What a beautiful and narratively dense episode. This is Serena’s episode and it’s downright terrific.
Yvonne Strahovski has delivered solid work thus far as the show’s ice queen, but A Woman’s Place brings so much depth into her journey that it captivates you right from the start. Who would have thought that Serena was an activist who boldly fought for what she believed in, an author who wrote a successful novel about women’s place in society, and one of the masterminds behind the whole Gillead regime? It’s shockingly good to see that Serena was so adamant about toppling the government, and in fact urged her nervous husband to stick with the plan when things got tough.The greater irony here is that she was eventually shunned from the coup herself, and eventually found herself in a powerless role much like the very Handmaids who work for her. It’s not easy to take an otherwise despicable character and make her somewhat sympathetic, but this hour succeeds in accomplishing just that.
Aside from Serena’s story, A Woman’s Place is so engrossing because it introduces Mexican ambassador, Mrs. Castillo, to the narrative. We assume she will act as some sort of beacon of hope for Offred, but the show cleverly subverts our expectations when our heroine finally reveals the truth: Castillo is here to enter the Handmaid trade, and will not help Offred because her nation is “dying”. It’s a fascinating moment that capably reveals just how dire the world’s circumstances have become in this twisted future. Here’s hoping we see tons more of Castillo going forward.
Bits & Handmaids
– The next time you find yourself nagging about cleaning your room, remember that the Handmaids are often tasked with scrubbing blood-spattered walls.
– Offred was about to masturbate in the tub before she was interrupted right? #BadMartha.
– I love the visual of Offred standing facing the ceremonial bed, much like Fred does before he rapes her. It’s effective symbolism that conveys June starting to gain back her power.
– I’m going to be on the lookout the next time I’m in a movie theatre; you never know if the lovey-dovey couple next to you is busy planning a governmental coup!
– Badass moment: June reaching the door, and then realizing her power and slowly smiling before turning around and apologizing to the Commander.
– What a jarring shot with June savagely brushing her teeth until they bleed after kissing Waterford.
– My favorite scene in the episode: Serena asking Aunt Lydia to remove the “damaged” Handmaids, and Lydia’s subsequent handling of the issue. It’s a layered scene for the woman since she’s been so ruthless with the girls thus far. Instead, Aunt Lydia actually shows love and compassion as she cares for Janine like a child and promises to get her dessert.
– Stunning scene with all the children coming out as the Handmaids depressingly watch on.
– Such a heartbreaking but empowering moment: June crying out to Nick that Offred is not her name. Wow.
– Of course the episode ends with yet another bombshell: June’s husband is still alive, and Castillo’s assistant is more than willing to help her find him. Why in the world would he want to do that?
Alma: They’ll be at your house tonight.
Offred: How do you know that?
Alma: My Commander. Small dick, big mouth.
Serena: Please remove the damaged ones.
Lydia: Mrs. Waterford, ma’am. Whatever punishment these girls had to endure was for the greater good. They deserve to be honored just like everyone else.
Serena: And we do honor them. But you don’t put the bruised apples at the top of the crate, do you?
June: Fuck you, Nick. Fuck you! They don’t rape you, do they? He doesn’t come in here once a month and read you a little scripture and stick his cock up your ass?
Another complex episode in one heck of a masterful season.