Warning: The following contains spoilers for Netflix’s “The Sandman,” Episode 4 “A Hope in Hell”
Throughout much of Netflix’s series adaptation of “The Sandman,” the show argues that nightmares, and the fear and immorality that haunt them, are more common and representative of humanity than anything else. Yet in the show’s fourth episode, “A Hope in Hell,” a counterargument that encapsulates “Sandman’s” central theme is delivered in ambitiously creative fashion.
Our hero Morpheus (Tom Sturridge) is locked into an epic metaphysical and idealogical duel with Lucifer (Gwendoline Christie), where each one takes on a new form be it beast (wolf, serpent, bird of prey), man (hunter), biological killers (bacterium), or even celestial powers (life-nurturing worlds and planet-killing novae).
But with Morpheus on the verge of losing this fight, his raven Matthew (Patton Oswalt) bluntly tells him that “Dreams don’t f—ing die, not if you believe in them.” This inspires our protagonist to fight back with one last transformative punch: “I am hope…What is it that kills hope?” I have challenges.
This victory-cinching realization serves as a thesis statement for “The Sandman.” The hopes that power our dreams are what give us the ability to overcome the darkness. So in that spirit, we asked many of the show’s stars what their character’s greatest hope may be.
Sturridge connected his character’s deepest desire with the function he serves for the waking world as the keeper of dreams and nightmares.
“I think that what Morpheus wants more than anything is stability,” Sturridge told TheWrap. “I think that the point of our unconsciousness is that it is inherently unstable and that’s why dreams and nightmares are so dangerous, because they affect our conscious lives. Dreams are a form of madness because they are all of the things that we’ve suppressed while we’re awake coming to fruition. And Morpheus’ primary responsibility for him, his dream for him, is to keep everyone safe. And that requires a stability inside those dreams and a stability inside our minds and souls.
He continued: “One of the things that this season explores is with the arrival of…Well, I won’t say anything. But it is what happens when that unconscious world becomes incredibly unstable and the catastrophic potential consequences.”
Lucienne (Vivienne Acheampong)
Acheampong’s Lucienne is Dream’s loyal lieutenant whose faith in him rarely wavers. In many ways, she’s his ethical North star and able to externalize some of the doubts, fears, and even ambitions he may keep hidden.
“For Lucienne, she wants all of that [stability]. But what she wants personally for Morpheus is for him to be able to do that in a safe way for him to maintain himself and who she knows he really is,” Acheampong told TheWrap. “Because he’s been captured for a century in a really inhumane way and has seen the worst aspects of humanity, and that has affected him. So I think she’s there to remind him not only to follow the rules and regulations, but to not lose himself within that because he’s had this horrific experience that would change anyone.”
Johanna Constantine (Jenna Coleman)
Coleman’s Constantine, much like her trouble-making comics counterpart John Constantine, is a magic-wielding firecracker. Though Coleman believes her character’s life de ella will always be filled with excitement, there may also be a yearning for tranquil normality underneath it all.
“I’m going to say peace. I feel like there’s a heaviness and a weariness and a disenchantment there. So I think there’s a yearning for peace, which is obviously what Dream gives Johanna Constantine at the end,” Coleman told TheWrap. “Then, on the other hand, I think Johanna Constantine would get bored pretty quickly. She needs a bit of, I think, naughtiness and a bit of adventure and trickery.”
Death (Kirby Howell-Baptiste)
Howell-Baptiste’s Death is a kindly guide to the afterlife, which conflicts with humanity’s shared perception of the Grim Reaper avatar. The character realizes that her function and purpose of her are one in the same, which gives her a sense of inner-peace as she tries to gently usher souls into the next phase of existence.
“I think that my character most hopes for a world where death is understood as a part of life,” Howell-Baptiste told TheWrap. “That shouldn’t generate fear, but hopefully it will generate not just acceptance, but perhaps a curiosity and an intrigue into what comes after, because literally none of us know.”
Lucifer (Gwendoline Christie)
Christie summed up her character’s inner most desires with one succinct thought: “I think Lucifer most craves God’s love.”