In this week’s Sandman conversation review, a man walks into a diner with a ruby… Read on as we disembowel, dismember or otherwise dissect the events of The Sandman episode 5, “24/7.”
Even though Netflix’s The Sandman was delivered as a full series drop, we believe that, given the nature of the story, each episode requires individual attention paid at a far more deliberate pace than the binge model generally allows for. If The Sandman is bloody good food, we’ve been savoring the components of the meal slowly, and next on the plate is perhaps the part most hard to swallow. The Sandman episode 5 includes one of the most unrelenting, nightmarish installments of Neil Gaiman’s original Sandman run, a highly anticipated moment for some, dreaded for others.
Caveat: The Sandman season 1 consists of eleven episodes. Please stream them all as soon as possible, regardless of whether that’s a scenario of binging and cycling back to the start, or letting the show play on a device while you’re not actually watching it. Completion speed is a crucial metric for Netflix in order to decide on a season 2 renewal, so please make sure that your account, at least has viewed them! Our week-to-week The Sandman coverage is not an endorsement of letting the episodes sit unplayed.
Read our previous episode reviews:
‘The Sandman’ episode 1 in conversation: ‘Sleep of the Just’
‘The Sandman’ episode 2 in conversation: ‘Imperfect Hosts’
‘The Sandman’ episode 3 in conversation: ‘Dream a Little Dream of Me’
‘The Sandman’ episode 4 in conversation: ‘A Hope in Hell’
The title of Sandman episode 5, “24/7” references the two comic issues contained within it — issue #6 “24 Hours, and issue 7 “Sound and Fury.” With Dream back in possession of his sand and his helm, his last missing tool of office is his ruby, the magnificent dreamstone containing much of his power. But John Dee, son of Roderick Burgess and Ethel Cripps, claimed the ruby as his own years ago. John Dee’s magical manipulations cause the ruby to reject and incapacitate Dream as soon as he finds it, leaving Dee free to collect the ruby from its hiding place himself, walk off with it, and find a place to wait for the world to change. That place is a local 24 hour diner, and the staff and patrons are in for a very long night.
“24/7” features Tom Sturridge as Dream, David Thewlis as John Dee, Emma Duncan as Bette, Steven Brand as Marsh, Lourdes Faberes as Kate, James Udom as Garry, Laurie Davidson as Mark, Daisy Head as Judy, Vanesu Samunyai as Rose Walker, Niamh Walsh as Ethel Cripps, Nina Wadia as Fate Mother, Dinita Gohil as Fate Maiden, Souad Faress Fate Crone, Patton Oswalt as Matthew, and Mason Alexander Park as Desire.
‘The Sandman’ episode 5 review in conversation
Natalie: So The Sandman episode 5, “24/7,” includes the incredibly infamous “24 Hours” issue of Sandman, as well as issue 7, “Sound and Fury,” which follows it. You see what they did there. Right from when production started and Neil teased these scenes being shot, it’s been one of the most trepidatiously anticipated TV episodes ever. People just being like “Nope.” Dreading it.
“24 Hours” is a very famous horror comic, and part of that is readers’ mental relationship with it — people kept asking and kept asking, how bad would it be? The gore, the cruelty, and Neil’s response was that the worst stuff is implied. Your brain is what makes it so bad, you do the work yourself to make it truly horrific, from implicated ideas. You’re guided there and the mental picture is mainly on you. So cool! A test of how twisted you are. Still, your relationship with this issue and character is pretty intense, and I want to know all about it from the past. What’s the deal with you, John Dee, and “24 Hours?” What’s going on there? Take me back.
Brittany: It’s actually not that interesting of a story! But it is the first time I spent a good amount of time with The Sandman so I guess it’s an introduction to giving the comics a deeper read than I might have otherwise done. My senior year of college, I took an English course where we read the gamut of “Geek Lit” from Harry Potter to Star Trek to watching Star Wars and Preludes and Nocturnes was on the syllabus. Our papers and assignments were usually prompts from something we’d be reading over the course of a month and so I selected Sandman as my text of choice. I just remember seeing John Dee for the first time on the page and being completely taken out of the story, this grotesque depiction of a man locked away in the basement of Arkham Asylum. Up until now though, we were following Dream, so my illusion of John just being a side character with one to two page appearances kept this aversion to literally just seeing him on the page at bay.
