THE SANDMAN, Chapter 9. Collectors

Posted on August 09, 2022

Matthew eavesdrops (literally) on Lyta revealing her dream pregnancy to Rose and rushes off to The Dreaming to inform Lucienne. According to Lucienne, “Rose is weakening the walls between realms,” which is how Lyta’s dream baby can exist in the waking world. However, Dream’s castle has an HR problem and it’s affecting the flow of information and chain of command. Lucienne doesn’t feel like bringing this news to Morpheus – or dealing with him at all – ever since he cut her down last episode and told her to return to the library. Matthew asks if he can keep her in the loop going forward but she says she fears she’ll wind up being banished to the darkness like Gault was. Dream can be a real dick and we’re glad that the show isn’t reluctant to show that.

The Corinthian is giving Jed ice cream and being an all-around swell guy to him on the way to the serial killer’s convention. He still won’t give a name when asked for one and we half-wonder if he simply can’t come up with one. As we’ve said, he’s an extremely limited creature, even if he has been attempting to mastermind his way through the season. After all, he may have remained a step or two ahead of Dream (who hasn’t really put any effort into finding him), but every plan he’s had has failed and he still swaggers around like he’s King Boss. He assures Jed that his foster parents won’t bother him anymore. Back in Cape Kennedy, Lyta’s telling Rose to slow her roll and not be so quick to “fix” whatever’s happening to them. After all, she got her dream baby and her ghost husband has invited her to come live with him forever. In dreams. When Rose asks how that’s supposed to work, Lyta just smiles and acts like she’s not contemplating the craziest idea she’s ever heard. One thing that was clear as a bell in the original story was that Lyta wasn’t in full possession of her faculties (she spent a lot of time in front of mirrors, brushing her hair), which would explain why she’d never question the impossibility of living in dreams or the fact that it sounds like a self-induced life-long coma. Granted, grief will make you do a lot of crazy things, but it would’ve been nice to see some indication of how delusional she’s being about this whole thing. On the other hand, we suppose it would raise issues of consent and bodily autonomy if it looked like she got pregnant without being in full control of herself.

Then again, maybe we’re supposed to believe that everyone in this story is experiencing some sort of brain fog because Rose gets a call from the Corinthian, who immediately puts Jed on the phone to inform her that he’s been taken to a hotel three hours away in Georgia. She doesn’t really react at all to how alarming that sounds (to be fair, Vanesu Samunyai barely reacts to anything), except to say she’ll be there as soon as possible to pick him up, instead of, oh, we don’t know, contacting the authorities in Georgia to tell them that a man who wouldn’t give her his name took her minor brother across state lines to a hotel after he disappeared from the double homicide at his foster parents’ house. Ah, well. She’s had a lot on her mind, we guess. Sometimes this show really drops the ball on real-world stuff. It’s great at the dreams and fantasies, but whenever a human being has to act like a recognizable human being, they seem to screw it up more often than not. Gilbert, who we’ll find out soon has his own reasons for perhaps not reacting to things in a normal manner, also does not seem to be alarmed by the sketchiness of Jed’s situation and excitedly offers to drive Rose to go pick him. We wish we could say that the problems with the script stopped there. The cereal convention is one of the more memorable settings from the comics and while it was written to have darkly comic undertones (it mostly skewered the fantasy, sci-fi and comic convention circuit that Gaiman was fairly familiar with when he wrote it), the television show seemed determined to portray it as broad farce half the time.

The Corinthian is a single-minded non-human entity, so it’s fairly easy to explain why he’d put his ego in front of common sense and bring a child to a serial killer’s convention. He seems to move around pretty freely, so we doubt he’s too worried about being arrested and as we’ll see next episode, he has more of a plan for standing against the Dream King than it might appear at this point. But it was particularly frustrating watching the nonsensical ways both of the Walker siblings reacted to what was going on around them. We’re just not sure we can find any way to buy that an abused kid who just got freed from the rat-infested basement he’d been locked in would be smiling and chatting up an adult stranger in a hotel lobby. We hate to harp on this sort of thing, but Vanessa Benton, who’s credited with the teleplay, made changes to the story here that simply don’t make sense. In the original tale, Jed spent the entire convention bound and gagged in the trunk of the Corinthian’s car and Rose and Gilbert checked into the hotel by chance (but really because she’s a vortex) after the trail to finding Jed went cold. Everything proceeded from there pretty closely to how it was depicted in this episode, so we just don’t understand why these changes were made. Corinthian inviting Rose to the convention and letting Jed wander around the hotel is a setup that just doesn’t work for any of them without making at least two of them look insanely naive and kind of dumb. It also doesn’t make sense why the convention organizers – who are serial killers, we remind you – were just fine with the Corinthian bringing a little boy as a guest to a convention that they’re desperate to keep private, at which there are no doubt several child-killers. We should pause here just to restate that we’ve been more than fine – fascinated, even – by how the show’s writers approached the original material and remolded it for television. We haven’t agreed with every choice, but we firmly believe that choices and changes naturally have to happen when a story goes from one medium to another. We don’t mind changes. We just think the changes to this story were unnecessary and weakened it considerably.

