Cookie Fonster’s Homestuck Reflections Part 116: What the Fuck Happened Here?

Introduction

< Part 115 | Part 116 | Part 117 >

[S] GAME OVER and the rest of Act 6 Act 6 Intermission 3

Pages 6901-6920

^ This image is how I feel about Karkat wearing short sleeves.

Time to finally analyze [S] GAME OVER, a flash that came out on October 25, 2014, the third anniversary of [S] Cascade. As the title may suggest, the flash consists of most of Homestuck’s living main cast either dying or getting critically wounded, so that they may soon be replaced with post-retcon versions of themselves. This retcon character replacement is a very controversial move and for many people weighs down Act 6 in its entirety. I’ve always been bothered by it myself, but a major goal of mine in these posts is to see if it’s really that bad in retrospect.

A cool detail in the Unofficial Homestuck Collection’s version of this flash is that the browser interface switches color schemes along with the website’s background.

Game Over alternates between taking place in Act 6 Act 6 Act 3 (John fighting Caliborn) and Act 6 Act 6 Intermission 3 (everyone else in the alpha session fighting each other). The flash begins on an incredibly silly note, with a callback to John’s mental breakdown when he discovered his father wasn’t a clown, and his further mental breakdown when he discovered Betty Crocker made Fruit Gushers. The callback is very fitting, because John has mental breakdowns over the absolute stupidest things.

The manga drawings surrounding John clearly indicate that they’re his principal source of anger at Caliborn, which is both amusing and fitting. Honestly, it makes more sense to be angry about those drawings than whatever impact he had on the kids’ story as Lord English, because as Dave said in A6A6I1, he’s responsible in some ass backwards way for them all existing.

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Cookie Fonster Dissects Homestuck Part 113: Brain Ghost Realitification Station

Introduction

< Part 112 | Part 113 | Part 114 >

Pages 6682-6749

Act 6 Act 6 Intermission 2, Part 3 of 4

This is the second last post featuring content released before the Gigapause, which is when I first read Homestuck.

Friendly reminder that among my creative projects, my current priority is making 8-bit covers of the entire soundtrack of Sonic Robo Blast 2 v2.2, which means my Homestuck post series is currently something I do every now and then when I want a break from that.

Also, friendly reminder that I’ve firmly divorced the masterwork that is Homestuck from the bloated mess that is Homestuck^2, so don’t expect me to talk about the latter in this post series unless it somehow becomes good. As for Pesterquest, there isn’t a whole lot I have to say about it because basically the whole thing played it as safe as possible. It’s really a shame this recent Homestuck media hasn’t been very remarkable after the horrifying yet incredibly cathartic epilogues, but that sure isn’t going to stop me from writing paragraphs upon paragraphs about Homestuck. I don’t think of it as “Homestuck 1” or even “the original Homestuck”, I just think of it as “Homestuck”.

A third friendly reminder that I soon hope to no longer use homestuck.com for my Homestuck posts, instead some offline archive or fanmade way to read the comic as originally intended. At some point, I should really get around to editing my old posts to include pages from homestuck.com because the MSPA domain has been somewhat unstable lately.

Anyway, where were we? Looks like I left off right before a panel with Gamzee restraining an aggravated Jane in a geometrically improbable position.

JANE: GET YOUR PAWS OFF ME YOU SHITFUCKING SHITFUCKER AUGH FUCK SHIT SHIT SHIT FUCK FUCK.
GAMZEE: honk.
JANE: YOU SCURRILOUS FUCKSHITTING CAD. UNHAND ME SO I MAY RESURRECT MY ACCOMPLICE AT ONCE.
GAMZEE: honk honk.
JANE:
WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME THIS TIME YOU DETESTABLE POO ROGERING CHARLATAN.
GAMZEE: honk.
JANE: I DO NOT WANT TO BUY ANYMORE OF YOUR POTIONS. I ALREADY BOUGHT ALL THE USELESS SLOP I COULD EVER WANT FROM YOU, AND MADE A KILLING ON REDISTRIBUTION.
GAMZEE: HONK.
JANE: YOUR ENTREPRENEURIAL TACTICS LEAVE MUCH TO BE DESIRED. YOU ARE A DEPLORABLE BUSINESSMAN AND AN EVEN SHITTIER CLOWN. GET OFF ME.
GAMZEE: …
JANE: DID YOU JUST TOUCH MY BOOB. DON’T TOUCH MY BOOB YOU FUCKFACED DUNG HUFFING TOILET GUZZLING IDIOT QUIPSTER SHITPECKER DICKLARK.
GAMZEE: :o)

Hussie has always had a knack for writing humorously verbose insults, and it’s interesting that he’s doing it with Jane of all characters. A6A6I2 has been consistently putting a more comedic light than before on Crockertier Jane, and she’s a fairly understandable choice for someone to plug vocabulary jokes into. Jane’s always been high up on the scale of character vocabulary, not quite as high as Rose or Dirk but still up there. Reading these insults she gives Gamzee, most of the non-profane words are surprisingly in-character for Jane.

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Cookie Fonster Critiques Homestuck Part 11 Rewritten: Magical Dreams and Retroactive Clowns


Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12.1 >

Pages 952-1051 (MSPA: 2852-2951)

Act 3, Part 3 of 5

Link to old version


Right now my priority for this blog is my main Homestuck post series I started in 2015 where I’m currently on Act 6 Act 5; this post is a bit of a divergence from the plan I’ve laid out. I finished my newest post a few days ahead of schedule, so I decided to do a rewritten post to release on Friday instead. I mostly did it as a bit of a breather from the absurd romance drama I sped through.

Who’s this guy?


At the curb of Act 3’s halfway point, it’s time for us to meet Spades Slick’s lookalike.


Spades Slick? 

Got a nice ring to it. 

But you know your own name. And that damn well ain’t your name.

Jack Noir’s naming is done a bit differently from other characters. He doesn’t have a naming box; rather, he’s meta-aware of Hussie’s fingers typing his name. The book commentary here is worth reading:

Jack at this stage is the villain. Villains in Homestuck tend to be meta-villains. That is, they exist much closer to the surface of the story’s meta-bubble, and often interact with the way it’s told. For instance, Jack Noir is the original owner of the 4th wall. (See next page.) As a universal bureaucratic game construct, he can keep tabs on everything going on in the session, including just outside the story.

Though Jack Noir is a meta-villain, there are limits to this, possibly tied to his personality. It could be the scope of his ambition never includes messing with the story itself. His desire for power lies entirely within fictional parameters. Later, there are much more flagrant meta-villains, in Doc Scratch and Lord English. They live on the surface of the meta-bubble, and at times badly puncture it. All iterations of Lord English in total basically represent the ultimate meta-villain. Though it takes a very long time for this to become apparent, and for it to be revealed exactly what this means.

I think it’s fair to assume this villain foreshadowing and easing in was intentional. Act 3 is filled to the brim with hints at the trolls’ backstory, the alpha kids, and (much more subtly) the cherubs. Jack Noir’s higher degree of meta awareness than the beta kids is a subtle but useful way to ease readers into the times villains start taking over the narration. On the topic of characters taking over narration, if you somehow haven’t read Detective Pony *****PLEASE DO SO IMMEDIATELY*****, then come back here.

Hussie enters Jack’s name and rank, leading us to his short introduction page.



You are ARCHAGENT JACK NOIR. You oversee various affairs of a DARK KINGDOM. Presently you are determining how to deal with this prisoner, who has been a thorn in your side since he was apprehended. 

Funny that I just got done analyzing the portion of the comic where the alpha kids’ Draconian Dignitary reveals he successfully imprisoned Dad Crocker by giving him a nice, cozy cell where he can communicate with Dersites about ties and shaving and start crazy fashion trends. Noir, on the other hand, isn’t good at the social side of things. Like it or not, what he’s best at is managing paperwork (and destroying everything he touches if given the power to).

You view the affairs of the kingdom through a series of FENESTRATED WALLS. You have three walls, nearly enough to form a CUBICLE OF VIGILANCE, which is a full and proper enclosure for an agent of your stature. 

However, much to your utter contempt, your FOURTH WALL was stolen some time ago.

What a cheeky pun. I don’t think I need to go over the timeline and story behind the various physical fourth walls in Homestuck, though I will say it’s probably for the best Jack’s fourth wall was stolen. Though Hussie’s book commentary states that Jack probably isn’t villainous enough to want to mess with the story itself, his desire to destroy everything BLEW THE HELL UP after the Droll killed Jade which was some time after he gained the ability to destroy everything. Who knows if he’d have taken the chance to mess with the fourth wall if it wasn’t stolen?


After we establish that Jack absolutely hates dressing like a clown, he introduces us to Hearts Boxcars’ lookalike, the Hegemonic Brute. The Brute brings something heavy to keep Dad enclosed in prison and holy shit is this guy strong.

This guy can never catch a break, can he?


But right after the Black Queen (gender-neutrally referred to as the Glorious Monarch) reminds Jack to wear his clown hat, we learn that Dad Egbert is even stronger than the Brute. That’s the only role HB ever plays in the story: he gets his ass handed to him to show how tough other characters are.


Meanwhile in his father’s room, John finds some unopened birthday presents his dad was going to give him. First off is the one on the right:


It’s a control deck that lets John customize his fetch modus! He now has way more captchalogue cards, which is… cool? I forgot the fetch modus game mechanic stuff even existed and it’s kind of weird going through it at such an on-and-off pace. Let’s pretend I am enthusiastically cheering John on for switching to a simple array modus, then confused that he settles on a queue-stack-array blend modus.


Though I won’t lie, the queue-stack-array modus looks sick. It’s a visual upgrade to the original that’s high on the weaponizability scale.


You have a staunch policy of always saving the biggest present for last. 

ALWAYS.

Now that’s something I can relate to right there. Let’s see what the leftmost present is!

Could this birthday get any better? You don’t think so.


John’s victory dances are so cute. He’s incredibly happy to get a fresh pack of delicious Fruit Gushers.

You thought wrong.


He’s even more delighted to get a fancy suit for his birthday, which is surprising but makes sense in a heartwarming way: it shows John and his father have a common interest in dressing like businessmen. Deep down, John has a lot more in common with his father than one may think, which is shown in full in the Candy Epilogue: similar fashion tastes, the exact same romantic tastes, and most of all, extreme immutable pride for his son. Remembering how proud he always was of young Harry Anderson is the one thing that finally snaps John out of his internal loop that everything is fake, because he can’t accept anything that would put his son’s realness at odds.

John inspects the box of Fruit Gushers and notices something amiss:


THE HEINOUS BATTERWITCH HAS HER GNARLED CLAWS IN EVERYTHING. 

What do Gushers have to do with baked goods anyway?? 

How does this make sense??? 

Why???? 



WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY??????????? 


If you didn’t know, Hussie’s book commentary explains that he didn’t know Fruit Gushers were made by Betty Crocker until a reader suggested John to inspect the Gushers box.


Suffice to say, the author doesn’t have an easy time processing this. John promptly has a mental breakdown in a flash with dramatic music, as if this was some kind of terrifying revelation that uproots everything he thought he knew and now he can never see the world the same way ever again.

