Cookie Fonster’s Homestuck Reflections Part 118: The End (or So It Seems)

Introduction

< Part 117 | Part 118 | Part 119 >

Act 6 Act 6 Intermission 4, Part 1 of 8

Pages 6944-7006

God, this part is so sad.
Also shippy. But mostly sad.

Before I begin going through A6A6I4, let me get something out of the way that I perhaps should have said much sooner, like over a year ago. I hope it doesn’t come off as transphobic.

I do not plan on discussing June Egbert in my Homestuck blog post series. The reason why is simply because I see no reason to, especially considering that the canonicity of June presently goes no further than a single Twitter post by Andrew Hussie. While I have no problem with headcanoning characters to be transgender—so long as you aren’t an asshole about it, or an asshole to those who do—John Egbert being a transgender woman is simply not an idea I can personally make sense of. I do have lots of complicated thoughts and feelings about the topic of gender identity, both my own and in general, but I’d rather stray from using a fictional character as a vessel to explore those thoughts. Note that I may change my mind about this if June ends up appearing in official Homestuck media in some capacity, in which case I’ll try to keep an open mind.

With that out of the way, let’s begin Act 6 Act 6 Intermission 4! We’re in the home stretch, folks. The fifth last subdivision of Homestuck, and the second last one that’s of substantial length.

(Oh yeah, I noticed after publishing this post that I published post number 118 on 1/18, January 18. Pretty lucky coincidence.)

Nice job there, Aranea.

This image is not a promising one to start A6A6I4 on. It shows us the catastrophic fate of the pre-retcon alpha session, with evidence aplenty of who all caused this mayhem: first Jade foolishly swapping her planet with Derse, then Aranea and the Condesce smashing all the players’ planets into each other in their final face-off… well, all but two of them. It looks like all the destroyed planets’ Seven Gates were severed in the process of all this, which is pretty messed up.

The two surviving planets are symbolic of the two players who survived this timeline: the token heterosexual couple, John and Roxy, who I would be a complete and utter liar if I said I don’t think they’re insanely cute together.

John’s perception of the glitches reminds me of his perception of Caliborn’s commands in Homosuck. Perhaps it’s indicative of his unique relationship with the narrative that no other character has.

… yeah, yeah, I know it’s probably just Hussie doing cool things with the glitch effects that he hadn’t done prior, but fuck it, I can interpret Homestuck the way I want to.

John notices a gigantic piece of candy corn in the Incipisphere’s outskirts, but doesn’t seem to get too distracted by this. For once, he knows that this isn’t a time to get distracted by stupid bullshit, but rather figure out what the fuck happened here.

This brings us to a series of long panels where you can scroll horizontally or vertically to explore the destruction. These big panels are a cool way to experience the aftermath of Game Over from John’s perspective. In the remains of Jade’s planet, there are lots of pieces of her built-up house and various bits of smoldering lava and dirt. The lava was ready to have the queens’ rings thrown into it in a REFRANCE to LORD OF THE RENGS, but instead this is what was done with it.

In that same panel, John flies by a damaged statue of Echidna—perhaps an early hint that A6A6I4 will bring about a return to relevance for denizens.

At the end of the first big panel and the start of the second big panel, we get some time to absorb the result of LOFAF and LOLAR crashing into each other. The crash was so severe that it left major cracks and plenty of debris from both planets and exposed both their molten hot cores.

Rose’s house and alchemiter have both been shattered in the destruction, which is quite a grisly sight. It’s notably the same alchemiter that Terezi used to make her blindfold not long ago. The bits of revisitation of alchemy in A6A6I1 helped us remember that it didn’t stop being a thing or anything, making this sight especially shocking.

Even the ludicrously expensive wizard statue that pre-scratch Roxy bought so long ago got quite a few cracks in it. The fact that it’s cracked instead of destroyed entirely goes to show how expensive that statue must have been, but the fact that it’s cracked at all shows how thoroughly everything was wrecked in this session.

Oh yeah, the balloons from LOCAH have been severed from the planet’s balloon network puzzle system thing. Another bizarre sight.

The end of the second huge panel shows us that LOCAH was affected far more greatly by the crash than LOHAC was. Makes sense since LOHAC already had plenty of lava in it, as well as a bunch of highly sturdy metal, whereas LOCAH consisted more of rock and dead remnants of some salamander civilization. A big chunk was chipped off LOCAH on the corner, exposing its core very heavily. I guess this shows how tough of a planet LOHAC was, for it to deal such a blow on another planet.

