Wednesday, May 26, 2021

REVIEW: 'The Handmaid's Tale' - June's Reunion with Friends and Family Forces Reflection of Her Traumatic Past in 'Home'

Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale - Episode 4.07 "Home"

June contends with joy, pain and rage as she acclimates herself to vastly changed circumstances.

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.

"Home" was written by Yahlin Chang and directed by Richard Shepard

June is finally home. Well, she's in the place that is willing to approximate home for her now. Her former home has been destroyed by Gilead. Her country and sense of identity was destroyed by power-hungry individuals who believed they were more worthy of shaping this world into something better. June was enslaved and made to suffer. She has endured so much trauma and abuse. Everything about her time in Gilead was built on survival. She had to do whatever it took to stay alive. It's easy for her to reflect on the past and be horrified about what she did. She is grateful to be with her family once more. She is reunited with her daughter. She can build a new life for herself in Canada. Her friends and family have already done so. Yes, they are still connected to the government and the ongoing tension with Gilead. That remains an active component of their lives. It doesn't threaten to be the only thing of interest to them. Moira mourns the loss of her relationship with Oona. She is still fighting to save this bond. She regrets the destructive impact her decision to bring June home with her has had on the entire system. These humanitarian missions will no longer be sanctioned in Gilead. That authoritative regime probably believes they let their guard down for a second and calamity ensued. June escaped to the outside world. She has already positioned herself as a serious threat. One that takes away all that is sacred in this world. Of course, Gilead is fundamentally driven by power. Only a select few are true believers and see the noble ideals of this society. Those in control will do whatever it takes in order to keep it. June and the other handmaids were subjected to rape and imprisonment because they were perceived to have an ability that was rare throughout society. And now, Serena is pregnant. She and Fred were always capable of having a child. Serena is grateful every day that God allows this pregnancy to continue. In fact, this pregnancy is used as a weapon that unifies them once more. They must protect their child against the people who threaten their lives. They see that as the only thing that matters for what the future holds for them. They can't ignore the past so easily though. June appreciates that Serena is suffering at the moment. And yet, she has to let out that vitriol as well. June is given time here to process everything that happened to her in Gilead. Previously, she was always moving. She couldn't stay still and linger in the trauma. She couldn't process everything that was happening. She couldn't make sense of it. She still always knew right from wrong. She fought against this oppressive regime. She made a serious impact. Countless lives were lost along the way. 

Now, June has time to sit in that loss. She led people to their deaths. Gilead forced her into that deadly situation. She carries the blame for those horrors as well. It will take time for that thinking to be removed from her rational mind once more. Emily, Moira and Rita are understanding and supportive. They know exactly what she is going through. They too are addressing the issues created in their lives based on the roles they were forced into in Gilead. They find peace and comfort in each other. Rita is still faithful. Their lives have grown. They are happy in Canada. June has to lash out. She has carried the weight of so much of the trauma and torture in this show. As such, her reaction to all of it now coming out must be even more extreme. The show has provided moments of Emily and Moira struggling to cope in returning to a relatively sane and normal society. June desperately wants the culture shock. She wants a life that is as different from Gilead as possible. But again, she can't deflect from this experience. She uses all the information she has collected. She is well positioned to help the Canadians fight back. Mark is already willing to use her as an asset. She provides valuable insight into how Serena operates. Serena desperately wants peace. She wants to feel stable in that regard. She doesn't deserve it because of the horrors she inflicts elsewhere. She begs for forgiveness. June rebukes that idea. She yells and condemns the woman who fought to control her for years. And then, June returns home to have sex with Luke. In that moment, it's designed as her taking back her power in that crucial element of her life. It's also her silencing Luke. She doesn't care about his input and consent in that moment. She needs this in order to make progress in her emotional journey. She gets to release some of the trauma she has endured. She is still adjusting to this new life. It's one still heavily defined by Gilead. She can't stop fighting as easily as her friends have. The fight is still important to her. Honoring Hannah is as well even though she is choosing to share the good memory instead of the bad with Luke. Everything about life in Canada is perceived as being the best place for June. She is tentative in accepting that because she has been forced into only having a small view of the world. She has frequently broken out of that thinking. It still shapes her mind. It's hard to break free of that pattern. People are capable of doing so. June's journey just promises to be different than her loved ones who have been through this process. She is deemed special. That makes her a valuable target for everyone which may continue to allow her to deflect from some of these psychological traumas she still endures. She still must be held accountable for the terrible things she has done. All the heinous actions taken across the ensemble need to be addressed and condemned. Otherwise, it will never seem like the show is analyzing the cost of it all and the impact it has on so many. Most of the time, the show uses these brutal moments to inflict harm without thinking about the larger effects or the conversations that must be had afterwards.