This issue, “24 Hours,” however did not allow for that. And truly it offers so much — controlled time loops, the removal of miscommunication tropes which makes things even WORSE than if they are there, and, to probably no one else but me, a bit of comic relief in some of the panels where you check in with John Dee. I don’t know what it was about it, but I kept coming back to it. It definitely is, as you said, one of those issues where you just walk away going “That was a thing I never need to see again.” It’s A LOT. But it’s also so fascinating as this contrived exploration of human nature. Or at least human nature as one person sees it. We also read The Silmarillion in that class and there was no way I was remembering enough names from Tolkien to write a paper on that!
Natalie: The actual imagery on the page of John is drawn basically as this naked, solid brown skeleton. A skull with hair really, he’s not drawn like a human being. That’s kind of a device for feeling his energy, I guess, and wasn’t going to translate here to screen. Weirdly, one of the criticisms of the Sandman series in its first few days of release was “too clean and sanitized” image wise. People were citing both Constantine and Dee as examples. Has this been a problem for you?
Brittany: No, it really hasn’t. I think for Constantine they went in a new direction and the core of the character was there. Same with John Dee. There are elements of Dee in particular that are captured in ways I can’t describe — for example, how Thewlis is able to take the shakiness of the text bubbles and infuse his voice with it under that proper, perfectly mannered delivery. The wide-eyed silent observer is on full display here in this episode, but there were moments that, for better or worse, were sanitized. I don’t think I needed Thewlis on a table, naked, with the word God written in blood across his chest. I got the gist without it.
Natalie: IRL LOL.
Brittany: Did you take away anything similar? Or do you agree with the too-sanitized translation?
Natalie: No, it’s a ridiculous complaint. Most criticisms I’ve seen of Sandman all boil down to people not understanding a lot about how TV works, or how adaptations from medium to medium work. And no one could call this episode sanitary…
Brittany: Absolutely not. I thought we got away without the nails at one point. We… we did not. But that is getting a bit ahead. We have a long journey of mind games before then! John, as we discussed last episode, wants one thing — a world without lies. He wants to save the world by unloading the burden of deceit, revealing the truth will set you free, so to speak. His test subjects begin on a small scale — a cast of key players who have the misfortune of being at a diner within walking distance of his storage unit. They are our gateway and focal point for John’s bigger plan outside the walls of the establishment. And it all starts with Bette, a waitress with a college-age son, who greets John with a smile and her best offer of coffee while he peruses the menu sets this story in motion.
Now, in the comic this was told over, as the title suggests, twenty four hours. It’s not exactly broken up the way it is on the page, but before we dive into the plot, I wanted to note that this was at first something I greatly missed but then came to appreciate upon rewatch. The panels reveal the hour and what John chooses to do with each 60-minute window of time, but here it’s kind of more enticing to track how and when things shift between the hours without having a countdown. Though RIP to hour 23, the fly. Did you like the way it was structured and played out with this overlapping of stories and timelines and resets, or was it too messy to follow?
Natalie: It was quite trippy, honestly. More to unpick and go back over, in something I don’t know how many times I’d like to watch. However, I think the panel by panel approach of hours only works as something fairly static and wouldn’t have given a particularly nasty or twisted impression if we just jumped from moment to moment. It would have been too easy, maybe. This is blurrier, which is probably more effective.
Brittany: It does slip into the more hourly play by play the further we get into the episode, but that’s after 35 minutes of just “WTF is happening?!” And it isn’t exactly structured, but more along what happens when John starts to get bored. Like he’s changing the channel — entertain me, puppets! Let’s backtrack to Bette though. Our first encounter is a waitress who offers him the line “Honesty is the best policy” upon knowing him for less than one minute. A bold choice of words.
John lays out his entire plan, of how he has possession of a special ruby, which he shows her, explaining that it makes dreams come true and that he dreams of a new, honest world. She takes it in stride, too kind, like dear Rosemary, to scoff at the delivery of his plan. But unlike Rosemary, we’re about to see another shade of someone lying not out of fear exactly, but more as a natural reflex, a part of the facade she puts on for her job. “Best seat in the house,” she literally starts off with a lie. If it was one. I don’t know that diner well enough. But I assume it isn’t, I’m more of a counter or booth girl.
