Cookie Fonster Re-Critiques Homestuck Part 15: Ditzy Dreamers and Exile Cookouts

Introduction

< Part 14 | Part 15 | Part 16 >

Act 4, Part 1 of at least 6 (could end up splitting posts again)

Pages 1358-1454

Link to old version

I didn’t have any good ideas for a new name for this post, so I kept the old one.

Before my motivation inevitably drifts to something totally different, I figured I’d resume my rewritten Homestuck posts and try to at least do Act 4, if not all the way through Act 5 Act 1 (which is my planned ending point for the rewritten posts).

But before I start going through Act 4, I’ll quickly recap the intermission, which I reread before starting this post.

The Midnight Crew intermission is awesome as fuck. It’s a throwback to the story style of Problem Sleuth that blasts your face with extreme time shenanigans to prepare you for the somewhat lighter time shenanigans in the act that follows. It characterizes the quartet of Derse agents, two of whom we hadn’t ever seen before, through the Midnight Crew, as well as the black queen through Snowman. Most notably, the intermission cleverly drops hints about the trolls and the Midnight Crew’s past until it punches you in the face with the reveal that the intermission took place on the trolls’ planet. It also has a few hints about Lord English, an overarching villain we very gradually learn more about. All in all, the whole intermission is executed beautifully and lots of fun from start to finish.


Act 4 is one of several acts that begins with a walkaround game. The game’s music is called Doctor, composed by the deceased George Buzinkai* and remixed many, many times throughout Homestuck’s music. Doctor holds an extremely special place in my heart—it’s one of only three tunes that I managed to remember through my first read of Homestuck, the other two being Karkat’s Theme and Elevatorstuck. I’ve always held the sentiment that among Homestuck’s most iconic tunes, Doctor was the one that best captured the comic’s nostalgic spirit, better than even Sburban Jungle or Showtime. I can’t quite explain why I feel that way; I suppose Doctor just has this powerful, nostalgic feeling that transcends words.

* Read this Reddit comment by a Homestuck music team member for information about Buzinkai’s name.

As for the walkaround itself, you play as John exploring the Land of Wind and Shade, fighting imps, playing around with his sylladex, talking to Nannasprite from afar, and gathering lots of information from consorts about his planet’s lore and denizen and all that jazz, all the while receiving commands from an exile who is clearly not WV. This walkaround is very complicated and weird to come back to considering the heavily simplified format and pixelated art style of later walkarounds; playing it, I can really see why Hussie chose to rework the style of walkarounds in Act 5 Act 2. According to my past self, “Hussie has said that this game is somewhat experimental and that it probably could’ve been presented in a more effective way (which is what the famous YouTube series Let’s Read Homestuck does).” I assume I was referring to Hussie’s Formspring then, but I’ve decided not to bother with playing through the walkaround in full and instead consume it using my physical copy of Homestuck: Book 3 (the Viz Media print).

And honestly, going through the walkaround in book form, Hussie’s commentary is more interesting to read than the content of the walkaround itself. The walkaround is spread across 27 pages of the book, which means there’s a lot of commentary from the author in it. Early in the walkaround, Hussie says:

This one is similar in style to the game when John first enters the Medium and can wander around his house, but this time there’s ACTUAL battle mechanics. You can bonk imps with a hammer, collect grist and items—all rather pointlessly, I should add. But you can do it, is the point. Why? I really couldn’t fucking tell you, to this day. I think I was legitimately insane? This, with perfectly brutal honesty, I must admit now strikes me as something a crazy person would do.

When Andrew Hussie, of all people, says something strikes him as something a crazy person would do, that’s how you know the Act 4 walkaround is indeed bloated as hell. There’s plenty of lore about John’s planet quest told by the salamanders as well, though hardly any of it isn’t information that you also learn elsewhere. Basically a bunch of meaningless shit I can skim over. There are a few salamanders, like the Mushroom Farmer (named by fans) and Crumplehat (named canonically), who according to the book commentary stuck out quite a bit to fans back then, but now they’re all but forgotten about, lost in the storm of pointless nonsense that is Act 4’s opening walkaround. I should note that we get a second walkaround with John on LOWAS that’s much more streamlined than this one, and with a remix of Doctor (Planet Healer) that’s much better than the original. Not to discount Buzinkai’s original composition, just that Seth Peelle made Doctor even better.

(I should note that the version of Doctor we hear in Homestuck wasn’t entirely Buzinkai’s doing. It features additions from Clark Powell, longtime Homestuck musician who has contributed music to very recent Homestuck/Hussie media, as well as someone named Michael Vallejo who I’m guessing was a friend of Buzinkai’s or Powell’s. What can I say, collaboration does wonders on music.)

Pretend there’s an image above this text if you want. I’m way too lazy to take screenshots from the Act 4 walkaround.

The Parcel Pyxis mail system, which we see in action a fair bit throughout Act 4, is introduced in this walkaround as well. Hussie provides some interesting commentary that reflects how haphazardly thought out all this LOWAS lore was:

[The salamanders’] entire mail system revolves around putting shit in the pipes, having it sent to completely random places, and whoever gets it gets it. This sounds pretty stupid, but I guess it’s part of their religion or something. So you have to respect it.

A few pages later in the book, Hussie offhandedly mentions that the Act 4 walkaround was “developed” (he was the one who put the word in quotation marks) in about 48 hours, which is just… man, even for Hussie, that’s completely insane. Nannasprite exposits about the Seven Gates and the imps now having features from Jaspers and Rose’s doll, which I have nothing to say about. Nothing else to say, other than that I can absolutely see why Hussie didn’t keep making this form of walkarounds.

Decapitation before it became Dirk’s shtick.