I don’t have much to say about the other two long panels—I think you get the idea. A lot of nasty destruction that Hussie clearly put a lot of work into drawing. Like seriously, he went ALL out on this. Pretty weird to compare it to the so-called “fast and loose” art style of A6A6I5.

John encounters Dirk, who had missed all the action, and wait just a minute did I just notice something new about Homestuck???????? Look carefully at the point where the statue of Yaldabaoth was sliced. I think it’s supposed to be symbolic of Dirk’s whole decapitation shtick. I really should have noticed this WAY sooner, but nope, I didn’t notice it until today. I feel like the stupidest person in the world right now.

You know, I have to wonder if Dirk sliced off the statue’s head himself. It’s not too far-fetched considering what his pre-scratch self did to the meteor that was about to hit Dave’s house, and grown-up Dirk wasn’t even a god tier.

… yeah, he DEFINITELY sliced it off himself. Wouldn’t work any other way.

JOHN: hey there.
JOHN: are you dave’s bro?
JOHN: …
JOHN: hey!
JOHN: did you hear me?
JOHN: where is everyone?
JOHN: i’m john by the way.


John approaches Dirk, asking him where everyone is. After some silence, Dirk responds with:

DIRK: John.
DIRK: Could you please just leave me alone.


These two lines seem to solidify John’s first impression of Dirk as the most mysterious of the alpha kids—someone he simply can’t hope to get a read on. This persistent lack of a strong dynamic between John and Dirk may relate to their heavily contrasting relationships with the narrative. John stays his same self for the whole comic and his alternate selves hardly do a thing, while Dirk’s narrative role is scattered across numerous splinters and alternate selves to the point where the “main” Dirk gets relatively little screen time. These two simply can’t click with each other well. Certainly not like with Jake or Roxy, both of whom John gets along with famously.

JOHN: what?
JOHN: why?
JOHN: i don’t understand.
JOHN: do you know what happened here?
DIRK: Yeah.


John asks Dirk to explain what happened, and he concedes with a laconic answer that describes his perspective of it all:

It might be symbolic that the planets shown in Dirk’s sunglasses are his own, Jake’s, and Dave’s. Three very important figures in his life, all of whom he probably considers himself to have let down.

DIRK: I failed.


These two words show that Dirk has pinpointed the blame for all this entirely on himself. I’m sure this line has led many to write gigantic essays about Dirk and his relationship with his splinters, but I’ll keep my interpretation of this line brief. Dirk here seems to be owning up to his splinters’ mistakes and failures (especially Brain Ghost Dirk, whose sword ended up killing two of his friends). This responsibility for all his splinters’ deeds is a stance he makes very clear in his emotional reunion with Dave in A6A6I5. I think I’ll refrain from further ramblings about Dirk until I get to that part, which I can already see making for a behemoth of a blog post.

Well, this sure was sad.

With that, Dirk lets the glitches consume him, presumably as self-inflicted punishment for his supposed failure. Whatever his true thoughts on this situation are, it’s clear he doesn’t feel he deserves to join the remaining party remembers in fixing this mess.

Dirk’s dissipation was just the beginning of the sadness.

Then John notices Roxy carrying a wounded Rose. Without any words, he follows them to LOPAN, Roxy’s planet. This encounter needs no words to express all the sadness.

I like how in these two images, the statue of Nix is first shown clearly, then blurred to draw attention to the Lalondes. Good use of blurring to generate emotion.

John joins the scene, asking Roxy what happened to Rose. The scene switches to sprite mode for a panel, to remind us that these are the same John and Rose we knew since the start of the comic, plus the same Roxy whose existence was hinted at since all the way back in Act 3 with the whole Jaspers mystery.

ROXY: mom
ROXY: mom!
ROXY: please
ROXY: wake up
ROXY: …
ROXY: its me
ROXY: ur um
ROXY: daughter kinda
ROXY: …
ROXY: please dont die
ROXY: …
ROXY: …
ROXY: …
ROXY: rose


Roxy’s desperate words to her mother/daughter need no commentary. It’s just… really sad.

Yet another panel that uses blurring to create emotion. Rose just woke up and her eyes can’t quite process the scene. She just sees dark silhouettes against a blindingly bright background, vaguely recognizable as John and her mother. This image nails the feeling of “OW, MY EYES” when you get out of bed and immediately turn the lights on. It’s an overwhelming scene for the dying Rose, but an emotional one no less.

