The Handmaid's Tale (TV series)

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Skipper, Jan 29, 2017.

  1. Timewalker

    Timewalker Cat-lovin', Star Trekkin' Time Lady Premium Member

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    I won't get to see this until Sunday, but I've already seen bits and pieces on a couple of the YT review videos I subscribe to.

    There's an edition of the novel that came out years ago with the front cover image being of a woman with the ring-piercings through her mouth. Maybe that's where they got the idea to do this.
     
  2. Amaris

    Amaris Princess of Love Premium Member

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    This. I had hope for Serena, but it's clear that she has chosen her side, and that side is her own selfishness. I still have a twinge of compassion for her, because I understand her need to have a daughter, but June is absolutely right. It's beyond love, it's obsession, to have for the sake of having. Serena's idea of love is twisted, and we get that insight into her mind a moment later when she tells June she wishes she'd have put a ring in her mouth when they first met. In short, by that sentence alone, Serena doesn't just see these as necessary evils, she approves of them for control. She is just as much a fascist as her husband, as the masters of Gilead. She is part and parcel with it, the cruelty, the hatred, the violence, the slavery, the rape, the death and the fear, she doesn't just abide by it for religious reasons, she actively seeks it as punitive. She is willing to be Magda Goebbels to get what she wants.

    As for Nick, his turn saddened me. I had hoped he was, perhaps, a man who regretted his decision, and was fighting to free people as discreetly as he could, but no, it turns out he's a lot like the other men, when given a taste for power and influence, he readily accepts it at the cost of so many innocent lives. His love of June was for his selfish purposes, and not for the liberation of women and children from Gilead.

    Speaking of that contemporary Sodom, the atmosphere of Gilead's capital is so dark. It feels like you're standing in the dark heart of the Third Reich. There is an oppressive blackness everywhere, light is suffused with it. It is the twisted iron throne of evil. Look at it and think of the blood being spilled, the lives being destroyed, the crushed souls of women enslaved in order to maintain it. I have no greater desire than to see it burn to the ground.
     
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  3. The Nth Doctor

    The Nth Doctor Infinite Possibilities... Premium Member

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    Aunt Lydia may have not have gotten her Handmaids to stone Janine to death but she has gotten them to do collective hangings instead. First time we saw it, the moment was cold, harden. As if it was a moment for them all to get pass through and then they can bury it inside themselves, like all of the other dark sins Gilead has done to them and made them do.

    But the second time, it was personal. Not just for June, but also for everyone involved with Mayday and the Martha network. June pushed, perhaps too hard, for another opportunity to see Hannah and as a result, she accidentally compromised Frances because of Ofmatthew's spying for Lydia.

    Right up until Ofmatthew started spouting her "you're free now!" nonsense, I was still uncertain about where psyche laid, even after the mixed-bag conversation with June earlier in the episode. But when she confessed to June about her spying, all became clear. She may have her reservations about certain things, she's doing everything she can to do survive and if that means spying on her fellow handmaid's so be it. She may even actually believe some of the bullshit she spouts.

    To make it even worse, June's conversation with Frances was ultimately a fruitless one. Not only did she endanger Eleanor's mental health by manipulating her into going on walk with June and enforcing a confrontation at Hannah's school, June didn't get to see Hannah. Yes, we got that beautiful moment of June listening to the children play from just the other side of the wall, but was it all worth it for that one moment? Perhaps June would say yes, at least in that moment.

    Despite risking Eleanor's mental health, June did discover just a hint of light for Eleanor as she did waken up from her enforced stupor during their walk. But it still came with a risk, first with Naomi and then at the school. And yet, some light and hope for Eleanor, one which she strove to convince Joseph of. Which brings us to the show's other enigmatic character. I was certain he would be furious with June for her actions and would yell and scream at her after he got Eleanor settled back into her dark, empty room. But I was wrong and I'm grateful for that. He seemed to consider June's point that perhaps he is smoldering Eleanor too much.