The Doctor walkaround is followed by exile shenanigans, of all things. A weird choice to continue, but it had to be followed by something. The frog statue is decapitated by a laser from the sentry worm, which is itself decapitated by AR’s missiles. Then AR recognizes the drawing on that one pumpkin and throws his arms up in the air:

You know what this is foreshadowing. Bec Noir and all that. Or, wait no, AR exiled himself before Jack became a dog. I think what he recognized the pumpkin as was Bec himself, who his past self watched the Dignitary create later in Act 4. I don’t remember why that dog is a big deal to him, but I suppose that not remembering everything is what makes rereading Homestuck fun.

PM then intervenes in the scene, leading to a panel that demonstrates how much more serious she is than the other two. This scene transitions us to Jade at the same location, years in the past (but not many).

An ancient TIME CAPSULE has blossomed. You find nested in its petals a juice-stained SBURB BETA once belonging to one of your friends.

What will you do?

This narration is another instance of Hussie clearly putting the story in the readers’ hands, or at least the readers of the time. This is one of the last times that happens.

Jade does the obvious course of action: captchaloguing Dave’s Sburb discs. The narration suggests to spice things up, since we haven’t gotten significant sylladex shenanigans out of her yet:

You think you’re getting kind of bored with this fetch modus. You like to mix it up now and then.

Maybe you’ll peruse your selection and try out another one.

More of letting fans choose what to try next. The link on the phrase “peruse your selection” was probably added to remind readers what modi she has. First off, according to what may or may not be a random reader’s command, she tries out…

… the Jenga modus! It’s weird thinking of Jenga as an actual game and not a metaphor for a carefully assembled structure or network that could collapse if you make the slightest change to it. Homestuck’s plot is a perfect example of something that can be analogized to Jenga, which might be why (presumably) a random reader suggested it.

Also, the time capsule resets, leaving something to bloom in 413 years. This is a cool mystery whose answer we don’t find for quite a while; if memory serves me, the next thing to bloom from the capsule is the White King, followed by Bec Noir ten seconds later.

The Jenga logo being colored blue may be seen as retroactive foreshadowing of a certain troll—you know which one.
A bit of a stretch, but that’s what her character is all about.

Jade randomly falls asleep again and let’s talk about…

… wait for it …

……..

*drumroll*

……..

Vriska.

Yep, that’s my first time namedropping Vriska in my rewritten Homestuck posts. I avoided mentioning her name for the first three acts and the intermission, but now here I am, finally ready to talk about Vriska in earnest. Act 4 is the first act where she makes any sort of physical appearance (a glimpse of her horn), so I always felt it would be a good idea to save her namedrop for this act. And I’m on Act 4 now.

Anyway, Vriska is a character in Homestuck who retroactively involves herself in many aspects of the beta kids’ plot, one of which is Jade’s narcolepsy. Normally the moments where she randomly falls asleep aren’t too consequential to the plot, but this one is, because her sudden sleep topples the Jenga statue, which previously had her bass and Squiddle toys safely secured—both entities that she ends up unable to captchalogue because they play a role in the exiles’ arc. When retroactively making herself the one who put Jade to sleep, did Vriska specifically think to spew all those items out of her sylladex, noticing mysterious forces prevented her from captchaloguing a few of them? That could very well be the case, given her whole self-imposed relevance shtick.

Alright, I really should go back to not talking about Vriska. Every time I mention Vriska, I end up going on a crazy tangent about her, completely sidetracking my Homestuck posts. I don’t know why I keep doing this to myself, why I keep writing essays upon essays about Vriska. Since I just mentioned her name eight times total, I think it’s wise if I shut my lid about her for the rest of this post.

You could argue that the bass and Squiddle plushes qualify as pieces in Homestuck’s metaphorical game of Jenga.

Pictionary won the MSPA forums’ poll for what modus Jade should use, narrowly beating out Clue and Jenga. It’s a great choice because it’s a game that’s easy to understand and good for humor value and comedic mistakes, as we see in the following pages. It’s worth noting that whichever modus ended up winning, Hussie would have had to conceive of a way for it not to be able to captchalogue the bass, which we saw in Act 3 jamming the elevator that AR was/will be standing on.

The Pictionary modus easily recognizes Jade’s lunchtop and Dave’s Sburb discs. However, I have to wonder why it doesn’t recognize the exclamation marks she wrote. Exclamation marks are among the 64 different characters usable in captcha codes, and the letters’ rendition in monospace font (along with the misinterpretation of the heart as an uppercase B) suggests to me that the Pictionary modus has a feature where you can handwrite captcha codes. I guess Jade does draw exclamation marks in an unusual manner, but this incorrect parsing is still an oddity.

Jade draws a random scribble and the modus interprets it as a photo of Charles Dutton. Jade is surprised to see it interpreted as Dutton, but I’m surprised she even knows who that guy is. Dutton’s presence in Homestuck isn’t a reference to any random 90’s movie he starred in like most actors featured in the comic; he’s just there and no one knows why. The book commentary on this page says:

Why, yes, that is Charles Dutton. The algorithms for the Scribblepad lean very generously toward Dutton-recognizing patterns, thanks to Jade. The Scribblepad is definitely one of the more fun types of fetch modi. Maybe the most fun. It does quite a bit to show that captchalogue technology really can be ANYTHING, and also does a bit more to hint at the underlying logic of Homestuck‘s universe. It’s a universe not so much of physics as of discrete ideas, and devices that trade in these platonic concepts can understand nothing else. When the user scribbles something, the system will search for not only that which it knows, but that which can ONLY be known, to anyone. There’s nothing in between, nothing more subtle. Of course, Dutton knows all this. You can just tell.

