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The Sandman: A Hope In Hell

Saving only the Creator, Lucifer is the most powerful being there is.

Who is really more powerful: the Lord of Dreams or Lucifer bloody Morningstar? Dream pursues his missing helm in a trip to Hell in which he confronts many demons, without and within, while John Dee explores the world.

House of Mysteries

This episode is full of mystery! It makes sense, since it's largely about a world beyond our own. Who is this Lucifer? What is Hell? These are the questions my lord Dream addresses in this episode of The Sandman. Is this the traditional Lucifer of the Bible? Dream seems to imply that there is a unity to all hells and all heavens somehow. Whatever you come away with, it's clearly a very powerful figure in charge of the dead and feeling fairly cast out and full of vengeful pride. Whatever your beliefs, Hell comes across as a little too set up to be scary in this episode. The Wood of the Suicides, all of it just seemed a little too over the top for me. I like my horror to be understated and find it more powerful that way.

Part of this was Matthew. He's a lovely raven but his involvement and his frantic support for Dream during the fight seemed a little tropey and not very natural. The fight win seemed satisfying, but I was left wondering: why does Dream need his helmet? He seems to use it to get special vision powers, but that doesn't account for the spinal part of it. Is it there just to scare and enlarge?

Our second thread with John Dee was actually a ton more creepy as we wonder whether or not he's going to kill Rosemary. David Thewles is at once absolutely pathetic and terrifying. Is John Dee evil, or just badly, badly twisted by his life? I don't know if I feel sympathetic for the character or not. He seems like a childish power grabber - and all the more terrifying for his mindless childishness, for a bloated, greedy I Deserve.

House of Secrets

Did you know that demons use poetry to communicate? The complicatedness of the poem determines their rank as a demon. Squatterbloat's poem here is fairly simple; I imagine a commander would be at least in iambic pentameter.

Bringing Dream to Nada, his ex in Hell, and understanding Dream's pride in this situation, is really important to understanding Dream's character. He's a lot like Lucifer in this way.

And here's another secret. The fight between Dream and Lucifer may feel familiar, and it is: it's a kind of traditional wizard's duel that goes back through history, and can be seen in The Sword in the Stone and many books and novels. TV Tropes calls this a Shapeshifter Showdown. I love the language and use of language in this part of the battle.

And don't kill me Cain - But I think Gwendolyn Christie was one of the most lovely parts of this episode, demonstrating emotion on her face like a Shakespearean actor. When you think of all the things Lucifer has become on TV and film, including a certain lounge-lizard whose rendition of All Along the Watchtower once stirred my heart like you wouldn't believe, this has to be one of the best iterations–

-splurt-

Dream Skerries

In the original, Dream was also met by Squatterbloat, whose script follows nearly word for word the script in the comics - but then rescued by Etrigan, the half-demon. Here Squatterbloat does the job alone - I guess because of copyright issues.

Another difference from the comics: Dream fought Choronzon directly, not Lucifer. It didn't make sense to me that Choronzon had the ability to call Lucifer as his champion at first, but then it made sense: in this version there's a smile on Lucifer's face and an implication that the whole thing was a setup to fight and defeat Dream for his power. I liked this revision - I think it made Lucifer's ire towards Dream more clear.

Does anyone else wish there was more of Rosemary? She was a really complex character, and I think as confused as the rest of us about John Dee, and a very good person.

On Waking

A great episode, if somewhat cheesy more than horrific, but I'm looking forward to more from Lucifer - knowing what's ahead they haven't begun to plumb that story and character. I'm not looking forward to seeing John Dee become more twisted and terrible, but that seems to be the next step after casual murder. More soon from the Houses of Secrets and Mysteries!

2 comments:

  1. I'm kind of ambivalent about the change of opponent from Choronzon to Lucifer. On the one hand, having Morpheus fight Lucifer feels more grand and I understand why the writers would want to do this. And it _does_ look good. But on the other hand it doesn't make much sense. Morpheus is supposedly weak and exhausted, yet he's still able to take on the second most powerful being in all creation on her own home ground and win? That makes the words about Lucifer's power ring very hollow.

    The comic book version, where Morpheus fight Choronzon, makes more sense to me. Morpheus is shaken, weakened, out of his element, and he's not sure if he can defeat even this one regular demon in hell. His victory shows him he's not as weak as he thought and gives him the confidence boost to stare down Lucifer after his double-cross. What's neat about this is exactly the fact that Morpheus doesn't fight Lucifer directly (which he would presumably lose). Instead he just outlines the cost of such a fight to Lucifer and makes him afraid to follow up on his threats.

    Being publicly humiliated like that by a weaker being is enough to make Lucifer's anger towards Morpheus burn white-hot, at least in my opinion.

    The changes to John Dee, on the other hand, work much better. Making him a sad and broken man (though still twisted and somewhat malicious) makes him an infinitely more interesting character than the one-dimensional sadistic psychopath from the original comics.

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  2. It seemed weird to me too that a weakened Dream was able to defeat Lucifer in hell itself. I was expecting some other kind of resolution rather than an outright defeat. But for me Rosemary and John Dee were the more interesting and memorable and part of the episode. In my opinion, the John Dee part of the next episode is one of the highlights of a strong first season for the series. Is that too much of a spoiler?

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