Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman has been a long time coming after going in and out of development hell for several years. But finally, the show has arrived and it certainly appears to be worth the wait! Fans of the comic, in particular, should be happy to see how close the series stays to its source material.
Below we’ll be recapping and explaining all 10 episodes of the show’s first season as the material can be a little confusing at times. It’s definitely a show that lends itself to multiple watches, so don’t be afraid to restart once you’ve finished to see what you might have missed on your first time through!
Without further ado, let’s dig into The Sandman season 1 recaps.
The Sandman episode 1 recap: Sleep of the Just
The Sandman gets off to a somewhat slow start as it aims to ease viewers into a vast, complex and layered story. The first episode is really about setting up Dream’s position, as he starts in an unfortunate circumstance that serves as a catalyst for the way the plot unfolds throughout season 1’s 10 episodes.
The Sandman episode 1 begins with a tour through the world and then into the Dream realm, known as The Dreaming (Morpheus’s domain) through the eyes of his raven companion Jessamy.
Morpheus (Tom Sturridge) is the King of Dreams and a member of The Endless, which are anthropomorphic embodiments of powerful natural forces. Dream has siblings, such as Despair and Desire, but more on them later.
Dream leaves The Dreaming in hunt of a rogue Nightmare called Corinthian (Boyd Holbrook), armed with his pouch of sand, his helm and his ruby.
Unfortunately for Dream, while he’s out trying to track the murderous Corinthian, in 1916 England, the Lord Magus, Roderick Burgess (Charles Dance) is attempting a ritual to capture Death and force them to revive his deceased son.
Instead of capturing Death, Roderick mistakenly traps Dream, right before he can kill Corinthian. Corinthian tracks down Roderick and gives him advice on how to keep Dream captive, since if Dream escapes he’ll come for them both.
They’ll need to trap him inside of a glass sphere, which itself is inside of a binding circle, to contain Dream’s physical manifestation. Corinthian also advises Roderick to make his guards take stimulants to ensure they never fall asleep in Dream’s presence. He also advises Roderick to get rid of Jessamy, as she’s there to assist Dream.
Roderick attempts to make a deal with Dream. if Dream will give him wealth, power and immortality, he’ll set him free. But Dream refuses to speak to him or comply with his demands. This continues for a decade, in which time Roderick’s son, Alex Burgess grows increasing curious about Dream and even tries to plead with him to give his father what he wants so he’ll set Dream free.
Dream never relents and his captivity continues. It’s evident that Roderick is abusive and resents his son, Alex, for not being Randall. He pressures Alex into killing Jessamy, which he does accomplish one day, shooting the bird as it attempts to free Dream from his cage.
Time passes and Roderick’s mistress Ethel reveals she is pregnant. She steals Dream’s helm, ruby and pouch of sand before running away from the Burgess home. The thing about Dream’s items, particularly the ruby, is that they are extremely powerful and not meant for mortals to use.
The ruby makes dreams come true. So all this time they’ve had Dream in captivity, the world has suffered from dreams and nightmares running wild while Roderick and his family prosper. Many people have fallen into a sleep sickness that makes them sleep almost their entire lives away.
However, Ethel stealing Dream’s items pushes Roderick over the edge and he demands Dream speak to him and help him find her. Dream still refuses to speak and Roderick loses his temper, taking it out on Alex. The two get in a scuffle that results in Roderick falling backward and hitting his head on Dream’s glass sphere, killing him almost instantly.
You’d think Alex would then decide to free Dream, but he fears retaliation and makes the mistake of keeping him caged. It’s not until Alex is an old man himself that Dream finally manages to escape his cage.
The floor beneath the sphere begins to crack from old age and creates a break in the binding circle. Dream is able to use that to manipulate one of the guards into falling asleep and then enter his dreams, forcing him to shoot his gun and break the glass. Once free, Dream takes revenge on Alex by putting him an eternal wake, stuck moving from one nightmare to the next.
After more than a century of captivity, Dream is finally free to return to his domain, but The Dreaming is not as he left it. He reunites with the realm’s chief librarian, Lucienne (Vivienne Acheampong), who informs him that things have fallen into disarray since he’s been gone. Most of the dreams have left, either in search of him, decayed or believed that Dream had abandoned them.
Now that everything is in chaos, Dream fears what will happen if dreams and nightmares are running around preying on the waking world—such as Corinthian. “I made this world once, Lucienne, I will make it again.”
And speaking of Corinthian, toward the end of the episode we see him in an apartment with his latest victim. He knows Dream has escaped and now he must take action. This chilling scene reveals why Corinthian wears sunglasses, in the sockets where his eyes should be, he has rows of teeth like tiny mouths. And he’s a serial killer known for his trademark of killing people by cutting out their eyes. Ick.
Written by Mads Lennon