Every time you think The Sandman can’t get any better, another episode airs and you realize you’re wrong. “A Hope In Hell” is a simple enough episode that takes the series to the next level while moving the main plots forward. And it’s just so good, it’ll take your breath away.
The Endless v. The Fallen
The main arc of the episode pits Dream against Lucifer Morningstar, played by Gwendoline Christie. Christie is a different depiction of Lucifer than is usually portrayed in the media – with her soft blond curls and unscarred face. Not that I have a single problem with Tom Ellis as Lucifer. Nor do I have any complaints about his looks. But, as often happens, his “devil face” is scarred and terrifying. Yet, Lucifer was said to be God’s most beautiful angel, before he fell. And Christie looks distinctly angelic.
Angelic looking or not, she’s still Lucifer. Which means she’s clever and not one to cross. Putting Dream in a rather precarious position, since he has to do just that. His trip to Hell to retrieve his helm ends in a battle between Dream and Lucifer. A different kind than I’ve seen on television before.
The battle between Dream and Lucifer is more of wits, imagination, and transformation than of brute strength. Each takes a form to thwart the other. A dire wolf, defeated by a hunter. A hunter, defeated by a snake. With Dream getting weaker and weaker as the battle progresses, and only his eternal freedom on the line.
Until the end. Lucifer becomes Darkness, the anti-life. And what can survive the anti-life. Matthew the Raven believes it’s dreams, but Dream himself knows it’s deeper than that. It isn’t the dreams themselves but what dreams are. Why they are so important to us.
Dreams are hope. And more than truth or faith or even love, nothing can kill hope.
It’s a brilliant ending to a brilliant battle. And it leads to the exchange of the episode. Lucifer challenges Dream to tell her what power dreams have in Hell. And he responds: “…Tell me, Lucifer Morningstar, what power would Hell have if those here imprisoned were not able to dream? Of Heaven?”
It’s a more staggering defeat for Lucifer than the one just suffered in battle, and it had me actually screaming at my screen in…Frankly, I don’t even know what. Surprise? Victory on his behalf? Exhilaration that this series is SO DAMN GOOD? All of the above?
Damn, but this series is good.
The Road to Hell
You know what they say: The road the hell is paved with good intentions. It’s something good samaritan Rosemary quickly discovers after picking John up from the side of the road. She just wants to help, but this is why we don’t pick up hitchhikers, Rosemary. Didn’t we all learn this lesson back in the 1980s?
It’s a mistake she won’t make again. Things between the two of them start off normally enough. Just a little friendly chit-chat. You know, until John lets drop that he’s a murderer. Then, all of sudden, things get real, and Rosemary looks for any way she can get the hell out of this car immediately.
It isn’t an easy road for her to the end. At the very least, it’ll take a while to get bits of exploded cashier goo out of her hair and clothes. It’ll take even longer, no doubt, to lose the memory. But John surprisingly lets her live, giving her the Amulet of Protection (which I can’t believe wouldn’t come without strings of its own, given the heavy toll Dream’s sigils of power have placed on those who wield them). He doesn’t need it anymore, after all. He has the ruby.
The Sandman is streaming now on Netflix.