Netflix’s ‘The Sandman’ is a fantasy show based on the comic book series of the same name by Neil Gaiman. The first season introduces the viewers to the mythology of the Endless, the conflicts between them, and the obstacles they have to overcome to maintain the balance between their realm with that of the humans. Morpheus, aka Dream, is the central character of the story. The events of the show begin with his capture. By the time the season wraps up, a plethora of characters has been thrown into the mix. While Dream succeeds in solving most of his problems, more challenges appear on the horizon for him. The finale sets the stage for the events of Season 2, making Dream’s future look rather bleak. Here, we analyze the ending and see what it means for the ruler of the Dreaming. SPOILERS AHEAD
The Sandman Season 1 Plot Synopsis
Morpheus, the King of Dreams, spends time in a glass prison of the Order of Ancient Mysteries who made a mistake in their spell and, instead of Death, ended up capturing her brother. To further render him powerless, Dream’s tools are taken away from him. He spends his captivity in silence, waiting for the day when someone will slip up and he’ll be set free. The day arrives more than a century later.
When Dream returns from his captivity, there are a thousand things on his mind. He has to get his tools back. He has to bring back the escaped dreams and nightmares. He has to rebuild the Dreaming, while also making peace with the fact that the system and the hierarchy in his realm have seen some shift in his absence. The biggest problem, however, surfaces when the presence of a dream vortex is revealed.
In between all this, the focus also falls on Dream’s cordial relationship with Death and the rivalry with his sibling, Desire, who comes up with new schemes to brew trouble for him. In the pursuit of his tools, Dream also ends up making an enemy out of Lucifer Morningstar, the ruler of Hell, who decides that it’s time to declare war on the Dreaming and eventually conquer the waking world as well.
The Sandman Season 1 Ending: Who is the Real Dream Vortex?
A dream vortex is a being that has the power to create or destroy universes. All the dreams and nightmares converge to it until the walls between people’s dreams are brought down. It continues to the point where the walls between the Dreaming and the waking world disappear as well. The vortex encapsulates everyone within a single dream and eventually falls in upon itself, destroying the Dreaming beyond repair, the effects of which echo in the waking world, which is destroyed too.
Dream’s job is to take care of this problem, which appears in front of him as Rose Walker. She starts to exhibit her powers, which grow stronger every day, following the investigation into her missing brother. While, initially, Dream keeps an eye on her from afar, monitoring her in both the Dreaming and the waking world, he becomes convinced that she should be killed when Lyta Hall gets pregnant in her dream and carries her child to the waking world. In the end, Rose, too, submits to her fate and is ready to die, if that’s what it takes to save the world. But then, a secret is revealed which completely changes the situation.
It turns out that the original dream vortex of this era was supposed to be Unity Kinkaid. She was still a child when Dream was captured by Roderick Burgess. In his absence, the sleepy sickness took hold of the world and Unity fell victim to it. She spent her entire life sleeping and living in her dreams, which is where she met “the golden-eyed man” with whom she had a child, who eventually became Rose’s grandmother. Because Unity couldn’t fulfill her destiny of becoming the vortex, it was passed down to her descendants, leading Rose to shoulder that responsibility.
To save her great-granddaughter, Unity takes away Rose’s heart, which is what makes her the vortex. On destroying it, Unity dies. With the vortex dead, Dream has no reason to kill Rose, who goes back home to her brother and her friends. However, having given away her heart will certainly have implications for her future. It might have made her the vortex, but it was also an essential part of her being. With her heart gone, how will Rose ever feel anything?
This revelation also sets up the second season with Desire’s animosity/rivalry with Dream coming more into focus. As soon as Unity mentions “the golden eyed-man”, Dream knows that it was Desire who meddled with his affairs. If Desire hadn’t impregnated Unity, then Rose would never have been born and the whole vortex situation would have been settled with Unity dying in her sleep. Clearly, Desire was not happy with it and decided to create a huge problem for Dream by furthering the problem of the vortex.
It would also have been a big deal for Dream to kill Rose Walker because with Desire being her great-grandfather, Dream would, unintentionally, be spilling the family’s blood. While the show doesn’t yet go into why Desire is so interested in ruining Dream’s life or why they want Dream to kill Rose Walker so bad, it certainly has to do with the eons-long history between the siblings, who clearly don’t share the closest of bonds. This arc is explored in the comic books in detail, and considering how close the show remains to its source, all you need to know (without having anything spoiled for the future) is that spilling family blood bestows vulnerability on an all-powerful Endless. And, a vulnerable Endless is a killable Endless.
Clearly, we’ll be seeing more of Rose as her connection to Desire leaves much to be explored. She and her brother, Jed, are the children of the Endless, which means that this isn’t the last we’ve seen of them. Desire’s quest to bring Dream to his knees coincides with Lucifer’s ambition of conquering all realms and turning them into Hell. In the future, Dream’s enemies might become allies and join forces to destroy him and his realm. Considering all the trouble that’s in store for him, and with two Endless pitted against each other, the next season will open up more into their mythology, with the other three siblings coming out to resolve the problem. It might divide them into factions, with some supporting Dream while others siding with Desire, which might make it easier for Lucifer to make his own dreams come true.
Read More: Morpheus’ Tools in The Sandman, Explained