Well, if I was wondering why Netflix might have been a little gun shy to renew this show, seeing the dream spectacles on display here and seeing how good they look compared to even other Netflix shows (The Umbrella Academy comes to mind where I suspect the Hotel Obsidian/Oblivion only really existed as a greenscreen set), this one must have been damn expensive.
But it also looks damn good, so that’s all I will say there.
As it is, this still feels like a basic set-up episode, giving the audience some more characters to get to know in the form of Cain (caretaker of the House of Mystery), Abel (caretaker of the House of Secrets), and to a certain extent Gregory the Gargoyle. Yes, there’s more going on with the Corinthian, and Morpheus, after deciding that Lucienne’s advice to get help from one his siblings is not the best way to go since they all have their own responsibilities, will go to the Fates, AKA the Kindly One for those who have read the comics, for help.
The Corinthian stuff feels like filler in what was already a short episode, and it didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know. The Fates were cool in their own way, but are more there just to look cool and give out some exposition so Morpheus can find his bag of sand, helm, and ruby. He needs those items to regain his power, otherwise he can’t rebuild the Dreaming.
But I was interested in how the show would handle Cain and Abel. The two, like Lucienne and a lot of the other denizens of the Dreaming, actually got their start as hosts for various DC horror anthology series. Their gimmick, if you will, is Abel is a generally sweet man (written with a bad stutter that he lacks here) who will eventually say or do something to anger the hot-tempered Cain. Cain will then murder Abel in some way, but Abel always comes back to life. Despite the whole “king of dreams” stuff attributed to Morpheus, a better title is generally “king of stories,” and Cain and Abel’s exact nature is a bit up-in-the-air. Morpheus says they aren’t his creations here. Abel says they are stories, namely the first murderer (Cain) and the first victim (Abel). And somehow they still love each other as brothers do. One just murders the other once in a while. Where did they come from? Are they the same pair from the Bible? Were they once human?
The series never says one way or the other. That’s actually fine. It gives them both an air of mystery. Or it’s a secret.
Whatever the deal is, they need to give up Gregory so Morpheus can give the Fates the offering they need for his three questions. Now, a friend of mine who lost her dog of 17 years posted to Facebook that Netflix should have maybe issued a warning about pet death for this episode. I can understand that to an extent. I am not looking forward to the day I have to make a hard decision about my cat. But regardless…yeah, I can see why. Gregory is only onscreen for a few minutes, but he comes across as basically a big, friendly dog, complete with a ball to play with and a doghouse. That both Cain and Abel object for the same reason, and that both men are willing to take Gregory’s place, says a lot about the bond between the men and their pet, originally a nightmare and now just a big friendly monster thing.
That Morpheus can’t accept their offering because only Gregory is of the Dreaming says more about the mystery of where these two guys came from.
Now, Morpheus does give the pair a new gargoyle, a baby that is eventually named Goldie (actually another nod to the old horror anthologies), but still…it is a but hard to watch Gregory turn to sand.
That said…can’t Morpheus just restore him later?
Well, I may find out, but I rather doubt it.