Wednesday, June 5, 2019

REVIEW: 'The Handmaid's Tale' - June and Serena Joy Begin to Burn Gilead to the Ground in 'Night'

Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale - Episode 3.01 "Night"

June embarks on a bold mission with unexpected consequences. Emily and Nichole make a harrowing journey. The Waterfords reckon with Serena Joy's choice to send Nichole away.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the season premiere of Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale.

"Night" was written by Bruce Miller and directed by Mike Barker

A lot of controversy was sparked at the conclusion of the drama's second season. It was incredibly difficult to rationalize June's decision to stay in Gilead when so many people had risked their lives to get her out. Moreover, she was trusted to protect the daughter that she had just brought into this world. Instead, she handed Nichole off to Emily - who hasn't always been emotionally stable after being victimized so severely by this world - in order to protect her other daughter, Hannah. This premiere makes that a priority. June is once again given the assistance to get very far on this journey before she is eventually caught and taken back to the Waterford house. However, that was essentially what happened over and over again during the show's second season. June thought that she had found a way to escape Gilead. Instead, she was forced back into servitude in the place where she thought she was condemned to die. And yes, there are certainly conflicting emotions within June. She desperately wants to fight for her freedom and to get Hannah out with her. And yet, she can also be cold and distant with the understanding that Gilead will kill her and whomever gets caught up in her drama. Nick isn't entirely wrong to call her selfish. She risked so much exposure and hatred because of the decision she made. She continually has to defend it. Serena Joy was handing her child over to another mother who would love Nichole just as much as she did. It was a significant gesture that June essentially gave up her own claim and connection to this baby by allowing her to remain named Nichole. That too was a stark contrast to everything that happened before. But it's also joyous when Emily and Nichole do make it out of Gilead. It's a hard and arduous journey. Things aren't simple just because they made it into the back of the truck at the close of the season. Sure, it's another excuse for the show to welcome suffering in order to put its characters into compromising positions. A baby almost drowns to death here in pursuit of freedom. That's how major all of this has to be treated as. And in the end, Emily meets up with Moira and Luke. That should add so much energy to that corner of the world. It also proves that it is possible to escape Gilead. June feared that it was impossible to do so. Even in the aftermath of her actions, she feared that Emily and Nichole would be just as doomed as she always was during her previous escape attempts. It has become a pattern for her. She made the vow to see Gilead burn to the ground. As such, it's a potent image when the Waterford house actually does go up in flames. However, that's a decision that Serena Joy makes. She wants her husband to be aware of just how active she was in sending their daughter away. She sees it as protecting her daughter in a world that she no longer recognizes and accepts. Commander Waterford still believes that this family can be redeemed. He is delusional in that way because so much scandal and misery has consumed their lives. They shouldn't be trusted with any kind of importance in this society. They have been compromised in too many ways. Perhaps that's why it's an inspired decision to have June move to a new posting. She is punished for her actions in sneaking away to see Hannah one more time. That's what ultimately gets her caught once more. That's still an illuminating experience because it puts into context just how destructive and alienating all of this has been to Hannah as well. She is forming more of an identity in Gilead. June only gets a few brief details of the life her daughter has. She is happy that she is loved and protected. She is still willing to fight for her even if it kills her. That may not be in her daughter's best interest though. June is just refusing to leave her daughter behind ever again. As such, it may be uplifting that Commander Lawrence has taken her in as his new handmaid. He too is wrapped up in scandal because of Emily's new perception as a killer and kidnapper in this community. He can't deal with any more trouble. June will be nothing but that though. And so, the show really needs to be more active in actually challenging this world and the individual acts of resistance so that it feels less like internal drama and more like a passionate response to a world that wishes to condemn a whole group of people.