Natalie: Maybe that’s a matter of perspective. Best seat for someone who wants to watch everyone and observe everything going on? Which Bette does, as a secret romance writer. Bette is probably the most crucial character for the framing of this episode and I really liked this version of her. There are some tweaks to make her story maybe even sadder, and then in other ways less melodramatic than in the comics — quieter and a little more real-feeling.
The Sandman episode 5 also eliminated some of the more heinous elements and confessions from the comic diner gang — I don’t know if I expected this change, but the reveals in the comic are just darker, more evil confessions. Everyone here is a little more sympathetic, and the confessions are more understandable but still almost as hurtful. But we will get to all of that. Bette herself is given, indeed, more inner life, more of a relationship with John, more sweet lies. It feels more personal, maybe. She’s not just an outside observation via John.
Brittany: She is a more realized person and is the one he lets, I guess, in a way, have her moment of usefulness in the end. As if he saves her for the sacrificial offering. It does say a bit about John getting a bit invested in those who he sees as liars but not the worst of the crop. She’s lying to be liked, maybe to get better tips, to tell stories that offer people happy endings because life isn’t going to give them away. When she does try for brutal honesty in what she wants from the line cook Marsh, she gets slapped with a harsh reality of what has been kept from her. And Bette, our waitress and aspiring writer, is our link to every other character that day as she has a reason for us to track her movements through the diner.
We meet Judy, who is reeling from a fight with her girlfriend Donna, Mark, who is an interview candidate for a job at Vanguard, Kate and Garry with two Rs who are married and work as CEO and Vice President of the company respectively, and Marsh the cook. The only newcomer here is Mark, but we see Bette dying to get her claws in his life story to fit her landscape of characters who fuel her stories. There are a few tweaks from the comic, but nothing that was so outlandish it’s worth harping on for me at least. Marsh isn’t a trucker, he’s a cook which gives him more regular contact with Bette, for example. Was there anything that stuck out about the casting and construct of how each character fit in here that stuck with you?
Natalie: Well, the shift of Kate and Garry’s roles was a good one that led to a different sort of discordance between them in the marriage.
Brittany: Yeah I agree. I thought that was a nice addition.
Natalie: And the relationship between Bette and Marsh, too. In general I thought the actress who played Bette just had so much to do, and the sense of familiarity with everyone and also with Mark as an outsider was great. The choice to have John talk to Bette more and tell the audience things that are sort of an internal monologue in the comic was good, for me, but in general I think the show made choices to make these people more likable and understandable which kind of makes the scenario worse. Marsh is one example. Some of the comic revelations are really horrific, about the darkness that all these people have been responsible for. Those original secrets are, I would say, far worse, and I kind of liked that change here. It made the impact of their fate here worse, that these weren’t people who had done truly terrible things. These were just people.
Examples of the very bad secrets in the book include the double-think of Bette’s romanticized idea of Marsh and his ex-wife Marsha, and then its later revealed that Marsh and Bette have been having their affair long before Marsha died, that the affair was responsible for Marsha’s drinking problem, and that Marsh encouraged it and fed the habit to eventually drink herself to death. Garry sleeps with prostitutes and beats them up afterwards, Kate, no way of saying this lightly, fucked a corpse. Bette is small-town, small mind, massively homophobic about Judy, which is very vaguely still in the show, not so outright prejudiced, more confused. And Marsh in the show has still been sleeping with Bette’s son, but in a much less sinister way.
All these really, truly horrible, criminal secrets about the diner flies are not a part of this episode, which to me, makes the twisted things that happen to them a lot worse. They don’t “deserve” it. They aren’t bad people being punished, they are just flawed people with normal secrets and lies. And John, rather than gleefully relishing it, starts out disappointed when he sees lies come out — when Garry chooses the salad. John at the start is yearning for people to choose the truth and respond honestly to one another.
Brittany: And they disappoint him. Typical.
Natalie: He is so very hurt when Bette calls him handsome. This was just such an unusual emotional note. How did you respond to kind of seeing this tone change in how this was all going to go down?
Brittany: You’re absolutely right, the shift here is that the lies and secrets are not as wildly sinister as the comic. Should Garry and Kate get a divorce, 100%. It does more to show Bette that the happy ending she tried to write in reality doesn’t exist than it does to highlight the cruelty of their lies. Should Marsh maybe not sneak up to sleep with Bette’s hopefully consensual son? I mean it’s not great, and he should stop using Bette as a meal ticket.
