< Part 127 | Part 128 | Part 129 >
Act 6 Act 6 Intermission 5, Part 2 of 12
Pages 7486-7501 (not in order)
This is my last Homestuck post whose number is a perfect power!
128 is a power of 2, but sadly it isn’t a power of 4 or of 8.
It’s time to go through the top half of the eight-way conversation select screen, which is the first of several character selection screens in A6A6I5. I made a GIF of hovering over each selection option shown above. The select screen consists of eight conversations and is accompanied by some text narrated from the reader’s perspective, humorously discussing free will and helpfully providing eight links that turn purple when you’ve clicked on them so you know when you’re done with the conversations.
You are confronted with an especially empowering CHARACTER SELECTION MENU. Eight choices???????? Free will has done it again. It has caused you to feel alarmed and anxious. But maybe, just maybe, slightly excited as well. You cautiously click on a batch of teens to discover your true feelings.
Eight possible options is actually KIND OF A LOT, now that you think about it. It may be easy to forget to click some of them. To make absolutely sure you’ve clicked on all teen batches before proceeding, you check to see if all the links below are purple first. If any of them are blue, it means you didn’t read those, and you probably should before continuing. Wow, free will sure is a lot of responsibility and hard work.
This passage reads to me like Hussie saying he’s doing this select screen for the sake of fans, since he knows they wouldn’t be happy if they didn’t get some time to read hearty reunion conversations between all their favorite fictional teens. These conversations have quite a lot of fanservice in them, and late Homestuck has received a fair amount of criticism for having too much fanservice. As usual, I’ll see for myself whether all this is as bad as people say!
Now, which order will I go through the conversations in? Linear order would be super boring. How about I do an order where I deliberately consider what would flow the best in these posts? That’s what I’ve done in prior selection screens, so I’ll do that again. I think Terezi and Vriska’s conversation is a good place to start, since I had analyzed their pre-retcon selves plenty in A6A6I4.
TEREZI: VR1SK4, SHOULDN’T W3 G3T B4CK TO OUR STR4T3GY M33T1NG SOON?
VRISKA: Yeah, pretty soon.
TEREZI: 1T’S L1K3 W3 US3D TO S4Y 1N TH3 OLD D4YS
TEREZI: T1M3 1S D34D K1DS
VRISKA: 8elieve me, I haven’t forgotten!
VRISKA: That’s as true now as it ever was. Only difference is now we’re working together to PREVENT the 8odies from piling up.
VRISKA: We still have a little time 8efore we need to get serious, and anyway, when you’re managing a team, you need to 8alance things.
VRISKA: Gotta keep morale up, you know?
VRISKA: The troops have 8een itching for a feel-good moment like this for a long time.
VRISKA: As a competent leader-slash-power-gamer extraordinaire, it’s incum8ent on me to recognize that and cut them a 8it of slack.
VRISKA: Give them a little space to remem8er what they’re all fighting for, you know?
TEREZI: Y34H, GR34T PO1NT
Vriska starts with another instance of her style of leadership bordering on meta awareness. She knows that everyone on the platform has been waiting long for these heartfelt reunions, and she likely knows that the supposed “audience” of her heroic tale wants to see those reunions as well. As much as Vriska loves cutting to the action, she has the courtesy to give readers some time to absorb all the combinations of character reunions that have been waiting to happen.
VRISKA: We could do the same, you know.
VRISKA: Over the last few years, we’ve had so many gr8 times and 8uried all the old hatchets deep enough that I think it’s easy to take our relationship for granted.
VRISKA: Doesn’t hurt to remind ourselves how lucky we 8oth are. And how close we came to going in completely different directions.
VRISKA: Anyway, I’m glad this is the path we chose. I couldn’t ask for a 8etter moirail. ::::)
Here’s the reveal that Terezi and Vriska entered a pale relationship in this timeline, which is quite a departure from their black romance implications in Act 5 Act 2. Now, obviously “moirail” is just the troll word for “best friend” (actually, that misconception is so fucking annoying). The real meaning is that it’s Terezi’s job to keep Vriska under control and pacify her, and perhaps vice versa. It’s debatable how good of a job they’ve been doing fulfilling these roles, but their relationship being firmly in a quadrant shows how close they’ve gone back to being.
TEREZI: M3 N31TH3R
TEREZI: 1 DON’T KNOW HOW 1 WOULD H4V3 L1V3D W1TH MYS3LF 1F 1 H4D… GON3 THROUGH W1TH 1T
TEREZI: 4ND W3’D B3 D34D 1F 1 H4DN’T…
TEREZI: TH4NK GOD FOR 3GB3RT
TEREZI: N3V3R N3V3R N3V3R T3LL H1M 1 S41D TH1S BUT
TEREZI: FOR 4 DORK, H3’S…
TEREZI: L3T’S JUST S4Y YOU D1D 4 GR34T JOB TR41N1NG H1M, ONC3 UPON 4 T1M3
VRISKA: Hey, so did you!
VRISKA: Some version of yourself was 8adass enough to write down all those instructions in her own 8lood just 8efore she died.
VRISKA: Sounds like a real hero to me!
Here’s where the topic of alternate self insecurities comes up. Terezi is having great difficulty discussing her self-doubt from learning of her pre-retcon self, and Vriska is surely feeling the same about hers. Terezi is struggling with feelings of inferiority, and Vriska with hatred that covers envy of the concept of a happy life. Terezi is also having difficulty discussing her true thoughts on John, but she and Vriska both quickly put these topics aside in favor of more positive reflection.
VRISKA: It was a lot like this, 8ack in the old days, remem8er?
VRISKA: Just hanging out, working together, not much drama except I guess for the occasional ethical de88 on how our foes should 8e dealt with.
VRISKA: What if it never spiraled out of control? If I never 8linded you, if you never 8lew off my arm…
VRISKA: What if you decided to send John 8ack to change all that instead?
TEREZI: 1 D1DN’T WR1T3 TH3 1NSTRUCT1ONS MYS3LF, BUT
TEREZI: 1’M SUR3 1 N3V3R CONS1D3R3D 1T
TEREZI: 3V3RYTH1NG W3 W3NT THROUGH B4CK TH3N M4D3 US STRONG3R
TEREZI: 1T W4S SOM3TH1NG TO WORK TO PUT B3H1ND US, NOT 3R4S3
TEREZI: SOM3TH1NG TH4T W4S WORTH TH3 3FFORT >:]
Terezi doesn’t show it, but she’s surely thinking about how the retcon took away a whole bunch more difficult experiences that she knows made her even stronger: her hate relationship with Gamzee, her regrets over killing Vriska, her feelings of inferiority to Latula, and the regretful healing of her eyesight. She acknowledges that all those experiences with the cycle of revenge on Alternia made her stronger, but she isn’t ready to admit her pre-retcon self may have been stronger and braver still.
KARKAT: *SHOUT BLITHER BLAH BLAH WORDS*
KARKAT: *BLAH BLAH TACTLESS NINCOMPOOPS SHOUT RAMBLE SCREED*
KARKAT: *BLAH BLISTER BEMOAN BLAH BLAH GOSSIP-HUNGRY LOBOTOMY HOBBITS*
KARKAT: *SHOUT YELL SCREECH HOLLER BRAINLESS GUSHING YAMMERTWATS*
Here’s one of many times in the conversation select screen where we see snippets of a conversation from a different perspective, often one where it’s hard to make sense of the conversation. It’s a fun motif that makes portions of the select screen read very differently depending on the order chosen. There are 40,320 different orders you could read the selection screen in; maybe not as many orders that affect how specific passages read, but a staggering number either way. And no, I didn’t do fancy wacky math to calculate the number of orders. All I did was take the factorial of 8.
Also, I love that the out of context snippets from Karkat’s tirade are filled with synonyms for yelling to indicate how it comes off from Terezi and Vriska’s perspective.
VRISKA: Oh god.
VRISKA: What is he going on a8out now?
TEREZI: SOUNDS L1K3 H3’S Y3LL1NG 4T D4V3 4ND JOHN 4BOUT SOM3TH1NG
VRISKA: So, John’s 8een here for all of five minutes, and he already tripped Karkat’s tirade siren?
TEREZI: H3’S NOT 4CTU4LLY 4NGRY
TEREZI: H3’S 3MB4RR4SS3D 4BOUT SOM3TH1NG
TEREZI: MY 34R 1S F1N3LY TUN3D TO TH3 4LL V4NTRUM NU4NC3S
Karkat’s tirade seems like anger at a glance, but Terezi can easily identify it as embarrassment. He has a unique way of going into especially verbose tirades when he’s embarrassed about something, because he would rather come off as angry than embarrassed, but also because he’s extremely easy to set off.
VRISKA: Em8arrassed? A8out what?
VRISKA: Think he might ACTUALLY 8e 8ent out of shape over the fact that he’s not leader anymore?
TEREZI: NO W4Y
TEREZI: 1T’S SOM3TH1NG V3RY P3RSON4L
VRISKA: I wonder if John’s 8een asking what the deal is with him and Dave?
VRISKA: John was pretty nosy, if I recall.
TEREZI: 1 TH1NK 1T’S MOR3 L1K3LY D4V3 1S JUST R4MBL1NG S4NS F1LT3R 4G41N
VRISKA: Yeah, he does do that a lot, doesn’t he.
VRISKA: Hey, as long as we’re swearing each other to secrecy on stuff, make A8SOLUTELY sure they never know I said this, 8ut…
VRISKA: He and Karkat…
VRISKA: Are KIND of adora8le??
VRISKA: In whatever quadrant that whole situation settled in.
VRISKA: I don’t know, it’s none of my 8usiness really. I just never would have guessed!
Vriska’s statement that she never would have guessed Dave and Karkat would be a thing probably comes off as a punch in the face to readers who were blindsided by their ship teasing in Vriskagram, like me back when this update came out. At the time, it felt to me like Hussie knew that ship made no sense but ran with it anyway, but now I feel it says more about how Vriska and Terezi stuck to each other that Vriska says she never would have guessed.
TEREZI: 1 GU3SS W3 STUCK TO OURS3LV3S MOSTLY
TEREZI: 4ND ROS3 4ND K4N4Y4 W3R3 4LL… YOU KNOW
TEREZI: SO TH4T L3FT TH3M 4ND TH31R CUT3 M4YOR S1D3K1CK TO…
TEREZI: SORT TH1NGS OUT 4MONGST 34CH OTH3R? W1THOUT 1NT3RF3R3NC3 FROM 4 BUNCH OF CR4ZY FUCK3D UP G1RLS
TEREZI: 1’M H4PPY FOR TH3M
TEREZI: 4ND… FOR M3 TOO
TEREZI: 1F YOU H4DN’T B33N 4ROUND, 1 H4V3 4 F33L1NG 1 WOULD H4V3 GOTT3N SUCK3D 1NTO SOM3 W31RD BULLSH1T W1TH BOTH OF TH3M
VRISKA: Sounds rough.
