Walter is the main antagonist of the Stephen King multiverse.
He serves as the main antagonist in ‘The Gunslinger,’ a minor character in ‘The Wastelands,’ one of the two overarching antagonists in ‘Wizard and Glass’ alongside John Farson, a supporting antagonist in ‘Wolves of the Calla’ and a major antagonist in ‘The Dark Tower.’ He also appears as one of the two main antagonists in ‘The Wind Through the Keyhole’ alongside Bern Kells under the alias ‘The Covenant Man.’
Walter was introduced as The Man in Black who Roland pursues in The Gunslinger. He is a demonic sorcerer and an emissary of the Crimson King who goes by many names including Randall Flagg, Walter O'Dim, Rudin Filaro, Raymond Fiegler, Richard Fannin, Walter Hodji, Walter Farden, The Walkin' Dude, The Covenant Man and Marten Broadcloak. He first appears as the main antagonist in Stephen King's The Stand before returning as the main antagonist again in The Eyes of the Dragon, as Randall Flagg. He also serves as a minor antagonist in the short story ‘Blind Willie,’ published in the collection ‘Hearts in Atlantis.’
- 1 History
- 2 Role in the Dark Tower Series
- 2.1 Wizard and Glass/The Gunslinger Born
- 2.2 The Sorcerer
- 2.3 The Fall of Gilead
- 2.4 The Battle of Jericho Hill
- 2.5 A Sorcerer's Reading (The Gunslinger)
- 2.6 Visiting Andrew Quick under Lud (The Waste Lands)
- 2.7 The Man Behind the Curtain (Wizard and Glass)
- 2.8 One last trick and Demise (The Dark Tower)
- 2.9 Fate
- 3 Portrayals in Film and TV
- 4 Gallery
He was given to a mill owner and his wife to be brought up to learn the ways of men. At thirteen he grew bored and burned down his home, then sought out his father Maerlyn. The next year, he was raped by a fellow wanderer, but instead of returning home he went on to fullfill his destiny.
Over the years, it is implied that Walter learned the ways of Dark magic and became a very powerful sorcerer and to some extent becoming a sort of demon with a "quasi-immortality". It may have been, at one point or another, that Walter was taught dark magic by Maerlyn, the very wizard who is responsible for forging the Bends O' the Rainbow, the mystical seeing balls (one of which Roland finds in Wizard and Glass), because he is often seen possessing said seeing balls throughout different parts of the Dark Tower story, using them for his own wrongdoings. It also appears he is a keen studier as he wished the remains of a Slow Mutant to be bagged for later studies.
At one point he begins to attempt to drive a wedge between the John Farson and James Farson revealing the truth of James' parents' deaths and so causing him to become increasingly on the side of the Crimson King.
He enters into a sexual relationship with the demon of the Pink Sphere whom he calls his sister.
Early Career (Eyes of the Dragon)
Early in his career as a dark sorcerer, Flagg sought to overthrow the peaceful kingdom of Delain and plunge the land into a thousand years of anarchy. Flagg first appears as a long time advisor to the Delainian Monarchy (going back multiple generations), but secretly he had wicked intentions. Flagg's first attempt to overthrow the kingdom comes in the form of an assassination attempt on Queen Sasha, who is pregnant with Thomas, heir to the throne. Flagg eventually succeeds in forcing the queen's maid to murder her, despite Thomas being born. As the boys Thomas and his brother Peter grow older, Flagg schemes another plan. This time, he poisons King Roland and frames Peter. The high judge finds Peter guilty and locks him away in the Needle (a huge dungeon tower at the center of Delain's royal city). As a result of this, Thomas is declared king of Delain but gives a large portion of the power over to Flagg because of his young age. Knowing who is behind the entire mess, Peter manages to escape the Needle and with his allies goes to retrieve King Roland's bow and kill Flagg. Upon reaching Delain's royal chamber they find no bow and Flagg reveals his demonic qualities to them. Flagg is about to kill Peter and his allies when Thomas intervened with the royal bow. He shoots Flagg in the eye but the dark wizard uses magic to disappear, escaping them. Shortly after, Thomas (who has become hated throughout Delain) leaves with a friend, Dennis, to go and track Flagg who is on the run. It is said that eventually, they confront him, but the outcome is not revealed.
