The Handmaid's Tale: The Other Side
May 24, 2017 8:23 AM - Season 1, Episode 7 - Subscribe

The story going into flashback and out of Gilead to check in on a familiar face

Luke’s story didn’t end when June was captured and we see more of Gilead from the perspective of fleeing the trap.
posted by Karmakaze (46 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm still processing. But damn damn damn good to see The Other Side.
posted by tilde at 8:30 AM on May 24, 2017


It was odd seeing so many empty towns. The drop in birth rates didn't do that. That was Gilead. I suppose decimating the population is one way to cut back on your carbon emissions quickly.

We can probably add cutting out tongues to the non-fertility affecting Handmaid punishments.

Also, they're out of coffee in Canada, which makes me wonder what's going on in South America. Is it just crop failures due to climate change? Blockades by the Gilead navy?
posted by Karmakaze at 8:31 AM on May 24, 2017


Extremely negative review of this episode in the NYT today. (I haven't watched it yet, but thought it might be of interest or a conversation starter.)
posted by anastasiav at 10:04 AM on May 24, 2017


This was not the strongest episode, but I appreciate not every episode is going to be a punch in the guts. I think some downtime is good.

This was a lot of "then this happened" without a lot of plot or character development. It was good to see Luke escaping but I wanted to see more of "Little America" (amazing detail -- some of the stars on the U.S. flag were empty. I couldn't tell how many were still filled in, though, but I saw at least two, but it does confirm the United States still exists in some capacity, or some people are treating it as such) and what life there was like. Maybe we'll be getting more of that later?

My fear is that we're going to get Action Hero Luke, although I think that's probably doubtful. I don't want a man -- even her husband -- being June's savior. I'm just going to trust the show won't go that way, though.

I was definitely engaged watching this episode but I do feel a bit mixed on if it was completely necessary.
posted by darksong at 2:06 PM on May 24, 2017 [1 favorite]


I found it a gripping episode and liked how it let us see what was happening in the rest of the world. So many aspects made me think of what people go through in the war zones of the world. Everything depicted seemed like it could easily be happening right now in Syria. When the family were in the boot I kept thinking of the people who are found piled in the back of trucks trying to get in to Europe.

I thought the NYT review was unfairly harsh. The episode didn't paint June and Luke's relationship as completely rosy - it showed their conflict about not leaving earlier. That read like a continuation of the theme of Luke not quite getting the seriousness of the situation until it was too late.
posted by roolya_boolya at 2:19 PM on May 24, 2017 [4 favorites]


amazing detail -- some of the stars on the U.S. flag were empty. I couldn't tell how many were still filled in, though, but I saw at least two, but it does confirm the United States still exists in some capacity, or some people are treating it as such

If I recall correctly they mentioned in a previous episodes that there are only 2 states left in the US and that the capital is now in Alaska.

My fear is that we're going to get Action Hero Luke, although I think that's probably doubtful. I don't want a man -- even her husband -- being June's savior. I'm just going to trust the show won't go that way, though.

I had that concern at first and was relieved that Luke got saved by some women. I also liked that the US government official he met was a woman.
posted by roolya_boolya at 2:22 PM on May 24, 2017 [4 favorites]


OK. That did it. The comment about the lack of June's inner voice is what made this episode so difficult for me to process. We are literally cut off from her. We have no inner monologue for her. All we see is his flashbacks and his current silent reality . And there's no inner monologue from him either to replace it. The
posted by tilde at 3:31 PM on May 24, 2017 [1 favorite]


Also, they're out of coffee in Canada

I was wondering about that because it wasn't clear if the coffee rations were only for the American refugee city inside Toronto rather than the country writ large.
posted by Burhanistan at 5:15 PM on May 24, 2017


Burhanistan: I was wondering about that because it wasn't clear if the coffee rations were only for the American refugee city inside Toronto rather than the country writ large.

The US Government official he met with asked her assistant for coffee, so I'm guessing it's an indication of disruption and scarcity (NAFTA would like be affected, after all.)
posted by bluecore at 5:43 PM on May 24, 2017 [1 favorite]


OK. That did it. The comment about the lack of June's inner voice is what made this episode so difficult for me to process. We are literally cut off from her. We have no inner monologue for her. All we see is his flashbacks and his current silent reality . And there's no inner monologue from him either to replace it.