VRISKA: Guess that’s one more 8ullet dodged, thanks to yours truly!
TEREZI: GU3SS SO!
You get the idea by now. Terezi doubts that erasing her traumatic pre-retcon experiences made her a better and stronger person, which leads to a bunch of conflicting feelings that she discusses on this conversation’s second page.
I don’t have much to say about the second page of this conversation that I didn’t say about the first page. I’ve seen late Homestuck (especially the Snapchat credits) get criticism that Terezi is the only major character who doesn’t end the comic on a positive note; John too, if you count the credits. Such criticism has made all those happy endings seem plastic and hollow, which we now know was a hint at the epilogues brutally deconstructing the concept of happy endings. Still, though, if you’re one of those people who prefers to act as though the epilogues never happened, this issue regarding Terezi is a reasonable criticism that I agree a lot with.
TEREZI: WH3N W1LL 1 S33 YOU 4G41N?
VRISKA: Some day.
VRISKA: I’ll do my 8est to shorten the w8 for you as much as I can. Using time travel or whatever other nonsense I may have at my disposal.
VRISKA: When all is said and done, I’ll drop 8y Earth and look you up.
TEREZI: 1 C4N’T W41T >:]
All I can say about this passage considering what happens in the epilogues is ouch. Even though Vriska gets a happy ending of sorts in the epilogues and has a heartwarming conversation with Vriska Lalonde, Terezi has even less of a happy ending than before—she’s resigned to join Dirk’s spaceship crew, with the intent to resurrect John or something. And one’s stuck in the meat timeline, the other in the candy timeline. And of course Homestuck^2 couldn’t follow up on the interesting cliffhanger that was Vriska sending Terezi a message! Nope, Dirk and Rose going on and on about completely meaningless meta nonsense is so much more important. (See what I mean by wanting to pretend Homestuck^2 never happened?)
TAVROSPRITE: *bLITHER BABBLE, rAMBLE SELF ESTEEM, pRATTLE,*
TAVROSPRITE: *rAMBLE MUMBLE, bRAVE ALIVE HERO,*
TAVROSPRITE: *mUTTER BLITHER, fINALLY PROVE YOURSELF, bABBLE BABBLE,*
VRISKA: Tavros, would you leave that poor kid alone?
VRISKA: What sort of nonsense are you telling him?
This conversation ends with another snippet of a different conversation, either hinting that Vriska still is mean to Tavros or giving a tie-in depending on whether you read that other conversation before this one. The synonyms of “babble” are again a very neat touch, suitably demonstrating Hussie’s vocabulary; I somehow highly doubt that he used a thesaurus to write this.
OK, one conversation done! Next up, I think I should do Rose, Roxy, and Kanaya’s conversation. The Lalonde girls have been waiting for this reunion long enough, so it makes sense to do this one early on too.
Look at these girls with identical facial features sitting side by side.
They waited so long for this moment!
The Lalonde reunion is happening at long last. It’s really happening! Note that I may skim over big chunks of it in this analysis, as with any conversation in A6A6I5.
ROXY: haha im sorry
ROSE: Sorry about what?
ROXY: for stammering an all being an agog grinning idiot
ROXY: i just cannot….
ROXY: actually believe u are real and here and alive and not dying and so am i!
ROXY: here with u i mean + sharin all those mentioned attributes
ROSE: I can’t believe it either!
ROXY: i have so much to say…
ROXY: i think???
ROXY: even though i cant think of the stuff atm
ROSE: I know what you mean.
ROXY: i hope its ok if i just sit near u not bein ‘specially articulate for a bit
ROSE: That is more than ok.
ROSE: As long as you are willing to similarly excuse the spectacular demise of my capacity for artful self-expression.
Rose starts this reunion doing something extremely Rose-like: saying something verbose that has no reason to be verbose. Not even the most extreme emotions of joy or of trauma can impede her highly advanced vocabulary; only alcohol can.
ROXY: ahahah youre dirk!
ROXY: wow wow i just caught it wow wow wow!
ROXY: you sound SO much like him oh my GOD thats too perf and cute :3
ROXY: hahah i cant get over it now i cant unhear it…
ROXY: even your voice sounds kinda like his but its just… girl dirk
ROXY: lmao wow yes ❤
Roxy starts this reunion doing something very Roxy-like: she notices a similarity between an old friend and a new friend and immediately finds it to be the cutest thing ever. I may have said this before, but finding similarities between genetically related friends cute is an extremely Roxy thing to do.
Rose learns a bit more about Dirk, blah blah, it would have been cool if they talked in Homestuck proper, I’m glad they at least talked in the epilogues even if it was under bizarre circumstances, I’ve said all this already. I remember being really happy that a character in Homestuck finally pointed out how much Rose and Dirk have in common—their similarities often tend to be forgotten, as with Dave and Roxy’s similarities.
ROSE: I think the main difficulty in deciding what to ask is in sifting questions I would have for my mother, that is to say, the woman who raised me, from the questions I have for you.
ROXY: well i didnt raise u or anything but i can sincerely take a crack at both kindsa questions
ROSE: You really like wizards?
ROXY: i fucken
ROSE: I see.
ROSE: As odd as it sounds, that actually does go pretty far in letting me know something about both of you.
ROSE: My relationship with her was complicated.
ROSE: But I’ve come to see that as mostly my fault. I was too young to understand her.
I find it very endearing that Rose feels the need to ask Roxy outright whether she likes wizards. She’s even a little nervous asking about it, like she still has some lingering doubt related to her theories that her mother was pretending to like wizards out of passive-aggressive ironic spite. Or maybe she wants to be absolutely sure that she is indeed talking to her teen mom and not some fake, which would also be endearing.
Rose and Roxy bond over their respective embarrassing and weird wizard stories, as well as post-scratch Rose’s legendary wizard stories. Roxy also does her weird new “ur pretty” thing with Kanaya, not much to say for a while.
KANAYA: If During Your Manuscript Exchange You Need Someone To Read Over Your Shoulder
KANAYA: To Proofread
KANAYA: To Purge Each Sentence Of Punctuation And Capitalize The First Letter Of Every Word
KANAYA: Id Be Happy To Volunteer
KANAYA: Strictly Professionally Of Course And Not Because I Really Want To Read Your Wizard Things Too
KANAYA: (I Really Want To Read Your Wizard Things Too I Hope Thats Okay)
ROXY: hahaha yeah sure its ok!
ROXY: kanaya sorry me and rose are babbling away here to each other we dont mean to be excluding you
KANAYA: Its Fine I Am Thoroughly Enjoying My Role As A Spectator
Even though this conversation purported to involve Rose, Roxy, and Kanaya on the select screen, Kanaya says very little in it, for reasons she says here. It’s entirely fair for her to stand by and spectate, but it’s still weird not to hear much about Rose and Kanaya’s post-retcon relationship besides seemingly having no flaws whatsoever. Kanaya’s quiet admittance of her strong desire to read Roxy’s wizard stories shows a crack in her stuck-up and dry image, which she’s perhaps willing to reveal to Roxy due to her close genetic bond with Rose.
KANAYA: I Know That Rose Has Been Looking Forward To This A Lot
KANAYA: And That She Received Similarly Vicarious And Politely Passive Enjoyment From The Interactions I Had With My Ancestor
KANAYA: So Now I Will Just Resume The Politely Passive Part Of It Ha Ha
Kanaya confirms here that her interactions with Porrim still happened post-retcon, which include learning to control her rainbow drinker glowing and encouragement about using the matriorb to resurrect the troll race. That’s a good thing to know, and it’s nice to see what the retcon didn’t change.
Roxy talks about Fefetasprite and how she didn’t exist in the post-retcon timeline, and Rose and Roxy bond over their respective experiences watching their fabled mother/daughter die before their eyes. I already talked about the parallels between those scenes when I went over post-retcon Roxy’s death in A6A6I4.
ROXY: instead of waiting for you to come back i had to jump thru all these hoops with john
ROXY: and went through some uh
ROXY: different stuff
ROXY: i uh
ROXY: i MAY have thrown an impromptu funeral for your alt-u dead body 😮
ROSE: You did?
ROXY: sorry if that sounds weird
ROXY: and i knew i was comin to meet a new version of you
ROXY: it helped me
ROXY: with like
ROXY: feelings about people i left behind
ROSE: A funeral…
ROSE: Wow, that,
ROSE: Sorry for this, if it comes off as odd, but,
ROSE: That is so “mom” of you.
ROXY: oh yea?
Do you ever speak to someone for the first time in years, and they say something that makes you think, “yep, that’s exactly the same person I knew back then”? Rose is experiencing that right now, and it’s very endearing and a little humorous. From Rose’s perspective, this is yet another affirmation of something that she had once thought was ironic: her mother’s love of hosting extravagant funerals.
ROSE: I don’t mean to be too analytical about getting to know you, really.
ROSE: I guess comparisons are little hard for me to avoid, since the adult version of you played such a significant role in my life.
ROSE: So I can’t help seeing the similarities when they are there.
ROSE: But also you are so clearly your own person, shaped by your own experiences, and that is the person I would prefer to get to know, rather than a young avatar for the memory of a departed parent.
This is exactly what I had said about Rose’s perception of Roxy last post. As I said, Rose would like to turn a new page in her relationship with her mother, and knowing her as Roxy is symbolic of her turning that page.
ROSE: Yet this is the context which somewhat inescapably colors my perception of what you reveal.
ROSE: So while some observations are in the vein of predictable, charmingly so, mind you…
ROSE: Others I regard as surprising.
ROXY: what about me is surprising?
ROSE: You aren’t,
ROSE: You don’t quite seem like a person who…
ROSE: I don’t want to ask anything that would sound rude to you, or spiteful to her.
ROSE: Because I don’t feel that conflicted about this anymore.
ROSE: Particularly since I had my own troubles with it. So it would be pretty hypocritical.
ROXY: conflicted about what?
ROSE: Let me back up a little.
ROSE: It was a long ride on that meteor.
ROSE: One experiences things over a few years, given a lot of time to think. Changes and such.
ROSE: About half way through, I started thinking more…
ROSE: About mom. And about you.
ROSE: Knowing that I’d probably meet you, and. I don’t know. Live up to the experience?
ROSE: It’s silly, but I’m guessing you understand what I mean.
ROSE: Basically, I was just nervous.
ROSE: And it was all mixed up with feelings of conflict and remorse over my mother.
