With the launch of season 3 of Carmilla, we have a great opportunity to examine how a story can build its own mythology. Where clues come from and how they work within a broader show framework. After all, they gave us a great webseries with a mystery based on quest items and then tied it into Sumerian mythology. How could I resist over analyzing?
This is literally too long for tumblr so I had to break my own rule and post it here.
As nothing makes me happier than when someone over-analyzes my work, I’m going to make this as big and crazy as possible to show my appreciation for 3 seasons of this awesome show. My thanks to everyone involved.
I’m making this conspiracy-theory level just for you.Go big or go home.
This will be an amalgamation of all the theories floating out there plus a few of my own.
Based on on the information given Act 1 of Season 3, we’re going to create the craziest set of theories that we can without losing plausibility. To do this, we’re going to assume that everything in the show was done intentionally. The Carmilla team has always said that, if nothing else, they had the general 3 season structure in mind from the beginning so theoretically everything should be building to one conclusion.
As a story structure junkie, this is incredibly intriguing.
I’m going to do my best to take this seriously and include as much as humanly possible but let’s all be aware that most of this is probably not going to be a thing.
But it would be a cool thing!
Sets of Four
Let’s start by mapping out what we know. The first substantial things we really get from s3 are the two prophecies that Carmilla reads out of the book of lives. As a refresher:
Prophecy 1 – “And the great evening star fell, burning, to carve its path through the gates of Irgal. Eight pointed and for every point a watchman. For the dead, the ocean, the bones, and the great grass plains. For every point a shackle closed, for the dead, the ocean, the bones, and the great grass plains.” S3e6
Prophecy 2 – “Four to make a circle, four to make a cage. The word, the blood, the chalice, and the liar’s heart presaged.” S3e6.
There’s about ten different orders we could do this in but, for now, we’re going to follow the show and gently put prophecy 1 aside to focus on prophecy 2. We learn early on ‘that the book is the first talisman’ but it’s only in ep 6 that we find out that there are 4 talismans. Together, they can be used to ‘make a cage’ and trap the Dean.
These are, of course, the word, the blood, the chalice, and the liar’s heart presaged.
I made a table to simplify this.
Sets of four are about to become a theme here.
The first talisman is the book of lives. This is blatantly told to us by the magical runes hidden all over the library (more on them later). Now the book matches the part in the prophecy that references ‘the word’. So our table grows.
Pressing on. The book and Mattie (more on her later) lead our dynamic trio to talisman number two. The sword. You may remember it as the Blade of Hastur. This, we’re told, lines up with the prophecy of ‘the blood.”
As the Dadest Dad ever, Papa Hollis cleans the sword and discovers a message on it that leads to the conclusion that Mattie’s locket is a talisman. There’s been some discourse as to whether Mattie’s locket is the chalice or the liar’s heart presaged. Here are the two rationales:
- Locket is the chalice – chalice (aka cup) often hold things and the locket held Mattie’s heart
- Locket is the liar’s heart presaged – Mattie is known for her doublespeak and the locket literally contained a piece of her heart
I can see the point of both. However, for now, I’m going to go with the locket being the chalice for the following reasons:
- Carmilla specifically says that Mattie inherited the locket when the Dean put her on the board. That means that the locket (and its talisman nature), predates its purpose of holding her heart. It was a talisman before the heart was ever involved.
- Mattie’s not actually all that big of a liar. Granted, she never speaks clearly and she often speaks in PR, ambiguous ways but she doesn’t really flat out lie.
- I can’t think of anything that relates her heart to being ‘presaged’. I suppose you could count Carmilla telling Laura about the heart but that seems a little thin for now.
- The talismans seem to point to each other in the order of the prophecy. The library lead them to the book. The book to the sword (laf said the sword symbols were all over the page on ‘the second talisman’). The sword to the locket. This is the same order the prophecy is in ‘the book, the sword, the chalice”. They could be ignoring the pattern but I don’t see why. Especially when, from a writer’s standpoint, the liar’s heart presaged is the most interesting and therefore the best finale/reveal.
So you may disagree but I’m going to put it as the chalice for now. (shout-out to the TARDIS mug being ‘the chalice’ theory)
We still have the liar’s heart presaged but the show hasn’t gotten there yet. So we’re going to skip it for now and come back when our table is bigger and we are better equipped to make wild conjecture.
Now we’re going to start poking at the mythology. Nothing too deep yet. No worries. That’ll come later.
Reminder that the Dean is Inanna, Sumerian goddess of love and war.
Let’s look at the other thing that the show blatantly gives us. The gods who made the original talismans. Laura is even so kind as to spell it out for us in ep 16. “Enki, the god of knowledge, Hastur, the Shepherd of Men, and Ereshkigal, the Queen of the Underworld… the locket is hers [Ereshkigal], what with the book belonging to Enki and the sword to Hastur.”
Thank you, Laura Hollis, for making that clear. Now, Laura could be wrong but I don’t disagree with her so we’re just going to roll with the cub reporter here.
Although, Laura, it would have been helpful if you could have worked something out with mysterious column 4. Because it’s mocking me with its emptiness.
Alright. What else do we know? Any other sets of 4? Well, there’s the board of governors. We learn in act 1 that their purpose is to help control the dean and that they were established to use the talismans and essentially represent the original gods who made the talismans (ep16). That’s why the dean needed to get rid of the board, so that the talismans couldn’t be used.
The easiest connection between the board and the gods is the monk of hastur. Shockingly, I’m going to say that he’s the representative for Hastur. Similarly, we know that Mattie inherited the locket when she got the board position so I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say that she represents Ekeshkigal. After all, Laura clearly says that the locket was Ereshkigal’s.
Sidebar: but who did mattie inherit the position from? It doesn’t matter. Just curious.
If anyone can rock being the representative of the goddess of the underworld, it’s Matska Belmonde. Oh look, another row for our table.
That leaves us with Vordenberg and ‘the creepy owl lady’ on the board. We know basically nothing about ‘the liar’s heart presaged’ but we’ve got a full column on ‘the word’ aka the god Enki. Enki is the Sumerian god of knowledge who actually interacts with Inanna in at least two stories (more on that later). This isn’t helpful knowledge unless you’re a huge mythology nerd.
Hello. That’s me.
All Sumerian gods have a city that’s their home. Enki’s is one of the oldest (pre-great deluge) and it’s called Eridu. Does that name sound familiar? In ep 3, Laf identifies the owl lady as “Ukuku, the prophetess of Eridu”.
Well then. They share a city so I’m going to call it. Prophecy is a kind of knowledge. Also, Ukuku literally just means owl in Sumerian (that I had to google). Her name is owl. Really.
So by process of elimination… Vordie gets put with ‘the liar’s heart presaged’. I know. But as ‘the Baron of lies’ we can at least make a small case and we promised that we’d go back to that column once there’s more in it so let’s just keep going. Also, let’s take our student rep Danny and just put her to the side for a minute.
Would this be an awkward time to point out that everyone on the board got to die in s2?
And just to flesh this out a little more. Let’s add what each god is the god of, just to help keep things straight.
What else do we have? Prophecy 1! Let’s bring it back now that we have some information to work with here. Our set of four this time is: for the dead, the ocean, the bones, and the great grass plains.
We can do this. So ‘the dead’ seems pretty solid on going with the god of the underworld where all the dead people are. Same with ‘the great grass plain’ which fits quite nicely with hastur, our shepherd god.
If we bust out more mythology knowledge then I can tell you that Enki is also the god of seawater so I’m going to put the ocean. Also, the metaphor that ‘knowledge is like an ocean’ can be applied if you’re feeling more literary. This leaves ‘the bones’ for column 4. Frankly, I’m just pleased when anything happens in column 4.
Wow. Look at that table. That is a nice table.
Too bad I’m going to have to start messing with it when we start trying to predict things instead of figuring out things that we already kind of know.
So let’s at least give it a few minutes to enjoy itself and talk about gates instead.. Inanna’s Descent mythology story has seven gates for us to talk about.
Starting with the fact that Danny doesn’t call them gates. Instead, she threatens to throw Theo at ‘the fifth seal’. Basically, the gates are sealed up and each seal has to be opened before they become gates. The show keeps dropping Biblical references like its Sunday school and, while the Bible may not have seven gates, it has seven seals.
That’s convenient. The biblical seals all need to be opened before ‘the lamb’ can get to the apocalyptic scroll at the end. Sounds familiar. So let’s crash course the seal/gates. The first four seals are represented by The Four Horsemen. After that, it gets a little more variable. Don’t even get me started on the chaos of the seventh seal.
Three cheers for tables organizing lots of information concisely.
Thus far, the Dean has opened 4 gates and has unearthed (but not opened) the fifth. That would mean that our 4 horsemen are out and about. You can make the case for conquest as the first gate was opened at the end of season 2 when the dean conquered Vordie, the campus, and Laura. War… there actually hasn’t been any full on war since the gates started opening with the sole exception of library trio working against the dean (back to that in a mo’) as the Dean took the campus pretty much unopposed. Famine. Mel’s podcasts certainly imply that there’s not much to eat. Death is fairly self explanatory.
But that’s not at all what I’m interested in.
