The Handmaid's Tale: "After"
May 30, 2018 7:39 AM - Season 2, Episode 7 - Subscribe

An attack sends shockwaves through both Gilead and Little America; Serena makes a dangerous choice; Moira searches for someone from her past.
posted by Bibliogeek (29 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
A full 80% of the training handmaids receive at the red center must be choreography for the myriad number of ceremonies and rituals they have to perform. They nailed it though!

I'm still displeased with the amount of risks June and Nick take...making out behind a glass wall is not exactly subtle, guys, especially when one of you is wearing head to toe red.

All the women sharing their names in the store was the most hopeful this show has gotten in a long time . It even beat out June clicking the pen like a detonator. Something is percolating with those women and it isn't going to be easy to stop.

(As long as the child bride doesn't ruin everything...which I'm not ruling out)

(I also appreciate the fact that women were taking power in this episode- they weren't given it, they didn't "earn" it, they just fucking took it)
posted by Bibliogeek at 7:48 AM on May 30, 2018 [8 favorites]


I had hoped that some of the handmaids, having had enough warning to start running, might have survived.
posted by Karmakaze at 10:53 AM on May 30, 2018


I had hoped that some of the handmaids, having had enough warning to start running, might have survived.

I think some of them did survive. My impression is that there were some handmaids on the upper level and some on the lower level. The ones on the lower level had enough of a head start that I imagine they would have survived, but there wouldn't be much hope for the ones on the upper level. (Unless I'm completely making up this whole idea.)

Also, it's hard to imagine anyone who had spent much time in the colonies would still be able to be a successful handmaid. Isn't all that radiation exposure bad news for carrying a healthy pregnancy to term?
posted by litera scripta manet at 11:51 AM on May 30, 2018 [2 favorites]


probably, but maybe they're that desperate?

although, 31 handmaids isn't like a huge number given how many we've seen right? like, can't they bring in more handmaids from other cities?

I'm not complaining though that we get to see Janine and Emily back where they have a healthier life.
posted by numaner at 1:28 PM on May 30, 2018


I wonder how big is Gilead rally? I don’t think they’re the whole united state. There was a weird americanish flag behind the woman reading the names of the women who died.
posted by LizBoBiz at 2:12 PM on May 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


I wonder how big is Gilead rally? I don’t think they’re the whole united state.

I assumed the 'colonies' took up some part of what was the united states.

There was a weird americanish flag behind the woman reading the names of the women who died.
I think that was the american flag. There are in 'little america' and there is some sort of government or diplomatic service in exile going on...
posted by roolya_boolya at 2:24 PM on May 30, 2018


The "how big is Gilead really" is a question that bugs me... I want better world-building and history. All we know is that at some point, there was a coordinated attack against the US Government, and then Gilead rose to power. How big is Gilead? How does it function? Whats its fucking economy? How do they produce black handmaids' clothes for a sudden mourning ritual? What happened to the colonies? Where are they? But... we see this through June's eyes, mostly, and she can't get this information - so neither can we.
posted by entropone at 6:08 PM on May 30, 2018 [5 favorites]


So much great non-verbal acting in this episode. The creepy new commander's one-sided face twitch of barely suppressed rage when June won't say what he wants... Serena Joy's silent contempt when June calls her by her first name and, later, the way she settles into Fred's desk chair like it was hers all along... Moira in basically every scene.

And now we know how Moira ended up a handmaid: proven fertility + gender traitor. Deciding to be a surrogate on a whim for the "giant pile of cash" is an interesting choice. It makes sense, Moira has always seemed pretty pragmatic: these people want a baby, I have plans that need funding, everyone goes home happy.

Wouldn't you want to keep a skilled OB/GYN around, though, even if she is a lesbian heretic? Although female doctors would mean female readers of records and female authority figures with decision-making power, and we can't have that in Gilead.
posted by Flannery Culp at 7:39 PM on May 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


I liked the scene where the handmaids exchanged names (and cried a bit) but I'm going to call bullshit on that not being smacked down immediately in such a heightened security environment. Also, Eden's gonna rat them out.

When Cushing was questioning June and made the comment about Ofglen (Lillie) not having much to say, I gasped at the cruelty. FUCK. YOU. ASSHOLE. I hope that's him from the full series two trailer at the bottom of the fucking ocean.

I continue to strongly dislike most of the music cues in this show. In such an impeccably produced show, they almost always stick out like a sore thumb. It's weird.
posted by Aquifer at 7:43 PM on May 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


If Odette had been performing or assisting at abortions, she would have been executed for that alone in Gilead.
posted by Aquifer at 7:44 PM on May 30, 2018 [2 favorites]


But... we see this through June's eyes, mostly, and she can't get this information - so neither can we.

That's the thing, we don't! I was taken aback the first time we saw things outside of June's views in season 1 because the book is based solely on her POV. But that's a thing that I can get past, because better story telling can be had for a TV show if you use multiple POVs. So far we've had June, Serena, Fred, Emily, Moira, Luke, and Nick (I might be missing other minor characters, was Janine ever shown without any of those above?)

