Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Skipper, Jan 29, 2017.
Who's going to drive the truck? Gilead has a ton of check points, and women aren't allowed to drive.
Well, I think this episode finally conclusively showed what kind of person Joseph Lawrence is, for better or for worse. It just took pushing to the brink in his protection of his mentally ill wife to finally do something truly significant.
That said, while I appreciate his reluctance in performing the ceremony when Commander Winslow came a knocking, I found June's...willingness...to ease his pain while accepting her role as a rape victim utterly grotesque and repulsive. I get that the show is showing how far June has been knocked down (despite climbing back up again last episode), but positioning June as someone who need to ease a man's pain to rape a woman, to rape her, especially a man who was a primary architect for the nightmare society that the live in now, is far beyond the pale.
That level of disgust I felt made it hard for me to appreciate the progression the show has finally made in getting the children out of Gilead, a goal that has been teased since the end of last season. I'm hopeful, but at the same time, this show loves pulling the carpet out from underneath us just as the good gets going.
My heart broke for Janine. "I'm a brave person!" I knew June would lie to her about Caleb's whereabouts, but it still hurt hearing the sweet lie to comfort the fragile but eager Janine. I don't look forward to the day Janine learns the truth.
I know there's more to say (ugh, the Waterfords), but I can't move past my disgust.
I know I speak from privilege, but I didn’t see it quite that way. I saw June as working to get him into an emotional position where he felt that he owed her. His guilt would be enough to grease the wheels just a little more.
Regarding the rape itself, June has been beaten, abused, and repeatedly raped already. For her, this is one more injustice she will internalize, because she has a laser focus on the ends. June has changed, and her trauma is immeasurably deep, but she has shown herself as willing to use her body in order to move her plans along if it means salvation for herself and others from Gilead.
So I believe it was less acquiescence for his emotional well-being, and more leverage to get what she needed to save the children, and Mrs. Lawrence.
Yeah, I get that...but it still bothers me. That June has to put herself into that position after all of the traumas and rapes she's gone through. It almost feels trivialized.
Oh, certainly that doesn't make it any easier to watch. I had the *squick* feeling the entire time, I'm just trying to get inside of June's head. You're right, though, the writers do need to be careful here. Rape is never something to trivialize. If they go to the well too many times, they make it start to look mundane. The idea of rape being normalized is reprehensible, and yet they're starting to do it to the audience.
I've been pondering this idea for a few episodes, especially this last one: What if June dies at the end of the season, possibly sacrificing herself of the sake of the children, knowing that Hannah is on her way back to her father? For one thing, it would help some of the insane shit June has said and done this season and for another, it would help open the show narratively to focus on Moira and Emily who have undeservedly been sidelined this season (Moira since the beginning).
I know it would also be difficult to do (not just because we would lose the amazing Elisabeth Moss), but as Emily Todd VanDerWerff noted in her review this week, June is a conduit character and all of the other characters on this show connect through her. VanDerWerff postulates similarly to me regarding the possibility of June dying and how it would help/hurt the show, but also acknowledges that it's highly unlikely.
But who knows? Stranger things have happened...
I think she might. I do know that, at the very least, June has consigned herself to dying. She does not believe she's going to make it home. You can see it in her actions, in her expressions, in the way she makes her plans. June's certain that she is going to die delivering the children stolen by Gilead into the waiting arms of Canada. I think she looks forward to it.
Given the situation at that moment with the long-term goals June has committed herself to, what would have been a viable alternative?
June's discussion with Commander Lawrence sounded to me like the words of a prostitute who has found herself in such a deplorable position. Perhaps the prostitute is really a sex slave and is not performing by choice. Yes, it's rape and this is how they keep their sanity. Don't think of yourself. Detach yourself. This is just a transaction.
And can't we say that Commander Joseph was raped as well? It wasn't his choice. He was being forced to perform this sex act against his will. Ironic, since he was one of the mastermind's behind this insanity.
Yes, Lawrence was raped as well. The key difference is that he was raped by the vile system he helped create. It would be like Albert Speer being arrested, detained, and violated by the Nazi war machine for breaking the Nuremberg Laws. That doesn't make it right, but he who lives by the sword will die by it, and Lawrence had crafted for himself a powerful sword, just as many of the other Commanders of Gilead.
SPOILERS AHEAD FOR S3E11 "LIARS"
Don't read if you haven't watched the episode!
I'll put another line here.