ROSE: Who, to my hazy preteen recollection, never wasted a day in my life on sobriety.
ROSE: She and her habit put all those days to quite effective use, actually.
ROSE: And I don’t even quite remember the thought process that led to this, but,
ROSE: I sort of ran with it too?
ROSE: The habit, I mean. For a while at least.
ROSE: I was still distraught about losing her. And wanted to understand her.
ROSE: To connect with her, in some way. And I guess that was the only idea I had.
ROSE: And on some level, I think connecting with her was also a way of preparing myself to meet you…
ROSE: Even though that probably makes no sense.
ROSE: Since you aren’t literally her, and don’t share all her…
ROSE: I guess I shouldn’t speak for you, though.
Another thing that tends to happen when reuniting with someone you haven’t spoken to in years is sharing an embarrassing experience of yours while saying that they probably never experienced anything like that, only to be proven wrong. It says a lot about how much Roxy’s character has developed that Rose doesn’t think she would have ever fallen into alcoholism.
ROXY: so youre sayin
ROXY: youre surprised im unlike her in that way cause i dont seem like someone whod get drunk off her ass all the time?
ROXY: well i guess i should be flattered if u rly think so buttttt
Of course, leave it to Roxy to restate someone else’s awkward rambling in simpler terms. She proceeds to tell the story of her alcoholism and how she got over it, and it strengthens the Lalondes’ bond far beyond what either of them expected.
ROXY: but yeah i wanted to be like her and do what she did but mostly just made a hot catastrophe of myself
ROXY: i doubt that is what she wanted
ROXY: at the time it seemed like a cool thing a real intellectual an mysterious book celebrity would do while also leading a badass and secretly subversive life in opposition of tyranny
ROXY: i think what is more likely is
ROXY: she knew the whole world would end and everyone would die no matter what she did
ROXY: which was probly hard to live with
ROXY: idk if i can blame the old lady for wantin to get a WEE bit sauced after a couple of rapping clowns won a presidential election
Now that we’ve seen plenty of Rose’s experiences with alcoholism, her post-scratch self can be seen in a whole new light. Only now does the comic make it so clear how much the adult Lalondes’ drinking habits have in common: they both knew that they couldn’t prevent the end of the world, so all they could do was wash away their sorrows with alcohol while preparing their respective daughters for the world of Sburb. It’s a tragic parallel that the girls can bond over in a more positive way.
ROXY: i know what you mean about being nervous
ROXY: about meeting you i mean
ROXY: maybe nervous isnt quite right but
ROXY: when i started thinking about meeting u is when i started thinkin…
ROXY: i should try being not QUIIITE such a mess
ROXY: so i started takin the idea of cleaning up my act more seriously
ROSE: Ultimately, I concluded the same thing.
ROSE: I decided it wouldn’t be a very dignified way to make an entrance.
ROSE: Or for that matter, a very constructive way to help out in a struggle to preserve reality.
ROSE: Luckily, I was able to cut it out a while ago. I admit, it wasn’t easy.
ROSE: But it helped a lot to have people around looking out for me.
KANAYA: *Sits Poked*
After the retcon, Rose getting past her alcoholism offscreen matches quite nicely with pre-retcon Roxy having done the same. It makes me wonder, did post-retcon Roxy have a more difficult time getting over alcoholism, especially without Fefetasprite around? Most things about post-retcon Roxy are left to the imagination, which you could argue makes sense since she’s a void player, but that’s a rather lazy excuse. Oh well, not everything can be perfect.
ROSE: I never had “IRL” friends before this trip.
ROSE: It’s interesting to observe the various ways they apply themselves to your benefit.
ROSE: Some people are around to make you feel like you’re worth sticking with, even when you fuck up.
ROSE: And some people are around to kick your ass to make sure you don’t.
ROXY: i think i had to play the latter role to my friends a lot
ROXY: and also to myself i guess
ROXY: who kicked your ass
ROXY: was it the yelly guy over there?
ROSE: No, Karkat was mostly preoccupied with his own… shenanigans.
ROSE: The yelling is deceptive. He’s a rather private person.
Man, what did the retcon DO to Karkat?! While it’s true that his yelling can make you forget how private and sensitive he is, it’s still very weird that the retcon destroyed any idea of leadership he had. Knowing the epilogues, I think it was the point that Hussie didn’t resolve the leadership arc within Homestuck proper, much like the tie-in to Caliborn’s Masterpiece and various character relationships. While I find it very clever for the tie-in to the Masterpiece to come from outside canon, I’m not sure how I feel about Karkat’s leadership arc being held off until the epilogues. Some of the surviving heroes get to do awesome things in the comic’s finale, and while Karkat does something impressive in Collide, tying up Clover has nothing to do with his leadership skills.
ROSE: Vriska, however.
ROSE: She really is quite an extravagant bitch.
ROSE: But it turns out people like that tend to have some convenient assets.
ROSE: Such as, the sheer force of personality to keep a bunch of idiots from falling apart.
ROSE: Don’t get me wrong. It’s quite annoying.
ROSE: But… useful.
ROXY: i probably should have been more of a bitch to all my peeps
ROXY: maybe we wouldnt have gone to jail and died
ROSE: Let it be a lesson to us all.
In contrast to John’s endlessly fluctuating opinion on Vriska, Rose is well set on what she thinks of Vriska: extravagant and self-absorbed, but in a useful and admirable way. This opinion stays intact when we get to the epilogues and she and Kanaya adopt a daughter named after Vriska. In one scene with baby Vriska, Rose explains her opinion on Vriska to John in the same way as above, and John is freaked out by this stance even though that’s what Rose had already said in canon. His thoughts that everyone else is fake seem extremely believable until his reconciliation conversation with Roxy, where we finally realize how self-indulgent those thoughts were. But that’s quite an aside.
Roxy makes all the cutest excited faces.
ROXY: seriously tho
ROXY: is so nice hearin ur stories
ROXY: especially the similarities of stuff we experienced
ROXY: wizards and writing and mom stuff and even bad things we went through
ROXY: and obviously were similar by dna and all
ROXY: but even so
ROXY: it still feels comforting
ROXY: that even if u flip the universe upside down and change it all around
ROXY: pull us apart by centuries, kill humans off, flood the world
ROXY: were still connected to each other
ROXY: in a mysterious way that goes beyond genes and circumstance
ROXY: and that i think is some tight frickin noise to consider
This is a very poetic way to describe Roxy and Rose’s bond, which is stronger than ever now that they’ve learned so much about each other, and about their alternate selves on the other sides of the scratch and retcon. The Lalondes speaking right now come from opposite sides of the scratch and opposite sides of the retcon, and yet that only makes their bond stronger.
ROSE: I’m considering it right now, and yes.
ROSE: That noise… it is SO tight.
DAVE: hey what are we all talking about over here
ROSE: Damn it, Dave.
What a perfect time for Dave to ruin the moment and end the conversation. The next post will feature the more humorous continuation of the Lalondes’ reunion, with Dave aboard instead of Kanaya, plus three other conversations.
Of course, this post isn’t over yet—we still have two conversations to go through! One relatively short, one extremely long. I think I’ll do the relatively short one next, with Jake, Tavrosprite, and Vriska.
Ah, Jake and Tavros. What is there to say about these two? They have a lot of personality traits in common. They both tend to be painfully clueless and submissive, and are treated similarly by the story. And they’re both pages in the classpect system, as Vriska later points out. Those obvious similarities are brought to light in the conversation that follows.
JAKE: Tavrosprite is it ok if we pretend to have a conversation over here for a while…
JAKE: So that i look busy and not come off as big of a doofus as i feel like?
TAVROSPRITE: i CAN OBLIGE, aND ALSO PERSONALLY IDENTIFY, wITH THAT IDEA, aND THE FEELINGS OF SELF LAMENESS BEHIND IT,
TAVROSPRITE: i COULD ALSO HELP YOU OUT WITH A REAL CONVERSATION TOO, iNSTEAD OF A FAKE ONE,
TAVROSPRITE: iN FACT, mAYBE WE ALREADY EVEN SAID ENOUGH WORDS TOGETHER, jUST NOW, fOR THAT TO QUALIFY, }:)
JAKE: Hahaha oh tavrosprite.
JAKE: You have always been the one ray of light shining through the clouds in what has otherwise been an emotionally stormy game experience for me.
JAKE: Im so grateful that you found it in your ghostly bosom to drift over to lomax now and then to cheer me up.
JAKE: Often enough to give me a real pickmeup when feeling blue over friend problems but just seldom enough to feel like a rare delight when you did.
Tavros (faster to type than Tavrosprite) seemed to play a similar role in the retconned alpha session to Erisolsprite before the retcon, talking to Jake about his friendship problems in a more earnest and constructive way than with that complete grouch. Another change that’s better off after the retcon, and probably the only significant change in friend dynamics with the retconned alpha kids.
TAVROSPRITE: i WAS UNDER STRICT INSTRUCTION FROM VRISKA, tO NOT INTERFERE WITH THE TIMELINE MUCH, fOR LOTS OF MONTHS,
TAVROSPRITE: sO i DIDN’T SAY HELLO OFTEN,
TAVROSPRITE: sHE HELPED ME BE BACK ALIVE, sO, i OWED HER THAT MUCH ON ONE HAND,
TAVROSPRITE: bUT ON THE OTHER, i THINK SHE WAS DOING HER BOSSY THING, fOR THE SAKE OF JUST TELLING ME WHAT TO DO,
TAVROSPRITE: aND i DIDN’T SEE HOW JUST BEING FRIENDLY SOMETIMES, wAS EVEN CHANGING THE TIMELINE MUCH, oR WHY THAT IDEA EVEN MATTERED?
TAVROSPRITE: bECAUSE IT SEEMED LIKE MOST OF YOU ALL HERE, nEVER DID MUCH IMPORTANT STUFF ANYWAY,
If Tavros’s descriptions are anything to go by, Vriska’s intrusion into the retconned alpha session involved a great deal of meta awareness. She didn’t need to time travel if she just wanted to bring back Tavros. Instead, she traveled back to right after Jane entered the Medium, just as Gamzee had done pre-retcon, and prototyped Tavros into her sprite to replace the catastrophic prototyping of him and Vriska. This was her way to ensure that the alpha kids’ session would go similarly to how it did before, making Jane aware of a mysterious troll prototyping other trolls into sprites just like before the retcon.
