Wednesday, June 26, 2019

REVIEW: 'The Handmaid's Tale' - A Trip to Washington, D.C. Creates Some Powerful and Startling Visuals in 'Household'

Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale - Episode 3.06 "Household"

June accompanies the Waterfords on a trip, where a powerful family offers a glimpse of the future of Gilead.

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.

"Household" was written by Dorothy Fortenberry and directed by Dearbhla Walsh

June refuses to be silenced. She will speak up whenever the situation demands it. Sure, she still adheres to the rules of Gilead to ensure that she isn't punished too severely for speaking her mind. But she very much has an agenda. She wants to protect her daughters. She will do whatever it takes to keep Hannah and Nichole save. And yet, she is now being pushed along as a prop in the Waterfords' war of public opinion in order to get Nichole back from Canada. Serena met with Luke to essentially say goodbye. She made her peace with that being the end of this story. It wasn't because Gilead always has to project strength in order to avoid further disasters and the collapse of their society. There is still so much about this world that has been kept from the audience. Every year reveals new layers of this place. The Waterfords have always wielded a great deal of power. They were there at the inception of Gilead. Serena wrote a book that became the basis for how men and women should act in society. She is recognized for those efforts. And yet, they are posted in the settlement that used to be known as Boston. They aren't in Washington, D.C. which is where all the true power lies. That means they still have aspirations to continue climbing the ladder of influence in this country. It's Fred's new ambition after he gets the validation he has long desired with his handling of this whole affair. There is absolutely no reason why the Waterfords should continue to be trusted with power given everything that has happened in their household. Similarly, there is no reason why June should continue being placed as a handmaid. She causes trouble wherever she goes. That extends to this trip to D.C. But that also comes with the spine-chilling sight of how the handmaids are literally silenced. It's more than just an added piece of clothing that covers their entire face. Their mouths are actually stapled shut. That's the way this society looks at women. They are meant to be silent and obedient. The handmaids of this world just follow whatever the leaders require. June wields power because she is positioned as the voice for all handmaids because of her close proximity to the case. Fred counts on her in order to create this image of family unity throughout the country. Nichole is still safe in Canada. Luke has also handed June's tape over to the government so that they can use that to their benefit in these negotiations. That hasn't yet caused any consequences or punishment for June. It still has the potential to though. She is desperate to make any deal that can allow her daughter to stay safe. She doesn't want Nichole to return to Gilead. That means she stands in opposition to Serena once more. They have never really gotten along. Their interests have just aligned from time to time. Now, they see each other as the greatest obstacles that stand in their way of achieving their goals. It's such a complicated relationship. One where they can lash out at each other in these big, explosive ways. And yet, they are both expected to just fall in line to whatever Fred wants. He isn't a dynamic character though. He just blends into the background of the men of this world believing they are superior. They aren't. The women are vastly more interesting. This entire hour is just an extension of the final plot beat from the previous episode. The Waterfords are creating an image. They need greater support throughout Gilead which prompts this trip. It shows that things could still get a whole lot worse for June and her band of resistance fighters. But it also proves that she can only trust herself to protect the people she cares about. Nick presents as an ally. And yet, manipulating him doesn't help her achieve what she truly wants. It just causes more heartbreak because she remains incredibly naive about the true mechanics of this world. She may have a tender moment with Aunt Lydia here. But this world is still terribly oppressive and will only continue to abuse her. That's a familiar position for the show. This hour ramps up the stakes and hopefully the season can build on this newfound momentum. And yet, that too is a familiar pattern that the show has long struggled to get out of. There is no indication that the events here will actually change things or get June to re-evaluate everything that she is doing in Gilead.