    Lastly, I love the new pairing between Moira and Emily. While Emily has struggled to reenter into a relatively normal life with Sylvia at her side (albeit at a respectful distance), Emily has waken up a little thanks to her bonding with Moira over mutual traumas. They go to a righteous protest and get arrested for their efforts, leading to Emily confessing to Moira something she hasn't told Sylvia: She killed a Commander's wife in the Colonies. Moira reciprocated by telling Emily that Moira killed a Commander even though she didn't have to. Gilead may have made them do terrible things, Moira points out, but they aren't those same people now that they're free.

    (I pretty much tuned out all of Serena's and Fred's scenes so I have absolutely nothing to comment about)

    Yup, exactly that. Serena is a terrible person and I really, really wish the show would finally accept this fact and stop trying to get us to feel sorry for her. She had her chance for redemption several times over and she failed each time.

    Speaking of Goebbels and the Nazis, there was one thing I forgot to mention (and it actually involved Serena): When Olivia showed Serena one of the few remaining unconverted houses, I was suddenly reminded of how the Nazi's stole Jewish property and claimed it for their own. They may have hated the Jews, but that didn't stop them from enjoying the riches they stole and Gilead is doing exactly the same thing. I was deeply disturbed to see this house, untouched by Gilead and preserved in dust of a life of the past. My heart especially wept thinking about where Phoebe might be now.
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2019
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  4. Amaris

    Amaris Princess of Love Premium Member

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    Firstly, sorry for missing the past few weeks and not getting back with you for the other posts. I've been so busy, but I shotgunned three episodes today and am now caught up. My poor, poor psyche is wounded from nearly 3 hours of Gilead, though. *whew*

    Anyway, yes! I'm so glad you mentioned the scene in the unmodernized house. It was like walking through a mausoleum. It felt like just being there was an obscenity, and they were just stomping all over these people's lives. Goddess only knows what happened to them. Dead by now, I'd imagine, save for the woman who is likely a handmaid and the child who is in some kind of education facility. If the producers are pushing for a Nazi Germany vibe for Gilead, they've fucking nailed it. From the way the women are treated via the directive of Kinder, Küche, Kirche (children, kitchen, church), to the aesthetic they've chosen to represent them (dark reds and blacks, formidable, austere stone buildings, sigils and symbols being birds of prey), and how they treat those they find inferior. It's a fantastic allegory, and updated for modern audiences. I think what scares me the most is how authentic it feels. I feel that we could easily head this way ourselves, and that we're one major disaster (real, imagined, or designed) from something like that happening (maybe we already are and have been for some time).

    I really like Eleanor. She clearly dislikes the system, and she's saddened by the change in her husband. Joseph, for his part, is enigmatic to me. If I had to guess, I'd say he approves of the system, but not the brutality it engenders. Like he designed the economy on the backs of slaves, but isn't really comfortable with it, so he helps here and there to offset the burden on his conscience. I don't know, he may turn, he may not. Humans are so complex it's hard to pin them down. Rarely are people truly evil on purpose. It's little actions here and there that build into consequences that kill, maim, and destroy. Still, at the end of the day, he is the one responsible for part of what is taking place, and is the one to be held culpable for making it work.

    I was frustrated that June's plan failed, even though Eleanor tried so hard to help, and that "school" is insane! It looks more like a prison, and have no doubt that's exactly what it is. Nothing in Gilead is what it appears to be, aside from the blatant brutality and evil of its vision. It tries to cloak itself in righteousness and purity, but we can see right through that, but then we have the benefit of being outside the system.

    As for Emily and Moira, yeah, they make a great pair. I was cheering them on the whole time they were protesting those cowardly bastards. They were asking the very same questions I have been (regarding the U.S. in real life, BTW) to why we negotiate with regimes who seek to murder and oppress, and then we call it diplomacy. It's appeasement, and we do it because money. The ladies know this, they know this is about optics. "We don't want to look bad" is a shitty excuse to let women and children die in slavery, so they shroud it in "it's complicated." We're seeing this in real life right now. So I think this show touches on not just what could happen if we're not careful, but what is happening right now as we speak, that we have to open our eyes and ears, that we need to ask the big questions and hold people's feet to the fire until we get the right answers.

    I want Emily and Sylvia to work things out. I love that Sylvia completely understands Emily did what she had to do to survive. I hate that anyone should die, but if a slave kills their master in order to obtain their freedom, then I cannot fault that (former) slave for the killing. They have a right to be free. They have human rights, and when a system of oppression is put into place to quell the freedoms of the most vulnerable, it must be eradicated from within and without.

