin and Greek roots latched onto troll terminology, extensively detailed hashtags, and constant use of words like “problematic” and “privilege”. It’s all well and good if you’re having a discussion with friends who care about this stuff and all have different things that may offend them, but forcefully exposing all this stuff to an outsider concerned with different matters is basically the worst nightmare imaginable. And the way Kankri goes about it is incredibly condescending and self-important; he treats anyone he lectures like a brainless, uneducated child who needs to be walked through everything. He also explains that he disapproves of how his post-scratch self went about social rebellion. It sort of reminds me of Jane in the epilogues, now that I think of it. She similarly disguises her extreme xenophobia with a veil of politeness and care for all beings.

Karkat stands there with an open mouth the whole time, not speaking a single word. His expression says more than I ever could.

As Meenah explores more of the Derse/Prospit building, Latula Pyrope makes a dramatic entrance riding her skateboard.

> Meenah, talk to Latula

… And she’s a horrifying stereotype too. Basically of gamer girls who do sick skateboard tricks, speak with rad slang, smile all the time, and do basically nothing else. Latula kind of feels disturbingly fake, which if I recall is discussed in more detail through this walkaround and the next one.

Amidst her annoying rad girl talk, Latula mentions she has no sense of smell and that Meenah timed the explosion so that none of the god tiers would revive before the session is scratched.

> Meenah, ask Latula to join

LATULA: sounds l1k3 4 r4d pl4n 4nd you know how 1 f33l 4bout th3 r4dpl4nz….
MEENAH: but??
LATULA: h4t3 to b3 4 buzzk1ll but… 1ts b33n wh4t.
LATULA: 4pprox1m4t3ly H3LLA y34rz s1nc3 1 d1d 4ny f1ght1ng????
LATULA: k1nd of rusty. sh1t dont l3t kk know 1 s41d rusty, 4h4h4.
 #tw #h3mophob1c slurs

Despite being an obnoxious stereotype at all times, Latula takes a moment here to playfully make fun of Kankri in a way that almost seems like she carries affection for him, much like their Alternian descendants.

LATULA: so 1m s4y1ng 1 h4d SCADZ of t1m3 to p3rf3ct th1s K1LL3R HAND PLANT!!! >8D
LATULA: w4nn4 s3333?
MEENAH: no pretty sure dont give much a shit about a trick you do on your four wheel device
MEENAH: tho i will say
MEENAH: “scads” is actually a fish pun you made probly on accident
MEENAH: which kind of makes me want to give you a hug so it balances out your dumb shit answer
 #fish puns are #my one weakness 😦
LATULA: 1m sorry mp. 1 r34lly 4m!!! f33l l1k3 such 4 w3t snuggl3pl4n3 b41l1ng on you l1k3 th1s.
 #tho m4yb3 you l1k3 w3t snuggl3pl4n3s? #s1nc3 you c4n l1v3 und3r w4t3r?

Surely enough, Latula’s reason not to join the army is that she’s too busy perfecting rad girl tricks, which is predictably disappointing as Dave had warned.

LATULA: 1 should prob4bly run 1t by mt. s33 wh4t h3 th1nks.
MEENAH: oh shit you and captor
MEENAH: thats still a thing after all this pseudotime or
LATULA: h4h4 y3444h.
MEENAH: still red??????
LATULA: uh huh. >8]
MEENAH: mother glubber
MEENAH: seriously didnt think T)(ATD last
LATULA: 1dk, th3r3z w4y mor3 to h1m th4n. w3ll, 4ll th3 t3rr1bl3 4nd stup1d sh1t h3 s4ys 4ll th3 t1m3.
LATULA: 4nd 1ts 4lw4yz f3lt l1k3 h3 n33ds m3 1f th4t m4k3s s3ns3, 3v3n 4ft3r dy1ng. so th3r3z th4t!!!!
MEENAH: fuckin afterlife
MEENAH: i know im new here but
MEENAH: almost seems like
MEENAH: you die and nothing means anyfin and then you date forever

Meenah’s discussion of afterlife relationships reminds me of her relationship with ghost Vriska which ultimately doesn’t last. I think Meenah has a distinct energy inside that prevents her from staying complacent with death, which sets her apart from her Beforan friends and makes sense being a life player and all.

> Meenah, be Latula

Not much to say here: just another fourth wall break that hints at how to progress through the game. Latula won’t let Meenah be her unless she performs a rad skateboard trick. She gives Meenah her skateboard and then Meenah goes on to meet the next alpha troll.

> Meenah, talk to Porrim

PORRIM: Welco+me back.
MEENAH: sup maryam
PORRIM: So+, yo+ur death certificate has barely dried, and yo+u’re already busy raising an army, I hear?
MEENAH: howd you even hear that already
PORRIM: Wo+rd travels fast here. Plenty o+f go+ssip.
PORRIM: No+ o+ne quite prepares yo+u fo+r the fact that o+n the o+ther side o+f death is an infinite echo+ chamber o+f teen drama.
PORRIM: Funny ho+w when we left o+ur wo+rld to+ play yo+ur game, we all tho+ught we were leaving o+ur juvenile scho+o+lfeeding days behind us. 
MEENAH: yeah
MEENAH: all the more reason to get out of here and fight bad guys and stuff
PORRIM: I no+ticed ho+w yo+u cunningly sidestepped an enco+unter with Kankri do+wn there.
 #Nicely do+ne.

Porrim Maryam gives us a surprisingly good first impression. She behaves far more like a normal person than the last two we met; I’d go so far as to say she acts like an adult amidst a bunch of lousy teenagers.

MEENAH: yeaaah
 #poor shouty 38(
MEENAH: nomoby deserves havin to meet a dead teen alt universe ancestor like that
PORRIM: I think he might be entertaining so+me delusio+n o+f taking him under his wing.
PORRIM: Or if no+t his wing, the red fuzzy arm o+f his sweater.
MEENAH: what is with that ugly thing anyway
PORRIM: I made it fo+r him, actually.
PORRIM: Fo+r o+ne thing, I go+t tired o+f lo+o+king at his stupid hiked up pants, which he refused to+ change, ever. Serio+usly, did yo+u ever see him wearing anything else?
MEENAH: haha no
PORRIM: So+ unfashio+nable.
PORRIM: Also+, he was always shivering. It gets kind o+f chilly o+ut here, and he just wo+uldn’t sto+p. No+t that I minded to+o+ much, but he just has this way o+f making such vo+cal and o+stentatio+us displays o+f suffering, like it’s so+me kind o+f righteo+us state o+f being. It gets difficult fo+r everyo+ne to+ endure, especially after eo+ns. 

Though it is a bit eyebrow-raising how strongly Porrim acts like Kankri’s mom. It’s a comedic exaggeration that I think gives off just slightly strange vibes.

PORRIM: Hence his nickname, I guess.
MEENAH: wait nickname
MEENAH: if theres some new dig on vantas i need to know about it pronto
PORRIM: The Insufferable.
MEENAH: fuck yes highfive
MEENAH: wait forget it my hands still sore from latula
 #goddamn radgirl
MEENAH: bitch slaps )(ARD

Between Porrim’s fashion tastes and humorous jabs at people, it’s no wonder Kanaya finds her dancestor so intimidatingly cool.

> Meenah, ask Porrim to join

Porrim’s reason not to join is that she never reached god tier and thus isn’t of much use. But she does provide some advice by discussing who all did ascend to god tier.

