It’s hard to make a villain feel truly terrifying, to construct a figure who exceeds all expectations and presents themselves as a source of power that cannot be stopped. The Owl House has done just that with The Collector, a cosmic entity who has existed on the periphery for centuries as he does battle with titans and collects magic to become some form of higher, almost celestial being compared to those beneath him. Don’t let his cutesy aesthetic fool you, this devious looking iPad kid is not to be trifled with.
He’s been locked away for the majority of season two, working alongside Emperor Belos as they piece together the Day of Unity and prepare to rid The Boiling Isles of all wild magic. While he might appear as an oblivious child in personality and stature, I feel The Collector is far more aware than we think, and is hatching his own mysterious scheme that we will only see come to fruition in the trio of upcoming specials.
Before we get started, kudos to Cartoon Universe for their lore video that provided a bunch of handy background information for me to dig into as part of this article. The Collector first appeared in ‘Knock, Knock, Knocking On Hooty’s Door’ with an incomplete character design, being little more than a hooded figure decorated with all manner of stars and crescents. Popping up in a dream sequence/flashback experienced by Eda, he appeared to be hunting The Owl Beast as the corpse of an unknown titan lingered in the background. Not one we’ve seen before, hinting that perhaps his own existence predates the continent itself.
His purpose here isn’t abundantly clear, but we do know he wants to hunt the beast and perhaps use its curse for himself. This is a dream sequence though, so much of the imagery is potentially abstract or unreliably retelling history in a way that is fractured and unknowing. Eda might have untold experiences with The Collector, or for generations he may have made games out of downing titans, or draining magic from anyone and anything, given how powerful it seems to be on the surface. This first appearance left fans with so many theories to piece together, and it wasn’t until ‘Elsewhere and Elsewhen’ that we’d see The Collector emerge once again, this time several centuries in the past alongside Philip Wittibane.
The massive waster uses the kind intentions of Luz Noceda and Lilith Clawthorne to lure them into a trap, allowing them to be torn to pieces by a mythical creature as he recovers a mirror that has long trapped The Collector inside. He wants to summon this ancient figure and use him to construct a portal to the human realm, all while conjuring up a spell to leave this world behind with none of the wild magic once used to abuse him. The passage of time between here and the modern day is especially interesting, because The Collector was presumably witness to the continuous stream of failed Grimwalkers, as well as Belos’ relationship with Caleb. He has watched the transformation of Philip Wittibane into Emperor Belos, likely biding his time ever since. Now he’s free, and we’re all screwed.
He made a deal with King in the closing moments of last week’s finale to free himself from captivity and stop the Day of Unity. While he initially seemed convinced by the promise of playing a game – ‘The Owl House’ to be exact – it’s likely The Collector has his own motives beyond just having fun and causing chaos. If he doesn’t, that only makes him all the more intimidating given what he’s capable of.
Once the day is ‘saved’, he is confronted by Emperor Belos, catching his powerful claws within his fingers and giving him a playful flick to the forehead. This sends Belos flying, turning the villain we’ve been fearing for years into little more than a decaying stain on the wall. He’s nothing to The Collector, unable to stand up to the trapped individual he’s been taking advantage of for years.
Belos isn’t dead, but he is reduced to a mess of a slime with a fraction of the power he once had. Then, our newfound villain turns on a battered and broken Luz and company. He wants to play The Owl House, a game promised to him by King in exchange for his freedom. Either through blissful innocence or to merely toy with them, he gives our heroes a head start as they flee towards the nearby portal.
We see them escape, but not before Luz opts to stay behind in order to protect her found family, despite the friends she’d be leaving alone in the human world to fend for themselves. It isn’t selfish, but a misunderstanding of where she needs to be right now and how much worth she needs to place in her own existence. King pushes her into the portal, staying behind as The Collector begins morphing parts of this reality into his own rendition of The Owl House: a place he can rule over and play games for eternity. He might pull King and Eda into his grasp and have them live in this place, quietly annoyed that Luz and her friends manage to escape, and prevent him from piecing together this perfect little picture.
There is no way to tell what his core motivation is, or how he will position himself as a villain in the upcoming specials, but the fact he’s capable of so much and willing to kill without remorse is horrifying. It’s hard to determine whether The Collector is aware of his own power or acts like a whimsical child purely because that’s all he knows, having never found a chance to grow up before being morphed into whatever he is today. So many questions remained, but to finally see The Collector after so much teasing and so many theories is a morbid delight, and now we’re left to ponder his exact purpose until the specials air in the future. Creating a worthwhile villain is never easy, but The Owl House has somehow made it feel effortless.
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