We’ve gotten a lot out of season 1 of The Sandman: Dream losing and then regaining his powers; a diner episode that will linger in your mind long after the Netflix autoplay; a whole thing about a Vortex, her brother, and the missing sentient parts of the Dreaming that swirl around her. Suffice it to say, there’s a lot of details to keep track of, even if you did read the comics.
One can hardly blame Netflix or Neil Gaiman, who were just so excited to have finally realized this world after three or so decades of development hell (and not the kind with Gwendoline Christie overlooking it, unfortunately). But with season 1 ending so deliciously, it feels like it’s a good time to double-check: Did I get everything The Sandman was trying to explain to me?
Why does Desire want to get Dream to spill “family blood”? What’s so bad about that?
As Dream learns in the final moments of season 1, Rose Walker’s whole existence is predicated on Desire having impregnated Unity while she was asleep during Dream’s absence. He is, of course, less than pleased to hear this, accusing Desire of meddling in an attempt to get Dream to spill family blood (either through attacking Desire or killing Rose Walker, who would technically also share family blood with Dream).
“This time it almost worked,” Desire purrs. “Oh, poor Dream. I really got under your skin this time, didn’t I? Next time… I’ll draw blood.”
In episode 10 (or even the full season) we don’t get a sense of what’s so taboo about it. But as Dream warns Desire not to step to him, we get a sense that there’s more than just a family rule about it, as he alludes to “all that would entail.”
[Ed. note: Book explanation below; don’t read it if you don’t want to know.]
In the comics, the Endless have a handful of rules handed down to them, just as ancient as themselves. One of them is to not spill “family blood,” or else bad news will befall you — namely you summon the Furies, who are no joke and will be mad.
What is Lucifer’s plan?
Though things have finally started to come together in Dream’s realm — allowing him to not just return to form but improve himself and life for those around him — Lucifer is less than happy. Having been embarrassed in a formal challenge earlier in the season, we find Lucifer in a still-sour mood, not excited about any of the pleasures hell can offer. Just when it seems the uncanny lord of all hell is left to simply mope, they’re visited by a demon with an incredible offer. Lord Azazel pops up to share something on behalf of the “assembled lords of hell.”
“We have [assembled] against your enemy — our enemy, Dream of the Endless. The armies of hell are yours to command, should you wish to strike,” Azazel says of possible plans to invade Dream’s realm, and then the waking world. “Since none of us may leave hell, we may as well expand its borders until hell is all there is.”
With the generals demanding action, Lucifer promises to act — saying only that the plan was “something I have never done before. Something that will make God… absolutely livid.”
If you’re curious exactly what Lucifer is cooking up, you can read the comics. But to put it briefly: Big, hellish plans.
What’s the plan for the series? How many short stories will be included in The Sandman?
With 75 issues in the original run of the series, there’s certainly a lot for The Sandman to get through, should Netflix allow it. With season 1 only covering roughly 16 of the issues (the first two books, Preludes & Nocturnes, collecting 1-8, and The Doll’s House, 9-16) there’s enough for The Sandman to run at least four seasons. And Gaiman tells Polygon he could see it running even longer than that.
“If we had our druthers, and the world was perfect, we’d get to go all the way to the end of Sandman: Overture [a prequel to the series published in 2013], which strangely would be the beginning of episode 1 again,” Gaiman says. “And we get to do an awful lot of the side stories and interesting byways and diversions along the way.”
That could mean that — Netflix renewal gods allowing — Sandman runs for a while, tracing the arc of the comic while also making time for the odd episodic or self-contained adventure. Though season 1 made time for the occasional excursion from the central story, it was largely confined to focusing on Dream’s return to the Dreaming and accounting for all the changes. But as the comics continued, there was less emphasis on the overall arc of the story and more on the small, almost vignette-like chapters of Dream’s journeys. If Netflix’s Sandman can resemble that, then there’s certainly a lot of places for Sandman to go.
Will Rose Walker be in Sandman season 2?
The Doll’s House arc in the comics isn’t the last time we see Rose Walker, nor is it the last time we see Lyta Hall and her dream baby. Though the show has rearranged the storylines a bit to fit into the arc of the season, it seems likely that they could return in season 2 (or beyond).
Who is the “Prodigal” that Dream, Desire, and Despair keep talking about?
Although the Endless are all related, there is, apparently, one who stands out from the crowd, referenced only as the “Prodigal” by Dream and his siblings.
The answer is slow-played in Sandman season 1; beyond a few mentions, we get little by way of details. But the comic (of course) has the answers.
[Ed. note: Book spoilers below.]
The Prodigal refers to Destruction, who is next in line after Dream. (Dream is, of course, not the eldest of his siblings, even if he has all the self-seriousness of an elder child.) He earned the moniker because he was the only Endless child to abandon his duties. As Neil Gaiman wrote in the comic companion, the Endless don’t have names so much as titles that describe their actions. Because Destruction left his post, he’s now the “Prodigal,” since he’s without function.
Of course, the root of the word certainly suggests a bit of judgment on the part of the remaining Endless siblings, as opposed to merely an abdication of duty. After all, the “Prodigal Son” parable specifically relates to someone leaving home and spending resources on a “reckless” scale. There might be a bit of resentment there as they rule their respective realms. The Endless: They’re just like us.
How many Endless are there? Will we meet them all?
There are seven Endless children! Though we’ve only met a few so far. To keep them easy to tell apart, they all have names that start with D. In age order they are: Destiny, Death, Dream, Destruction, Desire, Despair, and Delirium (who used to be known as Delight).
Of those, we’ve met Death, Dream, Desire, and Despair. But in his confrontation with Desire, Dream alluded to a spread of powers between them, implying he, Destiny, and Death were strong (and united) enough to keep the others in line.
What was the deal Dream made with Shakespeare?
We don’t get to see it revealed in the show — yet. But in the comics, Dream’s realm isn’t purely “dreams” as we know them in our sleep; it’s more creation itself, any dream world that might be thought up. That’s how Dream met up with the Justice League, and it’s how Will “Shakesbeard” might have something to offer Dream of the Endless.
Plus, in the comic we know what happens. [Ed. note: Another small book spoiler coming up here.] Dream gave the Bard the talent to write immortal stories and in turn commissioned two plays from him: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (to honor the actual Unseelie Court) and The Tempest.