PORRIM: Do+ yo+u even kno+w who+ all the go+d tiers are?
PORRIM: There’s Aranea. Did yo+u ask her?
MEENAH: yeah but she has her own plan
MEENAH: girl is going on a cherub jam or some bitch ass noise
 #eff that
PORRIM: Ok. Well, I ho+pe this isn’t to+o+ invasive, but what abo+ut yo+u?
PORRIM: I’ve heard rumo+rs that yo+u reached go+d tier, but never let o+n to+ anyo+ne.
 #Except presumably Damara…

This walkaround so far has been hyping up the alpha trolls’ Megido as a fascinating figure readers should be excited to meet. I can only imagine the look on serial readers’ faces when they got to Openbound Part 3 and found that Damara only ever says filthy things in bad Japanese. Some probably couldn’t stop laughing; some were probably brutally disappointed; and all were probably immensely confused.

MEENAH: you dont understand
MEENAH: its just that fucking thief of life getup
 #looked like such ass
MEENAH: i couldnt just parade around in that hideous thing
 #got a reputation to conchsider
PORRIM: So+ it is true, then. Tho+ught so+.

PORRIM: See what I mean, tho+ugh? I wasn’t sure abo+ut that until just no+w. Rumo+rs are always flying, but secrets so+meho+w persist.

Turns out the reason nobody knew Meenah reached god tier is because she didn’t like the outfit. It’s very Alternian of her not to have bothered sharing details like that.

Porrim is the first character to let you “be” her.

> Porrim, talk to Meenah

PORRIM: I really can’t blame yo+u fo+r being in such a hurry to+ go+ kill him.
PORRIM: The Lo+rd o+f Time. Actually, it’s a go+o+d example o+f what I’ve always been trying to+ say to+ Kankri, but he do+esn’t buy it.
 #Sno+tty brat privilege
PORRIM: After the scratch, o+ur wo+rld co+ntinued to+ be matriarchal upo+n superficial o+bservatio+n, but was subject to+ a co+nsiderably mo+re sinister, clo+aked fo+rm o+f patriarchal tyranny all alo+ng.
MEENAH: water you talking about
PORRIM: Yo+ur po+st-scratch self, who+ grew up to+ be the empress, was really just the Lo+rd’s slave all alo+ng. Implicity during her lo+ng reign, thro+ugh manipulatio+n by his cunning emplo+yee. 
 #An excellent ho+st

PORRIM: And then explicitly, after the extinctio+n o+f o+ur race. She fo+rmally became his servant, and did his bidding lo+ng thereafter.

It’s now Porrim’s turn to play the role of an Internet stereotype: the passionate feminist. And the stuff she says here is actually pretty interesting! She makes some new observations about what Doc Scratch told us so long ago about Alternian history.

MEENAH: W)(AT!!!!!
PORRIM: He did the same with Damara. She was his lo+yal Time Witch, helping him turn o+ur wo+rld into+ the nightmare it became. When her usefulness came to+ an end, he pitted yo+u and her against each o+ther, in I guess a twisted redux o+f the co+nflict yo+u and she had in the past.
 #The o+utco+me was so+mewhat different this time
MEENAH: yo that is so messed up!
PORRIM: The bo+tto+m line is, in additio+n to+ being an all aro+und bastard, this guy appears to+ enjo+y being especially nasty to+ girls.
PORRIM: If it’s true he’s hunting do+wn the gho+st o+f his departed “sister”, then I really feel so+rry fo+r her.
PORRIM: Best o+f luck with that.

And Meenah is beyond angered to learn that English was behind all the cool stuff her post-scratch self did. Who would have guessed one of the Internet stereotype characters managed to do something useful to the plot?

> Porrim, talk to Kankri

PORRIM: Kanny, leave this po+o+r kid alo+ne.
KANKRI: I’d appreciate it if y9u w9uldn’t call me that. We’ve talked a69ut this. That’s what y9u call a wiggler. D9 I l99k like a wiggler t9 y9u, P9rrim? N9, I d9n’t. It’s 6een three sweeps, plus eternity, f9r, excuse me, “fuck’s” sake. I think we can safely retire that particular term 9f “endearment”. Call me anything 6ut that, even my 9ther nickname. I’m actually 9k with that 9ne.
 #micr9aggressi9ns #n9 wait #MACR9agressi9ns m9re like

OH MY FUCKING GOD, Porrim and Kankri’s interactions are way funnier than I remember. Kankri is offended by the nickname “Kanny” and spews a rant that shows he and Karkat aren’t quite as different as we thought.

PORRIM: I’m no+t calling yo+u Insufferable, Kanny. Well, no+t unless I’m using it as an actual adjective. 
 #And even then, pro+bably no+t to+ yo+ur face.
PORRIM: Well… 
 #No+t o+ften I mean.
KANKRI: It w9uld 6e nice if y9u’d at least use my pr9per name in fr9nt 9f my studi9us y9ung Alternian descendant. It really kind 9f er9des my credi6ility, and I d9n’t need that in the pr9ximity 9f a fresh faced y9ungster wh9 clearly thirsts f9r kn9wledge. Why w9uld y9u want t9 sa69tage a fine y9ung man’s educati9n like that?
 #Fresh #Faced #Y9ungster #Kn9wledge thirst

I do feel a bit bad for Kankri though. Even though he’s full of shit in every way, I don’t think it’s wrong to insist people call you by your real name.

PORRIM: Hey, there. Karkat? If yo+u do+n’t mind my asking… are yo+u even remo+tely interested in the lo+af supplement this guy’s serving?

PORRIM: Go+tcha. Yo+u just said all yo+u needed to+ say.

I don’t feel anywhere near as bad for Kankri as I do for Karkat though. His face again says more than words ever could.

PORRIM: Yo+u kno+w, yo+u are actually very cute. 
PORRIM: That girl who+’s been wandering aro+und in the drago+n suit is a very lucky lady. 
KANKRI: 9k, w9nderful. That c9nversati9n just came t9 an end. 
KANKRI: P9rrim, please d9n’t hit 9n my re699ted kid ancest9r-descendant. It’s really weird. N9t t9 menti9n, he l99ks exactly like me? I mean, kind 9f 96vi9usly? S9 when y9u’re hitting 9n him, it’s like y9u’re hitting 9n me at the exact same time, which like I said. It’s weird.
 #It’s weird
KANKRI: N9t t9 get int9 all this again, 6ut the th9ught 9f dating y9u… it’s just a strange and vaguely 9ffputting idea. N9 9ffense. It alm9st makes me understand at a visceral level the 6izarre human anathema 9f incest, which is s9mething I can’t really explain. I’m just saying.
 #Trigger warning #Incest #Anathemas #Viscerality #Vaguely #9ffputting
PORRIM: (Very deep sigh.)
 #Oh my Go+d.

KANKRI: I’m S9RRY, 9k? I’m s9rry that I am, perhaps literally, the 9nly 9ne n9t t9 ever fall prey t9 y9ur tireless 9mnidirecti9nal s9licitati9ns, 9r t9 get swept up in 9ne 9f y9ur innumera6le flushed 9r caligin9us flings. 

OK THIS WHOLE CONVERSATION IS REALLY FUCKING FUNNY. Now I can say Openbound has at least one redeeming quality.

