So far, The Sandman has mostly stuck closely to Dream and the quest to retrieve his Items of Power. But with Morpheus out of action and John Dee in command of the ruby, it’s time to take off the gloves. “24/7” focuses on a single cafe and six people on the last day of their lives.
Bette (Emma Duncan) dreams of being a writer, but she makes her money serving coffee in an average North American restaurant. Luckily, she draws inspiration for her stories from the people around her – and there’s a decent crowd tonight.
There’s Jude (Daisy Head), who seems sad after a breakup with his girlfriend Donna. And look! Meet Kate (Lourdes Faberes) and Garry (James Udon), the power couple who run Vanguard across the road. Mark (Laurie Davidson) seems like a nice young man and he’s looking for a job there – maybe Bette could say a nice word to Kate? Most important of all is Marsh (Steven Brand) the leader. Bette loves him, but he’s been strangely distant lately.
There’s also someone else tonight – a strange-looking man in the corner named John who says he’s going to change the world. Turns out he’s not wrong… It starts with telling the truth. John hates lies, so he uses Dream’s ruby to force everyone in the room to be brutally honest. Bette reveals her deep insecurities, Kate and Garry (James Udon) start bickering over food, and Mark is far too direct with Jude about how he thinks Donna really feels.
It doesn’t end there, however. Marsh reveals that he doesn’t like Bette and only comes to her house for a free meal and so he can have sex with his 21-year-old son. Kate opens up to Mark about the issues in her relationship with Garry and the two begin to openly flirt. Jude and Bette grow closer, emotionally and physically. Ruby begins to bring out buried desires and instincts and soon everyone is connecting.
Things start to get violent. Garry attacks Mark, who kills him in self-defense. Marsh cuts his fingers. Eventually, even poor Bette stabs herself in the eye. It’s not limited to coffee either. We see on the news that violence and mania are spreading all over the world.
Arrives Sandman… Morpheus arrives at the restaurant to confront John (who, eternal child that he is, sits cheerfully eating ice cream in a huge bathtub while observing the barbarism around him). He tries to be reasonable, but Dee is determined to steal Morpheus’ powers once and for all and so the two fight in the Dream.
At first it looks like John is winning – he drains Dream of his energy before crushing the ruby once and for all. However, this turns out to be a mistake. By destroying the gem, he simply released the powers that flow directly back to Morpheus, effectively recharging him. Finally, after a century of imprisonment and the loss of his tools, he is back in force. And now he has John Dee – literally – in the palm of his hand. He doesn’t kill him, however, or even punish him like he did with Alex Burgess. Instead, he just sends this sad, mad, broken man back to jail. Tomorrow begins the reconstruction, both for humanity and for the Dream.
“24/7” is a robust watch. Unlike Bette’s stories, there’s no happy ending here and the only deadly character to make it out alive (not counting Lindy the Leader, who was lucky enough to leave early) is arguably the one who deserves it. least: John Dee.
I hung on to the fact that the show looked a bit scenic in the last episode, but here it’s a plus. With Morpheus absent for a full 40 minutes, it plays out like a particularly unnerving psychodrama – six people breaking down emotionally and physically in a claustrophobic environment that’s straight out of an Edward Hopper painting. It also looks great, with an atmospheric use of light and shadow turning this bright and cheerful restaurant into a mass grave. Great stuff.
Analysis: How It Compares To The Comics
“24/7” neatly compresses The Sandman #6 (24/7) and #7 (Sound and Fury) into a single episode. A few character specifics have changed – Garry on the show is bisexual and a sex addict; in the comic, Marsh met Bette’s son in prison – but all is as it should be.
The biggest change happened in the first episode: the decision to make John the biological son of Roderick Burgess. This choice adds layers of meaning to their final conflict and to Dream choosing mercy. If he can – at least in part – forgive the offspring of the man who tormented him for so long, then he’s truly grown up. Maybe it’s the influence of Matthew and Johanna Constantine rubbing off on him?
Fables and reflections
Do you remember the Three from episode 2? They briefly appear to John here, predicting his eventual fate. We also get a few cameos from Niamh Walsh and Joely Richardson as young and old Ethel Cripps.
Jude speaks on the phone several times with his friend Rose (Kyo Ra). Keep her in mind – we’ll see her much more soon.
The Sandman is now streaming on Netflix. For more streaming options, check out our list of the best Netflix shows available right now.