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The Handmaid's Tale: Progress

"I've heard they're hard to find."

A few good men. Three, actually.

Seriously, Luke is, like, the best husband ever. Starting where they left off in the previous episode, June told Luke what happened with Hannah in the Red Center prison. This scene was beautifully shot with full-on close-ups, as if we were June, and then we were Luke, an effective way of visually demonstrating that we could easily see both perspectives.

Then Luke showed June all he'd been doing to track Hannah in Gilead, and he's been leaving no proverbial stone unturned. Luke has to know that June has strong feelings for Nick, since he's far from stupid and June hasn't hidden it. So I was monumentally impressed that Luke, who still loves June, then suggested that June approach Nick for information. Yes, I will risk losing you to your baby daddy to get intel on Hannah, and I won't burden you with jealousy or pettiness when you're dealing with so much other crap. What a guy.

Good man number two is Joseph Lawrence. He still believes in the principles of the horrible nation he helped to create, but I can't believe he thinks Hannah is better off in Gilead with adopted parents that won't teach her to read. (Domestic arts only? Good God.)

It was unspoken but obvious that Lawrence's phone was tapped and he was saying what he had to say, so we could only tell what Lawrence felt from his facial expressions. Lawrence knew perfectly well that June would never trade Angels' Flight kids for Hannah; what an incredibly painful thing for him to say to her. At one point, I could swear he was crying.

Good man number three: Nick Blaine.

Much like Luke, Nick came off exceptionally well in this episode. He regrets what came before, and wishes he had run away with June when he had the chance. He had already thoroughly researched Hannah without being asked because he knew June would have wanted him to do it. June, Nick and Nichole seated at the window had an almost preternatural glow – a happy couple with their baby, the perfect little Gilead family dressed appropriately in commander black, handmaid red, and little girl pink. It looked like they'd been together forever instead of never. A pretty illusion.


June didn't talk about her feelings for Nick, but again, her facial expressions made it obvious. She started smiling the moment she got into the car on her way to him, and she couldn't hide her joy at seeing him again. That red coat she wore was a visual cue that emotionally, she was back at the Waterford house with Nick. (You'd think June would never wear red again.) She also kept pushing her hair behind her ear, making her red tag visible. Considering how she literally ripped it out of her ear once before, you'd think she'd have had it removed by now. Maybe she decided to keep it as a constant reminder.

I kept expecting June to hand Nichole to Nick so that he could hold his daughter in his arms, and it never happened. Is Nick keeping his distance to lessen the pain of separation? When June drove off, Nick pointedly put his wedding ring back on. Of course he married again; he's a Commander in Gilead, they would all be married to set an example. Does he have his own handmaid, too?

When June came home with all those new photos of Hannah, it was Moira who comforted Luke as he cried. Not June. What is the state of this marriage if Luke is closer to Moira now?


Meanwhile in their beautiful underground prison, the Waterfords have FINALLY gotten the memo. The Putnams came to see the Waterfords... and let me pause to ask why it is now easy for a Gilead Commander and his wife to just fly into Canada for a visit after it was so incredibly hard for Moira to get June out of Chicago?

In between baby gifts like that absurd little commander outfit, Naomi's true reason for coming was revealed when she selflessly offered to adopt and raise Serena's baby. At the same time, Fred realized that Gilead wasn't even bothering to negotiate for his freedom. I thought it was hilarious when Warren said, "We will continue to send you our thoughts and prayers," an obvious jab at how the right wing in the U.S. deals with critical issues by doing nothing.

So the shoe is finally on the other foot. The Waterfords, once a prominent Gilead power couple, have been discarded. If Serena returns to Gilead, they will take her baby and make her a handmaid. Fred and Serena are evil and grasping, but not stupid. Mark Tuello used June's testimony to scare Fred into turning on Gilead, and it worked. No prosecution for multiple rapes, kidnapping, and whatever deaths he might have been responsible for as a Commander – and there had to be plenty.

The episode ended with June completely losing her shit and threatening to kill Mark Tuello. Except she should have been threatening to kill Fred Waterford. Next week's season finale should be very interesting.


Finally, let's check in with the Red Center, where Esther Keyes, looking like the abused, angry child she actually is, went on a hunger strike. Fortunately, Janine used her influence with Aunt Lydia to save Esther from mutilation, as well as from that dank basement prison. (There was much subtext during that conversation, since it was Aunt Lydia who had Janine mutilated way back when.)

We all know this won't end well. There are no good options ahead for either Janine or Esther. A posting, a breeding farm, the colonies, mutilation, hanging, how to choose? Janine has rebounded, but she was recently suicidal. And how long can the littlest handmaid possibly keep her violent, flaming temper under control?

I absolutely loved the Last Supper Aunts, with Lydia in the center as Jesus. What were they suggesting? That Aunt Lydia will soon be sacrificed?

Bits:

Fred is now fine with Serena reading, and even suggested she write another book. A little foreshadowing of him turning. Although I kept thinking that it won't bring back Serena's lost finger.

The Aunts discussed another posting for Janine, saying that it was unlikely anyone would want her now.

Is it me, or does it seem like all that handmaids in training do now is scrub floors?

The building where June and Nichole met Nick was an abandoned Catholic school called the Maria-Magdalena Society, featuring old photos of girls in uniforms. Like little girl handmaids. Like Esther.

Hannah is currently living in the Westward Territory, in Colorado Springs.

This was the third episode Elisabeth Moss directed this season. Impressive.

Quotes:

Moira: (to June) "You have power. Use it."

June: "No one will love her like we do."
Lawrence: "Your love fucks people up. You're a fountain of heartache and trouble."
Well, yes. But is that June's fault? I don't think so.

Lawrence: "Wow. You've gone soft in Toronto. Must be all that maple syrup."

June: "So how's it all going down there in Gilead?"
Nick: "Hanging in there."
June: "Poor choice of words."

This season has been character-driven with terrific, unexpected twists and turns. I have no idea what's coming, but I bet the season finale will be brutal.

Four out of four boxes of macho Cuban cigars,

Billie
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Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

2 comments:

milostanfield said...

"and let me pause to ask why it is now easy for a Gilead Commander and his wife to just fly into Canada for a visit"
"Diplomatic Immunity" would probably be the hand wave for this one.

What floored me about Putnam's talk with Fred was how politically stupid Putnam was for provoking Fred with "thoughts & prayers". How could someone who was savvy enough a political animal to rise to the top of Gilead, practically hand Fred over to Mark Tuello & Canada? Unless there's a long game here that I'm missing, that was stupid.

I was not as sure about Lawrence during that phone call and took it at face value. Thx for pointing out that the call was maybe tapped. I still don't know if L wants Gilead to fall or if he just wants a "kinder and gentler" Gilead. Hope you are right about him. He could be a powerful ally.

Billie Doux said...

milostanfield, I suspect that Putnam has some conflicting feelings himself, what with the hand thing and all.