The latest episode of Swamp Thing features an obscure connection between the The Phantom Stranger's choice of music and the blue-collar magus John Constantine. This synchronic link seems oddly fitting, as - much like this episode - it involves a crossover between two mystic characters who migrated from the DC Universe into the shared reality of Vertigo Comics.
Ever since its first episode, Swamp Thing has brought a wide variety of comic book characters to life and this has not been limited to characters like Abby Arcane or Matt Cable, whose origins lie in the Swamp Thing comics. The show's cast also includes supernatural mainstays of the DC Universe like the fortune teller Madame Xanadu and the vigilante Blue Devil. This was all part of the grand design of Executive Producer James Wan, who had a three-season plan that would introduce many of DC Comics' supernatural characters into the reality of the show, before culminating in a Justice League Dark series.
When The Phantom Stranger makes his entrance in "Drive All Night," we hear his approach before we see him. He arrives in a boat with a radio playing Roy Orbison's "In Dreams" and we see him mouthing the words of the song's opening - a line about a "candy-colored clown they call the Sandman." Some comics readers may recall this as one of the songs John Constantine hears during his first encounter with the titular character of Neil Gaiman's The Sandman.
"Dream A Little Dream Of Me," the third chapter of Preludes and Noctures, opens with John Constantine seemingly unable to go anywhere without hearing songs about dreams and lost loves. The Chordette's "Mr. Sandman" plays as he leaves his apartment to get breakfast and he accidentally sets a jukebox to play Patsy Cline's "Sweet Dreams" once he gets to the diner. This leads John to consider the possibility that this synchronicity may be a magical warning of something big coming. Sure enough, he runs into fellow magician Mad Hettie, who informs him that Morpheus (a.k.a. Dream of The Endless a.k.a. The Sandman) has returned to power after having disappeared for several decades.
Sure enough, The Dream King arrives on John Constantine's doorstep not long after, searching for his magical bag of sand, which had come into Constantine's possession several years earlier. The two journey to the storage unit where John keeps most of his magical gear, hitching a lift with John's friend, cabbie Chas Chandler. The music continues to change around John, with the radio in the cab playing Roy Orbison's "In Dreams," leading John to snarkily remark that Orbison got it wrong describing the black-clad and dour Morpheus as a "candy-colored clown." John later realizes that the musical clues are continuing despite Morpheus' presence because they are pointing the way to the current possessor of the pouch - his ex-girlfriend Rachel, who stole the sand pouch (along with most of John's other belongings in the apartment they shared) and became addicted to the euphoric magic powder.
While this use of the song is a nice Easter Egg and a nod to a great story, this is likely to be the closest we'll get to seeing either Constantine or The Sandman on Swamp Thing. Despite both Matt Ryan and Derek Mears saying they'd love to team-up like in the Swamp Thing comics (where John Constantine was originally introduced as a supporting character), nothing has been said about Ryan appearing on the show and such a team-up would be unlikely now in the face of Swamp Thing's cancellation. It would be ironic, however, if the demands for second seasons of both Swamp Thing and Constantine resulted in a new series teaming the two anti-heroes together, particularly since the storyline of Constantine was based on his first story arc in Swamp Thing.