Cookie Fonster’s Homestuck Reflections Part 131: Meeting of the Contrasting Muses

Introduction

< Part 130 | Part 131 | Part 132 >

Act 6 Act 6 Intermission 5, Part 5 of 12

Pages 7561-7634

I feel like I should mention that a friend of mine who doesn’t know anything about Homestuck recently joked about me doing blog posts analyzing Danganronpa, which I don’t know anything about.

(I really hope I didn’t jinx myself there.)

Finishing the transition from last post, Skaian clouds take us to Jade, Jane, and Calliope on the yellow spiral cherubic stage thing. The zoom-in is much less grandiose than the zoom-out from the victory platform was.

*sigh*

It’s not that I hate the dream bubble scenes in A6A6I4 and A6A6I5 with Jade, Jane, and/or Calliope. It’s just that when I try to comment on and analyze those scenes, I spend big chunks of them being completely stumped as to what to say about them, so I kind of just end up going through them quickly and picking out a few bits of dialogue that I do have something to say about. And this scene is no exception: Jane asks when and how she can wake up, Calliope offers to wake her up the same way she woke Rose and Roxy to cut short their reunion in Act 6 Act 5, but then something else happens to the stage and spiral.

Specifically, the stage disappears, and the spiral glows and curls downward, leading to a slapstick sequence where the three girls slide down the spiral. What can I say, you can never go wrong with slapstick.

I love that Jade falls on her face at the end of the slide, unlike Jane. It fits with how spacey and dreamy she’s always been, even when in dream bubbles. It might also fit with how her manners aren’t quite as formal and proper as Jane’s are.

(Yes, I chose to analyze Jade falling on her face at the end of a slide, of all things. Never tell me my Homestuck posts have skewed priorities.)

Please stop and appreciate how cool this lair looks.

The slide takes the girls to a memory of Echidna’s lair, which Jade recognizes as such. She’s not sure if it’s her own memory or someone else’s, which hints at them meeting god tier Calliope. I must say, after the lackluster art in the frog platform scenes, the detailed and colorful design of Echidna’s lair is a refreshing change of pace. It’s very much befitting for one of the two “big deal denizens” as Vriska put it.

The dream bubble memory of Echidna’s lair also hints at Kanaya and Karkat visiting the place a little later.

Before the dream bubble scene can continue, Jane wakes up and comically bounces around. There are two interesting details to note in the panel above. First, the brief red flash of “DISOBEY” is a satisfying subversion of the creepy subliminal messaging that came from Jane’s tiaratop. Second, Jane bumps into Rosesprite without getting prototyped into her, and I’m not sure if Rosesprite dodged the bump or if Jane hit her lightly enough not to end up prototyped. Jasprosesprite^2 later says that a brief physical interaction won’t cause sprites to be prototyped, and maybe this scene was intended as an example of such an interaction.

Readers at this point presumed Arquiusprite would immediately head off to the events of Caliborn’s Masterpiece, but they weren’t quite right.

OK, now the callbacks are getting ridiculous. I’m not kidding, these are three consecutive panels, and they each call back to three different scenes with no relation to each other. The first one with Jane spaced out or something is just mystifying; the second one is the most natural and logical of the callbacks (specifically to Vriska waking from her knockout in confusion); and the third I guess was done just because Hussie didn’t want to draw Jane and Roxy full-out hugging. Or maybe it’s a similar deal to not showing Karkat and Terezi in hugging in full, considering that some fans really enjoy imagining Jane and Roxy making out? Whatever, the first and third are really weird callbacks. I’m OK with the second one though.

ROXY: JANE!!!!!
ROXY: ur wake!

JANE: Roxy?????
JANE: U’r alive!
JANE: Er, you’re!
ROXY: so are you!
ROXY: you were dead last time i saw you and also before i found u sleepin here but now ur awake and also alive!