    Man, those three episodes really got me going.

    I do wonder if we'll ever meet the head honcho. the man in charge, Gilead's version of Adolf Hitler.
     
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  5. The Nth Doctor

    The Nth Doctor Infinite Possibilities... Premium Member

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    Oh, my gods, you poor soul! I love binging a lot of shows, but this one show I'll never binge. I hope you had some good alcohol while watching. Ugh.

    Yup, all of that. The violation of walking through that home even though the family are either dead, raped, enslaved, or brainwashed. Such a quiet moment yet so damn sickening. It was the same feeling I felt when I visited Auschwitz even if that place was always created for evil.

    That's a great read on the character and that's more or less what I see, too. I can only hope he finds his way back to good, where Serena has failed horribly.

    Yeah, a prison. That's exactly what I thought as I saw the bird's eye perspective. And you're right about Gilead cloaking itself from its evil. That's how Serena was at the beginning of the series, trying to convince herself that she was doing good while knowing the evil existed just a layer lower (if that far down).

    Money speaks the worst volumes, both in fiction and in reality and it disgusts me every day and it has since I was in high school.

    Yup, I loved that so much. We haven't gotten much of Sylvia this season beyond the episode where Emily was reunited with their son (even then, it was limited), so while I love what we've gotten so far, I want so much more. And not just because she's played by Clea Duvall.

    It feels like we keep getting closer, what with Commander Winslow's introduction.
     
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  6. Timewalker

    Timewalker Cat-lovin', Star Trekkin' Time Lady Premium Member

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    Hm. Is this like the scene in the movie where there's a Salvaging and the other handmaids are all required to pull on the rope that ends in a noose around one of their fellow handmaids' neck? (her crime was for "fornication with a member of the medical profession")

    I'm concerned about how the Canadian government is portrayed in this series. The current RL government would never cooperate with Gilead, at least not unless there were nukes pointed at us and tanks ready to roll over the border. So if the in-series government is cooperating with them when the situation is not this dire, it suggests to me that there's been an election in Canada and the Reformacons (or whatever they might call their right-wing/religious federal party in this setting) win. That's the party where ex-federal ministers are fanning out into other political settings and happily undoing whatever they can of the advances made in women's rights, LGBT rights, and so on.
     
  7. DEWLine

    DEWLine Commodore Commodore

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    There probably are nukes pointed at "Handmaid-verse" Canada. No matter who's running the show in Ottawa right now.
     
  8. Timewalker

    Timewalker Cat-lovin', Star Trekkin' Time Lady Premium Member

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    But would they use them? Gilead can't control the wind and air currents. They'd poison themselves all over again.
     
  9. Awesome Possum

    Awesome Possum Verified Disney Princess Moderator

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    Several cities like Los Angeles have been at least implied to have been nuked based on a map of Gilead.
     
  10. Timewalker

    Timewalker Cat-lovin', Star Trekkin' Time Lady Premium Member

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    Yes, which is why I said they would poison themselves AGAIN.

    If snow and cold air can cross the border from Canada, there's certainly nothing to keep radioactive fallout from crossing the border.
     
  11. Shawnster

    Shawnster Commodore Commodore

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    Then more conventional means would be used. The implication was made either this week or last that Canada sees in its best interest to maintain peaceful relations with all neighbors. So the implied threat of invasion is there.

    That being said I can't believe the idea of treaty and extradition would have reached as far as it has on the show. It really looks like it could go either way.
     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2019
  12. DEWLine

    DEWLine Commodore Commodore

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    Already used - per the map we've seen - at these places (roughly eye-balled):
    - southern Missouri, near West Plains
    - Arizona, near Phoenix
    - halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego
    - Santa Maria/San Luis Obispo region, California
     
  13. The Nth Doctor

    The Nth Doctor Infinite Possibilities... Premium Member

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    One of the biggest complaints I've seen from critics I often agree with about this show (especially after season 1) is how there seems to be little to no real consequences for June's radical behavior, only enforcing the dystopian rules when it fits the story instead of following with the reality of the situation.

