You know, The Handmaid’s Tale was fairly political to begin with. True, dystopian literature tends to go that way anyway, and most of season one was a fairly straightforward adaptation of the original novel.
Then I watch this episode and see flashbacks to ICE agents rounding up people and the ACLU arguing with people, and I know where this one is going.
What was going on at the border? Well, while part of the episode deals with Offred/June hiding out at the abandoned Boston Globe headquarters, with a quick visit from Nick and the promise of moving on to an escape of some kind eventually, possibly without her daughter (she won’t hear of that), much of the episode shows us what happened to the onetime Ofglen, who I might as well be calling by her real name Emily because she’s a rather crappy Handmaid no matter how you deal with it.
See, we get Emily’s backstory. We know from before that she’s a lesbian, and…well, that was about all we know. She’s obviously fertile if she was made into a Handmaid, but what happened? Well, she was a university lecturer in molecular biology from the looks of things. Her department head, a gay man, put her into a lab and out of the classroom after the slow takeover of the government by the Gilead bastards who thought theocracy was a good idea (it isn’t). Then one day she discovered her boss was hung from the building they worked out of, and that was enough to get her to decide to get out with her wife and young son. Her wife did have Canadian citzenship or something, but there was a problem at the border. See, the government no longer recognized Emily’s marriage as legal, and since Emily had been the one to give birth to the boy, she has to stay while her son and partner flee to Canada.
As for her current whereabouts, she was sent to the Colonies to work in what seems to be highly contaminated soil. And when a Wife shows up for what seems to be the crime of adultery, Emily seems to be helping her at first, using her knowledge of medicine to keep the older woman alive after she gets sick from just being there. That sure is nice.
Then we learn Emily was poisoning the former Wife because she held down another woman to be raped once a month.
Oh, and then Janine showed up.