GAMZEE MIGHT MAKE SENSE ACTUALLY —
It never stops from keep happening.
[ACT 1==> THE MIRTHFUL MESSIAHS]
Most of the Homestuck fandom will tell you that Gamzee Makara is a broken character, and with good reason. It’s not just that his actions are morally repugnant, but that he seems like a hollowed out caricature of a character, almost deliberately crafted by the author to be as flat and nonsensical as possible.
The author of the story literally tells us that his actions probably don’t make any sense, and a lot of the fandom has decided to take that literally, believing that Andrew Hussie didn’t know what he was doing when writing this character — or, more likely, was just “trolling” us.
The end result is a character that is, for most, deeply unpleasant to think about for all sorts of reasons — he commits all kinds of acts of depraved and distasteful immorality, but we’re also barely told anything about who he is, how he does what he does, or why he even does it.
But I think there’s a coherent strain of thought behind Gamzee’s character, and while I consider Gamzee responsible for everything he did, I think there’s a case to be made that his worldview made him uniquely malleable and exploitable by Lord English.
You probably won’t believe me about this, but then, that’ll be kind of the point. Introductions complete, let’s begin our Descent.
The Rage-bound care about truth more than anything. They aren’t so much religious or spiritual as they are deeply dogmatic and intense about their worldviews — in essence, they’re conspiracy theorists.
Understanding this is vital, because at the core of Gamzee’s narrative is a schism between two major versions of his character, separated by an intense crisis of faith.
Gamzee is a Bard: The Passive Destroyer Class. This means we can understand him as one who allows Rage to be Destroyed, or invites destruction through Rage. Rage rules over concepts like anger, fear, hate, doubt, and confusion, and Gamzee will often be found exerting his influence over the story through both definitions of his title, sometimes at the same time.
Early Gamzee is little more than a 420 joke — he’s depicted as a harmless stoner juggalo who simply wants to make his friends happy.
He worships his personal vision of the Mirthful Messiahs, an obscure religious cult largely made up of Purple-Blooded trolls like Gamzee, the Highest blood color of Alternia’s Hemospectrum that belongs to Land-dwelling trolls.
Highblood privilege allows him a sheltered upbringing and the freedom to indulge his soporific drug habit, and as a result he seems completely out of touch with the true nature of his religious order.
In reality, Alternia’s Grand High Bloods are an obscure but powerful cult devoted to the worship of Lord English, a physical God who exists on Alternia and tortures trollkind throughout its history through a number of Agents.
The Highbloods are one of these agents: religious enforcers who control the population through a combination of brutal executions and psychic Chucklevoodos that poison lowblood’s minds with nightmares of gore and violence, fear, anger, and paranoia.
Gamzee’s crisis of faith comes about when Dave Strider exposes Gamzee to the real-world inspiration for his religion: The Juggalo subculture formed around the Insane Clown Posse. When Gamzee learns about this, he regards it as heretical, and a desecration of everything he believes in.
He soon comes into contact with two messengers of his God, Lord English.
First is Lil Cal — a doll containing the Lord English’s composite, twisted soul. Gamzee looks into Lil Cal’s eyes, and in the depth of those peepers he discovers a horrifying, unavoidable truth:
Just as Caliborn does later, Gamzee recognizes one of the souls that makes up Lord English as his own — meaning Gamzee’s soul is, in effect, partly responsible for starting his own religion.
Gamzee is initially distraught and confused by this knowledge, but he soon begins to trust Lil Cal and the souls within, and decides to reframe his worldview according to what it tells him.
Lil Cal can be highly influential to those who hold it, as Gamzee and Bro both begin to pick up phrases and habits originally native to Caliborn while in contact with the doll. Because Bro is a highly Active class and Gamzee a highly Passive one, we also have grounds to believe Gamzee more susceptible to suggestion.
But the relationship doesn’t seem to be mind control, since this form of psychic influence is distinct from the full mind control Lil Cal proves capable of later. Rather, Gamzee implies he welcomes Lil Cal like a best friend.
Specifically a replacement for Tavros, who Gamzee had romantic feelings for.
The Purple Sign Caste description tells us Gamzee is a strictly monogamous and devoted lover, and he goes on to prove it.
We can see Tavros’ death as the moment Gamzee’s relationship to the rest of his friends is severed, and he devotes himself fully to the new object of his affections: Caliborn — the Cherub boy who will eventually become
Because Lil Cal gives him the truth.
[ACT 2 — THE VAST JOKE]
At this moment, Gamzee simultaneously receives three divine revelations:
He discovers that his cult’s God exists in physical form, the cruel and brutal nature of this God, and that he himself is this God.