We're reaching the finale and it's going to be huge. June has started planning for the rescue of 52 children, Mrs. Lawrence, Joseph himself, Beth, and several others. Mrs. Waterford wants to kill Joseph for raping June, and June's reply that she wants to kill Joseph as well is satisfying. It shows that there is no pretense that he is some kind of innocent caught up in the middle of all of this, that he really is one of the architects of the horror in which they all now live. This needs hammered home. Sometimes I feel empathy for Joseph, because I feel empathy for everyone, but I cannot disregard his actions as if he never harmed anyone or intended to harm anyone. He knew very well what he was doing, what was coming, what he had planned, and the methods used to create this horrible world.
Serena and Fred's story branch is just as potent to watch. The human heart is always looking for small mercies. We get treated poorly, and then the person who holds their power over us and controls us gives us some mercy, some tenderness, compassion, and we want to believe they genuinely love us, that they care for us and want what's truly best for us. Abusers like to exploit this aspect of our selves. They use it to keep the blame off of them, to sow doubt in order to obfuscate just who is doing the abusing, and who is the one being abused.
Fred and Serena's relationship is similar to this. Does Fred love her? In some way, yes. Fred is human, and has the capacity for empathy. The problem is that his capacity for empathy is far outmatched by his desire for power, his willingness to abuse others, and the belief that his way is the right and only way. Serena has love for Fred, but mostly it's love of who Fred was before he became Commander Waterford, before Gilead, and now what Fred can do to recover Nichole for her. They are both deeply flawed human beings, and I believe their relationship shows that there are no monsters, but rather that human beings are more than capable of doing monstrous things while still maintaining aspects of their humanity. Hence the very human moment where Fred lets Serena drive, and revels in her enjoyment of the experience, and Serena's delight as she floors the gas pedal and turns up Chubby Checker's "Let's Twist Again."
They are human beings, and without context, they would seem like good people, like you could really be friends with them, but human beings have context, they carry it with them everywhere they go, and even if it leaves public record, it never leaves their conscience. The blood never leaves their hands. Fred and Serena have engaged in evil, they have destroyed lives, and they seek to subjugate thousands more, and control the lives of future generations in a web of rape, slavery, and brutality.
Back to the Lawrence house, after June has made an agreement to stay out of the way of the Martha network leadership the night before, Joseph tries to take his wife and run, leaving June holding the bag, while also leaving behind shredded documents that might indict him and others in Gilead. It's a cowardly move, and it all proves for naught as Lawrence discovers he can't leave. Obviously, now he knows they're on to him and will come for him in time. The best he can do is promise a "kind Commander" for June, which is cold comfort at best. He claims he didn't foresee mental illness or maternal instinct, but I don't believe him. Men can be blind to such things, but he knew damned well what he was doing when he planned Gilead's economy. He had to take those factors into consideration. What he did was decide that they were inconsequential. Remember, folks, Joseph Lawrence is a misogynist, he is a war criminal, and he believed in the goals of Gilead as long as they didn't affect him. Now they have, and he's remorseful, but he wasn't remorseful for all of the other women being beaten, raped, abused, stripped of their rights, and turned into a slave class. He was fine with that. Remember, he was fine with that aspect of Gilead.
Still, knowing he's essentially up shit creek, he does agree to let June go see Billy, the man who is bringing in a cargo plane for the Marthas, at Jezebel's. They arrive, she goes inside, has a talk with Billy about keeping the plane on the ground long enough to get the kids on board, and she promises that Lawrence will give him all of the art he stole from museums they raided as Gilead took over various parts of the country. You know, just like the Nazis.
Before she gets a chance to sneak back to the car, though, she's discovered by Winslow, the asshole who sits near the top tier of the shit cake that is Gilead. Winslow brings her back to his room, and June has to find a way to convince him Lawrence brought her there so she could engage in sexual escapades and tell Lawrence all about it, citing that everyone seems to have their kinks. I knew right after she said it that Winslow would take the opportunity, because he's horrible and evil, and he does. Now, this scene was so difficult for me to watch. The rape scenes always are, and there are a metric shit ton of them in this series because everything happening to these women is rape. Don't let the euphemisms fool you, there are no "ceremonies," no "holy commands," it's all rape. It's violent rape. It's systemic rape caused by structural violence against women by men.