In several of my Homestuck posts, I talked about how much of a bummer it is that we never get to learn Charles Dutton’s canonical backstory, and hoped that some external media would elaborate on it. However, now I think Dutton’s presence is funnier left unexplained. He’s just some random-ass actor shoved into Homestuck with no explanation and I like it that way just fine.

Since there is no photo of Dutton nearby, the modus doesn’t store a picture of him, but rather an intangible ghost image of that picture. However, the back of the card shows a captcha code for the ghost image, which Hussie remarks in his book commentary makes the Pictionary modus a quite a powerful tool, since it’ll provide a captcha code for anything that you can accurately draw.

With this newfound knowledge, Jade tries to make a captcha code for a pumpkin, knowing well their tendency to randomly disappear. It’s only obligatory to try fetch modus shenanigans with such a longtime running gag.

But it turns out pumpkins don’t have captcha codes! The book commentary remarks as much, saying that this is an extension the disappearing pumpkin gag and referring to pumpkins as “Gourds of the Void”. That reminds me of how Roxy’s home is rife with pumpkins that keep getting appearified from various places; it only makes sense that a void player would have such an affinity with pumpkins, which is something I didn’t realize until today. Connecting void to pumpkins seems so obvious now, I feel stupid for not realizing it sooner.

Jade’s modus refuses to recognize her tangle buddies and eclectic bass, creatively imposing the rules of predestination on her. The forces of paradox space seem to have chosen the bass and tangle buddies as the minimum combination of items in the frog temple to help the exile arc proceed as planned: the bass to jam the elevator, and the tangle buddies to remind the exiles of their past.

Bec appears and warps Jade back to her bedroom, signaling that her brief time in the frog temple is up. The dog clearly doesn’t like having her in that temple so chock-full of plot stuff and only let her in to get her Sburb discs and nothing else. First guardians ensuring predestination is quite a common pattern; in a way, Bec is a warm-up for Doc Scratch’s many predestination shenanigans.

Jade gets down and installs Sburb, which is no big deal for her because of how fast her lunchtop runs. Just look at how quickly that installation bar is moving. She gets ready to catch up with her friends, ignoring alerts from trolls which I already discussed in the old version of this post and don’t feel like discussing again.

— ectoBiologist [EB] began pestering tentacleTherapist [TT] —

EB: rose?
EB: are you there?
EB: i went through the gate, nanna said you might be here too.
EB: are you in kind of this spooky glowy place with oily rivers and stuff?
EB: let me know ok.

Nothing to say about this short message to Rose, other than that “kind of this spooky glowy place with oily rivers and stuff” is SUCH a John way to describe LOWAS.

GG: john hi!!!!!
EB: hi jade!
EB: guess where i am.

GG: are you on the ground below the clouds yet?
EB: yeah!
EB: wait how did you know that’s where the gate goes…
EB: did you talk to rose? can she still see me while im down here?
EB: she won’t answer.

Oh boy, time for yet another John/Jade conversation where Jade tries to pretend she doesn’t know things she knows. “The ground below the clouds” is a very Sburb prose-like way to describe where John is now, which suggests to me that Sburb’s forces have really been rubbing off on Jade.

GG: hey john can you hold on i have to talk to dave and start playing this game with him
EB: oh? what game?
GG: sburb!!!! duh what else!
EB: what, i thought you didn’t even know what sburb was!
GG: oh jeez i was asleep when i said that silly!
GG: of course i know what it is

The more I think about it, the more I flat-out love that Jade’s first pesterlog was red herrings upon red herrings. Her supposed cluelessness about Sburb was on her dream self’s part, because that’s how her dream self rolls. It’s weird that her character is built up through fakeouts rather than the usual character establishing, but I guess it makes sense considering her plot device role that she’s freed from in Act 5 Act 2 and then forced back into throughout Act 6.

EB: wait, how did you know my dad’s car fell down here?
GG: johhhhn will you stop trying to trap me!!!
GG: you TOLD me the car fell remember?
GG: jeeeez

EB: jeeeeeeeeeeez!
GG: JEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEZ!!!!!
EB: ok fine well color me suspicious anyway.
EB: miss knowitall mcpsychicpants.

GG: john im not any more psychic than you though
EB: ok sure i am convinced.
EB: you have convinced me.
EB: (PSYCHIC PSYCHIC PSYCHIC)
EB: also i told you the package was in the car but i never mentioned that the game was there too.
EB: so kind of totally busted i guess.
EB: GIVE ME A P
EB: GIVE ME AN S

John finally catches on to Jade’s supposed psychic powers but it comes off more as playful banter than proper accusations. I doubt he’s the kind who would see Jade much differently, like stop being friends with her or whatever, just because he now realizes she’s “psychic”—she’s just a cool and fun friend of his either way. Jade is telling the truth when she says she isn’t any more psychic than John; as Hussie’s book commentary states, she’s the only psychic character who isn’t actually psychic like many of the trolls are. She’s certainly not the type to feel comfortable fabricating information, as we saw in her prior pesterlogs with John.

GG: hahahaha oops ok!
GG: i mean i know lots of things but im really serious its no more information than what you have access to
GG: but you dont know it yet
GG: anyway we can talk more about it soon…..
GG: i wont have to be so coy with you anymore because im pretty sure most of the stuff that was supposed to happen has already happened
GG: i couldnt tell you about it because it would have messed it up!

EB: ok, that is fair.
GG: just give me a few minutes while i set up this game!
GG: and say hi to the salamanders for me
GG: ❤

At this point, Jade is right to downplay all her Skaian knowledge. She’s almost to the point where she feels she can disclose all that information, so she’s getting a bit more lenient about it. Her last line asking to say hi to the salamanders endearingly shows us she doesn’t mind letting her knowledge of cute animals slip.

