Cookie Fonster Dissects Homestuck Part 101: Faygo Degradation and Chair Tantrums

Introduction

< Part 100 | Part 101 | Part 102 >

Pages 6015-6054

Act 6 Intermission 5, Part 3 of 5 (not to be confused with Mr. 305)

My Homestuck blog post series officially has a Pitbull reference now. I have no idea why I just did that.

The first thing we see when we check back in on the meteor crew is THIS horrifying panel. Terezi reveals that her eyes are regular seeing troll eyes once more, which is an image that feels INCREDIBLY wrong, and rightfully so. Her eyes are pulsing red as if she isn’t used to not wearing her dragon hood, her mouth is in a weird frown, and there are heavy bags under her eyes that tell us what shape Terezi is in right now.

Karkat’s facial expression tells us more than words ever could. Sometimes the guy just mirrors readers’ reactions to story events SO WELL.

This panel, man. Terezi is surrounded by these horrible bottles of Faygo and clown horns, but she’s still carrying a scalemate plush to remind us that she’s the same Terezi Pyrope we’ve followed since Act 4.

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Cookie Fonster Dissects Homestuck Part 100: Antagonist Origination Station

Introduction

< Part 99 | Part 100 | Part 101 >

Pages 5947-6014

Act 6 Intermission 5, Part 2 of 5

Imagine a gigantic balloon shaped like the number 100 filling your screen right now.

Well, I did it. After four long years, I’ve reached the 100th installment of my Homestuck post series (which will hopefully not be my last Homestuck post of 2019) on the first anniversary of this post series’ resurrection. I worked on this post sort of on and off over the course of a month, because I know well that with my Homestuck posts I’m either absurdly fast or absurdly slow. I’m rather pleased with what material my 100th post turned out to cover: Aranea’s explanation of Lord English’s backstory, a villain we’ve known about since the Midnight Crew intermission.

I must say, having these posts’ numbers in the triple digits now is really goddamn weird. It now officially feels like this is a project I’ve gotten way too carried away with—not that it didn’t before, but this is just the nail in the coffin for me getting carried away. If I keep doing about 50 pages per post, this means that I’ll reach the end of Homestuck around post 140; realistically, probably quite a few more posts than that. The end of Homestuck won’t be the end of this post series though—I will continue with the epilogues, and IF IT BECOMES ACTUALLY GOOD, Homestuck^2 as well. Again speaking realistically, I estimate that I will reach the end of Homestuck in these posts in early 2021, which is a weird date to consider, almost like I’m a Hollywood studio announcing the release date for a movie or something. In any case, 100 posts is one HELL of a milestone.

… Alright, let’s stop rambling and get on with Cookie Fonster Dissects Homestuck Part 100!!!

A fitting image for my 100th post if I say so myself.

Act 6 Intermission 5 Intermission 2 is immediately followed by a scene showing us what John is up to. He’s sleeping on the couch, dreaming in a bubble amidst the cracks in paradox space formed by Lord English to complete an enormous circle of stupidity, which I mean both literally and figuratively. This image humorously calls back to Caliborn’s approximation of a circle with a mess of lines, showing that some things about him just never change.

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Cookie Fonster Re-Critiques Homestuck Part 12.1: Scrawlings in Puddles of Sloppy Discharge

Introduction

Part 11 | Part 12.1 | Part 12.2 >

Pages 1052-1099 (MSPA: 2952-2999)


Act 3, Part 4 of 5

Link to old version

This post (which I wrote on and off over the past few weeks) was originally going to cover the last ~100 pages of Act 3, but yesterday I decided to split the post in half because it was getting long. I also renamed my rewritten post series from “Cookie Fonster Critiques Homestuck Rewritten” to “Cookie Fonster Re-Critiques Homestuck”; the last ~50 pages of Act 3 will be covered in Cookie Fonster Re-Critiques Homestuck Part 12.2.

Picking up from where we left off, John Egbert is commanded to alchemize in a 1980’s time-lapse montage. The narration declines the “1980’s time-lapse montage” part of the command because Hussie didn’t feel it was worth making John’s per-character alchemy binge into a flash, which I think was a good decision. All four beta kids get their own alchemy binge during the first five acts, and each one brings about a delightful mix of extremely plot-relevant items and inconsequential nonsense and everything in between.

First off, John tries alchemizing “pogo || hammer” instead of “pogo && hammer” and makes a hammer-shaped pogo ride. This is a clever integration of computer science technicalities to make alchemy work in Homestuck without inevitably running into captcha cards with too many or too few holes. Here’s the book commentary on this page:

You people don’t even know what the && and || operators mean, do you? Why don’t you learn computers you dorks! Although to be fair, technically the single & and | bitwise operators are what perform the described functions. So now who’s the dork. Me. I went with the logical operators (&&,||) instead because they are more recognizable and frequently used from a pure coding perspective. So it’s this weird case where I dumbed it down for the sake of people who ACTUALLY KNOW HOW TO PROGRAM. Good grief.

afw I like this commentary because it shows how much care Hussie put into balancing technical accuracy and general accessibility when writing Homestuck’s early acts. The mix of accuracy and accessibility sets Homestuck apart from Problem Sleuth, a story based fully upon technical accuracy (to its own set of rules, that is).

Eh, could use some improvement.
Yes, PERFECT!

And here’s where John starts customizing his suit until he comes up with something satisfying. It’s common in media for characters’ outfits to set the tone of the story, and the early acts of Homestuck do that in a unique and incredibly fun way: by having characters experiment with item combinations until they make an outfit they like. Usually the outfits are just for flair and tone-setting, but Dave’s outfits are a special case because they distinguish his time duplicates.

Don’t forget that Lord English will one day eat every single hammer John has ever made.


John’s creativity starts to shine as he comes up with ways to use his complex alchemized weapons. How does he solve the problem that his Telescopic Sassacrusher is too big to carry? Simple: he makes a Remote Ghost Gauntlet—a remote-controllable arm alchemized from his fake arm, Nanna’s ectoplasm, and his father’s PDA.

Then he uses a mirror to make a Left-Handed Remote Ghost Gauntlet. Hussie’s book commentary raises an interesting point about its usefulness:

Honestly I forgot until just now that a mirror could be combined with items to flip them. I don’t think that clever tactic was ever used again. But then, in a universe where sprites can just “flip turn-ways”, maybe it’s not actually that useful?

Flipping sprites turn-ways only happens twice, both times in the Midnight Crew intermission: first when Diamonds Droog uses effigies to patch Spades Slick’s eye, then when Slick flips his own sprite so that his bar-coded arm isn’t severed. I wonder if flipping their sprites turn-ways is something carapacians can do but humans can’t? It matches with their roles as NPCs and all the other stuff I talked about in a recent post. Maybe the Kiddie Camper Handysash has a badge that grants players full ambidexterity and sprite flipping? Or maybe it doesn’t since most of the Handysash’s badges grant players abilities humans in the real world can do just fine.


Hopefully you already know that real-world controversies have greatly affected Bill Cosby’s presence in Homestuck. I find this instance rather amusing; many readers might chance upon this command and guess that because the command ends with an ellipsis, John will remember on the next page what Cosby is now best known for and decide not to alchemize anything with his Ghost Dad poster. Alas, most of Homestuck was written before the controversy which means a few parts read very differently now.

You probably already know that Hussie owns the painting of a horse attacking a football player in real life.


Through a bit of creative thinking and math, John figures out how to remove the clown drawings from his movie posters! Another bit of admirable problem solving that shows he’s smarter than he lets on—clever problem solving is a trait he has in common with Roxy which neither show very much in the brutally deconstructionist Candy Epilogue.


And then John makes… this thing. I’m not going to bother saying what everyone says when they get to this part. Instead, I’ll talk about the book commentary on this page:

Bill Cosby is the perfect father. We all know this. Whereas Bing Crosby, though quite fatherly onscreen, was actually a total douche to his real kids. I didn’t know this until way after I put him in HS. I wonder if Dad would have a dramatic breakdown if he learned that?

YEARS LATER EDIT – HA HA, LET’S POLITELY SIDESTEP THE FACT THAT HE’S NOW BETTER KNOWN AS A SERIAL RAPIST THAN A GOOD FATHER. HA HA, WHAT SEX CRIMES SPANNING FIVE DECADES??? HA HA, WOW, MOVING ON!

