Mild spoilers follow for The Sandman. You have been warned.
Netflix has announced a surprise new episode for its TV adaptation of The Sandman – and it's available to stream now.
Revealed in a press release, Netflix confirmed that a two-part bonus episode will comprise tales from the third volume in Neil Gaiman's iconic dark fantasy novel series, aka The Sandman: Dream Country. The book contains four independent stories, and The Sandman fans will be delighted to hear that Netflix's additional episode covers two of Dream Country's most popular stories: Calliope and A Dream of a Thousand Cats.
Interestingly, episode 11 of The Sandman will feature live-action and animated elements. A Dream of a Thousand Cats will be an entirely animated affair, with Hisko Hulsing (Undone, Junkyard) on directing duties and London-based animation company Untold Studio developing its dreamy and fugue state-style graphics.
In a statement, Hulsing teased what fans can expect from Netflix's interpretation of the beloved short story: "We endeavored to make the animated version of A Dream of a Thousand Cats as mesmerizing and hypnotic as we could by utilizing the magic of real oil paintings on canvas.
"We combined the paintings with classically drawn 2D animation, based on realistic 3D animation of telepathic cats in order to create a trippy world that feels both grounded and dreamy at the same time. Untold Studio’s in London created the breathtaking 3D animation of the cats. The wonderful 2D animation, oil paintings and stylizing were all done at Submarine Studio’s in Amsterdam."
Tom Sturridge reprises his role as Dream/Morpheus in the animated short and leads a stacked voice cast of big name stars. Sandra Oh, David Tennant, James McAvoy, Michael Sheen, Diane Morgan, and Joe Lycett are just some of the talent attached to A Dream of a Thousand Cats. Additionally, Neil Gaiman will voice a character in the short, with the acclaimed author lending his vocals to Crow/Skull Bird.
In contrast, Calliope will follow The Sandman's other 10 entries in being a wholly live-action production. Louise Hooper, who directed the Lost Hearts episode in The Sandman season 1, helms Netflix's take on the short story.
Arthur Darvill (Doctor Who), Anita Suman (Shadow and Bone), and Derek Jacobi (Murder on the Orient Express) are among Calliope's cast. Meanwhile, Nina Wadia, Souad Faress, and Dinita Gohil will reprise their roles as the Fates from The Sandman episodes 2 and 7. Finally, Melissanthi Mahut (Assassin's Creed: Odyssey, The Other Me) will star as the titular Calliope.
It's unclear if Netflix will drop another surprise episode in the near future. The Sandman: Dream Country also contains short stories called A Midsummer Night's Dream (based on William Shakespeare's iconic play) and Façade, so it would make sense for a 12th episode of The Sandman to cover these tales before a possible second season.
According to showrunner Alan Heinberg, the hit Netflix show's potential second season will adapt the fourth volume in the book collection, i.e. Season of Mists, if the series is renewed (per Entertainment Weekly). With The Sandman season 1 covering the first two volumes – Preludes and Nocturnes, and The Doll's House – it's logical that Netflix would adapt Dream Country's short stories in an extra episode or two. Nonetheless, it's still a wonderful surprise – one that'll tide The Sandman fans over until season 2 is hopefully greenlit.
Given The Sandman's domination of the Netflix charts since its August 5 release, it would be a major shock of a second season isn't forthcoming. Netflix subscribers have binged almost 200 million hours of The Sandman in its first 10 days post-release – numbers that have catapulted it to the summit of Netflix's Top 10 TV show list in the UK and US, as well as appearing in the Top 10 in 93 countries. Expect an announcement on that front in the not too distant future, then.
For more content surrounding The Sandman, read our spoiler-free season 1 review. Alternatively, check out our exclusive chat with Gaiman, Heinberg, and the show's cast to find out more about its development, or learn more about the TV adaptation's unusual picture aspect ratio.