Danny gives us the only real information besides ‘unleash hell on earth’ about the dean’s plans for the gates in s3e8. She says “The way the dean talks about you [Carmilla] You used to be terrifying. Her red right hand. Standing beside her when the final Gate opens and the New World begins… now look at you. Carmilla. The Fangless Wonder. The vampire in love.”
Cupcakes. There’s so much here for my theorizing to go crazy with. But focus. We’re talking gates.
The key here is Danny saying “red right hand” which sounds like a phrase straight from the dean’s mouth. Right hand is fairly self-explanatory as it builds on the concepts such as ‘glittering girl’ which indicate that there’s something special to the Dean about Carmilla. No offence to Carm but I’d personally pick Mattie over the rebellious brooding vampire who hates me.
But I’m not a hell-driven goddess with a plan either.
Unlike ‘right hand’, the word red seems to come out of nowhere. It could be representative of blood but let me direct your gaze back up to our gates table.
Horseman number 2. The one riding a red horse and representing war/strife.
They’ve even got a sword as their symbol and who do we know who has had some interesting interactions with a sword? (again, more on carmilla and the sword later). This also makes sense as to why we haven’t seen much war in s3 with the exception of Carmilla trying to take out her mother. The second horseman isn’t playing her part.
So what if we added a column to our new table?
Let’s see if we can’t expand that. There are four horsemen and if we can’t find a set of four that fits then the red theory is probably just a coincidence or the blood thing. Now, Carmilla’s not in any of our existing sets of four. She’s not on the board. So what could possibly…
Oh wait. With the Dean as a god that leaves us with Four Vampires.
Carmilla. Mattie. JP/Will. Danny.
It doesn’t sound that far-fetched to assume that the Dean is using her children to bring about her apocalypse. New question – do they fit our symbols? Mattie is our easiest fit. As the member of the board who has the locket, we’ve already linked her to Ereshkigal, goddess of death. Let’s put her down as the fourth seal and the rider on the pale horse.
Our dear JP in evil Will’s vampire body has always seemed dualistic. How about the scales then? Measuring two sides of an equation and trying to find a balance. One black horse for JP/Will.
Finally, our newest vampire Danny Lawrence. The summer society sister who knew how to wield a bow and arrow fits quite nicely with our white horse and its bow symbol. In fact, Danny as the white horse has a certain irony to it as the most heroic hero is always shown riding on a white horse. When she was human, Danny was definitely our stereotyped hero figure.
Well that’s neat.
I couldn’t actually tell you if it means anything but if nothing else, it’s a fun set of coincidences. We could also use it to start a touch of prediction. Because the fifth seal is next and if the dean’s words in e16 are any indication, it’s a doozy. She says that ‘their time is coming’ and that she can’t breach the library now but that something apparently happens after she opens the fifth seal.
In our table it’s ‘the souls of the martyrs’. Well then I wonder where we could find the souls of a bunch of innocents buried in a large hell pit to fit within our theory? I mean, it’s not like anyone’s being killing virgin girls for years as a sacrifice to the pit and… oh.
What do you know? We’ve got some souls. The girls sacrificed every 20 years to the anglerfish god.
Okay but what about the symbol? White robes. If I may draw your attention all the way back to season one when Laura is having her creepy dreams of the girls who died in the pit. What does she see?
A little girl in a white nightdress.
And suddenly our theory has lead us to an act 2 where a hoard of souls of the dead girls that Carmilla helped capture, including Elle, are getting released. That would certainly create some problems.
Well that’s not good.
The sixth seal sounds equally charming with its great earthquake, darkness, and moon turning to blood (fyi, there has to be a period joke in there for UbK).
The seventh seal is the weird one. It starts with half an hour of silence. I’ve got a theory that we can talk about later on that one but as the seventh seal is so zany, I’d like to talk about one thing that has never fit since we learned there are seven seals/gates.
The number seven. Frankly, it shouldn’t be seven.
The Eighth Gate Theory
Let’s bring back our sorely-underused-in-the-show Prophecy 1 – “And the great evening star fell, burning, to carve its path through the gates of Irgal. Eight pointed and for every point a watchman. For the dead, the ocean, the bones, and the great grass Plains. For every point a shackle closed, for the dead, the ocean, the bones, and the great grass plains.” S3e6
It’s not a stretch to say that “for every point a shackle closed” represents the seals closing up the gates. The Dean is trying to get through the gates. The gods shut those gates down. However, fours are a common theme and the prophecy specifically says that there is a shackle for every point of the eight pointed star.
There are eight points. We’re supposed to have eight shackles. There are only seven gates to hell that need sealing.
We’re missing one . Here are some options:
1) A shackle before the 7 gates:
The anglerfish is the obvious choice here as she guarded the entrance to the pit itself. However, you could say that the anglerfish belongs with the souls at gate 5 considering it’s the one that was eating them. You could also say that the anglerfish is just an extra layer of protection because she’s so different from the seals. She’s not really trapping or closing anything, just keeping things out. Like putting a guard dog before the safe.
2) A shackle after the 7 gates:
Hypothetically, once the last gate is open there could still be a further step/shackle. Not to get too far into the mythology yet but when Inanna gets through the gates in the myth, she still has to face her sister on the throne. However, as far as I can tell, we have no real in-canon indication of what this might be.
3) A shackle on the dean herself:
Thus far, we haven’t really combined our Gate Theory with our Sets of Four Theory. This might be the first place they intertwine. It’s all well and good to seal up the gates to hell but we also know that the Dean herself was sealed up. She was ‘bound into human form with blood magic’ (s3e14) through use of the talismans.
Perhaps the talismans themselves were what created the missing Eighth Seal when they bound the Dean into mortal form. 7 sealed gates. 1 sealed Dean.
The talismans are the final shackle.
To put our prediction hat back on, after the dean breaks through the 7 gates of hell her final step will be to unshackle herself of her mortal form. In this case, Perry. Based on the trailer, it seems likely that there’s some magical glowing light portal involved too. This is probably the seventh gate that she has to pass through, removing her mortal shell and returning her to her goddess glory.
Personally I like this third ‘the body is a shackle made by the talismans’ option for the eighth seal because it brings our theories together and starts creating our ‘overly intricate huge theory’ theory. Bring back the table!
I know. The table doesn’t really work anymore but I’m attached.
Sidebar: the phrase ‘gates of irgal’ in prophecy 1 really annoys me mostly because I can’t find it anywhere. I’m assuming Irgal is one of the names for hell but traditionally Sumerians referred to hell as Irkalla. They’re close enough names that I’m willing to assume it is just dialect differences (say Sumerian vs Assyrian vs proto-akkadian dialects) but it’s annoying to not know for sure. There could be something with the gates that we’re missing.
Now, to wrap up this gate portion of our theory we do need to talk about one last thing. Mattie dying.
The dean clearly doesn’t care if all of her horsemen make it to the gate as she doesn’t seem to be shedding a tear of the death of poor Mattie or Will. But Carmilla clearly needs to live to make it to the gate. The dean tells us through Danny that she has to be standing next to the Dean as her ‘right hand when the last gate opens’. We also see in episode 16 that Danny still has explicit orders not to kill Carmilla. Why not?
Why does Carmilla need to live to see the gate open?
We’ll get back to that
However, our dying characters who come back to life make for interesting theory fodder. For every story, coming back from the dead isn’t something easily done and there are always sacrifices made and changes to those who come back. We can easily see this exemplified in Danny coming back as our super scary vampire version or Will’s body coming back but with a whole other consciousness stuffed inside. JP comes back from his time in the library with a whole new body.
So what about our dearly re-revived Matska Belmonde?
The Godly Avatar Theory
I think we can all agree that, since her return in s3, Mattie’s been acting shady. She’s gone from watch me strut PR consultant to the lurkiest lurker who’s ever lurked. Rather than find Carmilla and announce her presence, she’s chosen to just randomly appear and disappear. She’s stolen a locket and drawn creepy blood symbols on the mystery board. Most shockingly, she didn’t kill Laura Hollis. The girl who got her killed.
S2 Mattie was ready to make Laura a red mist just for killing the Dean, never mind killing Mattie herself.
This one just creeps her from the corner.
Mattie’s’s also had a costume change. Mattie was buried in her black and white dress but now only appears in flowy black robes and a headscarf. This means that change was intentional. Mattie found those clothes and chose them even though they’re very different from what we saw her wearing in s2. To me, they practically scream funeral.
She doesn’t show herself to her grieving little sister who she at least appears to love quite a lot in s2.
Together, this all starts to create an idea that something has changed with Mattie.
Stepping outside of canon, we actually have more evidence of this. At one of the panels/interviews/something (I can’t remember where exactly), we’re told that Mattie’s not quite as we remember. Steph (the producer) says this exact same thing in a recent tumblr ask. Mattie very clearly teleports in s3 and Steph reminds us that, in this universe, vampires don’t teleport. “Mattie dramatically poofing is due to something else”
Well then. What’s that something else?
I propose that she’s got a god in her head. More specifically Ereshkigal, goddess of the dead. Let’s go over the rationale:
- She’s been teleporting when vampires cannot teleport. This tells us that she’s had some kind of upgrade. Unless the series is about to introduce some new monster at the last second, our only options are really vampires and gods. If it’s not because of a vampire, there must be gods involved.
