Knives Out Recurring Villain Hiding In Plain Sight

By Michileen Martin | Updated

knives out

Netflix just announced a release window of 2025 for the third film in Rian Johnson’s Knives Out series, along with revealing its name–Wake Up Dead Man. Excited for the threequel, I started rewatching the first two and it occurred to me that we’ve met Benoit Blanc’s archenemy twice and didn’t know it. Noah Segan–who appeared in both Knives Out as Trooper Wagner and in Glass Onion as Miles Bron’s slacker roommate Derol, and will almost certainly show up for Wake Up Dead Man–is playing the same character in each film and, whoever he is, he’s Blanc’s greatest enemy.

Noah Segan And Rian Johnson

Noah Segan has appeared in every single Rian Johnson directed feature film, starting with 2005’s Brick. He’s the Gat Man named Kid Blue in Looper, he’s an X-Wing pilot in The Last Jedi, and the Duke in The Brothers Bloom. He even shows up in the premiere episode of Poker Face, and in the Johnson-directed episode of Breaking Bad–“Ozymandias.”

Unless Johnson breaks with this tradition, Segan will appear in Wake Up Dead Man and any Knives Out entries that follow.

How does that help my theory, you ask? Doesn’t it actually hurt my theory? If Noah Segan is just an automatic addition to any Johnson movie, wouldn’t that hurt my idea that he’s a recurring villain in disguise?

To that, I give you two words: Ethan Hawke.

Well hold up, let’s wait a sec for that. First, let’s talk about Segan’s first appearance.

Trooper Wagner

knives out 3

Let’s assume that when Noah Segan appears in 2019’s Knives Out, he presents us with his genuine identity–State Trooper Wagner, partnered with Lieutenant Elliott (LaKeith Stanfield) in the investigation of Harlan Thrombey’s death. Wagner isn’t exactly a main character, but we do learn some things about him.

We learn that unlike Lieutenant Elliott–who seems to largely view Benoit Blanc as a nuisance–Wagner is just tickled to be in the presence of the Benoit Blanc. We also know Wagner is a fan of the late Thrombey’s murder mystery novels.

So we have a murder mystery fan in the presence of a world famous murder-solving detective.

What if this quiet, socially awkward true (and fictional) crime superfan decided getting to see Blanc at work on just one mystery wasn’t enough?

Derol Is Wagner In Disguise

How could Trooper Wagner of Knives Out get into Miles Bron’s good graces and somehow live with him just when Benoit Blanc is on his way?

Let’s say Wagner managed to keep in touch with Blanc through social media. No, Blanc doesn’t seem like a social media kind of guy in Knives Out, but we see in Glass Onion the boredom of the pandemic has changed him. He now plays online games with celebrities.

Blanc probably wouldn’t post on Facebook “totally investigating Miles Bron lol,” but he might’ve mentioned his trip to Greece.

If Wagner is the obsessed superfan I suspect him to be, the notion that he had been surveilling Blanc isn’t out of the question.

If he was surveilling Blanc, then Helen Brand’s (Janelle Monáe) visit to his apartment might have been all the trooper needed to figure out where Blanc was headed.

If Wagner was then willing to let Bron know Blanc was on his way (Bron doesn’t seem too surprised at the detective’s presence initially), that might be enough payment for his stay on the island to observe.

Which brings us to Ethan Hawke.

Ethan Hawke, Efficient Man

In the second Knives Out film, Noah Segan plays Derol, a guy who just kind of hangs out for laughs while everyone else is scheming. On the surface, it seems like a minor role designed specifically to shoehorn Segan into the flick and maintain Johnson’s tradition.

But if that’s all it was, then why did Johnson call Ethan Hawke?

Glass Onion is set during the Covid-19 pandemic, and to do away with the need for masks, a character credited only as “Efficient Man” shows up at the dock where the stars wait for their ride to Miles Bron’s private island. Spraying some mysterious concoction in everyone’s mouth, the Efficient Man assures everyone they no longer need to worry about Covid.

Who plays this incredibly minor Knives Out character? Ethan Hawke–the dude who fought Moon Knight and tried to BS Robin Williams out of turning in his homework.

Why wasn’t Efficient Man given to Noah Segan, rather than giving a one-scene role to a four time Oscar nominee?

Could it be that Derol was more important than we realized?

Why Doesn’t Benoit Blanc Recognize Him?

daniel craig glass onion

If you’ve stayed with me this far, you may be asking yourself that–if I’m right–why didn’t an insanely observant detective like Knives Out‘s Benoit Blanc recognize Wagner in Glass Onion?

Well–who says he doesn’t recognize Wagner?

As we’ve seen in both chapters of Knives Out released so far, Craig’s detective knows how to play his cards close to his vest. If I’m right and Wagner is Derol–and Wagner will continue to disguise himself in future films–Blanc would recognize him but would keep that information to himself until he knows more about the obsessed superfan’s endgame.