The series is full of deep, meaningful, emotional and sometimes almost poetically beautiful moments, but for Neil Gaiman himself one scene stands out among all the others – a scene which, according to the writer himself, made him shed a few tears.
The scene in question highlights Kirby Howell-Baptiste's superb acting. Cast as Death, the actress gives a moving, truly breathtaking performance in a scene where Death, accompanied by Tom Sturridge's Dream, comes to claim an elderly violist.
The whole sequence, from the violinist asking for those final few seconds of living to him looking at his own dead body afterwards, is heartbreaking, but in a bittersweet and almost hopeful kind of way. No wonder it moved even Neil Gaiman himself to tears.
"Small warning. I cried the first time I saw this scene in the finished episode. If you are wondering why I cast Kirby as Death, this is why," the writer admitted.
Neil Gaiman's – and subsequently Kirby Howell-Baptiste's – portrayal of Death is strikingly different, and that's what made this character and her arc in Netflix's 'The Sandman' so very special. Her actions have a purpose, basically she's performing her function, but she also shows compassion for the people who are transitioning.
And for the actress herself this approach to Death was somewhat personal: while preparing for the role, Kirby Howell-Baptiste went through some difficult times and spoke to a friend's mom, who worked in hospice care, about how it actually felt – dealing with end of life. That's how Death came to be and that's how she's largely perceived in 'The Sandman' by many Netflix viewers: almost like a nurse who helps a patient coming off anesthesia.
"She's someone who doesn't want it to be painful and scary and sad. She wants it to be dignified and careful and gentle. And I think that's such a lovely, utopian idea of death," according to the actress.
Viewers who have already seen 'The Sandman' cite Kirby Howell-Baptiste's acting as one of the show's most memorable moments, and admit that it's perfect casting for the role.
"She's amazing. That's exactly how I always imagined Death's tone when I read her. Kind without condescending. Like an old friend. Crying at a tiny clip like this because it's beautiful and because it feels so right," one of 'The Sandman's fans wrote on Twitter.