I quit writing Homestuck meta a long time ago, but I guess the pre-4/13 fervor is infectious, because this popped into my head and wouldn’t go away. So here’s some musings on Homestuck, the ending, and its portrayal (or rather, erasure) of character identity and agency.
Let’s rewind back several years and a few subsubacts, to the meteor and battleship crews’ not so triumphant arrival in the combined session. Two of the kids’ number have been mind-controlled and forced to work for the Empress. Two have been thrown in prison. One has been banished to the outer reaches of space. The rest have been divvied up and placed on various Lands, given different tasks to be completed for the Empress. Even in beating SBURB and winning the game they have no escape, because she intends to rule the new universe they create… until it spawns Lord English and is destroyed.
Things look bleak. And things look even bleaker when Game Over rolls around, and most of the cast gets exterminated. But wait! John Egbert, Heir of Breath and leader of the Beta session, has gotten his hands on a miraculous artifact supposedly useful as a weapon against Lord English. He now has the ability to travel throughout time and space and to change things that usually cannot be changed. While his friends get wiped out, he fights the “tyrannous author” figure who has been telling their story wrong and wins. Surely with his newfound abilities, he will set things right and lead them to freedom.
Except. Not really.
Oh sure, John “saves the day”. He uses his retcon abilities to create a new timeline where everyone lives and wins the game. But is it a victory? And did everyone really live?
I’m going to argue that the ending of Homestuck is a tragedy where characters’ identities are frequently ignored or overwritten in order to serve the utilitarian aims of the narrative (and Skaia). I do not make this argument believing Hussie intended it. I think the dip in quality and coherency at the end of Homestuck was the product of an author who was tired of his project, had lost track of a bunch of plot points and characters, and just wanted to be finished. But I do think its treatment of identity is drastically different from the rest of the work and sends some disturbing messages about how “happy” that ending really is.