Wednesday, April 28, 2021

REVIEW: 'The Handmaid's Tale' - June Feels Emboldened and Overconfident in Her Attacks on Gilead in 'Nightshade'

Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale - Episode 4.02 "Nightshade"

June plots revenge at the local Jezebels, before she and the Handmaids plan to leave the farm for the next safe house. In Toronto, Moira deals with the fallout of June's choices, and Serena and Fred are bound together by a miracle.

In 2020, the television industry aired 493 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides 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.

"Nightshade" was written by Kira Snyder and directed by Colin Watkinson

June has been captured by Gilead forces once more. That isn't a shocking or surprising development whatsoever. It's likely what everyone would have expected. It fits into the pattern of storytelling. The show believes it is more interesting when June is trapped within the confines of the Gilead power structure. That's been the focus for three seasons now. It was a tired concept long before now as well. The show has dictated the suffering and trauma she has endured at the hands of this radical and oppressive government. Nothing new can be found in that idea. It's what the show continues to go back to though. The premiere made the promise that Lydia wanted to get her hands on June once more. She is going to get her wish. That foreshadowing was apparent. This is the repetitive pattern of June's life. It's limited to June though. That's notable as well. She knows something is wrong when she returns to the Keyes estate after poisoning the commanders and aunts at the nearby Jezebels. All of her friends and allies are no where to be seen. The lights are on. The lawn is covered in bullets. It's strange why those are present when the Gilead forces have no idea where the other handmaids are. It's just necessary for Nick to be the figure to emerge from the shadows. June chooses to live. She doesn't grab the gun firmly in an attempt to do something more and die in the process. That would have been the outcome of that action. She still trusts Nick. He seemingly provides her a reason. This season positions him as someone saving lives after the Angels Flight. He helped Lawrence in the premiere. And now, he is offering to keep June safe. That's his role within this season's framework. He can't possibly keep that promise though. He is still play acting for this society. He doesn't believe in Gilead's tenants. He is trusted though. June needs that. But she has alreadt been emboldened this season. She doesn't feel it's right to ask others to join her in her dangerous actions. She does feel compelled to journey further into the heart of Gilead to continue to launch these attacks. Some of her friends just want to escape to freedom. They may have that chance now that June has been captured. She is their leader though. They basically do whatever she says. The show basically wants the audience to think that they are clueless without her. That doesn't land given the narrative also wanting the viewer to sympathize with all of the traumas they have endured in this society as well. They have been hardened too. They are also willing to make these lethal actions. Mrs. Keyes has been poisoning her husband. She shows the formula to June. That makes for an effective attack at the local Jezebels. That may be relevant later on. With June, it remains difficult to see which potential details will carry ongoing importance. She falls into the same pattern over and over again. Moira and Emily comment on that up in Canada as they handle placing the children of Gilead with suitable families. They love June and what she has done. This family unit has made it their mission to carry on the work to care for those who escaped Gilead because of June's actions. June still continually chooses to stay. She is determined to fight. She is reckless with her actions. She is never really the one to deal with the consequences though. Moira is potentially moving on and figuring out how to embrace happiness once more. That's a quality that should be welcome in this story. And yet, the audience is probably full of dread because the tone is so overwhelmingly bleak all the time. It makes the viewer untrustworthy of the moments of potential light and relief. Things are different in Canada. Moira, Luke and Emily have built new lives. And now, Serena Joy gets a little miracle. She is pregnant. That's a little baffling. It may force the narrative to confront the central premise of the infertility crisis a little more. Fred was deemed incapable of creating a child. That burden was transferred to Serena Joy as well. Now, she sees possible salvation in herself as well as clarity that she must separate from Fred as quickly as possible. But again, that was glaringly apparent a long time ago. She is catching up to that opinion now without really addressing all of the horrible things she has done along the way too. She believes her husband is simply messing with her to make her life miserable as well. She genuinely has atoning to do. That may mean something. It may not. Again, the intentions of each plot beat are wildly out of place. That makes it difficult to really connect with anything happening at the moment. It's familiar. That's not really a good thing four seasons into the show's run.