The Handmaid's Tale: Chicago
May 12, 2021 11:04 AM - Season 4, Episode 5 - Subscribe

Janine tries to help her June fit. An unexpected reunion occurs.
posted by roolya_boolya (14 comments total)
I really hope Janine survived.

More than one unexpected reunion.

I swear, Commander Lawrence is a twisted alternate reality version of Josh Lyman. :)
posted by luckynerd at 2:26 PM on May 12, 2021

I was not expecting that ending.

I think Janine's story arc hasn't finished yet, so I'm hoping she's survived.
posted by essexjan at 2:42 PM on May 12, 2021

So June didn’t really listen when Janine told her to back off in the last episode and that was a super low blow calling her Ofsteven. Really hating the lack of agency that June is attributing to Janine.

I started crying when I saw Moira though! And a different mug from Elizabeth Moss at the end but it was perfect.
posted by LizBoBiz at 6:00 PM on May 12, 2021 [3 favorites]

Can I just throw a couple questions/observations out there, joining the conversation late (as I always do on fanfare)?

Janine's relationship with that commander-dude is extremely troubling. She says it is consensual, but it clearly started as a quid pro quo... as the guy said to June, "I'm not going to force you, you can go"; and then a bit later Janine shows up and says, "We can stay. It wasn't so bad." Then, next ep, Janine's happily involved in a consensual relationship? I mean that guy is bad news. I understand a degree of moral ambiguity, but her new man needed a little more rehabilitation than that IMO after he'd just been demanding sexual favors in return for helping them.

Could there not have been even a throwaway line about "Man what happened, you guys REEK," when Janine and June were wandering around in their handmaid cloaks after marinating in milk for hours? GROSS! They even (eventually) shed their old clothes and put on new ones without so much as washing their hair. Don't know why that bothered me so much (with all the other suspension of disbelief required by this show), but ew, it bugged me that whole episode.
posted by torticat at 4:33 AM on May 14, 2021 [2 favorites]

I really love Janine's calling June out on a lot of bullshit the last few episodes. I know there have been complaints about June's getting away with so much with no repercussions, but Janine's taking her to task is a repercussion. And June's cruel replies to her are, I think, meant to show ambiguity and hardening in June own character. She is an anti-hero, and I think we're meant to see her that way.

Even her giving up the handmaids' location--I meant she'd already watched two women pushed to their deaths; and giving up her friends is going to end up with her and all of them on the wall (well, she should have presumed--sparing them all for the Magdalene Colony seemed very out of character for Gilead--even given the lampshading that Gilead needed all the handmaids they could get at that point. Plus she has no actual guarantee that Hannah will be protected--and every guarantee that Hannah will grow up in a society that abuses girls and women in the vilest of ways. I mean the emotional pull of the scene with Hannah was nearly irresistible, but I was still hoping June would stay strong.
posted by torticat at 4:40 AM on May 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

Also, Janine had EVERY reason to fault June for the clusterfuck at the train crossing. Kill Lydia for god's sake! Don't just leave there her to raise the alarm! Ugh, that just seemed like senseless waste of life (as does a lot of loss of life on HT).
posted by torticat at 4:43 AM on May 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

Couple more points & I'll shut up! I don't have only criticisms. I love the forward movement strategically on a couple levels (in contrast with the nearly unbearable, unending deaths and torture scenes). Really loved the scenes with Rita--how you could see her skepticism about Serena, how she took NO shit from Fred, and how she resolved the question of whether she would appear in Serena's defense by basically dropping a grenade on that couple and then telling Fred to solve their own damn problems. Fabulous!

Re Moira's appearance at the end... I so wish June would return with her to Canada, reunite with Luke, and continue to try to fight the battle against Gilead (even re-infiltrate) with a host more allies, supplies, and backup. I strongly suspect, though, that June's too damaged and traumatized to do that and will insist on staying to fight on in Gilead, partly because Hannah's still there and partly because that's just the person June has become (and maybe out of a perceived need to atone). This will break Luke's heart and probably be the last straw for him in one way or another. For June, of course, there's always Nick! (That adorable but utterly morally compromised fence-sitter.)
posted by torticat at 5:02 AM on May 14, 2021 [2 favorites]

I swear, Commander Lawrence is a twisted alternate reality version of Josh Lyman. :)

Once it was revealed how he played Nick, I muttered "Now that's the Josh I know and love."