    Perhaps that's changing now. First, because of June's involvement with Frances lead to Frances' execution, the Mackenzie's have moved away with Hannah, further separating June from her one true goal. Later, Aunt Lydia decides she's had enough of June's rebellion streak and has decided to move June out of the relative safety of the Lawrence home.

    Or perhaps not. Almost immediately after discovering Hannah is moving to a new location, far from her, June turns the tables of Lydia's little shamefest and directs them squarely on Ofmatthew as an act of revenge for Ofmatthew's part in Frances' death. It was a cold and cruel and callous moment...and June revelled in it. And then June kept verbally and emotionally pushing Ofmatthew right up until the moment Ofmatthew finally snapped. But it's not June who suffers, nor Lydia (although for the briefest of moments, I thought Lydia was a goner, pulling a LOST), but instead it's poor Janine, the one handmaid who didn't punish Ofmatthew and tried to show her empathy. And ultimately, Ofmatthew suffered the most.

    Will June suffer the consequences of pushing Ofmatthew over the edge, which Lydia is fully aware of? Perhaps. Or perhaps not.

    Meanwhile, we finally get the long-awaited deep dive into Lydia's past in extended flashbacks that covered a small period of time while she was elementary teacher. We see her befriend Noelle and her son, Ryan, after one school day Noelle is very late in picking him up and the two quickly bond over their mutual love for Ryan. Through that bonding, Noelle pushes Lydia to try dating again after an unsuccessful marriage and Lydia finds herself going out on a lovely date with Jim, the principal of her school.

    The whole time during the flashbacks, I kept bracing hard for the other shoe to drop, for the inevitable moment where Lydia lashes out at either Noelle or Jim for pushing her too far, whether its Noelle's cursing in front of Ryan, Noelle's prolific dating, Noelle's insistence on make-up (however light), Jim's insistence on champagne, or Jim dragging her out onto the karaoke stage (I really thought that was going to be the one). What happened instead surprised me: It was Lydia who moved too quickly for Jim while they were kissing. Unfortunately, Jim's gentle rejection of her for going too fast was enough to cause Lydia to completely shut down emotionally again, first rejecting Jim's overtures of continuing their relationship at a smaller pace and then in an act that is all too familiar with present day Lydia, she cruelly turns against Noelle and all the affection she showed Lydia by calling child services on her and Ryan, all for the sake of the child.

    On a side note, this is the second show this week that has weirded me out with a baby, following Legion, and Handmaid's Tale was far worse with the dead baby.
     
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  14. Shawnster

    Shawnster Commodore Commodore

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    Or will Aunt Lydia suffer at the hands of the government because her girls keep turning into failures. June, Emily, Lillie (OfGlen), OfMatthew. All are Lydia's girls. All are disappointments. OfGlenn bombed a center, Emily stabbed Lydia then subsequently escaped, OfMatthew went berserk and killed a guard, maybe killed a Janine, and attempted to kill Lydia.

    Will the authorities see it as June pushing OfMatthew to the breaking point? Really it's only Lydia who knows this. June didn't even say one word during the scene at Loaves and Fishes. All the eyewitnesses will say OfJoseph stood there in the line of fire.

    Yes, as difficult as it is, and as much as we sympathize with June, her selfishness, for lack of a better word, is getting a lot of people killed. I can understand her desire to see Hannah. I can't blame her. Maybe I'd do the same in her situation. Her efforts to simply see Hannah have resulted in the deaths of several innocent people, as well as the stress caused to Commander Lawrence's wife.

    June can only play the "you need me so I can do anything I want" card for so long. As Nth Doctor said, it's like the government is turning a blind eye to her rebellion. She would have been punished by now. She's not even pregnant, so there is no risk of trauma to a baby. Fingers cut off, circumcision, even a ring in her mouth could all be simple choices in retaliation to her rebellion. June is increasingly reckless.
     
  15. Timewalker

    Timewalker Cat-lovin', Star Trekkin' Time Lady Premium Member

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    She could be pregnant. There was that "goodbye" she had with Nick, so if she happened to conceive, I foresee hearty congratulations being offered to Commander Lawrence, who would have to go along with it, or admit that he hadn't been making June go through the monthly Ceremony.
     
