Wednesday, June 20, 2018

What I’m Watching: The Handmaid’s Tale

The Handmaid’s Tale: Season 2, Episode 8 “Women’s Work” (B+)

This was a very difficult episode to watch, not only because of the cruel violence we saw from a character who’s been one of the few that isn’t so terrible up until this point, but also because of the tremendous regression it represented. Continuing on the impactful end of the previous episode, we saw Serena and Offred growing much closer thanks to the activities that Offred described as befitting colleagues in another life but decried as heretics in this one. Instead of the extended break from the horrors of Gilead that we got at the start of this season, their liberation was a brief one, with Fred’s return a depressing event, one that turned brutal when Fred understood that Serena had tried to assert herself in his absence, something he couldn’t tolerate even though they had worked together like this “before.” Bringing in a doctor currently serving as a Martha to try to help Janine’s baby was bold, and something tells me that, even if she had been able to save the child, Fred would have punished her anyway. What’s most important is that Serena has reached a breaking point, one that might compel her not only to be more humane to Janine and to Offred, who’s checking on her now, but also to work to change this monstrous society she’s helped to create. Maybe that Canada trip can be truly impactful. As Nick’s wife tries everything possible to please him, he’s turning into exactly the controlling husband she wants him to be, becoming something that he’d never want to as likely the only thing that could help hide everything she suspects about him. Ending the episode with Janine holding the baby was certainly unexpected, proving that true maternal bonding does mean something in a world that's tried to erase it.

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