*But for real, re: the Cosby debacle. Given that I was just saying what a douche Bing Crosby was, it makes sense that Bill Cosby turned out to be one as well. These two figures are cosmically linked in the Homestuck mythos, which has eternally bound their souls together whether they like it or not. Both iconic father figures. Both wretched human beings. The circle of depravity is complete.

I think this commentary provides good insight into how the Cosby debacle affected Homestuck that doesn’t come across as being in bad taste. The fact that Hussie managed to form a logical connection between that whole situation and his comic’s mythos is a testament to how deeply intertwined every single aspect of Homestuck is, even the absurd celebrity jokes.


GOOD PROBLEM SLEUTH REFERENCE. That is all.


God, the Wrinklefucker has such a cool design. How can a hammer whose head is made of springs and irons possibly look so badass???

It’s like fucking christmas up in here.

Actually, it IS fucking christmas up in here, because this page was posted on Christmas.


And that’s the end of John’s alchemy binge! A whole bunch of sweet loot, including some sick weapons, a stylish new outfit, a couple wild variants on Fruit Gushers, and some inconsequential miscellany. The next three alchemy binges are even more fun.

PLEASE WATCH THIS YOU WON’T REGRET IT (to complete the trilogy)


Now it’s time for Dave’s final round of strife against his Bro.


Dave, Bro, and Cal have their grand final confrontation, face-to-face, sword-to-sword…


… and with one swipe of his anime sword, Bro Strider fulfills most of what was foreshadowed when WV looked at Dave’s exile screen. This moment establishes how unbeatable grown-up Dirk is—not just brutally defeating Dave, but also using his sword to introduce three plot points in one go: Dave’s swords breaking, Dave’s record symbol representing the Scratch, and the deep dark secrets behind Lil’ Cal (because his head is intact). Bro’s strength is also important because it’s used to show how unbeatable Jack Noir is after he becomes a dog.


Dave stumbles around some more until he lies face-up on the ground. He finally has his bro’s copies of Sburb, and all it took was his lunatic guardian handing him the brutal beatdown to end all brutal beatdowns. Post-scratch Dirk fulfills plot points through clever well-timed sequences that take advantage of every detail he can find; pre-scratch Dirk fulfills plot points simply through being an anime swordsman.

If I recall, Hussie didn’t intend for Dave’s bro to give off such strong anime vibes but rolled with it when fans pointed that out.


And with that, Bro Strider hops on his rocketboard and floats away like a mysterious motherfucker.

It’s kind of crazy that he just simply hops on and flies to the meteor so he can slice it in half while Dirk in the Unite Synchronization flashes has to make use of complex physics to achieve similar feats. Is this the way adult Dirk rolls, or are the beta kids inaccurately perceiving their guardians again? I’m going to assume it’s the former, because Bro spent 30 years or so inseparable from a puppet housing the souls of several impossibly strong beings whereas the puppet’s post-scratch “clone” didn’t have any of those souls yet.


And then comes the iconic sequence. Say it with me:

— turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering ectoBiologist [EB] — 

TG: bro just kicked my ass 

TG: thats really all there is to say on the matter 

Bro just kicked Dave’s ass. That’s really all there is to say on the matter. Now let’s go on to [S] Jade: Pester John, a flash everyone forgets about for some unfathomable reason!

I hope you don’t mind some self-advertisement.

The main point of this flash, as the title suggests, is to show Jade and John’s conversations we already read from the former’s perspective. This flash is unique because it’s the only time we see a previously read pesterlog from someone else’s perspective in a full-length animation rather than still pages, which I’ve always found to be a genius method of storytelling.


This flash reveals that Jade’s dream self talks to her friends through her dreambot. It’s still so crazy to consider that Jade’s first ever onscreen conversation with someone was typed by a robot who mirrors all her dream self’s actions—perhaps even crazier than the reveals of trolls and cherubs.


After we establish that dream Jade is using her lunchtop to pester John, the flash takes a bit of time to show us how exactly Jade can “see the future”: during Skaia’s eclipses, she absorbs information from clouds that show her bits and pieces of their story. Alongside all the clouds showing past events, there are a few clouds shaped like people and items in Jade’s daily life, like the Squiddle-shaped cloud above. These shaped clouds are a nice touch to the Skaian cloud scenes and I find it a bit of a shame they’re phased out—they’re shown in this flash mostly to tie into [S] John: Wake up towards the end of Act 2.


Dream logic gets REALLY weird as we find out the truth behind the noise outside Jade’s house that “sounded like an explosion”. A Skaian cloud showing Jade’s island 413 million years in the past expands so that Jade is now “reliving” that memory, much like a dream bubble…


… then another Skaian cloud shows the prehistoric meteor arriving from the beta kids’ session, and the meteor turns into a meteor-shaped cloud …


… and then the meteor-shaped cloud crashes near the volcano, reenacting a scene from [S] WV: Ascend. The fact that the meteor is represented by a cloud instead of just being a memory of a meteor is a good demonstration that dream mechanics in Homestuck often work based on what looks the most artistically pleasing (or narratively convenient).

This flash shows us that Jade slept through John’s entry into the game, as we would expect from her.


And this is the big reveal. The loud noise outside Jade’s house that sounded like an explosion wasn’t a meteor impact, but a dream memory of a meteor impact. A bit at odds with how Skaian clouds usually work, but still a great red herring and demonstration of bizarre dream logic. It’s also a good retrospective demonstration of how protective her dog is; we know from [S] Jade: Enter that Bec will never let a meteor impact anywhere near Jade and instead destroys the meteor head-on to wipe out everything else on Earth.


This memory reveals to the reader (and to Jade) that the prehistoric meteor from [S] WV: Ascend gave birth to Becquerel, a millions-of-years-old dog who rose up out of lava in case you need a reminder how incredibly tough he is.

Please take a moment to appreciate that Jade is casually typing from atop her dream tower.


It’s also super crazy to see what Jade means by “bec doesnt want me to go near it”. She’s unknowingly referring to two versions of Bec: the dog in the real world and the dog’s dream projection. I assume that the reason she doesn’t find it surprising that she’s dreaming about Bec for the first time is because her dream self has a very different kind of brain from her waking self.


The last part of this flash shows us another John scene from Jade’s perspective: his short dream where he saw clouds shaped like items from his house and a silhouette of Jade. Jade notices him floating with his eyes shut tight and flies towards him to try and wake him up. We don’t yet know that she’s extremely antsy to finally show John around Prospit and tell him all her secrets—that’s saved for an extremely sad letter John reads after her dream self’s death.


This sequence revisiting the events of [S] John: Wake up is extremely well executed: we see the exact same shots with a bit more detail than before, showing that the shaped clouds John glimpsed at were only a small portion of a much bigger picture.


The silhouette of Jade is also revealed not to be what John thought: a look from a broader perspective reveals Jade to be wearing her golden dream outfit, shaped a bit differently from John’s perception. Jade flashes a few times in her dream outfit as we revisit John’s perspective.


And then they both wake up.

How is it POSSIBLE that so many people forget about this flash?! Or the music in it for that matter. [S] Jade: Pester John may not be as fast-paced as all the iconic end-of-act flashes, but it’s a beautiful way to finally reveal how Jade “knows the future” and the truth behind her pesterlogs with John, with lots of stunning dream scenery as well.

Jade’s past pesterlogs with John can be reread below this flash, helpfully accompanied by links to the pages we first read them on.

GG: anyway what have you been up to john?
GG: oh!!!! did you get my package yet? :O
EB: er…
EB: yeah, i was trying to get it, but rose dropped my car into a weird spooky bottomless pit and the package was in the car and im really sorry about that.
GG: oh no!
EB: wow, ok, i guess i should start at the beginning.
EB: see, a meteor blew up my neighborhood.
GG: thats terrible john! im so sorry!


John and Jade’s pesterlogs read very differently now that we know Jade is actually her ditzy dream self. She reacts to John’s statement that a meteor blew up his neighborhood like a normal person would because she isn’t on top of things like her waking self is.

