The bonus episode of The Sandman gave us two more tales from Neil Gaiman's comic series that are as enchanting as they are terrifying. However, the second part of the special episode could have been a lot darker if it was a faithful adaptation. Luckily, Calliope's story was altered for the series and Gaiman says it was a very important change.
In The Sandman #17, writer Ric Madoc gives a trichobezoar to aging author Erasmus Fry who presents him with the muse Calliope. It is revealed that Calliope had been Erasmus' prisoner for decades and he regularly raped her to get inspiration. Ric also uses the muse to be inspired but Calliope is eventually rescued by her husband Morpheus.
The series leaves out Calliope's abuse and she also actively tries to escape Ric. It's a huge change that Neil Gaiman believes is important in the adaptation.
"We needed to give Calliope more agency and needed to figure out how to walk through a story about abuse without glorifying it," Gaiman told CBR. He then added that this was something that he and showrunner Allan Heinberg actively pursued.
"That had been one of the big things in the comic -- not glorifying it. And then going, 'Okay, these are real people, and those are still images on paper. How do we do this?' That, I think, was one place where Allan and the writers really had to dive deep," Gaiman said.
Heinberg agreed. "We knew we didn't have any interest in showing any of the sexual assault on camera. We knew that as much as we could give them the structure of the story, we wanted it to be Calliope's story."
"As Neil said, we wanted to give Calliope more agency. It was his idea to have her attempt to escape; that was a pure Gaiman invention," he continued.
"Once we got that piece of it, that's the piece that's not in the book, [and] I love that it came directly from Neil. It brought Morpheus and the idea of Morpheus into the story even earlier and helped make it an essential Sandman story in the context of the series," Heinberg concluded.
All episodes of The Sandman are now streaming on Netflix.