The important thing is that Gamzee does not choose to believe these things — he’s confronted with unavoidable proof for all of them. He’s confronted with a raw, physical, tangible truth.
Now forced to accept this truth, Gamzee embraces the violent and vicious roots of the cult, becoming a Dark Messiah ruthlessly devoted to bringing about the advent of his God.
He taps into his ancestral memory of the Grand High Blood, a notable head of the cult and Gamzee’s Ancestral Figure. He begins imitating the Highbloods and murdering his lower-blooded friends.
Starting with Equius, one of the other characters whos soul becomes part of LE’s. Equius must become Arquis for Lord English to be born, which Gamzee would also have found out from Lil Cal. He kills Equius and hoards his corpse.
After securing the other component of Lord English in his session, he targets female characters that Caliborn later goes on to single out for death in his retelling of Homestuck. He kills dear, sweet, precious, DEAR Nepeta before our eyes, while Caliborn describes her as useless and irrelevant. The monster.
Vriska is targeted for her ambition and attempts at relevance. Rather than confront her directly, Gamzee drags Terezi Pyrope into the conflict.
He does so by manipulating Terezi to play up her anger and frustration with Vriska. He also encourages her to take on the Neophyte Redglare persona she used to roleplay during FLARP campaigns she and Vriska waged together, partnered as the Scourge Sisters.
Caliborn singles Terezi out for getting between his One True Pairing of Dave and Karkat, and though she doesn’t die, Gamzee makes sure she suffers for this.
After Terezi kills Vriska, Gamzee and Terezi enter a Kissmesitude, and he starts harassing and emotionally abusing her, wearing down her self-respect and ability to focus and help her friends for the rest of the adventure.
He also uses his Caste-given Chucklevoodos to mess with the Beta Kid’s minds, rendering them all somewhat mentally unstable. He pays special attention to John, seeding in his mind the clown doll that acts as the source of John’s self-loathing messages and clown scrawlings.
Which indirectly contributes to Jack Noir’s Rage fueled rise to power, and destruction of the Beta’s session.
However, perhaps because Bard is one of the most Passive classes, pushing himself into behaving so actively is exhausting and stressful for him.
While Gamzee’s behavior during Horrorstuck is impactful, it’s also unsustainable, and he soons settles down with some help from Karkat.
He’s then contacted by Doc Scratch, Lord English’s second emissary.
Scratch is LE’s best bureaucrat, smooth salesperson, and master manipulator. He’s also a part of Lord English himself, a puppet that LE uses to carry out tasks he doesn’t want to perform himself.
It’s Doc Scratch who manipulates Trolls into being as violent and cruel as they are, across their entire planet’s history. And since Scratch’s soul includes Dirk’s cyber-omniscient AI Auto-Responder, Equius, and Gamzee himself, Scratch is also aware of all the events to come in the second half of Homestuck.
In [S] Cascade, Gamzee talks to Scratch, and by reporting the completion of Horrostuck’s events, implies he was doing everything he did on the orders of Scratch, Lil Cal, or both. Then he asks what’s next.
So Scratch is in a position to offer Gamzee something unique: A script.
Through Scratch, Gamzee could have learned everything he needed to do over the course of the Alpha Kid’s session in order to bring about the birth of LE.
This is why Gamzee complains about Vriska in the Post-Retcon timeline.
There’s a plan in place that the Cult of the Mirthful Messiahs is following, and Vriska cheating her way into being alive throws that plan off the rails.
But in learning his role, Gamzee would also learn something else.
A deep truth of Homestuck’s universe, that would reshape the way he sees the world, and the way we see Rage. He would learn that Homestuck…isn’t real.
Homestuck is a story. A story told online, by an author: Andrew Hussie, who wrote Gamzee’s life into existence as a silly parody of the Insane Clown Posse.
An author who created Gamzee’s life to be a joke.
But Homestuck is also the story of how Lord English murdered its author, and took over the story for his own, ensuring that his dominance is forever absolute. LE cannot be defeated. LE cannot be stopped.
And Gamzee cannot die, because he has to become part of LE for the story of Homestuck to exist. Knowing this means Gamzee sees the story for what it is — as a jokey webcomic structured like a theatre play, with himself as the comic relief.
Where the rest of the characters see The World, Gamzee sees a Stage.
[ACT 3— THEATRE OF DIONYSUS]
Perhaps Gamzee’s biggest recurring symbol is the masks of comedy and tragedy-the archetypal symbol for Theatre and Tragicomedy. The harlequin mask keys he and Caliborn use to power on the MSPA terminal grant Caliborn the ability to view and influence every event in the entire story — letting him take ownership of the play of Homestuck itself.
