Picture via Netflix
*Warning: Contains spoilers for Netflix plot points The sand man episode 11*
The eleventh episode of Netflix The sand man took almost everyone by surprise. It was an extra trip to the Dreaming after setting off a snooze alarm. While viewers were hoping for confirmation that the show would continue for many more seasons, Netflix has quietly released an adaptation of two of the comedy series’ most beloved short stories.
In the Dream, almost anything is possible. Like the comics before, The sand man alludes to the impossibilities and contradictions of the realm of Dream. It is an essential component of life but can also threaten existence. It’s linear and irregular, an extension and creation of its retired master, Morpheus. As shown by the presence of Cain, Abel, and many mythical creatures, this is where the stories begin and where they survive long after being forgotten in the mortal world.
Naturally, Dream stories are perfect for arcs and anthologies. Packing these two short stories into one hour-long episode made practical sense for comic book fans. Much like the source material, the importance of locking them down by the end of the first series will become apparent.
here’s how The dream of a thousand cats and Calliope are connected and hint at the evolution of future dreams.
Both stories are a prime example of the morphing format found in the original comics, which took place from 1989 to 1996. The sand man The comic series consisted of story arcs interspersed with single issue stories. It’s hard to describe the comic as linear – it’s the Dream of the Endless story, after all. However, a line can be drawn from beginning to end, and its writing, art and format reinforce its movement between realities and times.
Longer story arcs running through multiple issues were interspersed with stand-alone stories that hinted at the realms of Infinite. It was all part of a bigger whole, and The dream of a thousand cats and Calliope provide the same function for the series. The two are included in the acclaimed set of four comedy shorts that arrive early in the run, released in 1990 and running through issues 17-20. They were later collected as Dreamland in The Sandman Libraryproviding an interlude after the dream vortex events of the previous arc, A doll‘s house.
Each of the shorts is different in tone and delivery, but each plays a vital role in the success of the overall arc of The sand man. Calliope features themes and biographical notes for Morpheus that become increasingly important later in the run. The dream of a thousand catsan exception, which usually proves the rule, is probably the most popular problem of any runtime. Facade is the first story in the series not to feature Dream as it takes a look at the aftermath of the wider DC Universe. Dream of a summer night is the only comic to win a World Fantasy Award. While standalone stories don’t necessarily feature the series’ protagonist, they are an extremely important part of The sand man Fabric.
The big picture
Thematically, the two short films open up the world of Dreaming. The muse, Calliope, is Dream’s second lover that we meet in The sand man. Her relationship with Calliope arguably ended more tragically than with Nada (we’ll probably learn more about her in later episodes).
Calliope features the first mention of Orpheus, the son of the muse and Lord of Dreams. The fate of Orpheus is an essential part of The sand manThe full story. The painful history of Calliope and Dream’s separation explains why it was difficult for the muse to contact her former lover.
The dream of a thousand cats is one of the nuanced versions of the series on the nature of infinity. Although you don’t see any of the siblings until the protagonist, the Prophet, meets the Cat of Dreams, their paws are all over the events that led her there. Desire played its part in the Prophet’s kittens. When Death took them on their first but final journey, Despair was visiting their mother. Watching for clues of the other Endless’ fingerprints in stories that focus on Dream is one of The sand man‘s delights (not to be confused with Delirium).
We had already seen how the Endless presents itself differently in the eyes of the viewer when Dream meets his former lover Nada in Hell. Here we see Dream as the cat of dreams through the eyes of the prophet.
In Calliope, we see how the Dream Lord has changed through the perception of his ex-wife. It’s a brilliant shortcut – we haven’t known Dream that long, so why not use the eyes of someone who lives the same way? In Calliope, the muse and her former husband were changed by captivity, and we learn more about her imprisonment through his.
Both shorts explore the nature of dreams as prisons and limitless webs. Captivity is a central theme of the series, and Morpheus’ mistaken captivity kicks it off. We know there isn’t much help to be found whether you are a Goddess or one of the Infinites.
Where is the sandman?
The tangential appearance of Morpheus ties the two stories together. He is not the protagonist or even sensitive to the stories of the Prophet or Calliope. Either way, his involvement is sought and his subsequent actions provide some sort of resolution. Both stories are ambiguous about the power of dreams, and it is unclear where either protagonist goes after the story. Calliope is an exploration of myth trapped and exploited in the modern world. The dream of a thousand cats is more fantastical, not just because they’re talking anthropomorphic cats. This leaves the question whether the grief-stricken and obsessive Prophet undertook this journey and whether his revelation and recollection are accurate. How is it Sand sellereither is possible, but that doesn’t make it any less valid. Calliope may show a goddess deeply affected by her horrific ordeal, but the consequences on the Lord of Dreams will also be acute in the future.
You should expect dreams, myths, agony and ecstasy of storytelling in this series. The dream of a thousand cats is a mystical tale that packs a lot into its short, twisty comic. It’s a coming-of-age tale for the kitten we meet in the first scene and follow through to the end. It is also a (human) dystopia that recalls Planet of the Apes and pulp sci-fi shows from the 1960s. Throw in a classic quest, and it’s no surprise that the story lasts.
by Joseph Campbell The hero with a thousand faces theorized the quest as the archetypal form of all stories. It is a framework that connects the Arthurian myth to star wars. Quests are naturally a crucial part of The sand man. By the time of the Prophet’s story, we have already seen Rose Walker, John Dee, the Corinthian, and Morpheus himself questing. Within the plot of the series, the journey of the Prophet is another facet of the same tale.
Calliope’s story goes deeper into the source of the narration. As the Prophet walks from meeting to meeting, spreading his word, Calliope explores what happens when inspiration and creativity are twisted and contained. Both stories revolve around knowledge lost and found.
Connect the tales
The transitory stages of these short films are crucial for The sand man‘s fabric. These two adaptations leave two other stories of the set undone. Thanks to his connections to a DC character, Facade can be difficult to adapt, even if the darkness is a crucial part of the story, but Dream of a summer night, as the most awarded story in the collection, deserves a place in the second season. Maybe the next chapter could start with this adaptation as a bridge to the next arc. We’ve already seen hints of Dream’s deal with William Shakespeare during one of his meetings with Hob Gadling.
Some stories cannot remain unwritten.