Wednesday, May 12, 2021

REVIEW: 'The Handmaid's Tale' - June Tries to Find Her Place Amongst the Rebels Fighting Against Gilead in 'Chicago'

Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale - Episode 4.05 "Chicago"

June seeks out more active rebels, while Janine tries to help her fit in with their new group of survivors.

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.

"Chicago" was written by Nina Fiore & John Herrera and directed by Christina Choe

June has always been motivated to fight against Gilead. She hasn't always known the best and most effective way to do so. She frequently doesn't understand the sacrifices that it entails. She also has to deal with the devastating losses of those around her because they believe in her. They are all motivated to attack this oppressive country. It's a daunting prospect though because of how widespread it all seems and how bleak their overall lives have been for so long. Moreover, June isn't always the one who has to deal with the consequences of her actions. This season has essentially gone on a killing spree of the various handmaids around her. Some of them have absolutely been loyal to her. Others are simply supportive of the message of hope she represents. She shouldn't give in to the demands of Gilead just because they are threatening more lives. And yet, that loss should carry a toil for June. It may all climax with the loss of Janine. Now, her death hasn't been confirmed yet. This episode ends with that seeming likely after Gilead launches air strikes on Chicago. However, her body hasn't been discovered yet. As is often the case on television, the viewer needs to actually see the corpse in order to believe that a character is dead. It wasn't that long ago that it seemed like Aunt Lydia was terminally injured. And now, she declares that she has completely recovered. She is fine physically once more. She just has to fight to regain her position of authority in this society. And so, the audience should understandably be skeptical about this latest loss that June seemingly suffers. Of course, the storytelling also drives the point home by stating that handmaids always stick together. Janine may have felt that June betrayed their group which ultimately led to the rest dying. However, she is still loyal to her. It seems like she is determined to stay with this group of rebel fighters in Chicago. It's also clear that these people are just trying to survive. They want to uphold American ideals. They push back against the tyrannical forces trying to take over this city. And yet, it's essentially a war zone with various groups having different tactics. June believes she will find her place elsewhere with similar minded people. She needs to be with the people actively fighting against Gilead. She has heard so much about the war in Chicago. This crisis at the border has always been concerning to the commanders. The opposing forces don't represent a united front. Various different groups are fighting back. June wants to serve as the inspirational force herself. And yet, her leadership has faltered time and time again. She has achieved something great in the Angels Flight. The world has changed as a result of that. Families are reunited. People have escaped this brutal regime. But the council of commanders no longer comes across as a daunting threat that can inflict so much harm. Instead, it's basically just a group of men who have no understanding of how the world or society works. They are just obsessed with power. They grabbed ahold of it. As such, they will flex it for as long as they can. It comes with no real vision for how to create something sustainable. Lawrence wants to convince his fellow commanders of that. He makes shady deals in order to be back in the conversation. It's easy for him to do so. Frankly, it's easy for everyone to avoid any consequences in this world. Lawrence and Lydia still maintain positions of great authority. It's a familiar cycle. One that has lost most of its luster. However, the episode still builds to that shocking and visceral final moment where Moira emerges administering humanitarian aid only to find June once more. The show set up Nick to be the familiar face in that moment. He knew her life would probably be in peril from this action. It's more rewarding for it to be Moira. It's a powerful visual. And yet, the show basically contorted the story of the entire hour in order to convincingly get to it. As such, not everything that occurs feels natural and earned. But so much promise comes from the idea of June reuniting with her friends in Canada. That will represent her actual ability in being able to fight against Gilead in a tangible way. She will also be surrounded by people who will force her to address all the actions she has taken and is still willing to take in order to prevail in this conflict no matter the cost.