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The Sandman: The Doll's House

"Beware dreams. And houses."

The House of Mysteries

And with that, my Lords, Ladies, and Those that Lie Outside the Binary, we officially enter the second story-arc of The Sandman's first season. With deference to Dawn Wiener, Welcome to 'The Doll's House.'

As we enter the storyline, please do take a moment to appreciate the attention and care that has been put into seeding certain elements of this storyline into the storyline prior. We met Rose back in '24/7,' when she spoke via video chat with poor, doomed Judy. In fact, it was Rose who was calling Judy back later in the episode whose call went unanswered.

Unity Kincaid, of course, we met briefly as a girl in the first episode when she succumbed to the Sleepy Sickness caused by Morpheus' capture. This is, obviously, why they kept that particular example of people succumbing to the sickness in the script when several other – arguably more interesting at the time – were left out. Unity mentions here that she had just been given that Doll's House as a twelfth birthday gift before succumbing, which places her birth in 1904, which means she's now 118 years old. This, as much as anything, speaks to the health benefits of staying well rested. It also means that Rose Walker is now her great granddaughter, as opposed to being her granddaughter in the source material.

The Corinthian, naughty thing that he continues to be, has been around since nearly the first scene of the series, and now is firmly stepping into the foreground of the plot. As an interesting side note, it's strongly implied if not outright stated that The Corinthian created the entire concept of serial killers in the time he's been on Earth. And while the idea of serial killing certainly did enjoy something of a vogue during that time period, it certainly didn't begin there. Speaking as the first murderer, I find myself offended.

And last of the already established plot threads, we have M'lord Morpheus' younger siblings, the twins Desire and Despair. Far be it for me to make comment on my good Lord's siblings, particularly considering what they're capable of doing to me, so let's just note that it's firmly established that they were involved, if not behind, both Roderick Burgess' kidnap attempt and what we might refer to as 'The Nada Affair.' We did actually see Nada briefly back in 'A Hope in Hell,' if the name rings a bell. There's just the slightest of chances she might come up again, but at the risk of spoiling a mystery, not for a while. So, as we see earlier seeds beginning to sprout, we casually add a few more in for later. Plot-Crop rotation. It keeps the storytelling soil vibrant.

And then we have the new dolls being placed into the house for the first time. We hear about two more missing nightmares who've used Lord Morpheus' absence as an excuse to do a runner. Now I have nothing against Fiddler's Green, but Gault. Ughh. Don't get me started about Gault. Particularly as we thankfully don't see her in this one. No, the real dolls being put into play here are the residents of Hal's B & B, located in what they insist on calling Cape Kennedy. We'll just leave that for the notes later on though. We have literal Ken and Barbie, just to drive the doll metaphor home. Hal, of course, Zelda and Chantel the enchanting spider women, Gilbert who just manages to show up in the closing minutes, and Rose's sidekick, Lyta.

Like any good opening installment of a storyline, it sets all these up without making it too obvious that that's all it's doing. This is the doll's house. These are the dolls that are in it. Let's sit back and watch various factions play.

The House of Secrets

C-C-Cain... You forgot to mention the serial kil... I mean the collectors! And the big news about what Rose is! And the fact that I get to appear and have a r-r-real conversation with Lucienne and I even get to give her important information and everything, even if she pretended it wasn't important information at the time, because we all saw that she went and told Lord Morpheus about Rose being the Vortex of Dream and even though he kind of already knew, I was still right and helpful!

Oh. Oh my. Um. I also got to tell her about the unspeakably frightening thing in the basement?

It was good storytelling to tell us right up front that Rose was the Vortex, and then let us ponder the implications of what that might mean as she gets set on her quest. Her face in the dream sky, looking down on them as they looked up at her, observation occurring in both directions. It was both a beautiful image and a powerful metaphor for the story. Rose, in some way, is the literal face of doom looking down unto the dreaming from above. But why? But how? And how do annulets figure into it?

(See Cain, I left that a secret. I really can if I try.)

Lyta's function in the plot has undergone some significant changes which flow much more nicely here. As Rose's friend, she's in on what's happening in the waking world, even as her own plot developments in the dream world begin to happen. (You didn't mention her very nice ghost husband either, Cain. I'm sorry, I'm not criticizing.)

All in all, the plotting on display here is elegant as can be. The way that the Corinthian's search for Rose dovetails into her search for Jed and the Collectors' search for him is all masterfully handled. The dolls are all on the move. If only they knew where they were headed.

Oh, and I always really like Gault. She's nice. I mean, I know she's a nightmare, but so was Gregory once and he was lovely.