We can more about theatre through the Troll Call purpleblood Chahut’s
last name: Maenad.
In Greek Myth, the Maenads were the female companions to Dionysus — the Greek God associated with wine, epiphanies, religious ecstasy, and ritual madness. Also associated with Dionysus are half-goat men called Satyrs, who are described as “ archetypal musicians and dancers”, associated with the breaking down of traditional values.
Like Gamzee, Dionysus is also intimately connected to his Godly All-Father, the Demiurge: Zeus for Dionysus, Lord English for Gamzee. Zeus saved his son by sewing him up in his thigh and keeping him there until he reached maturity, so that he was twice born. Similarly, Gamzee is Born Again when he discovers his ultimate fate is to become part of Lord English.
Worship of Dionysus is also credited with the eventual founding of Theatre, particularly the Tragedy genre. An early predecessor of Theater is the Satyr Play, a largely comedic and slapstick performance reminiscent of the Trickster Mode sequence.
Early theatre often employed the use of masks, allowing actors to easily switch between portraying different characters. This colors almost every action Gamzee takes as performative in nature — recognizing Homestuck for the story it is, he plays whatever character is convenient to achieve his objectives.
Gamzee also uses theatre’s history of audience participation to punish the viewer directly. We can view pretty much every nonsensical impact on the plot he has this way — like how his immortality is literally derived from “Plot Armor”, practically begging the audience to call the story on its bull.
But in particular, every sprite he creates in the Alpha session seems deliberately designed to cause as much frustration and anger as possible, not just for the characters, but for Us — the fans.
Seriously. Hear me out.
Eridan and Sollux’s mutual hatred made them two of the most popular characters over the course of act 5, with plenty of detractors and supporters on both sides passionately clashing to defend their favorite characters — and just as many shipping the two in hate-fueled Kismessitude relationships.
Gamzee revives the character conflict between these two — but without any of the fandom-fuel romantic tension. Just misery and self-loathing with no catharsis, a disappointing outcome for any fan invested in seeing their conflict reach any kind of resolution.
Nepeta and Feferi — — two characters the fandom often criticizes the comic for abandoning — are brought back, but their union leaves them a running gag where the fandom gets to hear all about the cool and helpful stuff they’re up to, but without ever actually seeing either girl talk again. Fueling the fandom’s bitterness over their irrelevance.
And Tavrisprite’s creation eventually causes Vriska and Tavros to get into a relationship together, extending the fandom’s furious debate about their unhealthy, abusive dynamic long past the deaths of both characters, when we thought we’d seen the end of both arcs.
And the creation of Arquisprite, of course, is a necessary part of the script that eventually leads to Caliborn, Arquis, and half of Gamzee’s corpse being destroyed and merged inside the Lil Cal doll, bringing about the birth of Lord English.
Don’t believe me? Does this sound too thought out for Hussie, just a bit too far-fetched? That’s fine, I feel you. I understand. Just keep in mind that Doubt itself is also linked to the Rage Aspect. Our skepticism is already written into the story.
To me, it now seems that Gamzee’s story is not that he was lying or pretending during his kind phase, or that he’s a helpless victim of mind control, but rather that he’s coerced through his own intense convictions into accepting a deep sense of tragicomic fatalism.
This distances him from his friends, as he can no longer see them as anything more than falsehoods to be obliterated and punished by the self-evident power of his One True God. We don’t know exactly how Gamzee feels about this, beyond the fact that he’s accepted it.
But it brings up an interesting question that puts a new light on the half of a Gamzee corpse that remains after the end of the Masterpiece, and the creation of Lord English.
It’s true that LE is the overbearing truth of Homestuck, the comic. But there are deeper truths than those that are immediately apparent from observing physical reality — such as the inevitability that all tyrants eventually fall, just as Lord English has at the end of Act 7.
And the paradise planet that Gamzee so passionately believed in early in life, the one he wanted to share with his friends and at least one boy he had romantic feelings for — it actually exists. Earth C is just that sort of paradise planet.
Only half of Gamzee went into Lord English, so he still technically has a corpse available. Jane could, hypothetically, use her life-restoring powers to bring Gamzee back from death’s doorstep — only he would now be custody of our Heroes, with his God either dead or sealed in a black hole for eternity.
If that were to happen, and if there’s any truth to this reading of Gamzee, then what would the Bard of Rage make of this truth beyond truth, this promised land he would find himself in on the other side of an endlessly dark reality?
It’s enough to make me curious, personally. Although my personal suspicion is that if he gets the opportunity, whatever he does, it’s going to manage to piss us off. It’s inevitable, because seriously…Fuck that guy.