I am at a point in my life where I want to just live life. I want the ‘white picket fence’ dream. I want to get married. I want to have kids. I’m realizing that no matter how organized your ducks are, life can turn on you in two seconds, so you can’t keep on waiting, because if you keep waiting, it’s gone.
Okay, so, still recovering from [S] Collide but I’m thinking about Dave and broken swords.
So we start the series with a connection between Striders and shitty swords. Their whole apartment is full of them and before anything big happens if you’re like me you just assume that they’re cheap decorative things. Then Dave and Bro pull them out for a strife (I forget when exactly this happens but I think it’s when meteors are falling and things are starting to get somewhat serious). Of course, Dadbert uses a cake during an earlier strife and Romy has a martini (I think) so Hussie has shown us that these Strifes are kind of a dramatized joke but still. It’s a sword, even shitty ones hurt.
But when Bro gets actually serious Dave’s sword breaks in half, with a ‘piece of shit sword’ thrown in to remind us that oh yeah, haha joke, in the true spirit of Homestuck. This is when the record on Dave’s shirt cracks, referencing the Scratch.
The important part of this is that Dave has chosen a sword (a weapon that he takes seriously, based on his training with Bro, even if it’s meant to be an ironic anime thing) and it failed to protect him. The thing he chose to defend himself failed him. This is especially significant because of Dave’s class as a Knight, which is all about defense and sacrifice. He can’t do his job properly if he doesn’t have a reliable weapon, meaning he’d just have to sacrifice himself instead (as we see him do frequently). More on this in a sec.
Fast forward to Davesprite, who has one of those shitty swords impaling him. We know that it’s just a remnant from seppucrow but at the same time that sword is a literal part of him. The swords might be intended as ironic jokes but the sentiments of defense and honor and an age long past (more Time references) are essential parts of who Dave is. In Davesprite’s case we can see this physically, but we also see a physical representation of the sacrifice that Davesprite made to save his friends and prevent another doomed timeline.
Now, Caledfwlch. It’s this legendary sword, something belonging to Time, which makes it extra special for Dave, but it breaks. Interestingly, Dave is talking to Equius when he’s trying to retrieve Caledfwlch and they have this exchange:
CT: D –> E%cessive force will shatter such weapons CT: D –> We both know this from e%perience TG: what CT: D –> The adult human who trained you CT: D –> And taught you the ways of being STRONG CT: D –> Remember TG: you mean the guy who spent years beating my ass down with a puppet TG: yeah i remember CT: D –> Yes, and now, being learned in the ways of STRONGNESS CT: D –> You like myself are unfortunately limited in the weaponry you may wield CT: D –> Ironically the training which has ennobled you beyond others has made instruments of high b100d brittle in your hands CT: D –> Hence the state of your favored weapon, hobbling your specibus
Equius and a version of Dirk (who is, in turn, a version of Bro) are eventually combined later in the story, which makes these comments of Equius’ important. Dirk may be smart, but a large part of how he screwed a lot of things up was by trying to force it. He kept trying to make something work–like his relationship with Jake–with only his own strength, thinking that if he only tried harder he could make it work. Bro, intentionally or not, taught Dave this tactic, and we see that it just ends in a lot of Dead Daves. Much of Dave’s strategy at the beginning is to just throw himself at something until it works.
Dave’s real strengths are in his creativity and his ability to think through things and make something better out of what he’s been given. Davesprite is proof of that: taking a doomed timeline and using it to rescue the Alpha timeline. We’re introduced right off the bat to Dave’s creativity with SBaHJ but it’s crappy (in an ‘ironic’ way) and Dave tries to make it seem like he doesn’t care about it, so we as the audience are intended to take it at face value: as a joke. However, Alpha Dave’s success with SBaHJ proves us wrong and shows just how much Dave’s creativity can turn his crap resources into something useful.
So when Dave uses brute force to retrieve Caledfwlch, it breaks; ‘legendary piece of shit’ flashing on the screen to remind us that all of Dave’s swords are cheap and shitty. Davesprite even makes a comment about how he used the broken Caledfwlch to make Caledscratch, implying that the exact same thing happened in Davesprite’s session.