I liked the tone change because it made John appear much worse in the end. He’s still awful in the comic, but what we have there is this visual of a man we are set to be against from the start. Here we have just come off of, well okay, a small killing spree, but he has seen some good in one person. We need to recast him in the light that I need to set these lies in motion to be drivers of action rather than quiet acceptances to prove a point. So adding that element to it, especially once we get to Dream’s arrival, really worked for me in what they wanted to achieve by combining the two issues here.
Natalie: I think that it also helps to show the power of the ruby. Because I still think John is a, you know, decent enough man, in the ways that we’ve described, the fragile innocence and desire to do good, make people better, delusionally. But as it goes on, using the ruby, which he hasn’t in 30 years, quickly corrupts him and what he takes from it and the eventual eagerness to push these people into horror. It emphasizes John as somewhat of a victim, a greedy victim sure, but less like he had self-centered evil ambitions that the ruby is a useful tool for. More like a victim of the ruby’s thrall, like Gollum. And that also helps make Dream’s choice at the end make more sense to me, but we have some horrors to traverse before that moment with Dream (which is a moment I love.)
Brittany: Right, as you alluded to before the flies in his web are… a bit underwhelming for John. He uses the ruby for the first time to ask Bette if she truly thinks he is handsome. He clutched the ruby and he asked her why she lied. It’s really a startling moment and one that is uncomfortable in that Bette has to think about this guard she puts up to do her job. It then extends to her facing Kate and Garry with the salad versus burger debacle. She set that happy ending in motion, and she is watching Garry lie about wanting the salad which is obviously a symbol of a much larger issue.
There is a line in the comic that says “The jewel whispers to him of elsewhere pains and madnesses, of far off deaths and distant terrors. This comforts him. He feels the echoes of their dreams.” These small white lies, the ones where Bette tries to say Judy and Mark would make a good match to mask her convictions, Garry lying about the shipping order, Marsh saying he can’t come over anymore, these are all echoes of the dreams that Dream will highlight, but he wants to harp on pushing them to reveal the horrors. We’ve touched on a lot of the basis for what John wants to unpack here.
And things start to take shape when the clutch on the ruby becomes a bit tighter as The Sandman episode 5 reaches what in the comic is dubbed Hour 9: conflict reveals character. Again it starts small. Bette delivers Garry the burger instead of the salad. Mark slips out that the reason Donna doesn’t answer is because she doesn’t want to hear from Judy. But the confessions gradually build until we are stuck in a bit of a time loop where the series of events gets more and more blurred. I think Marsh’s confession is the slowest and possibly most painful delivery. But which one were you put off by?
Natalie: I agree. Marsh’s confession to Bette really feels crushing and sinister even though there is nothing, like, technically heinous about it, and I do think his relationship with Bernard must be consensual. Bernard, you’re 21, just go to Marsh’s place with some condoms and take-out. Leave your mom out of it.
Brittany: Yeah he’s not, as in the comic, selling himself on the streets of Gotham and then later, doing the same thing in jail. Which, yikes.
Natalie: Even this way less horrible version of Marsh and Bernie is a slap to the face to Bette and totally changes the tone of things moving forward. She can’t keep the happy endings fixed in her mind and things start to really sink for everyone from here on out. I think the most painful element is that Marsh seems to say it as kind of a gotcha. He is slightly relishing putting her in her place. He has probably been thinking she’s kind of pathetic for a while. But he also tells her that she doesn’t really fancy him either, that she’s just stuck or bored. Not comforting! It’s after this upheaval in Bette’s personal life that everyone partners up differently into a series of pairings who are somehow better suited and more equipped to connect honestly. Good matchmaking, John. For now.
Brittany: He just wanted something to enjoy while he has his 5 gallon bucket of ice cream. As you said, he does pair them off in ways that feed into two other hours of the book: they get to know each other, and they get to know each other intimately. Yet another great panel loss is John sitting looking over at the pairs and saying “neat.”
Natalie: I mean, this very English, slightly prudish John would maybe not say that. But yes. He picks his way through, kind of like “If you must,” and is much more satisfied with his ice cream.
Brittany: Yeah and in getting there for the better pairings, Marsh and Garry are left in the kitchen while Kate and Mark discuss “business” in the booth for an informal interview. Garry admits that Kate is just “auditioning the new kid,” a role that he once held. Someone she can mold to fit her needs.