"It's me!"

A Brief Word from (not) British Airways:

We're excited to announce our brand new Recently Bereaved Travel Service! At no additional charge, your deceased loved one will now be able to occupy the seat next to you during your flight for intimate dream-based conversations and will no longer be required to be stowed beneath the seat in front of you, nor in the overhead bin.

Please do remember that the seat in question will most likely also be occupied by a live physical body, so best resist those urges for one last deep kissing make out session, if you wish to avoid awkward conversations upon waking.

Thank you, on behalf of an airline whose name is studiously not mentioned but is certainly not British Airways as we see the airline logo on all the seats, and it doesn't match. Perhaps we're the same airline from Lost. Who knows.

Dream Skerries

-- Strictly speaking, Carl the house sitter added absolutely nothing to the plotline that couldn't have been covered with a line elsewhere. But I can't say that I hated seeing him hook up (apparently repeatedly) with the Corinthian. And I rewatched the scene several times, just to be sure.

-- I hate to be nit-picky on things that mean this little, but Cape Kennedy, as a city, didn't exist either in 1990 when the first issue of the storyline was published in comic form, nor in August of 2022 when the episodes dropped. The city was named Cape Canaveral until Kennedy's assassination in 1963, then had its named changed to Cape Kennedy from 1963-1973, then reverted to Cape Canaveral, which it remains. This point is entirely irrelevant but is offered up for what it's worth.

-- I loved that they gave Rose the agency to save herself from the muggers and not wait for Gilbert to save her. It was a small detail, but it was appreciated.

-- When Hal as 'Dolly' rubs her dress across Rose's face, was that a deliberate nod to the Hedwig and the Angry Inch 'It's a car wash, ladies and gentlemen!' moment? I choose to believe that it was.

-- You can tell that they want us to think Ken is a douche because they gave him a man bun. Ah, the semiotics of hairstyle.

-- I don't know enough about the foster system to make an informed statement, but don't they check on the kids with some sort of regularity? Am I giving the system to much credit? Also, why would Rose at fourteen be free to go with her mother to New Brunswick, but Jed at five could not. I don't know enough about shared custody to know if that's realistic. Anyone?

-- I love any chance we get to see the Fates. And they dropped a nice reference to their manifestation as The Kindly Ones. Let's hope we get enough seasons of the show to get to them.

-- I don't love the slow burning power struggle between Morpheus and Lucienne. Particularly because Lucienne clearly wants no part in it but keeps getting drawn in by everybody else deferring to her instead of him, which is a shitty position to be in.

-- I would watch/listen to Mark Hamill as Merv Pumpkinhead all day long.

-- Rose walking straight into Dream's throne room and demanding answers – such a powerful and unexpected moment. Well done.

On Waking

They did a really nice job here squaring some particularly difficult circles regarding adaptation of the original story. Particular applause goes to their reworking of how Lyta fits into things. A lovely start to the second half of the season and.... GWWWAAAJHJJHCCKKK

I'm sorry, one and all. My brother appears to have inadvertently choked on a chipper-shredder partially through that sentence. See you all in the next exciting installment! (Correct me on bringing up the collectors, will you.)

Cain is the first murderer from the First Story. Keeper of the House of Mysteries, he sometimes wakes in the night, inexplicably humming the greatest hits of the band Men Without Hats. Abel, his brother, is caretaker of the House of Secrets and is currently appearing in 'No Sex Please, We're British' at the East Sussex Playhouse.

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


  1. Hi, I'm enjoying your reviews, but I'm wondering why you didn't do one for the previous episode. Will it come out later?

    1. Hey there. Glad you're enjoying them! We've been having a lot of fun.

      We're absolutely doing one for Sound of her Wings, We got out of sequence when we were dividing the workload (Long story short, I got COVID, Joseph stepped in to help with some stuff I was assigned, I got confused as to who was doing what and ended up doing Dolls House out of sequence,

      Fortunately, SoHW is a stand alone (more or less) episode (as well as being the best episode of the series, imho) so it feels less weird than if it had been a middle episode of the story arc.

      We'll have more for you soon!

    2. T
      Oh, I see. Glad to hear it! I really liked that episode too, and I look forward to reading your thoughts. You’re right of course and it is practically a stand alone, so it’s not a big deal if the review comes later. Thank you for the swift reply!

  2. Anytime! I'm happy you're enjoying the reviews :) And how great is it that they finally renewed!

  3. That was me by the way. Forgot about the login thing

  4. I hadn’t heard! That’s excellent news!


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