The Handmaid's Tale: Household
June 26, 2019 12:43 PM - Season 3, Episode 6 - Subscribe

June makes an important connection as she attempts to protect Nichole while accompanying the Waterfords to Washington D.C., where a powerful family offers a glimpse of the future of Gilead.
posted by roolya_boolya (25 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I think the Washington Monument being turned into a cross is such a perfect summary of where this show is right now -- it's such a striking, powerful image but it really makes no sense in reality. I was so distracted how the physics of that structure would actually work. Much like I'm so distracted by how Gilead actually works.

I kind of miss the flashback structure. I still want my Aunt Lydia flashback! As much as I'm not on board with Serena's redemption, I'd be OK with some redemption for Lydia in a lot of ways. She truly believes in what she's doing but I think she also genuinely loves these women and wants the best for them. It's just what she feels is the best is pretty twisted. I do feel like there was a moment of "What the fuck?" when she saw the one handmaid with the rings closing her mouth and her quiet, heartbroken "no" when June asked if she wants all of them to be silenced points to Lydia realizing she might actually be evil.

Anyway, this show. I think I've crossed more into hate-love than love-hate but I still can't quit. If it just wasn't so good looking, I'd be done.
posted by darksong at 2:25 PM on June 26, 2019 [1 favorite]

I just want to know how June and Serena were able to have that extremely cathartic shouting match in the very echoey Lincoln Memorial without any of the approximately fifty million handmaids and guards hearing them a stone's throw away.
posted by Rhaomi at 2:46 PM on June 26, 2019 [14 favorites]

NGL, the image of the Lincoln Memorial with the head gone was disturbing.
posted by sundrop at 6:18 PM on June 26, 2019 [5 favorites]

I saw the very end of the day of filming for this! I was at a meeting in DC and saw on twitter that they were at the mall and BOOKED my way down there. It was just some establishing shots of the women kneeling, standing, kneeling, repeat... There were a bunch of women who were fans of the show, and the your normal tourists walking around. We heard a cheer at one point, so I'm pretty sure someone got engaged at the Lincoln Memorial that day (!). A bunch of us posed in front of the banners for photos before they took them down; I watched as the "guards" had to sign their "weapons" back in, and then as the poor women had to stay in formation walking to the bus and waiting waiting waiting for the day to end. Being a background player on that show does not look fun.
posted by armacy at 6:36 PM on June 26, 2019 [3 favorites]

Haven’t been following this show in FF so I’m sure it’s come up already this season, but...

It’s almost sort of impressive how the show continues to get even more whitewashed over time.
posted by supercres at 6:50 PM on June 26, 2019 [1 favorite]

(Whitewashed in the liberal-moderate postracial “I don’t see color” way versus the book’s homogeneity.)
posted by supercres at 6:59 PM on June 26, 2019 [1 favorite]

Serena died inside when that other politician's wife was swarmed by a roomful of healthy children.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:57 PM on June 26, 2019 [2 favorites]

Also, I am sure others have mentioned this before, but isn't it a little weird that Gilead seems to based primarily out of the American east coast? If you were chatting out parts of the US likely to turn over to white Evangelical rule, would you really start there?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:59 PM on June 26, 2019 [1 favorite]

Making out with Nick in the backyard of the High Commander in a city where handmaids are oppressed to the point of being physically prohibited from speaking? I swore at my screen.

The echoing screaming match between June and Serena at the Lincoln Memorial? I rolled my eyes so hard it took me a moment to catch that Fred and the handmaids and everyone else were assembled directly behind them the entire time. That's when this show jumped the shark directly into "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing".

If I never see another close-up of E.Moss glowering into the camera that would be just fine. It worked in season one when they used it sparingly to give glimpses of June's inner thoughts, but now that she says whatever she wants to whomever she wants, it just means "I'm mad as hell" which, yeah, June, asked and answered.

It is still a visually beautiful show, I'll give them that. Big props to the designers and directors.

isn't it a little weird that Gilead seems to based primarily out of the American east coast?

Puritan heritage, plus once you've gone to the seat of power and overthrown it, why not take advantage of the infrastructure already in place? And we don't know where the Waterfords previously lived or where the main recruitment areas were.

It seemed odd that DC is still called DC, though. You'd think they'd have changed it to something with religious significance.
posted by Flannery Culp at 5:44 AM on June 27, 2019 [7 favorites]

Oh, uh huh, Aunt Lydia chafes at lip clamping but was okay with eye removal, hand burning, murdered bodies swaying on poles and walls in season one, also executes an elaborate hoax in which all of the handmaids are put on gallows and are almost murdered as a lesson.
But yeah, a bit of mouth clamping and she's all wet around the eyes.
posted by honey-barbara at 5:50 AM on June 27, 2019 [6 favorites]

Also, Nick. Jeez. That is so frustrating that the show did that to Atwood's book.