Natalie: But someone maybe more willing to fill that role, and be a sugar baby. Given a few of his comments.
Brittany: Not sure where Garry took a cue from Marsh, but maybe the burger was that good that he felt the need to repay him. But yeah, he is casting off that life of living under Kate’s thumb. It was probably great at first but his autonomy is gone and he wants some choice back. Meanwhile, John pushes Bette and Judy together because well, why not at that point? Bette has said that Judy deserves better than Donna, but probably not the reasons Mark and Judy infer. Alas, go for it you two.
Natalie: Bette and Judy’s connection was probably the most surprising to me, but sure, why not? This Bette is old-fashioned and heteronormative — Judy could have any man in town, someone who can look after Judy — but not “goes against god” homophobic, so why not give it a try. Judy’s issues, however, remain the same as in the book’s canon, because the off-screen ex-girlfriend Donna has a role to play down the line in The Sandman. Those two are also friends of Rose Walker, and we got our first glimpse of Rose here on the call to Judy, just as we saw Judy call her in the comic. Did you expect that little Rose moment to still come up?
Brittany: I did! I thought it would be weird to leave it out given how many other threads have been pulled through. Also we’re, believe it or not, halfway through. But the video chat was great, good to see Rose — another character who we’re working our way towards. And yes, Judy’s story was for the most part not changed. We do get a shift in the summoning of the Fates, which maybe we should just plunge straight on into the violence of it all to close out John’s reign of terror. First being the hour where John, for fun, gives everyone their minds back for a moment. Stir the pot. Keep things fresh and take stock of what truths have been revealed. This follows the first act of true violence — Garry attacking Mark and Mark stabbing Garry in the neck.
Natalie: It feels a little different to me because it never really feels like they aren’t in control of their minds earlier on, more just… following impulses. I think I’m glad to cut the truly deluded stuff earlier on. But violence must prevail.
Brittany: Right! I agree with that, which is why I think the loss of the cued time stamps and indication of what he’s been doing all along works here. It borders the use of their free will to see what has been happening. And nothing like a good murder to bring you back to reality
Natalie: I think that Kate’s reaction really spoke to me here, in terms of how much John Dee just doesn’t get people.
Brittany: Bette is the one who confronts John here and I love this moment for her.
Natalie: When Garry is very badly hurt, Kate pushes everything aside and is devastated and I think that it is a good sign that John Dee really doesn’t get how complex people are. Yes, Kate is controlling and Garry evidently fucks around. But it does not mean that they were not in love or that they were terrible together. It does not mean that the deep honesty John wanted was better. Yes, clearly not the best couple ever but, what’s being shown here is like, how do I describe this… The role of lying or adapting in order to keep the peace, or as a choice to stay in a situation that you do want to actually stay in? I don’t know. Does this make sense? Like, yes, we see the worst come out. But for most people, if the scenario they’re in is a net win — if they do love a person, flaws and all, and want to choose to be in a scenario? Lies will happen, even lies about things that you’re willing to put up with for the sake of a circumstance.
I don’t think Kate and Garry are an amazing “goals” couple, but Kate’s reaction made me think about that, that living with things and bending to each other is, in some ways, part of most relationships. Ideally without the actual cheating! But it all actually goes against John’s belief that people are inherently selfish. Because there are lies at play in a relationship that are maybe not selfish, that are rather about things that aren’t the perfect ideal for you but you say you don’t mind because it’s what the other person wants. Garry lies about being as committed to dieting as Kate — before things got out of hand, this is clearly a sacrifice he’s not personally keen on, but something he’s trying to put up with. I don’t know if this is making sense, but Kate’s deeply upsetting reaction made me think about that, about the fact that in order to keep choosing one another as a couple, small lies do naturally occur. Lies people are willing to live with. It’s less black and white than John wants it to be.
Brittany: Going back to the selfishness, honestly, the only one here who makes an outright selfish choice — with the information we have — is Marsh. Kate going to Garry when he is gravely injured out of some possibly tarnished but not severed connection to him is complicated. John is drawing these lines for everyone and when they don’t fit into his little grid, he doesn’t like it. In the background, before Bette confronts John the score we have for the scene is the playing of the news which turns from traffic and weather to reports of chaos — from accidents, to mob mentality taking over cities, the world is slowly crumbling. And Bette says to John, “You said you wanted to change the world and I didn’t believe you.” His explanation that follows plays over some of the most violent bits of the comic, and the episode in general. Though as you mentioned Neil saying some of the worst is implied, it’s really all right there for the taking.
