Ever wondered who controls your dreams? Why are they so whacky or comforting? How do they turn into nightmares? “The Sandman” series has some answers. Based on the comic series written by Neil Gaiman and released by DC Comics, this new television series has been a long-time coming. Since its debut in November 1988, there have been several attempts at adaptation. This Netflix release is the first to finally see the light of day. It follows Morpheus, King of Dreams (Tom Sturridge) in his quest to restore his realm and keep the waking world safe. In this quest, he has to confront his distaste for humans and discover why they relentlessly love life.
While a comic book story, this show does not require outside knowledge of DC Comics to understand what’s happening. It’s not part of a large saga with different narratives contained together. Those are fun, but it was refreshing to enjoy something on its own. Additionally, although it is based on a comic book, this is not a family series. The MA rating speaks for itself, but be cautious if you are sensitive to violence or gore. There are also elements of child abuse and the loss of loved ones that may be upsetting to some viewers. The world is immersive and the story unique, but “The Sandman” is not for the faint of heart.
This series excels at creating a unique premise and unique situations. It follows Morpheus’s quest to restore and protect his realm throughout the story, but it breaks off into many different quests. Episode 5, “24/7,” is set in the diner and is a prime example of these self-contained side stories. It focuses on characters that are being manipulated by Morpheus’s ruby, to tell the truth. This is, of course, devastating and hurtful for everyone involved. There is not a happy ending and it calls the audience to consider if the truth is going to set one free or if the small lies of day-to-day life are all that keep us together.
While Morpheus (also known just as Dream) grows throughout the story, he is not ever likable. He remains aloof and harsh but grows in understanding. Someone has to keep order and Dream is the one to do so, even when that means breaking hearts in the process. Because of all the various sidequests, it’s not primarily a character-driven story. While we gain some familiarity and empathy for some of the characters we follow like Lyta Hall (Razane Jammal) and Rose Walker (Vanesu Samunyai), the plot takes precedence.
However, one part of “The Sandman” did stand out for its ability to create intimacy between characters. In Episode 6, “The Sound of Her Wings,” Hob Gadling (Ferdinand Kingsley) is a medieval man who wishes never to die, and Dream grants this wish. They meet every 100 years at the same pub to see if Hob still wants to live forever. No matter what fortune or misfortune befalls him, he still never wants to die. He loves life wholeheartedly which fascinates Morpheus. When Hob dares suggest they are friends, Dream is upset but eventually returns, admitting that he enjoys the companionship. This was a really interesting set piece because of the historical spacing and seeing how Hob loves life. They meet Chaucer and Shakespeare in the pub and hear the citizens grumble about everything from Pope Urban to Margaret Thatcher. It showcased the durability of humans and their incessant drive to survive, no matter what. This shapes the way Dream views humans and motivates him to keep protecting their world. He has to keep the right order so that they can continue to thrive.
“The Sandman” is a fresh fantasy story perfect for those who like to be scared a little. The side plots were reminiscent of “The Twilight Zone ” and “Black Mirror” and provided interesting substance to the plot of Dream. This will entrance you into a new world and sneak its way into your dreams.
“The Sandman” is available to stream on Netflix.
By Ella Hachee