In The Dark Tower II: The Drawing of the Three, when discussing magicians and enchanters, it is said of Roland: “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 Wind Through the Keyhole
In the story that Roland tells Bill Streeter in The Wind Through the Keyhole (which is also the name of the tale), Walter appears as The Covenant Man. The Covenant Man is responsible for collecting taxes, and if not paid in full, is willing to take people's possessions and throw them out of their homes. The Covenant Man befriends a young Tim Ross following his father's death (that was believed to have been caused by a dragon), and helps him uncover the truth of his father's mysterious death.
It was Tim's stepfather, Big Kells, who killed his father. Tim finds this out with a key that The Covenant Man gives him that will open any lock, but only once. Tim opens Big Ross' trunk and finds his father's lucky coin. During a later palaver with The Covenant Man, Tim witnesses his mother being beaten by Big Kells, but The Covenant Man keeps Tim with him. The beating leaves his mother blind, and The Covenant Man shows Tim another vision: Tim visiting Maerlyn and obtaining a magic blindfold that heals his mother's sight. Tim departs on the journey. He later finds a tyger that turns out to be Maerlyn, transformed by an agent of the Crimson King (Maerlyn admits this happened because he was drunk at the time).
Despite The Covenant Man's true identity being almost painfully obvious from the first time he speaks in Roland's story, at no time does he, or even the comment-prone Eddie mention this or even hint at it, despite, in the story's frame, the Ka-Tet having faced Flagg down only a few days/weeks prior at the end of Wizard and Glass. This could be due to his identity being so obvious, even Eddie or any of the 20th Century members feel no need to bring it up. Another solution is that while Roland's narrative conveys this to the reader, the story he is telling of Tim Ross is actually being told in the verse his mother taught him, and, to the Roland of the past, the identity is not anything he would know. Many explanations are possible, but it is notable that, even euphemized in the frame of what passes for a fairy-tale in Mid-World, Roland fails to recognize the one who has bedeviled him.
Role in the Dark Tower Series
Wizard and Glass/The Gunslinger Born
When Roland was a young boy, Flagg, under the name of Marten Broadcloak, orchestrated a devious plan of treachery in service of the Crimson King. Marten became the court magician of Gilead, acting as chief advisor to his father Steven, seducing Roland's mother Gabrielle, exposing this to Roland on purpose. This enraged Roland to the point that he decided to take his coming of age gunslinger trial at the unheard of age of 14. Marten hoped that Roland would fail in his test and be sent west with all other failed gunslingers. Unfortunately for him, Roland succeeded; when Steven orders his arrest, he then escapes Gilead through a gateway he draws on the wall. When Roland's soul become trapped in Maerlyn's Grapefruit during The Long Road Home Marten becomes in control of the vision Roland sees whilst he is in there. Marten had another plan to murder Steven Deschain through Gabrielle, but this plan also failed. However Marten aided John Farson, a notorious madman turned revolutionary in the destruction of In-World and this eventually led to the fall of Gilead. After witnessing the final destruction of Gilead, Flagg fought with the other remnants of John Farson's armies at Jericho Hill, under the name Rudin Filaro. Filaro is said to be a screaming blue-faced barbarian who shot an arrow through the eye of Roland's best friend, Cuthbert Allgood, ending his life.
Walter luckily saves Clay Reynolds after he informs John Farson he has located the Pink Sphere, he has the idea of manipulating Charles Champignon into writing a letter of recommendation for a man named Kingson who will infiltrate the city and take the sphere.
He later has to resurrect Kingson after he was killed and aids him leave the city through a doorway and goes to retrieve the sphere himself discovering the demon inside has caused the death of Gabrielle Deschain and so forces the demon back into the sphere.