KANKRI: I happened t9 always prefer y9u as a friend, and in any case, I always preferred t9 lead a relatively chaste existence, as it keeps me f9cused 9n fighting 9n 6ehalf 9f truly imp9rtant pr96lems. Alth9ugh staying “relatively” chaste t9 y9u I supp9se is n9t saying much.
KANKRI: 9nce again, I ap9l9gize. I’ve 6lundered int9 the pr96lematic territ9ry 9f vacillati9n shaming, thus 9pening the fl99dgates t9 the myriad ways 9ne may 6e disadvantaged up9n 6y its staggering shame radius. I f9rg9t t9 check my piety privilege, and here we are. I was g9ing t9 c9ver this t9pic in a much later chapter 9f my lecture, 6ut we’ve g9tten 6adly derailed here.
 #TW #Derailment #Train wrecks #Ch99 ch99 catastr9phes
KANKRI: Karkat, I’m s9rry f9r this interrupti9n. I pr9mise I’ll get 6ack t9 my critical lecture as s99n as this pr9miscu9us 6usy69dy leaves us in peace.
 #Village tw9 wheel device

PORRIM: Yes, critical lecture. I’m sure.
PORRIM: And am I right in being just as sure yo+u are assiduo+usly deco+nstructing every co+nceivable, hypo+thetical fo+rm o+f injustice no+ matter ho+w o+bscure, except tho+se that I happen to+ think are kind o+f impo+rtant?
KANKRI: N9. Just, n9, P9rrim. We’re n9t d9ing this.
KANKRI: I am n9t g9ing t9 p9llute Karkat’s utterly imperative crash c9urse, in which he is intr9duced t9 the A6S9LUTE 6ASICS, 6y indulging in y9ur pet issues.
PORRIM: Yes, ho+w dreadful it wo+uld be fo+r yo+ur sixty nine millio+n wo+rd essay to+ get bo+gged do+wn by even the faintest reference to+ the ro+les o+f gender in Befo+ran and Alternian civilizatio+n.
KANKRI: L99k, it’s n9t that I’m insensitive t9 y9ur c9ncerns 9n that t9pic. I’m interested t9 discuss them with y9u 9n an academic, primarily the9retical level.
PORRIM: Theo+retical?
KANKRI: I just think there is inherent danger in muddying the waters 9f disc9urse 6y intr9ducing s9cial issues which are suspect at 6est, thus c9nsuming crucial res9urces fr9m the limited cache 9f rhet9ric which pr9pels these narratives. And furtherm9re, 9ne c9uld argue it’s m9re than a little pr96lematic, 9ffensive even, f9r y9u t9 6e appr9priating the lexic9n 9f sensitivity used t9 advance awareness 9f maj9r issues, thus reducing it t9 the level 6uzzspeak and pseud9science. It makes it m9re difficult f9r th9se 9f us wh9 are genuinely f9cused 9n p9sitive change t9 6e taken seri9usly, that’s all.
PORRIM: Appro+priating??
 #That’s no+t #what that even #means?
 #Yo+u did no+t just…

And it just keeps getting better. Kankri insists that Porrim’s feminism is imaginary nonsense that distracts from the issues he is concerned with. It’s been so long since we last saw a troll be so ridiculously backwards. If you read closely, you can tell Kankri’s descriptions of Porrim are much more accurate descriptions of himself.

KANKRI: I’m s9rry, I just d9n’t think there’s much there. We aren’t like humans, wh9se species 6izarrely en9ugh includes highly specialized r9les f9r 69th sexes in the pr9cess 9f repr9ducti9n, and s9 this naturally had s9cial ramificati9ns f9r the way their civilizati9n ev9lved. 6ut that’s n9t h9w it w9rks f9r us, s9 I fail t9 see h9w gender fact9rs int9 the discussi9n in a way that can 6e effectively and rati9nally pr96lematized. Where is the r99m f9r unexamined privilege in the dich9t9my? I d9n’t see it. And appr9priating the talking p9ints and awareness-raising tactics f9r du6i9us issues like this is, frankly, fr9wned up9n, t9 put it p9litely. Such appr9priative gestures 9nly serve t9 marginalize and invalidate th9se su6ject t9 seri9us, real life struggles and 9ppressi9n, and I guess I’m a little disapp9inted t9 see y9u 6eing s9 6lithely and inappr9priately appr9priat9ry.
 #Fr9wned up9n #Fr9wns all ar9und #Welc9me t9 fr9wn t9wn
PORRIM: Kanny, I’m starting to+ feel just a little bit triggered by all this “appro+priatio+n” bullshit.
 #Trigger warning: #Abo+ut to+ kick yo+ur tall pantsed ass
KANKRI: 9h! My sincere ap9l9gies. I sh9uld have d9ne a 6etter j96 tagging my statements, 6ut f9r future reference, it’s helpful t9 alert y9ur c9nversati9nal partners t9 y9ur triggers well in advance. Sh9uld I g9 fetch y9ur m9irail t9 help settle y9u d9wn? And if s9, wh9 exactly w9uld 6e filling that quadrant t9day?
 #It’s the may9r, right? #G9tta 6e the may9r
PORRIM: Alright. Obvio+usly yo+u’re in o+ne o+f yo+ur bratty mo+o+ds. I’m go+ne.
KANKRI: D9n’t 6e like that. Really, we can talk a69ut whatever y9u like later, and I’ll 6e really sympathetic, I pr9mise. Just n9t ar9und my pupil while he is still learning. 
KANKRI: 9r… my descendant. What did I say? Haha. Karkat, I mean. Anyway, Karkat, again I ap9l9gize f9r that. 
 #N9w where was I?

Poor Karkat. I can only imagine what’s going through his head in this scene. He wishes he didn’t have to endure getting talked to by someone who reflects all his very worst qualities.

> Porrim, be Kankri

KANKRI: What? Y9u want t9 6e me? What s9rt 9f n9nsense request is that?
KANKRI: Can’t y9u see I’m in the middle 9f a direly imp9rtant w9rd dump? I mean man-t9-man c9nversati9n with Karkat?
KANKRI: I might c9nsider it if y9u asked m9re nicely. 9r at the very least, m9re “radically”.

In this hint at how to progress through the game, Kankri hints at a soft spot for Latula just like she did with him.

> Porrim, talk to Latula

LATULA: yo yo, w4zzup grl!!!
PORRIM: Latula, it’s just me. I do+n’t think anyo+ne is lo+o+king. No+ need to+ go+ so+ heavy o+n the rad girl ro+utine.
LATULA: y34h, gu3ss your3 r1ght. 1’ll ch1ll 1t down 4 b1t.
LATULA: wh4ts on your th1nk p4n, po-m4ry.

PORRIM: Meeting o+ur ancesto+rs as kids, o+r, I mean o+ur descendants as kids, ho+wever yo+u want to+ spin it…
 #Descesto+rs? #Ancendants? #Dancesto+rs… #Hmm #Bingo+
PORRIM: It has me thinking abo+ut o+ur rebo+o+ted lives o+n Alternia, and what we grew up to+ be. 
PORRIM: Makes me wo+nder abo+ut fate. If it’s so+mething that’s even co+mprehensible.
LATULA: y34h?
PORRIM: Fo+r instance, o+n Alternia, my relatio+nship with Kankri seemed to+ make so+me sense. I co+uld definitely see o+ur lives beco+ming entangled in that way, karmically speaking.
PORRIM: But then there were o+ther develo+pments that are still mysterio+us to+ me.
PORRIM: Like, as far as I kno+w, yo+u and Aranea always go+t alo+ng. Didn’t yo+u?
 #Radglare #Kindfang
LATULA: 3h 1 gu3ss. n3v3r sp3nt much t1m3 th1nk1ng 4bout s3rk3t, tbh.
LATULA: 4lw4ys thought sh3 w4s 4 s3lf 4bsorb3d snooz3, 1f you r34lly w4nt to know.
 #zzzz #not 3v3n th3 r4d k1nd of z33s

When talking to Porrim, Latula tones down her rad girl act a bit and the two discuss their group of trolls’ post-scratch lives. I’m reminded of a difference between Aranea and Vriska. During the trolls’ arc, basically everyone in the group either couldn’t stand or was terrified by Vriska; with the Beforus trolls, it looks like nobody cared about Aranea at all except for Meenah. She really seems like a bit of a hermit among the Beforus trolls.

