The Handmaid's Tale: Milk
May 5, 2021 9:53 AM - Season 4, Episode 4 - Subscribe

June takes a harrowing journey with Janine as Janine remembers a stressful experience in her past. In Toronto, Serena tries to manipulate Rita, who seeks advice from Moira.
posted by roolya_boolya (14 comments total)
 
I liked the Janine stuff. Madeline Brewer is so vastly underappreciated as an actress. Janine is constantly traumatized but she also knows who she is.

Jumping into the milk tank (especially not knowing it was milk or how deep it was) was an odd choice. Visually, it was cool, but it didn't really make a lot of sense. I can see it was easier to hide in but it seemed like there were better choices.

Maybe not high on their list of priorities, but I think I would've tried to ... look less like a Handmaid somehow when I was trying to escape (but I can see that there are advantages to them being known as Handmaids, I guess?).

Not sure what the whole "oh, the Not Mayday are also terrible people too!" was about, really. Sometimes this show just feels like "wait, you thought that was awful? Just you wait!"

I also liked the Rita parts.

I do feel like everyone around June is more interesting than June right now (do not care about the Waterfords at all). Elisabeth Moss is still great but I wish she was given a bit more to do sometimes than just "glower!!!!"

I do feel like I'm about ready to give up on this show. I'm not hate-watching like I was last season but I'm just sort of bored and it's more constant misery than I want right now.
posted by edencosmic at 1:36 PM on May 5 [2 favorites]


I watched a review of this episode on youtube by this well-meaning gentleman who is obviously a huge fan of the show. He seemed entirely unaware that pregnancy centers/faux clinics where Janine got blindsided (please pardon the wording) exist in the US right now! He kept mentioning that it was a sign of the impending Gilead situation because they lied about providing abortions. I live in a blue town in a very red state, and there is one of these lying places only 3 blocks from the public high school and more spread around. They posted flyers on the bulletin boards on a state university campus without permission because you have to get clearance for that. And yes, I yanked them down when I worked there and saw them! Our Planned Parenthood got their lease cancelled after decades, and no one in this or the surrounding counties will allow them a space. The closest is at least 2 or 3 hours away. They didn't even ever do abortions here.

I was so relieved when Janine got proper treatment to suit her very personal decisions. The doctor calmly handing her the box of pills and explaining how to use them brought tears to my eyes. I've never been in that position, but I certainly have friends who have.

I live in Arkansas. A place that recently has basically made abortion illegal, won't medically treat trans-kids under 18 AT ALL even with puberty blockers that are reversible, and is going to allow health care workers to refuse to treat anyone that isn't at risk of impending death for "moral or religious" reasons. Oh, and if you need an abortion for rape or incest, you'll have to provide a report, and therefore put yourself at further risk from your rapist.

I'm obviously angry on a visceral level, and this just hit all my nerves.

On the flip side, way to go Rita! Enjoy that sushi and not being property.

Make sure to vote, y'all. I feel like the past 4 years have brought this too close.
posted by lilywing13 at 2:51 AM on May 6 [8 favorites]


I really liked the episode, mostly with because of Rita, Janine, and illustrating that June is nowhere near as smart as she thinks.

Am I reading it right that Janine exchanged sexual favors with the NotMayDay leader in order to allow them to stay? And this was after June found she couldn't agree to those terms?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:00 AM on May 6 [4 favorites]


Am I reading it right that Janine exchanged sexual favors with the NotMayDay leader in order to allow them to stay? And this was after June found she couldn't agree to those terms?

There's only two lines that imply this ("They said we could stay" and "He said my eyepatch was cool"). I suppose they could be interpreted as Janine being raped by the resistance leader, but I would have thought the show would have given Janine's decision a lot more weight and attention than two easily missed lines at the very end of an emotionally wrenching episode.

Honestly, if Janine -did- make this decision it needs a lot more focus next episode, instead of a quick brush over.