JANE: Yeah!
JANE: You were dead too, because I…
JANE: But now you’re??
JANE: Oh god, Roxy, I’m so sorry I,
JANE: I wasn’t thinking straight when…
JANE: Please forgive me. 😦
ROXY: aw janey you dont gotta worry about whatever sad incident that frowns about
ROXY: thats all water under a bridge from a reality i got no recollection of and therefore dont matter at all
ROXY: by which i mean……
ROXY: this reality here, so ok the reality is still KIND of relevant because we are literally inside of it atm
ROXY: but im new here!
ROXY: i came over to keep being roxy since the old one died or whatever thru hecka debacles

JANE: That… is quite an explanation!
JANE: Jeez, I missed you.

This is… a weirdly fast reconciliation. Jane and Roxy both seem WAY too okay with the fact that after Roxy was accidentally killed when Jane intended to kill Rose, she was replaced with a totally new alternate timeline version of Roxy. I get the feeling that Hussie wanted to quickly get this scene out of the way before creating Jasprosesprite^2 and going back to the dream bubble arc, which results in some unnaturally quick reunions. I also feel like the only Jane conversation that Hussie felt was obligatory for A6A6I5 was Jane/Nannasprite, and what can I say? One is better than none, that’s for sure.

ROXY: cmere u extravagant bitch!!!
JANE: Hahah!
JANE: (Wait… what?)

Roxy’s usage of the phrase “extravagant bitch” shows how quickly she’s realized her long-sought bond with Rose. Rose used the phrase to describe Vriska, and Roxy seems to have found the phrase hilarious—why else would she casually use it when reuniting with Jane?

JOHN: the hug pile doesn’t stop from getting taller.
ROSE: ?
JOHN: the hug pile! there are more hugs, rose.
ROSE: I can see the hugs. I don’t understand the pile thing.
JOHN: oh. don’t you remember?
JOHN: a funny quote from one of dave’s old comics!
ROSE: Ah. Yes, vaguely.
ROSE: It’s been a long journey, John.
ROSE: I believe one of the most valuable lessons that comes with growing up is gaining the wisdom that gently informs you when it’s time to retire a meme.

JOHN: heh…
JOHN: i guess i never earned that handy badge, or whatever.

One of my favorite things about A6A6I5, which I don’t see people talk much about, is John and Rose’s playful banter that lightly touches the fourth wall at times. It’s endearing to see them poke at each other, showing how long they’ve been friends and how well they know each other, and thankfully not in a stereotypical “first male and first female character have turbulent romantic tension” sort of way. To start things off, Rose gives us a mildly poignant remark that signals that Homestuck is nearing its end, specifically about retiring memes as you grow up. I feel like putting memes to rest once you’ve joked about them long enough is a valuable skill to learn, and I think I’ve learned to do that myself… well, sometimes, maybe. It takes a while for me to accept when to retire a meme, but the benefit is that sometimes the meme is a lot funnier if you do it post-retirement for old time’s sake. It’s also worth keeping in mind that SBaHJ has always been Homestuck’s in-universe source of memes, making it relevant to Rose’s statement on retiring memes.

Oh, who am I kidding. Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff is a timeless masterwork. Still, I wouldn’t say it’s exempt from the rules of meme etiquette.

JOHN: i like this, though. every time someone wakes up, or pops out of nowhere, it’s fun times all over again.
JOHN: i feel like i should be playing reunion bingo.
JOHN: who will be next??
JOHN: my money is on the long awaited and insanely poignant reunion between me and casey the salamander.
ROSE: Surely you mean the dear Viceroy Bubbles Von Salamancer, right?
ROSE: And instead of you, you mean me.
ROSE: That’s when the real tears will flow.

JOHN: what do you think she’s up to?
ROSE: He.
JOHN: no, she is my beautiful daughter. :p

Amidst their jokey bickering, John and Rose both easily accept that they’ve given conflicting names to that innocent little yellow salamander. John knows not to take his love of Con Air as seriously as he used to and playfully refers to Casey as his beautiful daughter, while Rose treats Viceroy as simply a fun little memory from the beta session.

ROSESPRITE: Something tells me the good Viceroy has been busy.
ROSE: Oh?
ROSESPRITE: I sense he’s been… scheming.
ROSESPRITE: Plotting.
ROSESPRITE: Biding his time.
ROSESPRITE: Accruing dark legions.
ROSE: That sure is a thing that would be dumb, if true.
ROSESPRITE: Yeah.