But Caledscratch is important: referencing the Scratch, embracing the Time aspect, and also showing itself a reliable weapon able to be used by a Knight. Dave used his own ingenuity to turn something he had broken, using bad methods he had been taught by someone else, into something useful, important to both his class and his aspect, and reliable. Contrast this to Dirk who, even well after godtier, is still using his plain, shitty katanas. (This could probably be a connection to Dirk’s need to cling to patterns of familiarity and comfort in order to protect himself and his Heart),
Also on the topic of Dave and Dirk’s differing weapon choices: Dave believes that his swords are shitty. The message that we, the audience, receive about them being shit only comes after they break so we can assume that this is somewhat of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Dave believes that the sword will break and when it does he’s like “whelp, I knew it would, lookit that”. Dirk, on the other hand, has never had much to go on other than his own belief that things will happen (or at least from his perspective this is true). Dirk can’t believe that his swords will fail him because he doesn’t have a whole lot to back him up. He pours his certainty and will (his Heart) into brute-forcing and hoping that things will come through and he won’t die. Even in the dramatic feelings conversation that Dave and Dirk have before the fight with Jack:
DIRK: Are… YOU ready? DAVE: i guess DAVE: ive got like DAVE: a sword and shit DIRK: Cool. DIRK: Me too. DAVE: yeah i know DAVE: mines not that good DIRK: That’s too bad. DIRK: What type of sword? DAVE: its welsh DAVE: i mean DAVE: possibly fake welsh im not that sure DIRK: Hmm. DIRK: Well, mine’s good. DAVE: i know DIRK: It’s… Japanese? DAVE: for real? DIRK: No. I don’t know. DIRK: Probably fake Japanese.
Dave is already going with the assumption that Caledfwlch will break at some point, whereas Dirk knows that his katana is probably cheap and crap but it’s all he’s got so it’s going to get him through this because it has to.
Also, Dave got all of his early swords from Bro and we learn in this same conversation that Dave didn’t feel like he could trust or rely on Bro at all. So anything that Bro gave him? Untrustworthy. Swords that Bro gave him? Probably shitty and going to break. The lessons and methods from the person who was supposed to protect him were unreliable, so it follows that the swords were too.
Dirk, on the other hand, got all of his stuff from Alpha Dave, a person that he believed he could rely on. So his swords (gifts and lessons from Alpha Dave) were reliable. Why would they break? They had been given to him by a person he trusted, there was no reason for him to doubt them.
Remember when I said we’d get back to Dead Daves? That time is now.
Knights are about defense and sacrifice, right? Because Dave’s weapons were unreliable the defense part wasn’t something he could really do without hurting himself, which brings in the sacrifice side. Dave used his aspect (somewhat misusing it, in a way) to make up for what being a Knight demanded that he couldn’t properly fulfill. His low sense of self worth at the time really didn’t help, making himself an acceptable casualty, not least because Bro had never conveyed that he was sacrificing anything for Dave (that Dave was worth being protected). Dave hadn’t been taught acceptable boundaries and all he knows is that he needs to protect people, so getting himself killed isn’t as big a deal to him as it should be. But after the meteor when Dave confronts Grimbark Jade he tells her that he’s not using his aspect any more.
Based on Dave and Dirk’s conversation we get that it took Dave a lot of time (being surrounded by people who cared about him, on the meteor) to figure out what was so screwed up about his home life. Assuming that this happens on not only the second meteor ride but also the first, then at the point when Dave confronts Jade he’s trying to distance himself from Bro as much as possible and, in the process, rejects his aspect entirely since it had been his method to use Bro’s force method. Throwing Daves at the problem isn’t the solution, he knows that then, but he can’t separate his aspect from the screwed up mentality that he’d been using along with it.
The battle after that is a clusterfuck but Dave still doesn’t use his aspect. Even though he sacrifices himself for Jade, completely in line with his character, he does so using mostly straight forward means and we can assume that he’s also less confident in the now restored Caledfwlch than he would have been fighting with Caledscratch. Dave’s strengths are in his creativity and his aspect is an extension of that and in refusing his aspect he is greatly handicapping himself.
So now we come to [S] Collide. A little before that, Dave confronts the roots of his hesitance with both his aspect and his weapons. He finds resolution and comfort and his familiarity with Time shenanigans allows Dave to view Dirk and Bro as different people. It’s also interesting to note that Dirk spent a lot of time rejecting the splinters of himself and now feels partially guilty for Bro’s actions when Dave has, from the start, accepted the versions of himself as being synonymous with the Main Dave but seems confused and a little disbelieving of Drik’s idolization of Alpha Dave.
Dave coming to terms with everything and his complicated feelings towards Bro really shine through in the [S] Collide battle. He uses his aspect extensively and creatively and he not only uses it to fight the Jacks but also to protect Dirk and Terezi. In this battle he is truly the Knight of Time.
Then, in Dave’s moment of hesitation, Dirk gives him exactly what Bro never did: Dirk, who has trusted Alpha Dave his entire life, transfers that trust to Dave and sacrifices himself. And the sword that Alpha Dave gave to Dirk–the one that hasn’t broken because Dirk trusted and believed in it–breaks in half under Caledfwlch.
Dirk didn’t have to rely on himself and his own strength, he relied on Dave, so the katana was allowed to break. (Side note that Bro’s sword, even when sort of starting the Scratch, stayed whole). Someone was sacrificing themselves for Dave and Dave had to believe in his sword because Dirk was relying on him, so Caledfwlch stayed whole.