EB: but i’m ok! and my house is too, sort of.
EB: that game i was telling you about, sburb which i was playing with rose, sort of transported me somewhere at the last minute.
EB: but now i’m trapped here and it’s weird and dark and i can’t find my dad and i just lost the car and my copy of the game in the pit and i think i have to save the world from the apocalypse!!!
GG: O_O
GG: well…..
GG: it sounds really crazy and kind of scary but…..
GG: it also sounds kind of exciting!
GG: i dont know john maybe this is your destiny
GG: if anyone can save the world i think it is probably you!


Jade’s encouraging words again come off as extremely airheaded from her perspective now that we know her dream self forgets everything.

EB: wow, you think so?
GG: yes!
EB: well ok, BUT.
EB: it’s not even that simple!
EB: i was about to connect to rose to help transport her and save her from meteors and fire and stuff.
EB: but she lost battery power and i lost the game disc!
EB: so i think i have to get TG to use his copy to save her!
EB: but that jackass won’t shut up and stop rapping and stuff.
GG: hahaha
GG: he is so silly!
EB: yeah. anyway i should talk to him about it, so brb.


One thing waking and dream Jade have in common a special soft spot for Dave. I feel so bad for her in the epilogues, even reading short passages like this.


Jade’s next conversation with John in which she is an EXTREMELY FILTHY LIAR turns out to be her waking self and it’s just as annoying to read now as it was then.

GG: hey!!!!
EB: whoa, there you are!
GG: how is your adventure going john?
EB: it’s ok, i am making some progress, and rose finally connected again so she is helping me now.
GG: thats good!!
EB: oh but, like…
EB: i don’t think i am actually saving the world here. 😦
EB: i dunno what i’m really accomplishing but i guess it’s not that.
GG: hmm well i think whatever it is it must be pretty important!
GG: dont lose hope john i think it will all turn out for the best if you stay positive….
GG: just keep listening to your grandmothers advice!!!
EB: yeah, you’re probably right.
EB: but, um…
EB: i don’t think i mentioned nanna to you, did i?


It’s somehow much more surprising now than before that Jade knows about Nannasprite. We now know that she must have seen Nanna in a dream, but it’s still really weird to see that she knows this much in advance.

GG: oh uhhh…….
GG: i dont know didnt you???
EB: hmm, i dunno, maybe you talked rose or dave about it or something.
GG: yeah maybe that was it!!
EB: they’re really weird when they talk to me about you, like they’re always trying convince me you have some spooky powers, but i’m always like no she seems like a pretty regular girl to me!
GG: heheheh 😀
EB: but then when i think back maybe there are times when it seems like you know some things?
EB: like maybe you know more about a thing than you are telling me? i dunno.


The dramatic irony is stronger now than ever before. Come to think of it, Rose and Dave trying to tell John the truth about Jade is a bit like Roxy and Dirk trying to tell Jane the truth about Betty Crocker.

GG: oh! john!!!
GG: i forgot i was messaging you about that meteor that fell near my house!
EB: oh yeah.
EB: what ever happened with that?
GG: oh boy…. well……..
GG: it turns out i was confused about it…
GG: really confused! o_o;
GG: see i guess i fell asleep for a while and…..
GG: lost track of time
GG: that happens!!
EB: yeah i know, tell me about it!
EB: maybe you should like, wear an alarm clock or something.
EB: so what was the deal with the meteor?
GG: well…..
GG: its hard to explain!!!
GG: but…
GG: i know what it is now!
GG: and now i know everythings going to be ok!!!



This part is much more tolerable when rereading, because we now know Jade is telling the truth and was indeed confused about the meteor. “Lost track of time” is a vague way to say dream Jade forgets things a lot; the truth behind the meteor is indeed hard to explain, even by Homestuck standards.

EB: so what is it???
EB: or is this just another thing you’re “waiting” to tell me???
GG: oh gosh john i really want to tell you all this stuff!!!
GG: but i cant yet
GG: i really think you need to wake up first!
EB: huh?
GG: well ok not literally
GG: well ok maybe KINDA literally!!
EB: AUGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!
EB: stop being so confusing!!!!


And finally, we now know exactly what Jade means by “wake up”. Rereading pesterlogs from different perspectives is a lot of fun.



You take a moment to gather your thoughts after your dream. While you are asleep it can get very confusing figuring out what is really happening and what isn’t. Especially during the ECLIPSE, when you are exposed to many visions of the past, present, and future through a variety of CLOUD MIRAGES. It is only after you wake up that you are able to start making sense of it all, and your REMINDERS help you do this!

This is one of the first instances of a pattern in the comic I very much appreciate: following flashes with textual recaps. By this point, Hussie had surely realized that some readers found big, grandiose flashes to be confusing, so he resolved this issue by recapping flashes in words for those who consume information better as text. The paragraph above is a great example of this pattern because it thoroughly explains how Jade knows the future.

But on reflection, there wasn’t much in the dream about the future. You were quite surprised to see your DOG in your dream though. It was the first time the crafty guardian has ever appeared in a dream! You have learned that today is his birthday, just like it is for your other best friend. You have always wondered about this, and never had the chance to throw him a party and bake him a cake. Now you can!

But if you do, it seems that you will need A LOT of candles.

This recap continues with a partial explanation of the story behind Bec. It tells us in a humorous way that the dog is millions of years old, which Jade probably deduced because she’s a huge science nerd.


Bec has never allowed you to enter the MYSTIC RUINS for reasons you never understood. You always assumed it was on account of your protection. But your dream has strongly suggested to you that is where you need to go now!

Since your DREAMBOT is secured in its chamber and does not need to be looked after, Bec is taking a nap in the GRAND FOYER as he usually does. Perhaps you can take advantage of this and sneak out of the house another way?

This bit reads to me like Hussie letting readers suggest how to get Jade to the frog temple because he didn’t have any ideas. This sort of thing is done several times in the early acts back when Homestuck ran on readers’ commands.

Grown-up Karkat isn’t the only character who’s good with a zipline. Just look at teen Jade.


Upon suggested commands, Jade uses her harpoon gun to zipline down to the frog temple. This is a creative solution that I can really tell was a reader’s idea, not Hussie’s, considering the way Jade fights enemies later in the comic.


This page shows us that Rose built John’s house up all the way to his first gate. The book commentary says that his house now resembles a video game level; this is a great demonstration of the creative building aspects of Sburb, which I think is an underappreciated part of the comic.


Having been defeated by his bro, we finally get to command Dave again. His strife specibus is now 1/2bladekind, which definitely is a thing that makes sense. Everyone knows Dave’s broken sword motif demonstrates his struggles with heroism, but I see his thoughts on being “the guy who breaks swords” more as annoyance with character archetypes. He’s the one who told Rose that human beings don’t have arcs (which I vehemently disagree with) after all.


You try to grab the BETA (6) but you forgot your sylladex is completely packed.

You wonder why you jammed all this useless crap in here in the first place. Maybe you assumed you would weaponize it all during one of your customary HASHRAP battles with your BRO. But in retrospect that probably just would have been a huge chore and would have made the battle drag on forever.


Sometimes you need to read the comic a bit deeply to see when Hussie is talking to readers through narration; other times like this, it’s very transparent. On this page, Hussie is telling us he was originally going to make an animated hash rap battle between Dave and Bro.

It’s like what are you made of time.

Obvious god tier title reference right there. This joke is reprised in Act 5 Act 2 when a doomed copy of Dave talks to Aradia, who is the Maid of Time—I wonder if Hussie had devised the trolls’ god tier titles yet by this point? Terezi mentions several of the trolls’ titles in Act 4, one of which is Aradia’s, so the answer might possibly be yes. Act 3 is fun to reread because it’s loaded to the brim with evidence that Hussie planned much of his comic’s plot way ahead of time.


Dave empties his sylladex and captchalogues his bro’s Sburb beta, then pesters Rose.

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

TG: ok i got it
TG: i hope you appreciate how much gross spongy proboscis i had to fellate to get this game
TG: hello
TG: what are you doing
TG: anyway im going down stairs now and installing this thing
TG: later


Rose would most certainly appreciate how much gross spongy proboscis Dave had to fellate to get this game. She and Dirk are both avid fans of overcomplicated ironic scheming.


That would certainly hasten the parcel’s delivery, but the gift is not finished yet!

