Pesterquest Vol. 4 (The Loneliest Girl in the World): Review and Analysis

hell. fucking. YES!!!!!!

If you’ve been following Homestuck/Hiveswap news in the past month, you’re probably aware of Pesterquest, a visual novel series following up the Hiveswap Friendsim with the MSPA Reader meeting the cast of Homestuck itself. I didn’t write any blog posts about the first few installments (John, Rose, and Dave) because there wasn’t much to say about them: they were decently written but unremarkable aside from a few moments. The most recent installment, however, focuses on Jade Harley and totally blew away my expectations!!! I was excited for Jade’s route the moment I heard someone say it was written by a major fan of her character, especially considering that Jade’s screen time in the epilogues was extremely disappointing, and it was well worth getting hyped for. I’ll go through the route in order of the bad endings, followed by the good ending, in roughly the same style as my numbered Homestuck blog posts. The dialogue has been transcribed by yours truly.

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Homestuck Epilogues Addendum Post: The Deal with Jade

Content warning: This post contains some discussion of sexual content, starting from the header “The Candy (in Candy)”. Read at your own discretion.

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In the past week, I’ve barely thought about my blog at all and will probably continue not thinking about it for quite some time. My Homestuck post series’ hiatus might last longer than I initially thought; I can’t see myself bringing it back anytime soon.

But despite not thinking about my blog much, I’ve most certainly continued reading the Homestuck Epilogues over and over again. And I think I know exactly who it’s time to talk about.

The Not-So-Wonderful World of Shafted Characters

Enter Jade Harley, the character who’s been an odd spot in the comic’s sprawling cast since day one. She starts as basically just a plot device but becomes a genuine wonderful character in Act 5. But after that point, she gets an upsettingly small amount of screen time and is rudely stripped from the on-screen dialogue reunions most everyone else gets. And by the time Collide and Act 7 happen, the comic has done away with dialogue. Yeah, that sure is fun.

So obviously, one of my biggest hopes for the epilogue was that Jade would get a full strong resolution, perhaps with dialogue “reunions” she should have gotten or with a major new role in the storyline. Jade did get plenty of dialogue early in Meat and some in Candy and it was pretty great, but what ultimate resolution did her character get? Fucking nothing!!! No resolution in Meat, no resolution in Candy.

The epilogues did a LOT of things right, don’t get me wrong. Each of the twelve creators on Earth C gets a good share of screen time and I think the epilogues are reasonably balanced in that regard—far more balanced than late Act 6 was. But the epilogues are incredibly imbalanced in giving characters resolution. Some characters had an astounding resolution arc that far surpassed my already high expectations!!! But for one reason or another, some characters get the opposite of resolution arcs—you probably know who I’m talking about. I’ll have to talk about those another time. And as I said before, Jade doesn’t even get a resolution. I’ll discuss exactly how she doesn’t get a resolution, first in Meat and then in Candy.

The Candy (in Meat)

Earth C Jade’s first appearance in Meat is a conversation with Dave and Karkat about politics and romance. We quickly learn that she’s in an unresolved love triangle with both of them. Continuing the time-honored tradition of Harleyberts not understanding how love works, Jade clumsily tries to set up a three-way romance with Karkat and Dave and misunderstands everything about the quadrants along the way. I found that scene absolutely hilarious and a surprisingly on-point satire of how fans think of character shipping. As per tradition, Jade tries to solve everyone’s problems through a shipping grid because obviously that’s worked spectacularly in the past. Also, she literally fucking says Dave and Karkat are “kind of like moirails”. I don’t know about you, but I found that one particular line to be the funniest shit in the world.

It’s already apparent that Jade has changed quite a bit from last time we saw her. She’s considerably more airheaded and free-flowing, and her most prominent trait now is her severe lack of social skills. This change makes a lot of sense considering Jade’s history. She was still almost entirely human after ascending to god tier, but that has changed over the years. Now she has lots of dog hormones, a tail, and you-know-what. Not to mention this is the Jade that spent three years with John and Davesprite dead. It also fits into an interesting pattern I’ve noticed: generally speaking, the less screen time a character got in late Act 6, the more that character has changed by the start of the epilogues. Think about John and Dave, how much they retain from how they acted in A6A6I5. Now think about Jane Crocker. Jane FUCKING Crocker. I think it’s no coincidence that the character fans have always regarded as boring is now basically a full-blown antagonist. Now think about Gamzee MOTHERFUCKING Makara. … uh, actually no, I don’t recommend you think about him. My point is, I’d say the epilogues succeeded at parodying the comic’s fans while simultaneously paying tribute to them, and Jade’s first dialogue in Meat is no exception.

The Meat

Next up, Jade presents the political situation to Roxy and Calliope and discusses a few more things in her Jade fashion until suddenly she falls into a coma, her soul now possessed by god tier Calliope who herself inhabits a different iteration of Jade. There she goes, that’s the end of Meat Jade’s character arc. She’s now once more a shameless plot device pushed around by the whims of fate—how’s that for going full circle? The few times afterwards where Jade speaks, it’s only brief intermissions between being possessed by the Dead Cherub or getting knocked out by Dirk so he can have the narration back.

Basically, Jade ends Meat having completed an enormous circle of stupidity: plot device -> good character -> shafted character -> changed character -> plot device. It actually is a fitting ending now that I think of it, especially in the half that’s more focused on tying plot threads. But it feels annoying considering what kind of ending Jade gets, or rather doesn’t get, in Candy. Let’s go over it, shall we?

The Candy (in Candy)

Jade’s first appearance in Candy isn’t too different from her first appearance in Meat: a conversation about romance and politics with Dave and Karkat, the two roommates who are (not) dating each other and both most certainly (not) dating Jade. A bunch of stuff I already said two headers ago.

… And then things get weird. Really fucking weird. Our heroes get paired into four romantic groups forming basically the Buddy System 2.0, which is even more unnatural and freaky than the first one was. Most of those groups start having kids, but Jade’s group—her, Dave, and Karkat—has issues that aren’t quite easy to sort out. Now here’s where I have to talk about the elephant in the room: Jade’s penis. Or as fans call it, “dog dick”.

The middle section of Candy all but outright confirms what was once an absurd headcanon. At a glance, it directly contradicts what Hussie himself said about Jade before, that she only has dog ears and the rest is still human. But if you think deeper you can tell that Hussie didn’t necessarily change his mind, but decided that Jade would start only with dog ears and then gradually gain more elements of a male dog.

Anyway, Jade’s penis is enough of a confounding factor that she, Dave, and Karkat can’t agree on a way to have kids. And just a bit later, the tragic breakup happens and Karkat becomes the hero he was always meant to be. Then after even more years of presumably a bunch of hemming and hawing, Dave and Jade FINALLY get married. That’s amazing, right???? The ship that’s been a fan favorite for longer than probably any other? And they’re married after all this time?

Uh, no. Not really at all. Not too long after their overdue wedding, Dave has a touching conversation with his number one hero, Barack Obama. He confesses that he’s living a lie and can’t get over Karkat, or the long-gone Dirk for that matter. When Obama offers Dave to ascend to his ultimate self, he immediately accepts it over staying on Earth C with his doggy wife and becomes Davebot, now proud and ready to achieve greater things in paradox space.

With Dave having achieved what can only be described as one hell of an ending, what triumphant resolution does Jade get? That’s right, fucking nothing! Dave leaving Jade behind to explore the White House is the last we hear from her in Candy.

grrrrrr i want more epilogues (or do i???)

And that, my friends, is one of many reasons one could reasonably hope for a follow-up to the Homestuck Epilogues. I’m too lazy to list all the possible reasons, there’s just way too many.

So instead, I’ll say the following: despite all the flaws, I’m still more than complacent in rereading the epilogues over and over instead of daydreaming about getting even more. It’s just such a mass dump of material that you can’t fully process after reading just once, much like Homestuck itself. My prior posts about the epilogues already read like someone that doesn’t fully understand them, at least to me. Such is the beauty of Homestuck, it’s absurdly fun to think and talk about.

Conclusion

I LOVE HOMESTUCK. I LOVE HOMESTUCK, I LOVE HOMESTUCK, I LOVE HOMESTUCK, I LOVE HOMESTUCK!!!

I

LOVE

HOMESTUCK

[Experiment] Annotating the Start of the Homestuck Meat Epilogue

I still plan not to resume my Homestuck posts until I purchase my own web domain. Hopefully that’ll happen soon, maybe in June? After I have a summer (hopefully not just summer) job and start making money for real. I could purchase it right now but I’d feel guilty dumping out money for a cool personal website before I get a job.