Vriska instructing Tavros to stay put and not interfere with the timeline was similarly intended to replicate the pre-retcon events, and Tavros’s statement that he wouldn’t have caused much change regardless shows that Vriska has been extra careful and on top of things. I don’t think she spent a whole five months instructing Tavros to stay put (I actually did think that at one point). She probably told him not to interfere and then went back to the present, knowing well that he would follow her instructions. That might also be part of why she didn’t bother with most other troll sprites, because they wouldn’t have been quite as obedient. Or maybe because Erisolsprite and Fefetasprite’s creations both happened offscreen, meaning that Vriska has no reason to replicate those events.
JAKE: I just messed up with everyone in a lot of ways im too embarrassed to even talk about.
JAKE: And now i just feel gunshy about… everything i guess.
JAKE: Even polite conversation with fun new people i should be thrilled to meet!
JAKE: I couldnt even set things right with my buddies now if i WANTED to.
JAKE: Jane is asleep so i cant make amends with her after she became an angry robot and punched me in the gut and jailed me and threatened me with eternal marriage and baby making duties.
JAKE: I mean sure she was brainwashed when she did all that but im SURE i did some stuff to deserve it!
JAKE: Dirk is still way off somewhere so i cant address THAT whole spicy meatball which i still feel terrible about.
JAKE: And roxy…
JAKE: Well okay roxy is right there but look at her shes having a blast with all these people she actually really LIKES and who are probably ACTUALLY LIKABLE.
JAKE: She probably wants nothing to do with me either so i might as well do her the courtesy of leaving her alone.
This passage reminds me of how we didn’t get any major alpha kid reconciliations in A6A6I5, except for arguably Jane and Roxy. Although a reconciliation between other pairs of alpha kids would have been nice, if Hussie simply didn’t want to write any more alpha kid romance drama, then I don’t think I can blame him. The post-trickster pesterlogs in Act 6 Act 5 were the perfect sendoff to the alpha kids’ drama already, and if Hussie did every notable combination for character reconciliations, reunions, and new meetings, A6A6I5 would be even more overwhelmingly long. That’s the unfortunate thing about A6A6I5, and about the retcon in general: there’s just way too much to resolve, and it’s disputable how much needs to be resolved.
ROXY: hi jake!!
JAKE: It would seem she is.
JAKE: Those are probably pity waves though.
TAVROSPRITE: dON’T THINK THAT IS TRUE,
TAVROSPRITE: i HAVE BEEN THE GETTER ALMOST EXCLUSIVELY, oF THE PITY VERSIONS OF VARIOUS DEEDS DIRECTED AT ME, aND,
TAVROSPRITE: i THINK THAT’S NOT WHAT SHE’S DOING, tHOSE ARE NORMAL WAVES AND HELLOS,
TAVROSPRITE: yOU SHOULD PROBABLY DO ONE OF THOSE THINGS BACK TO HER,
ROXY: HIIIII JAKE
ROXY: JAKE DAMMIT HI
JAKE: Um sorry.
JAKE: H… hi roxy.
JAKE: Youre with us again and… and… i like that.
Here’s another hint at a different conversation in the select screen, though it may not seem like a hint if you read this one first. Jake’s nervousness is getting the better of him as he doesn’t notice Roxy saying much until she shouts his name. He’s forgotten that Roxy only sees the best in all her friends, or maybe he thinks that her positive perception of her friends doesn’t extend to him.
TAVROSPRITE: i GET IT, sELF ESTEEM IS PROBABLY THE HARDEST EMOTION TO MASTER,
TAVROSPRITE: iT HELPS TO HAVE HELP,
JAKE: And i appreciate it mr tavrosprite really i do.
TAVROSPRITE: nO, i MEAN NOT FROM ME,
TAVROSPRITE: dO YOU HAVE A FANTASY PHANTOM REPRESENTING YOUR SELF ESTEEM WHO YOU CAN LOOK UP TO?
“Fantasy phantom” is an amusing phrase to me. It implies that the world of Homestuck distinguishes real phantoms and fantasy phantoms (as in purely imaginary phantoms)—most works of media only have one or another. The humor value of that phrase may also be because I’m pretty sure “fantasy” and “phantom” have the same etymology. Unlike anything else in Homestuck that qualifies as a phantom, Rufio was just Tavros’s imagination…
JAKE: A phantom??
TAVROSPRITE: bECAUSE i DID ONCE, aND IT HELPED ME,
TAVROSPRITE: tHEN HE BECAME REAL, aND *REALLY* HELPED ME, bUT NOT BECAUSE OF BELIEVING OR ANYTHING,
TAVROSPRITE: jUST BECAUSE OF COINCIDENCE, hE HAPPENED TO BE MY ANCESTOR,
… until Rufioh came along. A lucky coincidence from Tavros’s perspective, but a deliberate homage to an actor who got tragically sucked into the Homestuck rabbit hole from a meta perspective.
JAKE: Yes i suppose i have SOMETHING like that.
JAKE: A brain ghost of my friend dirk who visits me sometimes.
JAKE: I GUESS he represents my self esteem but…
JAKE: I dunno how helpful he actually is!
JAKE: Because of all the consternation that my relationship with REAL dirk has caused me!
JAKE: He says all the right things to make me feel better about myself but when he visits my brain i never ACTUALLY feel that comfortable or good about myself.
JAKE: I just feel kind of weird and truthfully spend most of the time hoping he just goes away and he probably KNOWS that too because hes my brain and that makes me feel WEIRDER!
TAVROSPRITE: i SEE,
TAVROSPRITE: yOUR BRAIN IS COMPLICATED THEN,
TAVROSPRITE: i’M GUESSING IT’S BECAUSE YOU’RE SOME SORT OF GENIUS,
When Jake brings up Brain Ghost Dirk, Tavros provides an interpretation of this semi-imaginary phantom that matches with Jake’s role both as a page and a hope player. He goes on to give Jake an encouraging speech, telling him that he has a massive well of untapped potential and all the time in the world to improve himself and become the best person he can possibly be.
TAVROSPRITE: tHIS IS ONLY THE BEGINNING, OF THE FEELGOOD FEELINGS YOU CAN FORCE INSIDE YOU,
TAVROSPRITE: tHROUGH THE REPETITIVE MENTIONINGS OF SUCH THINGS ABOUT YOU,
TAVROSPRITE: bUT ALSO THROUGH DEVELOPING YOURSELF AS A BRAVE ALIVE HERO,
TAVROSPRITE: iT’S TOO LATE FOR ME TO DO THAT, sINCE I LIVED A WEAK LIFE, dIED, aND WAS LUCKY ENOUGH TO HAVE A FRIEND WITH A GOOD ENOUGH HEART TO BRING ME BACK,
TAVROSPRITE: bUT ONLY AS A SPRITUAL GUIDE, sUCH AS THE ONE FLOATING BEFORE YOU,
TAVROSPRITE: sO i CAN’T BE THAT HEROICALLY GREAT ANYMORE, bY TRAGIC DEFINITION, bUT YOU CAN,
TAVROSPRITE: yOU’RE LIVING, sTRONG, nICE, aND OF EVEN HIGHER IMPORTANCE, iMMORTAL,
TAVROSPRITE: sO THAT GIVES YOU, bY MY ESTIMATION, lITERALLY FOREVER,
TAVROSPRITE: tO GET BETTER, aND BETTER, aND BETTER, aND FINALLY PROVE YOURSELF,
TAVROSPRITE: tHAT WAY YOU CAN WIN YOUR FRIENDS OVER, aND EVERYONE WILL LIKE YOU AGAIN,
Here’s the speech that we saw snippets of in Terezi and Vriska’s conversation, but in full. It’s easy to see why Vriska is set off by this. She wants to be the leader, telling everyone what to do and deciding who gets to be a hero, and her use for Tavros is something specifically strategic. She proceeds to stomp all over this speech with some brutal words to Jake and Tavros.
VRISKA: Hey kid, what’s he telling you?
VRISKA: What’s your name again? Jape?
JAKE: Yes. Sure.
TAVROSPRITE: nO, iT’S NOT jAPE, wRONG,
VRISKA: Who even cares? Your overly simplistic human names all sound so alike to me.
Vriska’s controversy went off the charts with the start of this very page. She was already controversial enough with her positive portrayal in Vriskagram, and now she’s brutalizing Tavros all over again, not to mention brutalizing Jake. Ambiguous morality is in full light here: she’s brought Tavros back as a sprite but is still treating him like garbage.
VRISKA: Anyway, listen Jape.
VRISKA: Whatever load of shit he’s selling you in a misguided effort to cheer you up, don’t listen to him.
VRISKA: It’s all a 8unch of sappy delusional gar8age.
VRISKA: I’m not going to let you down easy, and some day you’ll realize this is the 8iggest favor anyone’s ever done for you.
VRISKA: You are never going to do anything important, and you’ll never amount to anything. Period!
VRISKA: Neither is Tavros.
TAVROSPRITE: wAIT, nO, nOW HOLD, ON,
VRISKA: No, YOU hold on, Tavros.
VRISKA: You had more than enough chances to prove you could 8e a relevant contri8utor to our adventure, 8ut you 8lew it every step of the way.
VRISKA: It’s time to face the facts. You’re never going to have that “8ig moment” that vindic8tes your arc of personal development. It’s just not going to happen!
You had to say it, Vriska. You just had to say it. Now we know for sure that Tavros will have a big moment that vindicates his arc of personal development. In her defense, an entirely different version of Tavros will experience this moment, and the sprite version of Tavros never gets to do something cool and heroic, but still, Vriska totally jinxed it here.
TAVROSPRITE: nO, i KNOW THAT, i JUST ADMITTED THAT,
TAVROSPRITE: yOU WEREN’T LISTENING TO OUR,,,
VRISKA: It’s not going to happen for Jape here, either. So stop filling his head with nonsense.
VRISKA: I can just smell it off him. He’s just like you, really.
VRISKA: A loser is a loser.
Again: Vriska jinxed it. Except in this case, we already know that Jake’s grand heroic moment happened in Caliborn’s Masterpiece, again with a different version of Jake.
VRISKA: Here’s the 8ottom line.
VRISKA: Pages just suck!
VRISKA: All of them do. They just can’t ever seem to get it together.
VRISKA: I think it just happens to 8e the class players get stuck with if they’re naturally that sort of person.
VRISKA: It doesn’t mean they don’t have value as people, 8ut they’ll never have anything significant to contri8ute, so they really should just stay out of the way.
VRISKA: There’s a certain quiet dignity in understanding your utterly cripplng limit8tions as an individual. Ideally, a VERY quiet dignity, so the important people can still hear themselves think!
TAVROSPRITE: oK BUT, wHAT ABOUT ALL THAT, bIG PAGE POTENTIAL,
VRISKA: That’s also a lot of misleading horseshit, and really kind of a cruel stipul8tion of the class, to 8e honest.
