Tuesday, July 24, 2018

What I’m Watching: The Handmaid’s Tale (Season Finale)

The Handmaid’s Tale: Season 2, Episode 13 “The Word” (A-)

What a finale! I’m very happy that I watched this episode almost a full two weeks after it aired and I didn’t have anything about it spoiled for me. In addition to some major – and crucial – plot developments, this episode showcased female resistance in a big way from its three main protagonists. Eden’s death was still looming over everyone, and it’s clear that even those, like Martha, who didn’t harbor positive feelings for her, were devastated that they had let it get to this point. June was horrified that Eden’s own father reported her to the authorities when she came home with Isaac, and Serena, prompted in part by June, was concerned about the future wellbeing of her daughter since women obviously have no real part in what this world is. Uniting all of the wives together to stand before the council was bold, and it might have worked had it not been for her even more audacious public reading of the bible, which earned her a brutal punishment. A society in which even reading a sacred text is an offense is one that truly shouldn’t exist, and I think that’s something Serena finally realized when she let June take the baby. June hates Serena for how she has treated her, but she still checked in on her when she saw her return in clear pain. Fred, once the kinder of the two, has mutated into a product of his society, obsessed with control and lording power over the women in his life just to show them their place. It was great to see Nick stop Fred from going outside to look for June and the baby, ensuring their safe passage. It was incredible to watch June’s anger boiling but see her repress it, slapping Fred only after he hit her first. Emily, on the other hand, was determined to achieve some effect, regardless of the repercussions for her, and when Lawrence didn’t rape her, she went for Aunt Lydia instead. She didn’t even mean to get herself rescued, and perhaps that’s why, most shocking of all, June decided to go back while sending her baby, who she renamed Nicole, with Emily. It’s hard to know where the pieces will pick up when the show returns for its third season, but this finale was truly powerful, capping a fantastic second season that I believe lived up to the quality of the first. I’ll continue to cautiously recommend this show to everyone I speak to, with reservations only for the disturbing nature of the content.

Season grade: A-
Season MVP: Yvonne Strahovski as Serena

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