Wednesday, May 19, 2021

REVIEW: 'The Handmaid's Tale' - Moira Puts Many People in Compromising Positions to Save June From Gilead in 'Vows'

Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale - Episode 4.06 "Vows"

June contemplates the possibility of freedom.

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.

"Vows" was written by Dorothy Fortenberry and directed by Richard Shepard

This is a momentous action. June has finally arrived in Canada. She has escaped the captivity of Gilead. It's a celebratory moment. One that vows to reunite her with all her friends. It's long overdue as well. She has been given many opportunities to escape. She always declined. Sometimes it was her choice. Sometimes a plot device was used to keep her from ever leaving this place. The show is comfortable operating in a place where she is no longer a prisoner of Gilead. She is on the run trying to fight back. And yet, she no longer has the support she once did. So many lives have been lost because they followed her into action. And now, she is the one rewarded with a familiar face. Lawrence convinced the commanders of Gilead to order a temporary ceasefire in the disputed territories. He saw it as a gesture of good will. Outside humanitarian agencies could come in and provide support for the people suffering. However, Gilead wanted to create a massive event to ensure as many people as possible were suffering when this aid arrived. It's almost as if they didn't believe that these people are starving and bartering for everything they can possibly have. They find that weak and not capable of mounting a successful resistance campaign. That's the war they have been fighting for awhile though. And so, Gilead needs to show extensive force to make the humanitarian aid workers earn their entry. It's despicable. Plus, it doesn't even seem like these workers from Canada actually achieve much. They are in and out in a matter of hours it seems. They can't take anyone across the border with them. Nor can they leave behind enough supplies for the people suffering and begging for more. They want to help. Their hands are tied. The little aid they can render has to be enough. The tradeoff doesn't seem equal because Gilead delighted in showing this grand display of force. They inflict more harm. That's how they operate. Even their gestures done in good faith can't be treated along the same lines of morality. They will take heinous actions right up until they promise they won't. Janine is lost because of that. Moira is so invigorated by finding June again. She won't leave her best friend behind once more. She has already had to suffer in that reality. She knows that June has accomplished so much while trapped within Gilead. But now, they have the option of leaving. Nicole needs her mother. The people of Canada need June. She can reunite with her family. And yet, the argument once again hinges around Hannah. Now, this is a complicated plot point because it's the go-to device for explaining why June can never leave. She has never succeeded in trying to get her daughter out. Hannah is too far gone. At times, she recognizes her mother. Other times, she is blissfully unaware about what this connection means. June holds onto those devastating moments more than the positive ones. She still fights to save Hannah. She deserves a life of freedom. She can't be condemned to a life of servitude in this society as well. Leaving would admit that June has failed Hannah. She can't return to Luke knowing that she wasn't able to give him what he truly wanted. She has a reductive view towards her husband. She believes he is singularly focused on children. She is terrified that if she doesn't provide that for him then he will leave her just like he did with his first wife. Luke argues that he will stand by June no matter what happens. When he made that pledge, they had no idea how drastically their lives would change. June has had to make tough and brutal decisions in order to survive. Luke still loves her. They can be a family in Canada again. Moira is willing to risk everything in order to save her friend. All of this could explode for Canada and send them spiraling into a new geopolitical crisis with Gilead. The future remains tense. It's all centered around personal loss though. Sure, parts of the argument are being filled in now when they should have been better explained in the past. Needing to rescue Hannah has become a formulaic and basic response for June. It needs more complexity. It needs consistency in that regard as well. And yet, choices are made. Everyone helps June sail across the border. Oona is placed in compromising situation. She can't condemn June. She can't turn her back on the countless people who also need her aid. Moira takes full ownership of this action. She will sacrifice everything for June. That's worth it to her. She won't allow anything to deprive her of this moment. Personal happiness is found for a few without much consideration for the people at large still suffering. Janine is basically forgotten about. Saving June is at the foreground. It works. Now, the show can potentially explore new and engaging dynamics as it pertains to the power structures of this world. The audience has been waiting for this moment. The show has to deliver. Otherwise, it could be the final blow for believing this show has any relevance left whatsoever. Plus, it needs to consider all those left behind or lost along the way. That emotional reckoning should be coming too.