So in the mean time, I might as well flex my Homestuck annotating muscles instead of leaving them in the dust for so long like last time my posts were on hiatus. I’ve decided to go ahead and write my usual annotations/dissection of the first three pages of the Meat Epilogue. I’ve chosen this part because the epilogues are still quite recent and hard to take off my mind. They would absolutely cloud my thoughts if I were to dissect any part of Homestuck proper and I don’t want that.

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Meat opens exactly as the title suggests: the lovable 23-year-old John Egbert eating a hefty chunk of cold, raw meat. Then this happens:

> Think, suddenly, about all the many horrible crimes committed by Lord English.

God, that guy is the worst. The memory of his stupid face and his terrible art and all the abominable misfortune he has caused across multiple universes and time lines makes your meal start to curdle in your stomach. The meat sits there like a big, lardy mass—a black hole bursting the universe apart around it. You feel like rocks are churning in your gut and your mouth begins to water, hot and sour. The flavor of the afternoon air changes around you and it’s too hot, almost suffocating. You swallow back a mouthful of pungent bile as your eyes swim and lose focus.

John’s sudden thoughts about Lord English come out of nowhere and the story knows it. This is an interesting situation that occurs in both sides: Meat with John’s sudden motivation to save all of existence after seven years of inertia, and Candy with John’s sudden motivation to go outside and make friends. Calliope’s meat and candy may both be empowered with some form of cherub magic, which is probably the actual explanation for this abrupt motivation. But both sudden changes stick out too hard for me to just dismiss them through canon, wait I mean ambiguously post-canon means.

The sudden change quoted above came across to me as a natural progression in the plot. But the start of Candy, where all the stuff in Meat was abruptly “cancelled”, came across to me as a change so absurd it may as well be fanfiction, which caused my initial burnout. Upon further reflection, I am almost certain my first impressions would have been swapped if I had read Candy first. I think most of us can agree that the epilogues’ intention to tell two wildly different stories depending which side you start with was an absolute success.

> You know what you must do.
JOHN: i know what i must do.
Of course you know. What kind of guy would you be if you stayed here, when you’re the only one in existence capable of completing the grim task? A pretty shitty one, who just sneezed up a chunk of raw meat in front of a girl you used to have a gigantic crush on.
JOHN: i have to go back and kill lord english.
ROXY: u sure?
JOHN: i think so. it will probably be hard. but i think it’s the right thing to do.
JOHN: everyone is counting on me.
Roxy pulls back and takes a deep breath. It’s a very thin breath, and her bottom lip quivers a bit when she sucks it in. She looks disappointed, though you could be misreading her, as usual.

This passage is an early introduction to this new theme of inscrutable Roxy. Actually, “new theme” is a bit of a misnomer; Roxy has always had such themes, being a void player and all. But the Meat Epilogue is where those themes start to play a role in the story, or rather show the potential to play a role. I won’t go on further about that theme, especially because I already wrote a whole post about it.

John leaves the girls behind, their relationship resuming its underwhelming status quo. I need to write a tangent about Roxy x Calliope sometime, but not now. Do you think this is the Candy Epilogue??? Hell no, we’re in for some rich and juicy MEAT.

> Write: “dear roxy,”
You’ve never written a note so quickly, or with such clarity of heart and mind. When you’re done, you write nine more. Your hands leave grease stains on the paper.
You leave ten envelopes on your bed, arranged in a tidy circle with the names of your ten closest friends written on them.

WE NEVER EVEN GET TO READ JOHN’S LETTERS, IS NOTHING PURE IN THIS WORLD?????????

The epilogues have a fair few cliffhangers; an amount that may or may not be enough for me to crave a followup, a secret true happy ending or what have you. John’s letters totally seem like something the reader deserves the chance to read which sort of makes me desire more epilogue material, but at the same time the epilogues are so GOOD already as they stand… it’s a bit of a weird situation.

Then, with absolutely no fanfare, you leave all of them and this idyllic world you’ve created behind and zap yourself back into canon.

The concept of “canon” is going to be so much fun to discuss, I can just smell it. Too bad I’m only going to discuss the first three pages of Meat, so I may not have much time to get into it.

The second page of Meat gives us our first look at what Dave and Karkat are up to. You may already know that I have a strong opinion on those two as a ship. If you didn’t already know that, then I figure it’s courtesy for me to say what that opinion is. Here goes:

Dave x Karkat is a great ship and I like it a lot.

Go ahead, make all the confused disgruntled faces you want. It won’t change that the above statement represents my opinion on Dave/Karkat in all 100% honesty.

I guess I should make something clear. I still don’t like the way that ship was handled in A6A6I5. That doesn’t mean it ever was a bad ship in itself!!! I just proclaimed it to be a bad ship because I never got to see it presented well (or really, presented at all aside from a few pictures and vague descriptions). The epilogues present that pairing beautifully and I love it. It actually feels REAL and MEANINGFUL, not just as a friendship but as an actual romance that has a bearing on both sides’ story progression! I’d almost go so far as to say it’s just as good as John and Roxy’s dynamic earlier in Act 6 Act 6. The one ship it can’t compare to is John x Terezi, which is by far the best ship in Homestuck.

DAVE: bro
In the heart of the Troll Kingdom’s capital city, Dave and Karkat are sitting on their couch with a foot and a half of space between them. It’s a typically picturesque day outside, but Karkat has the curtains drawn shut all the way. This is part of their compromise living situation: Dave puts up with the trollish non-euclidean architecture and bizarre social mores, and Karkat has adjusted his diurnal schedule to, in theory, see the sun.

As we can see here, John is the only one so far who gets second-person narration. All other characters are narrated in third person. I’ve already talked plenty about John’s mass existential crisis where he feels like the only “real” person in existence; his narration being the only one in second person helps hammer in that point and make us experience that crisis with him.

Dave casts a weary look towards the TV, where Jake English is shamelessly exhibiting what is definitely his best feature in front of a live studio audience. This is a regular highlight of his and Dirk’s hit television show, RUMBLE IN DA PUMPKIN PATCH, a schizophrenic cross-section of rap battle and robot wrestling that Rose once described as “an exploitative, almost Dada-esque clusterfuck of circumlocutory pretension and sweaty, homoerotic astriction.” Jake came up with the title for the show, and Dirk absolutely loathed it. However, before Dirk could insist on an alternative, Jake had already posted an online poll pitting his idea against “Whatever dirks lame idea is.” Needless to say, the second option was much less popular.
The description of Jake and Dirk’s TV show has a whimsical feel we haven’t seen much since early Act 6. A refreshing return to form reminiscent of the narration’s stories about B2 Earth.