You have spent months accelerating your knitting skills to be able to make the gift of perfect sentimental appeal. You even incorporated a cherished heirloom you have had as long as you can remember.

When he sees your staggering gesture of sentimentality he will finally understand. He will understand that in the game of facetious sentimental gestures, no one gets the best of Rose Lalonde.

These hints at the whole bunny mystery arc are a lot of fun to reread. I have no idea what readers might have speculated Rose’s lifetime heirloom to be, but given the appearification and sendification prevalent in the exile arc, I bet some readers immediately guessed on this page that time travel was involved.

We already learned in Act 2 that John was the one who got Rose into knitting…
… but only now do we get to read his birthday letter.


OH BOY, IT’S THIS PART. I love all the birthday letter scenes in Acts 3 and 4 so much. Each one says something big about the beta kids’ friendships and shared interests, and few of them (like this one) revisit prior scenes in more detail.

dear rose,

happy birthday!!!

thanks for being such a great friend all these years. i know you like to make it out like you’re playing it cool and don’t care much about the people in your life, but i know deep down you really do. hell, not even that deep down. it’s like, um, like your subconscious is having a wet t-shirt contest, and you being all aloof is this totally soggy shirt doing no good at all at hiding nothin’. oh wait, it looks like two can play at this game of cracking all these high falutin psychology books! AW SNAP!!!


John’s wet T-shirt contest metaphor is a great way to show how deep and resounding the beta kids’ friendships are. He’s trying to describe through Dave’s style of snappy metaphors what Rose is like deep down; the analogy makes no sense but that’s what makes it endearing.

but yeah, i got you this because i think you’re really creative and you could make something nice with it if you put your mind to it. and it might help you take your mind off a lot of all this serious business you’re always absorbed in. you know, all this weirdo pseudo-gothy stuff or whatever. frankly it’s kind of depressing.

anyway you’re the best rose! have a rad 13th! (i will catch up with you guys soon. god you’re all so old.)

~ghostyTrickster
(john)


John’s motivation behind this gift is to nudge Rose towards being a kinder, more approachable individual. His letter is a bit pushy and perhaps patronizing towards Rose’s interests, but it ended up working exactly as he hoped! He got Rose into knitting, an interest without which she’d come off as a completely boring fake goth girl. Getting Rose into knitting may have even played a part in her relationship and eventual marriage with Kanaya, which is kind of crazy to think about.

Speaking of Kanaya…


… it’s time to dissect the HELL out of her first ever pesterlog. Are you ready?

Some time later, Rose would change her wallpaper to something much less gruesome.


GA: Why Is It That When The Subject Of Temporal Mechanics Is Broached Your Sparing Human Intellects Instantly Assume The Most Ingratiating Posture Of Surrender Imaginable

This troll gives us one hell of a first impression—certainly a way more interesting one than Karkat gave us. The first line we hear from Kanaya is the comic’s first instance of arc words that usually show up when the story talks about alien concepts like troll romance.

GA: Time Is Not That Difficult To Understand
GA: It Is A Utility That A Universe May Resort To In Order To Advance A Desired Degree Of Complexity
GA: Or May Not Resort To If That Is The Case
GA: Its All Pretty Pedestrian
GA: But No
GA: When Time Travel Comes Up You Present The Face That A Man Shows When The Breeze Gradually Alerts Him To His Absence Of Netherdressings


Kanaya’s complaints about the beta kids not understanding time travel may be meant to prepare readers for time shenanigans in following acts. It definitely reads this way to me, because time shenanigans kick into mega high gear when we start hearing more from the trolls.

GA: I Dont See How We Are To Properly Agitate You All If You Continue To Insist On Failing To Understand Basic Concepts Which Common Infants Effortlessly Manage To Describe Via Scrawlings In Their Own Puddles Of Sloppy Discharge


To first-time readers, “puddles of sloppy discharge” probably reads like a gross metaphor Dave would make. Only when rereading the comic will you know that these aren’t metaphors at all, but descriptions of troll biology. I’m going to guess that at this point Hussie had a loose idea of the workings of troll biology.

TT: Have we spoken before?
GA: Yes
GA: In The Future
TT: You and your friends never cease to invent ways to strengthen the credibility of your assertions.
GA: Oh My It Is Your Human Sarcasm Again
GA: I Enjoy Listening To It And I Wish Doing So Could Serve As My Primary Form Of Recreation
GA: There See I Just Did It Too
GA: Saying The Opposite Thing To Emphasize My Contempt
GA: But Suddenly I Feel More Primitive And Hate Myself A Little More
GA: It Was Like This Funny Miracle That Just Happened In My Heart
TT: I would admire the sophistication of you and your fellow future-dwellers a little more if you seemed to be aware the word “human” only functions as that sort of adjective in bad science fiction.
TT: But I won’t be rude and change the subject.
TT: There’s a still a bit of unflagellated straw poking out of your rhetorical effigy over here.
GA: Oh Dear
GA: No We Arent From “The Future”
GA: But We Are All Already In Agreement That You Dont Get It And Never Will
TT: I thought you said we spoke in the future.
GA: We Did
GA: Your Future
GA: For Me It Was Only A Couple Minutes Ago
TT: I understand.
TT: You exist in some temporal stratum through which you have communication access to various points of my timeline.
TT: It’s not that complicated.
GA: Yes Thats Right
GA: Will You Try To Talk Some Sense Into Your Idiot Friends
GA: So That We May Proceed To Bother Them All On More Rational Terms

Is it any wonder that these two are the first couple in Homestuck to canonically marry? The only one, if you don’t consider the epilogues canon. Rose and Kanaya have strikingly similar manners of speech and levels of intelligence, but plenty of differences to make them a worthy couple. I noted in the old version of this post that you’ll know Kanaya is female from her screen name if you know what an “auxiliatrix” is, which means that this pesterlog is one of the first hints at homosexual relationships in Homestuck. I’m not sure if it’s the first hint, because Dave showed quite a few signs of having a gay crush on John in the first two acts.

TT: I try to every day, with mixed results.
TT: But you see, it’s not that I don’t understand you.
TT: It’s just that I don’t believe you.
TT: Because it’s nonsense.
TT: Albeit persistent and coordinated nonsense.
TT: Why would a bunch of temporally dislocated trolls want to harass a group of friends throughout completely random points in time?
GA: I Will Admit This Campaign Of Provocation Wasnt All That Well Thought Out


We later learn that Karkat led the campaign of provocation, which makes sense because he’s kind of a dumbass sometimes. He’s enough of a dumbass that Rose can’t logically process a mindset like his.

GA: Dont Tell Anyone I Said That
TT: Alright.
TT: Maybe you should get some trolling tips from us humans.
TT: Our sparing intellects are probably better suited to it.
GA: Yeah Maybe
GA: Why Dont We Be Friends
TT: You want to be my friend?
GA: I Think So
GA: I Think Were Supposed To
GA: You Suggested As Much Earlier
TT: You mean I did in the future?
GA: Yes A Couple Minutes Ago
TT: Probably because I remembered you mentioning it in the conversation we’re having now?
GA: Thats Likely
TT: Hmm.
TT: Your commitment to this roleplaying scenario is intriguing.
TT: What choice do I have but to accept?


Kanaya is hitting on Rose now, and it’s a mystery arc why that is. Though the kids are hit on by trolls aplenty through the course of their session, readers are probably invited to wonder why Kanaya has a thing specifically for Rose. It’s not revealed until the trolls’ arc that Kanaya found Rose’s Sburb walkthrough before the trolls started their game and spent much time fantasizing about what the writer of the walkthrough must be like.

Dave’s city looks oddly idyllic on a rainy day.

Rose’s flashback is immediately followed by a flashback to Dave’s 13th birthday. This scene reveals something interesting about Dave’s backstory: before he got his Stiller shades, he wore the exact same shades as his bro. You can tell through his triangular shades that Dirk raised Dave to become an anime swordsman just as tough as he is; it’s hard to even call him Dave without the Stiller shades.


John’s birthday letter to Dave is incredibly sweet, I love it so much. I’ll go through it in detail.

dear dave,

happy birthday!!!

i just wanted to take a break from telling you how much your gay butt stinks all the time and say what an awesome friend you are.


