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The Sandman: Imperfect Hosts

This is who we are: the first murderer, the first victim.

When Lord Morpheus finally returns to the dreaming, he finds a world in ruins. Desperate, exhausted, and alone, he turns to us, his stalwart companions, Cain and Abel, for support, with our friend Lucienne close behind. What he asks us is a price we never dreamed we’d pay.

House of Mysteries

What is an Endless? They aren’t gods. They aren’t men. They find glass balls disagreeable. They have librarians who survive disaster.

This episode finally brings you to our houses and introduces the audience to Cain and Abel, and throughout this extended introduction we are shown the destruction wrought in the Dreaming in the absence of Dream. It shows Dream led powerless to us by our friend Lucienne. I contend, however, that we’re shown through his powerlessness a level of power that’s hard to deny. We are, I mean, THE Cain, THE Abel. We’re in the Bible. I killed him, in a situation which has been unfairly represented for centuries in the literature. In this scene, although it doesn’t make a highfalutin point of it, it’s quite clear that we are no more than servants to Dream. He takes our dragon, right? Poor Gregory. I blame my brother for losing him, you know. I sort of speak up about it, and am reminded of my place. The fact is that the Endless are so powerful there’s no point in making even a weak protest. That’s a show of power that’s scary, even though Dream is a handsome protagonist who, in the first two episodes, has been shown doing good things like chasing down a murderer. At his full power, Dream can summon the Fates themselves. Even with only a few grains of his sand, Lord Morpheus is hard to deny.


With only a few grains of sand, however, Dream can barely begin repairs on his world. In order to find he has to find a way to pay the fates instead of simply summon them. He has to figure out if the Fates will help or harm him. And he has Lucienne’s dire warnings to light his way. Why doesn't he get his brothers and sisters? What's wrong with a man that they won't ask for help?

House of Secrets

I still wish we hadn’t had to lose Gregory, even knowing that, by the end of this episode, our Lord Morpheus has a plan to get his power back. Of course there was nothing we could do; our Lord Morpheus can only take power from things he has created, and he didn’t create us: someone Else did, as someone Else created Lucienne.

And I understand his not wanting to ask his brothers or sisters for help. I wouldn’t ask mine either. You see what happens when I say too much. After all, I’m not perfect. Neither is my brother, of course, both of us are fairly imperfect hosts. So, too, are the Cripps, although I love how Ethel pulls off her Amulet of Protection move on the Corinthian and the echoes of that young flapper-type from Episode One pulling off a conceited "get out of here." Having her son in a mental hospital was pretty intense–but weirdly, there seems like a lot of love there. Love and imprisonment seem closely related in the Sandman.

What does my final story mean – my secret story? Well, it's a story about me and Cain obviously, and once, it was true. And I'll remember it for ever and for ever.

A Farewell from Gregory

Grrrrr. Wow? Grmph. My time with thee was short, my friends, but sweet. I wonder what caused Lord Morpheus to give me to Cain and Abel? It was clear we'd loved each other for millennia.

Dream Skerries

In the books, Lord Morpheus absorbed a contract from Cain and Abel, not Gregory, in order to gain enough strength for the Hecate. Absorbing Gregory let us see a little more of Dream’s softer side - he was clearly impacted by the loss of this little nightmare.

I loved Dream diving through dreams to get items for the Fates. It’s an interesting way of realizing how Dream moves through the unconscious mind, and how powerful that motion can be. And I love how the Fates appear in this episode - it felt like total fan service, as the Fates in this episode made me recall very strongly the fates from the actual comic!

Dream of the Endless always has a raven, and the position, according to Lucienne, is going begging. The raven connotes many things - Odin's twins, for example, Huginn and Muninn, flying around the world spying. It also connotes the nightmare that seized Poe and became a Hallowe'en poem in classrooms all around the world.

How did Cain and Abel get to the Dreaming? Well, Gaiman's gone to the Bible for evidence there; at the end of their story, Cain leaves the presence of the Lord and goes to the Land of Nod (or in this case, the land of nodding off.)

Dénouement

The Corinthian reforming at the end in the Dreaming – but still having the power to return to the mortal world – shows how far decayed Dream's power is, and sets the stage for a bigger confrontation down the pipeline. I'm finding this character a little more menacing in this episode, so that's good, but also a little more simplistic, and that's bad. In the end, what I'm finding is that due to the dualistic nature of this world, with the Dreaming and the real world, the episode begins to feel something like extended exposition, and as much as I'm loving Sandman, by the end of the episode I was wanting more, both from the plot line and from the Corinthian's eyeteeth.

4 comments:

  1. Hey there, this is Mikey. Google won't let me post as me for some reason.

    Gregory's loss absolutely gutted me here. SO much stronger a moment then turning over the contracts as happened in the comics.

    A dear friend of mine just unexpectedly lost their beloved cat a day or two ago, and noted that they were going to watch episode two of Sandman to take their mind off of it and all I could think was 'Jesus Christ, do NOT watch that episode at this moment!!'

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  2. To be honest that scene made me cry, Mikey, I’ve lost a pet before and Gregory had that loving unquestioning look.

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  3. Mikey: I had the same problem with the G monster. They changed their policy on blogs. You have to go to your google account settings and manually allow yourself to comment on this site. Been a while since I did it so sorry for the lack of details, but if you poke around you'll get it.

    I tried to watch Sandman even though wizards, magic, angels, and gods are not my cup of tea. I've read some of Gaiman's books and I love American Gods. But in the 1st episode somebody shoots a bird! I was so pissed about that I couldn't enjoy the rest and will pass on watching more. I'm one of those people who has to try hard to watch a western because I'm so afraid the horses will get hurt. I do hope everyone enjoys it.

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  4. milostanfield, I was upset about the bird, too. And I'm always afraid the animals will get hurt.

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