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The Sandman - The Sound of Her Wings - Review

7 Sept 2022

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  The Sandman “The Sound of Her Wings” was written by Lauren Bello (whose only other writing credit is Foundation, but with this source material, it would be hard to go astray) and was directed by Mairzee Almas , whose other credits include Paper Girls, Locke & Key, and Shadow and Bone, so she definitely was a great choice for the show. This episode once again draws on two issues of the comic: #8 “The Sound of Her Wings” and #13 “Men of Good Fortune.” Both of which happen to be favorites of mine, and I was so pleased that the episode was able to do them justice!

While the two stories are related, they really are two separate stories. In the first half Dream (Tom Sturridge) follows Death (Kirby Howell-Baptiste) around as she carries out her “job.” Death comes to Dream as he’s feeding the pigeons in the park, brooding about his own situation. The incredible save and the lame fat pigeon jokes are right out of the comic. She takes him on her rounds to try to break him out of his funk and show him that he still has a purpose to fulfil. I loved the line “You are literally the stupidest, most self-centered, appallingest excuse for an anthropomorphic personification on this or any other plane!” 

Most of the deaths are also in the novel. Interestingly, the one they do leave out is a comic getting electrocuted while on stage… yeah. It IS funny… What is most interesting, of course, is how each of the “victims” meets their death. The old violinist (Jon Rumney) takes a moment to pray after a half-hearted ‘so soon?’ And then he’s ready to go. There’s a nameless gunshot victim and a drug overdose. And then there is Sam (Leemore Marrett Jr) who begs to be allowed to just leave a password for his wife (Liberty Buckland) – all the business that we leave undone when we potentially go before our time. The most wrenching death may be the baby’s. Death coos to it that ‘yes, that’s all there is’ and we are left to hear the mother’s wails in the background. 

Death’s job seems like a horrific one, but she tells him that she finds comfort in guiding them to the sunless lands. In fact, they fear the sunless lands more than the land of dreams, which they enter willingly each night. Dream points out that dying is as natural as being born, so why fear it? They dread seeing Death, but not him. The story circles back to the beginning. Death told Franklin (Curtis Kantsa) that she’d see him again, and they return to the park as Franklin is hit by a car. Death takes him to see his body as Dream goes off to find a new “game” and fulfil a broken promise to meet someone.

This second story is joined to the first both thematically and because Death features in this one too. In 1389, Death and Dream visit a pub. They overhear Hob (Ferdinand Kingsley) tells his friends that death is a choice, and he’s simply going to choose not to die. Dream wants to take up the challenge by inflicting immortality on Hob, assuming he will beg to die by the end of a 100 years. Death has to agree not to take him – thereby granting immortality – which she’s happy to do. When offered the chance to live for ever, Hob eagerly agrees and agrees to meet Dream in the same pub in 100 years. 

I love this storyline and think it should be used to teach British history! In 1489, Hob is taking up printing as his new career. He isn’t remotely ready to die, and Dream is a bit surprised at just how excited Hob is at all the new improvements – like fireplaces! LOL! They agree to meet in another 100 years. 

Hobs is likely at the high point of his life in 1589. He is rich and he’s got a wife and son. He explains how he’s managed to avoid suspicion. He simply leaves town for awhile and comes back as his own son. I mean really who wouldn’t want to live forever if you never aged! The most important thing about this meeting is that Dream is distracted by the discussion at another table. William Shakespeare (Samuel Blenkin) and Kit Marlowe (Angus Yellowlees) are discussing their work. Hobs tells Dream that Shakespeare is terrible but Marlowe is very talented. Hobs is disgruntled when Dream isn’t paying any attention to his bragging and wanders off to talk to Shakespeare. He offers to make Shakespeare immortal in a different way… and that is the subject of another issue – which I’m really, really hoping we get a second season to see!!!!

In 1689, Hobs is at his lowest point. Dream thinks he’ll finally want to die, but he’s wrong. As soon as Hobs said he had a wife and child – and clearly loved them both, you had to know that even if they lived a long and full life, he’d still outlive them – but neither do. The wife dies in childbirth and the baby dies too. His son is killed at 20 in a bar fight. Hobs has lost all his money and appears to be a drunk. However, when Dream asks if he’s had enough, he insists that he isn’t even close to wanting to die!!

In 1789, Hobs has again managed to rebuild his life. He’s in shipping now and making a fortune on the slave trade – which Dream warns him off of as a very bad business. The two are interrupted by Johanna Constantine (Jenna Coleman)! She has found a picture of the two in the tavern from 1689 and wants to know their secret. Dream blasts her into dreamland… and clearly there’s a lot more to this story…

In 1889, Hobs is still doing well. He makes the mistake of making fun of Lushing Lou (Sarah Twomey), and Dream is not amused. It’s a nice reminder that we have no idea about other people’s lives.  He tells Hobs Lou’s horrific story. Hobs wants to know how Dream knows so much about everyone. The two get into a fight when Hobs says that they are friends. Dream is insisting to himself that Hobs is just a plaything – but it’s clear that that isn’t the case. Sturridge is really good in this storyline as we do see that he’s become invested in Hobs. However, he’s still in denial and storms out.

In 1989, Dream is still imprisoned and misses their meeting. The bartender (Ian McNeice) tells Hobs that the pub has been sold and is going to be demolished. When Dream finally does show up after his day with Death, he finds a sign on the fence around the pub with a sign and an arrow to the New Pub. Sure enough, he finds Hobs waiting for him. Hobs tells him he’s late, and Dream calls him his friend…

This was an excellent episode. I loved the theme of death running through both. Of course, we’d rather avoid death which is a total mystery in favor of even the painful moments of life! Fantastic performances from Sturridge, Kingsley, and Howell-Baptiste. And once again, the episode ends with a tease of Desire (Mason Alexander Park), who clearly has a bone to pick with their brother. What did you think of this episode? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!