KARKAT: ANYWAY, THE MORE I WATCH, I CAN’T HELP BUT NOTICE THE CAMERA’S LECHEROUS FIXATION ON THIS BOY’S VOLUPTUOUS POSTERIOR.
KARKAT: CAN’T SAY I BLAME THEM, I GUESS??? AT LEAST IT SHOWS THEY KNOW EXACTLY WHAT’S PAYING THE FUCKING BILLS, BECAUSE IT SURE AS HELL ISN’T THE QUALITY OF THE SLAM POETRY.
DAVE: ok who gives a shit about that
DAVE: although it pleases me to hear you taking note of the economics of this broadcast since it is apropos to the topic at hand but more on that later
Dave’s economy obsession is far funnier than it has any right to be. Dave talking about politics sounds like the most boring nonsense ever, but it’s somehow done well here. Basically every character in this comic has an absurd fixation or two, so Dave’s insistence that it all comes down to the economy helps anchor his political talk to the usual Homestuck feel.
KARKAT: APROPOS TO FUCKING WHAT?
KARKAT: I DON’T HAVE TIME TO “SCOPE THE LATEST MEME,” DAVE. YOU ARE COMING PERILOUSLY CLOSE TO CUTTING INTO MY IMPORTANT LEISURE TIME AS IT IS.
DAVE: leisure time
DAVE: this is all you ever do all day
DAVE: also its not a meme its much more important
KARKAT: OH, EXCUSE ME, HOT SHOT. BUT WHAT POSSIBLY COULD BE MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE LATEST MEME?
KARKAT: THAT WAS A JOKE, FYI. NOW LEAVE.
DAVE: jane is running for president
Now THAT’S how you do a wham line. This line sets up a fresh new premise…
KARKAT: WHAT THE FUCK?
Dave scoots a foot and a half closer so that they can both read the news on his phone. Karkat tips his head to the side to get a better view, until it bumps against Dave’s shoulder.
DAVE: got the announcement right here
KARKAT: YOU MEAN PRESIDENT OF EARTH?
DAVE: yeah
KARKAT: WHY THE FUCK WOULD SHE WANT TO DO THAT?
DAVE: i dunno crocker is just an ambitious woman i guess
… shortly followed by a quick picture of what our naive, innocent little Jane Crocker has been up to on Earth C.
Say what you will about Jane in the epilogues, but I really like the way Meat introduces her status. It’s the complete opposite of John’s: while we see firsthand that John has spent his days mourning his father in isolation, we learn through dialogue that Jane lived out her businesswoman fantasies to an absurd proportion and is now literally running for president of Earth.
KARKAT: THIS SOUNDS FUCKING AWFUL.
DAVE: oh it is
DAVE: it absolutely is
DAVE: also like
DAVE: dont tell her i said this but
DAVE: i think shes basically a fascist
KARKAT: WHY WOULD I TELL HER YOU SAID THAT?
KARKAT: WHEN THE FUCK WAS THE LAST TIME EITHER OF US HAD FUCK ALL TO DO WITH *JANE*
DAVE: no i know
DAVE: just like, a figure of speech i guess
DAVE: oh also shes a fucking xenophobe
KARKAT: OF COURSE SHE’S A XENOPHOBE!
John and Jane’s extreme contrast is fascinating and I haven’t seen it talked about much. John is still the pure-hearted and childish Egbert man we’ve known since day one, but Jane is nothing like the innocent girl we knew at first; two of the first words Dave describes her as are “fascist” and “xenophobe”. It’s never fully explained how she became that way, though major divergences like this fit well in the epilogues because they fuel John’s existential crisis.
KARKAT: ALSO, WHAT THE FUCK DOES SHE EVEN MEAN SHE’S “RUNNING”
KARKAT: WHAT A COMPLETE LOAD OF SHIT?
KARKAT: SHE’S A GOD. WHICH ONE OF THE TOADYING IDIOTS ON THIS PLANET WOULD DARE TO RUN AGAINST HER.
KARKAT: SHE’S GOING TO WIN IN A LANDSLIDE, ASSUMING SHE DOESN’T JUST WALTZ INTO OFFICE UNCONTESTED.
DAVE: yeah i dont disagree
DAVE: which is why we have to stop her
KARKAT: HUH?
KARKAT: DAVE, WHAT EXACTLY ARE YOU SAYING?
KARKAT: ARE YOU TELLING ME *YOU’RE* GOING TO RUN AGAINST JANE?
Karkat’s laughter is uproarious, incredulous. He reaches for another beetle as his guffaws subside, and eats it in a manner he hopes will convey his casual contempt for Dave’s insinuation.
KARKAT: ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR FUCKING MIND? DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW *RICH* SHE IS?
DAVE: dude were all rich
DAVE: we like invented the fucking economy
KARKAT: WELL, YEAH
KARKAT: BUT NOT LIKE
KARKAT: *CROCKER* RICH
DAVE: anyway no
DAVE: im not running
DAVE: you are
Wham line 2. Dave’s insistence that his (boy)friend should run for president FINALLY addresses Karkat’s leadership role!!! One of the biggest criticisms with the credits is that Karkat didn’t do anything even close to leading the troll race, which was the main point in Kanaya’s prior conversation with Echidna. The epilogues address that leadership role in an unexpectedly brilliant way: Karkat’s campaign fails in Meat, but shines high and mighty in Candy.
KARKAT: ME???????????????
DAVE: yeah man
DAVE: its perfect
DAVE: youre the ideal opponent to take her down and tbh just what this planet needs
KARKAT: NO I’M NOT!
DAVE: yeah
KARKAT: WE ESTABLISHED THIS… HOW MANY YEARS AGO?
KARKAT: I’M NOT A LEADER. I WAS NEVER MEANT TO BE ONE.
KARKAT: JANE PROBABLY IS. ALTHOUGH TO BE FAIR, I’M AGREEING WITH YOU, SHE’S A COMPLETE ASSHOLE.
KARKAT: I’M JUST NOT THE ONE TO RUN AN EFFECTIVE OPPOSITION CAMPAIGN. WHERE… HOW…
KARKAT: I WOULDN’T EVEN KNOW WHERE TO START!
DAVE: obviously you wouldnt do it on your own i would help
DAVE: id be like your campaign manager, or chief strategy guy or whatever
DAVE: also youre wrong
DAVE: you were meant to be a leader and youd be a good one
DAVE: just not the kind of leader you always thought youd be
DAVE: not a bellicose conquering dickhead who commands “fear and respect”
DAVE: just a guy who is cool and nice and actually cares about stuff and everyone loves them for that reason
Dave believes in Karkat. He sees the best in him and can easily imagine him as a strong, good-spirited leader. This passage is great, I can’t even put into words how it makes me feel. Dave x Karkat was a good ship this whole time, I’m telling you.
Karkat goes on to discuss how he doesn’t like being famous or giving himself attention. Dave tries to convince him otherwise, which leads to this passage:
DAVE: jane is…
DAVE: how do i put this
KARKAT: WHAT
DAVE: ok ill just be the one to come out and say it
DAVE: shes going to be a fucking disaster for the economy
KARKAT: …
DAVE: i guess i have to admit
DAVE: part of this
DAVE: for me personally
DAVE: its
KARKAT: WHAT ARE YOU SAYING DAVE
DAVE: its about obama
Obama’s presence in Homestuck has a certain charm to it that wouldn’t exist if the comic hadn’t dragged out so long. Homestuck’s seven-year run took place entirely during the Obama administration, which cements him as part of the comic’s mythos. Dave’s idolization and headcanons about Obama are incredibly endearing and I’m glad the epilogues gave that arc a strong resolution, culminating in Dave and Obama’s conversation near the end of Candy.
DAVE: he barely even got a chance to prove himself
DAVE: he was sworn into office and it was cool and everything was gonna be great but then
DAVE: everyone died a few months later because of meteors
DAVE: dude was just gettin warmed up… so sad
DAVE: i wonder if he would have fixed the economy
DAVE: i bet he would have fixed the economy
KARKAT: DAVE, AS MUCH AS I ENJOY LISTENING TO YOU RAMBLE THROUGH YET ANOTHER CHAPTER OF YOUR FREESTYLE OBAMA FAN FICTION
KARKAT: DON’T YOU ALREADY HAVE A BASIS FOR KNOWING HOW HIS PRESIDENCY WOULD HAVE GONE?
KARKAT: I MEAN, WASN’T HE PRESIDENT IN THE TIME LINE JANE GREW UP IN TOO?
DAVE: oh
DAVE: yeah
DAVE: i mean yeah of course i know that
DAVE: i just dont like to think much about that time line
DAVE: it doesnt really feel like its
DAVE: canon?
Here we get someone other than John talking about canonicity (and lack thereof). I find this bit interesting because it’s an early hint at John’s great revelation at the end of Candy that he is far from the only person who has existential issues with canon. I love finding early hints like this when rereading the epilogues, just as the authors intended.
DAVE: but i mean what if like
DAVE: he could be reborn
KARKAT: YES, WE’VE BEEN OVER YOUR OBAMA GOD TIER HEADCANONS TOO.
DAVE: no like
DAVE: reborn as you
DAVE: metaphorically
DAVE: you could be the great president he never got the chance to be
DAVE: you could give the people hope and shit
DAVE: you could inspire trolls everywhere
DAVE: or really all nonhuman kingdoms
DAVE: show them anybody could be a president
DAVE: not just an endless parade of rich humans who think they all know whats best for everybody
Dave is pushing Karkat hard to prove himself, which is exactly the endearing and meaningful drive that all good ships in Homestuck have. Just as Terezi pushed John to become a hero in the retcon quest and John pushed Roxy to join him in that journey, Dave is pushing Karkat to become the next Obama. If that doesn’t make you smile, then I don’t know what to tell you.
KARKAT: DAVE, I’M PRETTY SURE ANYONE *COULD* BE PRESIDENT?
KARKAT: IT’S ALWAYS SEEMED TO ME THAT HUMANS JUST SEEM TO BE MORE NATURALLY AMBITIOUS, AND THAT’S WHY THE POWER STRUCTURES TOOK THE SHAPE THEY DID THE LAST FEW MILLENNIA.
KARKAT: I MEAN, I DON’T CLAIM TO BE AN EXPERT ON XENOPSYCHOLOGY, BUT FOR SOME REASON I STRUGGLE TO IMAGINE A FUCKING SALAMANDER GETTING THE GUMPTION TO THROW HIS CRUMPLED HAT INTO THE RING FOR THE PRESIDENCY OF EARTH.
KARKAT: OR THE CARAPACIANS FOR THAT MATTER?
KARKAT: THESE ARE NOT AMBITIOUS CREATURES WE’RE TALKING ABOUT HERE, DAVE.
KARKAT: THEY’RE A HUGE FLOCK OF WOOLBEASTS, DAVE.
DAVE: karkat dont stereotype
DAVE: remember the mayor
DAVE: remember how at one point a long time ago he raised an army and rebelled against an evil king
KARKAT: OH YEAH
KARKAT: SOMEHOW I ALWAYS FORGET HE DID THAT.
KARKAT: KIND OF MIND BOGGLING, REALLY.
KARKAT: HOLY SHIT, I MISS THE MAYOR.
DAVE: me too
Dave and Karkat both observe a moment of silence—a delicate and trembling pause of utmost respect to perhaps the greatest and purest being who had ever come forth from Paradox Space. Dave pats Karkat’s knee comfortingly, and Karkat lets out a quivering breath of sorrow, of remembrance.
Dave and Karkat’s discussion about the Mayor is such a heartwarming moment. WV’s role throughout Act 6 is somewhat polarizing; some people like that he’s everyone’s adorable little friend, while others resent his relegation and wish he did more. Act 7 and the credits show him and PM staying behind to rebuild society, which was a decent resolution whose impact the epilogues show full force. The Mayor may be long dead, but his spirit lives on forever. The mention of his backstory as the Warweary Villein is a nice touch.
I can mostly skim over Dave’s ensuing rambles about politics and troll reproduction, because I made my point already: they’re surprisingly fun and insightful reads that prove “political Dave” isn’t inherently a bad thing, just like shipping him and Karkat.
DAVE: but the point is just
DAVE: i guess
DAVE: she sucks and shouldnt be president the end
DAVE: you dont even have to think about economic shit i can do that for you