One of Atwood's attentions in the novel was that men were also [though not her central focus] cut off from love and fertility by the regime, and used as plot pieces for the patriarchal repression of everyone, including MEN. Nick was her narrative agent to explore that idea.
ugh grr
posted by honey-barbara at 5:54 AM on June 27, 2019 [3 favorites]

About the only thing in this episode that didn’t put me on the hate-watch side was how the shot of the Waterford’s and June at the high commander’s living room was a callback to the staged living room that Gilead TV broadcast to beg for Nicole.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:43 PM on June 27, 2019

Atwood’s origins setting of things in Boston/Cambridge was deliberate, to show it could happen anywhere, even a place built on knowledge and (white) liberalism. Boston was also built on Puritanism and revolution. And I think that’s an effective choice - looks how easy it is for us to dismiss the horrible abortion restriction laws in southern states as “well what did you expect, it’s Alabama” or whatever. It’s far more confronting to think about it happening to “us” where we’re safe. I live in the Boston area and find it especially provocative (except for when I get angry about scenery that is allegedly Boston but not even close to Boston I mean honestly that “Charles” river from a couple of seasons ago still makes me mad)

But agreed, the shit they’re letting June get away with in this season is so inconsistent with the worldbuilding and it’s very disappointing. Also are we now redeeming Aunt Lydia now that it’s been revealed that Serena’s redemption arc is going off the rails for a while? Cuz eff that.

I found the Washington Monument cross reveal in the reflecting pool to be effective as long as I didn’t think about the physics of it. And ugh, whatevs with this Nick bullshit.
posted by olinerd at 4:28 AM on June 28, 2019 [2 favorites]

Atwood’s origins setting of things in Boston/Cambridge was deliberate, to show it could happen anywhere...

I get that. And I get why it's dramatically interesting, with the parallels to the Puritans and all.

But I'm from the South and there are large swaths of that region that, were someone to approach them and say they were thinking of splitting off a patriarchal Evangelical police state, would be passing out handmaid gowns before the pitch was halfway done.

Crikey, half the South has been laying the groundwork for this for twenty years.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:08 AM on June 28, 2019

I'm happy to report that whatever suspension of disbelief comes with enjoying a show is still in full effect for me. Yeah, the Washington Monument / giant threatening crucifix is physically implausible, and yeah the private conversation in the middle of the echoey Lincoln Memorial would have been overheard by zillions. Didn't care. The power of those images, particularly the colours against the white marble, that's what I saw. The dread and emotion. I get that this is totally a subjective thing, and I'll be the first to admit that the show is pretty ham-handed and unsubtle. But it's working for me emotionally. Maybe as a sort of gothic embellishment of all the horrors we're encountering in the real Trump world at the same time.

Back to plots.. What's with Commander Winslow hitting on Commander Fred in the pool room? That seemed awfully brazen. I guess we're going to have a plotline about how homosexual men in authoritarian power can be awful too. I'm fine with that, but I hope it's not totally obvious and stupid how it plays out.

I hate, hate, hate how everything went down with June and the Swiss and Nick. I sort of admire June for not even trying to get sympathy from her Swiss audience; she's got limited time and a clear agenda. But for them not to express even the slightest sympathy? Also terrifying global realpolitik to accept that Gilead is doing this to women and gets away with it because of their military power. As for Nick, um, is that it? He's full evil now, off to the Chicago front to die and fuck him? I'm fine with that, too, but it's kinda obvious and stupid. They should at least have had one anguished scene with him whining about how his career is more important to him than decency.
posted by Nelson at 11:34 AM on June 28, 2019 [4 favorites]

OH YES I forgot about the "hmmm, gay?" moment! Going to be interested to see that play out but if it's with the Waterfords assuming Ultimate Power because they brought down Winslow by narcing on him, then fuck that shit.

But yeah Nelson, I'm with you, I'm happy enough to enjoy the imagery and such for the emotional beats. The perversion of our "sacred symbols" is really a thing that gets me. Much like why it has such an impact on me to see Boston T stations or things-that-are-supposed-to-be-Harvard.
posted by olinerd at 12:28 PM on June 28, 2019

About Winslow hitting on Fred, I figured that he was so powerful that he couldn’t be brought down, and Fred was going to get his own handmaid moment when he’s forced to submit sexually to this guy in order to either gain more power, or keep dirt that Winslow has on him under wraps.