- Mattie appears to have knowledge of the talismans as she drew bloody symbols on the mystery board to tell Carmilla that talisman 2 was the sword. While it’s possible that Mattie knows about the talismans from her position on the board, her reaction in s2e38 to the first hell prophecy isn’t that of someone in the know. It’s more panicky. If she didn’t know this information back then, how does she know now? Ereshkigal, on the other hand, made the original talismans and would know what they were and how to find them.
- We know that gods can possess people/vampires. The Dean is possessing Perry. The Dean is a god. Why can’t the other gods do the same if they want?
- Mattie was the Silas board member representing Ereshkigal. She had the locket talisman that belonged to Ereshkigal. If there is any god in Mattie’s head, it’s got to be our Goddess of the Underworld. She’s not linked to any others.
- That dress. Come on.
- Finally, we have Mattie’s appearance at the end of the last episode of Act 1. Just hours after Laura and the gang have tried to summon Ereshkigal, Mattie shows herself to them for the first time. That cannot be coincidence. They summon Ereshkigal. Sketchy Mattie shows up. The only reason she didn’t appear sooner? They tried to summon her in the day. We’ve only seen Mattie post-death, when it’s dark. That fits with the underworld vibe she’s got going on.
Also, she’s way too smiley and it’s freaking me out.
Based on all of the above, I’d say that there’s a pretty good chance that Mattie has some Ereshkigal lurking around in her head. We can’t say to what extent. It could be anything from a full possession (I hope not) to a body-sharing arrangement to just an extreme download of information. However, Mattie’s definitely gotten a power-up and it’s most likely from a god.
If Inanna is in Perry and Ereshkigal is in Mattie then this is shaping up to be an interesting final half of a season.
But why stop there? After all, this entire season has been about sets of 4 and why should Ereshkigal be the only god to make an appearance? It’s a common supernatural trope that gods can’t do much to interfere with humans when they’re in their god form. They might be looking to come down for a visit.
Make some godly avatars. Gods can’t just be running around in god form.
Of course, I’d like some canon to back up my interesting theories so let’s go right back to our lovely little prophecy. I’d like to remind you of the 8 rule. Our issue with the gates was that there was a shackle for every point of the 8 pointed star and we only had 7 gates, so we found the missing gate. Let’s look at that prophecy again. Sick of it yet?
Prophecy 1 – “And the great evening star fell, burning, to carve its path through the gates of Irgal. Eight pointed and for every point a watchman. For the dead, the ocean, the bones, and the great grass Plains. For every point a shackle closed, for the dead, the ocean, the bones, and the great grass plains.” S3e6
There’s a shackle for every point of the 8 pointed star but there’s also a watchman for every point too. 8 pointed star. 8 shackles. 8 watchmen.
We only have 4 talismans. Typically talismans never do much on their own. They need to be activated with a spell or incantation or prophecy to work. After all let me remind you of prophecy two – “four to make a circle. Four to make a cage.” It could be repetition but I don’t think so.
In the original story that Laf reads they needed four talismans to make a cage and four gods to make a circle. 4+4 = 8. We’re back to the lovely number 8.
No offence. But you can’t make a circle with 4 things. That’s called a square.
So it sounds like that to bind the Dean we need the 4 talismans to hold her and 4 gods to complete the circle.
Of course, we need 8 watchmen and it’s hard to make a case that inanimate books are doing much watching. We need 8 things with eyes.
How about 4 gods and 4 avatars? 8 sets of eyes.
Gods in human bodies OR gods working with human bodies in a more amicable manner in avatars is much more feasible. You need gods to catch a god. If it took 4 gods to bind her last time, I find it hard to believe that some humans/vampires could just do it.
A harder look at the prophecies actually supports this.
- Prophecy one repeats “the dead, the ocean, the bones, the great grass plains” twice for a total of 8. Perhaps once for the avatars and once for the gods. I know it’s repeated more times than that but I’m willing to bet at this point that it’s a multiple of 4.
- Meanwhile, when describing the talismans specifically, we only get “the word, the sword, the chalice, the liar’s heart presaged” once because there’s only 1 set of talismans.
Since the Dean started opening the gates, the gods are like “uh. how about no?” and are coming back to stop her. Mattie’s the first avatar.
I’d bet that the 4 people who were supposed to be the avatar of the gods were the board members. The talismans belong to them and they’d hypothetically know how to use them. So we have 4 talismans and 4 board members who represent the gods and are supposed to take their godliness should the dean need rebinding.
One small problem for our current goofballs.
The board is all dead. Very very dead.
Which gives us more fun theory times, who will take the place of the board members when it comes time to use the talismans and bind the Dean? If they want to bind up the dean, then they’re going to need a replacement board to act as avatars.
I get to bring back our ‘Sets of Four Theory’ table!!!
I love tables. So, we’ve established that if anyone has Ereshkigal in their head, it’s our recently revived Matska Belmonde. That means we have to find board replacement Avatars for Enki, Hastur, and whatever god is crazy enough to want to live inside Vordenberg for a while.
Curse empty column 4.
Let’s start with Enki, the god knowledge. His original avatar would have been Ukuku of Eridu aka the creepy owl lady, the prophetess from his home city. She’s very dead. So who would the god of knowledge want to slide his brain into next?
I’ve got another crazy theory. We know that the Inanna the Dean has been galavanting around campus while the board does who knows what. With Mattie in Morocco, we know that she certainly hasn’t been keeping a n eye on the Dean’s activities. Perhaps, someone might want to keep another eye on her. Perhaps, the Dean knows this and would therefore hate this entity for sticking around. Ereshkigal is down in the underworld/pit. Hastur has his sheep. Mysterious 4th god is being mysterious.
So Enki takes the job. The trickster god. The god of knowledge.
The god whose city Eridu is renowned for having a ‘star gate’ beneath it. With Inanna being represented by a star and her so interested in gates, that sounds like a neat connection.
If you’re the god of knowledge, you don’t want to be slammed in a tiny mortal body unless you need to. So what do you do?
You merge yourself with a library.
Why yes I am proposing that the library is sentient because the god Enki inhabited it. Rationale?
- Enki is an all powerful god, he’s one of the few with the power to match the Dean and keep Hollstein+Laf hidden away from her as the library is doing
- He’s one of the ones who bound her in the first place, so he’s invested in keeping them alive.
- The library gives them cupcake rewards for getting the sword as if it wants the hell on earth plan stopped. It’s a library. Why should it care?
- With Enki’s association to gates and oceans and oracles, the library’s ability to bend space and time makes sense if it’s powered by this god.
- He likes Carmilla. Remember in s2 she said, “the library found me”. Hold that thought.
- The symbol of his board member, owl lady, is what’s listed in the mysterious runes all over the library.
- The pit seems like it’s sort of below the library, this would fit with a star-gate beneath Enki’s city
- If I was a god of knowledge, a library seems like a pretty good gig for biding my time
- He’s a trickster god. The moving shelves, books dropped on heads, etc all fit.
- Libraries do not spontaneously achieve sentience. No. Even in Silas.
So I’m saying that the library is Enki. Either he went there himself or the Dean trapped him there (google Inanna and Enki mythology. She steals his “mes”). Either way, Library is now Enki.
Of course, this doesn’t solve our avatar problem. The library as an entity isn’t exactly capable of forming a circle. To bind the Dean, Enki is still going to need to slip in someone’s head.
We could say Lafontaine. After all, no-one understand the library like Laf, they seem to have a bond, and Laf’s crazy scientist attitude would likely appeal to Enki. It’s definitely an option that I can see happening but I think that there’s a better choice.
He spent centuries trapped in the library catalogue. If I’m looking at my dates right, he was sucked in almost right when the University opened. The school opened in 1874 (s3e2) and JP was in ‘the class of 1874’ (s1e27). Which seems a little like someone got their dates messed up but whatever. Basically JP was sucked in early on.
So he’s been with the library for a while. Perhaps even sucked in intentionally or caught up with Enki when he was sliding himself into the stacks.
In season 2 we can see that JP still has a connection to the library and easily recalls information and data. Now that we’ve hit season 3, JP has been captured and wired right back into the library with ‘wires on his body’. Should the gang get him back and unhook him, I’d bet that his download has an upgrade.
So let’s say JP. Could be Laf but I’ve got other jobs for Laf as our plot progresses. We’ll get to that too.
Two avatars down. Two to go.
Thought it was tough before? This is where things get messy. With column 4 still an empty disgrace to my theorizing skills, we’ve got to go straight to column 2 and the great god Hastur. He of the sword and the blood and the great grass plain.
Which head would Hastur get into?
His original board member was the monk of Hastur but unless one of those pop up again, we’ve got to come up with something. Even better, we don’t actually know that much about Hastur. He’s really only a small part of the Cthulhu mythology. We know that’s he’s one of the mythos gods and that he’s got a cult dedicated to him. Something called ‘the Yellow Sign’ is handed down through this cult. Because Hastur and the mythos around him is almost fanfic in it’s own right with lots of authors writing about them, we don’t really have a firm grasp of what this yellow sign is.
Some stories suggest that anyone who possesses the sign is susceptible to mind control or possession by the ‘King in Yellow’. Other works say that the sign is something used by the cult of Hastur to identify each other.