The Fall of Gilead
He is seen during the battle of the Fall of Gilead. After the battle he is seen ceremoniously taking down the Affiliation flag atop Gilead, making the city's destruction official.
The Battle of Jericho Hill
He holds Randolph's family, Chloe and Edmund captive causing Randolph to betray Roland to get them back. He kills Chloe as Randolph is late to a meeting with him and later disguises himself, changing a crow to look like himself and pretends to hand the crow (Marten) over to Roland. Roland figures out that Marten is actually disguised and so Marten flees.
During the actual battle of Jericho Hill, Walter as Marten kills Cuthbert Allgood by shooting a crossbow bolt through his eye. After the battle he spits on Roland's body in triumph for stopping his quest for the Dark Tower, thinking him dead.
A Sorcerer's Reading (The Gunslinger)
After the battle of Jericho Hill, Flagg takes on the persona of Walter O'Dim (or better known to Roland as the Man in Black) and flees from Roland. After this Roland begins his long trek across the wastes of a world that has "moved on" following Walter's every move and slowly getting closer to the Man in Black. After many long years of traveling across the ruined Mid-World landscape Walter rests on the far side of the Cyclopean Mountains, not before tempting Roland to drop his traveling companion, Jake Chambers.
It is there that Roland finally catches Walter and they palaver. Walter foretells Roland's future using a personalized deck of tarot cards and tells him that he must wait for the time of the drawing (the time when Roland would summon Odetta Holmes and Eddie Dean and eventually Jake Chambers again, to help him in his quest). After this, Walter shows Roland a vision of multiple levels of the Dark Tower. Roland remains asleep for hundreds of years after his vision and Flagg escapes him and places bones in his black clothing to make it look like he died long ago.
Visiting Andrew Quick under Lud (The Waste Lands)
Walter escaped, however, and soon appears again as another apparition. After Roland rescues Jake from the Grays underneath the decaying city of Lud in their lair, the Grays leader Andrew Quick is left for dead. Soon enough, Walter appears to him, not as a sorcerer or a caped black figure as before, but as Richard Fannin, a wicked-looking man with raven black hair and the look of a more sinister Gunslinger. He tells Andrew to come with him, mirroring his recruitment of Trashcan Man in The Stand, and that his work is not done: they must stop Roland's ka-tet once and for all—they must not reach the Tower.
The Man Behind the Curtain (Wizard and Glass)
After passing through the Thinny into Topeka in the Level of the Tower from the Stand; Roland, Susannah, Eddie, Jake and Oy reach what looks like the Emerald City from the Wizard of Oz. Within, they find a revived Andrew Quick posing as Oz. He lunges to attack the Ka-tet but is quickly shot down by Susannah and Eddie. From elsewhere a cackling voice is heard and the tet realise it is none other than Martin/Rudin/Walter who is now calling himself Randall Flagg sitting upon a throne in the Emerald palace. This is where readers discover that they are all one in the same person. Randall congratulates Roland and his friends on making it so far but he assures them that they will never reach the Tower and he tells them to abandon their quest. Roland moves to shoot his old nemesis down but the old sorceror only says: "Sorry Roland ol' boy, only blanks against me, remember". However they have Jake's gun from his world. Roland nearly shoots him with this gun, which actually scares Walter. However, his reduced hand fails him and the wizard escapes, leaving the pink looking sphere, Maerlyn's Grapefruit, behind.
One last trick and Demise (The Dark Tower)
Padick's ultimate goal is similar to his enemy, Roland's. He intends to take over the room at the top of The Dark Tower and become "God of All". Flagg attempts to manipulate Mordred Deschain by getting a hold of his birthmarked spider leg to open the door of the Tower. Upon meeting with Mordred to palaver, the young spider boy senses his intentions and forces him to tear out various body parts for Mordred's nourishment and then proceeds to kill him in a rather brutal manner.
Walter's status is unknown however, due to the Dark Tower series is in a time loop.
Portrayals in Film and TV
Following actors have portrayed/will portray Walter Padick: