The Handmaid's Tale: Night
June 5, 2019 1:18 PM - Season 3, Episode 1 - Subscribe

June embarks on a bold mission with unexpected consequences; Emily and Nichole make a harrowing journey; The Waterfords reckon with Serena Joy's choice to send Nichole away.
posted by roolya_boolya (17 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Good grief, I thought this was a rough watch last's nothing compared to watching it this year as a new parent- keeping one eye on the monitor with my infant daughter sleeping upstairs.

That river scene just about killed me- river was so cold and that baby so small.

The line from that poem by Warsan Shire kept echoing in my head: “No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark.” Reading about all the family separations, newborns, todlers, older kids....this show is too near reality....a good reminder to call my reps again. Luckily, I've got a senator that keeps bringing attention to this issue, but it never hurts to keep shouting.

Absolutely here for June and Bradley Whitford to fuck some shit up real good, however. Was that the happiest ending in the entire series so far?
posted by Bibliogeek at 2:04 PM on June 5, 2019 [3 favorites]

I kind of... agree with Nick. I understand we want to cheer for a "hero" who will accomplish everything, but I had hoped she was going to join Joseph Lawrence in some kind of underground with the architect of Iliad and then worked towards finding Hannah, and her just running straight from there to the McKenzies' was very selfish.

Man, that whole fire scene was both brilliantly filmed and satisfying to watch. Serena is slowly redeeming herself bit by bit with crazy actions to make up for her past crimes. Let's see you protect this goddamn house when I burn it down!

I choked up some tears when the Canadians clapped for Emily.
posted by numaner at 2:12 PM on June 5, 2019 [4 favorites]

too late for edit: I meant she would go with Joseph right away and not get caught instead of what she did
posted by numaner at 2:19 PM on June 5, 2019

Was that the happiest ending in the entire series so far?

with that end credits song? maybe!
posted by numaner at 2:20 PM on June 5, 2019

You want happy? Here's some happy for you, a side of Gilead we've never seen before; a funky side. Ohhh yeah.

Under @taylorswift13’s eye. 🎶
posted by scalefree at 11:29 PM on June 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

Also, this show is still so literally dark. I've had to crank up the brightness on my TV to see anything low light scenes.
posted by numaner at 9:58 AM on June 6, 2019

Selfish? To sacrifice her life and a life of safety with her second daughter for one more chance to save her first daughter, who is still trapped in Gilead and feels abandoned by her?

That was selfless, to my eyes.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:29 PM on June 6, 2019 [2 favorites]

You want happy? Here's some happy for you, a side of Gilead we've never seen before; a funky side. Ohhh yeah.

I am just watching this over & over. So joyful, such a counterweight to the heaviness of the show.
posted by scalefree at 12:40 PM on June 6, 2019

At this point, it really strains credulity that June is not hanging on the wall as an example to others.
posted by kokaku at 2:23 PM on June 6, 2019 [10 favorites]

To expand on that...

The writers established Gilead as absolutely brutal and unstoppable. Now, they have to be softened in light of June's repeated rebellions otherwise she'd be dead and we'd have a different show (which might be fine if that's the approach they wanted to take but it's not the approach they have taken). Still, this shift has to make sense in the context of the world they've established, and it feels harder and harder to buy.

Other examples that come to mind of softening the unstoppable enemy in ways that felt forced (to varying degrees): the white walkers of GoT, the agents of the Matrix.
posted by kokaku at 2:30 PM on June 6, 2019 [3 favorites]

Well, Gilead doesn't really know about all of her repeated rebellions. Sure, individuals know, like the McKenzie wife and commander Waterford, but they choose to keep those to themselves for their own interests or protection. June is only punished for officially known acts. Gilead isn't going to hang a handmaiden for those acts.
posted by Pendragon at 2:40 PM on June 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

"I Don't Like Mondays"? Really? So we're a) still playing that song after 40 years of school shootings and b) using it to trivialize Serena's actions, because unlike Brenda Chapman she damn well knows why she's doing this.

I did appreciate Nick calling out June's selfishness. Gilead must really be strapped for handmaids of proven fertility - kokaku's right, she should be on the wall by now. Remember the paranoia about even speaking words out loud where the wrong person might overhear back in season 1? And now full-fledged organized rebellion can be quietly swept under the rug. It feels off that Gilead is getting laxer instead of cracking down, unless it's that cracks are starting to appear in other households besides the Waterfords' and they can't manage to keep up.
posted by Flannery Culp at 6:35 PM on June 6, 2019 [3 favorites]

What Flannery Culp said about the paranoia and the atmosphere they established in season 1 is exactly what I was thinking of. With all those guards in the households, someone would rat June out - the rewards for ratting are too great (Soviet-era East Germany is a great real-world example of this).

Still, I'm open to rolling with the story and seeing where they'll go - being a show writer for something like this can't be easy when you need to maintain the world and tell the story and keep the show on the air.
posted by kokaku at 6:56 AM on June 7, 2019

I think the guards/Guardians/Eyes are the more inconsistent aspects of the show. It was established in season 1 (and also the book) that some Guardians aren't just to be drivers and bodyguards to commanders and their wives, but also to report on them to higher authorities. Nick clearly has done so. I think the McKenzies' guardians could too, but maybe they're more loyal to them. And I was surprised that Lawrence doesn't have any at his house and drives his own car. But perhaps that's just how he is.

Regardless, June has indeed gotten away with a lot of shit by her own luck and by the huge support of others. She has seen first hand how her little rebellion have cost others their lives, like the econopeople couple last season who tried to help her and was exposed because she begged Omar to take her back to his house when the safehouse was compromised. For her to repeat that by abandoning Nichole and Emily and run right to Lawrence and asking for his help to go directly to the McKenzies, knowing what the consequences could be is pretty damn selfish. At the end of the finale last season I thought she would be smarter and more selfless by going somewhere to regroup and strategize. I know she's been frequently impulsive, but she's also been shown to be way more smart and capable than she appears.
posted by numaner at 11:18 AM on June 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

So we're a) still playing that song

I honestly don't know what's up with the music choices on this show. I love the score and, and I assume the track choices are all supposed to have some level of ironic resonance as artifacts of the culture-that-was, but in general I don't get what they're aiming for. They're often way too on the nose lyrically, and just wildly tonally mismatched with the rest of the show's style. I assume this is intentional, and not, say, something like Watchmen's music direction, which has similar flaws and is just plain bad.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 1:17 AM on June 10, 2019

I thought it was risky trying to make a second season of Handmaid's Tale, going beyond the books. But it sort of worked. This third season risks being outright farce for all the reasons enumerated above. Gilead has gone from a fearsome fully locked down totalitarian society to one where June and Serena can more or less get away with the most outrageous forms of rebellion. I'm fine going along with it if the story goes somewhere interesting, but my suspension of disbelief is now fully engaged.

Speaking of interesting.. I hope they develop more of the story of the Marthas this season, their quiet organized rebellion. Not quite willing to just smash the state, serving quietly making nice homes for everyone, but also doing what they can to bring a bit of justice to Gilead's victims.

I'm also super curious where Bradley Whitford / Commander Lawrence goes. I'm fearful this season's most interesting character may turn out to be a man. But so far he's playing this edge of rebellious yet selfish and awful that's super uncomfortable and interesting. He's more or less the hero of the end of last season, or at least plays a heroic part, but he's also clearly enjoying the benefits of the Gilead system. That could go somewhere interesting. So far the actor's hamming it up pretty hard.

I'd love for this to be the final season, but the showrunner has ambitions for a show that runs many years.
posted by Nelson at 7:36 AM on June 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

So I'm coming to this late, after having finally watched Season 2 late, and ... oof.

I think my big issue is as described above -- the terrifying nature of Gilead from Season 1 (and the book) has been whittled away to the point of absurdity. If it was intentional it might be interesting, but I honestly think it's simply the writers not knowing how to keep it up without relegating Elisabeth Moss to 99% interior monologues. Actually sticking to as severe a society as they started with makes plot developments hard, and whenever there's a tension between moving the plot where they want and keeping the setting consistent the former wins. Over enough iterations of this cycle, it stops being believable.

Add to this that I still think Luke is the least interesting character in the show, and I'm unconvinced they are ever going to make me give a fuck about him. I liked him best when we thought he was dead in Season 1. He has never seriously been made to grapple with the fact that June and Hannah's bondage is almost completely his fault -- they've paid some minor lip service to it, but fundamentally his not taking serious the threats to women's freedoms (because it didn't impact him, and he didn't believe it would get worse) is why they didn't make it out. No amount of him moping around Little America is going to make me forget that. He's narratively useless.

I mean, I guess at least they're not trying to go back to the "June's back at home with the Waterfords" well yet again, but I'm not exactly enthusiastic about where this is going. This is starting to feel like so much modern "prestige" TV, where the producers/writers would rather put out 5 seasons of 60% shit than 2 seasons of gold and stick the landing and get out clean.
posted by tocts at 5:50 PM on July 8, 2019 [2 favorites]

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