Wednesday, June 12, 2019

REVIEW: 'The Handmaid's Tale' - June and the Waterfords Receive a Message from Canada in 'God Bless the Child'

Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale - Episode 3.04 "God Bless the Child"

June negotiates a truce in the Waterfords' fractured relationship.

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 next episode of Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale.

"God Bless the Child" was written by Eric Tuchman and directed by Amma Asante

For whatever reason, this season is really struggling to kick into high gear in an engaging way for the audience. It feels like the show is a little mystified on how to continue engaging with this world while offering a powerful political allegory for the times that we are currently living in. Sure, this is an impressive episode for Alexis Bledel and Ann Dowd. This may very well be Dowd's Emmy submission. Aunt Lydia's brush with death has made her angrier and more exaggerated. She understands that she too has walked past a line when it comes to her treatment and torture of her girls. And yet, her beating Janine repeatedly for simply wanting to be close to the Putnams once more is no worse than her making the handmaids believe that they could all be hanged. There are so many instances of horrifying abuses done by Aunt Lydia. This moment brings things into starker context because she feels the importance of lashing out in order to prove that she still wields power and control. She doesn't want anyone to look at her like a wounded animal. She understands that could be the actual death of her even though she's still alive. That's most likely what she is feeling in that private moment of remorse later on. She always claims that she cares about her girls. And yet, this position of power is much more important to her. She must maintain it even though her power is slowly slipping away. Norms are being broken here. It's strange for handmaids to even be welcomed at this reception following the mass baptism. Plus, that religious ceremony is pretty tame in comparison to some of the previous depictions of this society's warped views towards religion and how it should be practiced. As such, it doesn't really connect in a way that is powerful and overwhelming. Nor does it feel like the handmaids are confined to one corner of this world. June is certainly free to seemingly talk to Commander Waterford and Serena as much as she likes. She has the freedom to just lounge by the pool and smoke a cigarette with Serena. That moment mostly just creates a cool image. This hour aspires to contrast the way in which June and Serena see the world. June is trying to help Serena by giving her power in her marriage. She essentially wants to restore things to how they were in the middle of Season 2 when Commander Waterford was injured and unable to fulfill all of his professional duties. That shows that the two of them recognize that there is a line that can't be crossed in this society. And yet, there is still power that can be taken in the hopes of creating a better future. Serena does appreciate that. She informs June of yet another way she could potentially see Hannah again. That's freeing. Of course, it all might change with the final reveal that Gilead knows that baby Nichole is in Canada with Luke as her parent. Luke and Moira are more than fine stepping in to care for this child when their friend and wife is trying to escape from this brutal world. And yet, Gilead is unlikely to just let that be the final word on the matter. Now that they know what happened to the baby, they will probably do something to get her back. June and Serena agreed to send her way. But they may rethink that decision which could inform so much story. However, June and Serena spend a lot of time talking about seeing their children again. Meanwhile, Emily actually gets to do it. She never thought she would escape Gilead. She was content with dying there. And now, she has reunited with her wife and son. She has the potential of being a family with them once more. That is so beautiful and joyous. It's awkward but the opportunity is there for her to be a wife and parent again. Her memory was kept alive. They always believed she would come back to them. They never gave up hope. Emily deserves this happiness after everything she has endured because of Gilead. And yet, that oppressive regime may want to punish her again now that they know exactly what she did with the baby in Canada.