The Handmaid's Tale

The Handmaid’s Tale 2×12 – Postpartum

"Losing a child is like losing a limb."

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Postpartum is captivating, but it also seems more preoccupied with setting up a brand new status quo for next year than resolving some of this year’s storylines. Of course this could all change with next week’s finale, but this was a strange choice for a penultimate hour.

Commander Kooky

Take Emily and Commander Lawrence. All their scenes are utterly fascinating, but why introduce a brand new storyline so late in the season? Unless the writers have something truly explosive planned for next week, there’s really no time to explore anything worthwhile. Nevertheless, Bradley Whitford is excellent in the role of Lawrence, the “architect” of Gideon’s economy and the man responsible for The Colonies. He’s creepy, strangely likable, and just a million other things all wrapped up in one. I’m definitely intrigued to learn more about him (and what he has planned for poor Emily).

Time Flies By

Last week’s masterful hour featured June giving birth all alone in a secluded house, and Nick being taken captive. Postpartum does not show us the direct aftermath of either gamechanger; instead it jumps a few weeks ahead with June pumping breast milk and Nick back at the Waterford house like nothing happened. There are barely any details explaining the events in between, and that’s an extremely jarring choice.

However, the introduction of Nichole (or Holly) into the show’s world brings a lot of intriguing new dynamics. Just when you think The Handmaid’s Tale couldn’t possibly top itself with the gross-out factor, Serena tries to breastfeed Nichole (who is not her daughter) to no avail. It’s an immensely disturbing and pathetic sequence, but Yvonne is predictably so darn good in it (like she has been all season long). I’m not sure that the ending with her handing the baby off to June to breastfeed is totally earned (especially after she held her down to be raped two weeks back), but the stage is definitely set for a powerful finale. And my money is definitely on June playing Serena now; there’s no way she’s forgiven her and I’ve lost hope for any redemption where Mrs. Waterford is concerned.

Pool Party

And then there’s Eden. Although her and Isaac’s death is extremely shocking and powerful (talk about death by drowning), I’m surprised the show opted to kill them off so quickly. There’s so much that could have been done with the Eden character, that it feels a bit foolish to off the character so soon. In addition, I felt absolutely nothing for Isaac’s death. In fact, I had forgotten how the character looks like since we’d spent all of ten seconds with him in the past (and he was not a sympathetic character – remember how he bashed Janine’s head in?). Again, had he been better developed, perhaps the execution would have made more of an impact. As it stands, it’s powerful as a showcase for Gillead’s evil, but not much else in an emotional sense.

Bits & Fruit

– How beautiful is the cinematography in the opening with Serena joyfully bathing “her” baby? The warm sunlight is then contrasted with the bleak shots of June getting her breasts pumped. Wow!

– It’s seriously disgusting to see June’s rapist holding her baby. And then she starts leaking  milk as soon as she sees poor Holly. It’s all so heartbreaking.

– Lawrence hilariously replies “Glory be” instead of “Praise be”. You get a sense he’s mocking Lydia which is hysterical.

– What’s up with all the weird art in Lawrence’s house? More importantly, what’s up with his wife?

– The penalty for reading in Gillead used to be a hand not just a finger. Seems fair.

– It’s interesting to note that it’s June who drives Eden to run off with Isaac when she tells her to “grab love” wherever she can. Talk about a guilt trip.

– Super sweet scene with Nick telling June that their baby is beautiful and then the two fantasizing about escaping somewhere with Holly.  These two really are growing on me.

– Waterford refers to Eden as a “slut”. That says a lot about how demented he is.

– Notice how narcissistic Fred is as he keeps expecting credit from June for letting her see Hannah and wants some “thank you.” June’s scrabble response is everything though.

– As harrowing as it is, the pool execution is gorgeously filmed. This is show is seriously yon another love.

– When June tries to take Nick’s hand after Eden’s death, he pulls away. I have a feeling he won’t make it past next week’s finale.

Eye Chatter

June: You promised me you would take care of this baby.
Lydia: Yes. Well one can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. We must look to the future, and you are a popular girl. Several households have already made overtures. Commander and Mrs. Webber sent me these baked goods. Bit of bribery. Take one, dear. You’ve earned it.
June: I think I’ve earned a whole cake.
Lydia: Prideful girls don’t get anything.
Lydia: (voiceover as she smells the cupcake) Bran. Great. Praise fucking be.

Conclusion

It makes some strange choices as a penultimate episode, but Postpartum is still a very solid hour.

Nad Rating
B+

 

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