Anyway, Lyta and Hector are having sexy dream times when the earth moves, but not in the way either of them hoped. An earthquake rocks the land around their dream house and for the first time, we found ourselves wondering where exactly it was located. We guess we were having some sort of brain fog at this point too, because it took us almost as long as Dream did to figure out that someone built a mansion in his kingdom without his permission. In the throne room, Dream notices the cracks forming in his stained glass windows when Mervyn comes in looking for Lucienne. Dream is annoyed that Merv is bypassing him to report the news of the earthquake to her. He vows to a doubtful pumpkin that he will fix this problem – and any problems in The Dreaming – on his own. He’s being a big baby. He goes to see Lucienne in the library to “assess the damage,” but really it’s to hit her up for theories as to what’s happening. He doesn’t quite apologize for his rudeness to her, but he attempts to explain it to her. She’s not really having it. She makes it clear that despite what he thinks, Rose is somehow responsible for the damage to the Dreaming. He says that some new element has been introduced to the Dreaming that he didn’t create and Lucienne counters that such a thing could only happen if the vortex was gaining power.

Rose falls asleep in the car ride to Georgia and immediately leads Dream to the anomaly threatening the Dreaming: Lyta, who tells her she’s spent months in here, even though Rose only left her a few hours before. Lyta shrugs at this news in the only way someone who’s been cut off from all contact with any living beings for months can. Morpheus shows up and lays down some hard truths for Lyta and Hector: “A ghost cannot avoid his fate by hiding in the Dreaming, nor can a living human being escape her grief here.” Harsh, but true. Regardless of the effect on his realm, this simply isn’t a healthy situation for any living person to be in. Granted, Dream might’ve thought about not turning Lyta’s husband into a skeleton right in front of her, but we’ve established that he’s not good with the interpersonal stuff and the empathy thing. “The baby is yours,” he assures Lyta. “For now.” To Rose’s shock, Morpheus announces his full intention to take possession of Lyta’s baby at some point, claiming he has the right because it was created in the Dreaming. (As an aside to the book fans, it didn’t occur to us until now what the casting of Lloyd Everitt, the actor who plays Hector, means in terms of… the visual, if you know what we mean.) He announces “This dream is over” and sends them on their way, except Rose isn’t done with him. She shows up in his throne room again and threatens to unleash whatever power she has if he comes near her or her friends again. Let’s just say he could have handled this whole thing a hell of a lot better. Let’s just also say that as crazy as this situation is, Dream will eventually be revealed to have reasons for acting the way he does here. You can put a pin in that but you’ll be waiting a really long time to return to it.

 

Rose wakes up from threatening Dream just as Gilbert pulls into the hotel parking area and inside, the Corinthian makes a groupie posing as a fellow serial killer. Rose and Gilbert try to enter the convention, thinking they might find Jed in there, but they are waved away by the creepy predator Fun Land, who is apparently the convention’s only line of defense against discovery. He’s unsurprisingly bad at his job, because Rose and Gilbert manage to swipe convention badges and slip right past him. Gilbert stops in on an increasingly disturbing succession of panel discussions until it finally dawns on him what he’s listening to and what these people are. He stumbles out of one of them, spies the Corinthian talking to the organizers, and practically falls apart in terror at the sight of him. He rushes out, leaving a message at the front desk that he had to go home. It turns out that “home” is the Dreaming and Gilbert is the third of the missing Arcana (along with the Corinthian and Gault), Fiddler’s Green. If you’re wondering why the Corinthian didn’t seem to recognize him or why Dream seemed surprised by how he looks, you may put a pin in that and we are pleased to announce that you won’t have long to wait for an answer. Dream apologizes to Lucienne and admits that she was right about the vortex doing damage to the realm. Gilbert is shocked to hear the dream lord admit being wrong and even more shocked to hear that Rose is a vortex, knowing what happens to vortexes. We may have issues with how things are being depicted in the waking world, but we’ve enjoyed most of the minor conflicts and interaction in The Dreaming. It seems the show is much better in the realm of the fantastic.

Back at the hotel, the Corinthian, the Good Doctor, and Nimrod are all taking turns utilizing their skills on the fanboy blogger posing as one of them when Jed stumbles in on them. |Just as we think that poor kid might finally get a clue or two, he runs right into the arms of Fun Land, who promises to take him to his room. Jed and Rose are finally reunited in the hallway and Fun Land goes berserk and attacks them. Corinthian kills him in the hallway. It’s amazing that this is apparently not the first annual serial killer convention, given how disastrously this one is going.

Next: Lost Hearts

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