I’m still waiting for The Handmaid’s Tale to produce its first bad episode. It doesn’t look like that’s happening anytime soon.
The contrast in this episode was just incredible. I loved the juxtaposition of the sweetness and warmth of June’s romance with Luke, with the cold and horrifying reality she finds herself in today. This was especially evident through the show’s editing of the dreamlike sex scene between June and her soon-to-be-husband, with Serena watching over Nick as he mechanically tries to impregnate Offred. Sex is in fact pivotal to this episode, as the show utilizes the act to convey so much. Take June saying that she likes to be “on top” in the past, and then notice how she flips Nick over and takes control in the hour’s final moments. In fact, everything about her willingly going to his house and choosing to sleep with him is tremendously empowering and a great, defining moment for the character.
Of course Offred’s rebellious act is not a singular development; it’s the result of a rebellious streak that begins with Emily finally enjoying a moment of freedom and brutally murdering a guard with that car. It’s all quite gruesome, but it’s also a stirring moment as all the handmaids watch on and see that they’re not as helpless as they were led to believe.
It’s also worth nothing that the relationship between Offred and Commander Waterfood took on a shocking layer this week. I was sure the show was positioning the man as a sympathetic figure for Offred to lead on, but Faithful reveals that he very much believes in everything the new regime is fighting for. Moreover, he very much thinks that women are only there to fulfill their biological destiny. This revelation creates a creepy and tremendously unsettling moment, and it undercuts any romantic sparks that appeared in the first part of the episode (especially when the two are playfully flirting). Kudos to Joseph Fiennes for a layered and complex turn. Wow!
Bits & Handmaids
– The fact that Waterford gives Offred a women’s magazine and it feels like contraband (since they were all destroyed) is just insane.
– Offred and the Commander have played 34 games of Scrabble already? Damn!
– Very cute first meeting between June and Luke with her Tinder profile picture debacle.
– Love how Offred’s voiceover keeps recounting the “Ten Signs He’s Into You” article she read in the magazine. The contrast of this playful content with her vile reality is jarringly good.
– It’s a quick moment, but Offred considers killing Serena. Foreshadowing perhaps? I could totally see her stabbing her in the neck in the season finale.
– Fun fact about this creepy new world: the handmaids sometimes sleep with other men in the household so they aren’t blamed for a lack of pregnancy.
– Ofglen is Ofsteven now.
– There’s a fascinating new perspective as the new Ofglen reveals she’s actually happy with the new regime (since she was a starving prostitute in the past). Very interesting!
– It’s intriguing to note that Luke cheated on his first wife with June. They didn’t exactly have the most innocent start!
– Why does June feel like she’s cheating on Luke if she sleeps with Nick? I’m assuming it’s because she starting to develop feelings for him?
– Notice how Serena tries to sneak a peak as Nick tries to impregnate Offred. The latter also notices a gun by his bedside.
– It’s a quick scene, but Emily’s madam pretends to be sick every month to avoid the ceremony. So not all the ladies are dastardly like Serena often is. I’d definitely like to see more of these two!
– The creepiest moment I’ve seen all week: Fred looking at Offred and really getting into the “ceremony” as Serena basically cries. It’s fascinating how Offred panics as she realizes the dynamics are changing.
– So we have confirmation: Nick is indeed an Eye. Uh oh.
– Emily tells June to help Mayday. Hmm…
– Love the symbolism of Offred letting her hair down when she arrives at Nick’s.
Offred: Now the models all look insane. Like zoo animals. Unaware they’re about to go extinct.
June: He’s married.
Moira: He does not act married.
June: No, they never do.
Serena: How do you feel? Do you feel any different?
June: You don’t just feel pregnant 30 seconds after a man cums.
Waterford: Every love story is a tragedy if you wait long enough.
Offred: I should go.
Waterford: Suit yourself. We only wanted to make the world better.
Waterford: Better never means better for everyone. It always means worse for some.
A thought-provoking and powerful episode in every way.