I love Rita, but I'm so tired of seeing Black characters act calmly in the face of obscene oppression and abuse. Both of the Waterfords deserve to have their faces shoved in the shit they made and enabled.
posted by longdaysjourney at 8:16 AM on May 6 [1 favorite]


Re the fake abortion clinic scene, I was listening to the latest episode of the Eyes on Gilead podcast, which is run by three Australian women. Hearing them talk about how weird it was to see this scene from their perspective (I guess these fake clinics aren't common or perhaps even legal in Australia) just underscored how much fuckery and abuse of women and our rights we've normalized here in the U.S.
posted by longdaysjourney at 9:17 AM on May 6 [3 favorites]


I think Janine's decision at the end of the episode was as a result of her being pissed off at June's assumption that she had no agency, and needed to follow June's directions in order to stay safe. Janine was exhausted and starving, and so took it on herself to do what June wasn't able to do. A hard choice, for sure, but given what she'd already been through and the uncertainty of what alternatives they had, she felt it was the only option.
posted by essexjan at 10:37 AM on May 6 [6 favorites]


I have never wanted to quit a show more than this episode. I was yelling at the screen. I couldn't believe that notmaydayguy and that the woman with a machine gun standing right there was cool with it.
posted by Catblack at 6:14 PM on May 6


I loved the Rita-focused scenes, and the Janine flashbacks were riveting and so, so real. I keep waiting for an update on Emily’s Canadian life, but maybe we’ll never get one?

But for all the excitement of escaping Gilead, I was surprised by how boring it was. I think I’m going to take a break from weekly viewing, let more episodes accumulate in the queue, and watch them later to see if anything really happens.
posted by Maarika at 6:39 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


I loved the Rita scenes. Outside of her Martha uniform, she looks so much younger. Contrasting her loving preparation of food for other people with her sitting down to a meal she bought for herself was beautiful and shot beautifully too.

Janine's decision at the end seemed to align June with the crisis pregnancy center counselor (and me, frankly) who assumed that Janine didn't have a baby yet and didn't know that she could love and care for a child. June underestimated Janine, and Janine quietly did what she needed to do. And I don't think the show is advocating for Janine making that choice, only reminding us that she's capable of making a hard decision to save herself.

Because I really can't remember, does Serena's baby have to be Commander Waterford's? She's never been with anyone else on the show?
posted by gladly at 7:01 AM on May 7 [3 favorites]


Because I really can't remember, does Serena's baby have to be Commander Waterford's? She's never been with anyone else on the show?

Not that we have seen. I was trying to remember the last time we saw the Waterfords together though. The show was seeming to hint at a flirtation between Serena and her Canadian handler last year and I wonder if that will come to anything.
posted by roolya_boolya at 7:19 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


Gladly, June knew Janine had had another child (other than the one she bore to her Commander), because June found out that Caleb had been killed in a car crash, but told Janine that he'd gone to live in California. This was at the time Janine was really fragile because she'd had to give her own baby up to her Commander's wife, and June wanted to spare her feelings.

Also, my understanding is that the barren wives of Gilead didn't have sex with their husbands, because sex was only for procreation - hence Serena's separate bedroom in the house. But when Serena and Fred left Gilead I'm guessing they resumed their sex life, with the resulting surprise pregnancy.

I loved the Rita scenes too. I think she was a little shell-shocked when she first saw Serena, which led to her apparent compliance with Serena's wishes. Also, it's not been that long since she's been free, and she's probably still in the mindset of obedience. But I'm really glad she gave Fred the ultrasound, and that's going to be a very interesting storyline.
posted by essexjan at 11:48 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


I was trying to remember the last time we saw the Waterfords together though.

I believe they were together the night they stayed with the family in Gilead just before meeting up with the Canadian handler (where Fred got arrested).

On another note, I was kind of disappointed by Janine's flashback this episode. The Janine in the flashback doesn't track with the Janine we meet at the very beginning of the show, who was snarly and mouthy and a fighter before she was maimed into submission. I wanted to see more of *that* Janine, and this flashback didn't deliver.
posted by dysh at 1:26 PM on May 7


I actually liked that Janine made that choice. I think it was really good for her character development in the show. Like both her and June have had no choice at all in whether they are raped and Janine has essentially had no say in her life because June is bossing her around all the time and keeping her in the dark. This was a choice that Janine made for herself and June and maybe just having that little bit of agency if exactly what she was trying to express to June.
posted by LizBoBiz at 6:32 AM on May 8 [2 favorites]


Why would you leave a big refrigerated container of milk sitting open in a trainyard? Birds could poop in it.
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:37 PM on May 9 [10 favorites]


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