I’ll admit that my Cthulhu knowledge is limited. However, the mind control sounds promising as something this web series in particular might be interested in. It could also speak to the possession of an avatar by a god – not quite mind control but close. Hypothetically, someone would have to have ‘the yellow sign’ whatever that is and then Hastur would be able to slip into their head.
What might the yellow sign be? The original texts don’t really give an indication. In-canon we really only know of one object related to Hastur.
The sword of Hastur. Used to stab the anglerfish. The second talisman.
Let’s note that this is s1 image and they’ve clearly updated for s3. However, this image looks waaaay more like the yellow sign described in-text as it’s supposed to be kind of tentacly. Specifically, ‘coiled body with two tentacles branching upward’.
Let’s put a pin in this thought.
Because there’s a much bigger issues to be talking about when it comes to Hastur. What in the world is a Cthulhu god doing in the middle of this Sumerian legend?
The Sumerian Descent Theory
Enki, Ereshkigal and Inanna all come from Sumerian mythology. For those who don’t know, Sumer is considered the first civilization alongside Egypt. It existed roughly in the vicinity of the Euphrates river aka Mesopotamia. The most famous city is Ur. For those who know the Bible, Abraham comes from Ur.
That has nothing to do with anything, I’m just trying to give you some context.
The biggest surviving story, and the one mentioned in the show, is called Inanna’s descent. It’s based on fragments of a poem and reconstructed fairly well for something so old. You can google it yourself if you’re interested but here’s the cliff notes version of the poem:
- Inanna wants to go to the underworld for unclear reasons (possibly to mourn the death of her sister Ereshkigal’s husband who was killed by Gilgamesh)
- the catch is that once you’re in the underworld, you’re not allowed to leave.
- she goes anyway. There are 7 gates to hell and at each she’s required to strip off one piece of clothing. Each represents the powerful “mes” that she holds (stole them from Enki)
- So she gets to the throne room and is very naked. She’ forces Ereshkigal off of her throne and sits on it. Inanna get judged by 7 judges.
- She gets turned into a corpse and hung on a hook in the underworld.
- A bunch of gods refuse to help her but Enki creates 2 beings who go to the underworld and sprinkle her with the water of life. She un-corpsifies.
- Ereshkigal’s demons follow Inanna out of the underworld because if she leaves, someone has to take her place. This is ultimately her husband (? unclear) Dumuzi because he doesn’t mourn her.
- In some versions Dumuzi tries to run and hide with his sister but regardless, in every story he’s dragged down to the underworld to take Inanna’s place. in the versions with his sister, she begs to help him and they swap places every six months. Thus the seasons.
Now the show takes this poem a little differently. In s3e14, Laf explains that the book of lives says that this poem didn’t actually happen. In the book of lives, the gods stop Inanna with blood magic before she can descend. This means that the poem version we have is something of a prophecy. Perhaps not as pretty a prophecy but what the Dean is doing has to have reflections of the original poem.
Which just makes it so bizarre that Hastur is involved. The Sumerian gods are from somewhere around 3000+ BC while Hastur was published in the 1890’s. Their stories have very little overlap and there’s basically nothing else Lovecraftian within this tangled mess of a University. In fact, a cult of Hastur doesn’t even make sense.
Hastur is just over 100 years old. The Silas University was established 20 years before he even comes into existence and the talismans were waaaaay before that. The ‘Cult of Hastur’ couldn’t have been around that far back because Hastur didn’t exist.
Or did he?
Those of you who are also mythology nerds might see where I’m going here but let me point out that, of the prominent characters in the original myth, we’re missing one.
The shepherd god.
The god who doesn’t mourn Inanna and is forced to take her place in the underworld after she comes back. Instead, we’re stuck with modern Hastur and his lack of fit. That said, we know that gods have dozens of names. Whether it’s Zeus and Jupiter or the show itself using Inanna, Ishtar, and Astarte all for the same goddess, different areas have different names for the same god.
If only we had another shepherd god to match… oh wait. We do.
Hastur is Dumuzi.
Over the years, his name just got changed.
The biggest indication is that they’re both shepherd gods. The show explicitly calls Hastur ‘the shepherd god’ while Dumuzi is always out in the fields (great grass plain?) with his sheep. He was also a shepherd-king, ruling a Sumerian city and keeping it from harm. Thus the sword. He was more about posturing than actually killing anyone due to his peaceful shepherd side. That probably explains why the Blade of Hastur only hurts you if you kill something with it.
Two shepherd gods? One strongly related to our core myth? I’m going to call it. They’re the same.
Now, although it will be useful to know later when we really start predicting, we originally took this wonderful derivation into mythology to try and figure out who the avatar for Hastur/Dumuzi would be.
We’re about to get messy.
There’s Something Up With Carmilla Karnstein
Can we all agree that the Dean’s continued unwillingness to kill Carmilla is a little odd? This is a woman who appears to have no qualms killing anything and anyone who gets in her way from an entire board to her eldest daughter to a giant anglerfish.
Yet she won’t kill the moody 300 year old teenager who hates her and actively works against her? In fact, the Dean has shown multiple times that she’s not willing to kill Carmilla and gives her special treatment:
- She refers to Carmilla as her ‘glittering girl’ and her ‘red right hand’ when Mattie is much older, has been around longer, seems far more loyal, and far more competent. Carmilla doesn’t seem to have done anything useful besides capture a few girls every twenty years and maybe kill some people. There’s nothing here to suggest the Dean should like her more
- Carmilla actively rebelled against her mother with the whole Elle Thing. Rather than kill her, the Dean just shoved her in the coffin. She obviously knew that Carmilla could survive this and while it’s a deeply disturbing type of torture, I can’t help but feel like she’s ‘putting Carmilla on ice’. More of a, ‘you’ve been bad but I can’t kill you because I’m going to need you later so let’s just put you away where I know where to find you but you can’t cause trouble’.
- Rather than punish Carmilla for her assistance to Laura in s1, the Dean cuts a deal with her. She does this again in s3. Whether she’s lying or not, she’s clearly trying to pacify and delay for time.
- Mattie mentions in s2e10 that the Dean would only get the best for her “little Kaiserin”. This includes importing fancy chocolate because it’s Carmilla’s favourite.
- In s3e16 Danny complains to the Dean that she’s not allowed to kill Carmilla. Mattie’s dead as far as the Dean knows, in fact, Mattie dying was part of the Dean’s plan for the first gate. Carmilla though… can’t kill her.
So we have several instances of the Dean giving Carmilla some kind of special treatment that seems out of character. In fact, the mere existence of Carmilla the vampire at all means that the Dean saw something special in Carmilla. Unless there are a ton of secret siblings around, the Dean was pretty selective in her vampire raising.
And she wasn’t the only one. Let’s look at Carmilla’s backstory again. We get it twice with slightly different versions, once as Carmilla tells it to Laura in s1 and once as Mattie tells it to Laura in s2. If we put them together we get something like:
- ~3000AC, Inanna tries to descend into hell. She gets stopped by 4 other gods who bind her in mortal form.
- Mattie is raised somewhere in here.
- Carmilla is engaged to Vordenberg Sr (s2 Vordie’s ancestor)
- Carmilla is murdered at a ball in 1698. We are never told by who. All we get is literally, “I was murdered at a mall in…”
- She gets buried.
- Vordenberg Sr digs her up and brings her to his mansion.
- The Dean shows up and raises Carmilla as a vampire
- She kills most of Vordenberg’s family
- He and his children become vampire hunters for generations, with a specific interest in killing Carmilla
- Carmilla runs around for a while, snares some girls every 20 years, things are going okay.
- In 1872 Carmilla meets Elle who is a target of the Dean, falls in love, gets betrayed, and ends up buried in a coffin of blood.
- In 1874 the Dean opens Silas. The board of governors is established (made up of godly representatives who had already been charged with guarding the Dean). JP gets sucked into the library.
- Carmilla is freed from the coffin in the 1940s as a result of WWII.
Okay, so that’s interesting. Vordenberg wanted Carmilla well before the Dean was ever involved. Assuming she’s not the one who killed human Carmilla, (and there’s no evidence to say she did), then the Dean didn’t become interested in Carmilla until she was dead, buried, and then dug up again by Vordie. It’s only at this point that the Dean decides to raise Carmilla and set her loose on the family.
The Dean wants her only because Vordie does.
So why does Vordie want her? We could go with the ‘she’s beautiful and he’s a creepy guy’ storyline but we also know that all Vordenbergs represent some far off ancestor who helped to bind Inanna originally. He was a rep in charge of keeping an eye on Inanna long before Carmilla caught his eye.
Why all of this interest in Carmilla Karnstein? First from a godly rep and then from Inanna herself? We’ve got to start off here by addressing a somewhat prominent fandom theory inside this larger theory:
Carmilla is the Fourth Talisman
Our chart is still very empty in the fourth’s column and some people fill it with Carmilla’s name in the 4th talisman place. Here’s the rationale for why she might be:
- The liar’s heart presaged is the clue and Vordenberg is the baron of lies. From what we’re told, the old baron was in love with Carmilla. Therefore he’s the liar and she’s his heart. That’s why he was interested in her.
- Why did he dig her up if he wasn’t trying to steal her literal heart?