VRISKA: It makes losers think there’s actually some light at the end of a long tunnel, so it keeps them dreaming instead of facing the facts!
VRISKA: Sure, they could reach all that potential if they worked really hard for a long time, 8ut don’t you get it?
VRISKA: The very n8ture of who they are PROHI8ITS that! They don’t have what it takes to stick it out to the end, 8ecause they’re too weak mentally.
VRISKA: So it’s just the game playing a nasty joke on them. Like dangling a carrot at the end of a ridiculously long stick.
VRISKA: Only an asshole would knowlingly play along with such a vicious hoax.
Complaining about Vriska is fun and all, but I find it more interesting to give honest analysis to her cruel words. While the concept of “page potential” has played a strong role in the schemes of villains like Aranea and Caliborn, Vriska refuses to account for it in her strategic planning. That makes sense knowing her character: she loves cutting to the chase, which is the exact opposite of the concept of pages gradually realizing their potential.
TAVROSPRITE: aRGH, nO, aNY FORM OF FRIENDSHIP ENCOURAGEMENT, nO MATTER WHAT, iS UNIVERSALLY GREAT i THINK,
TAVROSPRITE: wE ALL LEARN THIS AS FACT, fROM LOTS OF THINGS WE SEE AND ENJOY, iN STORIES AND STUFF,
VRISKA: Oh my fucking god.
JAKE: No… tavrosprite shes… shes right.
JAKE: Shes right.
Vriska brings back Jake’s self-esteem doubts, and it’s commonly criticized that no one else stood up for Jake or Tavros in this scene. I really can’t argue with that criticism.
TAVROSPRITE: vRISKA, lOOK AT WHAT YOU DID,
TAVROSPRITE: yOU MADE MY FRIEND JAPE SAD,
TAVROSPRITE: dON’T LISTEN TO HER, aND COME HERE BUDDY, fOR A REASSURING EMBRACE,
VRISKA: TAVROS DON’T YOU FUCKING TOUCH HIM!!!!!!!!
VRISKA: Remem8er, you’ve only 8een prototyped once!
VRISKA: Do you REALLY want to fuse into an eternal monstrosity with that weenie?
VRISKA: God, what a weenie singularity that would 8e. May8e I should stand 8ack and let it happen!
VRISKA: For science. Also, it would serve you right.
At this point, Hussie was no doubt aware of a common point of confusion in Act 1: near the end of the act, John high-fived his kernel without getting prototyped into it. It seems like he’s using the new sprites in A6A6I5 partly to elaborate on sprite prototyping rules and clear things up, especially involving physical interactions with sprites, and to invite new sprite prototyping rules with the squared sprites. Those clarified rules no doubt came in handy for people making fan comics based on Homestuck.
TAVROSPRITE: wELL GET A LOAD, oF THIS!
TAVROSPRITE: nO, yOU’RE,
TAVROSPRITE: rIGHT OF COURSE, i WON’T HUG HIM, bECAUSE,
TAVROSPRITE: tHAT SOUNDS REALLY, rEALLY BAD,
TAVROSPRITE: sORRY JAPE,
Well, this conversation sure ended on a negative note. I wonder what it’s like for readers to go through the selection screen and do this one last? Maybe they believed in Vriska for so long and were then suddenly hit in the face with this, or maybe they were like “I KNEW Vriska was still a jerk”? Either way, I can tell Hussie takes great pleasure in having Vriska be controversial.
The final conversation I’ll go through in this post is the first on the screen and a total behemoth: John, Dave, and Karkat. Are you ready?
Not counting walkarounds, this page has the most text of any page in Homestuck.
JOHN: so tell me about your ridiculous meteor journey!
The line that begins John, Dave, and Karkat’s conversation shows that we’re going to get a good, hard look into John’s naive side. His description of the meteor journey as “ridiculous” shows that he sees his friends as a bunch of goofballs and can’t easily process the unfortunate side of their antics.
JOHN: the dave from the bad time line told me some funny stories when we got together on the grassy hill planet
JOHN: but we weren’t actually hanging out for that long, so i didn’t hear much.
JOHN: also, i’m MOSTLY sure vriska wasn’t alive during their trip.
DAVE: oh well let me tell you
DAVE: vriska was most certainly alive during this one
DAVE: like almost
DAVE: extra-alive, if thats possible
JOHN: i think i know what you mean.
JOHN: i spent some time with her when she was a ghost, and uh…
JOHN: let’s just say whatever her mortality status is, she makes her presence hard to ignore.
I like the way Dave describes post-retcon Vriska as “extra-alive”. It’s a good way to emphasize how she rubs her presence everywhere she can, whether alive or dead, and it provides a good picture of how Vriska inserted herself into the beta kids’ side of Act 6.
KARKAT: YES. YES!
KARKAT: I LOVE THIS.
KARKAT: CAN WE SPEND OUR WHOLE REMINISCENCE JUST DESTROYING VRISKA, SLIGHTLY ABOVE AUDIBLE LEVEL?
VRISKA: Karkat, you only have one volume setting.
KARKAT: WOW, FUCK YOU?!
DAVE: ok dude maybe lets not spend our paltime trash talking serket if only cus theres no way youre not getting repeatedly trounced exactly just like that
KARKAT: YEAH, YOU’RE RIGHT.
KARKAT: OK, I’LL CHILL OUT. YOU’RE RIGHT DAVE, AS USUAL.
JOHN: karkat, for a funny shouty guy, you backed down on that really fast.
JOHN: i’m almost… a bit disappointed?
JOHN: i was looking forward to more of your patented ravings!
Is it good character development for Karkat to have cooled off on his tirades, or is it an indicator that Vriska has washed away his leaderly attitude? I can’t decide which it is. I would say it’s the latter, but Karkat follows this by something that inarguably counts as character development: admitting that he’s gotten over embarrassment over his hate crush on John.
I don’t have much to say about Karkat admitting he got over his embarrassment, other than that it leads up to Dave’s polarizing ramble about masculinity. John barely even remembers the confession and forgives Karkat easily, and Dave interjects and is surprised that Karkat never told him about those feelings. Some readers interpret this as Dave having some form of romantic jealousy, but I’m not personally sure what that portion of the conversation says about Dave and Karkat’s characters. I guess it’s a demonstration of their sentimental sides? I might as well skip ahead a bit, since I already gave a lengthy, honest discussion on Dave and Karkat’s relationship as I went through Vriskagram.
DAVE: i have all KINDS of shit to say about john seeing as he was my number 1 dude for approximately the majority of 13 years
DAVE: the main dead end here man is like, nothing personal at all its just that he is literally incapable of hating anyone
KARKAT: I KNOW THAT!
KARKAT: THAT IS THE *EXACT* FUCKING THING I KNEW AND UNDERSTOOD, AND WHY I FELT SO STUPID ABOUT IT IN HINDSIGHT!
JOHN: not that i really want to egg on this train of thought, but i dunno if that’s quite true.
KARKAT: IT’S NOT?
JOHN: i can get really angry and hate stuff too, just like you. but i think only in extreme cases?
JOHN: the skull guy in suspenders i got REALLY pissed off at…
JOHN: but i am a hundred percent sure that hate was platonic!
Dave’s presumption that John is incapable of hatred is interesting to me. For one thing, he’s flat out wrong—John merely develops grudges for much more inane reasons than others do. Is this statement from Dave a result of him spending three years apart from John and forgetting what the guy is like? John has a longtime pattern of going ballistic for reasons as trivial as overexposure to cake or gaudy manga drawings. He amusingly refers to those bizarre things that set him off as “extreme cases”, indicating he thinks it’s normal to get upset at things the way he does.
JOHN: being able to hate things i think is…
JOHN: the smaller part of that equation?
JOHN: what about the other part? don’t you think that’s, uh…
JOHN: a little more significant?
DAVE: what part
JOHN: the part about not being a homosexual!!!
DAVE: dude i gotta say
DAVE: when you talk about being or not being “a homosexual” you kinda sound like a corny old man
JOHN: what! why?
JOHN: no, that’s a normal way of putting it!
JOHN: i mean… it’s a pretty normal thing to say, right? when that’s… how… you are?
Ah, here’s the readdressing of John’s notorious line, “i am not a homosexual”, which is something I can’t even type anymore without cracking up. Although I’ve never been imminently concerned about Homestuck’s LGBT representation, I do agree with fans who think that phrase is very dated and tacky. Although Hussie probably didn’t intend it back then, the phrasing of the line “i am not a homosexual” is a perfect fit for John’s character, considering how simple-minded he tends to be on the topic of romance. This passage also may be intended to double down and remind readers that yes, John really is not a homosexual.
KARKAT: SOMEBODY FUCKING KILL ME.
Karkat’s aggravated interjections into the conversation remind me of how I once envisioned I would analyze this part back in 2015 and early 2016. I even said in a Homestuck post from early 2016:
Speaking of shipping Dave and Karkat, despite the stuff in it that I always talk about how awful it is, I can’t wait until I get to the John/Dave/Karkat conversation way later so I can dissect that whole thing in a way I’m really proud of coming up with.
In the interest of fulfilling my past self’s promise, I will go ahead and say approximately what I had intended to say back then:
In this conversation, Dave represents Hussie going on about masculinity and sexuality for reasons I don’t understand and don’t want to understand; John represents readers who have no idea what Dave is talking about, like me the first time I read this passage; and Karkat represents me now, because I can’t stand reading this monologue.
That’s pretty much exactly what I had wanted to say back then. Truly fascinating and insightful, isn’t it? Like, yeah, that’s DEFINITELY what Karkat represents. Readers who think Dave’s monologue is a load of baloney and would rather continue being painfully heteronormative. It’s not like Karkat is extremely private and secretive about his relationship with Dave or anything! I had even thought I would perhaps skip over the entire ramble because I found it so intolerable, but now of course I know doing so would be complete injustice, especially considering the discussions of gender-related topics in the epilogues and Psycholonials. As such, I will be analyzing the sexuality/masculinity monologue as I would any other part of Homestuck.
DAVE: im just saying it probably isnt as absolute or simplistic as the way youve been framing it
DAVE: or maybe it is for you personally i dont know
DAVE: im just guessing you havent spent much time thinking about it if only cause all the stuff we read and watch suggests that like even examining your honest thoughts about it is perilous road to go down
DAVE: cause if you actually think too much about it without always having that undercurrent of haha nope nope nope THEN what happens
DAVE: what if it turns out youre like…
DAVE: like not exactly the way you thought you were
DAVE: or maybe not so much that, as old presumptions about what you were turn out to be not that relevant?