DAVE: ill be like the treasury secretary or something
DAVE: just please tell me youll do this
DAVE: do it for the trolls do it for the economy do it for the mayor
DAVE: but most of all
DAVE: (sniff)
Dave wipes an invisible tear from beneath the rim of his sunglasses.
DAVE: do it for obama
KARKAT: GOD DAMN IT DAVE.
KARKAT: I DON’T REALLY GIVE A FUCK ABOUT POLITICS, OR BEING A LEADER ANYMORE, AND I THINK YOU KNOW THAT.
KARKAT: I DON’T CARE ABOUT THE ECONOMY, AND WHILE I’M SURE THIS OBAMA FELLOW WAS A HELL OF A GUY, I COULDN’T GIVE LESS A FUCK ABOUT HIM EITHER.
KARKAT: BUT…
KARKAT: I DO CARE ABOUT YOU.
Dave smiles.
KARKAT: SO
KARKAT: I’LL DO IT.
KARKAT: WHY NOT.
This is so heartwarming it’s unreal. I can’t overstate how impressed I am that the epilogues made me like a ship I used to hate.
DAVE: but you also need to be natural and speak from the heart and shit
DAVE: just like
DAVE: talk to your people
DAVE: about stuff they care about
KARKAT: “MY PEOPLE”?
KARKAT: YOU MEAN TROLLS??
DAVE: oh
DAVE: yeah i guess that sounded bad sorry
DAVE: but yeah exactly
DAVE: trolls
DAVE: thats gonna be your base so you gotta rile em up
DAVE: inspire them
DAVE: i dont think you need any fancy speeches to do that youll be a natural
Dave knows Karkat way too well. He can tell Karkat is a natural-born leader just like his Alternian ancestor was. Dave is even something of a prophet later in Meat; he accurately predicts what would have happened if Karkat won the election (which is to say, what would have happened if John chose candy).
Next up, Dave does some math to figure out who will support Karkat, who will support Jane, and who will have to be swayed in Karkat’s favor.
DAVE: as for jade…
KARKAT: …
They stare at each other. Karkat sighs and Dave raps his pen against the tablet screen in a slow, uneven staccato.
DAVE: uh
DAVE: i think its fair to say shes going to be on our side
KARKAT: YEAH
DAVE: maybe a little too much so
KARKAT: UM, YEAH
KARKAT: I WASN’T GOING TO BE THE ONE TO SAY IT, BUT YEAH, I GET WHAT YOU MEAN.
This bit establishes that Dave, Jade, and Karkat’s three-way romance isn’t quite the straight* “all three love each other” many readers had thought. Jade has loved everything about Dave from the start of the comic and the epilogues take full advantage of that. She’s a bit of a wrench in Dave and Karkat’s dynamic that goes in different directions in either epilogue.
* actually only two-thirds straight
Skipping a bit…
DAVE: well no the population isnt THAT big but yes its by far the most populous kingdom
DAVE: swinging them our way should help a lot but it wont be enough to decide the whole thing
DAVE: consorts overwhelm the other kingdoms in sheer numbers but due to unscrupulous gerrymandering, all kinds of fucked up voter suppression policies and some electoral “counterbalancing” measures to account for their ridiculous population growth rate their voting power per capita is kind of pathetic
DAVE: also its hard to drive turnout
DAVE: this may come as a shock but legions of easily distracted low information amphibians primarily concerned with eating bugs and farming god damned mushrooms arent the most politically motivated demographic
DAVE: so to get them out to the polls well need to get them REALLY excited
This ramble is probably the only time on this page where Dave’s rambling kind of has the same “off” feel as in A6A6I5. It’s just a bit too wordy, which thankfully isn’t an issue through the rest of this page. If I recall, Hussie himself wrote the dialogue in Meat’s first few pages, so I’m glad to see him improve in writing political Dave from last time he tried it.
DAVE: jake is a huge wild card here
DAVE: im sure his endorsement would be completely up for grabs
DAVE: he could go any way including just getting turned off by the whole thing and staying “apolitical”
DAVE: so we have to be careful about how we approach him
DAVE: jake is the only one of us whos wildly popular in all four kingdoms
KARKAT: WELL, I CAN’T ARGUE WITH THAT.
DAVE: yeah so an endorsement from him would be huge
DAVE: seriously just running one ad of him doing his double pistol winking bullshit with a thing under it saying “VOTE KARKAT” might be enough to win the whole election
DAVE: just have to get the fickle bastard to agree to that which could be tricky
Jake in the epilogues is a bit of an odd spot, as I’ve discussed before. He starts off as a beloved Renaissance man much like Grandpa Harley, which is a bit at odds with his dorky inner psyche. Since he’s a voiced character unlike his pre-scratch self, the epilogues have to reconcile his celebrity status with his dorkiness. It’s done well so far, with Dave treating him like a wildcard who could end up in any position. But through the rest of the epilogues Jake’s arc is weird and all over the place. At least he gets a touching resolution at the end of Candy.
DAVE: and honestly id be shocked if jane hasnt already started courting his vote
DAVE: theres no way she doesnt understand the political stakes
KARKAT: SO…
KARKAT: IT ALL COMES DOWN TO THE JAKESTAKES THEN.
DAVE: pretty much
DAVE: the jakestakes 2.0
KARKAT: WHAT
KARKAT: THERE WAS A 1.0?
KARKAT: WHEN DID THAT HAPPEN?
DAVE: oh thats like
DAVE: a whole story
KARKAT: IS THIS GOING TO BE ANOTHER ANECDOTE ABOUT THE JAKE SQUAD I WON’T CARE ABOUT AND DON’T WANT TO FUCKING HEAR?
DAVE: that sounds like the exact kind of opinion youd have about it so yeah
KARKAT: THEN I DON’T WANT TO FUCKING HEAR ABOUT IT.
It’s kind of adorable that Karkat doesn’t care in the slightest about those alpha kid stories. Years ago I would have used cases like this as evidence that his relationship with Dave isn’t completely healthy, but now I don’t see any reason to debunk a good ship.
Next up, Dave gets a call from Dirk. After a short nod to fandom’s decapitation meme, we move on to the next page and the last one I’ll cover in this post.
> JOHN: Zap.
You zap back into canon. It’s been so long, you’d forgotten what it feels like. The atmosphere smacks unmistakably of… How can you describe it? Relevance? Legitimacy? Funny how you never would have thought to put it that way until you left.
Come on, John. There’s a much better word to describe how you feel about canon. That word starts with “home” and ends with “stuck”.
John in the epilogues is INCREDIBLY “homestuck”, probably more than at any point in the comic proper. As soon as he tries to place how he feels being in canon again, the comic becomes true to its title once more. John is stuck in the idea that the canon world is authentic and Earth C is a land of stupid nonsense; only at the end of Candy does he realize others feel the same but express it in different ways. Especially dear sweet Roxy, holy shit is her story with John heartwrenching.
It takes you a moment to recognize where you are, even though Rose’s instructions were very specific. A place bright and gaudy and filled with the stench of teenage ennui. It’s your old living room on the gold battleship, where you spent three years caught up in a lot of weird, furry romantic drama while learning to unlove everything you once held sacred. Three long, boring years. Years that, technically speaking, never even happened, now that you think of it. You have the very retcon powers that just brought you back here to thank for that.
You barely have time to take in the sick, nostalgic feeling that all the globes and Tangle Buddies and avant-garde mime art evokes.
“Sick, nostalgic” is quite an interesting combination of words. John’s time on the battleship was a boring trudge, but he romanticizes canon nonetheless.
The fridge pops open and out roll Aranea and Gamzee. Gamzee honks and his codpiece jiggles ominously. Aranea staggers to her feet, looking rather pleased with herself. Until she notices you and gapes in bewilderment.
ARANEA: What are you doing here?!
“I CALLED IT!”, I thought to myself when I first got to this page. I had hoped for a long time that the pre-retcon timeline would make a return of sorts—maybe even a version of that timeline where Aranea didn’t interfere. And I was right! I had also hoped that John would do a second retcon that changes the course of events another time. And I was half-right.
> Rose was perfectly clear about what to do next.
You make a fist, and sort of flinch and look away when you do it. No matter how many years you’ve spent living on a planet with absolute gender parity, this feels wrong. Still, you hit Aranea pretty fucking hard, underestimating your own strength just as badly as you did the last time you clobbered a hapless Serket. She goes flying back, hits the couch, and KOs instantly into a pile of Smuppets. You then take her wrist in your hand, slide the ring off her finger, and pocket it.
If this scene took place in Homestuck proper, it would no doubt be a blatant one-to-one visual callback to the time John punched Vriska. Visual callbacks are fun and all, but towards the end they kind of overstayed their welcome, so conveying the feel of a visual callback through text is a very welcome change of page.
> Isn’t there something you’re forgetting?
Gamzee stares up at you with his horrible, limpid eyes. There’s something serene, sinister, and sensual all at once about the look he’s laying on you. It sends a shiver up the whole length of your spine. Fuck no.
> Do everyone a favor and put an end to his preposterous narrative relevance.
You wisely decide that this clown will lend nothing valuable to the narrative whatsoever if he is allowed to remain outside of your childhood refrigerator. You put both hands on his chest and shove him into the fridge where he belongs. He goes easily, issuing only a pair of weak honks in protest. You slam the fridge shut and resolve to never think about Gamzee Makara again.
Thank you, John. You made the right choice.
Rereading the epilogues is so much fun and the authors knew it. It took me surprisingly long to realize the contrast between this scene and Gamzee’s grand return in Candy. Early in Meat, John zaps alone to a meaty point pre-retcon and wisely stuffs Gamzee inside a fridge; early in Candy, John zaps with friends to a sugary point post-retcon and reluctantly lets Gamzee outside a fridge.
> Zap to the next plot point.
Page 3 of Meat ends with John commanded to move things forward, which probably makes readers that started with Meat feel like they made the right choice. Candy presents itself similarly at first, by swiftly handling all the friendships and character dynamics one at a time. Both epilogues take advantage of this false sense of security so they can veer hard in different directions.
–––––––– –––––––– –––––––– –––––––– ––––––––
I’m going to stop here. Don’t think it’s worth going through further pages in this little experiment, let alone the epilogues in full. What can I say in conclusion? Hmmm, let me think.
I’ve got it. Here goes:
I fucking love Homestuck.

Homestuck Epilogues Addendum Post: The Deal with Roxy

NOTE: Until I go about moving this blog to my own website, I’ll keep dumping any Homestuck ramblings here.

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In my post overviewing the epilogues, I abstained from talking about some sensitive topics. But after collecting some thoughts, I feel like I’m ready to talk about one of the epilogues’ most polarizing parts: transgender Roxy. In this post, I will first go over Roxy’s role in both epilogues in much more detail then before, then I’ll explain why I think the transitioning arc was flawed in execution. As before, I’ll refer to Roxy as “she” unless I talk specifically about Meat; I hope you’re OK with that. 

Before we begin, I need to make something clear: if you liked Roxy’s transitioning arc in Meat, or felt highly validated by it, that’s completely fine!!! This post is only my own personal opinions. I never intend to offend anyone that connects to or is validated by a character or story arc that I don’t find much good about. It’s something that varies from person to person, like how I sometimes find terrifyingly large amounts of Caliborn in myself. If you’re worried that reading someone’s views on Roxy in the epilogues will offend you, then I don’t recommend you read any further.

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Let’s start by talking about Candy Roxy, who I am not going to refer to as Candy!Roxy because only geeks do that.

I’ve always been a fan of Roxy and John’s dynamic and was salty that the credits shafted it in favor of the dull Roxy x Calliope. The candy epilogue brings her and John back together, but their relationship doesn’t work out. What impresses me is that their breakup feels completely natural, unhampered by my enjoyment of their usual flirting. As I said in my prior epilogues post, their breakup is a testament to both John’s issues with canon and Roxy’s issues dealing with harsh situations. Roxy has trouble dealing with Dirk’s suicide, which is first shown when she goes overboard with funerals. While Dirk’s funeral is a legitimately heart-crushing scene, the funeral for teen Jade that appeared out of nowhere is just plain stupid. Roxy soon becomes to John what her pre-scratch self was to Rose: an overly kind lady who lost her old snarky self and now will never disagree with or contest anything her daughter (or in this case, husband) does, leading to a testy relationship. Though I still think Roxy would be a perfect match for John if all those tragedies didn’t “break” her so much, I now think Terezi is a way more perfect match for John.

Roxy’s role in Meat is quite strange. She, or rather he, kind of just tags along and goes through a gender transition arc. I think Homestuck was never good at writing discussions on LGBT topics, with one exception I’ll discuss later. I find those conversations a slog to read and don’t understand why some people herald them as “powerful moments”, again with one exception. Don’t get me wrong, I think Homestuck has plenty of gay relationships worthy of merit and the epilogues have rescinded my issues with Dave x Karkat, a ship that I now actually kind of like despite its initially poor handling. But those lengthy rambles about being gay and stuff still aren’t what I’d call enjoyable or insightful reads.

In the second half of Meat, Dave and Roxy discuss transitioning and homosexuality and this time there’s someone to call out how boring it is—none other than Dirk Strider, the narrator who isn’t into all the romance and poetry both versions of Calliope love so much. Are you ready for a hot take on this topic?

I do not think Dirk’s confusion with Roxy’s transition is an effect of his shift towards more questionable motives.

It takes a fair while for Dirk to get used to referring to Roxy as “they” and then “he”. And it is disingenuous to think Dirk has no reason to be confused or at least taken somewhat aback that this girl of all people, the one who’s loved cute fluffy girly things from the start, is going through such a shift. I am not saying whether or not it is a reasonable development for Roxy to start presenting as male; I don’t think I can answer that question. I am only saying that I don’t think it’s terribly out-of-character that Dirk reacts to Roxy’s transition this way.

Despite lacking much of a role in the meat epilogue, this new male Roxy does have a moment of note when he converses with Dave about these issues and the two come to form a strong bond. Dave agrees to see Roxy as his new father figure, due to the strange things Dirk has been doing to their entire group of friends. Their relationship’s preservation into a new form is kind of heartwarming? I guess? But it mostly comes off to me as a natural consequence of everything falling apart. Crashing and burning, a vastly different kind of falling apart from the slow deterioration Candy is laden with.