As with FACEPALM x2 COMBO, I knew about this running gag before I read Homestuck.

Except John quickly realizes this is a completely stupid thing to freak out about. The beta kids’ universe was merely the Condesce’s test run after all.

Another flash originally scored by Bill Bolin. Though I like Mutiny more as a song, An Unbreakable Union fits much better with the flash.


Up next is Jade’s true guardian strife, [S] Jade: Retrieve package. It’s unlike anything we’ve ever seen before! This page shows us that her dog Becquerel has magic teleportation powers and overall ungodly strength, with occasional glimpses at the Green Sun and various other locations in the comic. All this crazy plot stuff planned in retrospect and showed way ahead of time is truly something to behold.

Jade and Bec are moving in this image; Grandpa is still as ever because he’s dead.


The strife flash ends with a cheerful victory sequence as if nothing unusual ever happened. Just a happy girl hugging her wonderful dog, her taxidermied grandpa by her side as ever. Jade in the early acts is a normal human being with normal human values.


Jade: Retrieve package was filled to the brim with hints at events and plot points that were probably fully planned by this point. Jade’s narcolepsy, on the other hand? I am almost certain the truth behind it was a retroactive decision on the author’s part, as are most things involving that one character‘s self-importance. Later that character’s self-importance becomes a cosmically retroactive decision, because after the retcon she took over Gamzee’s plot role in the alpha session with only a few differences.


Though Bec is a mystical dog, he does take proper care of Jade and takes her to bed when needed. It looks like he even tucked her blankets, truly in the spirit of dog loyalty.


Oh, you’re back home. The well-stocked bar and the vantage from the window tells you this is your MOM’S room. Or at least what you thought was her room. 

You decide not to be especially melodramatic about this revelation.

If you’re rereading knowing who Roxy is, you’ll know that Rose had just unknowingly passed by her mother’s real room. She’s already showing signs of being considerably more wrapped up in her supposedly noble goals than the other beta kids are, and not taking time to progress through the kids’ usual narrative.


Just a few seconds later, the meteor strikes the Skaianet lab and Rose needs to get out of there. It’s important she brings the cat with her, because I’m at least 80% certain a whole bunch of vital time loops would be broken if she didn’t.


Suddenly you are feeling very businessmanlike for some reason. 

You just punched a shitload of cards in anticipation of making a whole lot of cool stuff. This time you didn’t foolishly destroy any items. You just looked at the codes for some objects you rounded up, and punched them on blank cards. 

As the alpha kids’ Dignitary can attest, it seems that Homestuck characters automatically feel businessmanlike the moment the put on a fancy suit. Feeling businessmanlike puts you at far less risk for stupidly decimating your sylladex.


Next up, Jade dreams and THAT’S where things get fun. Jade has a dreambot that echoes everything she does in her sleep. For the next few pages we get some neat dual storytelling, with the dreaming world on top and the real world on the bottom.


> Jade: Obliquely foreshadow future through interpretive dance

Your silly dance foreshadows nothing and is essentially meaningless. 

But it sure is a lot of fun.

“Foreshadows” and “nothing” are two words that should never be put side-by-side in any context even remotely related to Homestuck. Everything in the entire story is interconnected in one way or another; sometimes the connections are of debatable intentionality, but that’s the fun of analyzing media. In this case, the interpretive dance is the last thing Jade’s dreambot does before it explodes.

Still not sure why characters in Homestuck always sleep with *this* of all poses…


You climb into bed and try to get comfortable. But some sort of invisible force is pressing down on you, a strange feeling of cold heavy metal. 

This happens every time you try to get into bed! No wonder you can never get any sleep.

This funny little moment has a bit more to it than meets the eye. It strongly suggests that Jade and her dream self are two different consciousnesses who share a small amount of memories. This difference is also demonstrated in pesterlogs which we don’t yet know were typed by dream Jade.

I always thought it was a little weird that dream Jade was so different from waking Jade when we didn’t see much other difference between players and their dream selves. But looking back now, I think I have a good explanation for why that is. I think the dream self’s memories diverge from the player’s memories the moment the dream self consciously wakes up for the first time. For most players, the dream self’s awakening occurs shortly before or during the game, but for space players the dream self has usually been awake since childhood. Maybe dream Jade and waking Jade have the same memories and knowledge from the first few years of their lives, but have had many years since then to diverge and are now effectively two different people. I wouldn’t be surprised if the same held for Kanaya and Calliope’s dream selves, who we don’t see as much in action because they don’t have dreambots. As I said in a post from years ago, this is also why it makes sense that Jadesprite is even less like regular Jade, because she spent eons in dream bubbles getting to know a bunch of ghosts implied to be the Beforan trolls.


> Jade: Realize you can fly!

There is not much to realize. 

Of course you can fly.

I imagine the reader who suggested this command thought it would be funny if Jade suddenly realized she could fly, but it turns out Hussie had already planned that to be true. It’s not just that Jade already knew, it’s that Hussie already knew. Or at least I assume he did. I think I have a good grasp of Hussie’s motives when writing early Homestuck, if only because I’ve read Homestuck so many times.


Jade then taunts us with a mystery package—she already knows what’s inside. I don’t remember exactly how this package time travel arc plays out, other than that it involves the exiles following instructions written by dream Jade. I think the package is mirrored between its dream projection and its real-world self? Kind of stupid to use the word “self” to refer to an inanimate object, but that’s Homestuck for you. I’m probably wrong about all this.

All of John’s clown scribbles are in Rose, Dave, and Jade’s text colors.


This leads us to a birthday flashback with a huge surprise shot: John seems to have had clown scribbles on his walls months before the story started, which we had never seen before. This will lead us to enormous dramatic irony when John comes in his room and finds all his posters defaced, which he thinks was the imps’ doing.

This image also confirms Rose, Dave, and Jade’s birthdays which is a good bonus.


— ghostyTrickster [GT] began pestering gardenGnostic [GG] — 

GT: hey, happy birthday jade! 
GG: yay thank you john!!!!! 😀 
GT: whew ok, i got your present in the mail JUST on time. 
GT: plus i sent rose’s and dave’s too. 
GT: why do your guys’es birthdays got to be all bunched together like that??? you are running me ragged! 
GG: heheh i know but it is nice of you to think of us all like that! 
GT: i can’t wait for you to see what i got you. i don’t want to spoil it or anything but hopefully it will help you solve those problems you’ve been having lately. 
GT: MYSTERIOUS WINK 😉 
GG: im sure it is great, i cant wait either!!!!! 
GG: it might take a while to get here from there but it will be worth the wait! 
GT: oh man. 
GT: i am such an idiot, i forgot about how long it takes you to get stuff. 
GT: ARGH. 
GG: john thats ok really! im sure will get to me exactly when it needs to and it will be a nice surprise when it does! 


Jade is awful at lying, which is fine because John is gullible as all hell. She speaks in her usual cryptic tone and cleverly hides that John’s gift is going to be sent back in time. It’s crazy how easy it is to forget about all the time loops in Homestuck’s early acts.

GT: ok well i hope so. 
GG: <3…… 
GG: uhhhh hold on 
GG: ok im back sorry 
GG: i had to tell someone to go away! 
GT: oh god. 
GT: the trolls again? 
GG: yup 😮 
GT: they have been such a pain in the ass lately. 
GT: it seems like there are so many. 
GT: there are either like fifty of these retards or it’s one guy with a lot of alt accounts. 
GG: ive never had any sort of feeling about them or what they want which is kind of weird!!! 


Jade’s last line here implies she never learned anything about the trolls in her dreams. I’m guessing Skaia’s refusal to show her anything troll-related was to make sure she didn’t believe anything the trolls told her about the day they fuck everything up; we see in later acts that Skaian clouds can show any scene from anything.

GG: but it seems to me like they are probably all different people and not one guy 
GG: i have counted twelve 
GT: what do they want with us!!! 
GG: some people just like to needle others for some reason john
GG: it is like a game i guess. they are like pranksters!! 
GT: oh hell no, shittiest pranksters ever. 
GG: but i think they are mostly harmless 
GG: every so often they manage to get through my block filter and hassle me. its been going on for years! actually some of them are kind of funny i think hehe 
GT: oh wow, what? years?? 
GT: ok, well i am sick of them. 
GT: i’ve been thinking of changing my pesterchum handle to throw them off the trail. 
GT: so… 
GT: i guess i’m gonna do that. 


There are so many mystery seeds planted in this conversation, which seems simpler now than what it later turns out to be. We don’t know that Terezi led John to come up with the chumhandle “ectoBiologist”, or that the troll who just hassled Jade was talking about something important to the plot.

… Wait, hold that thought. I think the time Karkat trolled past Jade about her dreambot was really just fulfilling a stable time loop, wasn’t it? God damn, thinking about all this plot stuff is kind of giving me a headache. The exact opposite kind of headache I get when I spend a long time analyzing a relationship drama section. Meat and candy, I’m telling you. The dichotomy is off the charts.


Every time you reenter your room, you shudder at the recent handiwork of some mischievous imps. You just can’t turn your back on them for a second! 

Rotten imps. Those posters were like children to you.

Wonderful use of dramatic irony. We just got done learning that these posters were defaced the whole time.


At long last, you have returned to your bedroom with a stable power supply and internet connection. 

VODKA MUTINI purrs at your side. 

You SUPPOSE you will call it Mutie for short.

Vodka Mutini is a great name. I don’t think it’s any question that Rose is the best out of the beta and alpha kids at naming animals.


Rose pesters John in a sequence I love EVERYTHING about. The psychoanalysis portion where Rose reveals to us the story behind Dad’s supposed interest in clowns is brilliant in every way and is one of the best things to come out of Rose’s character.

TT: That’s quite a totem collection. 
TT: What are you planning? 
EB: oh whoa hi! 
EB: oh… 
EB: gonna make some stuff. 
EB: are you ok? hasn’t your house been on fire for like… 
EB: five hours now? 
TT: No, that was the nearby forest, which up until quite recently would have been best described as “on fire”. 
TT: But you may be excited to learn that just as recently, my house finally notched that achievement. 
EB: wow, congrats i guess? 


Rose in the early acts is an absolute treasure. Thought I’d point that out before I get into the meat (loaded word, dammit) of this conversation.

TT: I’m going to start putting this grist to use too. 
TT: Let’s be sparing with the frivolous knickknack breeding and focus on getting you up to the gate, ok? 
EB: yeah, ok i hear you, but… 
EB: i think we’ll have plenty. i’ve been killing imps all over the house and now its lousy with gushers. 
TT: Gushers? 
EB: i mean grist. 
EB: serves them right for ruining my posters. the bastards. 
TT: Which posters? 
EB: don’t you see? my sweet movie posters. look at them, they’re fucking ruined. 
TT: John. 
EB: ?????? 
TT: Are you suggesting that imps are responsible for defacing your movie posters? 
EB: uh, YEAH? 
TT: Your posters have looked like that ever since I first saw your room. 
TT: The moment we started playing this game. 
TT: I thought you had defaced them ironically to mock your father’s interests. 


