Sandman Bonus Episode Sets Up Future Storylines For The Series
The sand man surprised fans when a bonus episode became available to stream on Netflix last weekend. This episode adapted two of the most popular stories from the Sand seller comedy series, “Dream of a Thousand Cats” and “Calliope”. Not only did the episode blend two different movie styles, as “Dream of a Thousand Cats” was fully animated, but the “Calliope” segment referenced a character that fans of the Sand seller comic instantly recognized: Orpheus, the son of the Lord of Dreams Morpheus (Tom Sturridge).
“Caillope” finds the titular muse (Melissanthi Mahut) imprisoned on Earth for decades under author Erasmus Fry (Derek Jacobi), who uses her powers to further her writing career. Fry then makes a deal with Richard Madoc (Arthur Darville), who intends to use Caillope’s gifts to revive his own stalled career. In desperation, she reaches out to the Fates, who have already appeared in episode 2 of The sand man, “imperfect hosts”, in order to free themselves. They tell him to reach out to Morpheus, and when the Dream Lord learns what has become of his ex-wife, his anger is ruthless.
The “Caillope” segment, like most series, both honors the original story on which it is based and makes changes to the source material. Caillope has more agency than she did in the comics, and Morpheus feels genuine remorse rather than outrage that someone stole what was once his. The story even feels like a meta commentary on the myth of the “difficult genius” and those who hurt others in order to succeed. When Madoc says he did what he did to get ideas, Morpheus makes a chilling proclamation: “Then you’ll have them…in abundance.” More details would spoil the surprise.
Yet it is the mention of Orpheus that is most exciting. Those familiar with Greek mythology are more than likely familiar with the story of Orpheus and his lover Eurydice; when Eurydice died of a snakebite, Orpheus traveled to the Underworld and charmed Hades and Persephone with his music. They agreed to free Eurydice on the condition that Orpheus would not look at her face until he reached the world of the living. Unfortunately, Orpheus becomes too impatient and looks back, only to see his wife disappear forever.
Sand seller co-creator/writer Neil Gaiman give its own twist to the story in The Sandman Special #1, which contains a story aptly titled “The Song of Orpheus”. Much like the Greek myth, Orpheus ventures into the underworld to rescue Eurydice. However, this time he is aided by two of the Endless, Destruction and Death. Morpheus refuses to help Orpheus, forcing the young musician to disown his father; and in his grief, he ends up suffering a gruesome death when he stumbles upon a bacchanalia hosted by the wine god Dionysius. Torn apart by the followers of Dinoysius, Orpheus only survives in the lead thanks to Death.
Morpheus eventually searches for his son’s head, enlisting the services of Johanna Constantine to do so. The head is placed in the custody of an order of priests until Morpheus asks Orpheus for his help in finding Destruction. Given the positive response to Jenna ColemanIt’s Johanna’s turn to have another story that features her in a major role just seems like a win-win situation for everyone involved. And the tormented relationship Morpheus has with Orpheus is full of drama. At the end of season 1 The sand man, he swore to be a more benevolent ruler of his kingdom, The Dreaming. Confronting his time as an absent father is a good way to test that vow.
Showrunner Allan Heinberg previously revealed that he and Gaiman have an actor in mind to play Orpheus. “I don’t know if I’m allowed to say this, but we talked about someone who we really care about,” he told Variety shortly after the episode aired. “And we’ve had these conversations and if we get a second season, we’d love to be able to cast that person. We’re designing the whole season with that person in mind. Although a second season hasn’t been announced by Netflix, the fact that the series plans to continue exploring Morpheus’ flaws and family issues is a promising prospect.