ROSE: What…
ROSE: Happened to me?
ROXY: the witch got u
ROXY: with her fork
ROXY: but youre gonna be ok
ROSE: Oh.
ROSE: That’s nice.
ROSE: *Cough.*
ROXY: maybe you uh
ROXY: shouldnt try to talk now
ROSE: You saved me, didn’t you?
ROXY: …
ROSE: Thanks.
ROSE: But,
ROSE: She’s gone, isn’t she.
ROSE: For good, I mean.
ROXY: ?
ROSE: I saw her die.
ROSE: And.
ROSE: It’s a shame how…
ROSE: *Cough.*
ROSE: A shame that I never even…
ROSE: Got to tell her…
ROSE: I loved her.
ROXY: who?

This expression is soul-crushing like few others are.

ROSE: Kanaya.


Rose’s last words seem at first only dedicated to Kanaya, which is already incredibly sad. She went through this relationship with her and it went in testy directions, but she didn’t once tell Kanaya, “I love you”? It’s sad enough that in her dying words, she makes it clear how she truly felt about her girlfriend…

ROSE: But…
ROSE: You too, mom.

Who knew an eye close-up could be so emotional?

ROSE: You too.


… but then, she expresses the exact same regrets to her mother. It’s doubtful she’s thinking clearly enough to realize she’s saying this to a different teen version of her departed mother, or that she is distinguishing the two versions of Roxy in the first place, so I interpret these lines as directed to simply the essence of Roxy—her “mother” and “daughter” at once. The same mother who supposedly “tormented” Rose with gigantic wizard statues and “ironic” mind games and what have you; the same mother who she fiercely avenged after finding out Jack Noir killed her. The same daughter who so badly wanted to meet her mother and even made a bottle of ecto-slime she hoped to throw into her sprite; the same daughter standing right in front of her, forced to watch her die. An incredibly tear-jerking scene all around.

Rose’s death is ruled Heroic. I would offer my stance on this like the other Game Over deaths, but it seems pretty straightforward to me. She took revenge on the death of her true love, her expression fierce and determined to strike down the Condesce. She failed, but it was a heroic attempt no less, just like with Dave and Jake’s attempts to save their friends. Like I discussed in the Game Over post, I think you can deduce a lot about a character’s intentions from the ruling of their death.

Roxy is driven completely to tears; John frowns beside her, but his eyes remain dry, even as she runs up to embrace him. Some readers were rather confused at John’s less extreme reaction to Rose’s death and claim he must not have thought it was that big of a deal. I beg to differ on this matter. John isn’t the type to immediately express grief when something bad happens. Rather, he keeps those feelings bottled up unless something stupid sets him off, in which case he lets them all out in an aggressive tirade. We saw this in Act 6 Intermission 3 when Davesprite parodied his dad’s fatherly notes, and we also see that several times in the Candy Epilogue where he rants about how everyone except him is fake. John simply handles grief a little differently from how others do.

It’s also worth noting that later in A6A6I5, John reveals that he felt a lot sadder for Roxy than for himself about Rose’s death, which demonstrates his unique perception of Roxy as by far the nicest girl he has ever met. In this scene, he’s incredibly sad for Roxy, but he doesn’t let out those feelings right away.

JOHN: i’m sorry.
JOHN: i got here too late to do anything.

JOHN: because as far as i may think i’ve come…
JOHN: i still don’t know what i’m doing.
JOHN: dave’s bro in the funny pants was right.
JOHN: but not about himself.
JOHN: i was the one who let everybody down.
JOHN: i’m the failure.
JOHN: it’s me.


Now it’s John’s turn to blame himself for all this ruckus. He’s probably doing this because he sees the best in Roxy and can’t stand the thought of her beating herself up about Rose’s death. They may be the token heterosexual romance, but I think John and Roxy have an interesting dynamic worth analyzing either way.

… you know what, read Through Shadowed Eyes and then come back here. It’s a Homestuck fanfic going through the events of the Candy Epilogue from Roxy’s perspective that I’ve been meaning to plug here for a while because it’s really good and well-written with hefty analysis and interpretation of how the epilogues went down the way they did, plus some interesting depictions of John from a perspective other than his own, and of their son, Harry Anderson. The fic has made me heavily rethink the epilogues and many of the characters involved in it. Don’t just stand there, read it!

Let’s not get too sidetracked here though. Roxy’s expression in this panel shows her desperation very well, since she just learned that Dirk might not be dead.