Serena's and Fred's alone can expand on this world for us, but their scenes involved language that were purposely vague for the show, but that's not how those people would talk naturally. You don't go with "thing and stuff and so and so" when discussing military and government business, you state exactly what you're trying to get done. They only named the Rachel and Leah Center, Canada, and the Colonies. But you can't talk about the colonies in government business without stating which one you mean.

That's also my one point of contention. This season has expanded so much, but we're still in the dark, and I want more!
posted by numaner at 10:38 AM on May 31, 2018


Also, it's hard to imagine anyone who had spent much time in the colonies would still be able to be a successful handmaid. Isn't all that radiation exposure bad news for carrying a healthy pregnancy to term?

I thought about that, too. I don't buy that they'd make handmaids out of women with exposure to toxic substances. My partner then floated the idea that the whole replacement handmaid bit is a ruse, and they're actually bringing these women back to keep an eye on them. It's plausible, as Emily and Janine both displayed rebellious behavior in the past and Gilead is on a mission to root out insurgents. Why not bring back known rebels and see where they go and who they talk to? I'll bet Eden was not the only one carefully watching that whole grocery store scene.
posted by courtarms at 12:31 PM on May 31, 2018 [3 favorites]


Did anyone else recognize the singer in one of the songs this episode? It sounded like the same singer who did one of the openings for The Leftovers.
posted by LizBoBiz at 12:41 PM on May 31, 2018 [1 favorite]


The moment that made me gasp in sorrowful fury was right up front -- when Aunt Lydia's eulogy goes from "we shall remember them by their names" and then continues with the long list of "Of-whoevers." Gods, she really is a true believer. (And DAMN Ann Dowd was amazing in that scene.)

What was the choreography with them using the red veils to touch the graves and their faces supposed to...do?
posted by desuetude at 1:13 PM on May 31, 2018


Maybe it's a silly thing to nitpick, but what's going on with Nick this episode?

I thought that Nick is Commander Waterford's driver; a domestic job for men working in a high status house, a Martha with a penis. He is also an undercover Eye, recruited and assigned by Commander Pryce to spy on the Waterford household.

In this episode Nick is ordering around the security guys at the hospital and on the street like he's a security bossman and not a lowly chauffeur. That doesn't seem to fit with him being an undercover anything. Serena asks him for help filling out the warrants to the consular of divine law, that doesn’t seem like a driver’s job. But how could he be assigned to spy on the Waterfords if they know he is an Eye? Why would Fred ask a member of Gilead's secret security forces to drive him and his handmaid to the Jezebel hotel?

It doesn't seem to make a lot of sense to me. It seems like the writers made a mistake or took a big shortcut to move the story along while not staying true to the established character.
posted by peeedro at 2:06 PM on May 31, 2018 [5 favorites]


Something that's frustrating for me, with regard to the flashbacks, is that nobody ever mentions the infertility crisis or the giant toxic wasteland that has replaced middle America. How did that happen?

Also, please tell me that wasn't Rita they shot. Did they shoot Rita? I want to know so much more about her backstory.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 4:00 PM on May 31, 2018 [1 favorite]


I'm confused, I thought Moira found a picture of Odette in the binder, but then her name was read at the end with the names of handmaids who died in the blast.
posted by noneuclidean at 4:43 PM on May 31, 2018 [1 favorite]


It wasn't Rita, it was the neighbor's Martha.

noneuclidean makes a good point though. "Odette Johnson" was the last name that was read in the list of Handmaid bombing casualties, but Moira definitely found her Odette dead in the binder.
posted by elsietheeel at 5:56 PM on May 31, 2018


I thought that Nick is Commander Waterford's driver; a domestic job for men working in a high status house, a Martha with a penis. He is also an undercover Eye, recruited and assigned by Commander Pryce to spy on the Waterford household.

I think there was may have been some sort of promotion that came along with his marriage?
posted by ridogi at 6:05 PM on May 31, 2018 [2 favorites]


No, they didn’t shoot Rita, they shot the neighbors’ Martha. When Nick comes home Serena tells him that Edan and Rita have gone across the street to the neighbors’ house to give condolences.

You’re mistaken about them reading out Odette’s name. Odette was killed early on, looks like she died in the street wearing normal clothes.

The name exchange made me uneasy. No doubt somebody will tattle on them. A few tongues will be removed and that will be that. I can understand though how awful it would be to bury a bunch of Handmaids under their Gilead names. That would have have been a bad moment thinking about your own death and the idea you would die in a sense nameless.

