The Handmaid's Tale: "Holly"
June 27, 2018 1:46 AM - Season 2, Episode 11 - Subscribe

Offred faces a grueling challenge alone as she recalls her life as a mother; Serena and the Commander deal with the fallout of their actions towards Offred.
posted by Bibliogeek (27 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
I was either clenching or weeping throughout this entire episode. Holy hell.

That damn, fucking car. SO CLOSE TO FREEDOM. Ugh, that made my rage chemicals spike.

I think I need to take a walk, this episode was so tense. SO TENSE.

I haven't read any reviews yet, but I'm hoping somebody spends some time talking about how this show treats birth as a natural phenomenon/experience, rather than a medical impairment, and how different that is to so many other shows/portrayals we see in the media. (I'm with June, give me a
hospital, but also recognize I am a person, not a problem or a baby factory).

Also...I just noticed, all the episode descriptions use Offred instead of June. What up with that?
posted by Bibliogeek at 1:54 AM on June 27, 2018 [1 favorite]


Maybe it's slightly spoilerish? And maybe they use it to signal that in this episode she's still not free?

Man that was bleak, but still so hopeful. I guess the lights through the window at the end are Guardians coming to check out the gunshots, but at this point that's the best chance for the baby's survival.

I wonder how she'll explain herself, and if they'll check on the garage.

I'm surprised there was no way for the garage door to be opened manually. Or is that what she was trying to do outside with the shovel? Digging the handle on the outside out from the snow?
posted by numaner at 8:15 AM on June 27, 2018


Closed captions also use "Offred:" to prefix her dialog when she's off screen and speaking.
posted by ShooBoo at 11:22 AM on June 27, 2018 [1 favorite]


I had to pause to verify that was, in fact, Oprah as the voice on the radio.

I think whole wolf thing was maybe a bit heavy-handed with the near Little Red Riding Hood symbolism and "toxic masculinity" and stuff or something -- like I'm not really sure what the point was other than "symbols!" Especially since the show brought the wolf back three times.

What was that garage door made of? I'm surprised that she couldn't break through it, but whatever.

This was one of the first times where I felt like June was actually smart in her planning her escape. It's too bad it didn't work out.

I liked the stuff between Serena and Fred. I'm glad Serena knows she fucked up her own life and regrets it. Fred can still catch on fire, though.

I really wonder what Fred's plan was -- did he send June and Nick out there to be captured/killed or did he really thing he was doing a "nice thing" for June? Like, yeah, she saw her daughter but ... what was the ultimate plan? Or is it that Fred's not that smart? (I'm guessing the latter since this whole show is about mediocre white men succeeding and the women who enable it.)

The whole thing was shot like a horror movie, and all the scenes through windows and doorways made it intense. I kept waiting for something much worse to happen. I think this is about as beautiful as the show has ever been.

The whole birthing sequence was so intense and remarkably done. I'm not really a baby person but the emotions of it did get to me.

I wonder what the next two episodes will bring. I mostly expected the season to end with the birth of June's child.

(I've been watching The Handmaid's Tale on Wednesdays then immediately following it with The Bold Type from the night before. I recommend this since it keeps you just from wanting to curl up into a ball and die. And yeah, this week ...)
posted by darksong at 5:19 PM on June 27, 2018 [1 favorite]


>I'm surprised there was no way for the garage door to be opened manually. Or is that what she was trying to do outside with the shovel? Digging the handle on the outside out from the snow?

The garage door was probably iced shut from melted snow.