Natalie: Yeah, I mean we miss the moment of impact for some of the gore. But really, it’s pretty bad. And all of it is self-punishment really, no more murders.
Brittany: Yeah, exactly. John explains that all he was responsible for was taking away the lies, the rest was their doing. His pointed remark to Bette in particular though was cruel — when he asks that she didn’t want to be seen or touched or loved? Ouch. It’s not great and the body count rises to five before Bette walks over the carnage after burning the pages of her writing on the stove in the back. She asks John, how is this a better world? And that is when I think he has had enough explaining for one day, and uses her to embrace the darkness and summon the Fates, which in turn, causes someone else to wake up.
The return of the Hecatae is quite interesting because we get the same gist of what we saw with Dream’s interaction, but he asks the same question three times with three different answers. All of which are truths of this future. What did you think of bringing the Hecatae back in this way? Using the bodies of the women killed in the space and the readings they give John.
Natalie: It’s definitely true to the comic, or implied to be such. I think putting it at the end, after they’re all dead, is a more impactful choice. A good structural thing, in my opinion. And makes me wonder where else we might see them as they are so, so important in the long run. I like that the Furies lead into the content of the issue called “Sound and Fury” here, though that title is referencing something quite different. Anyway, it felt less incidental here. Less idle.
Brittany: I agree. I think having it here, the choice to have Bette be the last one standing and another moment alone with John before being the vehicle for this final act (instead of Judy) were all good choices. The three versions of the future revealed to him go from universal (you come from dust, you walk the dust, you go back to dust,) to a bit more specific (it is bound by walls and guards and the sour smell of madness,) to finally something John can work with (you have stolen the some of the power of dreams, you will take all of it, you will crush the Dream lord’s life in your hands.) Which leads us into the issue “Sound and Fury.” Where Dream arrives at the diner.
Natalie: God, I’ve missed him.
Brittany: It was a nice reprieve after a harrowing 40 minutes.
Natalie: I mean you couldn’t cut away from the events here, but to finally get him back was such a relief. Beautiful boy filled with beautiful ideas. And here, he fills John in rather better than I tried to describe above, which is to kind of lay out the difference in behavior between lies and dreams or hopes.
John claimed that removing the things he saw as lies showed the truth of mankind. Dream has an alternative opinion, similar to what I was saying about choices, which is that the “lies” people tell each other, not the bad-faith lies, the general, daily lies, are more related to dreams and hopes. They come from a place of hope to change, you know? Or the choices that they make that they aren’t entirely happy with, are still borne of hope and dreams. He frames the way people interact and talk about things, maybe saying things that aren’t letter by letter the true current feeling, as coming from a really different place than the way John sees it. He says that what John has done is strip people of their hope, and that act removes their resilience to cope with the now, to hold onto the dream of a better future, to be better. John seems quite shocked by this new angle.
Brittany: Hope did just defeat Lucifer, so he has a strong argument. But Dream doesn’t boast about that. John does appear taken aback by it at first and Dream is quick to add that John is being hurt by the ruby — it’s not that he is an inherently selfish person either. He had choices in the matter but they were overwhelmed by the power not meant for him to deal with. It’s all traced back to a lie and theft, but righting the wrong of his mother doesn’t have to be an action against the world. However, he says, if John does need to make a move against Dream using his power than it should be in his realm
Natalie: Dream is very kind when talking to him face to face, but he does give him kind of an intense nightmare.
Brittany: The nightmare is not great, but it does show John what he is up against. That manipulation of dream power can go from making it snow in the summer to placing you in a maze of your ancestral home with your mother stealing the tools. What I did quite like, though, was the tightness of this arc and honestly how close the resolution played to the pages. The dream sequence was different of course, but once John attempts to pull all of Dream’s power — very exact.
Natalie: This part does see John go somewhat full egomaniac and hungry for power. They needed to find a way into that somehow, and I think it worked despite him not having that prior energy. His drive here seems to come from seeing the Dreaming as a wrongness. The title thrown at Morpheus, “King of Lies” just about sums up his angle here.
Brittany: For sure. He is also in a position now to pull that power from Dream’s other tools. I think that connection with the ruby coupled with what you said just finally cracked him into the man who screams “This is your life, Dreamlord, and I’m crushing it with my hands.”