John gets an alert from a troll, then Dave talks to the same people John just talked to.

— turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering tentacleTherapist [TT] —

TG: hey
TG: will you open your laptop already
TG: see
TG: this is why you need a phone or something
TG: that alerts you to important messages
TG: instead of leaving them trapped
TG: under three inches of fucking yarn
TG: laptops dont need cozies
TG: nothing needs cozies
TG: cozy is a goddamn adjective
TG: maybe ill crochet myself an iphone snuggly

I still love the contrast between John’s and Dave’s messages to Rose. John’s message is brief, but Dave’s is a huge monologue because that’s the sort of person he is; the passage above is just the beginning. Leaving lengthy monologues to unresponsive friends is a trait he shares with Roxy, which is very endearing.

TG: what is this place anyway
TG: what are you doing
TG: i can see your whole damn house here if you want to get filled in or something im sort of the guy with the big picture here
TG: dont make me bop you on the head with a wizard
TG: ill do it
TG: ok no i wont
TG: yet

This passage entices the mystery of where Rose’s house ended up; at this point, readers are likely to assume it ended up on John’s planet, which doesn’t turn out to be the case. It’s quite obvious Rose entered a different planet if you remember WV’s drawings of the beta kids’ planets.

TG: i guess ill bone up on the faq for a while
TG: so i dont do anything stupid and deploy like 10 crux flangers and fuck up the whole game
TG: oh my god
TG: so many words
TG: do you think like the pulitzer committee is secretly scouring the dregs of the gamefaq archives or something
TG: damn
TG: i cant read this shit im sorry

I love Dave’s speculation as to why Rose’s Sburb walkthrough is so verbose. It entices the mystery of who ends up finding the walkthrough useful—this turns out to be Kanaya, whose discovery of Rose’s walkthrough is better discussed when we see it in the trolls’ arc. Only she would appreciate such a verbosely written walkthrough, which serves as a point in favor of the token lesbian ship.

GG: yo yooooooo!!!!!!!
TG: whoa ok hey
GG: so youre finally playing the game with rose?
TG: yeah
TG: but she wont answer me

GG: shes probably just exploring im sure she will come around soon….
GG: but its great that you got her out of there in time!!!

TG: pretty much you have no idea how much i fuckin own at this game
TG: i bested no less than three flaming tornados and broke a huge wizard

I’ll let Hussie’s book commentary speak for itself:

It’s great conversations like these that stoked the passions of Dave x Jade shippers. And maybe, in many ways, they had a point. The only problem with the pairing was its overwhelming heterosexuality attribute. As such, it was not to be.

GG: so how does it feel to be a BIG TIME HERO
GG: mister braveybrave mcheropants

TG: it feels like
TG: i am in sports
TG: all alone
TG: and i am the star
TG: its me
TG: and then the big man comes

GG: hehehe
GG: but it turns out to be CRAZY what kind of basket ball this man plays!
GG: ummmm……
GG: the HOOP IS ON FIRE…
GG: ok i forget how it goes

TG: no you got it
TG: we’re good
TG: reference secured

Heteronormative ship or not, these mutually exchanged SBaHJ references are very endearing. Dave is right that it doesn’t matter one bit if you get SBaHJ references right word for word; such inconsistency is the charm of his comics. So long as you don’t say “I warned you about the stairs”, which annoys the shit out of me.

Jade proceeds to reveal that it’s now her turn to be Dave’s server player and that a meteor is headed for his house. She shows him this image from her dreambot video log, a functionality whose existence raises strong implications about her grandpa’s involvement in Sburb:

August 26 is a fun date to put in Homestuck. It’s 4/13 multiplied by two and it’s a day after Hussie’s birthday.

TG: ok yes that image is definitely conclusive proof of something and is 100% understandable by anyone who looks at it

Dave is right to be skeptical about this vague image. He’s probably poked at Jade plenty for her vagueness about future knowledge. Here, the twist to Dave’s meteor is that his bro ends up slicing it in half, buying him a slight amount of extra time while defying all rules of logic.

TG: how big is this thing
GG: it is REALLY REALLY big
TG: like the size of rhode island or texas or what
TG: i need some context to know how much crap i should be shitting into my pants

GG: ok i dont actually know 😦
TG: well as if like one the size of a bus wouldnt kill me anyway
GG: hehe yeah….
TG: wait hold on rose is finally opening her stupid laptop
TG: so do your thing i guess
TG: have fun

GG: thanks i will! ❤

Dave then reiterates his monologue to John about meteors and how meaningless it is to know how big a meteor is. Hussie is clearly very proud of that trope dissection.

Oh look, it’s Karkat! The same guy we saw at the end of the intermission, whose name we aren’t supposed to know yet but who cares. Let’s see what he and John have to say to each other.

CG: HEY JOHN.
CG: CALM THE HELL DOWN.

EB: aaaaaauuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuggghhhhhhhh!!!!!!!
EB: how did you find me?????

CG: FIND YOU?
CG: WHAT DO YOU MEAN.

EB: i changed my chum handle to ditch you guys.
EB: how did you find me?

CG: OH.
CG: HA HA!
CG: HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!
CG: THIS IS THE LITTLE WORD HUMANS SAY REPEATEDLY WHEN SOMETHING TICKLES THEIR ABSURDITY PALATE, RIGHT?

EB: uh…
EB: lame.

CG: WE NEVER LOST YOU.
CG: YOUR RUSE DIDN’T FOOL US.
CG: IT JUST SO HAPPENS WE DIDN’T PARTICULARLY GIVE A SHIT ABOUT TALKING TO YOU IN THAT TIMEFRAME.