Here’s where Dave awkwardly tries to come out as bisexual, which is obvious unless your brain is a complete brick like mine was back in 2015. Fans are torn on whether this is good representation, or if it’s as nonsensical as J. K. Rowling retroactively pretending Dumbledore was gay. Since I’m trying to keep a neutral point of view while analyzing this monologue, I’ll simply say that having reread a lot of Homestuck since I tried to be less heteronormative over the past few years, I can easily see this passage as Hussie reinterpreting many things Dave said in early Homestuck, especially all his penis jokes. In general, I now partly view this ramble as Hussie providing some philosophical insight into the notions of masculinity and sexuality, and while you could argue he had no reason to shove those discussions into Homestuck, I find it pretty interesting to read regardless. I also find it endearing to see Hussie use his media to discuss philosophical or even political topics, which he does lots and lots of in Psycholonials.
KARKAT: (WHY. WHY ARE THESE WORDS HAPPENING TO OUR CONVERSATION.)
Ah, poor Karkat. He’s not appreciating how intensely philosophical Dave is waxing about masculinity. Maybe he represents oblivious readers even more than John does.
DAVE: i dunno man
DAVE: not sure what youve been doing the last 3 years all riding a large boat, then saving everyone from apocalyptic whatever
DAVE: but ive had a fuck ton of time on my hands to think about stuff
DAVE: about stuff ive said and done in the past why i said and did them
It weirdly feels a little condescending for Dave to be surprised that John never spent time rethinking the ideas of masculinity. Maybe that line is directed once again at readers who were clueless on these matters, and I think I was right back then that John represents such clueless readers. Some people simply don’t think about the fascinating (and confusing!) world of gender and sexuality unless prompted by someone who’s neck deep in those matters, and while all this is flying over John’s head now, it’s easy to imagine him giving earnest thoughts on these topics some time into his life on Earth C.
DAVE: a lot of things i once would have insisted were like part of my brand and helped me come across cool and smartassy
DAVE: but now im not so sure
DAVE: we used rip on each other all the time for being gay even though we knew we werent which of course is what made it “funny” remember
JOHN: i dunno, it was pretty funny, sometimes.
JOHN: it was just a lot of joking around!
DAVE: yeah i know
DAVE: it frankly IS funny to say how gay something is sometimes and lets face it sometimes someone or something is just flat out REALLY fucking gay and theres no two ways about it
Dave’s last line about gay jokes here is an interesting disclaimer on Hussie’s end which makes it clear that this is partly reflecting on his own jokes about homosexuality. It makes me wonder why some readers seem to think this simply is an apology for those jokes. Dave says that sometimes in life, you can’t help but joke about how gay something is, and there’s no getting around that; this is a statement that I must admit I strongly agree with. I guess the intention behind this passage flew over many readers’ heads, huh?
DAVE: its more like that through the preponderance of all that jokey shit is an underlying implication that its all lame stuff for pansies but not like us no were not lame and ha ha thats the joke
DAVE: which thrives on this like double-buried implication that the REAL COOL SHIT is founded on this absurd wanky ideal about masculinity which if you think about it is 1. dumb as fuck 2. the male adulation of masculinity to that extent TO BE HONEST is pretty fucking gay unto itself and 3. was always some totally impossible shit for us to live up to anyway
Is this philosophical ramble on jokes about homosexuality out of place in Homestuck? Maybe not as much as I once thought. Dave’s second point in that numbered list reminds me of Caliborn’s idolization of the concept of masculinity, which the story has compared to homosexuality quite a lot. It also reminds me of how I’ve seen people remark that although men watching girly shows featuring girls is often seen as “gay”, it would make a lot more sense for men watching shows about muscular men fighting each other to be gay. It’s an interesting contradiction when you think about it—where did this backwards idea of guessing sexuality based on one’s favorite works of media even come from?
DAVE: i think all thats mixed up with the same phony ideals about heroism
DAVE: like living up to the storybook idea of what a hero to me feels almost interchangeable with living up to societys snapshot of what a hard manly dude should be
DAVE: i stopped pretending i could ever live up to either thing a while ago
DAVE: and mainly have spent time looking back on the sheer magnitude of all my “joking around”
Rereading this passage really gets me thinking about cultural ideas of heroism. Dave (or rather, Hussie through Dave) is right that “hard manly dude” and “brave noble hero” are more or less synonymous, and I can easily imagine Hussie having that realization as he was writing this passage. This discussion also sheds some light on Dave’s reluctant heroism arc. It seems that during his pre-retcon tirade to Jade about heroism, he already knew the common cultural ideas of heroism are total nonsense.
DAVE: i used to lambaste fuckers left and right grinding them into the pavement over how gay they probably were and how much they were quite possibly jonesin to kiss some dudes or such
DAVE: and i dont really feel bad about it in the sense that it was jerky or like “insensitive” necessarily even though i guess it maybe was
DAVE: more that i feel like it was probably transparent
DAVE: a massive front of outrageous snark to disguise a lot of insecurity
DAVE: like a fuckin coverup
DAVE: as long as i kept clowning hard about it i didnt actually have to think about it or face my actual beliefs
If you think back to Dave’s conversation with Tavros near the end of Act 3, where he slammed a bunch of homoerotic metaphors in that guy’s face, it’s very clear what he’s talking about here. Readers tend to focus too much on the humor of that conversation to think about what insecurities about homosexuality Dave might have been repressing. Hussie back then probably didn’t think too hard about those topics either when writing the conversation, but here he’s thinking back on it and interpreting Dave’s character in a new way. It’s clear throughout this monologue that Hussie is using Dave to reflect on human sexuality, and more such reflection happens in this conversation when Karkat tries to tell John he has a hate crush on Terezi.
JOHN: dave, um.
JOHN: all that’s cool and all, and…
JOHN: i think i mostly agree?
JOHN: ummmm, how do i put this.
JOHN: are you…
JOHN: are you gay now?
DAVE: what no
KARKAT: (THE WORDS. WHY WON’T THE WORDS STOP. DEAR GOD.)
JOHN: i dunno, it sounds to me like you’re trying tell me something here!
DAVE: man no look
JOHN: i mean, it’s ok if you’re gay now!
JOHN: that’s totally cool, if true.
JOHN: i just think…
JOHN: you turning gay would be kind of a weird consequence of me changing the time line around?
JOHN: ok, not “weird”…
JOHN: just, unexpected!
JOHN: i dunno what i did that would account for that.
JOHN: maybe saving one of terezi’s plush toys did some goofy homosexual butterfly effect thing on you?
JOHN: jeez, who knows!
John represents oblivious readers here so well, it’s unreal. He gives genuine thought to the idea that the scalemate shenanigans somehow caused Dave to turn gay, because he is just that clueless. It’s also unknowingly self-important of him to think he was responsible for Dave’s supposed gay awakening. Maybe on a narrative level, Hussie decided it would be good for Dave’s monologue to be directed at John, because John would have no idea what to say, letting Dave ramble sans filter.
DAVE: dude you arent listening
DAVE: although a gay butterfly effect is a pretty funny idea lets not dismiss that as a concept altogether
DAVE: anyway maybe what im tryin to say is sorta getting lost in the weeds here
DAVE: the fact that you were wondering if i “turned gay” makes me think maybe youre still not quite on the wavelength im tryin to ramble on here
DAVE: maybe we should wrestle this topic to the ground another time, theres a lot more id wanna say but this is probably not the venue
DAVE: i mean not literally wrestle to the ground because that is maybe literally the gayest course of action we could possibly take but you know what i mean
KARKAT: (YES! LATER! TALK LATER, BECAUSE THEN THE WORDS WOULD STOP! OH WOULDN’T THAT BE LOVELY.)
Dave is thankfully willing to accept that John doesn’t understand these topics for now. His statement that there’s a lot more he wants to say on these matters is perhaps a statement on Hussie’s end about the philosophical topics he planned to discuss in future media, which he does indeed do in Psycholonials.
JOHN: that’s fine, we can talk about anything you want, any time.
JOHN: i’m just still confused about what you’re getting at, is all.
JOHN: like, what is the bottom line here?
JOHN: are you actually attracted to boys now?
JOHN: do you…
JOHN: did you…
JOHN: like, date any boys?
JOHN: but there weren’t even that many boys on the meteor?
JOHN: well, there’s the clown guy, but i don’t really see you and him…
JOHN: that really only leaves…
JOHN: um, were you and karkat…
JOHN: ARE you and karkat, like.
John finally puts the pieces together about the possibility of Dave and Karkat being in a relationship, and he’s somewhat faltering about it. Is he weirded out by the idea of them being together, or is it more that he knows they would feel awkward elaborating on their relationship? It could just as well be either, but it’s good character development that in the epilogues, he’s fully accepted the idea of them being together.
Karkat, on the other hand…
Even the Mayor looks confused here.
KARKAT: NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO.
KARKAT: I RETREAT TO MY SAFE PLACE, AND YET THE WORDS. THE STUPID FUCKING PRATTLE JOCKEYING LIKE ROWDY BARNBEASTS UP AGAINST THE PARTITIONS OF GOOD FUCKING SENSE AND THE MOST BASIC OF PERSONAL BOUNDARIES.
KARKAT: THE GOD DAMNED BLITHER OF TACTLESS NINCOMPOOPS, HOW IT CONTINUES TO HAUNT MY WRETCHED EARS. THE WORDS SPILL OVER THE SIDE OF THIS ENCHANTED METAL FROG DISCUS, LIKE A BABBLING SPRING IN A MYTHICAL FOREST GOVERNED BY A GUILD OF GOSSIP-HUNGRY LOBOTOMY HOBBITS. THIS DELUGE OF WORDS, LEAKED FROM THE INCONTINENT CREVICES OF TWO BRAINLESS GUSHING YAMMERTWATS, IT OVERFLOWETH, OH HOW IT OVERFLOWETH, SOGGING MY GRAY, PRACTICAL PAIR OF PANTS, THE LEGGINGS OF A SIMPLE MAN. A HUMBLE MAN. IT THEN CONTINUES ITS DOWNWARD TRICKLE, DOUSING MY UNREMARKABLE SHIRT, THE SERVICEABLE GARMENT OF YOUR AVERAGE ALTERNIAN “JOE”, CHILLING THE FRAIL TORSO BENEATH, A PATHETIC DUFFEL OF MEAT WRACKED WITH HEAVY SOBS, SOBS CAUSED BY WORDS, WORDS WHICH CONTINUE TO DRIP. AND SLEUCE. AND SPILL. THREATENING TO DROWN ME. PLEDGING TO. PROMISING! AND YET I WILL NOT DROWN. WHY WON’T I DROWN? PLEASE LET ME DROWN. LET ME DROWN SO THE WORDS WILL BE NO MORE!