It’s so funny to me that Rose initially thought John defaced his posters to mock his father’s interests. While her initial analysis is as absurd as all the nonsense she thinks about her mother, all it takes for Rose to bring out her true psychoanalysis skills is for John to disprove her first hypothesis.


I love this panel so much. John looks like an angry businessman slamming his keyboard, perhaps frustrated that his bills didn’t arrive on time and exerting all his anger on an innocent coworker.

EB: VERY FUNNY ROSE HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA 
EB: NICE JOKE 
EB: GREAT JOKE THERE ROSE 
EB: TOP OF THE LINE PRANK 
EB: HE HE 
EB: HA HA HA HA HA 
TT: This is good. 
TT: Laughter is probably the best way to avoid being especially melodramatic about the revelation. 
EB: yes 
EB: YES 
EB: LET’S KEEP THIS JOKE GOING 
EB: BECAUSE IT IS SUCH A GOOD ONE 
EB: HA HA HA HA 
EB: OH MY 
EB: HA HA HA HA HA HA 
EB: HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA 


John’s sarcastic laughter is all it takes for Rose to put the pieces together and figure out the story behind John’s clown scribbles.


Now we check out what WV is up to. He’s in a bit of a predicament right now: he’s stuck on top of his command station and doesn’t have enough cables to climb all the way down. The exile arc is probably where reader commands shined the most in Homestuck: WV first declines a command to use his mayor sash as cable, then declines a command to appearify the frog temple.


Instead of following any suggested commands, WV notices someone else carrying a cable down—perhaps someone who knew that he needed help and that he didn’t want to sacrifice his mayoral sash. This surprising moment of friendship is a really cool way to add a third exile to the mix.

First explicit confirmation WV is male.


WV tries to appearify the cable but ends up appearifying John’s birthday package to Jade because the machine was set back a few hundred years. The package contains a letter to WV from Jade, which confuses him just as much as it probably confused readers. How could dream Jade know nothing about the trolls but be perfectly familiar with the exiles? We’ll find out soon enough.


WV then appearifies the cable and successfully climbs down, which transitions us a sneak peek at our third exile, the Aimless Renegade. This sneak peek shows him as an aloof but probably friendly exile, who seems to be a bit of a weirdo given that he’s wrapped in caution tape. I find it entirely unsurprising AR is such a fan favorite.


It’s time to go through John and Rose’s psychoanalysis session. Are you ready?

EB: ok, while i make some stuff here can you keep an eye out for imps? 
EB: just keep the safe or tub handy or something. 
EB: it’ll serve them right for trashing my posters. 
TT: I keep telling you the posters were always like that. 
EB: AND I KEEP TELLING YOU HA HA VERY FUNNY 
TT: Here, look. 
TT: http://tinyurl.com/O413nanna 
TT: http://tinyurl.com/O413weirdo 



EB: yeah, i saw those, but… 
EB: they didn’t look like that before. you must have changed them. 
TT: Even if I had the motive for such a bizarre and pointless deception, where would I find the time? 
TT: I don’t even have Photoshop. 

Funny that Rose mentions not having enough time to edit these images when she somehow managed to write an enormous wall of text in Jaspers’ mausoleum while her forest was burning down. Though maybe it makes sense she wouldn’t have the time to edit her images of John, since she doesn’t seem to be much of a visual artist.

EB: then why didn’t you TELL me they were there??? 
TT: I had no reason to think you were not aware of them. 
TT: I thought they were strange, certainly, but was not struck by any particular impulse to discuss them. 
EB: ok, it still doesn’t make sense though. 
EB: implying that i drew them a while ago and then forgot and couldn’t see them and now suddenly see them. 
EB: that’s stupid, what would that even mean. 


Here we’re about to see what sets Rose apart from the other beta kids. She can read between the lines and notice cosmic connections that fly over her friends’ heads. Sometimes it’s for the best her friends don’t care about those connections, but here cosmic connections are going to spark something HUGE in John’s mind.

The book commentary on this page rightfully pokes fun at John/Rose shippers. How boring can you even get???


TT: It looks like you were in your father’s room recently. 
EB: yeah. 
TT: And how did it make you feel to discover what was in there?
EB: oh no, i just realized! 
EB: you are going to psycho-therapify me. 
EB: well don’t bother! 
TT: Maybe I am just being a friend? 
EB: maybe… 
EB: /EYES SUSPSICIOSLY 


Though John likes to poke at Rose for acting like a stereotypical psychologist, he obviously doesn’t mean bad by it and finds her analysis fascinating and a lot to take in. Terezi likes psychoanalyzing John too, in a slightly more flirty way. (And eventually way more than just “slightly”.)

EB: anyway i guess you saw what’s in there, it’s boring and there’s not much to even see. 
TT: That doesn’t matter. 
TT: What matters is how seeing it affected you. 
TT: I think it clearly has in some way. 
EB: well… 
EB: i don’t know, at first i was nervous to go in and find more of his weird clowns, because of course they are stupid and i hate them a lot. 
EB: but then when i didn’t see any, it was weird. 
EB: i felt weirdly, like… disappointed almost. 
TT: Is it fair to say this changed your perception of your father? 
EB: yeah, i guess. 
TT: Is it such a stretch to conclude it changed your perception of other things as well? 
EB: uh no, maybe not. 
EB: but what are you getting at? 
EB: it sounds like you’re saying i’m crazy! 

TT: I don’t like to use the word “crazy”. 
EB: oh god. 
EB: see?? this is therapy bullshit! 
TT: That was a joke. 


Even though she said it in a deliberately stereotypical way, Rose is right about the word “crazy”. In the field of psychology, it’s a meaningless catch-all word that’s only useful if you want to dismiss people who you know are right.


TT: But anyway, whether it means you are crazy or not, consider this theory: 
TT: Your presumably longstanding tendency for scrawling this imagery is really your subconsious trying to express something disturbing within you. 
TT: Possibly something from your past, which you have blocked out. 
TT: And since you have supressed it, your conscious self cannot acknowledge the drawings, therefore they have been invisible until now. 


Before explaining Dad Egbert’s motives, Rose starts up a new mystery arc: what disturbing thing caused John to subconsiously draw clowns all over his posters? We’ll know what it is later in this post, but the story behind how it got there is saved for near the end of Act 5. I wonder if Hussie had already planned by this point to reveal Gamzee was behind the clown doll? It’s likely he at least planned for Gamzee to be an oddball among the trolls, knowing his chumhandle. He’s the only one whose motifs aren’t related to his zodiac sign (juggalos instead), and he had nothing even remotely resembling plot relevance until he turned evil and then was revealed to have dealt massive damage to the Black King.

EB: why now? 
TT: Perhaps because you have seen evidence that conflicts with the worldview your subconscious has constructed to obfuscate the truth. 
TT: That your dad is not necessarily the clown-loving maniac you thought he was. 
TT: All along, this negative attribute buried in your psyche may have been projected on to him, and subsequently reviled, as a sort of defense mechanism. 
EB: but this is absurd, my dad LOVES these shitty clowns. 
EB: he’s got all these statues and paintings EVERYWHERE. 
TT: Is it unthinkable that over the years it was he who believed you were the one with a passion for clowns? Because of the all the strange drawings in your room? 
TT: A father then embraces a son’s hobby to establish a stronger bond. 


And there’s the reveal of why John’s father pretended to like clowns. It’s both a demonstration of Rose’s analytical strengths and a step in a huge chain of events that leads to the human universe’s destruction. Rose’s analysis of John’s father is easy to trust because she immediately offers a blatantly false alternative explanation:

TT: Or wages a campaign of passive-aggresive mockery of your interests. 
TT: Either is plausible. I don’t know your dad that well. 

It’s too bad Rose thinks her mother is passive-aggressive. If she opened her mind to alternative analyses like she just did with John’s father, she’d know the truth about her mother before she’s tragically murdered.

EB: i dunno. 
EB: not sure about all this. 
EB: but i think we need to stop and acknowledge the bunny sassacre fedora i just made. 
TT: It’s awesome. 
EB: yeah. 


This heavy plot revelation is immediately followed by John being an absolute dork. The bunny sassacre fedora is one of the best things to come out of Homestuck, and I’m glad Rose agrees.


Then we see Rose’s progress on building up John’s house. It kind of looks ridiculous with so many tall chimneys; Rose says she’ll soon come up with a better strategy.


[S] Jade: Dream up extra arms and play advanced bass solo is another flash that was originally scored by Bill Bolin, and the only such flash where I think the old version is FAR superior. The old version has an EPIC drop and then another EPIC drop; the new version adds a scene where Jade presses keys on her bass to achieve a similar effect but it just isn’t the same.


The flash starts with dream Jade playing on her newly expanded bass. She somehow grew three extra arms and is smiling as she plays like it’s no big deal, which is an extreme case of early installment weirdness. Though all kinds of weird nonsense has happened in Homestuck characters’ dreams, this is the only time someone EVER undergoes such an unexplained bodily mutation. It doesn’t really matter though; this scene puts a smile on my face either way.


Jade’s dreambot plays the bass in the real world, which helps her plants grow. I think the whole motif of playing instruments to grow plants is a Zelda reference? Kind of weird because Homestuck doesn’t directly borrow much from iconic video games. I don’t know, it’s cute either way.


Just like with Jade’s relaxing bassline, we’re treated to a zoom-out even more surprising than the last one. At first it seems like Jade simply dreams in a pink and golden projection of the real world…


… but THEN pieces of the plot come together as the zoom-out reveals a golden planet called Prospit. Though it’s surprising to find Jade’s dreams take place on whole different planet, the puzzle REALLY comes together at the next zoom-out:


There we have it. A flash that starts as a silly advanced bass solo, but ends up revealing that Jade’s dreams take place within the world of Sburb. I can only imagine how crazy this reveal was for serial readers back then. I don’t think many people expected Jade’s dream world to have been connected to WV’s drawings and Nannasprite’s exposition the whole time.


> Jade: Change wardrobifier to cycle thru STAR HEART HORSESHOE

Ok, good idea. 

You leave the MOON in the cycle though cause you like it.

Here’s a reader-suggested command that Hussie liked and followed through with. I applaud whichever reader suggested to bring this Problem Sleuth reference to the table; it’s a great fit with Jade’s dream wardrobifier.

Note that four of the wardrobifier options are turned on in the image above: moon, star, heart, and horseshoe. All four of those are among the nine leprechaun romance symbols. I would assume that all the options on the dream wardrobifier are the leprechaun romance symbols, but there’s a tenth one unaccounted for (the topmost is a randomizer). In the spirit of MSPA, I’m going to assume the tenth one is a pumpkin. Let’s be real, what else would it be?


Jade explores the golden city and sees someone who looks familiar. Who could it possibly be??? (it’s PM)

I love the way this scene provides our very first hint at the exiles’ backstory as Prospitians and Dersites. It’s a bit of early installment weirdness, since next time we see PM in the past she’s wearing a slightly different outfit.


Meanwhile, Jade’s dreambot randomly floats around her island, echoing all of dream Jade’s moves. This serves as a convenient transition to the exile arc. We see PM right as that transition finishes, which further makes it obvious dream Jade just saw her past self.