ROXY: you saw dirk??
ROXY: where is he
JOHN: he was back there, floating near all the exploded planets.
JOHN: he told me to leave him alone, so i did.
JOHN: and now he’s stuck somewhere inside all those shitty glitches, which just keep getting worse.
ROXY: do you think we can get him out
ROXY: he is like
ROXY: my only friend who isnt dead yet
JOHN: i don’t know.
JOHN: i have been able to clean up some glitches here and there…
JOHN: but they’re everywhere now.
JOHN: it’s like the whole universe is corrupted.
JOHN: or, more than just the universe.
JOHN: you know what i mean.
JOHN: there’s no way i can use my windy powers to blow it all away anymore.
JOHN: and even if i did… then what?
JOHN: everything has gotten so fucked up!
ROXY: yeah
ROXY: sigh


This exchange establishes that this timeline’s Dirk is a lost cause, leaving John and Roxy as the only surviving human players. Dirk’s refusal to join the living party members helps strengthen the two’s bond as the only survivors of the pre-retcon timeline. This bond is significant because it makes the directions post-canon media takes their relationship in very heartwrenching. It wouldn’t be quite as strong if Dirk was also among the survivors, which I assume is part of the narrative reason why he was left behind.

John and Roxy sit together by a pyramid, the former taking a moment to memorialize Rose.

JOHN: poor rose.
JOHN: she was always too brave for her own good.
JOHN: this is exactly what happened last time.
ROXY: last time?
JOHN: um.
JOHN: it was years ago.
JOHN: when jack killed our parents.
JOHN: and we tried to fight him but we weren’t strong enough to face him yet.
JOHN: so he killed her.


Part of why John is less distraught than Roxy, as he makes clear here, is that this isn’t his first time seeing Rose get killed avenging a loved one’s death. He’s always quick to catch on to parallels between events that occurred, so long as they took place onscreen. In that regard, perhaps it’s significant that his and Roxy’s wedding in the Candy Epilogue took place offscreen. That may demonstrate that he persistently sees Terezi as the sane one and Roxy as the lunatic until the latter finally talks him out of it in a heartwarming reconciliation scene near the end.

JOHN: but at least that time…
JOHN: i could bring her back to life.
ROXY: how
JOHN: uh…
JOHN: just, like…
JOHN: using a certain method.
JOHN: that is not an option anymore.
ROXY: …


And then this conversation momentarily switches into humor when John refuses to disclose that he kissed Rose’s corpse on the lips. I snorted reading this line just now; it shows quite clearly how massive of a crush John has already developed on Roxy, to the point where he denies any information that could possibly come anywhere near implying he’s shown romantic interest in anyone else. Kind of like how when he first met Roxy, he told her that Vriska was an insane lunatic who he regretted ever taking seriously. In the epilogues, he does the same thing hiding his conversations with Terezi from Roxy—or so he thinks, according to Through Shadowed Eyes. As for this passage, Roxy is definitely smart enough to know what John is talking about and probably finds it endearing that he’s uncomfortable saying it.

Holy shit, I am really getting sidetracked with shipping talk, what the fuck is wrong with me. Let’s move on.

JOHN: that’s the weird thing about this for me.
JOHN: i’m sitting here, looking at my dead friend.
JOHN: and it’s really sad.
JOHN: but at the same time…
JOHN: all of this has already happened before.
JOHN: the death and tragedy and stuff.
JOHN: getting painted into the corner of yet another unwinnable situation.
JOHN: it keeps happening.
JOHN: and i don’t know how to stop it!
ROXY: yeah
ROXY: me neither


John’s explanation of how his feelings differ from Roxy’s makes plenty of sense. He’s more confused than sad, because he still views this adventure somewhat in video game terms with an achievable goal that tends to be tricky to get to, and now he’s drawing a total blank on where to go from here.

JOHN: but we can’t give up, right?
JOHN: i mean, we’ve all been in worse situations and gotten out of those, right?
ROXY: er
ROXY: have we rly
JOHN: well…
JOHN: hm.
JOHN: no, i guess we haven’t.
JOHN: i guess this like, may be quite literally the worst thing that’s ever happened??
JOHN: i mean, not to put too fine a point on ranking shitty things.
JOHN: but this is about as unbelievably shitty as it gets.
JOHN: i keep thinking about what i could have done to…
JOHN: or what i STILL could do if only i…
JOHN: if somehow i could learn to control this…
JOHN: or like, even better understand this…
JOHN: this stupid, zappy, retconny…
JOHN: WHATEVER IT IS.
JOHN: bluh.


