(From MS Paint Adventures: Homestuck. Click for full-sized reign of the pool balls.)
So. Let’s talk about that EOA flash some more.
A single installment of a comic has to be absolutely incredible for me to devote two posts to talking about it. If anything would qualify, it would be that flash, but that’s not why I want to talk about it. Nor do I want to talk about it because of Hussie’s Halloween (sort of) surprise unveiling Lord English in full to us for the first time (after I noted his glaring absence in the EOA). Rather, I want to talk about it because arguably the most important development in that act-ending flash wasn’t conveyed clearly.
To be fair, without dialogue (and the lack of dialogue is an important part of the appeal of Homestuck‘s flashes), it may well have been impossible to convey clearly. Without dialogue, it’s impossible to tell whether Rose and Dave can’t find the Green Sun, or if it’s just obscured by the Tumor, the distance, and quite possibly being in the middle of Derse’s moon. Without dialogue, it’s impossible to tell whether that huge green orb is the Green Sun itself, or the shockwave from its destruction. It’s especially impossible to tell when Hussie intentionally structured the flash out of strict chronological order (even by Homestuck standards – for instance, that Red Miles attack of Noir’s, depicted immediately after he’s seen mourning Jade’s death and before he even places her on the Quest Bed, actually happens after everything else Noir does in that flash, aside from PM showing up), meaning Rose and Dave’s quest for the Sun was interspersed with Aradia and ghost-Sollux waiting for them outside the (existing) Sun.
I got a lot of things wrong in my initial post on the EOA, and I was okay with that. I intended that post to be my own first impressions and interpretations, largely unencumbered by what other people said about it and how other people interpreted it, and I didn’t want to bother re-editing it heavily after reading those other interpretations. In particular, my title said that I didn’t see why people were making a big deal out of Scratch’s “suckers” remark to Gamzee, and if I didn’t still think that after reading what I got wrong I would have changed the title. We already knew that Scratch’s entire MO consisted of manipulating people to serve his own ends. We already knew that Scratch was tricking Rose and others into unleashing an unstoppable universe-eating demon (an aspect of his motivation I don’t think he mentioned to anyone other than the reader and people he’d recruited to serve English directly). While we learned more about his ultimate plan, and that he committed more “lies of omission” than we had thought, I’m not sure we learned that much more about Scratch that we didn’t already know.
But the creation of the Green Sun is important to talk about, and while we can’t really do much more than speculate, we can talk a little bit about the implications, which should serve as a short prelude to the coming Act 6.
Rose’s mission to destroy the Green Sun was given to her by the horrorterrors, Lovecraftian abominations from beyond the Furthest Ring, and Doc Scratch provided her with the details to carry it out. According to their story, the Sun was the source of power for, among others, Jack Noir (and Scratch himself), and destroying it would also serve to avert their own deaths at the hands of some malevolent force. The horrorterrors gave Rose a map to plot a course through the knotted spacetime surrounding the Sun, to arrive at the Sun’s location at just the right time and place.
It now appears that the horrorterrors misled and tricked Rose and Dave into creating the Sun to serve whatever purposes they may have had, with Scratch as their accomplice. It’s anyone’s guess whether they’re actually under any kind of threat, or what their exact aims are, but it’s clear that they’ve screwed over two sessions and possibly many more, with their machinations leading fairly directly to the creation of Doc Scratch and Jack Noir’s omnipotence. Hussie calls all of act 5, and perhaps the entire comic, “the result of a very, very long con by Doc Scratch”; I might go even further. Everything that has completely screwed over the kids and trolls ultimately comes back to the deviousness of one grand enemy, one party that appears to have caused everything, of which Noir is ultimately a minor part. Whether anyone realizes the extent of their machinations remains in doubt.
It’s also clear that the kids and trolls can’t trust anyone, to any extent, except themselves and each other. Rose, with good reason, was very skeptical over whether to trust the horrorterrors, but even after the “grimdark incident” went ahead with the plan anyway, if only because there wasn’t much else to do with the Tumor. Now far from solving their myriad problems, she now bears some accidential responsibility for them, and what reason there may have been to trust that the horrorterrors have had their best interests in mind has gone out the window. Meanwhile, Doc Scratch has repeatedly said he never lies, and going back through his conversations shows that any lies he made about the nature of the Tumor, the Green Sun, and Rose’s mission were by omission, but one would have to parse his conversations very carefully to detect what he’s leaving out.
Everyone in a position to say more about the game world than any player would has proven to be utterly untrustworthy and working against them (though the two characters who inherited first-guardian power during the same flash may provide a sliver of hope). If the combined forces – soon all the surviving trolls will be joined with half the kids outside the Sun, seven in all – do realize the scope of the forces arrayed against them and start aiming to oppose them, they will effectively be flying blind, with their only source of information being the same forces they seek to oppose, which they will need to guess at when they need to do what they say, the opposite, or something else entirely.
This, then, is the central conflict of Act 6, the final substantial act: the efforts of the kids and trolls, working in complete concert for the first time, to oppose and take down their true enemy, which has started to show its face. It is far more difficult than anything the game has challenged them with to this point, with even beginning to effectively oppose them a seemingly impossible task, but one they are faced with nonetheless; only time will tell if they will succeed in accomplishing their goal, or their enemy’s. To the side, PM and perhaps eventually Jade will oppose Jack Noir, but only on the side; though the Noir ruse may prove a critical distaction, and even prevent any potential victory from proving empty, if not complete it, it is no longer the comic’s most important conflict.
But perhaps there’s an even larger story here. In one sense, the creation of the Sun completes the biggest time loop of all, with the crisis faced by the kids leading to the creation of the power behind that crisis, with Doc Scratch engineering the source of his own power. But in an even bigger sense, the Green Sun is the source of one of the most central aspects of the game itself. Perhaps, just perhaps, the greatest time loop of all hasn’t been completed yet, and will only come to fruition with the creation of the game itself.
I may be back later with thoughts on the start of Act 6.