|I met the Walkin Dude, religous, in his worn down cowboy boots|
He walked like no man on earth
I swear he had no name, I swear he had no name
Randall Flagg, the dark man, makes his first appearance (that I’m aware of) in Stephen King’s Literary Epic, The Stand. He also makes guest appearances in The Eyes of the Dragon*, The Dark Tower II: The Drawing of the Three*, The Dark Tower III: The Wastelands, and The Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass.
The Eyes of the Dragon
In the land of Delain, we meet a king’s magician, an evil enchanter who goes by the name of Flagg. He’s a true magician, this Flagg, capable of casting spells, knowing in the ways of poisons, proficient in the art of making oneself Dim, that is, nearly invisible. Flagg is ancient, well over 1,000-years-old, and he has visited Delain several times in the past, not because he loved the land or its people, but because, “for many centuries, the old dark chaos inside him had hated the love and light and order of Delain.” He wished to destroy it.
Is Flagg of Delain the Flagg of The Stand? It is possible, but not certain. To the people of Delain he is known as Flagg the Hooded, or simply as the dark man. He appears to hardly age at all, and his purpose is simple: “To have power and use that power to make mischief.” And let it be known, Flagg accomplishes much mischief in Delain. But in the end, when Thomas lets Foe-Hammer fly, the arrow is true and buries itself deep into Flagg’s left eye. Flagg shrieks and some “stinking black fluid....most assuredly not blood....dribbles out” from the wound. He shrieks again, drops to his knees, and suddenly vanishes.
When Flagg disappears, his clothes hold his shape for just a moment, then crumple to the ground. Which is very reminiscent of when Flagg disappears near the end of The Stand, when his plans have unraveled and his death appears emminent: “Larry saw Flagg’s clothes—the jacket, the jeans, the boots—standing upright with nothing in them. For a split second they held the shape of the body that had been inside them. And then they collapsed.”
These similarities make one consider the possibility of Flagg of Delain being Flagg of The Stand. But consider. In the EotD we never hear mention of Flagg's first name. And 250 years before the time of Roland and his sons, when Flagg served as the Lord High Executioner, he was know as Bill Hinch. And 150 years before that, Flagg toured Delain as a singer known as Browson. Neither of these names fit the RF pattern of Flagg initials that we are accustomed to.
At this point, I can't for sure say both Flaggs are the same creature. And further mentions of Flagg in DTIV tend to confuse me more. See the Wizard and Glass section below for my confusion.
The Dark Tower II: The Drawing of the Three
We only hear mention of a being called Flagg in DT II. Roland relates that he has known magicians and enchanters, and that he had seen Flagg long ago, as the final crash approached his land: “One of these men had been a creature the gunslinger believed to be a demon himself, a creature that pretended to be a man and called itself Flagg....Hot on his heels had come two young men who looked desperate and yet grim, men named Dennis and Thomas....he would never forget seeing Flagg change a man who had irritated him into a howling dog.”
The two grim men Roland mentions are Dennis and Thomas from the Eyes of the Dragon. Remember, we were told that they would have “many and strange adventures, and that they did see Flagg again, and confront him.” Peter in the EotD also shared Roland’s thought that Flagg was a demon rather than a man.
But remember, this may not be Randall the Flagg.
The Dark Tower III: The Wastelands
We meet RF again towards the end of DT III, when he appears in the missile silo to recruit Andrew Quick—the Tick-Tock Man—in his plans to prevent the band of gunslingers from reaching the Dark Tower.
Ticky’s lying on the floor in a pool of his own blood when he hears something call his name. He raises his head and sees, with his one remaining good eye, “the figure standing on the far side of the room....ghastly, unreal....It looked like a man....but Andrew Quick had an idea it really wasn’t a man at all....The stranger wore a short, dark jacket belted at the waist, faded denim trousers, and old, dusty boots.” Sound familiar?
RF’s pissed and time is short. He wants Jake, Eddie, Susannah, and even Oy, dead. And Roland most of all. “They have to die—they’re meddling with things they have no business meddling with.” And he states, quite emphatically, “They must not draw closer to the Tower than they are now!”
Perhaps Flagg is a bit nervous. He sees Roland’s quest for the Tower is drawing to an end and knows that if Roland reaches the Tower, they must face each other. So to slow down, or possibly eliminate the threat of Roland reaching the Tower (and displeasing his boss, the Beast), Flagg enlists the aid of the Tick-Tock Man to cause some sort of trouble for the gunslinger and his companions.
Andrew agrees to help, “my life for you.”
The Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass
The Walkin' Dude makes mention early on in Wizard and Glass, not in an appearance, but as a cryptic message spray painted on a freway sign, “Watch for the Walkin Dude.” None of the party of gunslingers knew what it meant, but they felt uneasy.
We're in for a bit of a surprise near the end of this Dark Tower installment. We once again meet our old friend, Ticky, the Tick-Tock Man. Inside the emerald palace, Ticky has somehow turned into a misshapen parody of the Wizard of Oz. Except he's not the one pulling the strings, that honor belongs to the thing Jake sees sitting on the Emerald Throne, the thing wearing “jeans, a dark jacket that belted at the waist, and old, rundown cowboy boots.” The creature yells for Andrew to kill the gunslingers, but Eddie and Susannah make quick work of Quick. And at this point, Roland names the creature sitting on the throne: Marten Broadcloak.