Karkat starts this conversation by revealing John’s chumhandle change didn’t prevent the trolls from finding him, then gives a contrived excuse for why John hadn’t heard from the trolls since his chumhandle change until now. We all know that the real reason is because Hussie hadn’t conceived of the trolls yet; Karkat’s reason is just some of his transparent pseudo-haughty nonsense that John grows to find endearing.

CG: BUT I’M NOT HERE TO TROLL YOU THIS TIME.
CG: WE’RE FRIENDS OK?

EB: hahahahahaha!
EB: oh man, look at this outburst of little human words i’m saying!
EB: from my human mouth!

CG: FINE YOU CAN THINK I’M A FUCKING DOUCHE AND MAYBE I AM BUT HERE’S THE FACT, IDIOT.
CG: I’VE ALREADY HAD LOTS OF CONVERSATIONS WITH YOU.
CG: IN THE FUTURE. I MEAN YOUR FUTURE.
CG: I’VE KIND OF BEEN WORKING BACKWARDS HERE FOR A WHILE.
CG: AND IT’S A LITTLE FRUSTRATING.
CG: EVERY TIME I GO FURTHER BACK YOU KNOW LESS AND LESS, AND YOU DON’T REMEMBER ANYTHING I SAID BECAUSE IT HASN’T HAPPENED YET.
CG: AND I HAVE TO REPEAT MYSELF A LOT.
CG: AND I’M GETTING PRETTY FUCKING SICK OF IT.

EB: that’s the dumbest thing i’ve ever heard.

At this point, it’s a complete mystery why Karkat is trolling John backwards. When we finally learn his reason, it says an incredible amount about Karkat’s character. He trolled John backwards because he was embarrassed by his hate-crush confession near the end of John’s timeline and probably didn’t want to risk letting anything else embarrassing slip. He seems like an angry grouch now, but he’s very sensitive at heart; sensitive enough that he feels the need to troll John backwards. Tsundere might as well be Karkat’s middle name. Or rather, his ancestor name (The Tsundere), because Homestuck ancestor names are generally eight letters.

CG: YOU’LL GET PLENTY OF DIRT ON ALL THIS FROM ME IN FUTURE CONVERSATIONS.
CG: TEDIOUS CONVERSATIONS.
CG: ONES I’VE ALREADY HAD WITH YOU.
CG: WHERE YOUR DEMEANOR WILL GRADUALLY BECOME INEXPLICABLY AND REVOLTINGLY FRIENDLY TOWARDS US.
CG: AND SO I GUESS IT JUST WAS KIND OF INFECTIOUS AND NOW WE’RE ALL BUDDIES I THINK.
CG: IT’S REALLY WEIRD.
CG: THIS HUMAN EMOTION YOU CALL FRIENDSHIP.

EB: friendship isn’t an emotion fucknuts.
CG: SEE, THAT IS WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT.
CG: YOU’RE MUCH MORE TOLERABLE A GUY THAN I THOUGHT AT FIRST, OK JOHN?

I don’t think Hussie had conceived of the quadrants yet in Act 4, but knowing the quadrants in retrospect, Karkat’s last line here comes off as an attempt to retract his previous black feelings for John. He dropped/will drop plenty of hints that he had previously harbored black feelings for John, but he’s completely caught off guard by that confession in their first/last conversation regardless, because John is just that thick-headed. His response to Karkat’s confession, “i am not a homosexual”, will never not be hilarious to me. It’s only become more hilarious as time as passed. Karkat’s apology for his abrupt blackrom confession in the A6A6I5 lilypad conversations is a further demonstration of his high sensitivity. I’ll discuss that further when my non-rewritten posts reach that part, which isn’t too far away.

EB: why are you kissing my ass?
EB: what do you want? why don’t you just tell me what’s going on.
EB: are you in the medium?

CG: OK, FINE. YES WE ARE.
EB: like, here in this land, with the clouds and oil and stuff?
CG: MORE OF THIS NARCISSISM.
CG: YOU ALWAYS THINK EVERYTHING REVOLVES AROUND YOU.
CG: WE HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH YOUR DUMB LITTLE WINDY PLANET OR YOUR PETTY LITTLE QUESTS.
CG: OR FOR THAT MATTER YOUR ENTIRE GAME SESSION.
CG: YOU AREN’T THE ONLY ONES PLAYING THE GAME.
CG: EVERY GROUP OF PLAYERS GETS THEIR OWN DISTINCT, BLANK SLATE SESSION.
CG: AS WILL BE EXPLAINED TO YOU MANY TIMES.

Karkat’s backwards conversations with John are somewhat convenient to the narrative because they give an excuse for him to only give bits of exposition at a time, rather than dump the whole story on John in one go. The first exposition Karkat provides is that he and the other trolls had their own Sburb session. After that, Karkat refuses to tell more and asks John to apologize to Jade on his behalf, and then the conversation ends.

> WV: Settle this dispute in a rational, diplomatic manner.

You settle the dispute in the only way you can presently imagine how to settle a dispute. With cans of lukewarm sugary liquid and centuries-old rations.

If only you had access to some means of heating things up.

But it matters not. You warm yourselves in the glow of this human emotion called friendship.

This is actually really sweet, seeing the exiles settle their differences and chill out together eating old food while watching the sunset. It’s heartwarming in a very esoteric Homestuck way.

Speaking of sunsets, while meteors are raining over Dave’s neighborhood, it’s time for Jade to deploy Dave’s Sburb apparatus, or whatever the collective term for the cruxtruder, totem lathe, and alchemiter is. Phernalia, was it? Hell if I remember. Anyway, sunset to sunset makes for quite a nice transition device. I imagine the transition here went exactly 413 years into the past.