Let’s add “Dave’s homosexuality” to the list of things in Homestuck’s late acts that were planned since at least Act 3. The signs of Dave not being straight were there SINCE ACT 3!!!, and plenty more thereafter (like in his conversation with Tavros a few pages later). It cracks me up in retrospect how much I used to insist that Dave’s sexuality arc and maybe-romantic relationship with Karkat were horrifically forced, like “J. K. Rowling revealed Dumbledore was gay” levels of forced. It’s like, how the ACTUAL FUCK could I have been so heteronormative???

I’m getting a bit off topic though. Let’s continue through the letter.

seriously, on any other day i would be downplaying how you aren’t really as cool as you think you are, but just between you and me i think you might actually be that cool. i think you just gotta get out of your bro’s shadow and spread your wings dude!!!

John’s encouraging words to Dave are simply incredible. He knows both his Derse-dreaming friends far better than they know themselves and is single-handedly responsible for major parts of their identities.

so i got you these. they’re totally authentic! they actually touched ben stiller’s weird, sort of gaunt face at some point. i’m sure you’ll dig them because i know you lolled so hard at that movie. ok so for real, this is sort of a shitty present, but it is an ironic present because i know you wouldn’t have it any other way. maybe you can wear them ironically some time. they MIGHT even be more ironic than you and your bro’s dumb pointy anime shades.

Unlike with his present to Rose, John’s present to Dave did far more than he thought it would. He thought Dave would just treat those shades like an ironic prop from one of John’s stupid movies, but Dave ended up wearing the shades on his face every second of his life. Dave’s post-scratch self mirrored this treatment of Stiller’s shades down to the letter; those shades are far more symbolic than Dirk’s anime shades could ever dream of being. (This letter is the first time in the comic anything related to Dirk is referred to as “anime”, which as I said earlier was an observation by fans that Hussie decided to go along with.)

anyway, have a good one buddy! and stay busy being totally sweet!

~ghostyTrickster
(john)


Now that Dave has his Stiller shades, he will be busy every waking moment being totally sweet. John is an absolute prophet, I’m telling you.


Now THAT’S the Dave we know and love. Right when he finishes reading John’s letter, he puts the anime shades aside never to be worn again.


Now comes an extremely memorable humorous pesterlog where Dave owns a troll like there’s no tomorrow.

AT: hEYYY,
AT: fIRST, oK, i THINK YOU’RE AWFUL,
AT: lET’S PUT THAT FACT ON THE TABLE WHERE WE CAN BOTH SEE IT,
AT: nOW YOU HAVE BEEN PRIMED FOR THE DIGESTIVE RUINATION THAT’S ABOUT TO TAKE PLACE, aND THE COMPREHENSIVE SOILING OF THE LAUNDRY ENVELOPING YOUR PERSON,
TG: oh my god you type like a tool


The trolls’ typing quirks are innocuous so far, all things considered; the later ones take much more getting used to. I can’t help but notice that the first few trolls we hear from in the comic type simply with different capitalization and punctuation from the kids. Later trolls introduced have much wilder typing quirks directly based on their zodiac signs, which goes to show how much more the trolls’ arc was thought up on the spot than the kids’ storyline. Feferi in paricular had a typing quirk so hard on the eyes that it probably cost her narrative relevance; Meenah’s typing quirk is one of many ways her character is taking a second shot at a Pisces troll.

AT: yEAHHH,
AT: nOW YOU’RE GETTING IT, wHAT YOU ARE IN FOR,
AT: aRE YOU READY TO BE TROLLLLLED,
AT: wITHIN AN INCH OF YOUR MISERABLE HUMAN CORTEX,
TG: this is so weak im almost getting tired of wasting good material on you guys
TG: its like
TG: youve got nothing
TG: its always one of you sprouting up and ranting about how hard im about to get trolled
TG: with no ensuing substance
TG: you dont even know anything about us
TG: one of you fuckers thought i was a girl
AT: oK, yEAH, bUT,
AT: tHE THING IS, tHAT i DON’T CARE,
AT: aBOUT YOUR ANATOMICAL DETAILS, aND THINGS LIKE THAT,
AT: i KNOW WHAT YOU’VE DONE,
AT: oR WILL DO, aCTUALLY,
AT: iT’S THE MOST AWFUL THING, tHE WORST YOU CAN EVER DO,


Tavros’s first impression is interesting knowing what’s later revealed about him. He was probably conceived simply as an example of a troll who’s not very good at trolling, but since he was one of the trolls we got to know before the trolls’ arc started, fans had plenty of time to come up with headcanons about what sort of person he must be, especially involving his unseen legs. It’s kind of weird to think that Tavros’s tragic backstory came to be simply because he was one of the first trolls to speak in the comic.

TG: sorry i wouldnt cyber with you dude
TG: in the future or whatever
AT: wHAT, wAIT,
AT: oH,
AT: oK, yOU’RE THE ONE WHO LIKES TO SUBMIT INNUENDO,
TG: human innuendo
AT: yES, hUMAN iNNUENDO,
AT: sORRY FOR THE LACK OF CLARITY,
TG: so at what point in the future am i supposed to look forward to you whipping up this titanic hankerin for my knob
AT: uH,
TG: be honest with me
TG: cause im busy
TG: and i want to know exactly when i got to clear some space in my calendar for when some fuckwit blunders out of a magical phone booth and makes a ballad-inspiring play for my throbbing beef truncheon
AT: sHOULD i BE PERTURBED BY THESE ALLUSIONS,
TG: no man
TG: look
TG: i just need to know when to be there
TG: when the stars come into alignment and your flux capacitor lets you finally sate your meteoric greed for crotch-dachshund
TG: i wouldnt want to miss it and cause a paradox or something
TG: itd suck if the universe blew up on account of you missing your window of opportunity to help yourself to a pubescent boy’s naked spam porpoise


Dave Strider is not a homosexual. <- BLATANT LIES

Dave Strider was obviously intended not to be a homosexual until the retcon happened. <- ALSO BLATANT LIES

This pesterlog is hilarious after all this time and is an absolute highlight of Homestuck’s early acts. <- BLATANT TRUTH

AT: uHHH,
AT: oK, THIS IS SORT OF STARTING TO UPSET ME,
TG: jesus you are such a shitty troll
AT: i GUESS i’LL LEAVE YOU ALONE,
AT: aND FIND ANOTHER POINT IN TIME TO BOTHER YOU,
AT: wHEN, i GUESS,
AT: yOU ARE MORE EMOTIONALLY SUSCEPTIBLE, aND DON’T HAVE ALL THESE BEES IN YOUR BONNET,
AT: aBOUT YOUR HUMAN SEXUALITY,


I used to be in a huge weird shitty denial that these lines tied in directly with Dave’s sexuality arc. Even Tavros can tell that Dave has a lot of issues to sort out regarding his human sexuality. <- BLATANT TRUTH

What the FUCK was I thinking years back in this blog either awkwardly tiptoeing around or complaining about the sexuality arc?! <- QUESTION I DON’T KNOW THE ANSWER TO

TG: oh no
TG: no dude
TG: you sassed me up
TG: we are in THE SHIT now
TG: together
TG: for the long haul
AT: i,
AT: wHAT,
TG: we’re motherfuckin entrenched in this bitch
TG: you and me
TG: welcome to nam
TG: now grab my hand and shimmy your soggy ass off that muddy bank before charlie gets the fuckin drop
AT: uHHH, wHO,
AT: wHO’S CHARLIE,
TG: hes the guy whos gonna read our vows
TG: im feeling pretty friggin MATRIMONIAL all a sudden
TG: take a look down by your foot see that little bottle
TG: stomp on that shit like its on fire
TG: noisy ethnic dudes are flipping the fuck out and waving us around on chairs til someone gets hurt
TG: im your 300 pound matronly freight-train
TG: and my gaping furnace is hungry for coal so get goddamn shoveling


This pesterlog is fucking amazing. <- FACT WE CAN HOPEFULLY ALL AGREE ON

This pesterlog is a very early stage of Dave coming to terms with sexuality issues. <- FACT WE CAN AGAIN HOPEFULLY ALL AGREE ON

AT: oH MY GOD,
TG: bro look in my eyes
TG: that twinkle
TG: that be DEVOTION you herniated pro wrestlers sweaty purple taint
TG: sparklin like a visit from your fairy fuckin godmother
TG: shit be PURE AND TRUE
TG: thats what you see
TG: a kaleidoscopic supernova of all your hopes and dreams all swishin together
TG: radially effevescing arms of more little boy peckers than you can imagine
TG: turning out insane corkscrew haymakers of a billion dancing vienna sausages strong


Writing commentary followed by a left arrow and an all-caps noun phrase. <- THING I WILL STOP DOING

I don’t know how much Hussie intended when writing this pesterlog to seriously consider Dave’s sexuality. But I can tell that he had a lot of fun looking back on homoerotic dialogue like this and trying to figure out what it means about his comic in retrospect. This pesterlog gets a GLORIOUS callback towards the end of the Meat Epilogue when Dirk tries to get Dave and Karkat to kiss; only fitting because that scene is the grand beautiful conclusion to Dave’s sexuality arc.

