Image by Bobby Finger, photo via AP.

Last week, American swimmer Ryan Lochte shared a harrowing tale with the international media. On the way back from a party celebrating the Rio Olympics, the story went, he and three others were pulled over and violently robbed at gunpoint. In the ensuing days, Brazilian officials have raised doubts about their story. They’re now alleging that the incident was a fabrication, and that Lochte and company made it up as a cover for some drunken mischief at a gas station.

Brazilian authorities demanded the four remain in the country as they sort out what happened. Two of Lochte’s teammates were yanked off a plane, their passports seized. But Ryan Lochte was long gone. That’s because Ryan Lochte was never the idiot we all thought he was. Ryan Lochte is an international supervillain, and we all got played like the Stradivarius violin collection he keeps in his subaquatic volcano lair.

How did we get here? How were we so wrong about perhaps the most dangerous Bond villain-esque man the world has ever known? The writing’s on the wall, folks. Believe me, or not. At your own peril.

10. A villianesque ability to use and discard minions.

Lochte wasn’t alone the night of the allegedly fake alleged robbery. He was with fellow swimmers Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger, and James Feigen. Have you ever heard three more perfect hapless minion names in your life? Gunnar, Jack C, and Jimmy the Fish.

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But footage emerged today of the foursome causing alleged mischief at a gas station in Rio.

This incident, authorities believe, was why the four swimmers made up the robbery story in the first place: it was a cover. Lochte knew that it wouldn’t take long before it was blown, and, like a real ice cold professional, skipped the country sans his sidekicks. Who cares what happens to them in Brazilian jail? They’d served their purpose, they were no longer necessary.

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But why were Lochte et al at the gas station? An IOC official was quick to dismiss the incident, which involved one of the swimmers breaking down a door and getting into a fight with a security guard, as “kids… having fun.” Ryan Lochte is 32 years old. Why is the IOC so afraid to stand up to the power of Lochte? What does he know?

9. Twitter army ready to attack

Yesterday, I tweeted what I thought was a lighthearted and irreverent joke about Lochte possibly fabricating the robbery story. The gist of it was that there was nothing more American than going to a foreign country, fucking shit up, lying about it, and then leaving before the authorities catch up with you.

By noon, my mentions were were a hornet’s nest made of still-warm turds. Dozens and dozens of people came to his defense. How dare I accuse Ryan Lochte of lying (I didn’t; I was just amused by the idea that he might be lying. But tomato, tomahto). One person accused me of slander. I deleted the tweet because dealing with the puzzling fallout was such a fucking pain in the ass.

You know who else has an army of online trolls ready to attack at even the mildest criticism? [Extreme Alex Jones voice]: Vladimir Putin.

8. A career of being overshadowed by Michael Phelps gives Ryan Lochte the perfect supervillain backstory and motivation.

Lochte is an incredible swimmer. He’s one of the most decorated Olympians of all time. So why are all the touching montages, all the soaring Bob Costas monologues, a large portion of the stateside adoration devoted to Phelps? Phelps, the national hero with the DUIs and the bong pic everybody is willing to overlook because NBC has crafted him a fuzzy comeback story? Why does Phelps get the beautiful fiancee and the perfect baby named Boomer? Why does America know the face of the mother of Phelps? When it’s LOCHTE who should be getting a piece of this. Where’s LOCHTE’S endorsement deals with Under Armor? Where’s LOCHTE’S Special K Red Berries box? You want to ignore LOCHTE, America, you can go ahead and think of LOCHTE as some idiot. Some happy little lab puppy of a man, falling onto his face on the linoleum whenever the doorbell rings. Go ahead and underestimate LOCHTE. You’ll see. YOU’LL ALL SEE.

7. Aquamanesque water mobility

How easy we forget that the entire reason anybody knows who Ryan Lochte is in the first place is that he’s extremely fucking good at swimming. He’s historically good at it. He’s maybe one of the top hundred or so swimmers who ever lived.

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He’s good. Almost too good. Almost so good that if he wanted to somehow weaponize his undersea skills, he could do it, and nobody would stand a chance against him.

When asked by People what his post-Olympics plans were, Lochte said something pretty interesting: “I’m not done yet. There are a lot more goals that I want to accomplish, so I guess you can say that I’ll definitely be back in the water for 2020.”

“I guess you can say that I’ll definitely be back in the water for 2020.” What water, Ryan? What goals? I have some ideas. Read on.