Ah, the whole arc with VBVS’s skeleton army. The narration and presentation of the arc was so satirical that I’m surprised in retrospect that fans took it as a serious plot point when it ended up just as a gag scene in Collide. Rose even remarks that the skeleton army arc would be dumb if true.

JOHN: hi nanna!
JOHN: jane, i mean.
JOHN: sorry, it’s an easy mistake to make, because you’re my nanna!
ROXY: lol
ROXY: real smooth shit john

JANE: Hello!
JANE: A pleasure to meet you, John. Or, poppop, as I used to know you.

JOHN: hehe, yeah so i heard!
JANE: You look so…
JANE: Young.

JOHN: thanks!
JOHN: so do you.
JOHN: my nanna, who used to be ashes on my fireplace, regained her old womanly visage when i turned her into a sprite, and she helped me along the way.
JOHN: so nanna is a sprite! did you know that?
JANE: Um… no?
JOHN: i thought you should know that. she’s probably around somewhere. i hope you can meet her.
JOHN: oh, also, i’m your son technically. did you know that??
JANE: Yes.
JANE: It is… a pretty strange fact!
JANE: But also pretty cool.

JOHN: yup!

It’s pretty disappointing that this is all John and Jane have to say to each other, especially compared to all the grandiose reunions that other characters went through. It really feels like Hussie just wanted to quickly get this scene out of the way, like he knows a lot of fans don’t give a shit about Jane, and all he does is make them even give less of a shit about Jane, which is very unfortunate and bad.

ROXY: ooh jane thats my daughter there say hi to her!!!
JANE: Hi!
ROSE: Hi, John’s hot mom.
ROSE: (Aw shit.)

JANE: Haha…?
ROXY: also thats umm ANOTHER version of rose who died and then i buried and a stupid cat unburied her for some reason and prototyped her
ROXY: so say hello to my cool floaty double daughter!

JANE: Hi, Roxy’s hot double daughter.
ROSESPRITE: 😀
ROSESPRITE: (Rose Prime, I believe you may have just been owned.)
ROSE: (God damn Dave’s contagious-ass Freudian boners.)

As for Rose and Jane… they weren’t an essential combination of characters anyway, so them not saying much to each other I can forgive.

Man, I really wish I had something interesting to say about Jane and Roxy catching up. They have a somewhat substantial amount of dialogue here, but it’s all just simple catch-up talk, nothing I can get any cool character analysis from. Roxy brings up her plan to revive Calliope with the Ring of Life, and everyone being warm and happy gives Jaspersprite a mischievous idea:

JASPERSPRITE: Meow im so happy!
ROXY: frigglish u silly bastard whats up?
JASPERSPRITE: Purr purr purr…
JASPERSPRITE: All the humans being so close together and happy and friendly purr purr.
JASPERSPRITE: Its making me really excited and happy too and making me feel like i want to be a part of everything!
JASPERSPRITE: Purr purr and get close to a nearby person and be happy at them with my body purrrr…
ROSESPRITE: Jaspers, what are you…
JASPERSPRITE: I cant help it rose i want to cuddle im feeling so pleased and friendly! :3 :3 :3
ROSESPRITE: Jaspers, no,
ROSESPRITE: No, don’t!

Jaspersprite’s sprite senses are tingling. Remembering through Sburb knowledge that Rosesprite has been prototyped only once, his cat instincts lead him to upgrade Rosesprite in a mischievous and catlike way:

ALICE IN WONDERLOND
“THIS IS WHAT THE REFRANCE”

JASPROSESPRITE^2: Meow meow motherfuckers.

Yep, this sure just happened. Whether you like it or not, squared sprites are a thing now. You may ask why they would be a thing, but a much better question is: why would they not be a thing?

It feels like Hussie regretted being so lackluster with the alpha kids’ sprites pre-retcon: two of them barely said anything and then exploded, and Erisolsprite is just an extreme grouch, leaving Arquiusprite as the only one worth retaining. Since the alpha kids didn’t have anything predestined to be prototyped in them (you know, void session and all), Hussie probably figured, why not have some more fun with them this time around? Just like how he made stuff up as he went along when it comes to sprite powers, he’s going to do even more of that with squared sprites. Our first look at Jasprosesprite^2 already tells us how much Hussie is improvising: her design combines the usual sprite character combinations with Rose’s dream self outfit. Why her dream self outfit, you may ask? I say again: why not her dream self outfit? Another sign of this improvisation is that as a squared sprite, Jasprose has legs again. If you ask why she would have legs again, you should really be asking why she wouldn’t have legs again.