PORRIM: Exactly. No+thing much to+ yo+ur relatio+nship to+ speak o+f at all. But in yo+ur po+st-scratch lives yo+u had such majo+r issues to+gether, even yo+ur descendants inherited it, and co+ntinued the co+ntentio+us cycle until there was blo+o+dshed.
 #Redglare #Mindfang
LATULA: r34lly?
LATULA: huh. 
PORRIM: Did yo+u no+t kno+w that?
 #Mindfang gave yo+u five #Then left yo+u hanging
LATULA: n3v3r r34lly thought 4bout 1t. but now th4t you m3nt1on 1t, th4t outcom3 m4k3s 4ll sorts of s3ns3 to m3.
PORRIM: It do+es? Ho+w?
LATULA: just do3s, b4b3z.
PORRIM: I do+n’t really understand karma.
LATULA: th4ts c4us3 your3 not 4 m1nd pl4y3r.

With her rad girl act cooled off, Latula demonstrates hidden depths not unlike her dancestor (thanks Porrim for coining that word!). Terezi is well-known to quickly figure out things that seem mysterious to others, and Latula just briefly demonstrates a similar trait…

PORRIM: Oh. Co+uld yo+u explain to+ me ho+w it wo+rks, then?
LATULA: pshh, 4s 1f. th4t wouldnt b3 4 v3ry r4d th1ng to do.
 #do 1 look l1k3 s3rk3t to you???
LATULA: h3y, ch3ck out th1s OUTST4ND1NG h34lfl1p!!!!
PORRIM: I do+n’t
PORRIM: Ok. Let’s see it.

… before going back to the usual stereotype she’s chosen to enact.

God damn, Fuchsia Ruler is a good song.
GameGlr is so funny. A good horrifying encapsulation of Latula’s character.

So is Darling Dolorosa for Porrim. That song doesn’t get enough love, probably because it was never on an album.

Meenah performs a sick railgrind on the memory of a staircase generated by Porrim. Latula is delighted and lets Meenah be her.

> Latula, talk to Meenah.

LATULA: yo yo, p4ystubz my grrrl!
MEENAH: shit tules
MEENAH: i forgot how many rad nicknames you like to cycle through 
 #passin out names like cheap cuttlefish
MEENAH: you know i always thought paycheck was kind of dope why dont you just stick with that
LATULA: r1ght on! 1 l1k3 th4t on3 too, p4ych3ck 1t 1z. H1GH F1V3 GRL!!!
MEENAH: no lets not OWWWWWW
LATULA: ooh sorry, d1d 1 hurt you???
MEENAH: nnn… no? i meant
 #uh #yeah
MEENAH: like “WOWWWWW that was a radical hand slappin”
LATULA: SUR3 FUCK1N WUZ!!! d4ng 1ts t1ght your3 b4ck.
 #th3 t1ghtn3ss
MEENAH: thats cool but
MEENAH: arent you overstatin our prior relationship as somefin above neutral just a TAD
 #tadpole #yeah its a stretch as a fish pun #gonna count it tho
LATULA: w3ll m4yb3. but 1 h4d 4 lot of t1m3 to th1nk, both b3for3 w3 4ll 4t3 1t, 4ND 4ft3r.
 #th3 b1g w1p3out #r4d d34th 4n4log13s
LATULA: 4nd 1 c4m3 to som3 MAD 3p1ph4n13z, 4bout you, or us r34lly. 1 w4s th1nk1ng 4bout you 4ll wrong.
LATULA: for most of th3 t1m3 w3 kn3w 34ch oth3r, 1 w4s 4ll l1k3, WHY SHOULD TH3R3 B3 TWO B4D4SS, 1N-YOUR-F4C3 GRLZ 1N TH3 GROUP???
LATULA: sort of ov3rk1ll, r1ght?
MEENAH: mehhh
 #u searious?
LATULA: 1 w4s k1nd of v13w1ng you 4s 4 comp3t1tor, 1n l1k3 4 two grl RAD-OFF. 1 w4s w1nn1ng 1n my m1nd, of cours3. but s33, 1 h4d 1t 4ll wrong!!!!
MEENAH: did you
LATULA: Y3AH! s33, 1m th3 t34mz R4D GRL, wh3r34s YOUR3 th3 t34mz B4D GRL!!!! 1t 4ll m4k3s p3rf3ct s3ns3! do3snt th4t m4k3 SO MUCH S3NS3???
MEENAH: that
MEENAH: is the stupidest glubbin thing to require any sorta rationalization i ever heard
 #p lame tules
LATULA: s33 p4ych3ck? 1 kn3w 1 could count on you to b3 just1f14bly cyn1c4l 4bout my n3urot1c bullsh1t. you RUL3!!!

Latula spouts out more silly rad girl nonsense at Meenah, right until the last line where she admits it’s all, in her own words, “neurotic bullshit”. God damn if that isn’t an eyebrow-raising hint that Latula is extremely depressed deep down.

> Latula, talk to Porrim

LATULA: yo porz, you s33 p4yd1rt 1s b4ck??? 
 #GRLZ 1N D4 H1V3
PORRIM: I saw.
LATULA: pr3tty r4d huh?? th3 4-lyf3 just scor3d 4 l1ttl3 mor3 GRL POW3R!!!!
 #l3ss drool #mor3 rul3
LATULA: h3y g1mm3 f1v3!
PORRIM: That’s… OW.
PORRIM: No+t so+ hard!
PORRIM: That’s go+o+d.
LATULA: wh444t, com3 on. 1 thought you of 4ll p3opl3 would b3 psych3d to g3t 4 l1l mor3 r3pr3z3nt4t1on from th3 l4d13s UP 1NZ.
PORRIM: Why would that be? It’s nice to see an old friend, but that’s about it.
 #Up inz #Meaningless #On all levels
PORRIM: I think you are possibly still caricaturizing my point of view on the subject, assuming we’re even talking about the same subject.
PORRIM: Much the way yo+ur co+ntinued co+mmitment to+ this o+verzealo+us “rad girl” thing still strikes me as a caricature o+f the kind o+f female strength and empo+werment yo+u’re trying to+ pro+ject.
LATULA: s4y wh4t??? th4tz bogus, 1m th1s r4d b3c4us3 1 l1k3 b31ng r4d! r4dn3ss rul3z.
PORRIM: I kno+w it rulez. But there’s such a thing as o+verdo+ing it.
 #Did I pho+netically emphasize that ‘z’ eno+ugh?
PORRIM: Do+n’t yo+u think it can co+me acro+ss as a series o+f affectatio+ns designed to+ o+verco+mpensate fo+r an implicit flaw with yo+ur gender? An act which rebuts what sho+uld be a straw man, with a carto+o+nish masquerade that with every kickflip and high five screams “YES, IT APPEARS THAT GIRLS CAN BE AS RADICAL AND AS GOOD AT GAMES AS BOYS!” thus lending a certain dignity to+ the premise at the expense o+f yo+ur o+wn?

Porrim criticizes Latula’s rad girl act not so much for covering up inner issues, but for misrepresenting feminism. Despite being the least weird of the three trolls introduced in this walkaround, Porrim does get quite a bit hung up on this feminist stuff.