“Marten…or Maerlyn…or whoever you call yourself now…”
“Flagg, actually,” the man on the throne said.
As Roland pulls Jake's Ruger, the gun snags on his belt buckle and before he can plant any slugs in Flagg's hide, RF disappears in billows of green smoke.
The gunslingers later find a note Flagg had left for them, warning that the next time they meet, he won't leave. They should renounce the Tower. He says, “This is your last warning.” “And have a great day!”
So perhaps Roland's next meeting with Flagg will be the final appearance of one?
Now there is a section here that confuses me further on the issue of whether or not Flagg of The Stand and Dark Tower is the same Flagg of EOTD. In DTIV, Flagg states: “And we've met before…in the wreck of Gilead. You and your surviving pals…were on your way west, to seek the Tower…I know you saw me, but I doubt you knew until now that I saw you as well.”
Compare this with this passage from DTII: “The gunslinger had known magicians…One of these men had been a creature the gunslinger believed to be a demon himself, a creature that pretended to be a man and called itself Flagg…He had seen him only briefly…as the final crash approached his land…Hot on his heels had come two young men…Dennis and Thomas….he would never forget seeing Flagg change a man who had irritated him into a howling dog…He remembered that well enough….Then there had been the man in black….And then there had been Marten.”
Now it seems that when Flagg mentions the “wreck of Gilead,” he is referring to the same time as when Roland mentions “as the final crash approached his land.” So it would appear that the timing, the “wreck of Gilead,” fits the theory that Flagg of DT and Flagg of EOTD are the same creature. Flagg of DT says that Roland had seen him, and that he had seen Roland as well. Roland admits seeing a creature called Flagg. Further evidence pointing to the two Flaggs being the same.
But as Roland relates, he saw Flagg turn a man into a dog, so he must have seen him fairly close up. And then he mentions two other magicians he had know. The man in black and Marten.
We now know that Marten is Flagg of DT, a man Roland had know since childhood. So the question seems to be, when Roland saw the creature Flagg turn a man into a dog, why didn't he recognize him as Marten? If it wasn't the same man, then the two Flaggs are two different creatures. Or is it possible that Roland was too far away to identify Flagg as Marten? I don't know.
I'm going to say the two Flaggs are not the same, for the time being. What say you?
What is Randall Flagg?
We know that Flagg is not quite human; both Roland and Peter believe him some kind of demon, one who shed “some stinking black fluid—most assuredly not blood” when injured. Flagg appears to be ageless, having lived for more years than we can grasp. He’s capable of magic, levitating, changing people into other forms. He can read and influence minds. He is evil, but he is not the devil. It’s quite possible he is a servant of chaos, a “minion of the Tower.” What is Randall Flagg? Ah, that’s an interesting question.
How does Randall Flagg tie into the Dark Tower?
In DT I, Walter tells Roland “In order to reach the Tower you must reach this one first, the Ageless Stranger....You must slay him, gunslinger.”
Roland asks the name of this Stranger.
The man in black replies, “Maerlyn.”
In DT III, Flagg himself states, “I have been called the Ageless Stranger....I have also been called Merlin or Maerlyn—and who cares, because I was never that one, although I never denied it, either.”
So is Flagg (who admits being called the Ageless Stranger and not denying it) the same Ageless Stranger that Walter referred to in DT I as being Maerlyn, the one that Roland must slay on his way to the Tower?
It appears so, even though Flagg stated he wasn’t Maerlyn in DT III.
It could well be that Walter didn’t know the real name of the Ageless Stranger, afterall, he had never seen him. He had only once appeared to Walter in a dream, “a thousand years ago, or five or ten....He came to me in days before the old ones had yet to cross the sea....In a land called England.” It could be that Walter bestowed the name upon the Ageless Stranger himself, perhaps being influenced in some respect by Merlin the Magician, the Wizard of jolly old England.
So if Flagg is indeed the Ageless Stranger of whom Walter spoke, we know then that he is a minion of the Tower. And did not Walter say about the Stranger, “Yet there is one greater than he...The Beast....The keeper of the Tower, the originator of all glammer.” Walter is terrified of the Beast, “To speak of the Beast is to speak of the ruination of one’s own soul. Before It, Maerlyn is as I am to him.” (Notice that Walter refers to the Beast as It. Hmmmm.)
Ahaz, Astaroth (the devil of laziness), Nyarlahotep, R’yelah, Seti, The Dark Man, The Man with No Face, The Walkin Dude, John the Conqueror, Flagg the Hooded, The Midnight Rambler, the Boogeyman, the Wizard, the Magician, the Ageless Stranger. Legion. The king of nowhere.
Ramsey Forrest, Raymond Fiegler, Robert Franq, Richard Fry, Robert Freemont, Richard Freemantle, Russell Faraday, Richard Fannin.
King on Flagg:
“I think he personifies a brand of evil we see a lot of in modern society. He's the guy who always laughs as he does it, and he's out there.”
*Note: These appearances or mention of something called Flagg may not be the Randall Flagg we all know and love.