Oh yeah, as for the text, Jasprose’s first line is a callback to a memorable line from Davesprite (though not his first line). “Meow meow motherfuckers” is something that neither Rose nor Jaspersprite would ever say normally, indicating that their personalities have blended in a glorious and truly unprecedented way. It’s one of the callbacks in A6A6I5 that I’m OK with.

ROXY: why is everything always so wonderful

That’s the best fucking question anyone ever asked. Maybe not THE best, but it’s certainly up there. It’s a great way to end this scene and get readers hyped for what Jasprose turns out to be like.

Back to the dream bubbles, we see that Lord English’s cracks in paradox space are closing in even on the dark dream bubble where god tier Calliope resides. This shows that there isn’t much time left for English’s defeat, which is obviously something Vriska is destined to do.

CALLIOPE: welcome back, jade.

This shocking flash of green, together with the plain and deadpan line quoted above, is a cool and fitting way for god tier Calliope to enter the scene.

Look at those spooky black eyes. They’re much scarier than ghost trolls’ white eyes.

Yep, this is the “lost cherub” who we first learned about in Openbound, seen in person at long last. God tier Calliope quickly shows how cold and serious she is compared to regular Calliope, first through a few joyless lines and then by doing the following:

With no words, she went ahead and got rid of non-god tier Calliope’s trollsona just like that. God tier Calliope has no interest in such playful endeavors, and she would rather see her alternate self for who she is. This soon leads up to Calliope’s arc of Roxy encouraging her to be more comfortable with her cherubic appearance, and I’ve always found that arc to be unbearably saccharine, but I’ll probably discuss that more next post.

And here the two Calliopes are, meeting in person at long last. With Calliope’s trollsona removed, it becomes clear that the only physical difference between them is that god tier Calliope has green circles on her cheeks instead of spirals, indicating her predomination. Other than that, they’re deep down the same person… well, VERY deep down.

CALLIOPE: forgive my faltering, miss…
CALLIOPE: Um, miss calliope.
CALLIOPE: i don’t know what to do.
CALLIOPE: am i sUpposed to ask you something?
CALLIOPE: no.
CALLIOPE: but you may if you wish.

CALLIOPE: ah.
CALLIOPE: in that case…
CALLIOPE: jade told me that yoU enjoy telling stories, like me.
CALLIOPE: is that trUe?
CALLIOPE: i used to.
CALLIOPE: long ago i would tell stories to myself, for the sake of amusement.
CALLIOPE: now i only tell them to others, when it serves a purpose.

Although god tier Calliope says that she only tells stories when it serves a purpose, Jade stated back in A6A6I4 that god tier Calliope “seemed to really like telling stories”. I’d guess that god tier Calliope takes just as much pleasure in telling stories now, just that she’s grown too cold and stern to internally consider it a pleasure. I like that Jade could easily tell that god tier Calliope shares her other self’s adoration of storytelling, showing that they’re at least a little more similar than either would want to admit.

CALLIOPE: my death was the very end, of course.
CALLIOPE: when telling a story of the end, where does one begin?
CALLIOPE: at the true beginning, or one of the many points between disguised as such?
CALLIOPE: in a story of the end, which events preceding the final moment itself shall be considered extraneous?
CALLIOPE: for me, none were.
CALLIOPE: for you, all are.
CALLIOPE: it simply depends how long you’re willing to listen, and for how long you have.
CALLIOPE: … how long do i have?
CALLIOPE: now that you’re here,
CALLIOPE: not long at all.

