‘The Magicians’: Who Is The Dark King, Exactly?

     March 4, 2020

Spoilers for The Magicians Season 5 Episode 7, “Cello Squirrel Daffodil,” follow below. 

If you’ve been watching The Magicians this season and wondering “who is The Dark King?”, you got your answer in tonight’s episode. The Magicians Season 5 Episode 7, “Cello Squirrel Daffodil,” finally put a name to that incredibly pretty face of The Dark King (played by Sean Maguire), and it’s one you might find familiar: Rupert Chatwin. However, given how dense the story of The Magicians is and how many Chatwins there are, you may need a bit of a refresher on what we know about Rupert Chatwin thus far, and what this reveal means for the future of the series. Let’s dig in.

For the purposes of this article we’ll be setting aside Lev Grossman’s brilliant trilogy of books, because the show has diverged quite heavily. In the book series, Rupert Chatwin married and fought during World War II, using a spell to win the Battle of the Bulge in 1945. It doesn’t appear as though this is exactly what happened to Rupert Chatwin in the show’s version of the story.

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THE MAGICIANS — “Oops!… I did It Again” Episode 506 — Pictured: Summer Bishil as Margo Hanson — (Photo by: Eric Milner/SYFY)

In “Cello Squirrel Daffodil,” Christopher Plover (Charles Shaughnessy)—you know, the author of the Fillory and Further books who also sexually assaulted Martin Chatwin and had a hand in creating the Beast—has found his way to the Magicians’ apartment on Earth, where Margo (Summer Bishil) and Fen (Brittany Curran) cure him of an infestation and get him talking. He knows the identity of The Dark King, and reveals it’s Rupert Chatwin.

If you’ll recall, Plover was friends with the Chatwin children, but was secretly assaulting Martin. Seeking revenge, Martin became The Beast and wreaked havoc not only on Plover but on all of Fillory. But Martin also never wanted to leave Fillory, so after he discovered the wellspring, he planned on casting a conduit spell that would tie him to the magical land forever.

Rupert Sebastian Chatwin learned of Martin’s plan and tied himself to the conduit before his brother could. When Martin found out what Rupert had done, he cursed him with eternal sleep (turns out Martin has a soft spot for family and refused to kill Rupert).

We know that the Magicians finally took down The Beast/Martin and rescued Fillory in Season 1, but the surges of magic that occurred when The Magicians turned the wellspring back on at the end of Season 4 awoke Rupert Chatwin from his eternal slumber. Rupert brought with him the Takers, who he “vanquished” which in turn led to the people of Fillory making him their king. And, because he successfully completed the conduit spell, he can’t be killed until every tree in Fillory is destroyed (because they’re all connected).

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THE MAGICIANS — “The Mountain of Ghosts” Episode 503 — Pictured: (l-r) Hale Appleman as Eliot Waugh, Sean Maguire as Dark King/Sebastian — (Photo by: Eric Milner/SYFY)

But Rupert also has his own tragic backstory. As glimpsed very briefly during a previous episode of The Magicians, Rupert was in love with his friend Lance. When he was put under an eternal slumber, he lost Lance forever. But as revealed in “Cello Squirrel Daffodil,” Rupert has a plan to bring Lance back. He briefly allows Lance’s spirit to take over Eliot’s body, and while it’s unclear what happens next, Rupert is definitely not finished with his plans to be reunited with his lost love.

As for Christopher Plover, Rupert/The Dark King recognized him and cursed him with tongue twisters. The same tongue twisters that Margo removed to learn The Dark King’s identity, and the same tongue twisters that Margo put back in Christopher before he could run free on Earth.

So what happens now? We know The Dark King isn’t inherently evil—he stopped his brother from ruining all of Fillory. But he also will stop at nothing to bring his long lost love Lance back from the dead, and is responsible for creating the Takers in the first place. This sets up a complex antagonist for the rest of the season, one who will no doubt continue to challenge Eliot who empathizes with Rupert’s pain.

The drama’s only just begun, but sadly, we learned this week that this will be the final season of The Magicians. The season finale airing on April 1st will serve as the series finale, but we can take heart in knowing the episode was written to act as a satisfying end to the series should the show not continue on. What does that mean for the Dark King and the rest of the story? We’ll found out as we savor these final episodes ahead.

For more on The Magicians, check out my interview with co-showrunner Sera Gamble about Season 5. 

The Magicians airs Wednesdays on Syfy.

Television