LATULA: wh4… w41t wh4t? 4w m4n.
 #r4dt1m3z off1c14lly: #H4RSH3D
LATULA: wh4t you t4lk1ng 4bout grl. m33n4h wh3r3d you go! com3 h3lp m3 b3 cyn1c4l 4bout th1s! 4h!!!
PORRIM: Yo+u can pretend to+ misunderstand all yo+u want, but we’ve talked abo+ut this befo+re and I kno+w yo+u’re smarter abo+ut this than yo+u let o+n. We were raised in what was a fo+rmally “matriarchal so+ciety”, which has always been used as a shield to+ do+wnplay clear instances o+f female o+ppressio+n and o+bfuscate the relevance o+f gender ro+les, particularly where they’re weighted against females. But anyo+ne who+’s lo+o+ked at o+ur so+ciety mo+re ho+nestly can see that while, yes, it is superficially o+bserved as a matriarchy o+n a fuschia-do+wn basis, o+n a practical level all o+f the enfo+rcement and po+litical po+wer go+verning mo+st classes was delegated to+ the higher CIPs, which were generally male-do+minated castes. They go+t to+ co+ntro+l the agenda and dictate the so+cial co+nventio+ns, and anyo+ne who+ dared to+ o+bject o+r bring light to+ this co+uld always be co+untered with “Hey! Matriarchy! End o+f discussio+n.”
 #Fuschia do+wn matriarchy #Purple do+wn patriarchy
LATULA: grl, pl34s3. dont t3ll m3 your3 go1ng full v4nt4s on m3 h3r3. 
PORRIM: No+, if I were getting my Vantas o+n, we’d o+nly be getting warmed up. But that’s really all I have to+ say o+n the matter.
LATULA: wh3w!

All that said, Porrim isn’t anywhere near as bad as Kankri in that regard. Mostly just because Kankri is WAY worse.

PORRIM: I just think yo+u sho+uld be yo+urself mo+re o+ften. We already kno+w yo+u are stro+ng and go+o+d at games and all that. Yo+u have no+thing to+ pro+ve.
LATULA: y34h. your3 prob4bly r1ght.
LATULA: 1ts k1nd of str3ssful som3t1m3s, k33p1ng 1t up! som3t1m3s 1 forg3t to put z33s on th3 3nd of words, 4nd 1 r34lly str3ss out 4bout 1t.
 #sp3c14lly wh3n 1m off my m3ds
LATULA: you know, 1 4lw4ys d1d f33l b3tt3r t4lk1ng to you. l1k3 1 could t4k3 th3 3dg3 off my r4d th1ng, 4nd r3l4x 4 l1ttl3 mor3.
PORRIM: Then let’s make it mo+re o+f a habit, shall we?
LATULA: h3ckz y3s!!!

Porrim proceeds to give honest advice on Latula’s rad girl act, which cements both as not completely crazy. Though it’s easy to miss that Latula mentions taking medications to help block out her inner depression.

LATULA: h3y, th4nks for th3 p3pt4lk, popo m3rryg4mz.
PORRIM: That nickname.
PORRIM: It is just so+ awful.
LATULA: oh whoopz.
LATULA: w4nt m3 to sw1tch b4ck to pornst4r???
PORRIM: Merrygamz will be fine.

And Latula ends by mentioning even more absurd nicknames she’s devised for her friends. What can I say, Hussie seemed to really enjoy coming up with nicknames for characters in these walkaround games.

> Latula, talk to Kankri

LATULA: bro!!!! 1 h34r youv3 b33n h4ssl1ng th3 n3w k1dz. wh4t 1s UP w1th th4t???
KANKRI: Hassling? Far fr9m it. I’ve merely disc9vered a new and far less ungrateful fl9ck which has n9t yet 6ec9me w9efully jaded t9 my messages 9f p9sitive s9cial change.
 #New f9ll9wers
LATULA: you c4nt fool m3 k4nkz. you 4r3 bor1ng th4t poor dud3 to d34th. you just w4nt to m4k3 4 ghost out of h1m so you c4n k33p h1m h3r3 for3v3r.

LATULA: wh1ch 41nt r1ght! you h4v3 to l3t th4t bro d13 of h1s own M4D VOL1T1ONZ. 
 #r3: #m1st4k3s #l1k3 us
KANKRI: Can y9u sc99t away 9n y9ur little wheeled t9y f9r immature wigglers? I was in the middle 9f a serm9n.
 #I mean, c9nversati9n.
LATULA: why dont you s4v3 h1m som3 gr13f 4nd g1v3 h1m on3 of your old m3moz?
LATULA: 4h4h4h, r3m3mb3r thoz3??? how m4ny sw33ps d1d you sp3nd try1ng to forc3 us to r34d th4t tr4sh?
 #fru1ty r1ght3ous blowh4rd f4ctory

Memos nobody wants to read are another thing Karkat and Kankri have in common and it’s kind of adorable.

KANKRI: I d9n’t remem6er. And n9, I w9n’t 6e sharing my 9ld mem9s with him. They were written very p99rly, and my meth9ds 9f argumentati9n were flawed and extremely childish. I’ve deleted m9st 9f th9se mem9ries fr9m these 6u66les, s9 d9n’t 69ther r99ting ar9und f9r them. Frankly, they stunk.
LATULA: h3y!
KANKRI: 9h, man, I’m s9rry. I c9mpletely f9rg9t that “stunk” was an a6leist slur. Please f9rgive my insensitivity t9ward y9ur disa6ility.
 #tw #tw #tw #s9rry #tw #a6leism
LATULA: 1tz ch1ll, 1 w4s only 4ct1ng off3nd3d to bug you.
KANKRI: N9, really, it was inexcusa6le 9f me. I sh9uld have at least preceded my call9us remark with a trigger warning.
 #Trigger warning: #Em6arrassed retracti9ns ahead
KANKRI: I have n9 6usiness making light 9f y9ur impairment, thus failing t9 check my nasal privilege, and p9tentially 6ringing 6ack painful and devastatingly triggering mem9ries 9f the 9ld cycle 9f revenge 6etween y9u and s9me friends which resulted in the l9ss 9f y9ur 9lfact9ry sense.

Remember the Alternian trolls’ cycle of revenge from before the story started, which left one troll paralyzed, two trolls blinded, many trolls traumatized, and one troll dead? The Beforan trolls had one too, but the consequences were laughable at best. Losing sense of smell, are you goddamn kidding me??? More humorous implications that the Beforan trolls are a bunch of weaksauce losers. Well, at least until Damara comes along.

KANKRI: I have t9 admit, I was skeptical at first a69ut whether that really qualified as a true disa6ility warranting sensitivity and the pr9m9ti9n 9f awareness, 6ut 6eing cl9se t9 y9u as a friend and carefully examining my privilege has really 9pened my eyes. 99ps, that euphemism is slightly a6leist t9 the 6lind, what I meant was “6r9adened my h9riz9ns 9n the nature 9f disa6ility.” S9rry.
 #Nasal privilege #H9riz9ns #6r9adness #H9riz9ntal width l9ngenning
LATULA: y34h! th4ts funny, c4us3 1t n3v3r would h4v3 occurr3d to m3 to t4k3 1t 4ll th4t s3r1ously 4s 4 h4nd1c4p w1thout you m4k1ng 4 f3d3r4l c4s3 out of 1t for so long on my b3h4lf. so, th4nkz k4nk!!!
 #MAD d1s4dv4nt4g3d brot1m3z
KANKRI: My pleasure. Really, it is truly amazing that y9u have managed t9 triumph 9ver such adversity t9 6ec9me a great r9le m9del f9r 9thers, excellent at vide9 games, and a t9tally stellar skate69arding pers9n, all while 6eing a girl, n9 less.

I DON’T FUCKING BELIEVE THIS, you can almost hear Karkat thinking to himself.

Kankri lets Latula be him. After Kankri tells Karkat he’ll be back, he talks to Latula.