Act 3 has been making very good use of scene retraces. They’re always shown side-by-side so you can’t really call them visual callbacks, but they do play a very similar plot role.


What exactly inspired Jade to pretty much beg WV to give PM her package in such a pushy tone and claim that “the freedom of [their] people depends on it”? Probably cloud visions that made it incredibly obvious WV likes being a mayor and PM likes being a mail lady. Maybe she also saw PM in person delivering mail, because this note was quite obviously written by dream Jade and the entire package is presumably mirrored between the dream and waking worlds.


The delivery mission has one problem though: AR is randomly shooting at everyone because he thinks he’s the lawyer of the frog temple or something. We don’t yet know AR wants to be a lawyer, but we will soon enough. Knowing how horribly Earth C’s politics fell apart in the epilogues, I’m suddenly sad AR didn’t get to rebuild civilization like the other two exiles did.


WV’s attraction to PM reminds me how separate the exile arc is from the rest of the story. Their storyline has its own unique charm and it’s unfortunately often forgotten about.

First explicit confirmation that PM is female.

I think Jade’s letters are a very creative way to confirm the exiles’ genders.


WV finally gives PM the present! Hooray!!!

Why are John’s clown scribbles glowing?

I think it’s to convey to us that these scribbles are mirrored in the waking world and/or early installment weirdness.


Jade flies to the other tower and checks in on John’s dream self, who apparently “will wake up when he is ready”. The panel where we see inside John’s dream room is a major wham shot, especially the scary clown doll. It both answers (the first half of) a plot mystery and foreshadows the main antagonist of the first five acts, which is really damn cool. Sometimes it impresses me how efficient Homestuck can be at driving mysteries.


Speaking of John, you wonder if he got the birthday present you sent him? Or for that matter, if you even remembered to send it? 

Darn! You get so confused sometimes. If only you had some system in place to help you remember things.

This page again shows us that dream Jade is considerably more forgetful than regular Jade. The book commentary on this page is very interesting:

Jade’s dreaming confusion and forgetfulness is kind of an odd symptom that’s never quite been duplicated by another waking dream self. There are two possibilities. One is I was still ironing out the dream self rules early in the story, and that symptom never panned out for others, OR, it is because her sleeping habits are imposed on her unnaturally by external forces. GUESS WHICH EXPLANATION I PREFER.

As a wise clown once said: can’t it be motherfuckin’ both things? It only makes sense that external forces, which may or may not be code for a certain self-important troll girl, would retroactively make themselves responsible for cases of early installment weirdness and story inconsistencies. I absolutely fucking hate that all this retroactive justification through *this one character* makes metafictional sense. Note the word “metafictional”—no way in HELL it makes regular plain old “sense”.


Your MOON is getting very close to SKAIA. You had better go inside soon. It is never a very good idea to be outside during the ECLIPSE. 

Maybe you can take the opportunity to log onto your computer and ask John about his present. You just know he will think it is awesome, and it will be a great way to thank him for the wonderful present he got you!

This scene hints that one of Jade’s early conversations with John was typed by dream Jade, which is fully confirmed a bit later. A very good example of feeding attentive readers breadcrumbs towards the grand reveal.

I’m ending this post here, just like I did with the old version of this post. See you next time as we go back to Act 6 Act 5 and read Detective Pony’s lesser-known sibling. And see you at some point in the future as I go through the last 100 pages of Act 3, ending with an iconic flash that is just SO GOOD AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA. correction: next 50 pages of Act 3, featuring an amazing flash that SHOULD be iconic but everyone forgets about for some reason.

>> Part 12.1: Scrawlings in Puddles of Sloppy Discharge

Cookie Fonster Dissects Homestuck Part 89: Return of the Egbert-Serket Chronicles

Introduction

Part 88 | Part 89 | Part 90 >


Act 6 Intermission 3, Part 4 of 6

Pages 5309-5397 (MSPA: 7209-7297)

I hope you like lengthy rants about Vriska.

July 2019 has been the most productive month for this post series in a very long time! School starts again in a few weeks and it’ll probably slow down my posting speed just a tad. During fall semester I’ll probably go back to releasing Homestuck posts every Friday morning.

Rufio, is that you???



After, what… another hour? Another hour of bumbling through the afterlife with very little to show for your efforts, you decide to pause the game again. You can only spend so long powering through the dead troll equivalent of an unpleasant high school reunion without making a trip to the load gaper, or fixing yourself a little snack from the hunger trunk. 

Just like last time, Openbound Part 2 is followed by a pause page that was most useful for serial readers at the time. But this time, the pause page has a small teaser of what will come next: Rufioh standing next to Meenah, with wings that suggest he’s a god tier. This teaser probably got readers excited for two things: meeting the homage character to Dante Basco, and Meenah finally finding someone useful for her army.

There’s definitely someone else we should be checking in with right now. Someone we are all desperate for an update on. And that someone is…


THIS GUY! 

This is the guy who you are now being.

The sudden focus on the beta kids’ Jack Noir is an interesting surprise. I can tell Hussie felt bad for neglecting this once mighty villain for so long and decided to remedy that. And my god, what a glorious remedy it is (at least according to my memory).


The feisty mailwoman is still chasing you. Unbelievable. She hardly seems to care at all that something is causing reality to shatter around you. For a moment, you thought you and she might be able to reach an uneasy truce. To stand together if only for a moment and assess the ominous cracks spreading through the void. Maybe even take some time to get to know each other a little, and try to bury the hatchet? You are so tired of running. 

But no. She is as furious as ever. What did you even do? Just a couple of routine murders, which was TWO YEARS AGO already. The ring hath no fury, you swear. She is never going to stop. Her delivery is justice, and as you know all too well, nothing stops the mail. 

You need to find somewhere to hide and rest for a while.

The narration here surprisingly makes us feel bad for Jack. His role as an unstoppable dog monster has been usurped by the mighty Prospitian Monarch, vengeful as ever after two years. With his role usurped, it’s only natural that Noir wants to take a rest after witnessing the Furthest Ring’s calamity.


Jack enters a dream bubble. One word: nostalgia.

PM in the background is just as scary as Jack was back then.

Remember all the carapacian soldiers Jack killed so long ago? Skaia’s bruise by the fiery remains of Prospit? Can you believe all that was before he even became a dog??? You can see that this guy is reflecting on his mass destruction from so long ago.


Remember Grimdark Rose? What a goddamn joke. She never even blew up a single universe.

PM again looks just as scary as Jack once did.


Remember when John explored a Skaian castle, searching for his father and avoiding Jack? Now it’s Jack’s turn to explore a memory of a Skaian castle, searching for a place to hide and avoiding the Monarch.

Poor Jade, shafted again and again throughout Act 6. And in the epilogues.


Remember when Jack zoomed around the Medium, destroying everything he touched except Jade??? Yeah, those were fun times. Jack probably forgot Jade existed until he looked at the memory of the space symbol just now.


The moment you see the Genesis Frog’s severed hand, you’ll remember that all this chaotic destruction we just revisited was only the first half of Jack’s crimes.

This is a gorgeous image that successfully blends at least three different art styles.


The second half started the moment the Droll killed Jade, and it’s so much worse than the first half. Jack killed the Droll, went to Earth, killed most of the exiles, went to the trolls’ session, destroyed fourteen planets, and finally destroyed the entire human universe.


In the chest, Jack finds John’s Pop-a-matic Vrillyhoo Hammer! That’s a bit of a red flag that this is all memories, because John didn’t make that thing until after he came back from a neutral death.

Get ready for John to take out his fury at Davesprite on someone else with the same wings…


Turns out John’s corpse wasn’t just an empty memory; it was a vessel for John’s dream phantom to appear and START KICKING ASS.

It’s been too long since the last SWEET CATCH. This one has fancy effects and everything!


John’s fury at Davesprite is taken out at the best person possible. He wanted to beat up the guy who mocked his father, but ended up waking in a dream bubble to beat up the guy who killed his father!


We thought so long ago that Vriska in a mind vision was the only person who could put up a fight against Jack. And we thought wrong.

Did Jack just lose his sword? He’s never seen without that thing!


Now THIS is how you do a sequence of pure visuals. No one says a word, and no one has any reason to. It’s kind of cool seeing it all as a drawn-out sequence instead of a flash. Though flashes understandably get all the attention, there’s quite a few purely visual scenes like this that are just as good. I’m especially looking forward to going through the split-screen part where the alpha kids ascend to god tier.

Jack’s tentacles didn’t stop being a thing or anything.


Suddenly, Jack reminds us that he’s still a scary first guardian and has John in a headlock. For the first time in quite a while, he looks intimidating and ready to stab John.


Fortunately, John has sweet new powers as a god tier that Jack has never dealt with before, plus a cool Vrillyhoo hammer. He has the upper hand once more and is ready to beat Jack on the head.


… or is he? What is Rose doing here?

Rose moving her eyebrows up and down is funnier it has any right to be.


Rose takes full advantage of her newfound teenage flirtiness and does her coy eyebrow thing in front of John and Jack.

Love the scribble renditions of angry John and flirty Rose.


Just like any iteration of Jack, Bec Noir doesn’t think his murders through and is confused to see people he killed turn up alive.

distaction


I don’t know about you, but if I see someone I haven’t seen in years show up out of nowhere, wink, and disappear, I would stand in awe for at least ten minutes.


Luckily, John is not that type, or at least not when he has a murderous dog to beat up.

I love how Vriska’s dice options now show John’s interests rather than hers.

John doesn’t have ALLLLLLLL the luck like Vriska does, so his dice merely roll “RIDICULOUS HAT”.

The Droll would kill for a hat like this.


This is the funniest throwback we’ve seen in a long time. John says “hehe…”, appropriately enough.


With Noir distracted by his Bunny Sassacre Fedora, the Monarch catches up with him once more, leading to a FACEPAW x1 COMBO!


Jack flies away, PM flies away, and the curtains close in on…


… no wait, the curtains don’t close in on anything. Tempting as it may be to end things here, we still have a lot left in this act.


And so, we zoom back in to the dream bubble to find John watching in confusion as the Bunny Sassacre Fedora falls.


John explores memories of Skaia until the scenery starts changing. What could this be?


The memory of his dad’s spare car is a nice touch. Kind of fun to reflect the trilogy of Dad’s cars and the fates they all meet. The first was driven by a father; the second flown by a young man with a loyal mayor in search for his father; the third flown by a somewhat less young man with a loyal troll, to be found by his alternate self who became a father.

The ever-shifting scenery in dream bubbles never gets old.


I can’t go on too long reflecting on John’s steamy troll/human sloppy makeouts though. What follows is a series of short flashes where John walks through an empty desert filled with horses, calling back to the memorable Death of the Author sequence that ended Act 6 Intermission 2.


But the horses don’t lead us to Hussie’s self-insert this time. Instead, he encounters Tavros of all people sleeping in the ground? I guess this is supposed to be a confusing surprise.