First off, the alchemiter goes on Dave’s air conditioning unit, which the book commentary says was specifically planned back when Dave’s roof was first designed; the narration indirectly remarks as much.

Next up, Jade tries to deploy Dave’s cruxtruder in his bedroom. We hear the first words from Rose in Act 4 (“Hold please.”) in response to Dave’s monologue, then he talks to Jade.

TG: hey wait
GG: these darn birds are in the way!
GG: what are they doing in your apartment anyway!!!
GG: also they are adorable

TG: i always keep birds in here its sort of my thing
GG: ohhhhhhh
GG: kind of like all those silly naked puppets are your bros thing?

TG: no no thats irony this is like
TG: sincere honest to god psychosis
TG: im training to be a lame gothy supervillain

By remarking that plush puppets are Dave’s bro’s thing just like how birds are Dave’s thing, Jade upholds a pattern of beta kids knowing their friends’ guardians better than their own. Dave does his usual irony excuse with Bro’s puppets but doesn’t mask his bird interest under irony. He has plenty of things he freely admits to liking sincerely, most famously apple juice.

GG: also i think i cant put it down because of the wires on the floor…..
TG: ok
TG: well maybe you should take the opportunity to put it somewhere that isnt stone cold retarded
GG: i wish i played more games
GG: this is hard!!!!

TG: no its not
GG: 😛

I like how even though Jade says this is hard, her competence in Sburb device placement is no worse than the other beta kids. They’re all predisposed to put those devices in stupid places because it wouldn’t be any fun otherwise. I can understand how Jade feels about not playing many video games though; I don’t play video games often myself. Typically I get really into one game at a time and eventually move on to the next.

TT: Jade is connected with you?
TT: Where did she get the discs?
TG: i dont know how does she do any of the loopy batshit nonsense she does
TG: maybe she pulled them out of the volcano over there on bloodmonkey mountain

TT: Wait.
TT: So you mean to tell me she was able to connect with you in a timely fashion, without waiting until you were on the brink of annihilation?
TG: we went over this
TG: i was a little bogged down
TG: in the epic swaddle of legendary puppet taint

TT: I’ve done nothing but wait for boys to play this game with me all day.
TT: First John lollygagging with the client, and then you with the server, downright filibustering my existence with unending fraternal melee.
TT: And yet a girl, one who didn’t even own the game, was able to connect with you minutes after you connected with me.

It’s a little jarring seeing someone other than Caliborn compare boys against girls, but this passage still is a typical example of Rose’s flavor of playful teasing, as well as her tendency to notice narrative patterns.

TG: whoa wait
TG: what the hell is she doing
TG: shes taking my bed what the hell

TT: And there she goes.
TT: She HAS the karma.

It’s pretty refreshing seeing Sburb shenanigans commented on externally, rather than directly discussed by the character performing said shenanigans.

TG: so seriously what were you doing just now
TT: I was talking to someone.
TG: who
TT: You remember the trolls?
TG: yeah
TT: One of them messaged me, so I indulged him/her/it for a moment.
TG: oh i see you opted to chat up one of those dbags instead of talk to the guy who saved you from a swirling shitstorm of angry flaming wizards
TG: i was worried your priorities might have been out of whack but no i was dead wrong

Much like John’s line about not being a homosexual, “him/her/it” is one of those things that’s very funny to read today. There is literally nothing weird about “they” as a gender-neutral pronoun, and yet here Rose is using a clunky attempt at an all-encompassing pronoun that doesn’t even include “they”.

TT: I also took a moment to check on John.
TG: how is he
TT: I can’t see him anymore. Just his empty house.
TT: But I did talk to him briefly.

TG: i should probably text him soon
TG: see whats up
TG: because
TG: i love him

Here’s an oft-forgotten moment of slippage about how Dave feels about John. The three words, “i love him”, aren’t a terribly big surprise if you read the first two acts thoroughly enough, like I did in my rewritten posts. I figured I’d reevaluate the three interpretations I had offered of this line in the old version of this post:

Is his love for John romantic? Not out of the question.

Is it as a friend? Probably a bit deeper than that.

Is it sarcastic? Of course not, what was I thinking.

What did I mean by “or what”? Probably the same thing people usually mean when they say “etc.”, which is nothing at all.

Regardless of what “i love him” means (which Hussie doesn’t provide commentary on because he was distracted by “him/her/it”), Rose provides an incredibly cheeky response:

TT: I know.

Rose knows her friends way too well, doesn’t she? She knows exactly what sorts of people they all are, which she demonstrated since her first ever pesterlog with John. She has a good read on just about everyone, except for tragically her own mother.

TG: so this place youre at now
TG: its the same place hes at right

TT: It’s hard to say for certain.
TT: But I think I like it here.

Dave was a little nervous and hesitant before he said “i love him”, but now that Rose has caught him off guard with her two-word retort, he quickly changes the subject in concealed embarrassment. This leaves Rose to hype up the mystery of where in the Medium she was sent to.

Jade puts the totem late in place of Dave’s TV, leaving the puppets smushed by the lathe exactly the same way they were by the TV. Did Dave’s bro develop these puppets to stick to walls in and floors as some sort of ironic gesture? Feels like something that would line up with his bizarre sense of humor.

> Jade: Tidy up Strider’s apartment a little.

What the apartment needs is a woman’s touch. You grab a TOWEL you found lying around and dampen it with water from the toilet. This is how ordinary people clean ordinary houses, right?

Oops, you dropped it.

Here is one of these surprisingly rare demonstrations of how far removed Jade is from normal human society. I’ve discussed Jade’s societal isolation plenty in prior Homestuck posts and don’t feel like discussing it here—at least not the story’s overall handling of her isolation. Instead, I’ll discuss the implications of what Jade does in this specific scene.