Overall, this season has been unexpectedly enjoyable, as we explore other characters a bit, and see June being called on some of her bullshit. Moira coming across June was great, but the latter's expression of "Oh shit, I don't want to deal with this" was even better.

June will not go back, of course. She still has a trapped daughter and mountain full of rage about what was done to her and her daughter and she's not going to let that go, not for anyone, and especially not for anyone in her former life.

Some would probably call her crazy for making that choice, but with all that plot armor, it's the rational choice.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:12 PM on May 16, 2021

This will break Luke's heart and probably be the last straw for him in one way or another.

It feels like the stage for that was set with his conversation with Moira, about June making a choice to stay behind during the airlift of kids and his needing to respect that.
posted by jquinby at 10:31 AM on May 22, 2021

Janine's relationship with that commander-dude is extremely troubling.

Oh absolutely. I think that ambiguity is present in the show's writing. Janine acts worry free and is trying to make the best of things and maybe she's having a little fun having a fling with Discount Guevera and he makes her feel special. She even thinks maybe she'll have a baby of her own, clearly something she really wants. June provides the counterbalance though, she literally equates Steven with the Commanders when she labels Janine "Ofsteven". (A serious low blow, but effective). She just assumes it's going to end badly with him and based on her experiences, why wouldn't it?

There's also a softer version of this with the other man she meets at the swap meet, the cute guy who sort of flirts with her. She immediately sizes him up and is like "no way". Of course not! But he turns out to act like a decent person: he respects her when she brushes him off, she even helps her later read the map in a totally polite way. (Which she repays by giving him her name.)

The message in both cases is clear: June is certain men in this world cannot be trusted. And given her experiences the past few years that seems like a pretty reasonable conclusion. The one weird exception to this is Nick. Ol' useless Nick. Or maybe that passionate kiss a couple of episodes ago was just her manipulating him. I hope so.
posted by Nelson at 10:53 AM on June 7, 2021

What struck me most this episode is how small the world of Gilead has become in Handmaid's Tale. It's like they realized how big their show could be and that's it. So the council of Commanders we first met in Boston, who seemed like some local aldermen group or something? They run all of Gilead, the entire thing. And Nick, the chauffeur? He's the political commander for the entire war effort at Chicago, the major conflict point on the border with their enemy to the north.

Also apparently you can flee all the way across Gilead to Chicago, an enormous city. And there in the middle of the war zone you run into your best friend from a few years back who lives in another country. A remarkable coincidence!

This is classic script writing of course, suspension of disbelief, etc etc. But to me it signaled the end of Gilead world-building. We've seen as big as things are going to get and it turns out it's a collection of about 15 characters. That's fine, they have plenty of story telling in those confines. But the confines are now demarcated.
posted by Nelson at 10:56 AM on June 7, 2021 [2 favorites]

She just assumes it's going to end badly with him and based on her experiences, why wouldn't it?

I definitely agree, it would probably end badly with that dude but so what? That wasn't June's choice to make it was Janine's. There's being a friend and maybe giving your friend a reality check from outside eyes and then there's thinking you know best and whoever disagrees can fuck off. Because that's really not cool and I would not follow anyone who couldn't let me make my own personal life choices.
posted by LizBoBiz at 5:28 AM on June 8, 2021

Nelson: "Discount Guevera" is a perfect name for that character.
posted by Paul Slade at 2:10 PM on July 18, 2021 [3 favorites]

Cheap Guevara? Count me in!

I am lagging on this show and I just hope Janine makes it. Weird how deterministic it feels because the episodes have been broadcast (as opposed to, y'know, written and filmed) but I was literally discussing the book with my spouse (she hasn't read it) and I mentioned the expanded cast of handmaids as being a plus for the show... so much for that. Bah. I'll see.
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 3:47 PM on August 19, 2021

« Older Movie: Captain Beefheart: Unde...   |  The Irregulars: Season One... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments