10/13/09 – 11/21/09
pages 759 – 885
This is not the last time a letter to or from John will fill a story break. Nanna’s knowledge of the future is going to have an in-game explanation, so to speak. This is something I’ve always appreciated, the way characters never just know things “because magic.” There’s always an interesting reason behind it. Nannasprite might descend into blurb speak here but she nevertheless earns my respect; she shares my views on ensuring regular mealtimes for teenagers.
Act 3 proper begins with the introduction of our much portended fourth player. Poor Jade, the arc of the story has guaranteed her an uphill battle in the popularity poll. As I mentioned before, Dave hit the sweet spot and now Jade’s left in the mud.
There’s a few ways in which this manifests. For one, I find it telling that our first description of Jade is as a silly girl who partakes in silly antics. I don’t think Hussie had any other personality traits planned out for her. Notice how the majority of her introduction focuses on her belongings and situation rather than her personality and personal interests. This is always a really bad sign in Homestuck. If all we know of a character is that she’s the heiress of a multi-billion dollar baking fortune and has a bit of a thing for detectives, or that he lives on an island and… I don’t even know, has some people with crushes on him, then we’re in for a rough ride.
She’s at a further disadvantage given the conversations we’ve already seen. Dave and Rose were introduced early and got to serve roles in the tutorial phase of the story. We saw them helping John out, explaining things and solving problems. We’ve gotten to know them through their interactions with one another and with the world around them, the best possible way we could come to know them. Jade’s role so far has been to provide foreshadowing, to feed the audience mystery crumbs and bait our curiosity. This makes sense from a narrative standpoint but makes her look awful as a character. There is no reason for her to be so coy with her best friends. This is something the sprites do which the kids complain about, but there is, once again, an in-game explanation for this behavior. Jade is just being obnoxious. John might be too obtuse to believe her about dreamselves, but Rose could certainly be persuaded to listen. Because she’s been stuck in this role, all of Jade’s exchanges with other characters have been brief and cryptic. The main thing we know about her is that she possesses information she shouldn’t have had access to, and even this will turn out to be through means that are common to half of all Sburb players and nothing to do with her personally.
Finally, there was no way Jade could have been introduced at this point without it being annoying. We’ve just partaken of the thrill and perplexity that is WV: Ascend, and now we’ve got to stop and look at this silly girl’s stuffies.
None of this is to say that Jade is a bad character. On this read through I can pick out the hints of her personality even early on. She’s not nearly as silly as she seems. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that she is the most practical of the kids. She is the least easily distracted, the most straight forward thinker, and a focused go-getter. What impresses me about her is that she’s all those things without being presented as some kind of alpha girl who is driven to be perfect at everything, quite the opposite. She has no image that she’s trying to protect. She is the most emotionally open of the kids. John probably still beats her out as most openhearted, but only because in some ways he has no sense at all. Jade simply does what she sees as best, regardless of personal cost, without hesitation. That is heroic.
But before we can see any of that we have to wake our heroine up.
We see where that pumpkin WV appearified originated from. I do think Jade’s note is a nice touch. Hussie trapped himself into repeating the same jokes over and over. I know that feeling. I set a precedent of coming up with punny titles for each of these sessions even though I could already see the bottom of that particular barrel the first time I reached into it.
It’s notable that Jade’s interest is in horticulture, as contrasted with Kanaya’s interest in gardening and landscaping. It implies a more scientific frame of mind.
I proceed to spend way too much time playing around with the flute. We then see a terrifying number of potential fetch modi. Jade, predictably, goes for the Memory modus. There’s another recurring gag to get through and then we examine Jade’s colorful reminders. Jade is in sprite mode so she only has four fingers.
The teleporter… excuse me, the transportalizer bears a striking resemblance to an appearifier. They must all come from the same manufacturer.
Jade’s bedroom and list of interests are a good example of what I was getting at before. Every kids’ situation had to be weirder than the last, which means the list of her stuff takes up two full pages and her Guardian is a WORLD RENOWNED EXPLORER-NATURALIST-TREASURE HUNTER-ARCHEOLOGIST-SCIENTIST-ADVENTURER-BIG GAME HUNTER-BILLIONAIRE EXTRAORDINAIRE(sic) as opposed to a simple scientist or rapping puppet pornographer. We’re told that Jade knows nuclear physics and is a skilled engineer as well as a prognosticator, but all this feels like puffery since we haven’t seen her in action. I do take note of the interesting window-like device in the corner.
We’ve been hearing quite a bit about Jade’s mysterious pet. Now we get the full name Becquerel. (He’s named after one of the discovers of radioactivity, Antoine Henri Becquerel. We know he’s famous because spellcheck recognizes that name while failing to acknowledge that “puffery” is a word.) She’s going to go feed him, but only after checking in with John. The page where she captchaplogues her rifle is one of the ones that won’t load an image on my computer for some reason. Will these mysteries never cease?
Speaking of mysteries, the image on Jade’s shirt changes and we see our first example of a wardrobifier. This is setup for a poll to decide what symbol she’ll wear. I’m not counting but this feels like it’s taking even longer than Dave’s introduction. Anyway, squiddles…. squiddles. These things will become relevant in the only way they conceivably could, as avatars of the horrorterrors who dwell in the furthest ring. I think we all felt something like that must be going on the first time we saw Teletubbies. I’m tempted to call this session early, but I look at the log and decide I can plow through this. We should all be grateful that Manthro Chaps didn’t become a thing.
A Taste For Adventure comes up on my playlist and lifts my spirits. The atom wins the shirt poll and we see something interesting in the form of the volcano that powers the geothermic generator for Jade’s house. If anyone can remember WV: Ascend by this point, this gives us an indicator as to Jade’s location, not just geographically but in the grand scheme of things.
We get some foreshadowing about Jade’s desire to become a human animal hybrid. There’s something very mad scientist about her monologue. I’m surprised that in the alternate universe where she grew to adulthood on Earth she focused on robotics rather than genetics. Jake’s lucky the monsters he was fighting weren’t created by his own grandmother. I suppose it was her love of nuclear physics that lured her away from the mystery of the gene. That’s neither here nor there, however. I find Jade’s dismissal of the idea of fursuits and fursonas to be indicative of her ultimately serious personality. Also her box is definitely not magic, it is a Gadget Chest.
I like how Hussie takes a moment to make fun of his own wordplay, joking that “refrigerator” must be a wacky variation of “REFRIGIFYIFICATOR”. We examine the remaining contents of the chest and Jade demonstrates the inaccuracy of Magic 8 Balls by asking hers if today is John’s birthday.
Magic Cue Balls on the other hand are a hundred percent accurate but cannot be read.
There’s a fake memory match game. I feel a little robbed, Memory being one of the few games I’m actually good at. I wonder if the captions here represent Jade’s thoughts. “FROZEN FUCKING TUNDRA” doesn’t sound like her, but I know who it does sound like. Probably best not to dwell too much on this, we are breaking the fourth wall here.
I love Hussie’s little wordplay jokes about “rude hunger” and “fresh fruits”, though I wonder if younger readers catch them. On the other side of things, he throws around the word “retarded” as an insult with troubling regularity. There’s been an in story apology of sorts for any and all gay jokes, but it’s the use of this word that most bothers me. We’ve all become accustomed to swearing, but I find there are certain words that break right through people’s calluses. Words like “stupid”, “retarded” or “idiot”, we hear them less often so they still retain their meaning, and that meaning is often connected to painful childhood memories. I’m not saying these words should never be used, but rather that one should be aware of their impact before using them. I’m typing this as someone who has frequently written or said things that have come off as harsher than I intended. </sermon>
Anyway, Jade irradiates some steak for her pet, as you do. She needs to get it to him before the depleted isotopes settle down but that doesn’t stop her from playing her bass for us. I said she was the least easily distracted of the kids, not that she wasn’t easily distracted.
I really enjoy the Gardener bassline, it feels right for Jade.
She finally turns on her computer. I’m pretty sure this is the first time we see the TrollSlum along with the ChumRoll, the handle twinArmageddons catches my eye since I thought he’d sworn never to contact any of the humans. We loop back around to the message she sent John, showing where we are in the timeline. There’s a long message left by Dave. He complains about her sleeping, which is probably meant as a reminder in regards to her narcolepsy, but his message is time stamped 11:14pm. There’s at least a four hour time difference between them. I’m guessing Dave forgot and is messaging her at about 7pm his time. Though I suppose it could be 11pm his time and 3 in the morning for her, in which case he’s an insomniac, something I can relate to. Either way, he’s so lonely.
This remix exchange seems to be a regular thing. I take it the original artist’s symbol is on the left and the remixer’s on the right. Dave’s latest piece is a remix of Explore from WV:Ascend. Crystalanthemums is a remix Jade did of one of Dave’s pieces. The ones they’ve worked on together are the best, how sweet.
Jade heads on over to MSPA, which is finishing up a weird tangential intermission.
While we’re on the subject of good music, Dead Shuffle by Mark Hadley really sets the mood for the Midnight Crew flash. It almost makes you want to read that comic. I think this is the first time we see the Prospit and Derse stage as well.
We loop back around to infamous smirk chat between Jade and Dave. The first time I read this, Jade seemed over the top with her giggly girl flirting. Now that I’ve seen what she’s responding to, she comes off as the more restrained half of this duo.
This conversation segues into an animation of Dave being soundly defeated by a puppet. Beatdown is not my favorite tune, I find it heavy and repetitive, though it grew on me given time and remixing.
Next up, Rose is messaging Jade looking for frighteningly accurate while infuriatingly nonspecific advice. Given the plot constraints upon her, I suppose Jade does her best. I can’t help seeing Jade’s statement that Dave will come around and help Rose out, he just has a lot of work to do first, as being more than a reference to puppet death matches. She mentions that Rose has a lot of work to do as well but specifies that she means finding a power source and a stable net connection. This gets us two screens of Rose descending the ladder beneath the cat mausoleum.
Finally, John shows up and Jade is able to ask about her birthday package. This time we get an animation of how John’s boss battle is going. It’s not going well, but on the other hand Harleboss is fun listening.
We even head into the future to get an establishing character moment for the Peregrine Mendicant.
It’s like we’re being taunted with all the more interesting things we could have been doing.
There’s also a walkthrough for punch card alchemy written by John. For all that John comes off like a fool, this proves he can be pretty observant and that his coding is good enough to allow him to create the punch card calculator. (Actually Gankro made it, whoever he is, bless him for his valiant service in the name of Homestuck.) He also calls Dave a “whopping stupid horse butt” which strikes me as a tad harsh, but then he’s probably right that Dave will never read it.
Meanwhile, Rose has made it to the laboratory.
What is Skaianet? Who built it? Why? How? All questions I still ask myself.
We aren’t going to find out now because we have to watch Jade descend through the layers of her grandfather’s various collections. Big game trophies and mummies kind of make sense, but why knights? Where did he get them? I suppose it’s an embodiment of his admiration for chivalry? Never mind the blue ladies, we’ll just walk on by. Grampa Harley’s strangest trophy is blocking the transportalizer.
So I believe it was established that this thing is not a denizen. Can anyone leave a note in the comments if they know what it is supposed to be?
Someone’s pestering Jade even though she logged off pesterchum. Why, it’s another establishing character moment.
I remember how offended I was by this brief exchange. I didn’t love Jade but I couldn’t condone name calling. I had no idea who this guy was but I hated him instantly. Thank goodness she gave him the boot.
Back at Skaianet Laboratory, Rose has discovered that hub SN_LAB0413 is unlocked, because of course it is. She also finds yet another platform with the interlocking triangle symbol on it. A certain word turns up again as well but I roll my eyes and move along.
Rose attempts to plug her laptop in, which uproots her tree modus and sends her stuff scattering everywhere.
This prompts her to switch her modus over to less aesthetically appealing but more practical leaf mode. She also turns off auto-balance since her concern for structural elegance is at an all time low, though I find it worth noting that she does care about such things in the first place.
Her investigation turns up yet another ominous count down, which brings us yet another in turn.
It ticks down and the Peregrine Mendicant is off to join the Wayward Vagabond.
Meanwhile, Dave attempts to abscond from his Bro but no luck. I remember finding this animation distressing the first time I saw it. Perhaps its the color palette and the music that make it feel harsh and nightmarish? Maybe if this animation had turned into an epic battle of fetch modi as originally intended I’d have laughed. I’m not opposed to cartoon violence and this is obviously supposed to be making fun of long battle sequences in games and shows. I don’t think we’re meant to feel that Dave is in any danger. I’m also rather reminded of watching my 95 pound black lab wrestling with my neighbor’s 12 pound Yorkshire terrier poodle mix.
On the other hand, Bro probably knows or suspects that this is the last duel he’ll ever have with his little bro, of course he would want it to last.
Rose, who is still waiting on a session invite and rescue from imminent death by the way, has made an interesting discovery.
It’s a map of all the Sburb session and, interestingly enough, future meteor impact sites. This was when I began to feel on my first read that Sburb and Skaianet were definitely not on the up and up. Rose finds not one but two meteors heading for her location, almost as if the spaces rocks had tracked her to the lab. We also see where the two biggest meteors are heading.
But first things first, Rose needs to get back in touch with John. I love this scrolling introduction into our first boss fight. (First if we don’t count Bro, he’s probably an optional fight.)
Congratulations and leveling are in order. John has obtained the vaunted Boy-Skylark rank.
John goes to collect his loot but a lot of the grist has scattered down over the lower section, including a piece wedged into the hole above Dad’s room. What could be down there?
We will delve into this and many more mysteries in our next session.