TAVROS: i SAW IT FIRST, 


JOHN: huh? 
TAVROS: gIVE IT TO ME, 
JOHN: what… the ring? 
TAVROS: yES, iT’S MINE, 
JOHN: who are you? 
TAVROS: i’M, yOUR WORST BAD DREAM, iF YOU DON’T RETURN MY TREASURE, 
TAVROS: i FOUND IT, sNUGGLED IN THE SAND, bEING PRETTY AND GOLD AND BY ITSELF, aND i WANT IT BACK, 
JOHN: so you found it here, like exactly where i just found it… but then instead of picking it up, you fell asleep? 
TAVROS: wHEN YOU PUT IT THAT WAY, i SOUND STUPID, 
TAVROS: bUT, yES, 


Tavros is being weird and confusing. Well, even more so than usual. Apparently he wants to use this ring to propose to Vriska, who is now his girlfriend again? Yeah, I have no idea why that could be.


VRISKA: TAAAAAAAAVR…….. Oh! 
VRISKA: Hi John. 
VRISKA: Tavros, I didn’t know you were hanging out with John. You should have come told me. 
TAVROS: bUT, i JUST WOKE UP FROM THE SAND PILE, aND FOUND HIM HERE, 
TAVROS: i HAD LITERALLY NO TIME TO GO TELL YOU, bECAUSE OF AN ARGUMENT, 
VRISKA: What? What were you arguing a8out? 
TAVROS: uHHH, 
VRISKA: W8…….. what do you mean woke up? Why were you asleep? 
TAVROS: uHHH, 
VRISKA: Dammit, Tavros. You can’t 8e slacking off like that. 
VRISKA: I told you, we aren’t fucking around anymore. This is serious 8usiness. 
JOHN: hey… 
JOHN: excuse me, but 
JOHN: are you… 
JOHN: vriska? 


To this day, I find it kind of incredible that John immediately recognizes Vriska despite having never seen her face. Their testy dynamic is truly something else.


VRISKA: Yeah! 
VRISKA: Oh, sorry. I really should have introduced myself. I guess I forgot I technically never met this version of you. 
JOHN: uh. that’s alright. nice to meet you. 
JOHN: wait… 
JOHN: are you a ghost too? 
VRISKA: Yep. 
JOHN: so… you’re dead? 
VRISKA: Yes, John. That’s what 8eing a ghost means. 
JOHN: ok, i’m still confused though… 
JOHN: sorry if i sound dumb, but dream bubbles are still kind of baffling to me. 
JOHN: you’re, uh… “REALLY” dead? 
JOHN: as in, the real you? i mean… dang, what the hell am i even trying to ask here… 
VRISKA: No, I get what you’re asking. 
VRISKA: Yes, the real me. The actual, legit, fully authentic alpha timeline Vriska. Dead. Gone. Fuckin’ toast. 


It’s also kind of incredible that only now did John learn Vriska died. When Jade showed him all the trolls gathered on the meteor through first guardian powers, John could immediately tell which were Karkat and Terezi, but not which was Vriska. I am sure he would have immediately identified Vriska if she was there. Though he does know some trolls were killed before they could meet up with Dave and Rose, as the airheaded optimist he is he didn’t stop to think Vriska may have died until she says it to his face.

JOHN: oh. 
JOHN: so when i meet up with everyone on your troll meteor in a year, that means… 
JOHN: you’ll be… 
VRISKA: A corpse!!!!!!!! 
VRISKA: That’s assuming my 8ody was sufficiently preserved during the trip. 
VRISKA: Which, now that I think a8out it, I guess it was? It must have 8een, 8ecause otherwise that unspeaka8le prototyping atrocity couldn’t have happened. 
VRISKA: That piece of shit clown. I still have no idea what the deal with that was! He’s completely lost his mind. Anyway, that’s neither here nor there. 


This bit is rather ironic in retrospect. After the retcon, Vriska was the one who preserved all the dead bodies while Gamzee was closely monitored at all times and then stuffed into a refrigerator. Kind of goes to show that the retcon was clumsily handled in a lot of ways and mostly done because Hussie wrote himself into a corner.

VRISKA: Honestly, I’m surprised you hadn’t already heard I was dead, one way or another. It’s kind of old news? 
VRISKA: Then again, these things are all relative. So who knows. 
JOHN: … 
VRISKA: Are you ok? You seem sad. 
JOHN: well, 
JOHN: yeah. 
JOHN: it’s always sad to hear a friend died. even if you find out about it from their ghost. 
VRISKA: I guess so. 
JOHN: also, i had kind of thought that when we all arrived at the new session, that… 
JOHN: we were going to like… hang out. or something. 


Remember when John talked to Jade about the trolls on his fourteenth birthday? He looked forward to seeing Karkat again but didn’t seem to care much for Vriska and didn’t even refer to her by name. But now it’s clear that either he changed his mind about Vriska or was in denial about anything positive he felt about her. Normally I’d say he was in denial knowing John, but since this is Vriska we’re talking about it could easily be a mix of both.

VRISKA: Oh yeah! That’s right. We were. 
VRISKA: 8ut then I got sta88ed through the 8ack. Which to 8e fair, was for the good of the party, so the meteor could make the trip in the first place, and keep this whole crazy sequence of events intact. 


It goes without saying that this line reads differently in retrospect after Vriska was retconned back to life. But what maybe doesn’t go without saying is that I find the whole “third option” motif in the retcon arc to be terrifyingly foolproof. I can’t think of a single dilemma someone went through in the comic that couldn’t have been resolved through retcon powers giving a third option. Say what you will about the retcon and what it meant for a good chunk of Act 6, but I find a lot of merit in the third option motif.

VRISKA: A lot has happened since I died. John, did you know the little rendezvous we planned sort of already happened? I mean, in a way. 
JOHN: what? it did? 
VRISKA: Yes. With your ghost. 
JOHN: huh?? 
VRISKA: I mean, the ghost of one of your altern8te selves, who died along the way doing some stupid thing. 
VRISKA: Actually, he and I d8ted for a little while. 



Vriska x Doomed John is the second ship in this act (barring the Beforan trolls) that’s canonized and sunk in the same line. But the outcome is much more tragic this time, as we see shortly.

TAVROS: wHOA, hOLD ON, 
TAVROS: wHAT’S THIS, aBOUT DATING WHO? 
VRISKA: Groan. Here we go. 
TAVROS: wHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME, aBOUT THAT, 
VRISKA: Tavros, I have led a rich and complic8ted life and death. I can hardly 8e expected to tell you a8out every little thing that I’ve 8een through. 
VRISKA: 8esides, you should have already known this a8out me. 
TAVROS: wHY, 
VRISKA: 8ecause we shared a sprite 8ody once!!!!!!!! We 8riefly had access to all each others memories and feelings. 
VRISKA: So if you didn’t take the chance to dig that out of my memory, you only have yourself to 8lame. 
TAVROS: nO, bUT, tHAT HARDLY LASTED ANY TIME AT ALL, 
TAVROS: aND THERE WERE A LOT, oF OVERWHELMING EXPERIENCES ALL HAPPENING AT ONCE, 
TAVROS: hOW COULD i TRY TO REMEMBER ALL YOUR MEMORIES BEFORE WE EXPLODED, 
VRISKA: Well, all I can say is, I managed! I took the opportunity to remem8er pretty much all YOUR memories. 
VRISKA: I was in and out like a 8andit, and now all your life experiences are mine. 
TAVROS: tHAT’S NOT FAIR, 
TAVROS: bECAUSE, yOU’RE SMARTER THAN ME, aND MORE CUNNING, 
VRISKA: Them’s the 8r8ks!!!!!!!! 


It’s sometimes speculated that Tavros and Vriska gaining each others’ memories caused their personalities to gradually invert, with Tavros becoming a mighty leader and Vriska becoming, uh, (Vriska). It’s a fun theory, but I don’t think this passage supports it very well. But to be fair, this stretch of pages was probably long before the retcon arc was even conceived.

JOHN: wait, i’m with tavros here, i think we should back this up a bit. 
JOHN: so, my alternate reality ghost dated you? 

VRISKA: Yes. 
JOHN: that… 
JOHN: but… 
VRISKA: What? 
JOHN: vriska, this is a very bizarre and unsettling fact to me!
VRISKA: Why? 
JOHN: because… 
JOHN: man, i don’t know, it just is! 
JOHN: you say we dated for a while, but like, i don’t even get to remember doing that? 
JOHN: i think that’s mostly what’s weird about it. 


Note that John said “i don’t even get to remember doing that”, not just “i don’t even remember doing that”. Those two words, “get to”, leak out that John still has lots of unresolved feelings regarding Vriska despite what he may have said to Jade back then.

VRISKA: Hey, we apparently don’t get to remem8er the results of a lot of choices we didn’t actually make! 
VRISKA: Again, see: the 8r8ks. 
JOHN: well… 
JOHN: can you at least tell me what happened there? like, how did that go? 
VRISKA: It was fine. For a while. 
VRISKA: It didn’t really work out. 
JOHN: oh. 
VRISKA: We crossed paths every now and then after that. 
VRISKA: Things stayed pretty friendly 8etween us. 
VRISKA: Until he died. 
JOHN: what?? 
JOHN: what do you mean he died? 
VRISKA: He was murdered. 
JOHN: you mean… his GHOST died? 
VRISKA: Yes. 
JOHN: as in, he just doesn’t exist at all anymore? like DEAD dead? 
VRISKA: Yes! Dead dead. For good. 


And here’s the tragic outcome of the subplot with doomed John and Vriska. John’s ghost was double killed as we saw in [S] Caliborn: Enter, a flash Vriska is recapping as we speak.

VRISKA: Yes! Dead dead. For good. 
JOHN: i don’t… how does that even… 
JOHN: who killed him??? 
JOHN: was it jack? 
VRISKA: Jack? Are you kidding? No, John. 
VRISKA: Jack is 8arely in the picture as a threat anymore. He’s just more old news. 
JOHN: he is not old news though! 
JOHN: he’s still as strong and menacing as ever. 
JOHN: i just had an awesome battle with him in this very dream bubble! 
VRISKA: You did? 
JOHN: yeah. i found him skulking around a memory of my dead dad, and i got pissed off, so i really let him have it. 
JOHN: oh, i even used the cool hammer you helped me make. remember that? 
VRISKA: Oh yeah! 
VRISKA: Those were good times, when I helped you 8e gr8. ::::) 

JOHN: yes. 
JOHN: the last time i faced him was kind of embarrassing. i let him get the drop on me, and he just stabbed me right away. 
JOHN: but this time i think i held my own pretty well. i even got in one good hit against him! 
JOHN: i gave him a solid bop on the head, and the dice roll made him wear a silly hat. 
VRISKA: That’s awesome!!!!!!!! 
VRISKA: One time in an altern8te reality, I came pretty close to killing him apparently. 
JOHN: oh really? 
VRISKA: You 8et. Too 8ad that was in a timeline that didn’t really count. 8ut it’s always reassuring to know you can put up a good fight against a strong adversary if you ever needed to. Now I guess you know you can too. 


John and Vriska’s bonding is legitimately heartwarming, probably more than ever before. It makes it easy to forget the more negative things John has said about or to Vriska at various points.

