Morpheus is in the legs that fall asleep and the eyes you can’t keep open, and the endless cups off coffee that didn’t work, caffeine immunity creeping in. He’s the sand in your eyes the day after an allnighter, coaxing you to pause, letting you know the world can wait a few hours. In the vivid daydreams and dizzy thoughts that conjure themselves into vision even when you don’t close your eyes. He’s the sudden smells that take you back a decade and are gone as quickly as they come.
Hades stands not in graveyards but on every corner and every bridge. He crosses the street with you as you contemplate the oncoming cars. Dutiful accountant, he knows your name, and it waits on his tongue. He’s not there to rush you, nor help you. Perhaps his presence is enough. Even in ideation, Hades is in cold fingers and forgotten teas, crumbled leaves that tell you he’s taken her away again. He’s in the rinds of fruit and discarded husks, the plucked leaves, the end, always waiting at the core of everything.
Persephone is in the fresh fruit, ripe and ready to burst, eating them, destroying them feels like a sin, like delicious betrayal. She’s the first sharp bite and the way the juice rolls down your chin, in the decisions you hold steadfastly onto. she’s in defiant stares and the way you walk in like you own the place, because as long as she’s by your side, you do. When people whisper your name and pretend they don’t see you, she’s there, by your side, lifting your chin. Fear may also be hate, but it is also fear, and that is your power.
Aphrodite is in the crisp line of lipstick, and the boldness of a sharp cateye, but also the next day when it’s smeared and freckled with chipped mascara, the glance in the mirror when you see yourself like this and shrug, ‘not so bad’. She’s in the burst of warmth and weak you feel when you watch a child laugh with its grandmother. She’s there in that moment you fit into those jeans, she’s there when you slip into sweatpants and have a second slice of cake. When you shit talk your ex she’s there, nodding and making sure you know he was no good for you.
Dionysus walks in when your friends do, carrying his revelry on their shoulders. With a bottle of champagne, -a treat-, he's not so much in drinking it as he is shaking it up and popping the cork, the laughter and the mess that ensues, the sticky fingers that last the night. He’s there in the morning next as well, surveying the damage and grinning like a king when you scrape chips off the couch.
Hypnos: the personification and god of sleep, son of Erebus, the primordial god of darkness, and Nyx, the goddess of the night, and twin brother of Thanatos, the personification and god of death; he was married to Pasithea, personification and goddess of relaxation and meditation; they had three children, the Oneiroi: Morpheus, god of dreams, Phobetor, god of nightmares, and Phantasos, god of surreal dreams; he and his brother resided in the Underworld, in a cave by the river Lethe; he was a calm and gentle god, and owned half of all mortal life
The clever references from the start of last night’s Rick and Morty
The first thing you may have noticed is a certain skinny, tall, dark haired figure chasing Rick and Morty through a staircase room…
That character was based on Morpheus AKA Dream of The Endless, otherwise known as The Sandman. He is the protagonist from Neil Gaiman’s multi-award winning comic book series The Sandman.
Originally published by DC, Sandman started in late 1988 and was later published by Vertigo (which is owned by DC) Sandman tells the life story of Morpheus, the ruler of the dimension of both Dreams and Nightmares.
The most recent installment of this cult classic comic book series was a prequel that was compiled just last year into the graphic novel called Sandman: Overture. Sandman: Overture won a 2016 Hugo Award and had imagery very similar to what was in the opening of last night’s Rick and Morty.
Morpheus has certain distinct physical characteristics. He has thick, wild dark
hair and chalk white (or grey) skin. He is extremely skinny and tall. He usually wears a
black cloak or long black jacket. At his neck he often used to wear a “Dreamstone” amulet (originally a ruby though Dream’s newest incarnation wears an emerald). His eyes are entirely black except for tiny
star-like pupils that can flare when he’s emotional.
All of these distinctive traits can be found in the very character who made his brief appearance last night in the opening of Rick and Morty.
The second thing to note is the room Rick and Morty were in. It probably looked familiar to you.
That staircase room has appeared in TV and movies for decades, from Jim Henson’s Labyrinth (1986) to Syfy’s Warehouse 13. That room is called The Escher Room and it is based on a famous optical illusion by M. C. Escher.
I strongly suspect the choosing of The Escher Room and it’s crumbling at the start of last night’s Rick and Morty was a deliberate nod to the 1986 fantasy film, Jim Henson’s Labyrinth.
You will notice that The Goblin King, Jareth (Davie Bowie’s character in that picture above) bears a certain physical similarity to Morpheus. Many fans noticed this. I have been told that Neil Gaiman is big fan of both Labyrinth and David Bowie. He even originally modeled his Lucifer Morningstar (who now has a TV series on Fox and first appeared in the Sandman comics) after David Bowie.
Many fans have noted that Morpheus looks like a photo negative of Jareth from Labyrinth. Observe.
Like Morpheus, Jareth also rules his own fantastical dimension where reality bends to his will.
The fact that Morpheus is essentially “Emo Jareth “ (to quote a friend of mine) makes it easy to understand why the familiar visual of the Escher Room was chosen as it was destroyed at the end of the Rick and Morty scene, much like the version shown in the film Labyrinth crumbled around Sarah (the film’s protagonist).
Combining Morpheus with Jareth is an excellent and easy to understand idea much like when the Rick and Morty writers noticed the similarities between Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes and Stephen King’s Needful Things and they merged Mr. Dark (From Something Wicked This way Comes) with the antagonist of Needful Things to create “Mr. Needful” for the episode Something Ricked This Way Comes for season one.
And for anyone wondering, Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This way Comes was published before Stephen King’s Needful Things and even had a film adaptation before Needful Things did as well, though the plots were very similar.
The biggest difference was Something Wicked This way Comes dealt with a sinister carnival that offered you your heart’s desires at a terrible price and Needful Things had the antique shop like in the Rick and Morty episode. Mr. Dark was the ringmaster of the carnival in Something Wicked This Way Comes.
(A physical comparison of Mr. Dark and Rick and Morty’s Mr. Needful below in images).
As the new “Sandman-esque” cameo character was not named and has none of Jareth’s physical traits but does have all of Morpheus’ physical traits he is named Morpheus in my head unless the show decides to have him appear again later and properly names the spoof character.
PS, I would kill for a Scary Terry vs. Morpheus event of some kind. There’s fan art of Freddy Krueger vs. Morpheus, which I won’t post here because I don’t have permission from the artists who made them but it can be easily googled.
An oil to induce lucid dreams, a deep, peaceful sleep and all-around dream magic. It also makes a great offering to Morpheus, the God of dreams. Rub it over your third eye before you sleep to induce lucid dreams and help you recall your dreams in the morning.