6. The names are a clue. The catch phrase was a code.

“Ryan Lochte Jeah” can be rearranged to spell “The Ceylon Rajah.” Ceylon is the name by which Sri Lanka was known under British colonial rule, until 1972. “Rajah” is an alternate spelling of “Raja,” a Sanskrit word for “king.” From this, we can conclude that Ryan Lochte believes himself to be the rightful king of Sri Lanka, in a future underwater world that he wishes to build and lord over.

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But why? Let’s look further for more clues to his supervillain plans: Ryan Lochte, rearranged, spells “hot larceny,” a fact my friend, sportswriter Robert Silverman, was suspiciously quick to point out. But Ryan Lochte’s full name is Ryan Steven Lochte. Rearranged, those letters spell “Solve Thy Entrance.” It also spells “Oh, Tentacles Envy.” Clearly, Lochte wants to create a subaquatic world, accessible to only those with extreme swimming abilities whom King Lochte has deemed worthy.

There’s simply no other conclusion to be reached here. I won’t hear a counterargument.

6. Ground combat skills.

When Ryan Lochte told Access Hollywood host/talking Crest whitestrip Billy Bush the story of his robbery, one tidbit a lot of Lochte watchers took away was the way in which Lochte described how he reacted to having a gun pointed at his forehead. “I was like, whatever,” he said.

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If the robbery didn’t really take place, that’s a terribly poorly-crafted lie. No human being imagining themselves having a gun pointed to their head in an imaginary scenario would reply, “whatever” to mortal peril.

That is unless, of course, if you’re so skilled at hand-to-hand fighting that you know you could Jason Bourne your way out of it. If you are more deadly than a gun, having a gun pointed to your head is, in fact, “like, whatever.”

5. The shoes. Look closely.

So we’ve covered Lochte’s superior ability to move through the sea and fight hand-to-hand. What about through the air? you think, smug as hell. Well, guess the fuck what. Ryan Lochte’s show habit, which we all thought was so funny in 2012, was actually Lochte parading his most terrifying skill in plain sight.

What do these shoes all have in common? Wings. Because Ryan Lochte can literally fucking fly. And we were too busy guffawing at the garishness of his footwear to notice.

4. His sidekick, Lil Wayne, is a man who cannot die.

Lochte’s affinity for Lil Wayne is well-known. He named his dog Carter, after the rapper’s real name. He listens to Lil Wayne before swimming in races. From this, we can conclude that Lil Wayne and Ryan Lochte are in this together.

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Lil Wayne once released an album called I Am Not A Human Being. The writing’s on the wall, people.

3. Lochte’s terrible art was actually plans for various weapons and hideouts.

Back in 2012, I made fun of Ryan Lochte’s bad art. Here’s some of it:

He described this particular piece of work as “in progress” but promised his fans that, once complete, it would be “sick.” I thought this was a completely on-brand thing a fuckable moron would do.

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Boy, was I stupid. That art was actually plans for global domination. See?

Fuck.

2. Where is he? Huh?

1. Stupid like a fox.

The most compelling argument for Ryan Lochte Is Actually Maybe The Smartest Man In The World: Nobody could possibly be that stupid unless they were so smart they were capable of engineering the stupidest possible way to be, and then being that, all the time.

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In 2012, Lochte was asked in an interview what two words best describe him. “Ryan Lochte,” he said, grinning in a way that, at the time, made me want to tongue kiss him to shut him up. I’d never seen a person closer to both the apex of stupid and the apex of hot. None of us had. During those London games, the world realized simultaneously that they’d slam Ryan Lochte harder than the door of a teen who was just told Justin Bieber quit Instagram, but also, at the same time, they would not trust him with adult scissors.

Around that time, I wrote an illiterate piece for this very website entitled “10 Reasons Why Ryan Lochte Is America’s Sexiest Douchebag.” To this day it’s one of the more widely-read things I’ve ever written. But the Good Ship Dipshit didn’t settle at Port Jezebel for long. Every interview he did spurred a smattering of gleeful Look-At-This-Dummy articles. 30 Rock featured a cameo by Lochte in an episode about “sex idiots.” His stupid fuckability even earned him a short-lived reality show. And now, we foolishly laugh again at what appears to be a sloppy lie by a hairless doufus designed to cover up standard drunken doufus behavior.

This was all by design.

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The Rio Incident, as it will be known to the history books, is only the beginning. The only thing we have to fear is not fear itself. It’s Ryan Lochte.

May God have mercy on us all.

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Erin Gloria Ryan is the deputy editor of Vocativ. She lives in New York City and tweets way too much.