> Kankri, talk to Latula

KANKRI: 9h, hey, Latula. I th9ught I heard y9ur device grinding 9n vari9us surfaces near6y. 
KANKRI: H9w are y9ur athletic t9y stunts g9ing? Are y9u getting a l9t 9f… a l9t 9f “air”? Am I saying that right?
 #Did y9u hang… #Hang 10? #N9 that can’t 6e right…
LATULA: you knowz 1t bro!!! 
LATULA: you c4nt 3v3n TOUCH th1s. 1m 3sc4p1ng to th3 s1d3, from 4bov3, from 3v3ry wh1ch w4y b4s1c4lly!!!!
KANKRI: Well, I wasn’t g9ing t9 attempt t9 make any s9rt 9f physical c9ntact with y9u, and even if I did, I have n9 d9u6t that y9u w9uld 6e a6le t9 maneuver away fr9m my grasp 9n y9ur speedy little platf9rm. Either way, I’m m9re than c9ntent t9 let y9u escape in any directi9n 9f y9ur ch99sing, if that’s y9ur wish.
LATULA: dud3. just wh3n 1 th1nk youv3 4lr34dy s41d th3 squ4r3st th1ng poss1bl3, you go 4nd s4y som3th1ng l1k3 th4t.
KANKRI: Haha. I guess. Y9u kn9w, it’s really nice we can talk like this.
LATULA: 1t 1s…
KANKRI: Yes. I was just thinking lately, a69ut 9ur new p9st-scratch friends. Particularly the y9ung Vantas and Pyr9pe iterati9ns 9n their team, and h9w they’re pretty similar t9 us, 6ut als9 really different.
LATULA: y34h. l1l m3 1s bl1nd! d1d u 3v3n KNOW th4t??
 #h4v3 u s33n h3r l1l dr4gon su1t?? 3333! #SO cut3 >8]
KANKRI: Yes, 6ut that’s n9t really what I’m talking a69ut.
KANKRI: She and Karkat have a different relati9nship fr9m the 9ne we have. Theirs is much m9re tur6ulent, which is fueled presuma6ly 6y r9mantic tensi9n. I’m picking up 9n s9me maj9r vascillati9n vi6es fr9m their situati9n. It’s kind 9f unf9rtunate, 6ut it makes me grateful that we never g9t t9 that p9int.
LATULA: h3llz y34h. who n33ds th4t?

What am I even READING here?! If Karkat hadn’t lost the ability to speak words, he’d probably say the exact same words he said to John and Dave in that one memo from so long ago. I recommend you imagine Karkat throwing some choice insults at the two Beforan trolls who are definitely not in love.

KANKRI: I’m sure it’s m9stly due t9 the fact that we’ve stayed entirely away fr9m the sting6ug’s nest 9f r9mantic entanglement. Which 9f c9urse is related t9 my 9ath 9f celi6acy, which as y9u kn9w is just a pers9nal ch9ice, 9ne which f9r s9me reas9n my p9st-scratch adult self eventually strayed fr9m… with… Meulin, 9f all pe9ple? 6ut that’s neither here n9r there.
 #Seri9usly. #I mean, she’s nice, 6ut… #Really?
LATULA: h4h4h4h4… you 4nd m3uz. st1ll cr4cks m3 up… H4H4H4H4H4H4!!!!
 #:3 #h3h3h3h

This is shortly followed by a popular headcanon getting brutally deconfirmed. Odd cases like this are a natural consequence of one of the Beforan troll storyline’s fundamental flaws: most of the ancestors are meant as characterizations of what the Alternian trolls would be like as adults, so it would seem really redundant for the Beforan trolls to be reimaginings of the ancestors like the alpha kids are with the beta kids’ guardians. So Hussie is left with no other choice than to make the Beforan trolls (save for Aranea and Meenah) all a bunch of ridiculous Internet stereotypes, like how the Alternian trolls were originally characterized but much more over the top. Sometimes this characterization works decently well and makes for good moments; other times, it leads to unexpected dissonances like the case of Kankri and Meulin.

KANKRI: Yes. 6ut regardless. What I’m saying is, it’s great we stayed away fr9m that. It’s helped me appreciate y9u as a friend, and admire all y9ur g99d qualities. Plat9nically, 9f c9urse.
LATULA: your3 r1ght! 1ts b33n pr3tty r4d wh3n you put 1t th4t w4y.
KANKRI: Like h9w y9u never 69ught int9 the usual r9les 9f y9ur caste, as an aqua, n9t even the m9re “well intended” s9cial c9nventi9ns 9f y9ur privileged arist9cratic 6l99dline. Y9u never l99ked d9wn 9n any69dy, 9r saw it as y9ur civil duty t9 care f9r 9r “impr9ve” the warmer classes, falling prey t9 unf9rtunate tendencies inv9lving cerulean savi9r c9mplex, 9r the “6lue 6l99d’s 6urden” (trigger warning 9n that, 96vi9usly) which sadly 6ecame s9 insepera6le fr9m the fa6ric 9f the spectral 9rder, with each class c9nditi9ned t9 view th9se 6el9w it the same way, the 96stacles t9 raising awareness were alm9st insurm9unta6le. 6ut unlike the c99ler hues 9n 9ur team m9re priviliged than y9u, like y9ur Serkets, y9ur Zahhaks, y9ur Amp9ras… I never g9t the sense that y9u put the slightest 6it 9f st9ck in any 9f that, and I think that’s pretty amazing.
 #Cerulean savi9rs #Teal templars #Vi9let valiants #Purple paladins
LATULA: uh… y34h! th4t sh1tz 4 dr4g, why would 1 both3r w1th 4ny of th4t? 1 m34n, 1ll h3lp low bloods l34rn stunts 4nd ch34t cod3z 1f th3y w4nt, but th4ts 1t!!!
KANKRI: Right. And I’m just saying if my head was ever cl9uded 6y r9mantic feelings f9r y9u, I pr96a6ly w9uldn’t 6e a6le t9 appreciate that a69ut y9u.

I just, …

What am I even supposed to say here??? Kankri makes it painfully obvious he’s in love with Latula, all the while insisting he’s secluded himself from any and all romance among his friends. Speaking as an aromantic person, Kankri’s persistent denial of being in love is very funny to me. Also on this topic, I regret not discussing aromantic John headcanons when I had the chance to back in Act 6 Intermission 2; maybe I’ll discuss those headcanons in the next post, which focuses on him and Jade.

KANKRI: Just like I w9uldn’t 6e a6le t9 appreciate the fairly c99l “zees” y9u put at the end 9f many w9rds, 9r say things l9udly and with enthusiasm, even if it’s n9t particularly warranted.
 #It rarely is
LATULA: h3h3h. y34h!!!!
KANKRI: 9r the way y9ur hair fl9ws in the wind when y9u sc99t 9ver s9me s9rt 9f 96stactle 9n y9ur device really fast.
KANKRI: 9r the way y9u make this funny little n9ise just as y9u c9nnect with 9ne 9f y9ur c9pi9us high fives, which can 9nly 6e heard 9ver the l9ud slap if y9u listen really cl9sely.
LATULA: um, y34h… 1 not1c3d… som3 stuff l1k3 th4t…
LATULA: 4bout you too 1 gu3ss?
LATULA: h3h.
KANKRI: 9r the way y9u have always sh9wn kindness t9 pe9ple wh9 needed help, with9ut making them feel tragic 9r helpless f9r accepting it.
KANKRI: 9r the way y9u still manage t9 l99k stylish even with9ut y9ur c99l shades, 9r s9metimes when they’re pr9pped up 9n y9ur head just in fr9nt 9f y9ur h9rns.
 #1… #hm

Kankri’s compliments towards Latula kick into high gear here. He’s moved past his usual ridiculous lectures about troll history and is now giving Latula genuinely kind and touching compliments.

