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The Sandman: Dream a Little Dream of Me

"This visit’s strictly professional. Unless you want to get a drink after."

When is a Constantine story not a Constantine story...

House of Mysteries:

And just like that, both I and my boil-brained sibling are dropped without so much as an unceremonious plop from the narrative. If that isn't just typical. Show up at a respectable gentle-being's home, murder their house pet, and then you're off without so much as a by-your-leave. Absolutely typical, I tell you.

But this isn't about me, now is it. This is about a very mysterious character, indeed. One long held in high esteem by the fans of such stories. This, friends, is a story of Constantine. And he's welcome to it. I have problems enough of my own to deal with. Beh.

I'm told that the character of John Constantine is, and has been for many a good year now, a fan favorite. Previous versions of Constantine's one recorded encounter with my Lord, ruler of dreams, are dearly loved by the sort of person who follows this sort of thing. So, what are we to make of Dream's encounter with Johanna Constantine? Is it the same story? Is it the true story? These are the mysteries that I present to you.

I'll not get into the exigencies of it here, so let's just say that for a variety of reasons the decision to recast John Constantine with Johanna Constantine is a damned good one. Even if they hadn't bene more or less forced into it. Dream mentions that he's known her ancestors, and not to spoil anything, let's just say that that might become relevant at some point in future seasons. Which means that not only is her character serving this story, it's also planting seeds for future events, which is good storytelling.

That isn't a mystery Abel, please don't be pedantic. Lord Morpheus himself drops some foreshadowing on that point with as much subtlety as you show while scratching your nether regions.

The story of Johanna Constantine, forced by fate to reunite with a love she abandoned in order to help Dream retrieve his bag of sand can largely be thought of as a self-contained story. And certainly, those portions of this episode work just fine when seen as nothing more than that. But the weavers of this tale have very cleverly added a few layers underneath that through the ingenious pairing of it with two other plotlines: The continued reunion of John Dee and his thieving mother, Ethel Cripps, and the introduction of Dream's new Raven, Matthew.

Both of these provide, in their own way, mirrors of the themes of the Constantine story in a quite elegant way. I believe the chatty Corvidae in question has requested to share a few words of his own below.

House of Secrets:

What Cain is forgetting to s... I mean, what Cain is indicating... What Cain wants you to think about is just why the reunion of Ethel and John mirrors the reunion of Johanna and Rachel. And it's super interesting, so I think it's worth talking about.

Once you strip away broader plot concerns, both of those are the same story. We have a powerful woman who's reuniting with someone she loves but abandoned some time ago. She's back because that person has one of Lord Morpheus' tools, and they're concerned about it. That's both stories.

You see, they're practically begging us to compare the two situations in order to examine the differences between the characters. I mean... that's why you set up that kind of setup.

OK, sure, they're also taking advantage of the serialized format to more properly establish both Ethel Cripps and John Dee as real, human characters as opposed to plot functions. No Cain, that's not a criticism, I promise. Self-contained horror comics use characters differently than serialized tv. That's all I meant. I swear.

So, um, like I was saying... Johanna did a terrible thing walking out on Rachel just to avoid emotional intimacy. And she had to be basically dog marched back to make an awkward breast of things with her ex. Sure, once she realized exactly how much the things she did and left behind had damaged Rachel her better nature took over and she fought like Hell to get Rachel what help she could, but if she hadn't ever been forced into that room she would have happily continued keeping herself from thinking of Rachel for a long time.

Ethel, on the other hand, had her son steal Dream's ruby from her and run away. She was the abandoned party. Although emotionally speaking, it sounds like... no, you know what, let's not unpack the impact of emotional neglect on children right now, that's kind of outside of the point we're discussing.

She returns quite willingly and deliberately to John out of concern for his safety. Her entire goal is to go there and get him to give up the Ruby so that Lord Morpheus won't track him down and paint the inside of an elevator with him. She's thinking about John's safety, not her own. As, indeed, her ultimate actions prove quite conclusively.

Now, given those two scenarios, which would you assume was the story of a 'hero' and which the story of a C-tier 'Villain'?

Exactly. And that's why it's compelling.

No, Cain... put down that garden shear... (Squelch.)

A Hello from Matthew (the Raven):

So.. High. Yeah. Guess we were all a little surprised at how much significance both my arrival and my existence turned out to be here, right? I'm adding a little more stress on Dream and Lucienne's relationship, which I totally, totally feel bad about. Totally. But I'm also making Dream's feelings about what happened to Jessamy a huge factor in where his head is now, which is pretty cool for the storytelling. That's cool, right?

Oh, and hey, how about the way that I'm never even remotely scared of not following direct orders from Dream. That's kind of unexpected and awesome, right?

Well, we're off to Hell now. Wish me luck! Got some first day as a raven jitters.

Dream Skerries:

- Rachel lists a couple of Johanna's exes as 'Sarah' and 'Oliver.' First of all, hooray for bi-inclusion. But more – can we hope that their last names were 'Lance' and 'Queen'? Please?

- They did not shy away from the grisly imagery with Astra, did they.

- Pedantically, this must mean that The Sandman doesn't exist in the Arrowverse, since this is a straight reboot of the Astra Logue story we saw play out there.

- All of the visuals here are amazing. Yes, the big showy demon-ripping-out-from-the-throat visuals are incredible, but just as impressive are the way the episode uses 'walking down a tight hallway' as a surprisingly flexible motif.

- The posters on the wall in Johanna's dream reward pausing.

- I'm trying to resist constant comparison to the source material here, but it feels like it's worth noting that in the comics, John's ex (I don't recall if her name was Rachel. I don't think it was) was a junkie, who was deliberately using the sand to get 'high.' There's a LOT of junkie imagery in this episode – particularly with John Dee – but they went out of their way to make Rachel as far from that as possible. I suspect to avoid looking like their making negative implications about same sex relationships. It's a thing.


Dénouement:

The more things change the more they streamline the episode while simultaneously making it a more intrinsic part of the larger season's story. I apologize for my Beef-witted brother's entrails being in your way. Do try not to slip in him as you exit through the gift shop.


Cain is the first murderer from the First Story. Keeper of the House of Mysteries, he collects wicker furniture and nagging feelings of defeat. Abel, his brother, is the first victim from that same story, caretaker of the House of Secrets. He likes puddings.

Joseph Santini and Mikey Heinrich are fictional characters and remain the intellectual property of their creators, all rights reserved.

1 comment:

  1. "Rachel lists a couple of Johanna's exes as 'Sarah' and 'Oliver.' First of all, hooray for bi-inclusion. But more – can we hope that their last names were 'Lance' and 'Queen'? Please?"
    Oliver is actually the Desmond who appeared in season 4 of Legends, in the comics his name is Oliver.
    And Sarah in the comics was a girl John dated after Kit Ryan left him.

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