- The Dean asks Carmilla what she’d do if she found her doom in the book of lives
- Carmilla dies in the novella
While the first bullet especially carries some weight to it, I’m not sold on this theory. You could disagree. Carmilla as the fourth talisman is interesting as a theory. However, here are the reasons that I don’t think Carmilla is the fourth talisman:
- If Carmilla was a talisman, why in the world would the dean want to raise her? She should be like, yes. Good. She’s dead. Please stay that way and out of my hair. After all, the dean walled up the sword. She’s not bringing it home and feeding it expensive German chocolate. Why would you bring home the thing meant to trap you? I’d kill it with fire if I could.
- I don’t know where the ‘presaged’ part fits of the liar’s heart presaged
- I’m not convinced that Vordie Sr loved Carmilla enough to consider her his heart. If anything, he sounds like the creepiest creep and does bad things to her and no. just no. That’s not someone’s heart. Not even in prophecy.
- Carmilla dying in the novella was reflected in s1, not necessarily the s3 finale
- Vordie Jr hates her. There’s definitely no heart analogy to modern vordenberg and if something is going to ‘presaged’ it makes sense that it would emerge when the Dean actually needed binding (note: we’re assuming for this that 4th talisman is a person. We’ll talk about object options later).
- I see no fit to prophecy 1 aka “the bones” which is related to the 4th talisman
So no. For the purposes of this, I don’t think Carmilla is the fourth talisman.
Also, who killed her and why?
There’s Something Up with Carmilla PART 2
So back to “what’s up with Carmilla Karnstein?” She’s been getting special treatment from the Dean and was targeted by both a godly rep and an evil goddess. Both of whom literally raised her from the dead/unburied her body. If she’s not a talisman then why is she so important to Inanna and Vordie?
She grew up around the gates in what would become Silas and is constantly being dragged back there every 20 years when her siblings like Mattie are free to roam. More than anyone else, she’s kept close to the pit.
It’s the sheer number of times that Carmilla has died and come back that hit me in the head. She dies in 1698 and is dug out of the ground. She gets put in a creepy mausoleum/basement and then gets raised as a vampire. She’s buried in a coffin of blood before getting released. She’s basically killed in the anglerfish pit and then comes back. She almost dies at the end of season 2. Not to mention all the metaphor stuff like her having to come back to Silas every 20 years.
She’s got a life/death cycle that practically mythology on its own.
Oh wait. We’ve got a life/death god and he’s still missing his avatar.
Dumuzi is the god who represents the seasons for Ancient Sumer. He is dragged down to the underworld and then released every 6 months. This is their explanation for the seasons, his life/death cycle.That’s right, I’m about to propose that Carmilla represents Dumuzi/Hastor. The god who gets chained up in the underworld in Inanna’s place.
There’s a lot to unpack here but let’s start by doing what we did with all of the other gods when we were finding their avatars. See if they fit our table.
Let’s make another table to track this because we’re going to go more in depth here. After all, it’s Carmilla. This is one you all care about.
|“the blood”||More so than the expected “Vampires are bloody”, Carmilla was buried in a coffin of blood|
|“the sword”||Carmilla is the only promient character who has handled the sword in any significant capacity. She was also the only one capable of retrieving it. Assuming the monk was just a monk, even he wouldn’t have been able to get it.|
|“shepherd god” there’s a certain dicotomy between the shepherds symbol being a sword. The sword kills those who use it so it’s not meant to be used unless it has to.||carmilla is constantly trying to be seen as a monster but does a lot of helpful things for laura and to work against her mother. Danny calls her “fangless” several times because even though carmilla has fangs, she won’t use them. Religiously, shepherds are related to sacrifice and carmilla sacrifices herself time and time again for the people she loves. Also, Carmilla’s been spending time shepherding girls away from her mother.|
|“the great grass plain”||this fits back with the sheep thing|
|King of a City||Called “the dean’s little kaiserin” (female and german form for king)|
|Really didn’t care that Inanna died||Doesn’t seem to mourn the Dean at all|
|represents the seasons in mythology as a god who dies and is reborn||Dies or symbolically dies a number of times before coming back|
You could argue that the shepherd thing is a little weak but the rest of it fits pretty much spot on. I actually like the shepherd part that we have – Carmilla shepherding girls away from the wolf that is her mother? These innocent ‘virginal’ girls are her sheep perhaps? There’s an interesting metaphor there if nothing else.
If Carmilla is Dumuzi/Hastur, it answers a number of questions that we’ve had as we went along.
It helps answers why Vordie wants to kill her so badly outside of just his family’s lives. If Carmilla is Dumuzi’s rep, her being under the dean’s control is something of a nightmare. Perhaps he just dug her up for all the creepy reasons Mattie describes and the Dean takes advantage of this first life/death cycle. Perhaps he wanted her to be the liar’s heart, realized his mistake, and went ‘shnick shnack.’ After all, Vordie doesn’t need her to be an avatar when he digs her up. They have 4 perfectly good representatives alive and kicking.
This season is full of prophecies, perhaps he thought she fit one.
Regardless, It has to be something more. Carmilla, as she is now, perfectly fits what Dumuzi/Hastur would be looking for. We also cannot ignore her relationship with the blade of hastur. One way or another, that’s coming back. I’d prefer it to be because she’s his avatar.
Let’s also point out two more things. Carmilla has constantly lived around and near Silas from her time as a human to her time as a vampire, combining this with her fluctuating life/death cycle makes she’s at least related to the pit in some way.
Also she learns Sumerian. Of all languages. Why that one?
This theory also gives us clues as to why the Dean raised Carmilla.
First reason: The Dean gets the bonus round of a murderous Carmilla killing one of her enemies. From what I can tell, the dean can’t attack/kill the board members herself. In season 2, we see the Dean finagling her chess board to get someone else to kill all the board members. If she could kill them directly, I’d imagine that they’d have been dead a long time ago. Perhaps she hoped Carmilla would kill Vordie for her. (That said, how did the Dean finagle Mattie onto the board?)
Second reason: We also know that the Dean can’t start her descent to hell until the board is out of her way. One way to do this is to replace them, ideally people loyal to her. This way if the gods do decide to come down, she’s got an ace in the hole. She gives Carmilla nice things to try and get Carmilla on her side to mould her into taking that rule. It kind of works too. Up until Elle, Carmilla sounds like she was 100% loyal.
A Dumuzi rep who is loyal to the Dean is only helpful to her.
The Dean put Mattie on the board for the same reason – the Dean can control another avatar. Hopefully, Mattie wouldn’t interfere plus she’d be dying at the first gate anyway. Given time and some maturity, perhaps the monk of Hastur would have been removed and Carmilla put in his place. Until then, keep Carmilla close to Silas by bringing her back every 20 years.
Third Reason: Most interestingly, The Dean could have raised Carmilla because Inanna actually really desperately needs Dumuzi. She’d do everything in her power to get Dumuzi under her grasp.
Her hell plan doesn’t work without him. Never has. Reread the myth.
It explains why she can’t kill Carmilla. Dumuzi has to make it to the gate. Always.
Danny calls Carmilla the Dean’s “red right hand, standing beside her as she opens the gates of hell.” This tell us that it was and is still the Dean’s plan to have Carmilla standing by her side when she opens the gates. It’s why Danny can’t kill Carmilla. It’s why the Dean needs her.
Hell has rules.
Once you go to hell, you can’t come back and rule anything unless someone takes your place.
Guess who takes Inanna’s place in the myth? Dumuzi. Inanna needs Dumuzi or her plan is pointless. If Carmilla doesn’t make it to the gate then the Dean is stuck on the wrong side and can’t come back to rule her new hell on earth. She needs her glittering girl to take her place on the wrong side of hell, just like in the original story.
And so our theorizing just lead to predicting that the Dean will open up all the gates and then somehow get Carmilla, as the Dumuzi/Hastur avatar, to take her place.
Two guesses as to who she’d have to threaten to get Carmilla to do that?
So I’m going to put Carmilla down as our new Dumuzi avatar now that the monk of hastur is very dead. Even though we don’t yet know what was so originally special about her, we do know that Carmilla as she exists now could perfectly slip into the role. We know that the Dean needs a Dumuzi for her prophecy and seems oddly focused on keeping Carmilla alive.
But Aria, you ask, how would Dumuzi even get in Carmilla’s head? She’s not re-raised like Mattie or wired into the library like JP. She’s just Carmilla.
The first option is that this happened sometime way back when Carmilla was human. We have no proof of this so it’s less interesting to me. However, it would explain perfectly why Vordie/Inanna wanted her in the first place. Maybe Dumuzi just slipped a little into the head of the girl who lived by the pit. Just snuck a little of his essence in and Vordie noticed.
What if we expand that? There’s just a touch of him in there, a small connection made, when does the rest jump into Carmilla’s head?
In our Hastur is Dumuzi section of this theory, we talked about how Hastur has a ‘yellow sign’ that is linked to mind control/possession. We then talked about how the only object this could be is the Sword of Hastur because it’s the only object we know about related to Hastur. So let’s say that Carmilla has to be in close proximity to the sword to get Dumuzi in her head. I don’t think it would have happened in s1 as the anglerfish was still guarding the gates and the gods hadn’t started popping up yet.