Jade evidently doesn’t know what toilets are meant to be used for. She probably thinks of them as nothing more than reservoirs of water, a plentiful resource on the island she lives on. How does Jade go to the bathroom (or do things that most people do in the bathroom) then? Without going into too much detail, I’m just going to guess that Bec cleans up after her. I’m also going to guess that in the three-year battleship journey, she learned how to use the bathroom like a normal person.

GG: oh fuck!!!!!!

“oh fuck!!!!!!” is right. How is Dave going to get an unlimited supply of free, drinkable water now? I bet that’s what Jade assumes toilets are used for. Dip a cup into a toilet and boom, you now have free water that you can drink or use to clean things. You flush the toilet when you run out of water so you get new water.

OK, OK, enough toilet humor. If you were grossed out by this, I sincerely apologize. Now it’s time for an unnamed flash.

This short flash introduces us to Rose’s planet, the Land of Light and Rain. It’s quite the contrast against the dark thunderstorm that perturbed her house for the first three acts and perhaps gets readers thinking about what her planet’s lore must be like. Attentive readers may even realize through the planet’s name that the Seer of Light is Rose instead of Jade. I’ll save discussion of Rose’s refusal to follow her planet quest for when we learn about it in text. For now, I’ll just say that Rose’s house blends with a waterfall native to her planet quite beautifully.

Just like the last planet introductory flash, the LOLAR flash is followed by exile shenanigans. AR storms off to the frog temple to heat his food; it looks like the cookalizer and refrigifyificator were also among the items Jade didn’t get to captchalogue after her Jenga modus fell apart, which is quite kind to the exiles. I don’t recall those being essential to their story arc other than heating their food, so maybe the forces of paradox space don’t care what happens to those little devices.

WV excitedly shows PM around his command station and it’s easy to figure out PM was the voice who commanded John in the Act 4 walkaround. This lets us consume the walkaround’s most important content in a way that isn’t, well… a cumbersome walkaround.

But before she starts typing commands, she compliments WV’s drawings of the beta kids’ planets, conveniently reminding us those drawings were a thing now that we know what they represent. This thereby gives us a teaser of Dave and Jade’s planets, making the surprise from here on out not what the planets look like, but how the planets’ reveals are executed. We can deduce from these images that Jade’s volcano ends up on her planet, though that may have already been clear when we saw the volcano disappear in WV: Ascend.

WV follows the aroma of cooked food coming from the frog temple, leaving PM to command John by herself and allowing us to see the events of the Act 4 opening walkaround from a different perspective. Basically nothing notable here, useful I guess for people who skipped that walkaround entirely and needed a recap. We do see the Parcel Pyxis system in action, which PM is predictably enthusiastic about. I can tell Hussie quickly decided after making that walkaround, yeah no way am I doing something like THAT again. And then he decided Hiveswap was a good idea, but I digress.

Now it’s Rose’s turn to be commanded by a new exile, which I again have little to say about. The Windswept Questant doesn’t spend much time commanding Rose, quickly leaving her to her own devices; basically her only role as an exile is as a predecessor to Snowman’s role as an exile, where she commands first the trolls’ light player, then the trolls’ seer.

This is a neat panel that Hussie said in his book commentary was made to save time, because it was basically just drawing some silhouettes and slapping colors on them.

John gets ready to face off against some fierce bigger underlings which Hussie clearly had fun naming. Next up, it’s time for Jade to do something smart and thoughtful.

I really like how Jade moving the toilet, falling asleep, and accidentally dropping it was all done in one GIF panel, to emphasize how abruptly she fell asleep.

And by accidentally falling asleep, Jade has used Dave’s toilet to open his cruxtruder! Definitely the funniest of all the items used to open cruxtruders. A certain psychic troll is retroactively to thank for Dave’s cruxtruder opening, which makes sense because his sprite is very relevant to the rise of Bec Noir (though all the others are too).

TG: this is the worst shitting thing ive ever seen
TG: the thing that just happened
GG: hi dave!!!!
TG: jesus
TG: and the worst thing is
TG: all that juice i drank
TG: i mean
TG: you just HAD TO FIGURE all that juice was going to come back to haunt me
TG: like frankensteins incontinent fucking ghost
TG: it was like
TG: chekhovs juice
GG: hehehe what??

Man, Jade in the early acts is basically two characters in one. Her intelligent and forward-thinking waking self and her ditzy and spacey dream self. It makes sense to think of her that way because later those two versions become two different characters, Jade and Jadesprite respectively. And just as it’s easy to forget Jade’s dream self was so different from her waking self, it’s very easy to forget Jadesprite ever existed. I mean, I barely talk about Jadesprite at all in my Homestuck posts! It feels weird even typing her name.

Oh yeah, the Chekhov’s juice line is more of Dave’s trope dissection, which is very appropriate considering that bottle of apple juice was mentioned in his first pesterlog with trope dissection (which was also the first pesterlog in the entire comic).

TG: let me be perfectly clear
TG: what i am trying to say is
TG: its like fucking christmas up in my bladder here
TG: and where do i find my toilet
TG: oh look here it is
TG: amputated in my room
TG: gagged with a towel like a fucking prison hostage

John’s favorite movies haunt the fuck out of Dave’s life, and despite Dave’s supposed love of irony, he is not amused. I had already talked about the topic of things ironically happening to Dave in an old Homestuck post covering part of Act 5 Act 2. In this case, the insinuation that his apple juice bottle might be filled with pee has hit him in the face like a boomerang because now he is the one who has to embarrassingly fill something with pee. It’s just like Caliborn said: time always goes in a circle like a boomerang, hence the seventh Felt member’s name.