I’m also a disappointed, but hanging on. I just hate when great shows get sloppy.

So, those DC handmaids are on a liquid diet?
posted by kimdog at 5:45 AM on June 30, 2019

Silencing the DC handmaids doesn't make any sense, especially since we've already seen handmaids with their tongues cut out. It's a shocking visual, but it doesn't make sense. Even though the show is tending to do that more often -- shock without making sense -- I still care about the characters and need to keep watching.

The Winslows: they have a bunch of older children. Do we assume that the older children were taken from U.S. citizens, like June and Luke? I did like when Mrs. Winslow carelessly said, "Who else would they be?" and the edit cut to June's face.

He's full evil now, off to the Chicago front to die and fuck him? I'm fine with that, too, but it's kinda obvious and stupid. They should at least have had one anguished scene with him whining about how his career is more important to him than decency.

This has always been my problem with Nick. We've seen in his flashback that he was on board with Gilead from the start. Even when he was an Eye, he moved pretty fluidly between the lawful world and the underground. If he really objected or hated the system, why didn't he defect? Actually do something. We've never seen that Nick gave a shit about horrors of Gilead when it didn't affect him personally. I keep waiting for us to be free of Nick, but it never happens.
posted by gladly at 10:11 AM on June 30, 2019

> Silencing the DC handmaids doesn't make any sense, especially since we've already seen handmaids with their tongues cut out. It's a shocking visual, but it doesn't make sense. Even though the show is tending to do that more often -- shock without making sense

It makes no sense especially in light of this being a diplomatic plea. Look, it's one thing for a foreign government to look the other way when Gilead justifies literally-Biblical punishments for crimes (no matter how spurious), but the widespread use of mouth rings to preemptively forcibly silence the handmaids cannot be explained away as a cultural choice for religious modesty (like their outfits are.) And the show deliberately revealed us how easy it is for the face-masks to slip and show the rings when Aunt Lydia adjusted one girl's mask.

I don't expect a foreign government to launch active military intervention to stop other countries' human rights abuses (because that happens rarely, as we well know.) But investigating an alleged kidnapping of the child of a what, third-tier-at-best government official? When Canada has a front-row seat absorbing the physically and emotionally scarred refugees? "Powerful weapons" or not, it makes no sense for Gilead OR the Swiss to make an international incident over this. What, Gilead's gonna nuke Canada if the Waterfords don't get Nichole back? Please.
posted by desuetude at 10:01 AM on July 1, 2019

I think Gilead is taking advantage of the Waterford's situation and playing the victim, to change the world's perspective about them. Politically it's a smart move, even if it might an empty gesture.

I'm also still enjoying the show. I can pretty much suspend my disbelief if the characters are interesting enough. I think they're trying to show other aspects of monsters such as Serena and Aunt Lydia. Like there are even lines they won't cross, though that line could be far behind one they already did. One monster's habits is another monster's atrocity.
posted by numaner at 7:56 AM on July 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

Silencing the DC handmaids doesn't make any sense, especially since we've already seen handmaids with their tongues cut out. It's a shocking visual, but it doesn't make sense.

I wondered if it was more about preventing commanders from receiving oral sex from their handmaids than it was about silencing them. But that interpretation still isn't consistent with Gilead since we know the more status a man has the less the rules apply to him.
posted by peeedro at 5:14 PM on July 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

I'm assuming the lip-sewing was inspired by this classic cover. The DC Marthas wore coverings over their faces as well, although they looked looser than the Handmaids' and I'd guess they weren't subject to the same physical silencing.
Why would Aunt Lydia be so shocked by what they're doing to the DC Handmaids anyways? Isn't she part of a national system? Do they not update the local chapters on what they're up to in the capital?
posted by Rora at 7:09 PM on July 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

"You're small, you're cruel & you're empty."

Anyone else think that line was aimed directly at Trump?
posted by Paul Slade at 3:56 PM on July 14, 2019

The OG lip-sewer was David Wojnarowicz in Rosa von Praunheim's 1990 film Silence = Death.
posted by larrybob at 4:58 PM on July 24, 2019

I'm pretty far behind and catching up, but: what the fuck even was that?

Everything we know about Aunt Lydia would make it entirely plausible that the lip sewing would be her idea. The idea that this is somehow too far for her is a laughable misunderstanding of the character, which only adds to my growing dread that in fact the writers do not know anything about the characters they're writing and will only write whatever is needed to segue into the next scene of women being brutalized. I'm like a half episode off quitting the show entirely because holy shit it seems like the brutality isn't there to frame the story, but instead the brutality is the only thing the show cares about showing us.
posted by tocts at 5:52 PM on July 28, 2019

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