The Handmaid's Tale: "June"
April 25, 2018 9:31 AM - Season 2, Episode 1 - Subscribe

Offred reckons with the consequences of a dangerous decision while haunted by memories from her past and the violent beginnings of Gilead.
posted by Bibliogeek (18 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm about halfway through the episode and had to take a break. I got to the scene with the stove (...shudder) and had to ask why I'm doing this to myself. This episode felt like punishment. (The point, I'm sure.)

The psy ops that they do is really chilling. They saw that the handmaids were too close to each other and might team up to rebel so they have to divide them.

When June was talking to the school nurse about how her daughter was a little warm when she woke up and she gave her some Tylenol before school, I was like, "Aw, June, don't tell them that!" And the scene with that sugary-sweet nurse was chilling.
posted by Aquifer at 11:59 AM on April 25, 2018 [3 favorites]

The handmaidens standing in front of her eating soup was exquisitely nasty. I'm not sure if it's demoralizing or galvanizing though – all handmaidens involved know the 'divide and conquer' strategy and just previously found strength in solidarity? Then again, if you can be mock executed and then burned, I guess you'll just give up at some point…

The ear cutting was painful. Mrs Mono and I were squirming.
posted by monocultured at 2:38 PM on April 25, 2018

I had avoided the show during its initial run because it felt too heavy, a little too close to real in some of my fellow Americans minds.

But i've been loving it since picking up, just for the sheer look at hate and revulsion that Elisabeth Moss sums up with a glance, or mere flick of her eyes. It's glorious to see and I look forward to it as antidote to certain aspects of life.

This departure from the books looks promising as hell and I can't wait.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:36 PM on April 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

I'd been spoiled about the use of "This Woman's Work" and like, I get it. But it also didn't work for that scene. I like that song. But I think it made something that should've felt really frightening and turned it into melodrama in the worst way (although it made it less intense, so I feel conflicted).

Overall, maybe because I knew what to expect, it was not as bad as advertised, but I liked that June is the "enemy" now. I'm not sure how much I'm sold on her being on the run but I am curious to see where that goes.

And as much as I have hate Aunt Lydia and Serena Joy, they were two of the most intriguing women characters for me. I am more curious to follow them then June at this point.

I'll watch episode 2 tomorrow. This first was enough. I'm glad this show is just weekly.

(I know we've left the novel behind and that's fine. But my expectations are different now, mostly.)
posted by darksong at 6:42 PM on April 25, 2018 [3 favorites]

I also appreciate that despite June's fire and steel, she was ready to give up and be hanged. At that point it probably felt like a blessing, and a form of escape.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:28 PM on April 25, 2018

When the action of the show is really concentrated on Gilead in June's "present," I can forget that it's the former United States. Opening the new season with gallows in the overgrown Fenway Park was a startling reminder for me that this is "here." Even though we know the value of the Handmaidens, I wasn't sure what they were planning to do. Would they kill them all? Kill a third of them? Make them choose? Once we saw the pregnant Handmaiden under guard and in chains, they'll never kill them as long as they're fertile. The minute they aren't, though, they're worthless. Those nooses were a powerful way to remind the women that Gilead hates them.

I was disappointed that it was Nick who got June out of the hospital, although it makes sense. I'm firmly on the "fuck Nick" side of things.

I don't want to lose touch with Serena and Aunt Lydia either. There's definitely more story with them too. I'd just like to see more of what Gilead is like, outside of the elite Handmaid circle.
posted by gladly at 1:27 PM on April 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

I love the song "Woman's Work" and its use in that gallows scene was really inspired and I thought it really fit. The song is about possibly losing both mother and child in childbirth, from the father's perspective. The tension of that predicament carries over well in this scene, where the dramatic flourishes of the song matches with the "WHO WILL SAVE THEM" tension. It's both sweet (the importance of a woman's work) and demoralizing (that we're asked to see if from a man's pov, and that it's men putting these women in the noose) but tendered by Kate Bush's, a woman's, voice, bringing the focus back on women. It's a strong song for the moment, contrasting their society losing these fertile women against a man losing his wife and child.
posted by numaner at 10:10 AM on April 27, 2018 [1 favorite]

I do love that song very much, but I thought the line 'ooh it's hard on the man' really jarred in this instance.

Still, this episode was an excellent beginning to the season.

I find myself trying to imagine being in the same situation with June and the others, going from one life that involves choice and autonomy to this infantilized yet sexualised (for the purpose of procreation but we all know the Elders of Gilead are getting off on this shit) existence. It's doing my head in. I'd be so angry yet so terrified. Aunt Lydia is the stuff of nightmares.
posted by h00py at 6:21 AM on April 30, 2018

> I was disappointed that it was Nick who got June out of the hospital, although it makes sense.

I agree, and I don't even know if it entirely makes sense. We know there's a network and an underground railroad. We know that gyns have been involved in subverting Gilead in various ways. We know that June's husband made it out and has looked for her. I didn't think that the added subtext between her and Nick added anything valuable to that scene, and her "arranger" being Nick seemed tidy in a lazy way.
posted by desuetude at 9:13 PM on April 30, 2018

I didn't think that the added subtext between her and Nick added anything valuable to that scene, and her "arranger" being Nick seemed tidy in a lazy way.

For me the added value in the June and Nick plot is the exploration of how the most intimate relationships are entirely caught up in the political/gender dynamics of a society.
posted by roolya_boolya at 1:52 PM on May 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

Meanwhile, I am actively craving more exposure to the men in Gilead. Not just commanders, but the ordinary men, whose levels of complicity, exploitation, or rebellion we have only barely glimpsed.

This omission is starting to make me a little testy, honestly, because it is leaving most of half the population off the hook for participating in this system. Y'know, kinda like now.
posted by desuetude at 10:21 PM on May 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

desuetude, I want to know too! I remember thinking during the episode where Emily's Martha girlfriend executed/murdered, who were these brutal, faceless men who hauled her off the truck and hanged her? Are the believers, are they just going along because they feel they have to, do they not really care one way or the other?
posted by Aquifer at 6:43 AM on May 4, 2018

Well the show is back and just as hard to watch as ever. Weirdly it's also easily one of the most beautifully shot TV shows around; the photography in it is often breathtaking.

But only one episode at a time for me.
posted by octothorpe at 6:27 PM on May 4, 2018

What did June cut out of her ear?
posted by LizBoBiz at 1:12 AM on May 5, 2018

The handmaids had red eartags from when all the fertile women were rounded up. It unambiguously identified her.
posted by janell at 7:33 AM on May 5, 2018

I'm super late to starting season 2 but let me just say watching this after the Republican policy of separating immigrant children from their mothers is really, really hard.
posted by Nelson at 5:12 PM on June 30, 2018 [1 favorite]

octothorpe: "But only one episode at a time for me."

Well, a month later and I still haven't watched episode 2 and I'm not sure if I will. As much as I admire this show, I'm just not sure it's something that I want to watch right now.
posted by octothorpe at 6:52 AM on July 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

That's totally reasonable. Without overt spoilers, later episodes in the season have resonated with current events in deeply painful ways and I have needed the full week to recover from many of them. Take care of yourself.
posted by Flannery Culp at 8:44 AM on July 1, 2018

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