JOHN: whatever jack’s doing out here in dream bubble land, he seems to have his hands full with her on his tail. 
JOHN: but as you can see, he is FAR from out of the picture. 
VRISKA: Ok, that may 8e, 8ut it sure wasn’t Jack who killed a whole shitload of ghosts out here, including one of yours. 
VRISKA: I really dou8t Jack can even kill ghosts. In fact, I don’t think anyone can except for this guy. 
JOHN: what guy? 
VRISKA: Lord English. 
JOHN: who?? 
VRISKA: Wow, John. Really? 
VRISKA: Wow. 
VRISKA: Time to get a clue! 


It’s kind of crazy that John has been so out of the loop on the story’s plot lately—certainly more than the meteor crew and dream bubble inhabitants are. It’s an unfortunate side effect of the comic’s protagonist being sent to Hussiespace of all places. A fortunate(?) side effect of John’s shafting is that it gives more reason for him to interact with Vriska, who gets him up to speed on recent plot events.


VRISKA: Hasn’t it ever occurred to you to wonder who the ultim8 8ad guy of this adventure was going to 8e? 
JOHN: ultimate bad guy? 
JOHN: you mean like the last boss? 
VRISKA: Man, even that way of putting it is a little too pedestrian. 
VRISKA: I mean, I already 8eat a last 8oss! The 8lack king was the officially sanctioned last 8oss of our session, and I killed him. This is different. 


Vriska says that she killed the black king, which is technically true but the way she phrases it shows that she hasn’t quite gotten over her self-importance despite all her character development.

VRISKA: There’s always someone stronger w8ing to 8e revealed. Jack showed up shortly after that, and he was MUCH stronger. 
VRISKA: Eventually the curtains get pulled 8ack, and you find out who was 8ehind every terri8le thing that happened all along. Someone who is invaria8ly stronger than all other adversaries 8y a wide margin. The supreme villain! 
VRISKA: To 8e honest, I was always kind of w8ing for that guy to show up, whoever he was. For the other shoe to drop, you know? There’s always a 8ig 8ad 8ehind everything. A true gamer sees stuff like this coming a mile away. 
JOHN: ok. if you say so. 
JOHN: i always kind of thought jack was evil and strong enough to be our main antagonist. but if you say there is someone even stronger and more evil, then… wow. 
VRISKA: Yes, I’ll admit, I was fooled 8y Jack 8riefly. 
VRISKA: For a little while, I thought he was the supreme menace, and I would have to face him in a final showdown. 
VRISKA: 8ut it turned out that was just a 8it of standard misdirection. He was just another step up in a typical pattern of escal8tion involving increasingly “insurmounta8le” threats, which legendary heroes like us have to overcome to achieve total victory over everything. 
VRISKA: Also, let’s face it. I don’t think Jack is all that evil, so much as he’s just a murderous asshole. Trust me, I know the type. 
VRISKA: 8ut English, that guy is as evil as they come. He’s the real deal!!!!!!!! 


Wait, let me correct myself. Vriska hasn’t even come close to getting over her self-importance. All Vriska ever wants to do is deal the final blow on the final boss, and she gets incredibly deluded by these fantasies. First with the black king, then with Jack Noir, and now with Lord English. John knows this trait of Vriska’s far better than she does. In Act 5 Act 2, John claimed that Vriska’s plan to create and defeat Bec Noir was how villains have their downfalls; in the Candy Epilogue, John disagrees with Rose’s claim that Vriska defeated Lord English because it feels so wrong to him.

The only way Vriska can get over those fantasies of defeating the ultimate villain is by becoming (Vriska). First dead Vriska Serket is usurped by alive Vriska Serket, then alive Vriska Serket is usurped by Vriska Lalonde. Vriska Lalonde has the exact same ambitious mindset as all the other Vriskas we’ve known; she’s extremely excited to join the troll rebellion and face off against the final boss, who to her knowledge is Jane. Meanwhile at the end of Candy, (Vriska) has moved past wanting to face a final boss and simply wants to get in touch with Terezi.

(I think I have a bit of a problem with writing essays about Vriska.)

TAVROS: oKAY, cAN i JUST SAY SOMETHING, 
TAVROS: i STILL DON’T KNOW WHY YOU’RE SO SURE, hE’S THE FINAL VILLAIN, 
TAVROS: bECAUSE, yOU YOURSELF SAID, tHERE’S ALWAYS SOMEONE STRONGER, rIGHT, 
TAVROS: sO, i’M PERCEIVING A CONTRADICTION ABOUT YOUR FACTS, 
VRISKA: Tavros, come on. We’ve already talked a8out this ad nauseum. 
VRISKA: He’s the 8ig 8ad!!!!!!!! It’s so o8vious. I mean, MAY8E there’s someone stronger out there in paradox space? Who knows.
VRISKA: 8ut whoever that is has nothing to fucking do with this massive extended multiverse-spanning campaign!!!!!!!! 
VRISKA: English was the guy who stacked the whole deck against us from the start, rigging shit to go haywire, wiping out our race, 8lowing up universes, exterimin8ting ghosts, slaughtering dark gods, and shattering reality itself. Pretty sure we reached the top floor, 8uddy! 
TAVROS: oKAY, bUT ALL i’M SAYING IS, wHAT IF, 
TAVROS: tHERE’S SOMEONE EVEN WORSE THAN THAT, dUE TO SPECULATION, 

VRISKA: Un8elieva8le. 
VRISKA: John, just ignore him. He tends to 8e contrary just for the sake of 8eing contrary. It’s just what he does these days. 
VRISKA: He seems to think it’s how you show confidence and assertiveness. The key to high self esteem is apparently just saying “nuh uh!” all the time. 


Tavros questions Vriska’s insistence that Lord English is the final boss and claims there’s probably someone even stronger behind English; Vriska dismisses Tavros as being contrarian just for the sake of it. Though Homestuck never shows us a bigger villain behind Lord English, you probably know that this foreshadowing comes true in the epilogues, and that the villain behind Lord English turns out to be Dirk Strider (or god tier Calliope, depending how you look at things).* Regardless of what I think of Dirk’s villainous turn, I am extremely glad this foreshadowing came true because it would be absolute bullshit if it didn’t. I can only say here that as of this page, Vriska obviously still hasn’t gotten over her villain defeat mindset.

* Before you call me a buffoon, tell me which of the two brutally destroyed Meat Jade’s hope for a character arc???? Jade deserves better than this.

TAVROS: nO, tHAT’S NOT TRUE, 
VRISKA: See? 
VRISKA: This was apparently the 8ig lesson he learned from sharing a 8rain with me for a few minutes. In order to feel good a8out yourself, just 8e a constant pain in the ass!!!!!!!!
TAVROS: nO, tHAT’S NOT WHAT i LEARNED, 
JOHN: haha. 
JOHN: i see what you mean. 
TAVROS: nO, 
TAVROS: nO, 
TAVROS: nO, oKAY, i REALIZE ALL i’M SAYING IS NO, WHICH IS JUST HELPING MAKE YOU LOOK AS RIGHT AS POSSIBLE ABOUT MAKING FUN OF ME, 
TAVROS: bUT i LEARNED IN YOUR BRAIN THAT YOU AREN’T ALWAYS RIGHT ABOUT EVERYTHING, 
TAVROS: yOU WERE WRONG ABOUT LOTS OF THINGS, 
TAVROS: yOU WERE WRONG ABOUT RUFIO! 
TAVROS: rUFIO WAS REAL ALL ALONG, }:D 
VRISKA: Alright, granted, there did in fact exist a person 8y that name. 
VRISKA: You aren’t spelling it right, though. 
TAVROS: hOW DO YOU KNOW HOW i’M SPELLING IT, wHEN i’M JUST TALKING, iNSTEAD OF USING LETTERS, 
VRISKA: 8ecause that’s how you spelled it when we used to chat online, dum8ass!!!!!!!! You weren’t using enough letters. 
TAVROS: sO, 
VRISKA: And in any case, he doesn’t actually represent your self esteem. He’s just some dude. 
TAVROS: bUT, hE MAKES ME FEEL BETTER ABOUT MYSELF wHEN i THINK OF HIM, sO THE REALITY IS EFFECTIVELY EQUIVALENT TO MY FRAUDULENT CHILDHOOD SUPERSTITION, 


I’m not sure if gaining Tavros’s memories caused ghost Vriska to gradually change as a person, but gaining Vriska’s memories definitely caused Tavros to change in the best possible way. He’s laying his contrarianism a bit thick right now, but it’s an extremely positive change that he now realizes Vriska isn’t always right. He demonstrates this new mindset by talking about Rufioh, which is a rather silly example but a good start.


JOHN: i take it you were pretty good friends back on your planet? 
VRISKA: You could say that. 
VRISKA: There’s a pretty loaded history 8etween us. It’s pro8a8ly 8est not to get into it. 
VRISKA: None of that matters anymore anyway, it was so long ago. You know how it is. 
JOHN: um. sure? 
VRISKA: Issues 8etween people seem like such a 8ig deal when they’re happening. 8ut then you die, and time just goes on, and on…….. then on some more. 
VRISKA: If enough time passes, shit that used to 8e a 8ig deal kind of stops mattering. 


A year into the battleship journey, John talked to Jade about how all the stuff they went through with the trolls seemed like a much bigger deal back then than it really was. Vriska is talking about the exact same thing here, but now John isn’t quite sure if he agrees. Maybe John’s opinion on events of the past correlates to his opinion on Vriska.

VRISKA: Ok, full disclosure. I used to do a lot of terri8le things to Tavros. 
VRISKA: Once I launched him off a cliff and paralyzed him. And if that wasn’t 8ad enough, I spent sweeps mocking him for the disa8ility I caused! Haha. 
VRISKA: Oh yeah. Then I killed him. 
JOHN: oh, right. i remember you said you killed someone that you cared about. i guess this is him? 
VRISKA: Mm hm. 
VRISKA: 8ut like I said, that’s suuuuuuuuch old news now, it might as well not have even happened. 
VRISKA: Tavros doesn’t give a shit a8out that stuff anymore. 

TAVROS: hEY, wAIT, mAYBE YOU SHOULDN’T, SPEAK FOR ME? 
TAVROS: i STILL KIND OF THINK THAT STUFF WAS ALL PRETTY MEAN, eVEN THOUGH IT WAS FOREVER AGO, 
TAVROS: iT’S JUST, i HAVE CHOSEN TO BE THE BIGGER MAN, aND NOT HOLD IT AGAINST LIKING YOU, 
VRISKA: Hahahaha! John, can you 8elieve this guy? 
VRISKA: This is the kind of shit I have to deal with all the time. 
TAVROS: oH GOD, 
TAVROS: nO, tIME OUT, i’M FLAGGING THIS, vRISKA, aS TERRIBLE BEHAVIOR, 
VRISKA: Tavros, the 8igger man is only ACTUALLY the 8igger man if he doesn’t refer to himself as the 8igger man. That’s kind of the point? 
VRISKA: Unless the intent is to produce some form of socially awkward comic relief, which let’s face it, is what you’re all a8out. 
VRISKA: 8ut that’s what I like a8out you. 
TAVROS: yES, }:) 
JOHN: hmm, i feel like… maybe we got sidetracked there? 