TG: this is how we do this
TG: this shits more real than kraft mayo

— adiosToreador [AT] blocked turntechGodhead [TG] —


And so, the conversation ends with Tavros blocking Dave instead of the other way around. A simple but powerful line that shows us exactly why Dave is such a beloved character.

I’m ending this post here. See you next time as I finish Act 3 for real, with a few more plot resolutions and a glorious flash I love to death.

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 75: The Juggalo Strikes Back

Introduction

Part 74 | Part 75 | Part 76 >

Act 6 Act 3, Part 1 of 8 or so

Pages 4820-4840 (MSPA: 6720-6740)

Fun fact: the music in this walkaround was written for Rose’s planet, and yet it somehow works reasonably well here.

Act 6 Act 3 opens up with a walkaround game where Jane explores her planet, much like Act 4 did. As much as it established Doctor as a memorable song, the Act 4 walkaround was definitely a drag to get through. This one is very different with a more point and click style that makes it somewhat harder to miss out on anything, but requires more of you actually doing stuff and figuring it out. Or at least, it did according to my memory. Better see for myself.

This isn’t very cautious of her, actually.

Unlike in the last view of Jane’s house, her mailbox is gone once again.

When Jane enters the game, the first thing she does is jump off the balcony of her sinking house onto this platform thing. Unlike when John entered the game, she’s immediately exploring the world which is weird considering how much the alpha kids are thought of as doing nothing pretty much forever. At least this is a step in the right direction; if I remember right this whole act is one of the better parts of Act 6.

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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 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 47: Fairy Psychopomps and Sudden Vampires

Introduction

Part 46 | Part 47 | Part 48 >

Act 5 Act 2, Part 20 of 32

Pages 3479-3545 (MSPA: 5379-5445)

And wordy journals.

Terezi just went missing after having caught up with Sollux when all of a sudden, we’re back to a flashback of Dave fooling around on his bro’s Xbox gaming system. One hell of a mood whiplash alright.

The puppets are all like, haha did you miss me?

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Cookie Fonster’s Homestuck Commentary Part 42: Password Weirdness and Frog Breeding

Introduction

Part 41 | Part 42 | Part 43 >

Act 5 Act 2, Part 15 of 32

Pages 3297-3320 (MSPA: 5197-5220)

Fitting that post number 42 (the answer to the Ultimate Question) is where we finally get an answer to a very fundamental question in Homestuck: how exactly universes are made.

First here is a flash, titled [S] Wake, that I could’ve ended last post with but didn’t. I’m not sure if it’s more thematically appropriate to end a post with the start of Murderstuck or start a post with it. Last post was getting long so I stuck with the latter.

If there’s anything about Homestuck the average person is likely to know, it’s the story behind the song Megalovania (a version of which is used in this flash). There’s really no reason to rehash it all over again, nor is there any reason to point out for the ten millionth time how funny it is that so many people got into Homestuck through the iconic Undertale song.

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Cookie Fonster’s Homestuck Commentary Part 38: Ascensions and Failures Thereof

Introduction 

Part 37 Part 38 | Part 39 >

Act 5 Act 2, Part 11 of 32

Pages 3075-3132 (MSPA: 4975-5032)

I haven’t had title images with John in them lately, so here’s one with him I guess. We aren’t going to see him for a while anyway.

John levels to the top of his echeladder and the air returns to being cloudy, and I guess this is kind of meant to indicate that the echeladder is not at the end of the line. We’re about to get introduced to the concept of god tiers.

Up next is another walkaround game featuring John. It’s similar to the Act 4 game (with very similar music) but I guess it switched to the Earthbound style. John answers Vriska in the game, and I have a few things to say about that.

VRISKA: 8ut mostly, I am congratul8ting you……..
VRISKA: FOR GAINING ALL THE LEVELS!!!!!!!! ::::O
JOHN: oh, right! i got to the top of my echeladder somehow. i didn’t even really think it had a top, or that i would get there so fast.
JOHN: so i guess that’s it, then! don’t have to worry about leveling up anymore. that’s pretty neat.
VRISKA: Don’t 8e ridiculous, John.
VRISKA: While you may have technically gained all the levels just now, you did not truly gain ALL of them just yet.
VRISKA: In a way, this is really just the 8eginning.
JOHN: it is?
VRISKA: Yes. You are now ready to 8egin your ascent through the god tiers.
VRISKA: No8ody I know was a8le to progress this far anywhere near as fast and you, John. Not even me! I can’t tell you how proud I am.

Vriska is telling John how proud she is of him, which brings to mind the “so proud of you” thing his dad does.

VRISKA: 8ut mostly, I am congratul8ting you……..
VRISKA: FOR GAINING ALL THE LEVELS!!!!!!!! ::::O
JOHN: oh, right! i got to the top of my echeladder somehow. i didn’t even really think it had a top, or that i would get there so fast.
JOHN: so i guess that’s it, then! don’t have to worry about leveling up anymore. that’s pretty neat.
VRISKA: Don’t 8e ridiculous, John.
VRISKA: While you may have technically gained all the levels just now, you did not truly gain ALL of them just yet.
VRISKA: In a way, this is really just the 8eginning.
JOHN: it is?
VRISKA: Yes. You are now ready to 8egin your ascent through the god tiers.
VRISKA: No8ody I know was a8le to progress this far anywhere near as fast and you, John. Not even me! I can’t tell you how proud I am.

Here Vriska’s playing the role of an NPC (non-player character), which seems fully intentional. As I’ve said several times, Homestuck is a very video game-themed comic, and the concept of NPCs has been there from the beginning. In Act 1 Dave kind of served as an NPC, giving John advice with his sylladex and whatnot. All the carapacians and consorts in the game undoubtedly count as NPCs, and now Vriska is playing that role. I’ve never realized that the trolls kind of serve the role of non-player characters.

I’ll run down other stuff in the game bullet list style.

  • Lots of salamanders congratulate the Heir for doing a windy thing, and John is somehow unaware that he is the Heir, though then again, neither are the salamanders. How ironic that the character who loves video games remains unaware of how many typical video game concepts are featured in Sburb.
  • John gets a can of Tab soda and I wonder if WV appearified some of them out of John’s land. It’s kind of presumed that Serenity the firefly was appearified from John’s land, so I suppose cans of Tab having a similar story would make sense.
  • Some salamanders talk about John’s planet quest thing which kind of was forgotten for a long time but made a grand return shortly preceding the retcon section. Walkarounds have lots of information and foreshadowing stuff like this that people might miss.
  • John calls a smuppet he gets “one of Dave’s dumb butt puppets”. Why does everyone call them Dave’s puppets when they’re clearly his brother’s thing?
  • Apparently some salamanders alchemized Barbasol to try extinguish the flames??? Oh my god that’s simultaneously hilarious and tragic.
  • One fraymotif shop is the first appearance of aspect symbols other than breath. The symbols for light, time, and space are shown.
  • John talks to another salamander towards the end of the game and it turns out that he actually knew he was the Heir all along, apparently.
  • For parts that aren’t in the progression to the quest bed, the salamanders see Bec imps as horrifying demons.

Next, John goes to his quest bed and gets ready to take his legendary nap.

EB: ok, i think i’m ready to take this legendary nap! 
EB: and then climb the god tiers, i guess? 
AG: Yes, exactly! Pretty exciting, isn’t it? 
EB: yeah… 
EB: maybe it is a little TOO exciting. 
AG: What’s that mean? 
EB: i am not sleepy at all! 
EB: also, this is not much of a bed. more like a really hard slab of rock. 
EB: i don’t see how i will be able to sleep. 