Natalie: Just like the Fates promised.
Natalie: Funny how these things work.
Brittany: Pour one out for the line “I’m the king of dreams. Of everything. But it’s funny, I always thought when I became king… I thought there would be applause.” No applause for you, John. But how about a thank you?
Natalie: He can have little-a thank you. As a treat. Pour one out for Dream’s t-shirt.
Brittany: And the crouch. We were robbed of a good crouch
Natalie: It’s funny, my go-to mental image of Morpheus is very much made up of a handful of iconic panels and these ones with Dee are a huge part of it. Dream sitting on the ground, in a t-shirt, hugging his knees? That’s my man. In general, there are a lot of images in the comics where he is crouching, kneeling, or sitting on the ground. And I’ve been cataloging them in the show so far, LOLl. He has a few meaningful kneeling moments, including Gregory. And he has a good sit-down on the steps of the broken throne room.
But the t-shirt is also a big part of it for me. I need to see him sitting on the actual ground, hugging his knees in a t-shirt, at some point in the show. That bodily energy is so, so Dream to me for some reason. This is a weird thing to be obsessed with, but I think it’s because it’s the opposite of regal? But I mean, leaving the t-shirt out of it, I was SO impressed by the imagery of the hand and Tom’s gentleness of this forgiveness of Dee. The palm of hand shot is my favorite Special Effect of the series.
Brittany: It was very cool and that smallness of Dee under the weight of Dream’s kindness here, thanking him for breaking an object that contained so much of his power, was a step to making Dream feel whole again. At home in the Dreaming and in control of his power. So just like his mother, the last time he cause arson, murder, and general mayhem, Dream puts John back in “Arkham.”
Natalie: Thought he might give him a little forehead kiss for a second.
Brittany: I would not have batted an eye at that. But please tell me John Dee is not on the list.
Natalie: Not a sexy one or anything. It just seemed like the vibe.
Brittany: LOL, okay good.
Natalie: But Dream’s power was released into the Dreaming which is great news, the essence of his dreamstuff readily available to heal the damage and make Dream more naturally empowered. That’ll teach him to put all his eggs in one ruby. The fact that he wouldn’t have thought of destroying the ruby to free the power always interested me and made me question why he packed some stones full of power, rather than just wielding it through himself. But that’s a story for another day. It’s a new world, it’s a new dawn, it’s a new day and Dream’s feeling good.
Brittany: He loves an accessory. A fault.
Natalie: He loves objects! The hypocrite!
Brittany: There will be a new dawn and a new day as Dream tells Matthew where humanity will begin to rebuild.
Natalie: Shame he can’t undo all that was done. But that isn’t the role of the Endless.
Brittany: Dream has his own realm to rebuild and some people to catch up with, leading us into another great issue and episode “The Sound of Her Wings.” But someone is watching — our first look at another Endless sibling.
Natalie: A little glimpse of Desire was not expected to me here, but a clue I suppose to tell us that things are perhaps not so cordial for Dream and his siblings. But a nicer interaction to come in episode 6. Before signing off, I want to ask you something about the issue title “Sound and Fury.” This title is from Shakespeare, from Macbeth.
“Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
The meaning of that is basically that there is no greater point to life and existence, no grander purpose. That it’s all bullshit really. I think this is kind of inherently appropriate to comic John Dee’s whole approach and his “destroy the world” agenda. Obviously the title is eliminated here due to being a two-for-one, but I wanted to ask if you think the title is still thematically appropriate for the Dee and Dream story we see in the show. Or if it comes from a different place.
Brittany: I do. There wasn’t enough stripped away from the heart of what was being told. I think some of the responses to John Dee and the situations he found himself responding to were a bit different. But we ended up exactly where the comic led us with Dream and Dee having taken me different journeys to get there. I think the meaning here is, as you say, to show that you come, you make a stand and in the end life just ends. You’re a forgotten player. Dream has been realizing that in the Dreaming, John is realizing that about his role in the world. I think there is more hope in these stories than the meaning and/or simplification of the Macbeth quote implies. What is the step once you realize that nothing is signified? What is someone like Dream, whose life is lived on a larger-spanning timeline than any human life (with or without amulet influence) to do with that?
Natalie: Well, that is the question, right? Sounds like something he should go and feed some pigeons about.