A Hope in Hell
Episode 4 of The Sandman begins with Dream and Matthew the Raven showing up in Hell. With cold winds swirling around them, they decide to follow the line of the Damned. There are certain protocols that come with entering Hell though, something a demon called Squatterbloat is well acquainted with when he greets them at the gates.
Despite beating Dream over his lack of a crown, the demon does agree to take him to the Morningstar. Lucifer Morningstar, to be precise. Lucifer is far more powerful than Dream, and without all his trinkets, he’s more vulnerable than before.
With a litany of jokes from Matthew for company, they press on. Eventually they arrive at the foot of Lucifer’s castle; a towering, imposing structure that stretches on to dizzying heights.
Lucifer greets Dream, wanting to join their two realms together. Dream though ignores this and stays true to his mission, wanting his Helm back. So the only thing for it, is to summon every single demon to the gates.
It doesn’t take long for Dream to realize the Helm belongs to Choronzon, a Duke of Hell. With the Helm under his arm, he bargains with the Demon. If Dream is to lose this, he’ll become a servant to Choronzon in Hell for all eternity.
Meanwhile in New York, John ends up getting a lift from a kindly taxi driver where we’re repeated the story about Ethel’s thievery. After stopping at a gas station, Rosemary (the driver) stats to have second thoughts about this. She speaks to the cashier, urging him to ring 911. The thing is, John has the amulet, and when the cashier shows off his gun, things take a turn for the worst. A spatter of blood and John leaves once more with Rosemary. John bemoans trusting her and demands she drive him to the ruby.
Back in Hell, Dream squares off against Lucifer. The former tells Matthew to head back and see Lucienne, informing her of his fate. Meanwhile, the duel between Lucifer and Dream takes place; a battle of wits and the mind. Matthew gives Dream some words of encouragement during a crucial point, with the Lord of Dreams eventually settling on “Hope” as his winning move. And with that, Lucifer is defeated and Dream is returned his Helm.
“One day Morpheus, we shall destroy you,” Lucifer promises. And with that, Dream turns and leaves Hell with his Helm, one step closer to regaining dominion over his realm.
Meanwhile, John shows mercy on Rosemary and hands over his Amulet to her once he gets possession of the ruby. But when he leaves her, John promises one thing – to change the world.
The Episode Review
We’re back on track again after last episode’s blemish, with a pretty accurate adaptation of the battle between Lucifer and Dream. The descent into Hell is a really nice touch and the visuals in this have been excellent from start to finish. They really do capture the imagination of the comics and that’s great to see.
Gwendoline Christie does a fantastic job as Lucifer and out of all the casting choices, this is the one that makes the most sense. She’s a great actress and brings Lucifer to life with malice and mischief.
The whole subplot involving John is a bit meandering and seems to be added for the pure intent of breaking up the action in Hell. However, we do see some good character development for him, especially handing over the amulet to that kindly woman at the end.
I’m not quite sure whose idea it was to have Matthew (voiced by Patton Oswald) cracking jokes the whole time but it feels ill-fitting to the tone of the show and adds absolutely nothing, which is a shame.
Despite that slight quibble, as we approach the halfway point, The Sandman has been a very good adaptation so far.