This brings me to a new revelation about Meat vs. Candy. As I said in my prior post about the epilogues, Meat came off to me as the bad ending and I at first expected Candy to be the good ending. I presume readers that started with Candy ended up perceiving it not as the bad ending, but as the sad ending (there’s an important difference!) and then expected Meat to be the happy ending. I think Meat is best described as the bad ending and Candy as the sad ending. There’s no good ending to complement Meat and no happy ending to complement Candy, and yet both epilogues complement each other spectacularly.

… Wait, fuck. This post is about Roxy, isn’t it? I’ll get back on track here. Let’s talk about candy Roxy again.

In Candy, Roxy does bring up struggles with gender identity a few times. On this side of things, these struggles end with Roxy finding comfort in living as a woman without necessarily “identifying” as one—I hope I paraphrased her words correctly. As before, this resolution is kind of heartwarming? I guess? But for me, any heartwarming factor is vastly overwhelmed by the unsettling implication that the buddy system took quite a toll on our heroes. This brings me to a take that’s probably not as hot as the last one.

It is plausible that Roxy would not have even slightly questioned her feminine identity had she not spent so much time with Calliope.

Please don’t take from this statement that I necessarily think Roxy’s gender issues are “fake” or anything, or that I think any identity issues or reconsiderations that stem from external factors are automatically “fake”. All I’m saying is that this explanation for Roxy’s identity questioning makes more sense to me than claiming she secretly had such thoughts this whole time. I do not demean anyone who prefers to think Roxy had always struggled with gender identity and we just didn’t know it.

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All this talk about the nature of identity brings me back to a point I brought up in my prior review of the epilogues: specifically, Obama’s speech to Dave about identity. Obama’s speech is the exception to my lack of interest in the comic’s discussions on LGBT topics; I would most certainly call it a “powerful moment”. I’ll quote what I said about that speech verbatim:

When Dave confesses that he might be gay and explains troubles in his three-way romance, Obama responds with a truly inspiring speech about identity that raises an excellent point about the differences between the epilogues involving aspects of people that may seem immutable to some. I think Obama’s speech leaves a powerful message I never expected Homestuck of all things to convey so well. I hope readers take that speech’s message into account, though I know many will probably be a bit naive about it.

Roxy’s gender arc is the prime example of differences that may seem immutable to some. That arc ties in well with Obama’s speech and helps give it such a powerful message. It’s too bad that Roxy in Meat doesn’t really do much besides being a boy. He does have a notable role as a void in Dirk’s knowledge, but the quest to stop Dirk and put that ability to use is only about to begin when Meat ends. How awesome would it be if male Roxy immediately started kicking ass, spearheading a major scheme with our remaining heroes to restore all that is good? Pretty fucking awesome if you ask me. But the fundamental flaw with Roxy’s transition is that the transition itself inevitably steals the show. It’s such a big change that it gives the illusion that Roxy was an incredibly significant character to Meat’s plotline, distracting readers from the fact that he wasn’t at all. Maybe that illusion weighed down the epilogue writers too, who knows. Roxy isn’t the only character that suffers from such a situation, but he sticks out for obvious reasons.

So many things about Homestuck are fundamentally flawed, I can’t even list them all. But the comic tends to make good use of those flaws; the epilogues in particular excel in that matter, as I had discussed in cases like Jane and Gamzee. The big question about Roxy’s transitioning arc is: does its impact on the epilogues’ legitimately good identity themes outweigh its fundamental flaws?

My answer to the big question is a stone-cold “no”, but at the same time it’s a bright fiery “yes”. It is also a disgustingly lukewarm “maybe”, as well as an “ah but you see…” that reeks of the highest pretension imaginable. But above all else, I see this arc as just one example of how Homestuck is horrendous and wondrous in tandem.

I hope I conveyed my point well in this post.

The Obligatory Homestuck Epilogues Post, In Full

I am still burnt out on this blog, that’s still a thing. Only a week since hiatus and I already wince at the thought of reviving my Homestuck posts, especially on a platform that’s not convenient at all for hosting these posts. I’m sick of gaining pretty much no traction because Blogger and search engines go together like jelly and hot dogs. I currently plan on switching to a different platform, maybe even purchasing a personal web domain because I’m 20 and that’s what 20-year-olds do. But for the time being, I might as well write a post providing my full thoughts on the Homestuck Epilogues.

BRIEF SUMMARY

4/20, read through Meat: epilogues pretty good
4/20, started Candy: what the fuck
4/21, stopped: aaaaaaaaughhhhh bluh i hate everything
4/24-ish, continued Candy: epilogues alright i guess also i am sad now
4/27-ish, finished: I LOVE HOMESTUCK

BRIEF-ISH SUMMARY

Meat was a wild ride that started as cool plot stuff and things that make you go “OH FUCK”, continued as basically chapters 7-9 of Detective Pony (which I naturally enjoyed a lot), and ended as a mess of sheer chaos and destruction. My thought process ended as, “oh duh, this is the bad ending, candy must be the good ending”. I was in for quite the nasty surprise.

I quit reading Candy just a few pages in. It didn’t take long for it to suddenly become the weirdest fanfiction ever. Frustrated, I started skipping and searching through later parts and got rather salty when it turned out both sides were the “bad ending”. I saw firsthand what vfromhomestuck meant by “clear your whole week”: this is not something most people can just read in one sitting. Then I recovered a few days and read Candy in earnest, in a somewhat anachronous order and with many parts read multiple times. Slowly, I started to hope that the epilogues would be followed up with a true happy ending for real this time. I may or may not have written a snippet of some form of fanfiction paving the way for a happy ending.

Once I finally accomplished the equivalent of reading Candy as intended, I got hit HARD with feels. I accepted that the epilogues have many issues but as a whole (not just the sum of parts) are an absolute masterwork, sometimes because of those issues. It didn’t take me long to realize the brilliant duality either. Meat is a side-splitting metafictional farce that (for me at least) is impossible to treat as anything resembling a story of people doing things. Candy is a tale of FEELS, and I don’t use the word FEELS lightly. FEELS means I almost cried, like I did when I watched the Futurama episode Luck of the Fryrish.

DETECTIVE PONY AND METAFICTION

Before I move on and talk about the CHARACTERS, I’m going to discuss the meat epilogue’s resemblance to sonnetstuck’s Detective Pony. I love everything about Detective Pony, more than almost anything else in existence. My abnormal love for that godlike fanwork probably skewed my perception of Meat a bit. Starting from page 17, Dirk takes over the narration then fights over it with god tier Calliope; both do rather questionable deeds and Dirk was hit hard by fans as a result. Seeing other fans react towards that character with such hostility gave me a very distinct feeling of “what, am I missing something?” Dirk’s takeover felt like a lengthy work of comedy to me; a story that never strips away from the fact that it’s fiction, in a vein near identical to that of Detective Pony. I like to think I am in the right for perceiving that arc this way, because I think everyone who has read Homestuck should read Detective Pony. One of the epilogue authors read Detective Pony after writing the epilogues and was struck by it; I take this accidental mirroring of (post-)canon as proof that sonnetstuck understands Hussie’s ways through and through. I like to think I have a solid understanding of Hussie’s ways by now, but this guy is on a whole new level.

That said, the meat epilogue gets a bit carried away with metafiction to the point of making me think, “god when will things go back to normal”. Towards the end of Detective Pony, Dirk goes through an existential crisis followed by a powerful revelation, and then resolves to do whatever it takes to erase his abominable creation. But the meat epilogue ends with (both figurative and literal) crashing and burning; no ultimate redemption for our poor Strider. Homestuck doesn’t usually have much of a problem with getting carried away with stupid nonsense; maybe a few rare occasions in cases like Hussie’s self-insert scenes. But getting carried away is a major criticism I have with cool and new web comic. I love that comic to death, but the parts that take a long time to dwell on the cool and new characters being creepy or weird are a chore to go through. o (the author of CaNWC) seems to have improved in that regard; the cool and new trolls’ arc is much more to-the-point with such nonsense.

Meat getting carried away with metafiction is a major cause of my initial burnout shortly after starting Candy. I was sick of this mass dump of metafiction and expected Candy to be a refreshing change of pace. Haha, if only. My fault for reading Meat first. At night I sometimes ponder in envy of the parallel universe me that started with Candy. Actually I don’t do that, I just thought it was a funny thing to say. Though I have on more than a few occasions sat in bed fantasizing about how awesome my life probably is in some parallel universe. What point was I making again? Oh whatever, it doesn’t matter. I guess I should write a similar overview of Candy’s narrative nature. Here goes:

LUCK OF THE FRYRISH AND SADSTUCK

Sad things are sad.