KANKRI: 9r, I d9n’t kn9w if y9u remem6er, that time Meenah 6aked every69dy a cake. It was the first sweep anniversary 9f entering the game, 9ne 9f the rare m9ments 9f s9lidarity and g99d cheer am9ng 9ur entire team at 9nce. Every9ne was raving a69ut h9w g99d the fresh 6aked cake smelled, s9 y9u t99k a 6ig sniff, I guess f9rgetting f9r a m9ment y9u c9uldn’t smell. Then y9u quickly caught y9urself, and played it c99l making sure n9 9ne n9ticed, which n9 9ne did. 6ut I n9ticed. And I just th9ught that was kind 9f endearing. 
KANKRI: Anyway, I think all that w9uld have 6een c9mpletely l9st 9n me if we didn’t have this str9ng plat9nic 69nd. I just th9ught I’d say that. Guess I’ll get g9ing n9w. 
KANKRI: See y9u ar9und, Latula.

Kankri goes on to describe a heartwarming moment in the alpha trolls’ session: the cake they shared on the first sweep anniversary of entering the game. And he ends by still denying his romantic feelings for Latula. These two are hopeless, I’m telling you.

> Kankri, talk to Porrim

… Yeah, this is more of Porrim acting like his mom and arguing about their respective interests. Not much to say here. The funniest part is the face Kankri makes when Porrim claims he got grub sauce on his sweater:

I feel bad for Karkat whenever Kankri does something he would. I can only imagine how it feels to meet someone so awful yet so similar to you.

> Kankri, talk to Meenah

Not much to say here either. Kankri gives his reason not to join Meenah’s army: he’s too busy sharing his endless lectures with fresh new faces. Meenah asks Kankri to stand alone for a few minutes, then you play as her again.

> Meenah, talk to Karkat

MEENAH: (psst!)
MEENAH: (hey vantas)
KARKAT: (what.)
MEENAH: (nows yer chance)
MEENAH: (lets blow this nautical stand)
 #nautical/popsicle… #eh close enough
KARKAT: (oh…)
KARKAT: (i don’t think i’m supposed to.)

Karkat seems terrified to think what would happen if he left his dancestor hanging, in a way that reminds me of how he goes along with dreadful conversations with his past and future selves because time dictates he has to. This guy just can’t catch a break, can he.

MEENAH: (shouty you cant let that boring nerd tell you how to roll)
MEENAH: (you wanna stand here lisfinin to his shellf important abaloney all day???)
KARKAT: (not really.)
MEENAH: (then COM-E ON!)

Only a few hours or so after meeting him, Meenah already has her eyes set on Karkat. She thinks she knows what’s best for him far better than he does.

Karkat follows Meenah to the door with his sign on it.

> Meenah, open door

MEENAH: vantas gimme your password
KARKAT: (huh?)
MEENAH: this is your door aint it
KARKAT: (what makes you say that.)
MEENAH: the symbol on the doors the same as on your fuckin shirt
MEENAH: come on it aint blastoff device science
KARKAT: (ok, yeah, it’s mine. maybe i got tired of interloping shitbags traipsing through my PRIVATE and PERSONAL memories.) 

Just as Dave used the dream bubble pseudo-Internet to make humorous “bots” that post random quotes of his, Karkat figured out how to make a bit of private space for himself.

MEENAH: you dont need to whisper anymore aint no one around
MEENAH: now whats the password
MEENAH: no just tell me shouty!!! 
MEENAH: dude you want kankri to find you and talk yer nubs off again

In this walkaround, all Meenah needs to get Karkat to do what she wants is remind him how annoying Kankri is.

* tiny text
* tiny text
MEENAH: bro you gotta speak up
MEENAH: T)(ATS your p word
MEENAH: what in glubs name does that mean

When Karkat reveals his password, it becomes apparent that he misses John and Jade just as much as Dave does, even though he knew them for only one day.

MEENAH: so shouty
MEENAH: or… kankrat was it?
MEENAH: been meaning to axe you… HEY!
MEENAH: whered he go?
MEENAH: its so hard makin friends

Seems like Karkat’s feelings towards Meenah are lukewarm at best. He left her behind right after letting her inside his memories.


Amidst some more Alternian scenery than what we had before, we see Aranea in an exposition booth, offering to tell stories about the trolls we met in this walkaround.

> Hey you see where louder Vantas went?

ARANEA: Yes, I saw him scurry 8y a moment ago. He went that way, into a memory of his old neigh8orhood.
MEENAH: man what gives
MEENAH: does my breath stink or
 #do i need a fish mint
ARANEA: I think he just wants to 8e alone. He tried to lock his memories away from others, I guess without realizing these 8u88les can 8e very permea8le. If the memory is 8ig enough, people will 8e a8le to wander into it from many directions.
ARANEA: He pro8a8ly won’t 8e too happy to find more of our friends hanging out there.
MEENAH: oh shit more of the old gang is that way
MEENAH: guess i better go talk to them too
 #yay more useless tools

Aranea tells readers that we’ll meet more Beforan trolls in the next walkaround, again telling readers who waited so long during the Openbound pause what to expect next. Meenah spoils that the next few trolls we meet will once again be useless tools.

MEENAH: probably have to bail shouty out YET AGAIN
MEENAH: damn kid makes you work
ARANEA: That’s pro8a8ly why you’re o8sessed with him.
MEENAH: shut up

Aranea is right. Meenah is obviously way too delighted to meet a troll as Alternian-spirited as she is.

> Serket water u doin.

MEENAH: yo what is this shit
MEENAH: you sellin somefin here
MEENAH: if so i should warn you im a little low on funds these days
ARANEA: I am offering explanations! I will explain anything you desire.
MEENAH: ahahaha you must be out of your seasponge if you think ima part with anyfin of value for a shitty speech
ARANEA: Oh, no! You misunderstand. It is I who will pay YOU five 8oon8ucks if you listen to an explanation on any topic of your choosing!
 #good grief
ARANEA: So what topic will it 8e?
MEENAH: hang on!
 #im thinking
ARANEA: Can’t decide on a topic?
MEENAH: no cant decide if its worth listening to you even if you pay me
ARANEA: >::::(
ARANEA: Now I know you’re messing with me. I know you can’t say no to easy money.
MEENAH: yeah youre right
 #if i fall asleep do i still get paid
MEENAH: lay it on me

Meenah’s insatiable love for money is usually a silly running gag, but here it serves as an in-story excuse for Aranea to give all the Beforan trolls expository paragraphs—basically their equivalent of character introduction pages. In the same spirit, I will write introduction paragraphs for the three trolls we met in this walkaround just as I promised. Here goes:

  • Kankri Vantas is a joke character.
  • Latula Pyrope is a joke character hiding someone who’s extremely depressed and pensive.
  • Porrim Maryam is actually kind of a competent person compared to the other two, but still displays many shades of a joke character.

How hard was that?

Even though these three are all joke characters, Aranea’s expositions on them have quite a few interesting parts worth going through.

> Tell me about Kankri Vantas.

ARANEA: The Seer of 8lood played quite a different role on our team from that of his successor, though his potential as a 8lood player went similarly unrealized. It was only when he grew up on Alternia did he 8egin to tap into his a8ilities, triggering recollection of our lives on 8eforus, and what we all went through.
ARANEA: He remem8ered our more peaceful way of life, and his desire to unite people. As an adult he was a8le to do this much more effectively and maturely. Heroically, even. He learned how to inspire others, and 8e a true leader, even when the odds were stacked against him in his violent culture. It cost him his life, 8ut his message lived on. I 8elieve the Knight of 8lood now carries his 8urden, whether he has decided to accept it or not.

Kankri being the Seer of Blood is rather unsurprising, as is Aranea’s statement that in he didn’t realize his potential before the scratch. Her statement about Karkat is heartening now that the epilogues ACTUALLY ADDRESSED his leadership role.

