In the episode "Curiouser and Curiouser", the world of Nick's dream differs from reality, but the alterations are far from random. The characterization of the series regulars usually involves some measure of reversal from the norm. And many of these reversed characters and situations reveal aspects of the guilt that Nick chronically experiences, both about being a vampire and about the way this makes him treat those about him.
Blood to WineEdit
The first reversal in the dream is the token by which the viewer knows that there has been a shift into sleep. Nick sat down with a glass of blood; yet suddenly, when he reaches out, the glass contains white wine.
Nevertheless, although functionally this is our first indication that he is no longer awake, it also relates to his feelings of guilt. The Nick of the dream, despite insisting that he is a vampire, does not drink blood—not even cow's blood.
One of Schanke's perpetual complaints in their partnership is Nick's tendency to treat him as the junior member even though Schanke is an experienced detective. In this episode, however, it is Schanke who takes the lead throughout the investigation of the murder case. Schanke, who usually wears a fairly cheap suit, worn sloppily, is dressed very smartly in the dream. And, in stark contradiction to the situation in reality, it is Schanke who drives the two of them to the crime scene.
In reality, Cohen is the brisk, no nonsense, conservatively clad police officer who commands the 96th Precinct. In her personal life, she is married with children.
In the dream, however, she is the owner of a nightclub. As such, she dresses exotically, drinks and smokes, and behaves with a gracious flirtatiousness. Whereas, in reality, Nick's relationship with her is purely professional, in the dream he treats her as a confidant.
Natalie Lambert may be a professional woman, but her manner tends towards informality. She often wears suits, but they tend to be light coloured; and, off duty, she is as likely as not to be seen in a sweat suit.
In the dream, though, Natalie takes on the role of Police Captain. She is Nick's boss. She dresses in an obviously expensive suit at work; and, off duty for a romantic tryst, wears an evening gown and jewellery even though she will be meeting her lover in her own home.
Of course, in the real world, it is Janette who owns the Raven. In the dream, though, she is a stay-at-home housewife, married to Nick, and mother of their baby. In reality, Janette is always modishly dressed. In the dream, she is frowsily unkempt and goes around the loft in a housecoat.
Nick and Janette were involved with one another for nearly a century in the Renaissance. Although she left him, his fondness for her runs deep. As other episodes indicate, he still is attracted to her, and not averse to turning to her when deeply aroused. In "Cherry Blossoms", for example, Natalie interrupted the two of them kissing passionately; and, in "Crazy Love", he bit her neck.
Yet, in the present day, Nick and Janette are supposed only to be friends. In so far as he permits himself involvement with anyone, it is Natalie who thinks she holds his heart. The reversal in "Curiouser and Curiouser", however, suggests that on some level Nick feels that getting closer to Natalie is an infidelity to Janette. After all, in the dream, it is Janette to whom he is married. His relationship with Natalie is only a secretive, passionate affaire.
Nick reserves his deepest guilt for his betrayal of LaCroix. Throughout the dream, he is supposedly investigating the murder of the Nightcrawler—LaCroix himself. Yet, as the story progresses, he is repeatedly haunted by images of LaCroix: on the television screen, in the mirror: accusing images that taunt him with ambiguous advice and revelation. When Nick then finds the murder weapon hidden in the fireplace of the loft, all seems to be revealed: Nick's guilt is his betrayal of his master.
However, there is one final image that crystallizes the theme. It is that of LaCroix, having come to Nick in the Raven and pulled out the knife from his own stomach, picking up a stake and preparing to use it on Nick. This reflects (and hence reverses) the second part of the series premiere, "Dark Knight: The Second Chapter". At the climax of that episode, it was Nick who staked LaCroix.