^ There, that’s my candy overview. How hard was that?

With the two summaries out of the way, I figure the best way to dump out my residual thoughts on the epilogues is going character by character. I won’t do every character, mostly just the ones who played large roles and were already characters in Homestuck proper. I’m sorting these characters in tiers of how well I think the epilogues handle them, mostly from worst to best.

N-TIER

N is not the lowest tier; it’s the tier that cannot be ranked. N stands for two things here: “Not Applicable” and “Narrators”. Naturally enough, two characters fit into that tier.

Dirk Strider: I’ve already talked about this guy quite a bit. I have a fondness for Dirk’s character and I think his dialogue and narration in meat do a good job portraying some ascended, ultimate version of his character without straying from his voice, the tone that makes him Dirk. That said, I’m a bit peeved that “normal Dirk”, the one iteration of Dirk Strider that isn’t total bonkers and just wants his friends to be happy, doesn’t exist in this story. In Candy, Rose suddenly loses the memories of her alternate selves, but for some reason Dirk keeps those memories and soon after commits suicide; he’s left out of the picture until Candy’s postscript, which I guess is a reasonable balance considering his indulgence throughout Meat. But why is only one of the succulently verbose Strilondes let off the hook? Some readers imagine Dave as the comic’s protagonist and Dirk as the antagonist; I’ve toyed with that idea myself and can see it symbolized, but it just feels so wrong to me. Maybe the authors did too good a job writing Dirk for me to be complacent with such a shift in role. His conversations with Rose were just as delightful as I had hoped and they aren’t weighed down too much in light of his shift in role, at least not for me.

Alt Calliope: The narrative rival to Dirk, as I mentioned previously. I’m not totally sure what to say about her, other than that one could see her as a counterpart to let’s say Anna Harley; a necessary piece in the Detective Pony analogy. Alt Calliope’s narrative arguments with Dirk were hilarious and that’s all there is to say on the matter.

G-TIER

I’m lucky Gamzee’s name starts with a G, because this means I can give him a tier of his own worse than F. As an individual arc that is; he’d get a much higher rating when taken as part of a whole.

Gamzee Makara: Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. I despised reading every word that came out of this guy’s mouth as soon as his “””redemption arc””” started. But I can clearly tell that was the point and that the suffering that is reading his words has a much greater purpose. Before you deem me a masochist or the kind that insists everything is “bad on purpose”, know that I am neither of those things but really do mean what I say here. Gamzee’s role in Candy draws tension between individuality and the whole. Reading this guy’s hogwash is suffering in and of itself, but ultimately it serves a role of showing us how fucked up the world of Candy is and helps the reader experience John’s existential crisis with him.

F-TIER

As before, these tiers are strictly about character arcs in isolation and not the big picture. This tier is home to none other than the legendary…

Jane Crocker: Boy did I predict the future on that one. A bit like Dirk, I would’ve liked it more if in only one epilogue did sweet innocent little Jane become such a monster. No way in hell am I going to run through the asshole things she does; it’s a load of sensitive topics I’m not comfortable discussing in any capacity. Instead, I’ll say that if I had to choose only one epilogue where Jane ran through her crazy presidential campaign it would be Candy; as with Gamzee’s arc, this campaign serves well as a part of John’s existential crisis. What’s weird here is that in Candy she originally cancelled all this, but later ended up basically doing it anyway with Dirk gone. I can imagine Jane going back to normal in Meat, maybe? Or in the hypothetical “true ending” I discussed prior.

D-TIER

Better known as “meh” tier. Mostly the characters that don’t do much and I wished did more.

Meenah Peixes: Needed more screen time, god damn it. She survives the Furthest Ring apocalypse, nabs the Ring of Life, then makes her way to Candy Earth and joins Karkat in the rebellion. Maybe it makes sense that her and Karkat teaming up in war is relegated to the background, to show how far the shouty guy has come in comparison to everyone else. I’ll come back to this point when I talk about Karkat.

Roxy Lalonde: Doesn’t do too much in either side, but does go through some touchy topics I’m not sure what to think about; I’m most certainly not ready to talk about those topics now. And regardless, Roxy’s role in the epilogues is better discussed when I talk about John and Terezi a few tiers up.

* UPDATE: I have now written a post about these touchy topics. Read at your own discretion.

Calliope: Doesn’t do all that much either, full circle to being the exposition alien with mysterious morality. I’m actually pretty OK with that. Certainly beats out the slog of endless “ur pretty” conversations. Calliope pretty much fades into the background on both sides, which is sad but fitting.

(About pronouns: I’ll keep referring to Roxy and Calliope as “she” unless I find reason to talk about the little those two do in Meat. I just avoided using pronouns in those paragraphs above.)

C-TIER

Better known as “meh” tier, but with a more positive “meh” than before. It’s the “meh” that indicates lukewarm satisfaction rather than annoyance at mediocrity.

Jade Harley: Really should be on a lower tier, because she did dick squat other than being horny and painfully oblivious to all the nonsense going on. But I’m a sucker for Jade being “Jade” and was happy to see even a trace of that early in Meat. As before, I’ll avoid the controversial topics surrounding Jade in the epilogues, aside from pointing out that this post reads very different now.

* UPDATE: I have now written a post about her in the epilogues too.

Karkat Vantas: This guy’s a bit of an odd spot. His leadership role is addressed in the absolute last way I expected. Could’ve gotten more attention from the story I suppose, but damn if his character arc didn’t get the most triumphant return imaginable.

Kanaya Maryam: I touched upon Rose and Kanaya’s relationship when I discussed the “buddy system” in my first epilogues post and I still stand by what I said there. Her strong attachment to Rose is integrated well into Meat without seeming like fluff or defining her entire character, because she actually does other things there too. In Candy they remain a stable happy relationship and I guess I’m cool with that.

Aradia Megido: Role is the same as ever and I’m fine with that. Death fangirl who works for predestination and has ambiguous morality. Her arc with alt Calliope ends with a cliffhanger that is easily the biggest reason to hope for a follow-up to the epilogues; if such a follow-up were to happen, I really look forward to hearing more from Aradia.

Sollux Captor: Sollux is by nature the other guy, that’s an immutable fact of life. He doesn’t do much other than snarking at whoever’s nearby and I can’t imagine it any other way.

Jake English: If not for a scene near the end of Candy, I’d put Jake at D-tier. Through all of Meat and most of Candy, Jake’s role is one of the oddest spots of all and it’s pretty hard to pinpoint what the authors were going for, lest I dabble in controversial topics some more. But Jake’s scene with John near the end of Candy is uniquely touching and makes the most out of his role as a second John. He moves in with John, bringing his son Tavros with him, and encourages John to reconcile with his former wife and make amends of sorts, ultimately giving a small portion of the cast a pseudo-happy ending. That whole part of Candy made me tear up.

Talking about the really GOOD parts is a perfect point for me to move on to…

B-TIER

Stuff that didn’t make it into A-Tier, which I’ve reserved for what struck me HARD.

Dave Strider: In both epilogues, Dave’s behavior generally seems based on how he acted in Act 6 Act 6 Intermission 5, which is actually a LOT better than it sounds and hell if I know why that is. Dave’s rants about politics and sexuality now have a charm I can’t quite describe. His absurd fixation specifically on the economy matches shockingly well with the nature of Homestuck. The three-way romance between him, Karkat, and Jade goes in very different directions on either side, which I’ll discuss a bit later. The epilogues even made Dave x Karkat an actually decent ship, how crazy is that??? The writers deserve a big badge of honor for doing that. Not sure what to say about specific things, but Dave was really well-written in an unexpected way.

Rose Lalonde: Again not sure what to say about anything in specific. Just really enjoyed reading Rose on both sides of the story. Shoutout to the heartwarming moment with John near the end.

A-TIER

Oh boy. Oh boy. Time for the big guns.

Vriska Serket: My mind hurts to process just how good Vriska’s appearance in Candy was, after leaving the Furthest Ring and landing on Earth. First she talks with John rather aggravated, then she brutally murders Gamzee, then she sits down and has an honest talk with her ectobiological clone raised by Rose and Kanaya, and in the end gets in touch with Terezi which leads to a cliffhanger. The story somehow created the PERFECT balance of sincere reflections and typical Vriska flavor, which was deeply lacking in A6A6I5 with its horrific polar opposite versions of Vriska. The two Vriskas’ conversation late in Candy is incredibly endearing and almost feels like an apology for the controversial Vriska/Vriska encounter back then. I accept the apology with open arms. Why is everything always so wonderful?