As Winslow goes to rape June after telling her to lie on her front, and I had a feeling he would be the type who loves to beat up on women while he's raping them, June kicks him with her high heels still on. I cheered. He attacks her, and drags her to the ground, and she gets a few hits in but the bastard is tougher than he looks, but fortunately for her (and us), she manages to grab a fountain pen and stab the ever loving hell out of him repeatedly. As she climbs to her feet she grabs what looks like an art deco statue. He sees her and mutters that he has children, as if that should even matter considering the raping, assaulting, slave owning man he is, and June clocks him right across the head. Good. She had every right to defend herself from this rapist.
Some might ask "Amaris, aren't you against killing others?" and the answer is that yes, I am, and believe a more peaceable solution should always be sought out, but I also believe when your life is in imminent danger, and the assailant has the will and intent to kill you, you have to do what will protect your life right in that moment. She had to kill him, there was no other alternative. If she let him live, she would be dead, as would many others. She did not have the luxury of mercy for such a man who was trying to murder her and many more to come.
The moment had me so emotionally charged that I caught myself wiping away the blood from my face even as June did, and when the Martha opened the door, saw what had happened, and came to June's aid, I started crying. It was such a relief to find a friend in such darkness right then. She escapes to the alley, and Lawrence is still there. She gets in the car and tells him to drive, and his expression is clear that he knows something happened. Yes, Joseph, this was your doing. You helped create this. The blood is on your hands.
Meanwhile, Fred and Serena meet up with Tuello, the American who will help them kidnap Nichole and bring her back to Gilead. He leads them to a secluded spot where Fred is told they have passed into Canada, and both Fred and Serena are arrested by Canadian military personnel. I was clapping my hands and cheering the whole time as the official read off the list of atrocities committed by Fred and the nation of Gilead, and part of me wonders if this isn't what Serena planned, that maybe she knew. The seed of doubt is there, and I'm curious to see what grows next week.
Aside from the horrific moments where June was about to be raped, again, this was an uplifting episode because it seems like Gilead's chickens are coming home to roost, and I am hoping for the joyous liberation of every woman and child in Gilead, that their oppression ends and the minds behind the horror of that despotic evil blight of a nation are brought to justice. We're on the home stretch, I hope.
Well, here it is... the WHAM episode we've been waiting for.
Winslow dead. Fred in prison. Lawrence going full traitor. Badass rebel Marthas allover the place. June graduating to double-0 status (well, she receives a gun from Lawrence after she managed to kill Winslow with a pen which somehow mirrored the beginning of Casino Royale for me, even if this may have been unintentional ). While this was probably not what Atwood intended when she originally wrote the source novel, it was still pretty satisfying to see.
So far, I'm also firmly in the camp of those who believe that Serena manipulated Fred into this, because in retrospect I think I saw more than a couple of hints scattered througout the episode which implied that Fred is being set up by Serena, in particular their final dialogue at that "guest house" they stayed in. It certainly would be fitting because Fred was always kind of dumb with Serena being the much smarter one of the two. A suitable end (?) that he walks into the trap wide-eyed.
The questions that arose for me are:
1) Did Serena manipulate Fred into this all the way back from the moment where she got that radio from that American agent and Fred launched a campaign to get Nichole repatriated to Gilead, meaning that she never really had the heel-face turn we've witnessed over the last couple of episodes?
2) Did she make a "you get my husband, and I get my child" deal with the Canadian and American governments? (one moment I saw as a hint that she's playing Fred was when Fred said that she may already have left him for a fertile man hadn't it been for the Gileadan revolution: it's obvious that Serena always picks the child if she has to choose between her husband and becoming a mother herself)
Where do go from here? While we probably still have long way ahead of us until Gilead is finally defeated, we're probably seeing the beginning of the end right now. The regime's elite is increasingly diminished with Winslow, Waterford, and (at least in the way where loyalties lie) also Lawrence gone. Who's even left now? Who's in charge? The only one who comes to mind right now is Commander Warren Putnam. Or maybe they're gonna introduce a new villain soon.
Notable character moment: Lawrence reiterating in the beginning "part of the equation we overlooked, part of the equation we overlooked". For Lawrence, Gilead had always been an equation, a theory, a fascinating intellectual exercise. He never really considered that it is real human beings he's dealing with here and not merely numbers in an equation. Well, it certainly came back to bite him in the ass in the end.
At long last some forward movement in getting shit done.
June's plans to rescue children just kept getting more and more overly ambitious, so I kept expecting for the other shoe to drop. Then it kind of did, first with the Marthas trying to shut down June's plan because of the potential of getting in the way of their own plans (which was completely understandable and reasonable, especially considering the scope of June's ambition). That followed with Joseph's apparent cowardice and fleeing from the home with Eleanor in tow (for a potential suicide pact?). But then the shoe didn't really land. The Marthas abided to June's plan as long as it didn't mess up with their own plans and Joseph came back (because, ironically, cowardice again).
