Sandman: 24/7

Next time, we’re going to eat somewhere else.

The quest for Dream’s items of power comes to an interesting climax. John Dee has the ruby, and isn’t interested in giving it up. While Morpheus recovers from last episode’s power backlash, John goes to start his attempt at remaking the world to his vision. Otherwise known as “The Diner story” when it’s talked about, the episode is titled “24/7.” This is the most disturbing episode so far, and if memory serves, the worst we’re likely to see this season. This is going to be a very short review, because this is mostly high drama and I try to avoid spoilers.

As Matthew does his best to rouse the fallen Dream Lord, John makes his way to a diner like you could find in many cities, at least in the United States. He gets around pretty well for a guy in pajamas, slippers, and a coat. Going in, he meets Bette, a very friendly waitress/greeter, who gets him set up in a booth and offers some nice chatter as they talk about the world changing. She’s a very friendly, outgoing person, and, in stories like this, that generally bodes ill for them.

Pretty much the entire episode takes place in the diner. We meet a crew of regulars plus a newcomer, who include Mark, a nervous young man waiting for a job interview; Judy, a very tense gay woman; Gary and Kate, a power couple who Bette introduced to each other; and Marsh the cook, a man of few words and for good reason. Under Dee’s influence, these people go through an amazingly hellish night. It starts with people spouting unvarnished truth to each other, then acting out on their passions, and then culminates in an orgy of self-destruction. It’s a very brutal story, and says a lot more about John, who orchestrates all this, than about his victims as the tale goes on.

After things get incredibly ugly, Dream finally arrives to reclaim what’s his. John has no intention of handing it over, and there’s a battle that goes from the Waking World to the Dreaming. John is overconfident and self-righteous, which isn’t a good combination when facing an ageless being of immense power. After a lot of conflict, Dream is victorious (it’s his show, after all), but also much more merciful than you’d expect. Dream also, because it’s that kind of series, gets in some good philosophical points about why John is so wrong in almost everything he does. At the end, Dream and Matthew talk about what comes next, and we see that someone very powerful has been watching Dream’s journey to reclaim his items and his power.

What I Liked: It was a disturbing episode, but a very powerful and well done one. John Dee, who is named both for a famous Elizabethan sorcerer and a villain from DC Comics (this role actually was the supervillain in the comics), has a lot of issues, but is acted really well and the character stays consistent. Nicely done, David Thewlis. I’m sure there was a temptation to water down the nastiness of this story, and I salute them for doing it the way they did.

What I Didn’t: While I stand by what I wrote above, parts of this were hard to watch. It’s not a story for the faint of heart. I also wasn’t clear at the end if the diner patrons were all dead, or had been brought back, or what exactly happened there.

Dark and disturbing, but very well done. I’ll give this a 3.5 out of 5. With Morpheus’ power reclaimed, I’m curious to see where they go next.