John Egbert: ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ <3. WHY IS EVERYTHING ALWAYS SO WONDERFUL? John gets a deep meaningful existential crisis arc in both epilogues; both cases I easily latched onto and found a bit of myself in. I absolutely loved seeing him and Terezi interact as a duo of people with some perception of canonicity; I’ll get back to that point soon enough. John’s marriage to Roxy not working out is a testament to both his issues with canon and Roxy’s issues dealing with harsh situations. Roxy latches onto John and their son as a huge carefree pushover and he doesn’t like that at all. And that’s actually cool with me because John x Terezi is better in every way, as the epilogues made me realize. If that wasn’t enough, the end of Candy spoils our little hearts by having John reconcile with Roxy anyway and give hope for a better future. Though a part of me does want to see a true happy ending where John and Roxy date with their delightful dynamic from their first interactions, I’m beyond pleased with the epilogues’ handling of John either way. Swaying deep into some rather sad territory while remaining 100% faithful to his character that I’ve always loved so much.

Terezi Pyrope: FUCK YES FUCK YES FUCK YES FUCK YES FUCK YES. Every scene with Terezi in the epilogues was so goddamn awesome. Her interactions with John were such a blast to read, with exactly the mix of humor and touching aspects that make both of the big John/girl ships what they are. How did the authors pull it off, making deeply emotional scenes without ever sacrificing that goofy Terezi flavor???

S-TIER

S in rating systems these days is way misused in my eyes. Normally A is meant to be the highest rating and S is used for the very rare absolutely exceptional case A doesn’t do justice. But now you see shit like SS, SSS, SSSS everywhere like one S isn’t the ultimate badge of honor? S is a rating I’d gladly give Detective Pony and may or may not give cool and new web comic. Same goes for my very favorite Futurama episodes. I’d give a few of Neil Cicierega’s works that rating if I’m feeling up to it. In this post, I’ve reserved the S rating for:

Barack Obama: THE BEST PART OF THE EPILOGUES, HANDS DOWN. His conversation with Dave near the end of Candy is perfect in every way, it really transcends words. Humor, emotional touching, plot revelations, and straight up “Homestuck feel” are blended into the most delicious melting pot imaginable. When Dave confesses that he might be gay and explains troubles in his three-way romance, Obama responds with a truly inspiring speech about identity that raises an excellent point about the differences between the epilogues involving aspects of people that may seem immutable to some. I think Obama’s speech leaves a powerful message I never expected Homestuck of all things to convey so well. I hope readers take that speech’s message into account, though I know many will probably be a bit naive about it.

If you refuse to read the epilogues at all costs, then I implore you to read Dave and Obama’s conversation anyway. You won’t be disappointed.

CONCLUSION

This post was so much fun to write, holy shit. I so badly needed to get all this out of my system. The only thing stopping me from continuing my Homestuck post series (plural) is that I don’t want to do it on Blogger anymore. The move to a new platform will happen soon enough, once I have some real-life things sorted out.

The Homestuck Epilogues: Initial Thoughts

Happy 10th anniversary to Homestuck (again)!

First things first, the title of this post is a lie. My initial thoughts were as follows:

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

I’m glad I was home alone reading this. I have something of a pattern regarding screaming at media while home alone. I was home alone when I fought Omega Flowey (or is it Photoshop Flowey?) in Undertale, and I screamed all the way through. I was home alone when I played all the way through Doki Doki Literature Club, and again I screamed all the way through. And I am so goddamn lucky that I was home alone when the beginning of the Homestuck epilogue went up. In the last few minutes leading up to 1:00 PM EST (EDT? fuck if I know), I listened to Sburban Jungle at full blast, so that near the end of the song the epilogue would go up. And that was when I started screaming.

My thoughts about the epilogue so far after all the screaming though… oh boy. Oh boy.

Wait fuck, I keep forgetting. It’s not the epilogue. It’s the epilogues, plural. Calling it “epilogues” instead of “epilogue” will take some getting used to.

The Initial Presentation

Anyway when I first read the epilogues, things went off to a strong start. Late Homestuck had a pattern of telling the story through various forms of social media. In chronological order, we had Tumblr, DeviantArt, Vine, Instagram, and Snapchat. Listing those websites in order really makes it all sound stupid, but don’t be misled: I actually like the whole concept of storytelling through social media, and I feel it matches perfectly with the way Homestuck experiments with pretty much anything. It’s just that the content in those is a bit questionable.

Why do I mention all this social media? Well, in the days leading up to 4/13 I started to wonder if the epilogue would continue this pattern of parodying social media. And today I was not disappointed. They chose to parody Archive of Our Own, better known as AO3. A very good and surprising choice if I say so myself; it made me scream even harder than before.

A Second Retcon?

So what about the plot stuff in the epilogue? (I can call it the epilogue for now; what we got today was probably just one of “the epilogues”.) It’s pretty cool I’d say. I’m incredibly intrigued by a possibility of a second retcon, this time one that maybe isn’t centered around Vriska. I was actually super intrigued by that idea during the Masterpause and Omegapause, but once Act 7 happened it kind of fell off my hopes, especially considering that retcon powers were used again by John to tie into Caliborn’s Masterpiece.

Most readers saw the tie into the Masterpiece coming for quite some time now. But I did not expect the twist that John would bring in younger versions of the kids, before they started gradually disconnecting from canon. On the topic of “canon”, I really love the way Rose breaks the fourth wall.* It fits her character perfectly, all the way back to her very first pesterlog. And on the topic of the second retcon, I now remember how invigorated I was back then by the concept of John having another retcon arc. Follow-ups to things can be super fun if done right—I feel like any media can get a good follow-up if done right. I mean, look at Deltarune. Nobody thought that Undertale would ever get a real sequel, but now it has one and it’s absolutely a follow-up done right! John’s retcon is no exception either. I could easily see him doing a retcon arc that’s an absolute blast to follow, especially if it’s gone about way differently from the first retcon arc.

* Which fourth wall, you ask? I don’t know, any fourth wall. I’m too HYPED to even consider dwelling on such minutia.

THE BUDDY SYSTEM
———————–
IS GONE!!!

OK, this header’s title is also a lie. The buddy system, if you didn’t know, is the term I use to refer to the pattern after the retcon where characters would be split up into pairs and it’s all natural and healthy—first in Vriskagram, then in the credits. I’ve always HATED that pattern and it’s always felt so fake and plastic.

What is “GONE!!!” here is not the buddy system itself, but the pretense that the buddy system is even remotely healthy or good for our heroes. Their dynamics are clearly not healthy; the story shows that any pair of characters that the buddy system didn’t group up displays a swath of loneliness and depression, heavily suggesting that the character relationships through the buddy system are NOT good.

I’ll rip the bandage off your hairy legs and speak the truth: John and Roxy did NOT get together after they entered Earth C. John hid that thought from himself for years, it seems; denying sad thoughts is another pattern in John’s character that I’m glad to see continued here. When he thinks about it again on his 23rd birthday, remembering their happy and wondrous flirting back then, he gets depressed; it’s not out of the question that Roxy has similar feelings.

Maybe the second retcon could fix the kids’ dynamics for real this time???? As in make them ALL good friends with EACH OTHER, with maybe some healthy canon ships sprinkled in. Rose/Kanaya isn’t going anywhere, I can say that much. John/Roxy on the other hand absolutely is going somewhere. Where it’s going, I can’t say yet; it just somewhere instead of nowhere. Or at least their arc will get REAL CLOSURE THAT I’VE BEEN WAITING ON FOR YEARS. I’m thankful that the ships that I tend to complain about are left vague and ambiguous for now. The bottom line is, the characters’ dynamics are NOT good and I’m very glad that they’re NOT good. It shows that things aren’t quite perfect and happy and John might get the chance to change things more.

Concluding Thoughts

I am SO

FUCKING

HYPED

to read the further Homestuck material! For at least the next week, if not more. I don’t know if I’ll make a new post every time there’s an epilogue update. All I can say for now is, uh…

OK I don’t have anything else to say so I’ll promote something else I made instead.

Did you read the other thing I released today yet? Go check if out if you want. It’s a more polished version of my rewritten posts about Act 1 and Act 2, hosted on Google Sites. Click this link to read it!