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The Sandman: Why Desire's Episode 5 Debut May Be A Dark Omen For Season 2

In Season 1, Episode 5 ("24/7") of Netflix's "The Sandman," an adaptation of Neil Gaiman's popular DC Comics run, Dream of the Endless (Tom Sturridge) conquers John Dee (David Thewlis), but not before the demented individual causes drastic harm to a number of people. The victory and its fallout both serve as evidence that Morpheus -– Dream owns many names –- is a changed man. But the Lord of Dreams' new attitude is too little too late for his younger sibling, Desire (Mason Alexander Park) of the Endless. Desire, the physical embodiment of all human want, appears at the tail end of the episode to say, "I'm watching you ... big brother."

It's a sinister moment. And to audiences who might be unfamiliar with the source material, it doesn't really get that much of a payoff in Season 1. Yes, Desire remains an aspect of the story, sharing a scene with Despair (Donna Preston) in Season 1, Episode 7 ("The Doll's House") and playing an integral part behind the scenes in the events of Season 1, Episode 10 ("Lost Hearts"), but they remain, for the most part, in the background.

Now, since Gaiman is involved in the writing process for Netflix's adaptation, the live-action series maintains an impressive faithfulness to the source material. But also, since Gaiman is involved, any and all changes are provided with an official stamp of approval from the original creator. And Desire's role might deviate from the tale already told. But, if it doesn't, here's what fans can expect from Desire in Season 2 of "The Sandman."

Desire's hatred for Dream burns in the background

Potential spoilers for Season 2 of "The Sandman"

Let's start with the assumption that Neil Gaiman is going to keep the Netflix adaptation of his story relatively similar to the source material. And since we have two separate adaptations of "The Sandman," with those two being the Netflix live-action series and the Audible radio plays, we can approximate exactly what adventures will appear in Season 2. Season 1 of Netflix's "The Sandman" covers 16 issues or, in other words, the "Preludes and Nocturnes" and "The Doll's House" arcs. "The Sandman: Act I," the radio drama, covers both of those arcs and the "Dream Country" arc. 

Now, in fairness, the Netflix series broached "Dream Country" with its additional episode (Season 1, Episode 11, "Dream of a Thousand Cats; Calliope"), so we're essentially working with a one-to-one ratio here. "The Sandman: Act II" covers "Seasons of You," "Game of Mists," and most of "Fables and Reflections" –- these are the stories that are most likely to appear in Netflix's Season 2. And, honestly, Desire isn't heavily featured in these chapters. 

Dream is forced to deal with the truth that he mishandled his star-crossed romance with Nada (Deborah Oyelade), Lucifer Morningstar (Gwendoline Christie) literally gifts him Hell, and Barbie (Lily Travers) accidentally takes over the dreamworld with her own fantasies. Also, there are some short stories set across the timeline. But, in all of these, Desire really only shows up at the beginning of "Season of Mists" to taunt Dream about how royally he screwed over Nada.

A new story for Desire would have to compete with Season 1

Warning: Contains discussions of sexual assault

The tension between Desire and Dream stems from a long history of bad blood. Unlike Desire, Dream takes his role as one of the seven Endless seriously. And while that on its own isn't a bad thing, Dream's spent the better part of his quasi-immortal existence nurturing an insufferable superiority complex. It's important to remember that particular context when we speculate as to the different stories that Desire might get adapted into for the Netflix version of the tale.

The problem is, if Neil Gaiman is going to break canon, then Desire's aggression against Dream will have to somehow grow, and Desire didn't exactly start small. In Season 1 of "The Sandman," Desire raped a woman in a coma so that she would give birth to a child with the blood of the Endless flowing in their veins. But that's just the prep phase for Desire, whose real plan was to force Dream to spill his own family's blood, an act which has dire consequences for the Endless.

The second issue is that, while Desire wants Dream to suffer, it's not clear whether or not they want their brother dead. The Endless can die but it doesn't stick. It's briefly discussed in later issues of "The Sandman" but the first aspect of Despair died ages ago and she's only around now because the Endless reincarnate. As long as life persists, so do the Endless. The best Desire can do is make Dream suffer ... a lot. 

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

The Sandman is structured for change, change that might help Desire

"The Sandman" might not have to stress about raising the stakes, however, because the show insists on hopping around its own timeline. Most major arcs, like "Preludes and Nocturnes" and "Season of Mists," take place in the present but so much of the narrative is shorter, disconnected stories. Consider the additional episode for Season 1 of Netflix's adaptation, which features "A Dream of a Thousand Cats" (which, in turn, features some of the Audible cast). That particular tale follows a young kitten who learns that cats once ruled the earth. In other words, it's almost wholly disconnected from Dream's central journey.

And a solid chunk of "The Sandman" follows that same rule, showcasing figures across time and space as their normal lives are affected by the Endless. With that kind of framework in place, Neil Gaiman could easily insert a chronologically older, potentially new, clash between Desire and Dream. It's essentially what Gaiman did for the 30-minute cold open of Season 1 Episode 3 ("Hard Times") of "Good Omens," Prime's live-action adaptation of a novel he co-wrote with the late Terry Pratchett.

As things are currently written, Desire will get even less screen time in Season 2 than in Season 1. They were never a large character in "The Sandman" ... so it's possible that the only dark omen that Desire spells for Season 2 is their glaring absence.  At the very least, though, Mason Alexander Park has already confirmed that they will return. And that's not nothing!