We’ve seen Karkat go on embarrassed or frustrated tirades plenty before, but not like THIS. Hussie clearly had way too much fun writing this lengthy rant, and it’s similarly fun to see the snippets we saw from Terezi and Vriska’s conversation in full: they were from nothing more than a tirade about how uncomfortable Karkat is with conversations about his and Dave’s relationship.
JOHN: dave, i’m pretty sure we’re making karkat uncomfortable now.
That’s one hell of an understatement here. I get the feeling that the understatement was deliberate on John’s part, for the sake of humor, or as a light jab to tell him, “we should really talk about something else now”.
DAVE: yeah maybe we should drop this
DAVE: i dunno if you ever picked this up from him but hes a pretty sensitive guy
JOHN: what?? nooooo.
DAVE: its true
DAVE: hes pretty much the easiest dude to rip on and makes for an irresistible target but you also have to know where to draw the line
DAVE: really dont wanna actually you know like
DAVE: upset him
JOHN: yeah, me neither.
John’s obliviousness returns when he denies that Karkat is sensitive. Maybe it’s a result of him never having talked to Karkat before outside a 24-hour timespan,* but that would be a little weird because 24 hours is more than enough time for John to get to know someone.
* Technically not true, considering Karkat and most of the other trolls talked to the kids plenty before John’s 13th birthday, but back then John only knew Karkat as “one of those pesky trolls”.
JOHN: what the fuck is he doing?
DAVE: man i dont know
DAVE: thats just his regular shit
DAVE: like, an every day occurrence but with different bodily positions and geographic configurations
JOHN: i see.
DAVE: bro will you get the fuck up here
DAVE: k suit yourself
John also realizes that Karkat hasn’t stopped expressing his frustration in the most hilarious ways here. Dave describes Karkat’s tantrums with a sense of humor, and it’s nice to see that hasn’t changed after the retcon.
DAVE: um anyway
DAVE: as you can see ive been spending probably way too much time with trolls
JOHN: ha ha.
DAVE: it messes with you
DAVE: gets you thinkin about… stuff
DAVE: you know?
JOHN: i can imagine.
JOHN: i think life was a lot more boring on the ship.
JOHN: but we talked about you all a lot!
JOHN: we would always wonder how you and rose were managing to get along with all those crazy trolls.
JOHN: i think mostly we pictured a lot of arguments.
DAVE: thats not too far off
On the topic of John imagining the meteor journey, it’s weird to consider that for the first two years, he imagined Dave and Rose getting into arguments with Karkat, Vriska, and a bunch of other trolls, before he learned that Vriska was dead. And that ended up being what the post-retcon meteor journey was like! Unlike most of the pre-retcon cast, John spent two whole years not knowing Vriska was dead, and that allowed him to get a good picture of the post-retcon meteor journey.
JOHN: i’m still getting used to having such insane, limitless powers that let me go anywhere i want…
JOHN: it’s tempting to go to time periods like yours and find out what i missed.
JOHN: but i don’t want to mess with too much anymore, since it seems like i got the time line to a nice stable place as it is.
JOHN: so i guess i just have to do what any regular guy does, and imagine fondly what it would be like if i got to travel with you guys.
The good thing about John’s overwhelmingly powerful retcon abilities is that they’re mitigated by how much of a dork he is. He could use those powers to break the entire game, but he simply chooses not to, and he would rather loyally follow others’ instructions anyway.
When talking about troll cultural norms, John brings up the concept of black romance, which Dave says he understands conceptually but has never felt the need to engage in it. I imagine John represents clueless readers once again, because Karkat will soon give some useful elaboration on what black romance means, spelling it out more clearly than ever before.
JOHN: mainly the idea of hating somebody, and translating that into attraction, or some kind of romancey feeling… it feels so alien to me.
JOHN: and you’re right, i have a really hard time even hating anyone in the first place!
JOHN: i mean, i get ANNOYED by people, sure.
DAVE: like who
JOHN: no, not really.
JOHN: well, sometimes, but not much. i always tended to exaggerate my grievances with you, for the sake of laughs.
I find it interesting that Dave seems surprised to learn that John can get annoyed by people. His first guess as to who annoys John is Dave himself, which again shows how long Dave had gone without talking to John. Or maybe it’s more that John had never expressed annoyance at specific people back in the early days, rather silly things like excessive amounts of cake.
JOHN: a better example is, more recently, when i was doing my retcon mission…
JOHN: i was getting REALLY annoyed with terezi and her mind games.
JOHN: it definitely never crossed the line to “hate” though, because we were working together to try and fix a dire situation, and even though she’s weird and insane, she’s otherwise a pretty good friend.
JOHN: but all her needling and japes at totally inappropriate times, when there was so much on the line…
JOHN: argh, it was SO FRUSTRATING.
KARKAT: EGBERT, I HAVE NEWS FOR YOU.
DAVE: whoa hes back!
DAVE: all right side up and everything
KARKAT: I HEARD YOU WERE TALKING ABOUT QUADRANTS, SO I DECIDED TO PAUSE MY TANTRUM.
KARKAT: JOHN, ALL YOU’RE DOING HERE IS DESCRIBING THE SUBTLE FEELINGS WHICH PLANT THE SEED FOR HAVING A CALIGINOUS CRUSH ON SOMEONE.
KARKAT: YOU HEARD ME.
KARKAT: YOU ARE NAIVELY ADMITTING TO STRUGGLING WITH SOME BLACK FEELINGS FOR TEREZI.
KARKAT: SO, THERE YOU GO. QUESTION ANSWERED.
KARKAT: TURNS OUT YOU ARE PERFECTLY CAPABLE OF BLACK ROMANCE.
And here’s where Karkat describes John’s feelings for Terezi as a textbook example of black romance. Back in the quadrants exposition section of Act 5 Act 1, Homestuck had used Jack Noir and the Black Queen as the textbook kismesissitude.* Unlike with Nepeta and Equius, who have succeeded in their narrative role as the textbook moirallegiance,** Hussie clearly started to realize that kismesissitude would benefit from an example with voiced characters. As such, John and Terezi are the new textbook example of black romance, as Karkat elaborates here. This exposition has no doubt helped many fans better understand the idea Hussie was getting at with black romance, much like the elaborations upon prototyping rules in A6A6I5.
* I’m just going to assume that’s how it’s spelled.
** Now that I think of it, all those portmanteau terms for troll romance are EXTREMELY Hussie-like. I can’t explain why, but Hussie has a very distinct style of naming things, which he heavily carried over to Psycholonials.
JOHN: n… no!
KARKAT: A FAIR REBUTTAL. HOWEVER, CONSIDER THIS COUNTERPOINT:
KARKAT: Y… YES???
JOHN: but i don’t HATE her, and i’m sure i never will!
JOHN: i’m just saying i find her, like, somewhat annoying, and REALLY aggravating a lot of the time, but that’s it!
KARKAT: BUT THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT THE FEELING IS!
KARKAT: IT DOESN’T START OUT AS FULL BLOWN ANTIPATHY, AND IT RARELY EVEN REACHES SUCH AN EXTREME LEVEL OF HOSTILITY EVEN OVER LONG TERM BLACK RELATIONSHIPS.
KARKAT: THERE ARE PEAKS TO IT, BUT OTHERWISE A GENERAL EBB AND FLOW TO THE DARK FEELINGS, JUST LIKE WITH FLUSHED RELATIONSHIPS.
JOHN: ok, but…
JOHN: i don’t know if i’m expressing myself clearly.
JOHN: i felt aggravated by her a lot, but that doesn’t fully describe…
JOHN: like, there were those “negative” feelings, but also…
KARKAT: YEAH, THAT’S IT, RIGHT THERE!!!
KARKAT: THE “BUT” IS ALWAYS PART OF IT.
When rereading Homestuck with Karkat’s explanation of black romance ingrained in your head, John’s faltering statements about how he doesn’t think his thoughts on Terezi count as a hate crush are very amusing. It’s like John is having a meeting with a psychologist where he ends up demonstrating the very same phenomena that the psychologist is trying to tell him about.
KARKAT: WHAT YOU’RE *TRYING* TO SAY IS, YOU HAD FRUSTRATED, NEGATIVE EMOTIONS TOWARD HER, BUT THEY DON’T COMPREHENSIVELY ACCOUNT FOR YOUR ATTITUDE TOWARD HER.
KARKAT: MEANING, THERE ARE SOME THINGS ABOUT HER YOU ACTUALLY LIKE, BUT THE NEGATIVE FEELINGS MAKE IT HARD FOR YOU TO PUT YOUR FINGER ON THEM, OR EVEN WANT TO ACKNOWLEDGE THEM.
KARKAT: THAT IS ABSOLUTELY STANDARD. WHAT GOOD WOULD IT BE HAVING A KISMESIS WHO DIDN’T POSSESS QUALITIES YOU ACTUALLY ADMIRED ON SOME LEVEL?
KARKAT: THAT WOULD BE BORING, AND IT WOULDN’T EVEN WORK. THERE’D BE NO TENSION, NO PUSH AND PULL IN THE TURBULENT EMOTIONAL LANDSCAPE.
Here’s where Karkat truly starts to clarify misconceptions, almost like an episode of Mythbusters. Just like how some fans think “moirail” is a synonym for “best friend”, it’s commonly thought that pure hatred is all there is to black romance, and Karkat tells us how ridiculous it would be to date someone who you have no feelings for other than flat-out loathing. Begrudging admiration is a natural part of rivalry in general; I’ve seen lots of people compare Batman and the Joker’s relationship to black romance for this reason. This passage is also one of many times late Homestuck tells us that trolls and humans aren’t as different as one may think, which is quite a strong recurring theme.
KARKAT: THE SUBTLE POSITIVES ADD FUEL TO THE NEGATIVE FEELINGS, OFTEN GIVING THEM A REASON TO EXIST AT ALL. THEY INFLAME THE AGGRAVATING FACTORS, REMINDING YOU DEEP DOWN HOW MUCH YOU WOULD LIKE AND ADMIRE THIS PERSON IF IT WASN’T FOR ALL THEIR INFURIATING FLAWS, AND THE INCREDIBLE SENSE OF FRUSTRATION THAT CAUSES ALONG WITH ALL THE ASSOCIATED HOT-HEADED FEELINGS, THAT’S THE ESSENCE OF BLACK ROMANCE.
KARKAT: AND THE POSITIVE QUALITIES YOU SEE DEEP DOWN IN A KISMESIS ALSO SERVE AS THE BASIS FOR RED FEELINGS TOWARD THAT PERSON, ASSUMING THE RELATIONSHIP EVER STARTS TO VACILLATE.
KARKAT: IT’S ALL PRETTY STRAIGHTFORWARD, REALLY.