But here’s a question. Why did Carmilla pass out when she retrieving the sword in s3e14? She says it ‘must have been’ falling rocks which indicates that she’s not at all certain. This is very coincidental timing considering her proximity to both the pit and the sword.
Perhaps she passed out because a god decided to slip his way into her head?
Now I’m by no means proposing that Carmilla is fully possessed because no. However, I don’t think it’s implausible that Dumuzi/Hastur is just chilling in the back of her head in case he’s needed. After all, Perry was still Perry for a number of scenes in s2 even with the Dean hitching a ride in her brain.
So Carmilla’s got a god hitching a ride in her skull. Wonderful. All 3 of our first columns are filled in. So, I suppose, it’s time to tackle evil column 4. Oh wait. Nope.
Let’s talk about Inanna.
Thus far, we’ve left her out of our little table because she’s not about to try and stop herself. That said, she’d got a system for herself that strongly resembles what we’ve seen with the other gods. If we just expand our table slightly then we get a whole new row.
Look at that. She’s obviously not in either of the prophecies and she has no talisman so those rows are blank. However, she’s a goddess running around inside a human body so she does have an avatar. We’ve even got a leftover member of the board to assign her. After all, one does have to wonder why Silas has a student rep at all? If you’re taking people’s livers without a problem, you’re hardly worried about proper student representation.
The student rep breaks our lovely patterns of four and there’s no mention of a fifth member during the 3000 year old binding ceremony. So why add a student rep when the school started?
Inanna wanted her own person on the board, perhaps? Maybe. Let’s put a pin this again.
It would also help explain why she bothered to raise Danny considering it would give the two some kind of connection. Also, I’m sure she loves tormenting Hollstein with her. Bonus. The Dean is nothing if not efficient.
Okay. Now that we’ve got a bit more information, as promised, we get to evil column four
The Fourth Column
The fourth column and its talisman are quite possibly the hottest topic question. What is “the liar’s heart presaged”? Theories abound. I’m going to take a minute to talk about them.
We can break this down into two camps: object or person.
There’s really no concrete answer. Seeing as the first three items were objects, it wouldn’t be odd for the fourth to be an object as well. That said, the fourth column is so different from the other three that suddenly throwing a person in the mix would make sense. Plus, the angst.
Let’s start with objects. Are there any objects that are likely to be the fourth’s talisman? The show wouldn’t introduce something new at the last second (the book was new and it came asap) so it has to be something we know about. I can think of a few options:
- The Silas Charter – Laura broke it to save Carmilla but Mattie’s locket is broken and it’s still a talisman. It’s definitely got emotional connections to our leads. One could argue that it’s the heart of the school. However, as a legal document it’s probably not doing a lot of lying, I have no idea how it would be presaged, and the talisman creation well pre-dates the school by thousands of years. The prophecy could be predicting the charter itself but I don’t think the evidence adds up. Maybe it’s written on talisman paper?
- The Dean’s necklace – The Dean used it to possess Laura in season 1. It’s red which is heart coloured. It also can transfer the Dean’s essence which might be a metaphorical heart. The Dean is definitely a liar. I can’t speak to presaged but I don’t think this one is a bad fit.
- The TARDIS mug – I think this is hilarious but considering I have one myself and it’s not even microwave safe, I’m going to say no.
If the fourth talisman is going to turn out to be an object, my bet is currently on the dean’s necklace. We also see Laura wearing a necklace in the trailer that has the wrong chain to be Mattie’s. Granted, when we go back to s1 the chains don’t match but they updated the sword so maybe the dean’s necklace got a refresh too?
So act 2 and 3 would be get the dean’s necklace, avatar up, trap the dean, and go on your way.
Too simple. It’s possible (probable?) but as a theory, it’s just not particularly interesting to me. I promised you we’d go big. I’m gonna go big.
So let’s look a little deeper. Let’s say that the fourth talisman is a person. Just for fun. Because we can and it makes for more interesting crazy theorizing. Now there’s more to column four than just the talisman, so maybe if we look at the other rows it’ll help us.
Let’s see if we can identify god number four.
What I find absolutely fascinating is that the show has failed to mention god number four. Laura lists the first 3 gods right out of the book but there’s no mention of the god who made the fourth talisman. Just nothing. As a writer, I feel confident telling you it’s bad form to bring something new out in your climax and I trust Jordan so it’s going to have to be something we’ve seen/heard of before.
I see two possible options.
Before we go there, I have to mentioned Lophii. The great anglerfish god is technically the first god we hear of in the show but, even if she wasn’t dead, she’s got nothing to do with Sumer and I’m just going to give her a pass. Sorry if you disagree. I’m all here for the fourth talisman being Lophii’s light or something.
We’re here for the go big or go home theories.
My first instinct when puzzling this over for far too long is that perhaps there is no fourth god at all. Perhaps the fourth god is the whole of humanity itself, working to preserve its world through the essence of a single human representative. Compared to vampires, ancient oracles, and supernatural monks, having human Vordie on the board seems crazy unless his strongest suit is that he is human. Humans and gods working together to prevent their doom. It would also explain why is position is ‘honourary’. As a human, his board role is inherited and the heirs wouldn’t remember binding Inanna. They don’t want to give him too much power.
This theory, however, offers no help for our fourth talisman and leaves our column blank as ever. Plus we can go bigger.
Then it hit me. There’s a lot I like about human Vordie and the importance of humans working with the gods. It fits a lot of the shows themes. However, all that power still needs to come from somewhere. We don’t have a lot of gods mentioned. But look at the chart again…
What if we just shimmy it a little? Slide to the left. Cha cha real smooth.
Well would you look at that. It’s so pretty. We just push Inanna’s column over and they fit into our gaps perfectly. Except Danny. We’re going to need to put that pin back into our student rep. Trust me. Please?
So the first question this immediately raises is WHY IN THE WORLD WOULD INANNA BE SUPPORTING HER OWN CAPTURE? Well you’re right. She wouldn’t. However, we don’t really have other gods to work with. Besides Lophii the show doesn’t really mention any other gods and the core myth doesn’t really add any other either.
Side note: technically there are versions with Dumuzi’s sister and the show could use that but we have no indication thus far of any involvement from her. if some random god pops up, it’s likely her.
Back to Inanna, while she wouldn’t be interested in capturing herself someone could hypothetically invoke her power. Look at her board member and avatar: Perry and Vordie. They are the most human humans to ever human and, as we already talked about, very strongly represent all the aspects of humanity. They are normal people living their lives, some trying to make themselves greater and some trying to maximize the normal. They are people. Flawed but in canon shown to be very human.
They represent Inanna in our circle. It’s actually quite important that there is an aspect of humanity in our circle considering that Inanna was ‘bound in human form with blood magic’. Both blood and human form would have to come from humans as gods have neither. Inanna is the only powerful god mentioned in the show that we have left and I hardly expect them to pull out a god at the fifth hour.
Humanity as a whole while channeling Inanna make for an interesting addition to the circle. Humans taking control of their own destiny. How would silly little humans get ahold of this power?
Inanna is already in their head.
This theory would put Perry in the position to be the final member of our circle of avatars. How kick butt would it be if Perry could wrestle back control from Inanna and help cast her out?
Very kick butt.
Also the chart column slid over so nicely that I want to believe <3
Of course, this still leaves us with a problem. THE FOURTH TALISMAN IS STILL EMPTY.
The Liar’s Heart Presaged
At this point, I’m so sick of thinking about the phrase ‘the liar’s heart presaged’ that it’s ridiculous. However, this is what we want so let’s go.
With our fourth column being Inanna, the dean’s necklace as a talisman is looking better every day. However, we promised ourselves that we’d stick to the biggest theory possible so we’re back to ‘the fourth talisman is a human’.
So naturally I want to start by talking about something that isn’t the fourth talisman at all. I want to talk about the original binding. We’ve talked a lot about this abstractly but let’s take a look at what actually happened the first time around based on our theory.
Inanna came down to earth, likely in some unwilling human because gods have rules about walking around as pure gods, and tried to open the gates of hell. “The other gods” were not okay with her essentially stealing all the power from the underworld so they created 4 talismans to use to bind her. Then, these gods in conjunction with their avatars, formed a circle and bound the dean permanently into human form using blood magic.
All in all, Binding the Dean = blood magic + [4 gods + 4 avatars] + 4 talismans
Together the gods and the avatars make our “8 watchmen” and created the “8 seals”. There were seven seals on gates (one each) and a final seal on the dean herself that bound her in human form.
Lots of 4s and some 8s. All lovely multiples of each other.
Which, again, is why the student representative makes no sense. Look at this chart. Look at Danny just hanging over there all by herself. Ew. No. Bad. Breaks the pattern.
It makes me angry.
I’d really like to ignore it. Except we can’t. We 100% know that the student rep is extremely, extremely important. The show tells us that in the sneakiest way ever that whacked me on the head in the middle of the night when I was writing recaps.
JP says in s2e14, “The decisions of the board of governors are not so much binding at the moment because the charter requires a student body representative on the board.”
Did you just say?
I think it said.
And what a coincidence that the boards original and primary function was, in fact, related to binding. The implication would be that the board literally cannot bind Inanna into human form without the student rep. This implies that a fifth member was involved at the initial binding ceremony.