At this point, we’re led to believe that you must sleep on a quest bed to ascend to god tier. If that was indeed the case like Vriska suggested, then ascending to god tier would no doubt be tricky. Not just because it’s a slab of rock, but because, as John pointed out, it’s such an exciting prospect that it’ll be hard falling asleep. You’d need to bring blankets or something, and even then, below you would be solid cold rock. So you’d need to probably bring a mattress, and in that case would that really count as being on a quest bed? I’m not sure.

EB: you mean, you’re asking me this time, instead of just doing it? 
EB: what happened to you wanting to be responsible for me becoming a hero! 
AG: John, I am clearly involved in your rise to power now regardless. That can’t 8e changed! 
AG: I am giving you the option, 8ecause at some point a hero has to start making choices. 
AG: Once you take a 8r8k from hunting treasure and stop getting distracted 8y side quests, you eventually realize that’s what this game is all a8out. 

What Vriska is saying is showing that her plan for John’s rise as a hero is actually succeeding.

Upon his request, Vriska puts John to sleep and then…

Protagonist death.

John’s death came as quite a shock to me on my first read. I knew in advance through Homestuck videos that lots of characters die, John included, but knowledge of that didn’t stop his death from being a surprising twist. I’m sure the thing of dying before you can come back to life with new powers is some kind of symbolism, but I’m not sure what.

The death is accompanied with Vriska saying “8888)”, making readers perhaps wonder if this was all a ploy for John to get killed. But the command following the page, WV telling John to rise up, promises that the main character might not be gone for good. Admittedly, I don’t know how common it is for the protagonist not to make it to the end of a story.

In the following flash, titled [S] JOHN. RISE UP.*, John ascends to god tier.

* Often mistakenly referred to as [S] John: Rise up. It’s important not to confuse the title because it signifies that WV is commanding John to rise up in hopes that the windy boy will come back to life, and as far as he can tell, the command failed.

To kick things off, WV sees John dead on his screen, and his wall drawings representing the incipisphere that he made back in Act 2 are brought to light as they zoom in to LOWAS. I like this reminder of WV’s drawings being relevant, as if to say, “Hey, remember that thing? That was foreshadowing stuff.”

Jade, Dave, and Rose are apparently watching John ascend to god tier—why else would they be shown in this flash? I’m not sure exactly how that works. Maybe it’s just stylistic effect, seeing the protagonist’s three friends watch him rise to a rank well above them.

The newly-ascended John sees his corpse in a Skaian cloud, which must be to clear up to him that he just died and then came back in grander form. I’m not sure how much sense that made to him. If memory serves me, I think John talks about how he saw his body in a Skaian cloud later and didn’t get what that meant, and I guess I’ll have to wait and see what he says about that.

It’s tragic how the last thing WV sees on his screen before it blacks out is the fearsome Jack Noir having just murdered John.

Up next is Terezi trying what we just saw with Dave, but with very different results. Although I didn’t realize it in my first two reads, it’s now pretty clear to me that this scene is meant to contrast against Vriska successfully bringing John to god tier. I’ll list out the differences as I go on. First off, John got killed by Jack, but Dave was supposed to be killed by his alternate self.

I read (present tense) the pesterlog accompanying this page and I really can’t think of anything to say so far, so I guess I’ll do the empty description thing I did a lot back when I had my old posting style of paragraphs with occasional quotes. I think I’ll be doing that sort of thing for much of this scene, so feel free to call this a Cookie Fonster Throwback™. Here we go: Dave sees another version of him sleeping on his quest bed. It’s not his past self, and according to Terezi it’s not his future self either, so it must be a doomed version of him.

There is a part of this pesterlog I do feel like commenting on:

GC: YOU WOULDNT STOP BUGG1NG M3 4BOUT WHY YOUD N3V3R B3 4BL3 TO C4TCH UP W1TH JOHN 
GC: 1 TOLD YOU YOU WOULDNT B3 4BL3 TO F4C3 YOUR D34TH 
GC: 4ND TH4T W4SNT GOOD 3NOUGH FOR YOU! SO H3R3 W3 4R3 

Comparing himself to others is kind of a big thing in Dave’s character arc. Thinking of that, maybe part of John’s role in the story is as a counterpoint to Dave’s arc. As I’ve said, many readers find the Prospit kids’ character development unsatisfying compared to that of the Derse kids. The weird thing of John being a counterpoint character is that he is the protagonist, and it’s very common for there to be a character who acts as a foil to the protagonist (TV Tropes calls it “the lancer”), but it’s stranger for it to feel like the protagonist is a foil to the lancer rather than the other way around. It’s surprisingly easy to imagine a version of Homestuck where Dave is the protagonist; however, this hypothetical “Davestuck”* may well have a different more adventurous mood than regular Homestuck (or should I say Johnstuck?) does.

* Not to be confused with the thing where people take scenes in Homestuck and change every character to Dave, which is also called Davestuck.

Also regarding protagonists, Homestuck is one of these works where there are multiple main characters of equal relevance, but at the same time John feels like the protagonist. Maybe it’s kind of an intermediate between multiple-protagonist and single-protagonist works? I’m not sure.

Protagonist digressions aside, the original topic of these paragraphs also brings to mind another thing about Dave’s arc. His whole spiel on sexuality feels like it has a purpose of arc closure, but it doesn’t really solve the issue of Dave and heroism, almost strengthening it. As I’ve said earlier, Dave has kind of excessive complications compared to other major characters, and my feelings on that are iffy, to say the least.

OK, maybe I’m being hard here, but here’s the point. I really like some things about Dave’s character, but he often feels like way more of a tragic figure than any of the other major characters.

This is an interesting Trollian feature glimpsed that isn’t exactly explained well but can be deduced easily.

Terezi explains stuff about the coin flip and if I’m reading it correctly, she’s doing it to demonstrate to Dave, who wanted to ascend to god tier to be up there with John, why he can’t face his own death. I’m going to compare this to the previous scene with Vriska and John. Vriska simply went the efficient way, bringing John up to god tier status by tricking him into dying and resurrecting anew. Terezi, however, complicated things with a coin flip decision to teach Dave a lesson which ultimately failed. What’s up with that? I thought about that before reading these pages and figured the problem may ultimately lie in Dave’s obstinacy, but now I’m not sure. I guess I’ll just roll along and see what happens.

Another bit of note in this conversation is:

GC: 4ND YOU W3R3 L1K3 hey sure terezi i will hella go along with your two face thing 
GC: WH4T3V3R TH4T M34NS >:\ 
TG: oh yeah 
GC: WH4T D1D TH4T M34N, BY TH3 W4Y 
GC: WH4TS 4 TWO F4C3 TH1NG 
TG: twoface is a human batman villain whos half ugly and flips coins all the time to make evil decisions 
GC: OH… 
GC: W3LL TH4TS K1ND OF D1SH34RT3N1NG, 1 SORT OF THOUGHT MY CO1N FL1PP1NG W4S 4 COOL 4ND UN1QU3 TH1NG >:[ 

This is one of many in-comic nods to storytelling devices Hussie has used. He has said that many of the trolls are inspired by superheroes and villains from other works of media. Terezi, for instance, is based on Daredevil and Two Face.

I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s pretty relevant to this discussion so I’ll say it again. It’s heavily implied that in the Homestuck universe, ICP is based on people’s subconscious knowledge of Gamzee, which further suggests the same for other things the trolls are inspired by. So all is not lost for Terezi; Two Face may well have been inspired by people’s subconscious thoughts of her. Even though nobody in Homestuck has put two and two together and realized that. For instance, Dave finds it no more than bizarre and hilarious that Gamzee is a blatant juggalo who doesn’t know about ICP. Maybe when our heroes create a universe the new civilization will have fictional superheroes based on John and company and it’ll all click and they’ll finally realize what’s up with Gamzee being a juggalo?

Occasionally Homestuck clarifies stuff through diagrams. Diagrams are cool.
Also, in my first read, I recognized the bottom part of this picture from Know Your Meme’s page on Homestuck.

