Thursday, April 29, 2021

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

The Handmaid’s Tale: Season 4, Episode 1 “Pigs” (B+)

It’s refreshing to have one familiar show back that didn’t have its production as severely impacted by the pandemic, but it’s also been a year and a half since season three concluded. I’m in the camp that the third season was still very good even if it wasn’t as strong as the first two, and I found this opener to be extremely strong. The impact of that plane landing in Canada is still very much felt, and we got to see that through all of the characters. It’s continually fascinating – and disturbing – to see just how poorly women are treated in Gilead, with the eternally loyal Aunt Lydia appearing before the tribunal after being repeatedly beaten, while the obviously guilty Commander Lawrence sits around reading books and getting regular shaves in his luxurious prison cell. Aunt Lydia’s religious fervor remains, now directed entirely at June, while Lawrence is free to make whatever sarcastic remarks he makes as he sees that Gilead still needs him for his logistical know-how, which of course makes him complicit in the gender-discriminatory system he helped to build. The legal implications of working with a regime like Gilead are also equally intriguing and terrifying, and the reaction from Fred illustrated that since Gilead will surely both claim that the children should be returned home and prepare to invade Canada rather than continue its diplomatic approach. I’m glad that June isn’t back in some commander’s home and instead has found refuge somewhere that represents the most freedom people can have in this system, away from watchful eyes (and Eyes), but still relegated to a familiar structure. I’m thrilled with the casting of Mckenna Grace, a fourteen-year-old actress who was terrific in “Troop Zero” and has already built an impressive resume, as Mrs. Keyes, who admires June for her revolutionary efforts yet still seeks to uphold what she’s been taught as a wife and mistress of her house. It’s good that additional episodes are available – I’m absolutely ready for more.

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