Okay. So that changes everything.
Forget our crappy conjecture before, this is why the Dean bothered to turn Danny. Sure, it may be a little to torment Hollstein and a little for the gates, but the Dean turned Danny to take control of that fifth spot as best she could. Why this spot? It’s the most important one.
Look at the binding ceremony again. There’s a role we haven’t filled.
“Bind Inanna in human form using blood magic.”
Question. What human form is Inanna getting bound into?
It can’t be any of Avatars as they’re busy with their incanting and to fill one of them with Inanna is to break the circle. The fourth avatar (Inanna’s aka Perry) can’t keep the Dean in her head because she hasn’t been prepped for the permanent binding.
Remember, the Dean can jump around and use her power in this form. When Laura killed the Dean’s body in s1, it likely broke her binding. This allowed her to return to her full godly form. To interact with the gates, she needed to jump into a human like Perry. She’s no longer bound in human form. Something like the necklace would have only allowed her to jump for short periods of time. Now she’s free. The seal was broken.
To contain her, Inanna has to actually get bound into a human that is prepared via ritual to hold her.
Inanna has to get bound in the student rep.
That’s why they need the fifth board member. That’s why Danny is just hanging out on the side, defying our sets of four. The student rep is a human who is supposed to be the vessel to store Inanna should she require re-binding. “Love will have its sacrifices” and this would likely have to be a choice freely made in order to properly store her. Like the other board members being far-off avatars of gods, the rep is a far-off representation of the one who stores the Dean.
Only together can the 4 board member and the student rep be “officially binding.”
The Dean turned Danny because she wants to control this spot. With a Danny loyal to her then the student rep is loyal to her. Even if the Dean got bound into Danny, it wouldn’t really stop her. Plus, now she’s in a super strong vampire body instead of human Perry.
For those reasons, I’m going to suggest that maybe Danny won’t take the student rep role in our new board system. She certainly could. That would be a heck of a redemption arc for our newest vampire but thus far, the show hasn’t even hinted at Danny remorse. Could happen. No indicators to say it will yet though.
So who? We’ve got plenty of characters left. Laf, Laura, Mel, Theo, Papa Hollis, and Kirsch have all yet to make an appearance on our chart.
That said, there’s one fairly obvious candidate and I can practically hear you all screaming it all me.
Laura “I’m not some chosen one” Hollis
The Laura Hollis Theory
Perhaps the most popular theory for the fourth talisman is that it’s going to end up being Laura herself. From what I can tell on tumblr, this is primarily due to a few key points + maximum angst potential. I don’t disagree but we’re being good little conspiracy theorists and working out all the points first.
Step back from the fourth talisman for a moment because what I’m going to propose to you is that Laura Hollis will be the new student rep. In Board version 2.0, she will be the one to take Danny’s place. After all, the s2 posters called her the ‘woman of the people’ and the student rep is supposed to represent all of the students.
She will be the one that the Dean gets bound into.
This turns out to be the much more interesting role that the talisman itself. As to what the talisman is:
- the Dean’s necklace – this completes our circle of 4 talismans. It fits perfectly in the dean’s row as it is the deans and is literally what she uses to transfer her essence around. We still don’t have a firm handle on the presaged part unless it’s more general as in “I am telling you that there will be a liar’s heart”. Regardless, the necklace is the Dean’s, she’s a liar, and it’s like her heart. Once the 4 talismans are in place then Laura could get Deanified
- The student rep – The student rep could also be the fourth talisman. As the body is the final ingredient in binding the Dean, it could easily be the final talisman. As to how the other parts fit, it would depend on the particular student filling the role. It’s a prophecy, so they easily could have known who would eventually come to fill the role.
So it could be the necklace and it could be the rep. To simplify things, let’s just assume that the student body rep is the fourth talisman. As a body is a necessary component of binding the dean, it seems important to have as one of your talismans.
But does Laura specifically fit the job. Could she be the fourth talisman/student rep?
Let’s start with the doom question. Early in season 3, the Dean asks Carmilla what she would do if she found Laura’s doom in the book of lives’ pages. The dean likely has some knowledge of how she was bound and she clearly thinks that Laura and Carmilla are in for some trouble. In fact, she seems almost amused at what they’re doing. She’s taking them seriously but some part of her almost seems to think that Carmilla won’t be able to go through with it and capture the Dean.
What’s it? Put a pin in that.
So there’s some foreboding going on. Again, more anecdotal, column four represents the bones. Broadly speaking, I’d use this as a representation for humanity. Bones are often the symbol of humans with their fragility. However, while danny and theo are threatening Hollstin, Theo specifically says “let’s break some bones and get out of here.” I’m hoping that if writers had bones in their prophecy then they’re going to be careful when they use it. Moments after he says it, Laura nearly gets her arm snapped. Nothing concrete but interesting.
Let’s start digging a little more. Laura and the Dean actually have a pretty strong connection going for them. You could talk about their love for Carmilla or their (original) certainty that they know best or their constant meddling. What I’m talking about runs a little deeper.
The Dean has possessed Laura before. This implies things like that their minds can mesh and traditionally in sci-fi this would leave some kind of residual impression. Laura, of anyone, should find it the easiest for the Dean to slip in her head because it’s been done before. Like a well-fitting shoe.
The library tells us in s1 transmedia that Laura’s aura is weird. Perhaps it’s her connection to the Dean and talismans? After all, it did decide to room her with fish-crazy Betty. If the library is the god Enki, then he was intentionally setting her on the path to get all wrapped up in this. The oracle is his board member so he could have an idea of what’s going to happen and who should be where.
Visually, we even get Laura in a shirt covered in stars. As Inanna is ‘the eight pointed star”, the costume department could be having a little joke by showing us who she belongs to.
Of course, what everyone is interested in is “the liar’s heart presaged”.
Again. Always those four little words.
There a couple of different ways to interpret this. However, the question of why both the dean and vordie wanted Carmilla 300 years ago could find its solution through this prophecy. By moving Inanna’s column to the left, we linked Vordie and the Dean. They’re both the biggest liars on the show. Vordie tells every tall tale you can imagine to make himself seem better while the Dean has lied and schemed her way through centuries to get these gates open. If they’re the liar’s then their heart could metaphorically be Carmilla. She’s what they both want.
Even in current canon, the Dean wants Carmilla to love her and Vordie wants to kill her. They’re both obsessed with the girl.
The second part is presaged. Most people seem to have gone with the meaning “predict” but an alternate meaning is “a sign or warning that something bad will happen”. To me, put together, that sounds like-
Something bad will happen to the liar’s heart. Maybe some doom predicted in a book?
If Carmilla is the liar’s heart, what would be the worst thing that could happen to her?
The girl Carmilla loves. “The vampire in love”.
Laura as the fourth talisman would be all of Carmilla’s worst fears come to life. The liar’s heart would be broken by her sacrifice.
I love it.
That said, it could just be the more traditional theory that Carmilla is the liar because she’s been lying to girls for years and the presaged refers to the s0 prophecy that “Carmilla will meet her match.” If Carmilla is the liar and Laura is her heart because Carmilla loves her then the s0 prophecy is presaging that Carmilla will meet Laura. It works. I just find it a little less fun. Also, it’s more of a general “you will fall in love prophecy” that doesn’t really relate to the gates at all and it doesn’t tell us why dean/vordie want Carmilla. I do love that it brings in s0 though.
Either way, we can make Laura fit the role of the fourth talisman.
She’s also probably the new student rep and therefore the body that the Dean gets transferred into.
Well look at that.
Our baby is grown up and full of words.
I suppose all that’s left is to try and make a prediction or two.
Predictions for Carmilla s3
Well I’m feeling fairly confident to say that nothing good will happen but otherwise, all we really have is pure conjecture. Fun. Here’s some tiny ones.
- If our gate theory is correct, opening the fifth gate will unleash the hoard of souls that were sacrificed to the anglerfish. This includes Elle.
- Mattie as Ereshkigal will lead our heroes to finding the locket (or just give it to them)
- The fourth talisman will need to be identified
- Kirsch gets rescued from the pit (can’t speak to theo and mel)
- Something really bad happens in the library. This is likely the fight scene that everyone keeps talking about. We see the place in a state of disarray and the stairs seem to be blocked off with caution tape
Now let’s go bigger.
Time travel theory
I have an itch in the back of my head that says time travel will happen even though I have almost nothing to back it up. If the library can bend space then there’s no reason it can’t bend time. This also fits wonderfully with Laura’s love of Doctor Who (The library is basically a TARDIS for those who haven’t caught on).
My only rationale for this theory is the trailer scene where Laura’s been brushing away cobwebs in a dark broken library which means she’s clearly been gone for a while. No reason there couldn’t have been a time jump. We see her hug a despondent looking Laf in this broken down library. However, we later see Laura in the same shirt, with a startled looking Carmilla hugging her like she never expected to see Laura again. Laura jumped forward in time and Carmilla couldn’t come with her perhaps? Then Laura jumped back in time.
In addition, during Elise and Natasha’s pre-Act 1 drop they were cracking jokes that turned out to be predictions of what would happen aka a reference to the shower scene that was played differently then they implied. Then they referenced “a wrinkle in time” which is a book but is also a common reference for time travel. As far as unsubstantial theories go, this is my worst but I love it because it’s silly and it’s mine.