Jade had described god tier Calliope’s style of storytelling as chilling and poetic, but the only way to truly understand that style is to experience it firsthand. God tier Calliope is getting my head spinning thinking about the concept of beginnings and endings, especially how Homestuck begins with John Egbert standing in his bedroom about to start the B1 Sburb session even though the Alternian trolls’ session came before that, and the Beforan trolls’ session came before that. Was John standing in his bedroom truly the beginning of Homestuck’s events? Or was it Meenah running off to Beforus’s moon because she didn’t want to inherit the throne of such a goober planet? Was it Calliope and Caliborn’s birth? Karkat creating all 24 baby trolls in his lab? Caliborn predominating? Calliope predominating? Whichever you’d consider the beginning, god tier Calliope would no doubt scoff at John for his conceptions of narrative relevance (which are very different from Vriska’s conceptions of narrative relevance). And don’t even get me started on what she’d think of his idea of who is and isn’t “real” in the Candy Epilogue.

… OK, I kind of got lost in this tangent. Let’s continue god tier Calliope’s story.

CALLIOPE: oh.
CALLIOPE: i’d want to listen to as mUch as possible!
CALLIOPE: in whatever amoUnt of time i have, if yoU please.

CALLIOPE: from the true beginning, then, and moving swiftly.
CALLIOPE: i began the same as you.
CALLIOPE: vulnerable, weak, but without the comfort of others, to whom those flaws would endear me.
CALLIOPE: so i became strong, and killed my brother.
CALLIOPE: i wore him down. i ate his soul. i dressed my words in his blood to hear victory every time i spoke.

Seems like in her timeline, god tier Calliope overtook Caliborn’s personality in the same way that he overtook hers: changing her text’s color to remind her of her victory and ditching her typing quirk in favor of having consistent capitalization. God tier Calliope getting rid of her uppercase U’s symbolizes her maturation quite well, since she no longer has a goofy typing quirk of any sort. And yet, it’s directly parallel to Caliborn ditching his lowercase u’s, which represents his maturation in a much more humorous and satirical way. Caliborn realized it was much easier to just type all caps, which led Hussie’s self-insert to sarcastically pat him on the back; much more humorous than Calliope’s quirk ditching.

I find it nice that for once in A6A6I5, these panels only have modest amounts of text below.
Makes this storytelling sequence a lot more effective.

CALLIOPE: i consumed his strength, too. it was always in me, just as yours was in him.
CALLIOPE: but being strong was not enough.
CALLIOPE: a dead session is an impossible time challenge.
CALLIOPE: the planets detonate sooner and sooner, one by one. it is a trial designed to be unwinnable.
CALLIOPE: a muse of space could never solve it. but a lord of time could, with relentless perseverence.
CALLIOPE: it could only be him.

Through contrast, god tier Calliope indirectly demonstrates how much of a monumental achievement it was for Caliborn to beat his dead session: those sessions simply aren’t meant for any Sburb player to beat. It’s like a secret ultra hard mode that only someone with INSANE amounts of perseverance could complete.

CALLIOPE: my brother?
CALLIOPE: yes.
CALLIOPE: i was never meant to rise to the place he holds because the game was rigged.
CALLIOPE: tilted in favor of his aspect.

God tier Calliope claims that the dead session’s challenge was tilted in favor of Caliborn’s aspect, and she may well be right… or she could be completely wrong and still fall victim to her other self’s obsession with classpect theories. On the one hand, Caliborn has a grip on paradox space that makes it bend to his will, so it makes sense that the dead session’s challenge would be tilted to favor a time player. On the other hand, I don’t think Caliborn used time powers to beat the challenge—sure, he unlocked leprechauns with time powers, but as far as I can tell, he simply went to each planet and detonated them all as efficiently as he could. I’m inclined to think that god tier Calliope wasn’t quite right about thinking the challenge was specifically biased towards time players, and that this line indicates that she hasn’t totally gotten over thinking of everything in terms of classpects.

CALLIOPE: having gained immortality, i could sit forever in a spent dead session.

Another thing that the Calliope who predominated and the Caliborn who predominated have in common: they don’t consider it too important or special that they went god tier. Both of them casually bring up going god tier without making a big deal of it, and Calliope especially mentions it only in passing.

CALLIOPE: or i could seek counsel with the mother of monsters.
CALLIOPE: and that is why you stand in my memory of her lair.

Does god tier Calliope know what it means for Echidna to be the “mother of monsters”, or is she just using it as a poetic term? I’m betting it’s the latter, because despite everything, she’s still, well, Calliope. It’s amusing that Vriska is the only character to question what the phrase “mother of monsters” means, which she did not many pages ago.

