The sand manNetflix’s long-awaited adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s comics, begins “in the waking world, which humanity insists on call the world ‘real’, as if your dreams have no effect on the choices you make,” main character Morpheus tells us at the start of the series premiere.
As we watch a crow follow a horse-drawn carriage and then fly off to another otherworldly realm, Morpheus – aka Dream, aka Lord of The Dreaming, aka King of Dreams, aka about a million other names – adds: “There’s another life waiting for you when you close your eyes and walk in my kingdom.”
Indeed, the 10 episodes of Season 1 which began airing on Friday take viewers deep into the world of Dream, a once lush and rich playground (think giant golden gates to a realm where dragons swarm). ‘ frolic) which begins to crumble when its lord leaves “to pursue a rogue nightmare”, as he tells us – and is held captive for over a century.
In a moment we want to know what you think The sand manis the first. But first, a little recap:
Morpheus (played by bittersweetby Tom Sturridge) sets out to catch the aforementioned nightmare, a serial killer with mouths where his eyes should be called The Corinthian (The fugitiveby Boyd Holbrook). Fans of the Vertigo comics will recognize the helmet, ruby and sandbag that Morpheus grabs before saying goodbye to The Dreaming’s librarian, Lucienne (The witches‘ Vivienne Acheampong). And it quickly follows The Corinthian to Berlin, where it’s about to end the literal nightmare when we hear chants and Morpheus is completely swept away elsewhere.
He finds himself naked and trapped in a mystical sphere, conjured up by a wealthy man named Roderick Burgess (game of thrones‘ Charles Dance), who attempts to capture Dream’s brother Death instead. (Oops!) The Corinthian heads to Burgess’ house to give the old man some advice. First, his accounts (the helmet, gem, and purse) can lend aspects of Dream’s power to those who possess them. Second, no one can fall asleep in his presence, otherwise the lord of dreams will escape.
The next morning, following Morpheus’ imprisonment, a group of people fail to wake up from their nightly slumber. One of them is a young London girl named Unity Kincaid; she will become important to the story later in the season.
Burgess unsuccessfully tries to negotiate with Morpheus, but the otherworldly being does not speak to him. Jumping forward 10 years, Burgess has wealth, youth, and prosperity thanks to Morpheus accessories. He ends up impregnating a young woman named Ethel, then demands that she have an abortion. So she runs away… and takes Morpheus’ ruby with her. We later see that she has a son named Johnny, who will also feature in the story in a later episode.
Eventually, the episode jumps far into the future, when Burgess’ son Alex is an old man… who still has Morpheus locked away in that sphere. When Alex’s wheelchair accidentally erases some of the magic marks holding Dream captive, the prisoner is able to put a guard to sleep, which leads to a series of events that ends with a vortex opening and Dream being sucked into it.
Shortly after, Alex has a dream in which Morpheus gives him the gift of “eternal sleep”, says the lord of dreams, blowing sand in his face and condemning his captor to a nightmarish slumber from which he will never wake. Elsewhere, The Corinthian – fresh from a murder in which the victim’s eyes were gouged out – knows exactly what happened. Yet he monologues, he won’t stop what he’s doing until he reshapes the world “to look like me.”
A very weakened Morpheus returns to his kingdom where Lucienne happily greets him… then gently tells him that their world and his palace “are not as you left them”.
This is putting it lightly. The place is a wasteland! Lucienne explains that because he was gone for so long, the kingdom began to crumble and many of its inhabitants left. But Dream pledges to make everything right, so that dreams and nightmares don’t prey on the waking world. “I created this world once, Lucienne,” he said as the decrepit, giant doors of The Dreaming draw closed behind them. “I’ll do it again.”
Now it’s your turn. What did you think of the episode? Grade the premiere via the poll below, then hit the comments with your thoughts!