That only encouraged June's ambition as she decided to jump onto the Marthas' plan connection and twisted the arm of Billy the bartender to consider allowing her to use his plane connection to get the 52 children out of Gilead, no matter the cost (all of the stolen art to fill Billy's dreams!).
And then the shoe finally did drop. Because of course Commander Winslow would be at Jezebels and of course he desperately wants to get his manpaws all over June the rebel. He wants to put some "proper sense" into her...and June knows she's some serious danger.
So she found herself repeating her past mantra of being in a different place, just like she did the last time she was with Fred at Jezebels, just like she did with Joseph last episode, just like she did every single time she was raped.
But this time, she didn't stick with it. This time she fought back. And she won. And it was fucking glorious.
Even better was the Martha who helped June get out of there alive, who then led a crack squad of a clean-up crew, who made all of that evidence disappear, who made Winslow disappear, as if they've done this before, all to the perfect song selection of Kate Bush's "Cloudbusting."
Oh, yes. And then there was the fucking Waterfords. While I'm so sick of this show trying to get me to feel sympathetic towards the Waterfords despite their cruel crimes, I loved how they were lured into such an obvious trap (especially after such a blah road trip). Couldn't happen to a worse couple.
Seriously, this has been a long time coming and I look forward to them receiving their just desserts. I only the show doesn't continue to pull the woe is them bullshit. They've raped, they've kidnapped, they've tortured, they've ruined countless lives and abetted in the murder of even more. All because they couldn't have a child of their own. They deserve no mercy, no remorse, no pity, no sympathy. Fuck them. Let them rot in hell.
On a side note, the show (probably unintentionally) reminded me of Stanley Kubrick's The Shining on two separate occasions: First, while June groggily made her way through the Jezebel hotel after murdering Winslow and then, with the bird's eye view of the Waterford's car following Mark Tuello's car in the alpine forest with omniscient music playing. The uber Kubrick fan in me loved both of those moments, even if the allusions were probably unintentional.
Agreed. Just to add, like I mentioned in my earlier post, I like that they give us human moments with the Waterfords. We need reminding that these people who make little jokes to each other, who play music we like, who talk about God and making the earth right again, they were complicit in the countrywide oppression of human beings, women were sex slaves, female children were being raised to become sex slaves, and the boys raised to dominate them. Men and women of every stripe were being murdered, abused, and tortured for fighting back or worse if you were LGBTQ+, for existing in the first place. We get to see both sides of the Waterfords, and to me the message is clear: every human being has the capacity to do monstrous things. Monsters aren't the realm of make believe, or walk the earth alongside humans, they exist in the human heart.
Yeah, I had a hard time swallowing that lie as well. Even the most ignorant sort would've realized at some point while building such a society the kind of complications maternal instinct would have on their oppression. And there's no way Joseph wouldn't have thought of the mental health issues considering his wife, Eleanor.
Indeed. It's further easier to fall into the sympathy trap while watching Bradley Whitford perform the role. No matter how much he looks different from Josh Lyman, there's still just a bit of Josh underneath Whitford's performance (comes out the most when he's sarcastic or weary or both at the same time). That's hard to look past, but it must be done. Joseph might be doing the right thing now, but he helped create a truly horrific society and no level of redemption can overcome that.
Yeeeeeaaah...that allusion didn't escape me at all.
Oh, damn, I didn't think of that allusion but I like your way of thinking.
Hell, yeah, it was! So damn satisfying.
Perhaps so. I've seen that theory before and I believe it. But in the end, it doesn't matter to me because they're both horrible people and they deserve everything that comes to them.
Yeah, I suppose so, but I've loathed them for so long (especially Serena) that I'm so tired of the show trying to get me to feel bad for them.
Were they, though? I only herd Fred get arrested. Nothing was said to Serena.
Even if what is coming to Serena is freedom (and maybe Nicole?) in exchange for delivering Fred? Does Serena deserve what is coming to her?
Yes, absolutely 100%. She's just as guilty as Fred. While he may not see what he has done as criminal, we've repeatedly seen Serena become self-aware to the crimes she's participated in and continued onward. She has absolutely no business being free, let alone given custody to Nichole!
Okay, thanks to someone who posted this episode online, I don't have to wait until Sunday to see it.
