The release of Netflix’s The Sandman in August 2022 created a respectable buzz. Even though the series’ first season spent a full week sitting on Netflix’s Top 10 list upon its debut, we may or may not see The Sandman Season 2 despite that strong performance. This is because Netflix thinks viewers are watching it wrong.
Putting aside for a moment whether there is a correct way to watch anything, the eleven episodes we have so far give us a lot to digest. There are plenty of standout moments that fans of Neil Gaiman’s comic book series, upon which the Netflix series is based, will recognize and indeed relish. Fiddler’s Green (Stephen Fry) reveal comes to mind. He’s not a whom, thank you, but really a where. Fry uses the little screen time he has to channel his considerable warmth and oddball charm, and that to great effect.
The Sandman also handles Dream’s (Tom Sturridge) reunion with Hob Gadling (Ferdinand Kingsley) deftly. We see Hob, his mortal friend, go through extreme highs and lows over the centuries, somehow never once losing hope. A human being’s greatest gift, The Sandman believes, is an indomitable spirit. Don’t suggest to Dream that he’s bros with Hob, though, because he might keep you waiting for the next hundred years.
So now that we’ve all been to the Cereal Killer convention, spent a day on the job with Death (Kirby Howell-Baptiste), and survived John Dee’s (David Thewlis) brief flirtation with Dream’s Ruby, what are we looking forward to in The Sandman Season 2?
1. Who: Wanda
The Sandman showed us that we all have incredible worlds inside our heads that we go to every night when we slumber. (Well, except for Ken (Richard Fleeshman), whose subconscious seems to consist of fast cars and cheating on Barbie [Lily Travers].) Speaking of Barbie, the girl is royalty when she goes to The Dreaming. Always wearing boss shades and constantly shadowed by the loyal and eloquent Martin Tenbones (Lenny Henry), who’s also a giant furry beast, Barbie functions as a princess in this realm. Martin is just one of her many faithful subjects.
If the Netflix gods give the green light to The Sandman Season 2, we’ll get to see this mysterious realm in peril thanks to a sudden absence of all dreaming on Barbie’s part. We’ll also follow Barbie to New York, where she lives with her BFF, Wanda, now that Ken is history.
Now, nobody actively pursues the crushing heartbreak of a bad breakup. But if you had to suffer from one, choose Wanda to ride pain out with. Fiercely loyal, funny, and so full of confidence you can’t help standing a little straighter around her, Wanda is the rare friend whose mere presence is medicine. Unfortunately for Wanda, Barbie isn’t the safest person to be around at the moment. There’s also Barbie’s other neighbours, like Thessaly, Foxglove and Hazel. Oh, and there’s George.
2. Who: Emperor Norton
From New York, we move on to San Francisco, where Emperor Norton once reigned from 1859 till his death in 1880. For those who had no idea he was based on a real person, welcome to the club. But maybe this shouldn’t be so surprising – after all, we’re talking about the same city where a woman in a ramen joint was rescued from an attacker by waiters dressed as the Power Rangers.
Emperor Norton was not just tolerated. He was beloved and issued his own currency, which was honored by local shopkeepers. When he died, the San Francisco Chronicle’s headline proclaimed “Le Roi Est Mort” (“The King Is Dead”). At Norton’s funeral, more than 10,000 people paid their respects. In our little corner of the DC universe, Emperor Norton is something of a misfit even when it comes to The Endless. He’s Death’s favorite head of state, and Despair and Delirium both have some claim to him, but, in the end, Norton lives and dies as Dream’s creature. Though not before supping with Mark Twain.
3. Where: The French Revolution
In The Sandman Episodes 2 and 3, Dream spends some time with the exorcist Lady Johanna Constantine (Jenna Coleman). I felt she had a weird on-screen chemistry with Dream, something other critics observed as well. Johanna and Dream behave like people who have a history together. I’m looking forward The Sandman Season 2 exploring this further, preferably in a setting where Dream will be a lot more vulnerable. I’m talking, of course, about Dream asking Johanna to do him a solid and wrangle something dear to him during the Terror of the French Revolution. Johanna Constantine engaging in hand-to-hand combat with the tools of Dream at her disposal while ankle-deep in blood will definitely be a sight to behold. I’m picturing something akin to a bizarro mash-up of a Tarantino war movie and a Wolfenstein video game.
4. What: The Corinthian And Matthew Show
When we last saw The Corinthian, Dream had reduced him to a little skull with teeth for eyes. Dream then remarks that the next time he puts The Corinthian together, he won’t be as petty as his predecessor. When it’s time for Dream to assemble a crack team to conduct a missing persons search, he resurrects The Corinthian. True to his word, while The Corinthian 2.0 retains his predecessor’s appetite for eyeballs, he is much more agreeable and less interested in being the patron deity of serial killers. So Dream tells him to team up with Matthew, his raven, and tasks them with locating a Very Important Person (who will remain unnamed for now because spoilers).
The result? The Corinthian And Matthew Show, where the wisecracking sidekick is a raven and the detective’s superpower is uncovering the very last thing a dead person saw. By eating their eyeballs. Yum.
5. Who: Delirium, Destruction, & Barnabas
All families have their own little quirks and Dream’s is no different. As siblings, they mostly regard each other as equals. Being overseers of their respective domains, however, means that conflict is sometimes inevitable. Desire and Dream have no love lost for each other thanks to Dream’s annoyance at Desire meddling in his personal affairs. (Destruction and Delirium, on the other hand, enjoy a wonderful relationship.)
The personification of devastation and change plays a big brother role to Delirium, who is the youngest member of the The Endless. In charge of madness and sanity, Delirium is perhaps the most outwardly vulnerable member of her family. In Brief Lives, the 8th book in the comic book series, Delirium sets out with Dream to try to find her beloved big brother, who’s long given up his role. The resulting interactions between her, Dream, Destruction and his talking dog, Barnabas, are nothing short of magical.
Since Netflix more or less aced their portrayal of Matthew the Raven thanks to a fusion of technical wizardry and Patton Oswalt’s fantastic voice work, we can look forward to seeing how they’ll bring The Sandman’s one and only canine art critic to life.
Whether you’re new to The Sandman or a longtime fan of the comics, I’m sure you’ll agree that there’s so much more ground the series can cover. Only time will tell if Netflix agrees.