(From MS Paint Adventures: Homestuck. Click for full-sized geometric solar system.)
Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of the start of Act 6. Perhaps nothing has best exemplified how completely superfluous the past year has been to the rest of Homestuck than whatever the hell it was that just happened.
Between the epic flash that concluded Act 5 and the start of Act 6, Andrew Hussie squeezed in a second “intermission” that was nothing more than a single flash formally introducing Lord English. Now, he’s done it again… with an actual sub-act within Act 6. To put that in perspective, we just concluded an intermission within Act 6 that lasted for about two months, introduced us to about ten new trolls, and advanced numerous plots, including the main ongoing plot. The intermission was more important than the actual act.
It would be one thing if this flash was an incredible, awesome epic advancing numerous plot threads, but despite being the fourth-longest flash in all of Homestuck, it barely advances the plot at all, having one of the lowest content-to-length ratios of any flash. (To be fair, when it comes to long low-content flashes, it’s pretty tough to top this – and I apologize in advance for the nightmares that will give you.) All it essentially does is elide a time-skip for the post-Scratch crew – implied to be nearly half a year, judging by the scratch marks on the walls of Jack Noir’s cell, if they’re taken to refer to days, which makes the first half of Act 6 all the more puzzling, as the characters are all likely to be very different and have all sorts of things happen to them that will make the numerous romantic subplots and other frivolous elements of the first three sub-acts seem all the more superfluous. The only thing that “happens” in this flash is that we’re introduced to the other three post-Scratch lands and witness the kids in action, including facing off against actual foes Jane didn’t initially encounter. (Are these re-animated salamander corpses, intended to resemble Lord English, or both?)
Since Act 6 Intermission 3 didn’t really do that much either, even by the standards of Act 6 intermissions, we haven’t really had anything that felt all that weighty since the end of Act 6 Act 3, which, because of breaks Hussie took around that time, came near the end of July, three and a half months ago, and we haven’t had a sustained period of updates with actual content since the period leading up to July 1st, four and a half months ago. To put that in perspective, the epic wait that helped build the anticipation for the end-of-act-5 flash was only two months.
It doesn’t help that by essentially skipping a sub-act (and thus a full sixth, if not fifth, of the act proper, with only one or two more sub-acts to go), we’re skipping a number of plot points most people probably expected to be resolved within it, including advancing Caliborn’s background plot (which I’m now really worried won’t be advanced beyond that end-of-act-6-act-3 flash, making it nothing more than a really convoluted, unexplained, unnecessary, and detrimental backstory for Lord English that could end up bordering as setup for a lame deus ex machina), as well as answering why and/or how Roxy blacked out the session (though admittedly, the latter does make a good in-universe explanation for the time-skip). The implied length of the time-skip effectively drops other subplots and raises questions that didn’t need to be raised, such as what happened with the other kids’ sprites (there was a fairly popular theory that Dirk’s auto-responder would end up prototyped in a sprite).
I guess this is Hussie’s way of signalling once and for all that we’re going back to the main plot now, with another intermission likely to follow to advance the plots we left off at the end of the last one, as well as further advance what’s going on on the meteor and battleship, ending with said meteor and battleship finally arriving in the session to start Act 6 Act 5. But that’s essentially going to leave just one or two sub-acts to actually have the climax and final battle, essentially rendering the first four sub-acts superfluous and effectively wasted, especially if the new kids are completely shunted to the background and rendered mostly spectators now that Calliope’s done with them, which would confirm my worst fears about the real purpose behind the past year. I should feel happy that this move to the background is happening and that the main plot’s train is fully and officially leaving the station, but this only underscores the fact that it stayed too long in the station to begin with.