John’s optimism fizzles as it dawns on him that this is easily the worst situation that he’s ever gotten into. This leads Roxy to bring her thoughts into the conversation:

ROXY: john yo
ROXY: chill
JOHN: chill?
ROXY: yes
ROXY: maybe we should try to like
ROXY: not worry about shit so much anymore
JOHN: why not?
JOHN: there are so many problems!
ROXY: i know
ROXY: i know all about the problems
ROXY: and we are both way brave and all
ROXY: im sure between us we proved that hella many times already
ROXY: but man
ROXY: i never wanted anything more than to meet my mom
ROXY: to meet rose i mean
ROXY: and to just
ROXY: be with her and talk
ROXY: and try to understand this bond i felt like we always had without ever knowin each other
ROXY: i kept getting so close
ROXY: dreamin about her…
ROXY: wakin up too soon…
ROXY: and finally
ROXY: the last time i woke up
ROXY: was just in time to see her die


Roxy reminds us here that her reason to play Sburb was as different from John’s as can be. John simply wanted to play a fun video game with his friends; Roxy knew well that the game was part of the Condesce’s horrible wretched schemes but joined in (with a bit of coaxing from Calliope) because it meant she would get to see her fabled mother. For Roxy, meeting Rose was the crux of this adventure, and now this opportunity has been ruined by the very same witch she so badly wanted to defy.

ROXY: its like
ROXY: the witch was holding out just long enough for the dream to feel like a real possibility
ROXY: before taking it away
ROXY: then u take that ultrasad thing
ROXY: and pile on all the other brutal manure raining down on this epic shit charade
ROXY: and ive got to say john
ROXY: this is starting to feel an awful lot like the end
JOHN: the end?
ROXY: yeah
ROXY: whatever the end of the road feels like
ROXY: has gotta feel like this


With that motive of meeting Rose in mind, can you blame Roxy for thinking that this is how it all ends? This is her Strilonde morbidity in action—taking a strange form of fondness, or at least meaning, in horrible and sad things.

ROXY: maybe we should just
ROXY: admit to ourselves this is probably what its like when you find yourself in a timeline where everything went wrong
ROXY: and you know it means youre doomed
ROXY: and the only thing left to do is face the fact you have to ride it out into nothingness
ROXY: stop worryin so much
ROXY: and try to let it go
JOHN: you mean, like.
JOHN: …
JOHN: what do you mean?
ROXY: i mean
ROXY: accept that we lost
ROXY: admit that the people we wanted to be with
ROXY: the life we always wanted
ROXY: it was never gonna happen
ROXY: except maybe in the afterlife
ROXY: our friends are there
ROXY: callies there
ROXY: my mom is there
ROXY: why shouldnt we be there too
ROXY: why not just
ROXY: let the doomed timeline work its gloomy majyyks
ROXY: and slip away into nothing with the rest of this mess
JOHN: …


Because he likes Roxy, John takes her thoughts that they may be in a doomed timeline into honest consideration. This idea doesn’t sit well with him, but he can easily understand why Roxy feels this way.

Unsure what else to say to Roxy, John sits with her in gloom until he notices something nearby. You probably know what iconic scene this is leading up to…

HER. Terezi I mean, that’s who “HER.” is.

God damn does this girl have a lot of plot armor. Not quite as much as Gamzee, but still a hefty amount. I never thought of her as having plot armor before, but now it seems very obvious.

Jeez, how many explosions has Terezi survived by now? Gotta be at least three. She rivals even the beloved Spades Slick in resilience.

As Terezi approaches John and Roxy, she doesn’t stop to examine the explosion she left behind. Walking past explosions without looking at them is an easy way to show that a character is a certified badass. It’s completely foolproof—can YOU think of a time media subverts this trope? I sure can’t.

Terezi punches John in the nose, probably to demonstrate that she still has plenty of energy left in her. A very low amount of energy by her standards, but an huge amount by others’ standards.

TEREZI: F1X TH1S


This iconic line tells us right away what A6A6I4 is going to be: the act of Terezi being AWESOME. Also the act of John F1X1NG TH1S, I suppose. And the act of him and Roxy being shippy, but above all else, the act of Terezi being AWESOME.

“F1X TH1S” is an obvious point to end this post, so that’s exactly what I’ll do. See you next time as Jade and Calliope trade stories of their respective childhoods.

>> Part 119: Denizen Persuasion and Footwear Theft

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