JOHN: no… this is messed up!
DAVE: i dunno john it all sounds pretty logical to me
DAVE: karkat knows his shit when it comes to quadrants
And in case any readers think Karkat is talking out of his ass here, Dave reminds us that Karkat has always been a savant on the matters of troll romance. This should dispel any doubt that Hussie is using this conversation to clarify what black romance means.
JOHN: it can’t be true though…
JOHN: it feels so fucked up!
JOHN: what if you’re right though… erg! no…
JOHN: no, no, no, no…
KARKAT: THAT’S PART OF IT TOO!
KARKAT: THE “NO NO NO” IS ALL PART OF THE FEELING. THAT’S HOW IT *ALWAYS* GOES.
KARKAT: THIS SENSE OF SELF INCRIMINATION WHEN IT’S DAWNING ON YOU THAT YOU HAVE THESE CONFLICTING FEELINGS TOWARD SOMEONE WHO BUGS YOU SO MUCH.
KARKAT: OH MY GOD, THIS WHOLE REACTION IS SO FUCKING TEXTBOOK. IT’S HILARIOUS, REALLY.
JOHN: it’s fucked up though!!!
KARKAT: IT’S SUPPOSED TO FEEL FUCKED UP!
JOHN: aw, man. 😦
Karkat’s exposition about black romance, with his usage of John’s feelings for Terezi as a textbook example, makes for another example of this conversation’s motif of rethinking cultural norms, both on humans’ and trolls’ sides. It also could serve as Hussie telling readers, “hey, you can put your human characters in troll romance ships all you want, I really have better things to worry about than your silly fanfics.”
JOHN: i just wanted to have a nice catch-up chat, not get so transparently owned at the trollmances.
DAVE: it happens to the best of us sooner or later
DAVE: this crap is kind of old hat to me by now but i get why youre kinda freckling at the implications here
DAVE: you didnt have years of livin with trolls to kinda normalize this stuff
JOHN: i don’t think i want it to feel normalized though!
JOHN: i’m not ready to…
JOHN: like, admit that… i have some warped spade crush on her, based on…
JOHN: some feeling i don’t understand and makes no sense to me!
JOHN: oh god… what if it’s true??
JOHN: i have to try as hard as i can to suppress this feeling and make sure i never think about it again!
DAVE: ok sounds like a weenie thing to do but sure have fun with that
Dave has a lot of experience with repressing feelings, and considering he’s starting to grow past that, it’s only natural that he jabs at John for considering doing the same.
After Dave and Karkat promise not to tell anyone about John’s supposed hate crush, John reflects a bit more on how confusing it is for humans to experience troll romance.
JOHN: this is really confusing though.
JOHN: assuming you’re right, and i am “busted” on having those feelings… and i’m not even saying you aren’t.
JOHN: i thought humans weren’t supposed to be able to feel stuff like that?
KARKAT: LIKE WHAT EXACTLY?
JOHN: like, perceive and feel romantic stuff, in the same way trolls do.
JOHN: because we’re aliens to each other!
JOHN: well ok, humans can feel the gay stuff pretty often, i guess.
JOHN: i didn’t think we could feel the spade stuff, though.
JOHN: i dunno, i just thought it was some screwy biological difference?
DAVE: nah i disagree
DAVE: both humans and trolls are emotionally versatile sentient beings that can feel many hells of different things
Dave raises one hell of a good point here. Emotion is a complex and nuanced topic, one that you often can’t put into limiting formulaic terms. When Dave puts it that way, it’s weird to imagine emotions that one intelligent species can feel but another intelligent species cannot. This line opens the possibility for more characters having arcs where they rethink cultural norms, which is something that fanfictions love to do.
DAVE: so uh
DAVE: this has been a hell of a reminiscence so far
DAVE: seriously though i wasnt actually intending to fork this like instantaneously in the direction of some like
DAVE: legitimately sincere dialogue on fuckin sexuality and romance
DAVE: i didnt plan on this dude you gotta believe me
JOHN: i believe you!
JOHN: it’s been cool though.
It’s always a fun feeling when a conversation blooms into something far greater than anticipated, even going into sincere reflections on life and cultural norms. That’s the beauty of reunions right there, and John and Dave both know that well.
DAVE: did we cover everything
JOHN: probably not?
JOHN: oh, right.
JOHN: you dated jade for a while, so there’s that.
DAVE: whoa what
JOHN: i mean, dave sprite did.
JOHN: and of course i mean, the one from my time, obviously not the one from this time, who died i guess before that happened.
JOHN: man, that still just seems… so sad.
JOHN: i guess even when you fix things, not everything can be perfect.
DAVE: howd that go
DAVE: me and jade
DAVE: him and jade
JOHN: ok, i guess.
JOHN: my sense was, it was kind of dramatic overall.
JOHN: i’m not sure it was the best relationship, probably because of dave sprite’s uh…
JOHN: “unique issues”.
JOHN: but there were a lot of fun memories.
JOHN: i’ll tell you about them some time. maybe when jade is awake, because i’m sure she’d want to know too!
It’s so easy to forget how much Jade got the short end of the stick post-retcon. Although Jade first learns about her relationship with Davesprite from Davepetasprite^2, she probably learned a lot more after the kids all settled on Earth C, and I presume that’s when she started the weird love triangle with Dave and Karkat. I imagine that Jade’s loneliness pre-retcon is a big part of why her understanding of social cues in the epilogues is so irritatingly low. Jade didn’t deserve this, come on.
Oh boy, here’s the fun part of this conversation. I say “fun” because this is where John and Dave talk about Roxy, and John has an incredibly fun and adorable dynamic with Roxy. It’s the last major piece of dialogue teasing John/Roxy before the comic weirdly switches to teasing Roxy/Calliope, so I better make this count.
DAVE: the girl you came with
DAVE: roses mom
DAVE: whats she like
JOHN: she’s nice!!!
JOHN: really nice.
JOHN: she is fun and easy to talk to…
JOHN: it almost feels like she has always been one of our friends, you know?
John’s description of Roxy is incredibly sweet, especially when he says it almost feels like she has always been one of his friends. Can you please appreciate how sweet he is being?? He’s being completely sincere and not exaggerating his opinion on Roxy in the slightest; he genuinely considers her to be a wonderful person through and through. Tell me that isn’t completely adorable.
DAVE: how uh
DAVE: how long have you and she actually been traveling together
JOHN: not too long.
JOHN: we only met like a day ago, i mean, from my perspective.
JOHN: she’s been through some really difficult stuff recently.
JOHN: well, we both have, actually.
JOHN: but i feel like it was all… a bit more personal for her?
JOHN: being on her adventure, then suddenly losing all her friends, and watching rose die right there, while she’d been kinda viewing rose as a version of her mom…
JOHN: i was just some goofball drifting randomly here and there between realities, so i was mostly just confused by everything.
JOHN: but for her, i could tell it was all really devastating.
JOHN: i’m so happy she gets to be with rose again!!!!!!!!!!
JOHN: not to mention all her other friends!
JOHN: for some reason i feel happier for her getting to reunite with people she lost than i do for myself.
John is again being unbelievably sweet, and I insist once more that you appreciate how sweet he is being. He’s doing a great job empathizing with Roxy and seems to be putting her feelings above his own. He isn’t even acting nervous about this blatant crush because he’s oblivious to his own romantic feelings.
DAVE: it sounds like you like her
JOHN: i do!
DAVE: no i mean
DAVE: actually like her
JOHN: … uh, hm.
JOHN: i don’t know.
DAVE: wow dude after one day maybe you should slow your roll
JOHN: i didn’t say i did though!!!
DAVE: im joking its fine who cares
JOHN: oh, ok.
Dave’s snarky line about John being smitten with Roxy after only a day says a lot about John’s character, specifically his tendency to form strong relationships over short periods of time. That’s part of John’s unique attachment to canon events, since almost all events from his perspective take place either on his 13th or 16th birthday; a handful of them on the two birthdays in between. When Dave says he was just joking, that indicates he’s well aware of his peculiar trait of John’s.
DAVE: shes my mom isnt she
JOHN: i’m not sure if we should keep thinking about all our relations that way.
JOHN: it’s kinda weird!
DAVE: is it
DAVE: do you feel weird about dating my mom is that it
JOHN: i’m not dating her though!
DAVE: but if you did
DAVE: then you wouldnt wanna think of her like that because of like the familial weirdtimes it invokes
JOHN: i don’t know. i…
JOHN: i don’t know if i’m ready for every single “deep” conversation we can squeeze into this wacky rapid fire session of fun pal-talk!
While Rose would prefer to think of Roxy simply as “Roxy” to turn a new page in their relationship, John has a different reason not to think of her as Rose’s or Dave’s mother. Not just out of romantic interest, but also because he views her as a cool and nice friend who he can have a good time with just like his fellow beta kids.
DAVE: i think i like thinking of her as my mom
DAVE: even if its a lil weird
JOHN: you do?
DAVE: not sure
DAVE: i never even stopped and thought about it before
DAVE: the idea of what it would be like to have a mom
DAVE: instead of a hyper-aggressive lunatic of an adult male guardian
DAVE: i never let myself give it a second of consideration
DAVE: but now
DAVE: seeing her actually here even though shes just some teen girl i never met
DAVE: i like the idea
DAVE: its nice
JOHN: ok, that’s actually kind of cute.
DAVE: yeah i guess it kind of fucking is
Dave, on the other hand, likes thinking of Roxy as his mother, and the reason why is very endearing, perhaps even more endearing than the things John has said about Roxy. Reading this passage for the first time, I remember thinking, “I never thought of Dave having a mom before either, that’s really cute.” And I bet even Hussie had never thought of that before. Even Dave himself admits it’s cute, demonstrating a massive hole in his “cool dude” personality.
JOHN: alright, well.
JOHN: no matter what happens, it’s ok with me if you want to think of her that way. 🙂
And so, this conversation ends on a surprisingly sweet note: John telling Dave he’s OK with him thinking of Roxy as his mom. Even though he gets queasy at the idea of dating his friend’s mom, Dave’s idea of Roxy as his mom is adorable enough that he easily accepts it.
And that ends John, Dave, and Karkat’s lengthy conversation! It’s probably my favorite in the entire select screen since it goes through so many character relationships and philosophical topics, and I now happily include Dave’s monologue about masculinity among those topics.
Did you read through this entire post start to finish? If you didn’t, then I can’t blame you. This is one of my longest Homestuck posts, and I doubt any remaining ones in this post series will be longer than this one—you never know though!
See you next time as I go through the bottom half of the character select screen, which isn’t quite as long as the top half. Only twelve posts left!!!