John seems a bit uncomfortable hearing Vriska talk about her romance with Tavros. This either demonstrates that he’s squeamish about romance in general or that he still has unresolved feelings for Vriska.

JOHN: maybe you should tell me more about this english guy. 
JOHN: frankly, it seems like i’m usually one of the last people to learn about stuff like this, and it’s starting to make me feel like a bit of a tool. 


This line reminds me of when Vriska complained about lack of narrative relevance the last time we heard from her. I’m a bit surprised this line doesn’t lead Vriska to bond with John about that.


VRISKA: He’s just some huge overpowered green freak. A time traveling monster, supposedly invinci8le. 
VRISKA: Who he is, what he is, where he came from, none of that really matters. 
VRISKA: What matters is how we’re going to defeat him. 


It’s only fitting that Vriska doesn’t care one bit about who Lord English is or what his motives are. She just sees big tough green guy and decides to kill big tough green guy. Later in the comic we get a very interesting sequence where Dave argues that Lord English barely did anything to our heroes and there’s no reason to care about him, which cements that English is sort of a deconstruction of the concept of final bosses. (Man, all this villain talk is making me thirsty for a continuation to the epilogues.)

VRISKA: That’s what Tavros and I have 8een working on here for some time now. 
JOHN: working on what? 
VRISKA: Treasure hunting! 
JOHN: oh yeah? 
JOHN: what treasure? 
VRISKA: Yes. Ok, I should explain. 
VRISKA: There’s sort of a plan in motion to 8eat English. It’s a three pronged approach. 


Three pronged, you say? This plan to fight Lord English has Meenah written all over it. Makes sense because Meenah doesn’t want to fight English out of self-importance, but simply out of Alternian fighting spirit.

VRISKA: A num8er of people out here in the furthest ring are working on different prongs of the strategy independently. 
VRISKA: The first is a quest to find the lost ghost of some alien girl. She’s said to 8e one of the keys to defeating him in some way. 
VRISKA: Other people are allegedly out there working on that right now. If you ask me, it sounds like a really 8oring approach to defeating him. Who knows if it’s even true. 


I have to agree with Vriska here. The lost cherub plan is a massive red herring that’s brought up a few times and then forgotten until we meet the real lost cherub, who already knows damn well what she’s doing.

TAVROS: (gIVe it tO me,) 
JOHN: (stop that!) 
JOHN: (keep your hands to yourself.) 


Unfortunately, John and Tavros aren’t listening because they’re busy fighting over the ring. Both seem to be mysteriously drawn to it even though we have no idea what it does.

VRISKA: The second is a quest to raise an army of ghosts to challenge him directly in some kind of huge 8attle royale, I guess. 
VRISKA: From what I understand, some yahoo out there is 8usy rounding people up. I really have no idea how that’s going. I usually just hear stuff through the grapevine. 
VRISKA: That approach doesn’t really interest me either. Gonna file it under “8oring” as well. Seems a little heavy handed, not to mention too slow. 


I can see why Vriska isn’t a fan of this approach either. A glory hound like her wouldn’t be one for teamwork. It’s the same reason why after the retcon, alive Vriska went by herself to kill Lord English instead of joining any of the fighting teams.

TAVROS: (gIve Me thE riNG,) 
JOHN: (no!) 
TAVROS: (yes, yOu ASs,) 
JOHN: (dude, you suck at whispering!) 
TAVROS: (you sAiD you’D GIve it to me,) 
JOHN: (i changed my mind!) 


John and Tavros still aren’t listening. Helps make Vriska’s self-important lecture on Lord English harder to take seriously.

VRISKA: The third prong is what Tavros and I are 8usy with. The aforementioned treasure hunt. 
VRISKA: The legend says there’s some mystical ancient treasure hidden somewhere out here in the furthest ring. 
VRISKA: I’m assuming it’s some kind of weapon. It’s said that if you use it, or like, activ8te it in some way, he can 8e defeated forever. 
VRISKA: The nature of the treasure is pretty vague, actually. 8ut the first rule of treasure hunting, which I’m admittedly just making up now, is that it doesn’t fucking matter what the treasure is. 


A one-use weapon that you can activate right in front of English? A mysterious treasure whose hunt is just like your childhood pirate fantasies?? Now THAT is right up Vriska’s alley. I’d go so far as to say Vriska is the only character in the comic who would focus on this part of the plan. It’s so straightforward and simple, such obvious glory bait. Exactly the sort of thing (Vriska) wouldn’t concern herself with. Vriska and (Vriska) are two very different identities, held by different versions of Vriska at different parts of the comic.

TAVROS: (wE had a deAl,) 
JOHN: (quit it!) 
TAVROS: (why Are you sUcH a liar,) 
JOHN: (shut up. i’m keeping it.) 
TAVROS: (thiS is noT cOOl,) 
TAVROS: (you’re PrevenTing joYful human sTYled matrimonY frOM happEning,) 
JOHN: (yeah right. like she would even say yes.) 
JOHN: (i don’t even think she’s really your girlfriend. i think you made that up!) 
TAVROS: (wow, no, wOw,) 
TAVROS: (you wEnt thERE,) 

Seems like John wants to keep the ring just as badly as Tavros does. This is starting to hint that John has been feeling romantically lonely, especially after Jade broke up with Davesprite. 

TAVROS: (unhAnd the treasurE,) 
TAVROS: (it’s prEcious to Me, jUst liKe, My beautiful GIRLFRIEND,) 
JOHN: (you are so full of shit!) 
TAVROS: (we’re in LOVE toGetHEr, aSSHole,) 
JOHN: (there’s no way you’re getting this ring.) 
TAVROS: (fUCk, YoU,) 


I think it’s clear at this point that John may have suspected himself to be aromantic before, but clearly turned out not to be. As I said two posts ago, I greatly appreciate the way Homestuck handles identity questioning, probably more than the way it handles queer orientations and identities in the first place. I particularly think Roxy’s gender detransition in the Candy Epilogue was handled very tastefully, which is rather impressive.

VRISKA: Not that I’d have it any other way. This just sounds like the 8est plan to me. Why 8other messing around with an army of ghostly dipshits, or some shy magic alien when you can go str8 for the ultim8 weapon? 
VRISKA: Hell, may8e I’ll just walk right up to him, one-shot the guy and end it all right there. 
VRISKA: That’s how a real pro goes a8out 8usiness. You take any shortcut you find. 


After Act 7 came out, these lines must have been an absolute pain to reread. Why would the story end with alive Vriska doing exactly that, without any subversion??? The epilogues redeemed my Vriska salt in the stupidest but most brilliant way possible: she’s hit by a fragment of spacetime right before the chest opens and sent hurling into a black hole, then lands on Earth C and winds up having a heart-to-heart with her clone that I love every word of.

JOHN: (i am going to wish as super hard as i can that i wake up with this ring.) 
JOHN: (it’s probably magic, so i bet it makes my wish come true!) 
TAVROS: (i doubT that From happeNing,) 
JOHN: (if i wish hard enough, that will make it slightly less impossible!) 
TAVROS: (oh, you bastARD, you arE gOOd,) 
JOHN: (i think some day i will use it to propose to *MY* girlfriend. what do you think about THAT, wise guy?) 


This is the second time in this act that John mentions his nonexistent girlfriend. The Roxy foreshadowing is obvious, as is the implication that John is probably just as romantically oriented as his friends but never got the opportunity to start a relationship with anyone. I think this romantic isolation for the first sixteen years of his life instead of just the first thirteen made him so weird when it comes to romance. Same goes for Jade in the epilogues, regrettably enough.

TAVROS: (noOO!!!) 
TAVROS: (gIMme,) 
JOHN: (this is pathetic.) 
JOHN: (stop grabbing at me! we’re missing what she’s saying!) 
JOHN: (she’s going to think we’re idiots, won’t you STOP?) 
VRISKA: Are you fuckers even listening to me???????? God DAMN it. 
JOHN: yes! 
VRISKA: No you’re not. You’re squa88ling with Tavros and his loud shitty whispering a8out some 8ullshit. 
VRISKA: Come on, guys. Am I really 8eing that 8oring? 
VRISKA: I’m really starting to understand how my ancestor must have felt sometimes. No8ody ever respects an important explan8tion!!!!!!!! 


As the story progresses, it only becomes more obvious that Vriska and Aranea aren’t as different as one may think. Aranea’s self-importance is much better hidden than Vriska’s at this point, but it’s certainly visible.

I’ve seen a lot of meme edits with this image. Not surprising—Vriska holding a blank map is just asking to be memed.


Upon Vriska’s command, Tavros gets out all the treasure maps and Vriska explains some interesting stuff. First she shows us a blank map, which demonstrates how horribly stupid navigating the Furthest Ring normally is. I suppose we are to assume that Vriska’s Sburb planet, the Land of Maps and Treasure, had magical maps of the planet abound? As in maps that automatically update whenever circumstances change. That is the best explanation I can think why these maps show pure void.


VRISKA: The guy who’s 8een fucking shit up is the 8ig 8ad himself! 
VRISKA: Every time he destroys another dream 8u88le, he does a little more damage to the furthest ring, inexplica8ly shattering the essence of all-encompassing nothingness. 
VRISKA: As the cracks spread across the void, new points of reference show up on our maps! 
VRISKA: Then we look at the angles and intersections and all the shapes formed 8y the cracks, and compare them to our notes from the various riddles and clues we’ve discovered a8out the path to the treasure. 


Or rather, they showed pure void until Lord English came along. Vriska’s been putting a lot of work into the treasure hunt mission, which kind of redeems her self-importance because she’s actually doing something. It’s only fitting that after alive Vriska steals the chest standing right in front of her, she is brutally taken out of the spotlight because she didn’t even do anything to deserve being the one to kill Lord English.

VRISKA: It’s actually a little like how in old times on Alternia, pir8s used to navig8 8y shapes the stars made. Constell8tions used to have a lot of significance in our culture, not just guiding explorers on their journeys to physical destin8tions, 8ut guiding them on the choices they made in life, pertaining to f8 and all that. Not that humans would really understand anything like that. 

The way Vriska describes astrology and horoscopes, it really does sound kind of alien. I love jokes like this where trolls think they’re more different from humans than they really are.

VRISKA: I actually find the situ8tion to 8e pretty funny. This guy’s ego must 8e astronomical. Classic case of unchecked hu8ris paving the way for his own downfall. 
VRISKA: I didn’t even need to 8uild a we8 to trap him. He just went ahead and started 8uilding his own. 
VRISKA: Talk a8out a lucky 8r8k!!!!!!!! 


Though Vriska is every bit as self-important as she was when she was alive, she did seem to learn a lesson or two from being killed. She can now recognize cases where hubris leads to downfall and accurately describes Lord English’s situation that way.


