OK, Handmaid’s Tale, you may be pushing it in two very opposite directions right now.
Now, I can and will acknowledge that this show is generally well-acted and each episode is well-directed. Episodes as drama mostly work except for one vital issue: the writing.
For this episode, that means I’m getting more or less two plots at once. One involves Fred and Serena Joy headed north to maybe chat with Serena’s contact with what’s left of the United States to maybe get the two to see Nichole again.
Say it with me, kids: she is not their daughter no matter how much they keep saying she is.
So, for much of this plot to work, it means we have to somewhat sympathize with the plight of Serena and Fred. Now, no knock on either actor, but there are some problems there. For one, Serena is delusional on the whole baby thing, and she’s awful to others. Just because the same society she helped established bit her in the ass as well doesn’t mean I can or will feel sorry for her anytime soon. Not gonna happen. And Fred is just as bad while being something of a moral and intellectual wimp on top of everything else.
As such, seeing the two getting tricked into crossing the Canadian border and getting arrested was a nice touch, but am I supposed to feel bad for either of them? True, Serena is occasionally sort of an ally, but you’re asking me to forget everything she did in season one. I don’t think the series, as written, has completely justified any real feelings of sympathy from me for a woman who helped plot the overthrow of the previous government and the set-up of the awful current one just so she could have someone else’s baby.
And then there’s June. Now that she has Commander Lawrence more or less wrapped around her finger due to Mrs. Lawrence’s continuing deterioration and the fact that Gilead seems to be shutting off all his clearances, it’s up to June to figure out how to smuggle 52 kids out of the country.
You know, I’d heard June had some incredible plot armor in season three, but now that I see it in action, wow…
June needs some new transportation, so she goes to Jezebels. This comes after she gets told off a bit by the apparently toothless Martha Resistance. She manages to arrange for a plane to Canada when who should walk in but High Commander Winslow.
Because of course he does.
And he recognizes June.
Of course he does,
And though her story (that she goes in there and reports back to Lawrence what happens turns her current commander on) seems to work, Winslow takes June off to rape her, and she almost shuts her mind off during the process, but then she snaps and there’s a fight that ends with Winslow dead.
Worth noting: Winslow tried to plead mercy by referencing his kids to an angry Handmaid whose own firstborn daughter was taken away from her. What a colossal dumbass.
By the by, I haven’t seen Christopher Meloni be brought in as a tough guy leader only to die a quick, ignominious death since his brief time on True Blood.
Now, in any other universe, June would be a big trouble. But not this one! No, the Martha who shows up to clean the room was one of the ones June saved in the beginning of the season when Lawrence asked her to pick five prisoners. And that woman is so grateful, she gives June a path out of the house. Lawrence drives her home, and then he gives her a gun because “they’ll be coming for us”.
Will they? It sure looks like the Marthas are really good at disposing of forensic evidence, including Winslow’s body. Sure, he’ll be missed, but he’ll also be a pile of ash in an incinerator from the looks of things. It’s almost like the Marthas have done this before…
Actually, they probably have, but maybe not with any of the men who go there.
So, this show is making June look unstoppable and wants me to feel for the Waterfords? Yeah, those are problems.
Then again, on The Handmaid’s Tale, every triumph is hit with an equal or greater setback, so June might not want to celebrate too much just yet.