Wednesday, August 14, 2019

REVIEW: 'The Handmaid's Tale' - June Embarks on a Daring Mission to Save Countless Lives in 'Mayday'

Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale - Episode 3.13 "Mayday"

June must decide how far she's willing to go. Serena Joy and Commander Waterford think about a new way forward.

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 finale of Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale.

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

This show still operates with the understanding that June has to remain in Gilead in order to depict the brutalities of this world. It was a frustrating creative choice at the end of the second season. It's still a frustrating choice at the end of the third. A lot of storytelling opportunities could open up if some of these main characters made it out of this world and fought to save all of their friends and allies still trapped within it. Of course, the show has also struggled with what to do with its characters up in Canada. Luke, Moira and Emily haven't really had character arcs this season. That may change next year with the Waterfords facing the legal consequences of the actions they took. That's a somewhat fascinating dilemma. They could serve a larger purpose in providing the outside world with how Gilead works. That information is crucial for governments to know exactly what they are dealing with in this brutal regime. Serena was able to leverage so much because she was fighting for something greater. She betrayed Fred and he did the exact same thing to her. They are now both being punished for their crimes against humanity in Gilead. That does feel like a fitting fate for both of them. There isn't any circumstance in which rape can be justified. Serena believes that she shouldn't be condemned for forcing June and Nick to have sex in order to procreate because they were already in a relationship at that point. There may not be the evidence to convict her of such a crime. Fred is the only person telling the Canadians about what to truly think of his wife. And yes, the Waterfords are very complicated and conflicted characters. Serena is much more complex and fascinating. She has always had these shades of humanity or wanting the freedoms that were afforded to her in the previous world. The show has always positioned her as having a central role in the creation of Gilead. She may not have always had a seat at the table or got the respect that she deserved. In fact, she got a finger cut off because the society no longer wished to acknowledge her influence. And yet, she was still a consequential figure in the rise of this world. Mark has been very accommodating with her because he knew exactly what to give her. But Nichole may truly belong with Luke and Moira. This finale ends on the hopeful message of children being reunited with their parents. After being separated for so long, it's beautiful that they have found their way back to each other. That was always the goal of June's crazy plan to smuggle children out of Gilead. She didn't know if it was possible or if enough people would want to help her. She had the support of a network that could make it happen. She still ran into a ton of problems during the night of this daring escape. The show derives a lot of tension from the uncertainty of the plan - with a Martha and child showing up early to no one knowing exactly how to transport all of these children to the airport. The latter is especially glaring considering June and the Marthas were already stocking up so that the children had the supplies necessary for this journey. And yet, they somehow didn't know how to get 52 kids from the Lawrence house to the airfield. That's insane. But the show just asks the audience to go with it in order to increase the stakes of this endeavor. It's a mission that does end in murder and chaos in Gilead. Various Marthas note that they had to kill or poison their commanders and the wives in order to disappear with the child. The drugs may even wear off sooner than everyone was anticipated. But the plane still takes off as soon as all of the children are onboard. That's the ultimate priority. June saw this as Gilead's most prized possession. And now, she ensures that one of her daughters is safe because Gilead can no longer isolate Nichole as the only child taken from them. Now, Gilead has to be seen as the destroyer of the world that needs to be targeted immensely for what it forced onto these children and their caretakers.

But again, all of this will be a story told from June's perspective in Gilead. And yes, she will more than likely still be alive when the show returns for a fourth season. This season may end with her closing her eyes after being shot. But she has already been rescued by her fellow handmaids. Now, it's unclear what treatment they can exactly provide for her. They aren't walking back to a world that welcomes them with open arms. Instead, that sanctuary is up in Canada where Moira, Luke and Emily are leading the volunteer humanitarian mission to help whatever ends up being on this plane. They don't know what to expect when they open those doors. It's miraculous when it's a plane full of children. It's meaningful to see Moira tend to Rebecca in the same way that June did. That connection still exists. That bond of friendship and family still permeates throughout this world even though June and Hannah aren't on this plane. Luke is devastated as a result of that. He only gets the satisfaction of knowing that June made all of this happen. In the end, it seems as if Rita is the only adult who made it out of Gilead. The rest of the Marthas and handmaids chose to stay back and fight alongside June. They weren't going to let her make this sacrifice by herself. That too is very brave and dangerous. June is armed with a gun. No one else has that weapon. But the power of the stones and the woods is very significant for this fight. But again, June is the one who carries the burden of this conflict. She sees it as her responsibility to get these kids on that plane even if it means she dies in the process. She wants to know that she did something good to balance out all of the awful things she has done this season. She believes in a universe that needs to remain balanced. Lawrence doesn't share the same view of the world. His entire life has imploded. He knows that it's only time before his standing is questioned in this world. He chooses to stay behind and fight to make things right. He can't just run away for the idea that he would be seen as a savior. He wants to earn that redemption even though it may easily lead to him being placed on the wall. In fact, it should be fascinating to see how the leaders of Gilead respond to this massive loss to their society. Of course, the show doesn't really have a character who can embody the authority of this world. The Waterfords are detained in Canada while Commander Winslow is dead. The audience doesn't have a face to connect with the leadership of Gilead. Yes, Aunt Lydia is still alive and has power. But she can only wield that over the handmaids. They are her responsibility. She will want to punish them. But again, it will all depend on whether or not she can save those who are wounded. June seems to get the brunt of the injuries here. Her future may be uncertain. If she survives, then she probably won't have the same freedoms that she enjoyed serving Lawrence. Aunt Lydia already teases that her new position will be much more strict and faithful. But it's also crazy that June would still get a new posting. She may once again catch a lucky break because Gilead prioritizes children above all else. This massive escape could mean the enslavement of anyone who can possibly have children in this world no matter how much damage they have caused in the past. So again, it seems unlikely that June will face too many consequences for her actions. That remains a problem because she is starting to seem indestructible despite how emboldened and reckless she has gotten with her actions as of late.