As usual the scenes outside of Gilead are the weakest. They always feel like a waste of time. The third scene starting in the death library made me want to yell at the TV. I know the flashbacks are supposed to add depth and poignancy but I’ve really had enough background at this point. I’m much more interested in how June is going to try and escape again as well as the internal politics going on in that house. Last week the scenes with Serena were riveting. She’s a mixture of enemy/master/protector of June and I find their dynamic intensely watchable.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:05 PM on May 31, 2018


A commenter on some other site suggested that Odette's name was read because Moira had finally given her photo a name, so she could be listed as one of the dead of Gilead. That actually kind of makes sense, but in context of the show it's confusing, so maybe they should have left that out.
posted by litlnemo at 8:30 PM on May 31, 2018 [3 favorites]


Wouldn't you want to keep a skilled OB/GYN around, though, even if she is a lesbian heretic?

As concerned as they are with making babies, there's such a small fraction of it going on in Gilead compared to pre-fertility crisis, I'm sure they don't need nearly as many OBs as there used to be (to say nothing of the fact that a lot of routine GYN care is probably just not happening anymore, therefore consuming even fewer resources).
posted by telegraph at 5:39 AM on June 1, 2018


I don't understand why they would bring Handmaids back from the colonies either, as it seems blindingly obvious that there would be no chance for a viable pregnancy.

What would make more sense would be to "recruit" from among the Econowives. All they need to do is shift the fenceposts a little on the morality criteria and/or drum up charges of Mayday involvement. They've already shown us that the latter is grounds for reclassification.

In this episode Nick is ordering around the security guys at the hospital and on the street like he's a security bossman and not a lowly chauffeur. That doesn't seem to fit with him being an undercover anything. Serena asks him for help filling out the warrants to the consular of divine law, that doesn’t seem like a driver’s job. But how could he be assigned to spy on the Waterfords if they know he is an Eye? Why would Fred ask a member of Gilead's secret security forces to drive him and his handmaid to the Jezebel hotel?

Nick ordering around security was a little weird, but I think he was just using male privilege and the high status of the Waterfords. The Waterfords don't know that he's an Eye. (It amuses me that they are so naive to the possibility, as they helped create this ultra-paranoid fascist state, but that is indeed consistent with how powerful people work.)

Otherwise, I think that makes sense for the Commander's manservant to help with warrants. What's the fun of doing Very Important Paperwork without an administrative assistant to be impressed by the Importance of it?
posted by desuetude at 9:40 AM on June 1, 2018 [2 favorites]


Nick did get a promotion with his marriage, the promotion was Fred's idea, to move him somewhere else because he was jealous of Nick and June, but then Pryce suggested the marriage to keep Nick with the Waterfords and also interfere with him and June. But as far as I can tell, in season 1 it's implied that drivers are like personal guards and of higher status than regular Guardians, I recall him bossing around the Guardians that are posted outside the Waterfords' house.

You’re mistaken about them reading out Odette’s name.

They did indeed read her name out loud (transcript), and I'm thinking it's what litlnemo said, or it's just another Odette.

I'll bet Eden was not the only one carefully watching that whole grocery store scene.

There are Guardians watching the whole store, and I'm sure at least one of them is an Eye.
posted by numaner at 10:31 AM on June 1, 2018


I think it is entirely possible that the powers that be in Gilead don't really care how effective their Handmaids are, in fact, it's probably for the best that the "fertility crisis" continues.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:32 AM on June 6, 2018 [3 favorites]


Map of Gilead and the colonies, based on the novel

• My thought with Nick is that now that Commander Price has gone to meet God or whatever, Commander Waterford is now in the highest-ranking postition, which gives Nick more power. That and his marriage to Eden, who is DEFINITELY a rat.

• I'm beginning to think that Elisabeth Moss only has three facial expressions. In the first season, she was so emotive, but I am getting sick of her incredulous expression. Or maybe I'm just getting as exhaisted as June is. Yvonne Strahovski, on the other hand, is AMAZING. And Samira Wiley is my faaaaaaaaaave. I just love her.

• The dudes in this series are all disappointing. Every last one of them.

• The scene at the end, where the girls are sharing their names, made me cry.
posted by Brittanie at 8:10 PM on June 30, 2018


A few more thoughts:

The weird american flag behind the speaker is a combo of the american flag and Canadian flag, presumably the flag for “little America”, the refugee colony in Canada.

In the episode where June comes back from her hemorrhage and refuses the green smoothie: initially I thought June’s malaise and lack of energy was because she was in the middle of a miscarriage, but as we see, the baby survives. Now I’m wondering if the smoothie was drugged in some way to make her docile, and that’s why she seemed so listless.
posted by Brittanie at 10:58 PM on June 30, 2018


Did anyone else recognize the singer in one of the songs this episode? It sounded like the same singer who did one of the openings for The Leftovers.

That's Iris DeMent. The song is "My Life," from her second album of the same name. The song used over The Leftovers' titles is "Let the Mystery Be," from her first album, Infamous Angel.

(She also had a song famously used in the last episode of Northern Exposure: "Our Town.")
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:40 PM on July 11, 2018


Binders full of women.
posted by iamkimiam at 5:03 PM on December 20, 2018


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