I was in awe of the cgi they must have used to make her look pregnant at the end. And so glad that the commander's wife didn't get to do her fake birthing ritual.
posted by Catblack at 6:05 PM on June 27, 2018 [6 favorites]


Of course Oprah would be the voice of Radio Fire America. OF COURSE! They probably have Colbert doing a shift as well.
posted by Dr. Zira at 8:19 PM on June 27, 2018 [8 favorites]


Oooooooooooooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhh mmmmmmmmmmmmmyyyyyyyyyy gggggggggaaaaaaaaaawwwwwwwdddd.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:36 PM on June 27, 2018 [4 favorites]


Details I loved: 1) the birthing center June tours with her mom and Moira is decorated in shades of Commander's Wife blue and Handmaid's red and 2) the US maps on the wall at the abandoned house show the pattern of states changing, presumably as Gilead takes hold and the union crumbles (most visible in the scene where she sees the child's dollhouse and crayon drawings).
posted by juliplease at 9:16 PM on June 27, 2018 [5 favorites]


Can we stop for a sec to admire how amazing and rare it is to see a woman performing hard labor and.. hard labor.. on TV? Sweating, grunting, thinking and hurting all of her own accord. Not reacting to someone else, not a victim of some man's pains or plans.. entirely in control of her own actions. Long, full shots. All hers.
posted by fritillary at 11:52 PM on June 27, 2018 [10 favorites]


If I caught the three maps right, the last one has all 48 continental states taken over with a red area marked off roughly in the center, so I guess we know where the Colonies are now.
posted by Flannery Culp at 4:48 AM on June 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


The whole thing was shot like a horror movie, and all the scenes through windows and doorways made it intense. I kept waiting for something much worse to happen.

Yes! That camera work was voyeuristic. Is someone else there and watching June from these doorways and angles or is the director just trying to freak us out? I figured it was #2 but was tense the entire time waiting for it to be #1.

At this point, for instance, it seems totally plausible that Serena Joy could snap and take her "all I ever wanted was a baby and now I don't have anything" monomania to the horrific extreme of murder and kidnapping by C-section. It would fit right in with the Atwoodian strategy of "every terrible thing in this story has already happened in the world". Sure, someone would have to stop her because this isn't Game of Thrones and we can't kill off June, but her mental state seems that precarious right now.
posted by Flannery Culp at 4:56 AM on June 28, 2018


In the garage there's a small white rope with a red knob on it hanging in front of the car's windshield - that's the manual release for the automatic garage door. That whole scene was killing me - the way out was right in front of her but the idea that she could get to Canada driving that car was just insane, OH MY GOD DON'T HURT THE CAMARO.
posted by InfidelZombie at 9:25 AM on June 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


In the garage there's a small white rope with a red knob on it hanging in front of the car's windshield - that's the manual release for the automatic garage door.

She grabbed it with both hands and pulled down with her entire weight and it didn't budge. The door seemed to be frozen in place without enough give to let loose and start moving.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:29 AM on June 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


Oh, thanks - missed that!
posted by InfidelZombie at 11:05 AM on June 28, 2018


It was a 4-car garage and it was killing me that she didn’t try pulling the emergency releases on any of the other doors. (Great episode, though, so tense.)
posted by kittydelsol at 12:17 PM on June 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


There weren’t any other cars in there though and I don’t know if you could maneuver it over it another door. I thought the garage door was a little strong too, but it also kind of makes sense that if you could afford that car, you could afford a special garage door so it can’t be stolen.
posted by LizBoBiz at 1:15 PM on June 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


There wasn't that much room for the car to get up to speed to knock the door down, but it did seem to budge a little each time. I think she should've hit more than 3 times repeatedly.

The intent of the director (to show that escape would've been possible if she had the energy to keep at it but a full-term pregnancy basically made it impossible) was done so well with every single step she took and then had to do what's best for the baby.
posted by numaner at 2:40 PM on June 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


Of course Oprah would be the voice of Radio Fire America.

I thought I recognized that voice!

did he send June and Nick out there to be captured/killed or did he really thing he was doing a "nice thing" for June?

