Beyond Markiplier TV, there hasn’t been a confirmed appearance of the real Dark. Though, like the previous months, His presence on the channel has been teased to a great degree. Witness Mark’s slowed-down and deepened declaration of “I am the avatar of Death here” three minutes into the Let’s Play of Shotgun Farmers, the series of art pieces focusing on the Red Man in Passpartout (which, if you’ll recall, one of Dark’s visual alternates when His shell cracks is red), the decidedly creepy thumbnails for “Greetings” and “I Found You” (which are not subtitled with the name of their respective games, and together potentially spell out a chilling message from Dark Himself), the description for Going Home (“Home Sweet Home! But is there something lurking in the darkness?”), and the entire damn premise for the interactive oddity Dinner With An Owl.
“Dinner With An Owl,” particularly, has a weirdly specific plot: It’s a game where you’re locked in an endless loop as a dinner guest to a cultured, well-mannered monster who wants to make a deal with you… and who will take possession of you… and you can never hope to leave… because you’ll be there, with him, forever…
Doesn’t ring any bells for you? I’m not surprised. After all, it’s not like we’ve been down that road before, right?
Oh wait. Yes, we have.
But when Dark’s not entertaining guests to His realm (willing or not), He seems to seek new ways to entertain Himself. This is what seems to be the case for the World’s 4th Quietest Let’s Play. Though the fellow we see on the screen introduces himself as Markiplier, like usual, there’s a hint or two very early on that something’s a little… off.
To begin with, Mark’s voice is far deeper and more guttural here than it was in the previous three QLP’s. We already know that Mark is very capable in terms of voice acting, but his quiet whisper is usually gentler. Not to mention that, though Mark is usually very quick to shoot down incorrect rumours about Dark’s influence on a particular thing (such as on that one tour photo which involved a coincidental trick of the light), he was notoriously silent on this one. Which can only mean one thing: We ARE meant to perceive this as Dark playing the game.
And, strangely enough, when you take a good long listen a few times around… you realize it makes perfect sense for this to be Dark posing as Mark.
He uses some ornate language which isn’t exactly the norm for Mark. The typical goofy Mark-isms (inventing random words and phrases in mid-harangue, as he is wont to do) are notably absent here and, the few times there’s a funny word choice, it’s almost as if he just remembered he had to say something amusing. That Dark had to REMEMBER He was pretending to be Mark, in fact. The amount of cuss words are also fewer, and often prematurely cut off… or replaced with more vivid, poetic and damning descriptions.
He also threatens the audience at least twice, is dead serious about it and offers no apologies. Most infamously, in His soliloquy to the Gamepad controller, “I won’t break you unless you deserve to be broken.” He then immediately turns to the audience, adding, “The same goes for all of you.”
Gulp. Why am I scared and turned on at the same time? (And I’m definitely not the only one. Just check out the comments section of the vid.)
But the kicker? Where He gets angry to the point of bellowing in frustration.
On his previous vids, Mark has never been shy about his reactions; he’s always been open and honest and, when Mark played I Am Bread previous to this episode, we actually saw him fly into a rage that resulted in his controller being smashed into smithereens. Mark, for better or worse, has never hid anything about himself from his audience. That’s one of the reasons we love him so much, because he lacks artifice and is so straight-forward.
But here? Just before he’s about to give a cathartic yell, he fights back the urge with what appears to be a great deal of pain, before finally ducking underneath the camera so we can’t see him. Why would Mark choose to hide now?
The answer: Mark wouldn’t. Dark – while masquerading as Mark – would. Why? Because we’ve seen His reaction when He’s angry; His shell visibly cracks, warping the reality around Him. Ducking underneath the view of the camera for a few critical seconds would be long enough to conceal that shell-crack. And it also explains why He appears to be in literal, physical agony; it’s not easy holding His vessel together when He’s in mid-rage. (And we saw Dark pretend to be Mark before, on our Valentine’s Day date. He did it just long enough for us to drop our guard with Him, and He was damn convincing.)
Also? Mark’s shouts tend towards the shrill. Dark’s yell, in comparison, is a deeper roar. Not to mention, how He growls and grunts His way through the majority of the play-through, half-heartedly apologizing for “breathing like a beast in your ear. It’s the only thing I can do to stay sane.” Those reactions don’t sound quite human.
Aside from this, we must go back to His word choice, most of which has to do with damnation and divine retribution. Not even a half-minute in and He describes I Am Bread as “a game that deserves to be flayed alive on the sacrificial altar.” Though He promises to “take this [game] in with a modicum of love” (Really, Dark? You either love something or You don’t; there’s no in-between about it!), He later swears to cast it into the deepest part of the ocean “with chains unbreakable.” Oy. If that’s His idea of love, I hope I never find out what His idea of hate is.
Mark’s afraid of the ocean, so him casting something into it? Unlikely. But an angry God with an axe to grind? You’ll be having tea with Cthulhu in the Mariana Trench in no time. Yes, He literally sounds like one hellaciously pissed-off deity about to make with the smiting. (Mark, by comparison, can get pretty pissed too… but he NEVER talks like that, instead being mostly incoherent and sweary.)
Also, seemingly randomly, He talks about sacrificing for the greater good, before adding with a sneer, “This is not that fucking time.” What greater good are we talking about, here? It’s just a game, right? In the words of the Romans: Qui bono? (“Who benefits?”)
Unless… the REAL game is the one Dark’s playing with the audience, and this deception is for the “greater good” of His own personal scheme. That Dark purposely chose to take on the atrocious I Am Bread in Mark’s place in order to (potentially) win us over. Even while raging over the improbable and near-unplayable game, He still manages to sound incredibly soothing and seductive (to the point where a few straight male viewers were actually publically questioning their sexuality in the comment section, and some women also remarked about how their ears were now “pregnant”).
