Last night at 6 pm Hawaii Time, the second season of The Handmaid’s Tale slid into my Hulu account.
One of the many, MANY bonuses of living on this remote Pacific island, is that when a popular show or movie is set to be released at midnight up on the mainland, that shit gets released here at 6 pm. Unfortunately, last night at around 6 pm, I found myself at the beach for a friend’s birthday. Rough life, I know.
Picture this: The beautiful Pacific Ocean, a beach painted in the colors of a Spring sunset, wine and snacks, the crispy red Smith family from Iowa just finishing up their 18 hour beach day, and a distracted me who appears to be listening to friends as they tell their stories but is really just thinking about sprinting back to my house to inhale Cattle Prod 2: The Offred Chronicles.
After enduring my First World Island Problems of beach, snacks, friends, and Smith family watching, Holly and I got home, ignored the pets and piles of dirty dishes that I said I would “just do after we get back from the beach,” and immediately turned on the Roku. Holly looked at me and said, “Are you ready, girl?” No. The answer is no.
The First 10 Minutes
As the handmaid’s were ushered into Fenway Park, it reminded me of watching cattle being rushed through the narrow corridors of a slaughter house. June’s face as she looked around and realized that she was standing in the famous home of the Boston Red Sox, was haunting. We didn’t need a flashback to know that she had been there before. Elisabeth Moss has the ability to convey more emotion with a two second blink of her eyes than any actor currently working. Come at me bro, to anyone who says differently.
While the scene was an excruciating nail bitter, at no point did I think that the handmaids would be hanged to death. Even as June began to clasp her hands in a desperate attempt to pray to a God other than the one that’s putting a noose around her neck, I thought, there’s no way that Gilead would take their most precious commodity and throw it all away. Then again, Gilead isn’t exactly treating this precious commodity all that precious. We’ll get more into that on the podcast this week, because what the hell with that?
Eventually, the floor below the handmaid’s feet is dropped, but only a couple inches. Aunt Lydia struts into the scene and we all collectively pee our pants because Ann Dowd is a sentient horror movie wearing a brown moo moo, come to life. This fake hanging, was a punishment for disobeying orders and not stoning Janine to death. The scene transitions into our first flashback with June saying, “Our Father, who art in Heaven. Seriously? What the actual fuck?” It was a perfect way to start the season.
Ann Dowd is a sentient horror movie wearing a brown moo moo, come to life.
The flashback gives us some more insight into pre-Gilead times, but it also shows the slow normalcy of newly implemented fucked up religious laws aimed at women. June’s ho hum comment to Luke about how she needs a signed permission slip from him in order to buy birth control, demonstrates this perfectly. This is a scene I REALLY can’t wait to dissect in our podcast this week.
This flashback also shows us that children and their health is very tightly controlled now. Despite the fact that the nurse shamed June in a very calm manner, it was a frightening conversation. One in which we can see June actually losing her control over how she can react to the bullshit in this world.
This is a woman, who in season 1 would have pulled out her white lady privilege card and asked to speak to the manager.
Back to the present and the handmaids are bunched into a circle, forced to hold out rocks in the cold rain. Oh, you thought you could drop rocks at Aunt Lydia’s feet and not stone your buddy to death? Nah son. Not on Big Lyd’s watch. As Big Lyd is performing her favorite hobby, perverting scripture, she is told that Offred is pregs. They quickly take June out of the rain, get her some warm clothes and feed her some soup. I’m sure it was Campbell’s Cream of Fish Assholes, because that’s all Jesus would want those sadists to eat.
Aunt Lydia and June have a conversation about her being a good girl. June begins to push back against Aunt Lydia’s insistence that she eats the Cream of Fish Assholes. June is then taken to a room where a very visibly pregnant Ofwyatt is chained to a bed. We are told Ofwyatt tried to harm herself, therefore she is now chained to her bed for the remainder of the pregnancy. Sidenote: This is a similar method I use for dieting.
June is taken into a cafeteria and the rest of the handmaids are marched in. Ofrobert is pulled from the line, taken into the kitchen, strapped to an oven and burned. June eats her soup in silence as the screams of Ofrobert fill the room. (Side note: Holly here, I'll have to take everyone's word for what happened in this scene, since I plugged my ears and covered my head with a pillow during the whole thing.)
I have decided that Aunt Lydia is not a bible thumper but an actual psycho who doles out punishment because she enjoys it. These are not acts of love that she does in order to make the “girls!” closer to the Lord. This isn’t some sort of deep revelation. After these scenes, we all know now that no matter what Aunt Lydia’s backstory tells us, she is a straight up psychopath.
June is brought to the doctor where she and what feels like a dozen other people are circling her like vultures around a roadkill raccoon. Except the vultures are culty creeps and the roadkill raccoon is June's vagina.
We get our first look at the Waterfords. Fred and Serena are there to look at their five-week old ball of cells. In a whiplash scene Serena goes from lecturing June one minute to kissing her forehead and telling her “God bless you,” the next. It’s a good reminder that Serena and Fred are scary, fake, and cruel and some of the most complicated characters in all of Gilead.
As the last technician leaves the room, he says “Godspeed…June.” This use of her real name is an indication that he is part of the resistance perhaps? She goes back to put her boots on and finds a key with a red square on it. She then unlocks a door marked with that same little red box and off into the dark hallway she runs. She eventually hops into the back of a traveling meat locker truck with frozen pigs.
As we transition once again into June’s flashback, we see Luke is glued to the tv in their living room, as Hannah is calling for June to come to her bedroom. You can see June being torn by both wanting to comfort her sick daughter, while also wanting to be pulled into the dystopian horror playing out on the television in the living room. Ultimately, she chooses to be with Hannah.
Back to the present and June finds herself in some dank garage, with a mini cremator. Nick is there! Yeah! Or not. I still don’t know where I stand with this dude. Is he acting in his own self-interest? Is he still a part of the Sons of Jacob? Is he with the Resistance and there to get June out? So many questions before I can be like,”Yeah, that Nick is a stand-up bro.”
June strips off her nasty ass, red, rapey handmaid’s outfit, and tosses that bitch into the mini cremator. She puts, what my father would call, “an unsafe amount of lighter fluid” into the cremator and lights the pile on fire. She chops off her hair off and throws that in. Then…then…….then the ear scene happens. Do I need to say more, because I still haven’t recovered? My first thought, aside from ahhhhhhhh, I can’t! I can’t! No, stop! No, no, no, no, Jesus no, was wait. If that tracker just got taken out of her ear, don’t they already know where she is right now??
After the cremation of Offred, June is born again. She says, “My name is June Osborne. I am from Brookline, Massachusetts. I am 34 years old. I stand 5’3 in bare feet. I weigh 120 pounds. I have viable ovaries. I’m 5 weeks pregnant. I am free.” Incidentally, a really great pickup line at a bar for both gay and straight women is to tell the person you are hitting on, “I have viable ovaries.” Works every time. (Holly's aside, that's how I hooked Erin.)
Season 2 is off to a smashing start. We’ll put up the episode 2 recap tomorrow. I look forward to talking with Holly and Heather when we record our podcast this Sunday. Soooooo much to dissect, analyze and laugh about so far. Can’t wait for the rest of the season! -Erin
Blessed be, bitches.
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