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The Sandman: Collectors

"So, it's all about going home?"

The Sandman enters his endgame. And a very peculiar convention gathers in Georgia.

House of Mysteries

If there's one thing that's absolutely crucial in the telling of a good mystery, it's the concept of transgression. If no one transgresses, there's hardly going to be much to be secretive about. No stakes. I mean, you're hardly going to become invested in 'The Mysterious Affair of the Man Who Paid His Taxes on Time and was Nice to Dogs.'

The word descends to our modern ears via the Old French 'Transgresser,' meaning 'To Sin.' See? The book's getting more interesting now, isn't it? The earlier origins of the word come from the Latin 'Transgressus' which conveys the idea of stepping across, climbing over, or going beyond. Of crossing a boundary which should not, under any circumstances, be crossed. And that's the kernel of the really great mysteries, isn't it?

Modesty dictates I mention that I did feel obligated to double check this on the Online Etymology Dictionary, if only to verify the spellings. I may be the first transgressor, but that's no excuse for failure to cite one's sources.

Now, 'crossing a boundary.' Hmmm. How might that be applicable to the story at hand. Well, goodness me, I just can't imagine.

Oh, wait. That's right. The entire threat to the dreaming is the ability of the Dream Vortex, a.k.a. Rose Walker, to cross the boundaries between Waking and The Dreaming. Between the dreams of her friends and companions. Between Reality and the really interesting other stuff. So, probably no coincidence then, thematically speaking, that so much of the action takes place at a large gathering made up exclusively of people who regularly take the lives of other human beings. Broadly viewed as the biggest transgression possible.

Yes, I am perfectly aware of the irony of my making that particular point.

Once one starts to pull on that particular thematic thread, one is practically overwhelmed with instances of characters in this episode crossing boundaries that they really shouldn't. Rose Walker steals name badges in order to broach the carefully orchestrated wall between the serial killer convention and the regular hotel guests. Poor Phillip 'Not Really the Boogieman' Sitz... well, he certainly would have been better served sticking with his online documentation of serial killers rather than crossing the line to interacting with them in the real world.

Lyta shouldn't have crossed over into the dreaming. The baby shouldn't have crossed out of the Dreaming. Jed shouldn't have snuck down to the symposiums. Even the Corinthian admits that he's in the process of running away, and what is that if not stepping across a boundary that you shouldn't.

As I am more than aware, there's always a price to be paid for a transgression. Some members of our menagerie have already paid theirs. Some have not. Yet.

House of Secrets

I f-f-feel bad for that nice lady who was living in the Dreaming for months and months and two hours. She seemed nice, and she and her dead ghost husband seemed really happy there together. I do wish Lord Morpheus might have let them have a little more time to say goodbye.

Not that I'm criticizing Lord Morpheus! The Dreaming was in danger, and he's a good protector, and I'm sure what he did was right.

It also makes me sad that Lucienne is getting so much hard feeling from Lord Morpheus. She was the most loyal, after all. And stayed, and took care of lots of stuff, and was always nice to me no matter what Cain had done to... no matter what had happened to maybe make me sad. She lent me a book about dragonflies once, and it made me feel a lot better.

I'm sure everything he's done is right though. He's Lord Morpheus, and he just needs to make sure people are looking to him to run things, and not going to Lucienne instead. I'm sure it's all OK, and that Lucienne will be ok. He even kind of apologized to her, and that should make things ok again, right?

Anyway, it's nice to have Fiddlers Green back in the dreaming. Assuming Lord Morpheus doesn't do to him what he did to Gault. Not that that wasn't just and fair. I'm not saying that. I mean... I do miss her a little. It was really touching the way that Fiddler's Green immediately gave up his chance to live in the waking world the second he found out Rose was in danger from the Corinthian. He's a really good place.

A press release from the Royal Empire Hotel

We here at the Royal Empire Hotel would like to offer a sincere and public apology regarding the unfortunate decision made by one of our locations to host a certain recent convention which, had we been in possession of certain facts, would almost certainly not have been allowed.

We swear to God, we thought they were talking about cereal.

In light of these events, we can assure the public that we'll be reaching out to the coordinators of the upcoming 'SpreeCon' just to make sure we're all talking about candy.

Dream Skerries

-- There's something genuinely unnerving about how, for the lack of a better word, 'Cool' the Corinthian is with Jed. He's basically been the best Surrogate Big Brother any kid could ask for. It's creepy. I honestly don't think he even means Jed any harm. He goes out of his way to protect him when he doesn't really have to. And the cornball 'You want to drive' moment must have felt so good to Jed, a kid who's only had the worst possible father figures. So many conflicted feelings about the two of them.

-- I do wonder if The Corinthian would self-identify as gay, bi, pan, or something else entirely. We've only seen him behave sexually with men, but I have to believe that creatures from the dreaming tend to be flexible on that point.

-- There's a vague implication that Hector's ghost being in the dreaming is down to Rose's Vortex powers being used on a subconscious level.

-- And the award for most badass moment of the episode: Rose Walker, after being summarily dismissed by Dream upon his completion of getting rid of Lyta and Hector, immediately pulls a very impressive, 'Oh HELL no.' and just strides back into his throne room. A barrier she should not be able to cross, if that's thematically relevant.

-- The convention panels were a lot of fun. Pretty dark fun, but still fun. Hotels usually print up all the signage for events like this. One wonders what they made of the signs being printed for ostensible cereal enthusiasts.

-- The episode ends with The Corinthian straight up murdering Funland right in front of Rose and Jed. That's probably going to disqualify him from the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program.

On Waking

This is deceptively layered episode. Thematically rich, while pretending to be a plot driven installment. The humor is dark, but funny. If you happen to lean toward dark humor. And even better, it's balanced with some deftly handled drama and a sprinkling of genuinely disturbing horror. One to be enjoyed, but maybe don't cross over into the official convention areas.

Cain is the first murderer from the First Story. Keeper of the House of Mysteries, he divides his time between being the telling of stories and his thriving Etsy store. Abel, his brother, is caretaker of the House of Secrets, friend to gargoyles, and has a tremendous baritone. And hey, look, he made it all the way through this one without being murd... oh dear, Cain just murdered him. So close.

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

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