Dark knows all too well the power He wields, how strong His gift of persuasion is. Unlike most supernatural beings, however, there’s no mysticism about it. There’s no hypnotic suggestion, no glamour… but only a masterful wordsmith’s skill to turn an audience on their ears, to bend them to His will with some carefully chosen verbiage that twists the senses and gives one an auditory tingle or two. If manipulation were a career choice, He’d be employee of the month, every month, until the time Earth gets swallowed by the Sun and the Universe expires from heat-death. (And, in this particular case, His words were so appealing to the listeners, a remix was made… fittingly titled The Voice of Darkiplier.)
Dark is a scary, scary guy is what I’m getting at. He knows just how to weaken and use people for His own aggrandizement. That is not an okay kind of thing. Nobody should ever want to be involved with anyone like that, in any conceivable way. And yet, we’re drawn to Him all the same, like the sailors of ancient Greece were drawn to the song of the sirens.
The beauty of the sirens’ voices drove seafaring men wild… and blinded them to the danger waiting for them. Time after time, many ships would be smashed on the rocks, and the dying sailors’ bodies would feed the sirens’ monstrous hunger for human flesh (The Little Mermaid, this ain’t). Even the great voyager Odysseus was not immune, requesting his crew to plug their ears and tie him to the mast, so they would know from his behaviour whether or not the danger had passed. Odysseus actually tore the mast out of its moorings in his haste to follow the sirens’ song, and had to be held back from leaping into the water by a sizeable portion of his crew.
The crisis was eventually averted however, and sanity returned to Odysseus’ mind. Will we be able to steer away from the danger Dark presents?
Maybe that’s the real reason Darkiplier vs. Antisepticeye was made. For his part, Mark seems to be trying to break Dark’s spell over us.
At this point, Mark knows Dark is still a danger, and he’s chosen his weapon: humour. Sounds weird? Maybe… until you realize that, the last time, this method actually worked.
Prior to the creation of the “Relax” video in August 2016, Dark was only spoken of as a suspicious whispering among the fans. Mark had never acknowledged Him as a character. Yet, that month he created a milestone video deliberately making fun of Him, as little more than an emo roommate with a penchant for troublemaking. For awhile, Dark’s hold on the audience was weakened until Mark finally acknowledged Dark as an existing entity, just prior to the release of “A Date with Markiplier.”
“You made him real,” Mark admonished us. “And now he knows who you are. Why did you do this…”
Since then, there’s been nothing but fascination for this mysterious being. Maybe we made Him real… or then again, maybe He was always there. In the end, however, Dark’s far stronger now than He was in the years before… and now the gambit of loosening His grip on us (by neutralizing the threat He poses with comedy) has a less certain outcome. Dark Himself has stated how He despised being “pushed aside, replaced, mocked.”
Yet, that’s exactly what happened in the Dark vs. Anti vid: Mark deliberately shoved Dark aside, posed as Him for the express purpose of making a fool out of Him. Mark came forward and flat-out told everyone in the charity livestream the following day that it was all meant as a joke, a loving one towards the fans… but we all know for a fact one other party was definitely not a happy camper. We’ve already seen what happened when Anti (the video’s other target) spent his anger on Jack, but Dark has again gone mysteriously silent.
With Mark having taken aim with his quiversful of jokes at the Hellgod… the Big Bad is bound to be more than a little annoyed. An Instagram image appeared of “Mark” in the glow in the dark Tiny Box Tim charity shirt… with a murderous look in his eyes.
(Seriously, the first time I saw this pic, my heart leaped into my throat. He looks like He wants to rip out my spine, and keep it as a souvenir.)
No bets taken – Monochrome Man is definitely up to something. And this time, He’s pissed as all hell. Mark didn’t heed the warning the first time, and chances are he’ll end up paying the price. The worst part? Mark is taking one for the team, here; he did it to save us from Him. And he knows he’s gonna feel the Hellgod’s wrath sooner or later… otherwise, why would he decorate the thumbnail for Run Rooms with the Red Man (his artistic depiction of Dark) in hot pursuit as he desperately runs for his life?
Is Mark’s wearing the Host’s trenchcoat (in Markiplier Makes: Fan Fiction) and depicting the psychic’s eye injuries (in the Tears of Blood thumbnail) a hint of the Host’s later, possible re-emergence… or is it an attempt to curry favour with another powerful entity for his own protection? Someone who can foresee what troubles lie ahead, what Dark is planning for him… and how he can avoid the traps set for him? Is his comment in Bad Dream: Coma (Part 5) about “erasing someone from existence” an off-handed joke, or is it foreshadowing of Dark’s vengeance?
What about the multiplayer game Staying Alive, with Mark being attacked by a duplicate of himself in the thumbnail, and ominously titled “Get Busy Glitchin’ or Get Busy Dyin’”?
Why play a game called The End is Nigh, and unnecessarily add the title “The sky is falling!”? A game that begins with a in-game Let’s Play by a gamer protagonist, but then focuses on a post-apocalyptic world? A game where an NPC warns the player that something he created will come back to haunt him?
Will Dark’s next appearance be a serious confrontation between man and monster? We won’t know… because He doesn’t want us to know. Not until He’s damn good and ready.
There’s four and a half months left to the year. Literally anything can happen between now and 2018.
But know this: There is a perfect storm brewing on the horizon and, when it finally hits, nothing will stand in its way. Maybe not even our beloved Markiplier.