on c dream and redemption
i don't like him as a person, but as a character he's quite interesting, and i'll be going at this from a narrative standpoint
(also if you would prefer to avoid any c dream sympathy at all, be warned there is a bit of that in this)
warnings: this talks about trauma and the prison in great detail
this was inspired by @dreamsclock's writing on ao3, so i'm tagging him! and also @idkanameatall because he asked to be tagged as well
As he is now, Dream can't really move forward. He's in a tiny hellish cell, with horrible conditions, and that will do anything from giving him copious amounts of trauma to breaking his mind entirely. Sam is the warden, and no hate to Sam, but he cannot handle it and should not be in charge. The warden would have to be someone willing to listen to Dream, and as Sam is now, he wouldn't.
In order for him to have a redemption arc, it would have to be his choice. He would have to look at himself, realize he'd messed up, and decide that he wanted to stop. It wouldn't be a redemption arc if he was just seeking forgiveness (although, if he was confusing an apology and forgiveness, it would still count as long as he genuinely meant the apology because it's a VERY common thing to think).
That's why the warden would have to listen to Dream, because if he said he was sorry and he wanted to do better in the future, it would do nothing but hurt him further if he was left in the cell. It's a very delicate situation, for everyone involved, and there are few characters in the mental state to be able to make decisions like this.
He would also need to understand that he might not ever get forgiveness from the people he hurt, nor should he be looking for it. A true redemption arc would be one where he wants to be better, purely because he hurt people and he doesn't want to anymore. He also would have to be away from everyone he's hurt, and that has hurt him, in order for him to start to relearn how to talk to people without manipulation on either side.
Common solutions I've seen are exile (real exile, where he's just off on his own away from everyone else) and therapy from Puffy. I don't believe either would work, exile because it would only distance him from other people even more instead of relearning how to interact with people that he hasn't hurt or been hurt by, and therapy because Puffy has her own complicated feelings to work through about him, as well as being the therapist for one of the people he abused (which might make it impossible for her to do therapy with Dream as well, which is completely fair.)
People who have no ill will towards him, as far as I can tell, include Phil, Techno, Connor, Alyssa and Callahan, Ponk(?), Punz(? he betrayed Dream, in the technical sense of the word, so he might not be a safe person for Dream to talk to), Bad (although he might have his own mental stuff to work through, with the egg), and I can't think of anyone else off the top of my head that would work.
So, in a good world for everyone, he might work with Techno and Phil (and anyone else) to readjust to the world. (Although it couldn't be by Techno and Phil's homes, because Ranboo hates Dream (and for good reason)).
A redemption arc for Dream would have to be handled very very carefully, not just because he abused At Least one person and that is a very real thing to happen, but because it couldn't be handled in such a way that said he was good now because of the prison trauma. If the time in the prison forced him to reevaluate his viewpoints on how the world worked, that would be okay, but the prison trauma did nothing but hurt him.
From a narrative standpoint the prison didn't do anything to help him, and from an in-story standpoint it was just torture for torture's sake. If he wanted to hurt the people who hurt him (Sam and Quackity mostly), that wouldn't be a sign he wasn't actually trying to change, it would be a perfectly normal reaction to the horrible trauma he went through. And at this point, it feels unfair to kill him off after all the suffering he's gone through.
So, he could definitely have a redemption arc. It would just have to be handled very carefully (both in-story and irl by the writers), as to not push things in favor of either Dream's or Tommy's trauma, and Dream would have to take the first step toward redemption on his own and decide that he was done hurting people.