May 26, 2024

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The Handmaid’s Tale “No Man’s Land”

Season Five, Episode Seven

Well, The Handmaid’s Tale started to do that thing I hate about this show again.

No, not the plot armor for main characters.  The other thing I hate.

Actually, plot armor mostly amuses me at this point, but the thing I hate is the inconsistent character work when it comes to the relationship between Serena Joy and June.  June can’t seem to make up her mind about whether or not she hates that woman.  Every so often, there will be these episodes where it looks like June is reaching out to Serena as a potential ally, forgetting again and again that Serena is a Gilead true believer who really believes a lot of that nonsense.  That she somehow also suffers through it all is beside the point.  A society like that is set up so everyone will suffer, even the people behind its creation.

But after six episodes in a row where June is angry at Serena for everything that happened to her, up to and including using Hannah as a political prop, when Serena saves June’s life and then goes into labor, June goes out of her way to make sure Serena survived, even getting her to a hospital afterwards when Serena was running a fever and could have died without medical treatment.

I suppose here is where I make a joke about the Canadian healthcare system, but I’ll pass.  I will note as much as I don’t like the way the series wavers between what the relationship between these two women is supposed to be, I do find the acting top notch as always.  There’s a moment where June says something about evolution, and Serena just makes a very subtle face to scoff at the idea.  It’s a minor thing, the kind of thing that I might not notice if I wasn’t paying attention at that exact moment, but it happened.

So, why does June save Serena and even talk to her like they’re well, maybe not friends, but at least to offer the new mother advice on raising her infant son?  It’s like the series really wants to redeem Serena Joy, but I don’t think they’ve laid sufficient groundwork to justify such a move.  Serena is still kinda awful.  I mean, it was, what, two days ago when she put Hannah on TV to get back at June?   Am I supposed to forget all the abuse Serena heaped June’s way just because there’s a flashback to show the Handmaids (including June and a bunch we haven’t seen in a while) attending a difficult birth that ended when the Handmaid died.  Sure, the others were told to pray, and Aunt Lydia said specifically they were to pray for the baby and not the mother, so I suppose June saved Serena as another way to thumb her nose at all things Gilead, but that doesn’t explain why she’s being nice to her and even seeming to feel bad when the authorities come to arrest Serena for an illegal border crossing, the sort of move that will take Baby Noah away from Serena.  Sure, I could say two wrongs don’t make a right and June could get that, but a little consistency on whether or not these women can even tolerate each other would be nice.

I mean, the flashback showed June and Serena exchange a look in a manner that I am fairly sure would have never happened in season one or two.

Then again, maybe that’s Luke’s purpose on this series since he was the one who called the cops on Serena Joy.  I get that Luke didn’t experience everything June did, that his experiences are naive at best and he doesn’t always get it, but my god, someone remembered how June usually feels about Serena Joy and acted on it.

Basically, Luke is the home viewer who remembers more than an episode at a time from the looks of things.

Oh well, maybe next episode, June will be hating Serena again.