This article contains spoilers for The Sandman.
By now, it can be said with absolute certainty that the new Netflix series The Sandman has acquired a rapidly expanding fan base, largely thanks to the series’ intricate storyline coupled with awe-inspiring performances.
The show has successfully introduced a plethora of complex characters that the viewers may have either come to love or hate, be it the protagonist Morpheus (Tom Sturridge), the traumatized John Dee (David Thewlis), the sinister Corinthian (Boyd Holbrook), or the helpless threat to the dreaming realm Rose Walker (Kyo Ra).
The show meticulously weaves diverse, intriguing storylines together to keep the primary focus intact on Dream’s power, numerous challenges to it, and how he tackles them to retain his position as the sole authority of his realm.
One of the series’ most interesting aspects is Dream’s relationship with the humans. While it was mostly dictated by his sole purpose of maintaining the balance between dreaming and the waking world, a change in this approach can be seen in his interaction with Hob Gadling (Ferdinand Kingsley) in the sixth episode, “The Sound of Her Wings”.
Who is Hob Gadling?
The episode does a wonderful job of portraying sibling bonding when Dream encounters his sister Death and accompanies her on the journey to lead the recently deceased people into their afterlife. The heartfelt conversations between them led him to understand their core purposes in life—that is, to serve humans.
The story takes the viewers back to 1389 where Death and Dream visit a tavern in London in the waking world to examine people’s behavior and listen to their conversations. This was the moment when Gadling’s character was introduced, because his opinion on the nature of death immediately caught the duo’s attention. Gadling, in conversation with his friends, was speaking in favor of eternal life condemning mortality.
Amused by such a comment combined with an inability to comprehend why a mortal would wish for eternal life on Earth, Death decided to grant Gadling his wish for assessing the extent to which he would hold on to his belief. Shortly after, Dream approaches Gadling and asked him to meet him in exactly 100 years, to which the former readily agreed.
The introduction of Hob in this episode and their interactions thereafter evoke a lot of questions from the viewers regarding its significance and how it would possibly lay the groundwork for the plot. It turns out that their interactions did something much more than that, as they altered Dream’s perception of the humans thus affecting his communication with them.
Thereafter, he prioritized reasoning with people over placing them at the receiving of his objectives. His conversations and overall interactions with the Vortex Rose Walker somehow reflect this very change of attitude.
Dream and Gadling’s relationship
The story did not end with the granting of Gadling’s wish, which he was completely unaware of as their meetings took place every century at the very same location. Throughout their meetings, Gadling narrated his bittersweet experiences during the 100 year periods, providing the viewers with an overview of English history and its impact on an individual’s life. This ranged from his rise to fame and prominence as a wealthy merchant to being imprisoned and tortured for nearly a century.
His everlasting life was full of ups and downs determined by the laws and policies of the concerned centuries. Dream ended every conversation by enquiring about his will to live and despite the misfortunes and the losses, Gadling’s answer to the question would always be a yes, much to Dream’s shock and annoyance.
However, the conversation took a bitter turn when Gadling interpreted Dream’s act of saving him from Johanna Constantine (Jenna Coleman) as a sign of friendship. Things took even a worse turn when he accused Dream of being lonely and said that the only reason that drove him to attend the centennial meeting was their friendship. This drive Dream into a fit of rage as even the idea of someone like him befriending a human was humiliating to him.
As a result, the next time they were supposed to meet, in 1889, Dream did not show up. However, he finally made his appearance at the very next assigned time of their meeting and said, “I was always told it was bad manners to keep one’s friends waiting” confirming the duo’s friendship. It was later shown that Dream’s disappearance from the meeting was due to his imprisonment by Burgess, suggesting his unwillingness to give up on their meetings.
The Sandman is now streaming on Netflix.