The Runes Theory
Also, if time travel is an option then I’ve got a solution to our ‘who wrote the runes’ problem. Sure, it could have been Ukuku the owl lady on the board way back in the day but she doesn’t strike me as the kind to say “hello idiots. Yeah you, the vampire and the two drop-outs”.
I know Carmilla’s translating but that’s very much modern slang. There are only a few characters who could handle the sass level and word choices of the runes. Mel. Maybe Mattie although it feels a tad informal. We also need this character to speak/write Sumerian.
My money is on Betty. The sassmaster ex-roommate ex-machina who learned Sumerian in a semester and suddenly popped up out of nowhere into the series again. The phrasing and the insults fits the way she’s been speaking to Laura.
I mostly just find it hilarious as an idea. Maybe the anglerfish wants an avatar of her own
However, let’s wrap up with an examination of what s3 could be if they roughly follow the sequence of events from the original poem, Inanna’s Descent.
Reflection of the Descent Theory
- The Dean gets the gates open when they only have 3 of the talismans. Regardless, team library and whomever else rushes to stop her.
- The Dean walks through the seventh gate just as she does in the myth
- As the Dean needs Carmilla by her side, she tries to get Carmilla to take her place on the wrong side of the gate. Likely by threatening Laura or the school or offering her the world or something of the like.
- Here’s something I’m wildly interested in and why I didn’t want Laf to be the Enki-avatar.
- Lafontaine is the one who caves and goes running up to the gate to pull the Dean out. Why Laf you ask? Two-fold. While Carmilla is hardcore here to defeat her mother, laf is just here to save Perry. That’s all they care about. If the dean offered them a deal to save Perry, I think Laf would take it.
- In addition, in the original myth it’s not dumuzi who gets the dean out. It’s dumuzi who takes her place later. The dean is actually retrieved from hell by two sexless/genderless beings who pour the water of life on her. While not a perfect fit, a nonbinary individual doesn’t sound like a bad way to fill that role. They certainly don’t fit the usually gender roles which is what the original myth was getting at.
- This also fits with the strong implication at the fanexpo panel that Laf (and us) are going to be seeing a lot of Perry. For those who don’t know, in the myth Inanna is naked by the time she gets to the seventh gate.
- So Laf turns on the team to get Perry out but someone still has to take the dean’s place. There’s no way that Laura is letting Carmilla do it so she jumps through the gate before Carmilla can. Possibly (based on the trailer), Laf ends up going with her. Either they’re stuck or get pushed back in or something. This could be why we see Laf and Laura in the broken dark library with Laf looking so sad. They betrayed everything. (They could also just be sad about perry in general and didn’t betray anyone but that’s less fun).
- FYI that’s where the time travel fits in, when they jump through the gate they get shuffled around in time.
- Somehow, they get back. Probably something to do with Papa Hollis because he needs a purpose here. Frankly, I’m expecting him to heroically die using whatever Dad contraption he’s whipped up in the back room to save them.
- Cue sappy Hollstein hug and moment.
- Perhaps Laura gathered some intel on the fourth talisman while she gone or else Carmilla did while Laura was gone. Either they go get whatever it is or they’re faced with the unfortunate reality of what happens to Laura.
- They assemble their circle and either Perry gets control of Inanna after Laf’s action or else maybe Danny takes that last avatar spot and they try to cast the Dean into laura. I really want Danny or Perry to get their redemption arc guys.
Now let’s talk about the binding of the dean because I think that’s going to be our real kicker. To be even more fun, I’m going to talk about costumes for a moment.
Remember when I asked you put a pin in Laura’s doom and the implication that the dean didn’t seem to think that Carmilla would go through with it? Let’s talk about ‘it’. What doesn’t the dean think Carmilla will do.
Because i think this goes beyond putting the dean into Laura. That’s not near angsty enough.
We know that the set loves Easter eggs but the costume people are really going all out throughout. Laura in cat sweaters. Perry’s fashion choices. With the number of owls (lamp and sweater), I wouldn’t be surprised if we missed some connection between Laura and the owl lady. Although perhaps the lamp was Betty’s which supports my crazy Betty wrote the runes theory.
This season, however, takes the cake. Not only have we seen Laura in a shirt covered in stars when Inanna is the 8-pointed star but Carmilla appears to be wearing a sword necklace for some of the episodes. Dumuzi/Hastur. The character with the sword is wearing a sword necklace.
I love it.
Laf’s jacket has some patches sewn on it and most tellingly, one is a four pointed star. The number 4 has been a constant theme and I’m guessing this is a reference to the talismans.
I should point out that laura is wearing 5 pointed stars, not four. I’m going to guess that finding an 8-pointed star shirt was a little too hard so they went traditional.
But our theory takes a turn for the even more tragic when I really looked at this scene:
The clothes. Laura is wearing a shirt covered in 5 pointed stars representing her role as the fourth talisman/student rep and Carmilla is wearing a patch with a sword on it for her role as Hastur/Dumuzi. But that’s not just a patch with a sword on it.
That’s a patch with a sword on it pointing towards a star.
Almost as if it were about to stab it.
Almost as if Carmilla “the sword” is going to have to stab Laura during this ritual or to finally kill the Dean. After all, the blade of hastur is “forged from the burnt bones of star spawn.” Ah crap. It relates to stars again. That doesn’t feel like a coincidence.
Even worse, there are bones again. Laura is supposed to be our bones and these particular bones are burnt. We’ve seen burnt bones before. Early in s3, the Dean shows us the burnt corpse of journalist professor Cochrane and then, when Carmilla brushes her off, tells Carmilla that “she missed the point.” The Dean just burned a journalist to a crisp. Laura is a journalist. The sword is made of burnt bones.
That is not a pleasant series of facts. It’s as though the Dean knows what is going to happen to Laura and is poking fun at it.
We also know for a fact that the binding of the dean requires blood magic. The blade is referred to as “the blood” so we know it’s involved.
For those who don’t remember, the blade of hastur is meant to be a sacrificial sword. That’s its whole purpose. It consumes the soul of those who wield it. It could be metaphorical as in if Laura dies then Carmilla’s soul is gone. Laura could take it and stab herself. Carmilla could have to stab her and they’d both die.
Either way, it’s not good.
Does anybody really think that Laura would want to live if it meant that the Dean is walking around in her body?
Here’s what I propose.
- They need the book to read the incantation to bind the dean
- They need the sword for the blood magic – likely stabbing the vessel
- They need the chalice to store something in
- They need the liar’s heart presaged to be the sacrifice that fuels the power of the spell
Now Jordan promised us a “hopeful ending” not a happy one, just hopeful. At the fanexpo panel when the team was explicitly asked if they were falling for the “dead lesbian trope” all they said was that everyone who dies is coming back. To me, this implies that a lesbian is definitely dying and then coming back.
Who just got 100% canon confirmed as our lesbian? Laura.
Also thematically, some of you will know that I’ve always said that Laura has to die. I just didn’t think they’d do it after the whole Lexa thing. We’ll have to see how the cards shake out.
As much as I’d prefer human Laura, it’s looking like we’re going to get vamp!Laura. I’m guessing something like they bind the dean into Laura and out of Perry. The Dean and Laura flicker back in forth within the same body until Carmilla kills them with the sword. This finally kills the dean while they store Laura’s soul/heart/? in the locket. Carmilla/Mattie bring Laura back as a vampire. That’s the last scene we get and it ends.
Just Laura clinging to Carmilla and flashing some fangs.
That said, I would not be opposed to demigod!Laura or “you have sacrificed so much that the gods are going to bring you back as a reward”Laura.
Or how about just a happy ending? One where Carmilla doesn’t have to stab Laura and they trap the Dean inside the chalice necklace and then stab that with the sword after Laura drips some blood on it so the Dean is dead and Hollstein can be happy.
Yes please. I’d just like hollstein to be happy.
Regardless, I guess that season 3 is going to end very much like s1. Broken and battered but together and trying to start again.
I’m so excited.
So there you go. Almost 15,000 word of crazy Carmilla theory. I tried to pack as many theories as humanly possible into one giant theory and make them fit together. Some are purely mine, most have at least been talked through with friend who I have to thank for tolerating me sending them texts like “OWLS” or asking about nitpicky facts because my brain hurt. Creating this crazy theory was my way of saying thank-you to the writers and producers and cast. I know I love it when anyone overanalyzes my work so I figured it was the least I could do to show my appreciation. Plus it was fun.
I worked to try and make even the really crazy stuff sound plausible. Let’s be honest though, I love this show for always surprising us in the best way so most of this is probably nothing more than fun conjecture eventually proven very wrong. This was a butt-ton of work so I’d appreciate you passing this along if you were entertained at all.
There’s a tumblr post here you can reblog and a twitter post here.
This is purely for entertainment purposes and I hope, if nothing else, it was at least entertaining. My thanks again to the show and everyone involved in making it. I figured the least I could do was give it the theorizing it deserved. My thanks to yaz, jen, kaitlyn, rachel, dusk, other aria, geo,ash, zii, bookworm, your reference, jay and others for listening to me rant and discussing your own theories.
I’m going to take a nap. Stay stupendous! Aria.