Yes, it's like a neon billboard that Serena set Fred up. I don't understand why that is apparently so hard for people to understand ("people" including the majority of the posters on the half-dozen YT review channels I follow).
Fred was arrested by the Americans, not the Canadians. Yes, they were in Canada, so this had to be in cooperation with the Canadian government, or else there would be Canadians arguing that the Waterfords should not be handed over to a government that would most likely execute them (Canada has no death penalty, and resists extraditing foreign criminals to countries where they would most likely be executed).
It's very convenient how the border crossing between Canada and Gilead just vanished. Even if Gilead removed the American side's signs/border post, why would Canada follow suit?
Huge eyerolling plot point: Why would anyone think Serena has any claim at all to get Holly/Nicole back? Contrary to what that obviously Reformacon Prime Minister said, June did NOT voluntarily relinquish her parental rights, and she deliberately sent Holly to Luke - who as someone given refugee status, is now somewhat protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. He can't be forced to just hand Holly over.
The writers have been insanely sloppy with the Canadian political stuff. At times it seems that they're just making shit up, and it's confusing the viewers who don't understand the nuances of how the different political parties here would view such a situation and act on it if they were the ruling party.
My take on how to explain the flip-flop attitude of the Canadian government is this: In the episode where the Waterfords enjoyed diplomatic immunity and were treated as representatives of a legitimate government, the ruling party must have been Liberal. "We believe the women" is something I can totally imagine Justin Trudeau or one of his cabinet representatives saying, to counter Waterford's claim that the letters were either fake or lies.
Fast-forward to when Moira and Emily confront the Prime Minister, when he dismisses June's parental rights, by claiming she gave them up voluntarily. That's the sort of thing a Conservative Prime Minister would say, as the Reformacon party is full of people who have little regard for women's reproductive rights, same-sex marriage, age-appropriate sex education in schools, and want to bring back mandatory prayer and creationism in public schools. These are the sort of people who would dismiss June's parental rights, as Holly was definitely not born within anything resembling a normal family with parents who are married.
The show needs to acknowledge the political nuances. Even just a line or two... maybe Serena or someone opining that it might be easier to get Nicole since the change in government from the last time they were in Canada. After all, the Reformacons also don't tend to have a lot of respect for minority refugees' Charter rights.
In that case, she does NOT deserve what is coming to her because what is coming to her is freedom, not punishment. At least, that is what it's looking like to me. The American offered Serena freedom and a chance to escape Gilead in exchange for her cooperation.
A successful operation like this might require the clandestine removal of all such signs. Then they will get put back after the operation. The question remains, however, why this is an open border with no guard towers or gates. It would seem like a fence or a wall or some hard border would be logical after the formation of Gilead. I can see both Canada and Gilead wanting a hard border.
Price of cooperation?
I keep expecting Nicole's biological parentage to come into play. Specifically that Fred is not the biological father. At first I thought it would be used in defense to keep Nicole out of Gilead. Fred is not the bio father. But now I can see Fred's defense lawyers using it in his defense. Fred didn't rape June, there is no evidence. DNA proves Fred is not the father.
That is my fear, that there won't be enough hard evidence to convict Fred. June is not free to testify. Moira... she wasn't a handmaid of Fred's, was she? Did she witness Fred do anything? Emily? Maybe. She was June's walking companion.
Gilead might actually start to hurt after this week's episode. Maybe not. 3 commanders are gone. High Commander Winslow is missing. Fred was arrested. Joseph is persona non grata and they are coming for him. Will the absence of Winslow and Fred actually delay or reverse the feelings about Joseph?
What ripples will become of Winslow's disappearance? Jezebel's is the worst kept secret already. It isn't supposed to be official. No body is left to find. What kind of power vacuum does this create?
June once again proves the pen is mightier than the sword.
Under the present circumstances of "Earth-Handmaid", there absolutely should be a hardening border between Canada and the Gilead Regime's territory. As for a change of Canadian government, that should have been foreshadowed if such was planned by the scriptwriters.
I should say both appeared to be under arrest, then.
This. Serena is fixated on Nichole, and whether or not she's aware of anyone else outside of Nichole and wanting her safe from the world she helped create, that still doesn't take away from all of the heinous deeds of which she has been a willing party, as recently as days before this happened. I compared her to Emma Goering once, and I stand by that.
I won't attempt a TL;DR post - I have read everyone's posts. But, suffice to say - after three years of rape, torture and having hopes dashed - DAMN! That was satisfying!
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