Back to where we were, alpha Dave picked good heads to mean Terezi shows him how to reach god tier now and bad heads to mean she shows him later, but a doomed Dave made the opposite choice. Both times the coin landed bad heads so now there they are.

TG: then 
TG: this is kind of useless isnt it 
TG: i thought you were bringing me back here to finish a stable time loop not murder a guy you punked whos gonna die regardless
TG: whats the fucking point of giving a doomed version of myself superpowers anyway 
GC: M4YB3 H3 W1LL STOP B31NG DOOM3D 4FT3R YOU K1LL H1M? 
GC: M4YB3 H3 W1LL G3T TH3 D4V3 POW3RS 4ND L1V3 4 LONG 4ND COOL L1F3 NOT B31NG DOOM3D 4NYMOR3 
GC: HOW WOULD YOU KNOW UNL3SS YOU T4K3 4 ST4B 4T 1T? 
GC: H3H3H3 
TG: its just the worst thing when you get morbid 
GC: >:P 
TG: anyway maybe 
TG: but i kind of doubt thats how it works i mean 
TG: doomed means doomed doesnt it 

Dave is pretty much right here. Turns out Terezi’s trickery failed this time. What exactly went wrong? Terezi went along with Dave’s desires and made it into a choice whether he went god tier, and I guess paradox space made it so that Dave wouldn’t make it either way. The Dave who went straight to the quest bed was made to be a doomed Dave; both Dave and Terezi know this, the former realizing there’s no point in making the doomed Dave god tier if he’s, well, doomed. The non-doomed Dave I guess wasn’t going to immediately go god tier regardless. So by making it into a choice thing, Terezi failed.

Vriska, on the other hand, successfully brought John to god tier without any complicated gimmicks, just directing him to his quest bed, putting him to sleep, and the rest plays itself. I guess Vriska and Terezi have different ideas of how to make their corresponding kids into the best ones they can be. Or maybe it’s because Dave knew about the idea of going god tier and was nervous about facing mortality, so Terezi turned this into a lesson or something? I’m really not sure; as I said in response to a comment on last post, I get a migraine whenever I think hard about the coinflip stuff. 

TG: the loopholes are only temporary like look how davesprite turned out 
GC: >:[ 
GC: R1P MR OR4NG3 CR34MS1CL3S, M4Y H3 R3ST 1N D3L1C1OUSN3SS 
TG: am i wrong in guessing that 
TG: shouldnt you know better than me 

As we all know, Davesprite’s death turns out to be a so-called “Disney death”, where the character thought dead was alive all along. Davesprite has a second Disney death later on, where everyone thought he was dead but the pre-retcon version of him made it to the new timeline to everyone’s shock. Both times, the possibility that it’s a Disney death is specifically noted; it’s lampshaded especially hard the second time, where Dave says he’s sure Davesprite is dead and won’t come back as a stupid surprise, and that’s after pre-retcon Davesprite is confirmed to be alive.

Terezi tries to convince Dave to kill his doomed self because it’s going to happen anyway, but I guess he doesn’t have it in his heart to do it. Dave eventually figures the whole thing was a prank played on him, and then asks her if he will go god tier. Terezi says no but it doesn’t really matter when he has fraymotifs and is at the top of his echeladder, and the same goes for most of the trolls. I’ve seen people suggest that going god tier is just a fast way to achieve a level of power that can also be achieved with more difficulty through ordinary means. Just like Vriska, Terezi proceeds to leave Dave to his own devices and give him a hint as to what to do next: go to Jade’s land and help her out. Terezi goes on to explain stuff about her role as a Seer of Mind: 

GC: 1 KNOW YOUR M1ND B3TT3R TH4N YOU 
TG: oh do you 
GC: 1 4M NOT PSYCH1C, BUT 1 H4V3 TH3 S1GHT S33RS 4R3 M34NT TO H4V3 
GC: 1T W4S MY ROL3 TO H4V3 1T 
GC: TO T4LK TO P3OPL3 4ND S33 TH3 TUNN3LS 4ND VORT1C3S 1N TH31R M1NDS 4ND TO UND3RST4ND TH3 R34L1T13S TH3Y WOULD CR34T3 1F THOS3 THOUGHTS L34D TO 4CT1ON 
GC: FOR MY 3N3M13S, 1 W4S M34NT TO BR1NG 4BOUT TH3 1NH3R3NT R3TR1BUT1ON FLOW1NG FROM TH3 R34L1TY M4D3 BY TH31R OWN 3V1L THOUGHTS 
GC: 4ND FOR MY FR13NDS, TO PROT3CT TH3M FROM TH31R T3ND3NCY TO UND3R3ST1M4T3 TH3 POW3R TH31R CONFUS1ON H4S OV3R TH31R F4T3 
GC: TO K33P TH3M OUT OF TROUBL3, D4V3 >:] 

The conversation concludes with talking about luck and seeing people’s thoughts, and Terezi saying that luck doesn’t actually matter. The whole point of this coin flip  is rather unclear compared to the purpose of the other two doomed timelines in the kids’ session (Davesprite’s timeline and the Journal Dave timeline). It remains a topic of debate among readers as we learn more about paradox space and doomed timelines and stuff; not just the coin flip, but the whole point of doomed timelines altogether. Doomed timelines and their purpose is a debate topic right up there with the retcon, the classpect system, whether Dave and Karkat are in a relationship*, and most of all, everything about Vriska.

* It’s pretty funny when you think about it, how whether two characters are in a relationship is up there with these major plot points. It’s even better than the huge controversy surrounding Vriska. 

EDIT (8/31/2016): As of now, it’s an even bigger debate topic than Vriska, which as per fandom memes shouldn’t be possible but it is after all, somehow.

Up next is a flashback scene with Vriska and Tavros where we see how the former, beaten bloody, ascends to god tier.

Tavros comes close to using a breath kiss to revive Vriska or something? I’m not sure. Vriska chokes him via mind-control, refusing to just be kissed back to life. Hearts Boxcars also gives up on commanding him to kiss her.

Vriska starts controlling Tavros into writing messages with her blood, and that’s a really clever way to dodge face-to-face dialogue. Why does Homestuck go out of its way to avoid regular plain face-to-face conversations? Maybe it’s to emphasize the theme of isolation present throughout the story. Characters never mention friends outside the group we focus on. The closest we get is things like fans of Dave’s websites. Even when dialoglogs become a thing, there are some restrictions: only players and sprites can be involved in these conversations, no guardians or carapacians or consorts.

Tavros brings Vriska to her quest cocoon, and Vriska gives Tavros a chance to kill her. This is kind of reminiscent of how she does the same with John, and it brings to mind yet more parallelism stuff. Vriska tries on John what she tried and failed to do on Tavros, but with a somewhat different, less malicious approach.

This is seriously just WAY TOO MUCH BLOOD.
Like, ten times as much as should fit in a troll’s body.

Vriska refuses Snowman’s suggestion that she controls Tavros into doing what’s necessary. Maybe this is because it’s kind of her last attempt at strengthening Tavros or something, her ultimate test. This whole scene is significant partly it shows what caused Vriska to finally give up on Tavros. Vriska’s whole dynamic with Tavros is largely presented in anachronic order. This scene is presented between her conversation with him I covered last post and her kiilling him, and in addition, Vriska crippling Tavros is presented to us after our first impression of Vriska following Tavros’s introduction.

Vriska begs Tavros to just kill her already, and apparently she ran out of blood and uses brown stuff, which is either Tavros’s tears or his own blood, I’m not sure. I never realized that this means Vriska may have forced Tavros to stab himself or something. No wonder he broke down in tears.

Vriska ascends to god tier, Tavros flies away in tears, having failed his final test. Snowman’s final command to Vriska “Rise up, Thief”, which is notable because it’s very similar to WV’s final command to John; the childish mayor guy and the sly femme fatale both said pretty much the same thing.

From this point to her death, Vriska walks around in her god tier outfit. This is probably just a stylistic thing, but I can’t help but wonder, did she have any personal motivation for changing her clothes offscreen? Just to look like a badass or what?

Snowman’s screen shuts off, signifying that this scene parallels John’s ascension in some ways. So basically, I guess we went through three scenes that have to do with ascending to god tier.

See you next time for the conksuckiest Christmas special ever.

>> Part 39: the CRISMATS SPECAIL