CALLIOPE: her choice was simple, and i accepted.
CALLIOPE: she mercifully ended my life, then and there.
CALLIOPE: less mercifully is what came in exchange.
CALLIOPE: my soul would have to wait here.
CALLIOPE: for what felt like a very, very long time.
CALLIOPE: wait for what?
CALLIOPE: you.
CALLIOPE: echidna told me that your visit would be my signal.
CALLIOPE: an indication that the furthest ring around me had uncoiled itself momentarily, enough to be navigable.
CALLIOPE: it would mean it was time for me to go, and fulfill the rest of my promise to her.
CALLIOPE: so that is what i will do.

God tier Calliope made the opposite dead session choice from Caliborn: the path of the martyr instead of the conqueror. Her choice fits the nature of passive classes to a T, since the sacrifice is assured to be for the greater good of paradox space, cancelling out the wrath of Lord English.

CALLIOPE: i… see.
CALLIOPE: then what aboUt me?
CALLIOPE: what do you mean.
CALLIOPE: i was Under the impression i needed to find yoU, and…
CALLIOPE: apparently that was trUe. so that yoU can leave. bUt…
CALLIOPE: i thoUght this encoUnter might,
CALLIOPE: hold some pUrpose for me?
CALLIOPE: that yoU might let me know how i fit into everything, from this moment onward.
CALLIOPE: your only relevance here, and to the greater good, was to function as my signal.
CALLIOPE: a simple notification, as foretold by echidna.
CALLIOPE: now that you are here, i can go.

Regular Calliope learns here that she only has minimal narrative relevance, especially in the quest to defeat Lord English—quite tragically low compared to her god tier self. And instead of doing something cool and heroic herself, it’s OBVIOUSLY better for Roxy to give ridiculously sappy words to her.

Complaints about Roxy and Calliope’s relationship aside, it really is poignant to consider how little relevance non-god tier Calliope ended up having. I also have to wonder how much Roxy’s words of encouragement worked in the long run, considering the events of the epilogues.

CALLIOPE: bUt then…
CALLIOPE: what shoUld i do?

CALLIOPE: you don’t need to do anything.
CALLIOPE: be who you’ve become, and who i didn’t.
CALLIOPE: consume the fruits of an existence i could never understand.
CALLIOPE: live.

Coming from god tier Calliope, these words to regular Calliope are quite powerful: dryly telling her to live the ordinary and happy life that her god tier self never could. This might be a cool subversion of the idea of heroic fulfillment, but thinking of how Roxy says the same thing in much more long-winded ways, I just feel like someone barfed candy in my mouth again. It’s not your fault, god tier Calliope! Trust me, it’s not your fault.

Speaking of Roxy…

Yep, it’s callback time! First to Roxy’s first dream encounter with Calliope, then to John giving Roxy the Ring of Life at the end of A6A6I4:

… with a callback to [S] Caliborn: Enter thrown in as well.

As I said in several earlier posts, this callback symbolizes the tragic side of John and Roxy’s relationship: John unwittingly plays a part in getting Roxy into an ambiguous relationship with Calliope, and presumably his awkwardness prevented them from properly getting together (at least until post-canon events). If you think I’m going all “bluh bluh token heterosexual couple”, that’s because John and Roxy are INSANELY cute together, and Roxy and Calliope unfortunately just can’t compare.

I love Roxy’s character, OK? I just think A6A6I5 from this scene onwards goes WAY overboard with positively portraying her.

Like, seriously. The whole “likable Roxy” thing starts getting laid WAY too thick.

Or is it as bad as I remember? Only one way to find out.

Oh yeah, this is where regular Calliope is revived using the Ring of Life. I mean, in case you couldn’t tell from the pictures above. Roxy makes great use of her void powers here, paralleling John’s retcon powers, but… ugh, Roxy’s character just isn’t the same from this point on. At least, if my memory is anything to go by.

Alright, I’m ending this post here. This was much shorter than the last four posts! See you next time as Alice in Wonderlond continues to be what the refrance.

>> Part 132: Leadership Doubt and Feline Boisterousness

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