  16. Shawnster

    Shawnster Commodore Commodore

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    There is that. And maybe they could pull that rabbit out of the hat.

    I suspect the Nicole storyline wraps up this season and they will need to leave something open for next. If there is a next
     
  17. Amaris

    Amaris Princess of Love Premium Member

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    I think June has lost all hope. Her behavior is very much that of a hopeless person who puts themselves into danger because they have been through so much, their lives have been shattered so many times, their emotions are raw, and they either want it to end, or they want to cause as much chaos and confusion as possible in a last ditch effort to break the system that tried to break them. Now that Hannah is nowhere to be found, June pretty much has a death wish, and I don't think I can fault her for that. She can only see those who have increasingly brought her, and the people she loves, great harm. She wants them gone. Vengeance is hers, since the Lord seems a little busy allowing an entire class of people to be tortured in perpetual subjugation in his name.

    As for the Lydia story, I imagined she would be a very fundamentally religious person. She's also someone who has low self-esteem, finds men to be troublesome (she's right about this one), and thinks she's better off alone. Clearly, the one time she tries to open up she is rebuffed, and even though Jim is in his full right to do so, for Lydia it's a sign that romantic love is not to be hers, and her heart and mind adjusts accordingly.

    She loves children, of that I have no doubt, but she is less forgiving of those she considers enablers, people of low morality, and that makes her exceedingly dangerous, because the world of Gilead is one she undoubtedly supports. Unlike most of the men, the women who went into the system with eyes wide open, Lydia is a dyed-in-the-wool believer. She is an acolyte, and they are truly terrifying when given power over others.
     
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  18. The Nth Doctor

    The Nth Doctor Infinite Possibilities... Premium Member

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    "Scenes From a Hospital Room, or How June Rediscovered Her Humanity."

    "Heroic" (bland title, I prefer my own) is perhaps the most riveting and thoughtful episode the show has had since season 1. While season 3 has been choppy and strange particularly in its depiction of June and her moral decay, it has finally served a purpose. June's isolation in Natalie's ICU room, forced to pray for Natalie's baby (but no one cares about Natalie), pushed June's mental health to the edge of self-destruction. Lost to nothing but her own despairing thoughts (and a Belinda Carlisle earworm that won't go away), June nearly convinced herself to kill Natalie and her baby, believing that she would be doing them a kindness (while also still loathing Natalie for what she did to Frances). Only the convenient appearance of Janine manages to stay her but only barely and not enough to turn over the scalpel to Janine (who demonstrated that she still has some coherent reasoning left in her).

    It's only after a botched attempt to attack Serena that June finally gets some solace from an unexpected source: The doctor charged with the care of Natalie's baby (but, again, not Natalie). He quickly realized that June's actions had been a desperate attempt at suicide because any direct attacks at a wife or a pregnant woman would get even June sent to the Wall. And at last, June admits to herself that she has been truly cruel in recent weeks and not just towards Natalie, resulting from the despair that she may never see her daughters again.

    After a forced, but necessary C-section operation, June prepared to depart from the hospital and Natalie, but on her way out, she encountered a young pubescent girl who, if only incidentally, reminded June of the next level of horror Gilead has for its women: Preparing the next generation of women to become incubators for their babies, or as Serena put it, "just a means to an end." But it's not the end. The cycle will continue on and on unless someone stops it.

    This leads to one the one misstep for the whole episode for me: While I loved June's empowering promise to a comatose Natalie left to slowly die, the speech comes off as if June only just realized that she needs to rebel and save the children from the horrors of Gilead, even if she doesn't know how the hell she will accomplish such a feat. As if this isn't the exact same position June held at the end of last season (even if it wasn't entirely clear at the time). I mean, of course that needs to be done so why does that need to be emphasized again? I get that this is part of June's journey in rediscovering her humanity, but the moment didn't quite land for me despite Moss' riveting performance.

    And seriously, no matter anyone's criticisms against this season (or the show at large since moving past Atwood's novel), Moss continues to act on a level that few others ever achieve. The shots of her face as she looked from side to side, lost in her own thoughts, are absolutely breath-taking to watch. June may or may not be sympathetic anymore, even with her refound humanity, but it will always be a pleasure and privilege to watch Moss portray the character.