JOHN: that is pretty neat. 
JOHN: so does that mean you know where the treasure is now? 
VRISKA: No, 8ecause the map isn’t complete yet! 
VRISKA: Needs more cracks so we can plot the rest of the course. All we’re a8le to do now is head in the right general direction. 
VRISKA: So ironically in order to prevent reality from 8eing destroyed, we need to w8 for it to 8e damaged further. In fact, we’re 8etter off encouraging it! 
JOHN: encouraging it? 
JOHN: what, you mean like, making him mad so he breaks more… uh… 
JOHN: nothingness? 
VRISKA: Yes, 8ut it has to 8e strategic. We have to somehow lead him in the direction of the places we want him to damage. 
VRISKA: Specifically, the places where the route dead-ends. Wherever we need new points of reference to keep going. 


Vriska’s morality starts to get a bit questionable here. She’s started to encourage destruction for what she sees as the greater good (Lord English’s defeat). At the end of the comic, the Furthest Ring is completely destroyed and I’d argue it’s partly Vriska’s fault things turn out that way. Because of the Furthest Ring’s annihilation, I think that though the intended purpose of Tavros’s ghost army was to fight Lord English, the true purpose it ended up serving was to gather as many troll ghosts as possible in one place so that they could survive the destruction and end up on Earth C. I can only assume the ghosts are competent fighters this time around when they join Karkat and Meenah’s army—lots of powerful god tier trolls and quite a few with high strength attributes. Or at least, I sure hope they are.

JOHN: so that means you have to piss him off i guess. 
VRISKA: Not really. He’s already pissed off. I think he’s just permanently that way? 
VRISKA: It’s more a8out getting his attention. Using the right 88! Like going fishing. 
VRISKA: 8ut to do that, you gotta know what he really wants. Like what motiv8tes him. I mean, 8esides indiscrimin8tely killing dead children and huge tentacle monsters. 
JOHN: i am guessing you have an idea what that might be? 
VRISKA: Sure. The rumor is he’s trying to find that dead alien girl I mentioned, and kill her ghost for good. 


Here Vriska tries her best to guess what Lord English’s motives are, which is of course rather difficult. Vriska’s speculation is making me think of English as a bit of a tragic figure who’s trapped himself in a shameful existence doing nothing but destroying everything now that he’s achieved his ultimate power form. Caliborn was so much cooler, why did it have to come down to this.

VRISKA: If he catches on to the fact that some of us are looking for her too, and thinks we’re hot on her trail, he’ll pro8a8ly start following us around and wreaking havoc wherever we go. 
VRISKA: We just have to make sure we’re in the right place when he tries to kill us. Oh, also try not to actually die again while we’re at it. Haha. 
JOHN: so the bait is really you. 
VRISKA: Sort of! It’s actually more the 8ogus idea that we’ll lead him to the cheru8, 8ecause we’re looking for her too. Which we’re o8viously not. 
VRISKA: There’s some manipul8tion involved. 


Vriska is taking advantage of the part of the plan she sees as boring and using it as a distraction against Lord English. It’s kind of clever, but unfortunately Lord English isn’t very smart and probably doesn’t think that far ahead. It’s an admirable idea though.


JOHN: well… 
JOHN: cool! 
JOHN: that was actually a very interesting story, vriska. 
JOHN: you’re a pretty good story teller! 
VRISKA: You think so? 
TAVROS: oH, yES, i THINK SO TOO, 
TAVROS: sHE’S GOTTEN MUCH BETTER AT STORIES, aS A RECREATIONAL LONG TERM DEATH HOBBY, 
JOHN: oh yeah? 
TAVROS: sURE, wE’VE BOTH LOOKED AT LESSONS FROM OUR ANCESTORS, tO IMPROVE OUR SOULS, 
TAVROS: hER ANCESTRAL AWAKENING HAS TO DO WITH UNDERSTANDING HER DESTINY, tO TELL LONG STORIES TO PEOPLE, aND MAKE THEM LISTEN TO ALL THE WORDS IRREGARDLESS OF THEIR INTEREST, bY ANY MEANS NECESSARY, 
TAVROS: tHE ART OF SAYING OPTIMAL TALES BY MY UNDERSTANDING, iS TO CHARGE THROUGH ALL CONCEIVABLE DETAILS AND EXCESSIVE MINUTIA, uNTIL THEY ARE EXHAUSTED COMPLETELY, mUCH LIKE IT IS A SPIRITUAL PRACTICE, aND EXTRANEOUS INFORMATION IS TREATED LIKE THE RELIGIOUS WORDS YOU SAY OVER AND OVER AGAIN UNTIL BRAIN PEACE HAPPENS, 


The first John/Vriska scene in Act 6 wraps up on a reasonably positive note. John compliments Vriska’s story and Tavros pokes a bit of fun at her.

JOHN: that’s… one way of looking at it. 
JOHN: i don’t know about excessive minutia or brain peace, but i was hanging on every word! 
VRISKA: Aw, you guys. You’re making me 8lush. 
JOHN: i wish i could hang out with you longer and maybe even help you with your treasure hunt. 
JOHN: but i just know i’m gonna be waking up soon. 
JOHN: darn. who even knows how long it will be before we meet again in another bubble? 
TAVROS: yEAH, wELL, 
TAVROS: tHEM’S THE BREAKS, aHA, aHA, 
TAVROS: (soOn, iT wilL be MIne,) 
VRISKA: Don’t mind him, John. He’s just 8eing weird and tooly again. 
VRISKA: It was nice to see you and catch up like this. If we don’t meet in another dream soon, don’t worry. 
VRISKA: I have a feeling we’ll 8e crossing paths again 8efore this is all over! 


This scene ends with Vriska telling us this won’t be the last time she and John meet, which is basically a “see you next time” sort of deal. Readers probably expected John and Vriska’s next meeting to be much testier than this one, and they were unsurprisingly right.

Speaking of “see you next time” sort of deals, the next page after this is Openbound Part 3, so I’m concluding this post here. See you next time as we meet the last three Beforan trolls, who have a backstory considerably more anime than the rest. I wonder how different that part will read now that I have actually seen some amount of anime? (I still haven’t seen very much anime, don’t be misled.)

>> Part 90: Tsundere Vacillation Station

Cookie Fonster’s Homestuck Commentary Part 64: Triennium Battleship Mindfuckery

Introduction

Part 63 | Part 64 | Part 65 >

Act 6 Intermission 1, Part 1 of 2

Pages 4285-4345 (MSPA: 6185-6245)

NOTE: My next Problem Sleuth post is still in production. Stay tuned for it I guess.

One down.

The curtains closing in on a tragic explosion transition us to robotic Hussie, who completely destroys all drama with a humorous line, “One down.” I think I’m getting the hang of this black comedy thing. Though he immediately says he’s referring to the curtains, not the kids, it’s still funny regardless.

So, uh… what about all those other kids?

Huh? Who? 

Oh, yeah. Those people. 

Aren’t they all dead?

Hussie is a master at pretending not to really care that much about his comic. Some people think that due to many parts of the late comic being unsatisfying, after a certain point he actually did stop caring as much as he used to; if so, his lines above may be taken as an exaggeration of his future self.

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Cookie Fonster’s Homestuck Commentary Part 59: The Jumbo Act Five Finale

Introduction

Part 58 | Part 59 | Part 60 >

Act 5 Act 2, Part 32 of 32 + Intermission 2

Pages 4084-4112 (MSPA: 5984-6012)

This is my final post about Act 5, which ends right around the halfway point of Homestuck (unless the upcoming epilogue shifts this point’s position significantly). Needless to say, this is a major milestone point for this post series. I’m pretty proud of myself for making it this far in such a massive project, and not just because that means I can finally dissect Act 6; also because reaching such a major point, with a 13-minute dramatic animation that has left me floored every time I watched it (except maybe in my first read, when it was just plain confusing), seems like something I’d only get to in the far future. Now, nearly ten months after starting this post series, it is the far future, right here in front of my eyes, not a point I dreamt of reaching early in my other projects but abandoned long before getting there. If I had made this post series a few years ago I probably would have forgotten it by now, but I haven’t forgotten it at all. So, you know, it’s kind of cool that I made it this far.

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Cookie Fonster’s Homestuck Commentary Part 56: SBES Vol. 2 – Of Sports and Snake Monsters

Introduction

Part 55 | Part 56 | Part 57 >

Act 5 Act 2, Part 29 of 32

Doc Scratch Intermission, Part 4 of 6

Pages 3936-4001 (MSPA: 5836-5901) (not in order)

NOTE: SBES stands for Scrapbook Examination Station.

Welcome back to my Homestuck post series. After nearly three weeks without any such posts, I guess it’s time for more scrapbook pages. I will do this selection screen left to right (boring order, I know), so I’ll start with Nannasprite.

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Cookie Fonster’s Homestuck Commentary Part 53: Scratch Doctor Narration Adventures

Introduction

Part 52 | Part 53 | Part 54 >

Act 5 Act 2, Part 26 of 32

Doc Scratch Intermission, Part 1 of 6

Pages 3763-3832 (MSPA: 5663-5732)

NOTE: For once I managed to release a post ahead of schedule! God damn am I proud. I will leave for vacation June 9, so you should expect about three more posts before then.

Where we left off, Homestuck Disc 2 was taken to Doc Scratch for repair. Now, Doc Scratch takes over the narration for the second time, and helpfully changes the color scheme of the website so that his white text is easier to read. I think the color scheme change does a really nice job at changing the atmosphere of the site to a very different mood for Scratch’s section of the act.

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Cookie Fonster’s Homestuck Commentary Part 48: Bored Superdogs and Memory Revelations

Introduction

Part 47 | Part 48 | Part 49 >

Act 5 Act 2, Part 21 of 32

Pages 3546-3613 (MSPA: 5446-5513)

Only in Homestuck could this picture make any sort of sense. Even then…

NOTE: I’m really blitzing through Act 5 now (by which I mean going about 30% faster), and boy am I proud of that.

NOTE 2: As school is ending, I have a big project over the next few weeks which I have to work a lot on. This means that I’m slowing down posts somewhat, with the next three posts weekly instead of every five days. Next post coming Sunday.

: (

We now focus on what Jack Noir is up to. He just killed Dad and Mom offscreen. As with Nepeta, it’s a bit of a relief we didn’t have to see them die onscreen; showing a guy killing two loving parents of main characters in love together would obviously be even more heartwrenching than anything we’ve seen so far. Compare this to Bro, who got an onscreen death scene. This is probably not because he is (arguably) not as likable as the other guardians, rather because his death was the culmination of a fight, while the other two were just on a date when it was suddenly interrupted. If John’s dad was in a fistfight with Jack and lost when Jack became more powerful, he would no doubt get a full death scene.

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Cookie Fonster’s Homestuck Commentary Part 34: Villain Caninification Station

Introduction

Part 33 | Part 34 | Part 35 >

Act 5 Act 2, Part 7 of 32

Pages 2891-2941 (MSPA: 4791-4841)

“The villain is a FUCKING DOG WEARING SUNGLASSES.”
—Andrew Hussie

Back to Jack’s duel with a wicked rad dude, his creepy puppet, and his bird son/brother, we get some panels like the one above that are creepy but crazy awesome. See, if this lightning ninja freak is fighting a villain, that’s when he’s pretty cool, like an impossibly rad character from Street Fighter or something.

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