TG: 4 hours oh i guess thats not that bad
GG: 4 hours until what?
TG: what
TG: oh god
TG: are you asleep

Dave is fast to catch on to Jade being asleep. He has known her for many years and can probably easily tell, but he’s still aggravated that she randomly fell asleep now of all times.

GG: ummm….
GG: i…………….
GG: i think i might be!

TG: ok
TG: ok lets just
TG: not panic here
GG: im not panicking i feel fine!
TG: lets try to play it cool
TG: and not break all my shit
TG: also dont put anything weird in the seizure kernel

God dammit Dave, you just had to bring up the kernelsprite. If you didn’t, ditzy dream Jade wouldn’t have even known it was possible to put something in it. But now she’s going to go right ahead and commit a move of extreme idiocy.

TG: im going to go find somewhere to pee
TG: dont watch me ok
GG: <_<;
TG: like i know you dream about me enough already
TG: lets keep some shit left to the imagination ok
GG: i wont look ok jeez!!!!!
TG: the last thing i need is for your weird brain webcam to be snapping shots of my dong
TG: your grandpa was a sick fuck why would he build a voyeurbot for a little girl
TG: fuck
GG: stop being a huge baby and go peeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!

Only now of all times does an obvious implication of the existence of Jade’s dreambot occur to Dave. He’s accepted her dreambot’s invasiveness until he suddenly has to pee and now he’s freaked out and points out how much of a bizarre person her grandpa is.

How odd that the first instance of the “BLUH” running gag happened in a fantasized sequence.

Dave devises a plan to pee in his apple juice bottle and send a captcha code of it to John, serving him right for liking those dumbass movies unironically—those very same dumbass movies that inspired his scheme in the first place. Note that Dave is analogizing himself to Howie Mandel and John to Fred Savage, much like how John has this whole system of analogizing himself and other characters to the cast of Con Air. We all know that deep down Dave gets a hearty laugh out of those random 90’s movies. He’s probably had plenty of intelligent conversations about those movies with Karkat, his, uh… friend.

But that all sounds like a big waste of time so you just go in the shower.

Hussie’s book commentary on this page:

A melancholy bit of subtext here is how naturally it seems to come to Dave to quickly contrive contingencies for how to surreptitiously urinate. Almost as if it’s not the first time he’s considered peeing in an empty bottle in his bedroom. Not wanting to venture out to the rest of the house and risk another beating from his bro has probably conditioned him to think this way. He probably even breaks out in a cold sweat involuntarily any time he has to pee. Whoa, I’m bumming everybody out!!! Ha ha, look at that funny drawing up there of John covered in piss.

God damn it, Hussie. Overanalyzing Homestuck is my job, not yours… wait, who am I kidding, if anyone should be yelled at for stealing someone else’s job, it’s me. But for real, read the passage above and pretend I wrote it if you want, it’s really interesting analysis. It’s almost as if Hussie was the one who wrote this damn comic in the first place.

See these copies of Sburb next to the bird? Those things should look familiar, what with the juice stains and Dave’s name. It’s another reason why it was a good idea for a certain troll to put Jade to sleep, because she just moved those copies of Sburb to Dave’s roof, allowing them to enter the Medium and eventually end up in her hands, thereby allowing her to move those copies of Sburb in the first place. Time always goes in a circle, that’s what I’m trying to tell you.

I’m imagining Jade and Davesprite having a feelings jam about how she is responsible for him being a bird during their offscreen relationship which ended with an offscreen breakup. Davesprite’s name may as well be synonymous with “offscreen”.

And that’s how the crow got prototyped into Dave’s sprite, which we preemptively saw in WV’s arc near the end of Act 2. The in-story spoiler that the crow would get prototyped transferred the mystery from what will be prototyped to how it will be prototyped. Oh, and what will be prototyped after the crow, but come on. Obviously Lil’ Cal will fill that role, what else could it possibly be?

Apparently Dave’s copies of Sburb are mirrored in the dream world. Everything seems to be mirrored in the dream world except Lil’ Cal where it’s actually the puppet’s past self.

TG: where are you sitting
TG: are you on your bed
GG: yes why
TG: what side
GG: ummmmmm….
GG: the right side…
GG: why??

TG: ok heres what i want you to do
TG: just humor me
TG: raise your left hand
GG: okaaay……
TG: now
TG: just kind of swat the air to your left
GG: …

Here’s where Dave lets his Strider cleverness shine. He figures that dream Jade is very gullible and comes up with an easy way to wake her up, taking full advantage of her dreambot so that this happens:

Strilonde cleverness and Harleybert gullibility combined to make this humorously satisfying scene. Now Jade is awake once more, realizing how thoroughly Dave tricked her.

Oh, look. Those goofy little dancing fruits are there. Looks like they haven’t aged a day.

Now it’s time for a cute little exile cookout. The Renegade favors meat and the Vagabond favors candy… er, I mean vegetables. Despite their substantially different culinary tastes, they’re getting along just fine and being total bros.

AR then untangles the tangle buddies after 413 years with their Squiddle limbs intertwined, which is all that’s needed for PM to finally remember their past. It’s pretty confusing that those dolls would somehow make her remember, but I guess sometimes the littlest things can ring bells.

I’m stopping here, before the very first scene with the exiles’ backstory. I must say, my past self made a pretty good choice with this stopping point. See you next time as… OK, honestly I don’t know if my next post will be the next rewritten Homestuck post post, the next non-rewritten Homestuck post, or a post unrelated to Homestuck. In any case, see you next time as I ramble about complete nonsense like I always do on this blog.

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