I dunno if I wanted him to be more nefarious, but yeah if that was his idea he's just a goddamn idiot.
posted by numaner at 2:45 PM on June 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


the last one has all 48 continental states taken over with a red area marked off roughly in the center,

I grabbed a couple of screenshots. This shows the first two maps, where it looks like the red area growing from the 1st to the 2nd map. This is the only shot that shows the 3rd map but it's very blurry. I'm not sure if the clear spot in the middle is Kansas or a reflection from the glass. Not sure if that's the "colony" but I'd expect there to be one closer to Boston.
posted by numaner at 2:55 PM on June 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


Oof, those maps really kind of hurt. Of course it all starts in the deep south and western rural states where we figure all the fundies live, but that it starts in the northeast too - that there's a thread of religion that runs through here despite otherwise having a reputation for being a liberal bastion. Then California goes quickly too - yet another stereotypical blue state, but where, having lived there, I can tell you there are plenty of pockets of people who would be pro-Gilead and would relish the opportunity to act out to make that possible. What a stark depiction of how tenuous the progressive hold on so much of the US really is.
posted by olinerd at 7:53 AM on June 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


Also, A++ to the labor scene. I've got two kids and the latest labor (8 months old) is still fresh in my mind and it was cool to watch a show for once and say "yep, I made exactly those noises and faces!" as opposed to the "comical" depictions of screaming women in movies.
posted by olinerd at 7:54 AM on June 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


Some excellent direction and cinematography. That car in the garage was like something out a first rate thriller. Although I doubt she would get very far in such a flashy car.

If she had been able to kill Fred and Serena she could have taken their car and had several days maybe before the bodies were located, maybe even weeks. That might have given her a better chance although without a pass I don’t know how far she could have gotten. Makes me wonder how well the back roads are patrolled.How far could a woman with a shotgun get?
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:42 PM on June 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


Her best bet would have been to kill them both. I don’t think she could reach them properly from that far with a shotgun though? That way the assumption would have been that Waterford, wife and handmaiden had upped sticks and run.
posted by J.R. Hartley at 4:40 AM on July 1, 2018


I don't know if she could have done much but slow them down with the shotgun, assuming she didn't miss.

I agree that the birthing scenes were pretty real, and I liked the interleaving as a way for her to get her through it. I'd had some dreams of me getting through some tough times with the support of people who were there for me in similar tough times the last few nights before I got through the last of it.

Now I'm glad I didn't see this episode before the last of it; I would have assumed that the episode influenced my dreams.

Thanks for pointing out the maps. Nice backstory and buildup. Interesting with the rest of the flashbacks this season.
posted by tilde at 1:15 PM on July 1, 2018


How satisfying was Fred and Serena's meltdown? Seeing the two of them at each other's throats was an indictment of Gilead and for June, more comeuppance than pulling the trigger would have been.
posted by entropone at 12:37 PM on July 2, 2018 [2 favorites]


Huh, I found this episode stylistically off. It played too much like a normal TV thriller. "Can June escape the house? Can she loot enough food and ammunition to survive? Will the wolf get her?" That's the kind of thing I expect from Walking Dead or a game of PUBG, not a thoughtful feminist dystopia. But maybe it's good in that it's indulged the feeling we've had this whole season, that June herself has had, that she absolutely must escape. And here is her best chance and she's foiled by a frozen garage door. (Although TBH, I expect she'd not make it 20 miles if she got out.)

So she shows a different kind of bravery. She has the child, alone, and summons the help she needs even though she knows it means disaster for her and her baby. I assume she did that out of complete necessity; the amount of blood she was losing before the birth seemed awfully alarming.

From the conversation with Serena it seems like Fred's big plan was "rape Offred, then let her see her daughter for 10 minutes and she'll like me again!". That's just... it's dumb, but mostly it's monstrous. Although after the rape last episode both Fred and Serena have flipped into irredeemably monsters forever more. Now they're also dumb monsters. At least Serena finally said her motivation out loud, that she really just wants a baby.
posted by Nelson at 7:17 AM on July 10, 2018


Just keeping Holly's birth free of the Gilead ceremonies that would otherwise have surrounded it struck me as being a small victory for June. Actually, not so small at all when you consider what she's up against.
posted by Paul Slade at 2:37 PM on August 5, 2018 [2 favorites]


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