‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Explores What Resilience Looks Like In Hell

'The Handmaid's Tale' Explores What Resilience Looks Like In Hell

Yvonne Strahovski in “The Handmaid’s Story.”

Caution: Spoilers for “The Handmaid’s Tale” under!

Being an adolescent lady is difficult. Being an adolescent lady in Gilead is … an entire lot more difficult.

This week, we were given some perception into what younger maturity seems like in Gilead. Teenager women are raised to be baby-makers and other halves, after which married off to randomly decided on males earlier than they achieve 18. Nick (Max Minghella) turns into a type of aforementioned males, compelled to marry 15-year-old Eden (Sydney Sweeney) within the Global’s Maximum Fucked-Up Marriage ceremony rite.

It’s a nauseating episode, person who we discovered tough to even speak about. But it surely additionally brings a bit of of hope in its final moments: After a failed suicide strive, June (Elisabeth Moss) unearths her internal voice another time. 

In the meantime, within the colonies, Emily (Alexis Bledel) and Janine (Madeline Brewer) way their hellish lifestyles in reverse tactics ― Emily via practicalities and tough truths, Janine via unbridled, possibly unearned, optimism. 

Emma Grey: Welp! At some point of every week, we went from The Global’s Maximum Fucked-Up Child Bathe to The Global’s Maximum Fucked-Up Marriage ceremony. By way of the top of this season, “The Handmaid’s Story” simply would possibly make me really feel repulsed by means of each considered one of our tradition’s lifestyles match celebrations. This episode, we discovered what it method to be a tender girl who grows up in Gilead — and it’s scary.

June has been totally subsumed into Offred, and Nick is marrying a 15-year-old zealot named Eden (performed by means of the unbelievable Sydney Sweeney who I’d noticed in Netflix’s “The whole lot Sucks!”). Reward be!

Laura Bassett: I used to be questioning what human rights violation they have been going to introduce us to subsequent, and so they went with kid marriage. Will have to have noticed that one coming.

This episode additional explores Offred’s courting with Serena, and now that June has totally vacated the premises of her personal frame, we see that Serena is in fact a bit of pissed off and puzzled by means of her surprising complacency. Forcing Offred to observe Nick marry a kid appears to be Serena and the Commander’s means of seeking to squeeze blood out of a stone — simply to get any roughly emotional response out of Offred, who has transform so complacent as an incubator that she’s nearly robot. I believe Serena could also be a bit of jealous of the eagerness she has sensed between Offred and Nick, in addition to the truth that she is aware of the infant belongs to Nick, so she is punishing them for having two issues that she is so desperately missing with the Commander.


Emma: Agreed! Serena turns out torn about what she’d just like the phrases of her courting with Offred to be, which is why we see her continuously renegotiating them, episode to episode. To an extent, I believe she enjoys that June is her highbrow equivalent. Finally, Serena’s profession pre-Gilead was once based totally round lecturing and writing and highbrow sparring. June is a worthy adversary. Robot Offred isn’t.

You additionally carry a captivating level about Nick, and the way in which each Serena and Commander Waterford gave the impression to be passive-aggressively punishing him. Despite the fact that I couldn’t somewhat put my finger on what was once riding the Commander’s movements — did he merely sense Nick’s affection for Offred and get jealous? At one level, we see Serena attempt to use that knowledge to get a upward push out of him. She’s so determined for him to have interaction along with her, in any capability, that she tries to goad him into announcing greater than an “mmm hmm” to her. Spoiler alert: She fails.

I additionally need to return to the kid marriage theme for a 2d and indicate that that is but some other human rights violation “The Handmaid’s Story” depicts that we will’t take away ourselves from. As of February, in half of U.S. states, there was no minimum age for marriage when parents give consent and a judge declares an exception. In 2018, that is nonetheless a topic that folks must foyer very, very, very exhausting round — and incessantly fail to get traction. CHILD. MARRIAGE. It’s insane. *Steps off of soapbox*

Laura: Sure — I want to upload that this episode makes it transparent what’s focused on a kid marriage: kid rape. Serena has an excessively worrying dialog with Nick’s 15-year-old bride during which we be informed the lady hasn’t ever had intercourse earlier than and has no concept what to anticipate. Whilst there will not be a rape scene somewhat as blatant and worrying as Serena protecting down Offred’s hands, this display reiterates that ladies in Gilead haven’t any company over their our bodies and simply exist for males’s use and for replica.

That being mentioned, I discovered it fascinating that Serena tries to give an explanation for to Eden that she will have to be getting some roughly excitement out of intercourse with Nick and that that’s morally OK. Later within the episode, we’re reminded that Emily was once punished with genital mutilation for having any sexuality of her personal, so I used to be no longer anticipating Serena to be giving Eden any roughly sex-positive communicate. This could also be the primary glimpse we get into how Serena may well be as a mom. I’m no longer giving her too many issues right here — she’s nonetheless facilitating kid rape and protecting a intercourse slave in her space — however what’s her motivation in her dealings with Eden?

Sydney Sweeney, Joseph Fiennes and Yvonne Strahovski in “The Handmaid’s Story.”

Emma: We all know that Serena is an advanced individual — that’s why she’s interesting to observe — and we noticed that complication pop out once more right here. From what we all know, Serena is a real believer in Gilead’s philosophy, however simplest to an extent. Her zealotry was once all the time motivated by means of a trustworthy worry in regards to the country’s start charges (and most likely her personal burning need to be a mom), and she or he obviously noticed conventional gender roles and buildings so that you could cope with either one of the ones issues. However we additionally know that she loves her husband, valued their pre-Gilead partnership and in truth enjoys intercourse. I believe she squares the ones issues internally by means of telling herself that they’re simplest applicable throughout the context of a (first) marriage between a person and a girl.

Will have to we communicate in regards to the colonies and The Much less Fucked-Up Marriage ceremony now?

Laura: It’s wonderful that the “much less fucked-up wedding ceremony” is the only during which two slaves whose pores and skin is actually rotting off from deplorable prerequisites and infected water at a piece camp get married on their deathbeds, however sure, that was once an excessively candy second. I believe the massively other reactions we get from Emily and Janine to that wedding ceremony map out alongside the divides of the resistance — the ones broken-down ladies who settle for Gilead’s values or even internalize them vs. those that nonetheless have some battle in them.

On the identical time, that wedding ceremony was once probably the most uncommon moments within the display the place we see two folks in truth unfastened to like every different, without reference to politics or sexuality, in a rite that’s in fact significant and authentic for them each. This serves as a super distinction to the extra fucked-up wedding ceremony we see later within the episode, the place Nick is compelled to marry a woman whose face he’s by no means even noticed.


Emma: The Janine-Emily divide raised some in reality fascinating questions. Is discovering moments of pleasure throughout the darkness an identical to “dressing up the slaughterhouse,” as Emily put it? And does doing so essentially imply that you don’t have any battle left? I’ve watched the episode two times and I’m nonetheless no longer certain the place I fall.

I do suppose that Janine is extra self-aware than she shall we on. For her, a veil of optimism and the conclusion that God holds all of them in his arms is a type of armor she places on whilst residing in hell. Emily, an educational reasonably than a spiritualist, has no talent to peer any just right within the colonies ― one thing this is each comprehensible and deeply relatable. However I additionally idea that Janine made a compelling level whilst they have been arguing in regards to the wedding ceremony between Fiona and the loss of life Package that Janine had arrange. “This position is hell. And masking it up in vegetation doesn’t trade anything else,” says Emily, which is correct. However then Janine shoots again: “So what? We come right here, we paintings, we die. Package’s going to die satisfied, so what’s the issue?” It’s exhausting to argue with that.

The truth is that — until one thing adjustments very enormously, and that doesn’t appear as regards to taking place — those ladies are living in hell and can most likely die in hell, buried subsequent to loads of different ladies Gilead deemed unworthy. Is it so incorrect to take a look at to seek out moments of good looks and connection whilst in hell?

Laura: That’s additionally what’s fascinating about Offred’s being pregnant. It was once conceived in authentic love, and you’ll see her all the way through the episode seeking to disconnect from Nick and disconnect from the fetus within her. She begins closely bleeding, suggesting a miscarriage, and Offred slightly reacts in any respect. It’s no longer till she wakes up within the sanatorium and realizes the guts continues to be beating that feels that connection of motherhood once more. Or even within the hell this is Gilead, she dips her head beneath the covers and whispers candy and provoking phrases to her long term kid with the similar roughly blind hope that Janine has when she makes a want at the dandelion weed.

The viewer clearly wishes those brilliant spots all the way through the display to get a divorce probably the most horror. This episode was once tough! I believed my center was once going to prevent a couple of occasions.

Talking of which — I discovered it fascinating that the take-heed call for June, the instant that shook her again into her frame, was once no longer being compelled to observe Nick marry any individual else — it was once nearly dropping her little one, after which feeling that survival. It’s as though the resilience of her personal fetus impressed her to stay combating.  

Elisabeth Moss and Max Minghella in “The Handmaid’s Story.”

Emma: Seeing Nick married off to a kid illustrated what a long term for a kid seems like in Gilead: indoctrination and depression. The rite looked as if it would push Offred to consider, after which strive, suicide — one thing that we had by no means in reality noticed her imagine earlier than. But it surely was once her survival, and her little one’s, that made her in finding her voice and her get to the bottom of once more.

“Now you pay attention to me, Ok?” she says to her fetus. “I will be able to no longer permit you to develop up on this position. I received’t do it. Do you listen me? They don’t personal you. And they don’t personal what you are going to transform. Do you listen me? I’m gonna get you out of right here. I’m gonna get us out of right here. I promise you. I promise.” She no longer simplest made a dedication to her long term kid, however she recommitted to herself, to June, to the lifestyles and the longer term that she merits.

Laura: Subsequent week we get to peer how Serena reacts to the truth that June nearly killed herself and the infant. She ignored having a powerful opponent. I believe she has one once more now.

Emma: Reward be.  


To learn extra of HuffPost’s “Handmaid’s Story” protection, head here.

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