ARANEA: During our session, Kankri’s trials as a leader were just as frustrating as those of his successor. He found it very hard to get others to take him seriously. While you would often try to divide us with your trou8lemaking, and turn us against each other to make us stronger – unsuccessfully I might add – he would try to unite us through proselytizing and lecture, just as unsuccessfully. 

A big part of the Beforus session’s failure was that it had no good leader. Kankri didn’t have the iron fist and yelling power Karkat did, which led the most Alternian member of the group to clumsily try to pit her groupmates against each other. Much like all the Alternian trolls, only when led by Karkat can Meenah be an effective co-leader; they both fully realize this potential in the Candy Epilogue.

> Tell me about Latula Pyrope.

ARANEA: The Knight of Mind, to even the most casual o8server, is clearly the more “radical” instance of the two Pyropes. 8oth of course have disa8ilities which, if discovered, would slate each for culling in their respective cultures. Culling of course means something quite different on 8eforus. It means she would have 8een selected 8y a mem8er of a higher caste for adoption, and coddled excessively. 8ut for someone with a lifestyle as radical as hers, I’m sure you will agree that would have 8een a fate worse than death.

The Beforan definition of culling is exactly how Feferi wanted to redefine it should she inherit the Alternian throne. It quickly becomes apparent that just as Meenah is an Alternian at heart, Feferi is an absolute Beforan at heart. And both of their ways of ruling led to a society that really kind of sucks to live in.

MEENAH: serket yo this exposition is some straight up redonkulous junk even by your standards
ARANEA: Would you like to make some money, or not?
MEENAH: you know me i am all about the boonjamins
ARANEA: Then please stand there quietly while I continue.
MEENAH: urrrhn fin
ARANEA: After the tragic accident which left her nasally impaired, her mighty dragon lusus, ancient and wise 8eyond our comprehension, 8egan to teach her “new ways to smell.” To reinvent the sense, using other sense organs such as eyes and ears, awakening completely new experiences in her mind. She was truly an inspiration, and proved 8eyond a shadow of a dou8t that any handicap can 8e overcome, and doesn’t have to stop you from 8eing as rad as you can truly 8e.
MEENAH: wuuut
MEENAH: serket are you whistlin through my blowhole with his idiotic shit
ARANEA: Yes, that last part was a joke. Lighten up, Peixes!

We saw a long time ago that many of the Alternian trolls didn’t believe in or care about their society’s warlike ideals. Aranea jokes about the special treatment Latula would have gotten if her “disability” was discovered, which makes it clear that most of the Beforan trolls are the same way about their society.

MEENAH: yeah yeah what do we have to do to seal this deal here
 #seal #you know #the marine barkbeast
ARANEA: Well……..
MEENAH: Just tell me the bare minimum a what i need to hear to snag ma boonies and run
ARANEA: Ok. Even though Latula has 8een dating Mituna steadily for eons, it’s hardly a secret to anyone that she and Kankri have had complicated unrequited feelings for even longer. So really, much like their descendants. Aaaaaaaand, we’re done! Here you go.
MEENAH: fuckin score

Aranea reveals Latula and Kankri have had feelings for each other since before her and Mituna’s relationship. Further proof that they are two miserable losers that won’t admit they’re madly in love with each other.

> Tell me about Porrim Maryam.

ARANEA: The Maid of Space was of course our all-important Space player and Stoker of the Forge, 8ut as you know, we never made much progress on the frog 8reeding front, or really any aspect of the game 8efore the reckoning. Way too disorganized, way too much teen drama. Much of that drama of course centered around Kankri, and Porrim tended to 8e the one to keep him out of trou8le. This relationship persisted in their lives on Alternia, which… unfortunately didn’t work out too well for her in the end. I’d address my involvement with that, 8ut you seem to 8e tapping your foot so I think I’ll just skip over that part of the story!
ARANEA: On 8eforus, well 8efore her drinker a8ilities had awakened, she grew up in the caste almost solely devoted to tending to the mother gru8, hatching the young and proliferating the 8rood. The jade 8loods were also an almost exclusively female caste, and she 8egan to resent the roles she was hatched into, designated for 8oth her class and gender. She challenged these roles wherever they existed in 8eforan society, as well as where she found them woven into our session, in kingdoms, class assignments, consort culture and the like.

ARANEA: 8ut over the sweeps in our failed session, she found within herself a renewed interest in the duty that came with her 8loodline, which was of course the persistence of our people, a 8urden which her descendant now must 8ear. All life on 8eforus had 8een wiped out, and we’d failed our game, so she helped me search for a way to reset the…
MEENAH: zzzzzz
ARANEA: I was almost finished!!!!!!!!

Aranea’s exposition about Porrim is mostly a rather dull discussion of her feminism and Beforan jade bloods, but right as it FINALLY gets interesting Meenah falls asleep. I feel Aranea’s frustration here. She was right about to clarify the oddity that she supposedly consulted with Echidna, who is usually the space player’s denizen—something readers had been understandably wondering about for quite some time.

MEENAH: your just tellin me shit i know serk she was sorta my friend too remember
MEENAH: cant you spice this jam up
ARANEA: I don’t……..
MEENAH: didnt she like sleep with erybody
MEENAH: gimme all the dirt on that
ARANEA: What? 
ARANEA: No, Meenah. I am not paying you so that you can listen to me indulge in such scandalous gossip.
ARANEA: Now what was I talking a8out? Gosh, I’ve lost my train of thought……..
MEENAH: ahahaha why you blushin girl
MEENAH: omigawd you and she…???????
MEENAH: ho man why didnt you ever tell me i thought we was fronds
ARANEA: Look. Three sweeps is a long time to spend in a failed, pointless session!
ARANEA: You look into the future and see a life lasting for may8e thousands of sweeps, with nothing to look forward to, and……..
MEENAH: aaaand????
ARANEA: It was just… kind of a phase! Just a little red fling, ok? It 8arely even lasted half a sweep, and…
ARANEA: Hey, if I give you TEN 8oon8ucks, can we stop talking talking a8out this????????

And then the conversation takes a turn for the awkward when Aranea lets it slip that she was in a relationship with Porrim at one point. She downplays it by saying it barely lasted half a sweep, as if an entire year isn’t a pretty long time to be in a relationship.

MEENAH: make it a cool hunnid and you got a deal
ARANEA: Argh, fine! Just take it!!!!!!!!
MEENAH: her imperious condescension thanks you for your generous contribution to the new empire
ARANEA: I’m glad you’re a good guy this time. You really were hatched to 8e SUCH A 8ITCH!!!!!!!!

As Aranea points out, Meenah’s greediness with money makes it no wonder Alternia was such a brutal place under her rule.

– – – 

… And that’s the end of Openbound Part 1! Final verdict: I can already see why people hate the Openbound games, but I didn’t mind this one at all. It didn’t go too long with characters being annoying, except for Kankri’s long essays which barely anyone read anyway. And it provides some interesting exposition as to how the Beforan session failed, plus some rather hilarious antics with Kankri and Porrim.

Openbound Part 1 doesn’t have quite the cool story structure that the mid to late Act 5 Act 2 walkarounds have, which together with the annoying characters might make it a bit of a drag. But this walkaround really isn’t as bad as people say. As such, I hereby deem myself an Openbound Part 1 apologist. Whether I feel differently about Parts 2 and 3 remains to be seen, hopefully in the near future. I’m going on vacation in a few days and will be back on the 17th; hopefully my mind will still be fresh by then.

See you in two weeks or so as John has his biggest mental breakdown to date.

>> Part 87: The Mental Breakdown to End All Mental Breakdowns

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