I'm beginning to wonder if this is on purpose. Luke is completely cut off from her, too, so we're mirroring his loss, in a way. And all the hazy golden hue of the pancakes, that's just Luke remembering, not how it actually was. He's clinging to these perfect images to keep himself going. June does the same thing (the aquarium, Hannah playing in the water, the glossiness of the hotel scene).

I liked the episode. That ambulance wreck was really fantastic. The church scene with all the hanging forms was chilling. When the boat captain wouldn't let Luke on, I thought they were going for a scene where Luke overtakes the captain or the desperate passengers overtake the captain or they all just shrug and throw Luke out, so I was genuinely surprised.

And count me in for being OK with Luke not being an action hero. Walking a few miles in winter with a bullet in your gut and anasthesia-less surgery on a moving bus were enough.

It was so weird to see that government office, women working, phones ringing, no guns anywhere.

Did the nun make it to the boat? I wasn't clear on it and I'm not sure I can watch that again.
posted by mochapickle at 7:40 PM on May 24, 2017 [4 favorites]


I had that concern at first and was relieved that Luke got saved by some women.

Saved and schooled: Noble intentions will get him no where but strung up and won't do anything to help his wife and kid.

Unlike the NYT review, I liked Luke's close up at the end. There's the initial moment of sheer joy that's she's alive followed by (what looks to me) the realization that she's alive but stuck in hell. June's look of resolve with the voice over was a nice contrast to Luke's.
posted by ghost phoneme at 7:42 PM on May 24, 2017 [5 favorites]


I was surprised by how much I viscerally disliked this episode. I mean, it made me actually angry. I first read the book over twenty years ago and book Luke is implicitly white, so bear that in mind when I say that I do not give a fuck about what happened to Luke. I did not need an entire episode about his mansplaining, it'll be ok ass. Luke disagreeing that should have left when Moira did. Luke getting angry about getting in the trunk. Luke, Luke, fucking Luke.

Show Luke never would have made it to Canada from book Gilead. At best, he'd be sent to the Homelands. At worst, he'd be lynched. And now I have all this displaced anger that I honestly don't know what to do with because I know I can't equate the experience of the book Luke I'm familiar with and show Luke, who is someone else entirely.

It doesn't always have to come back to being all about a man. If we get an episode all about Fred or Nick's tortured existence, I'm fucking done.

Again, I am genuinely startled by how upset this made me. I could have dealt with his story interspersed with June's, but to have the entire episode focus on him felt wrong.
posted by Ruki at 7:51 PM on May 24, 2017 [23 favorites]


Here's what I liked: that shot of the damaged angel statue with half its head gone falls right about when Janine was losing her eye, episode-timing-wise.

Otherwise, I'm with Ruki. I 100% don't care about Luke and am disappointed that out of only 10 episodes, we wasted one on this.
posted by Flannery Culp at 8:31 PM on May 24, 2017 [1 favorite]


Huh.

This show sure took a departure from the source material.

One of the great things about the book, and (mostly) the movie, is it's a very rare story that's really, truly, about women. Men are secondary in the book, mostly an external malignant force, and nowhere does the book trouble itself with a man's perspective or inner narrative or complex motivations. I love the women-focus of the book because it is singular. And such a strong force for the story that Atwood tells.

This episode is about the man. Luke's perspective. An exciting action adventure with gunshots, guns, more guns, tracer bullets, car crashes, a boat chase, more guns. It's ordinary boring genre sci-fi. It sets a bunch of hooks for future action hero excitement. Luke's gonna be the hero, he's gonna Save His Girls. I mean OK, he seems decent enough. But really? This is where we're gonna go?

Hopefully the show will be smarter than that. But I've been worried all along about how the show seems ambitious, destined to try to spin out a franchise with several seasons. Is this how they're going to do it, heroic Luke and the Canadian Avengers?
posted by Nelson at 8:31 PM on May 24, 2017 [13 favorites]


I want to know more about how things went down, how people got across the border, how things are in the US outside of what we see in June/Offred's current reality, how US society fell apart.

But damn, I did NOT like that the episode focused entirely on Luke and his struggle. I appreciate that he got schooled and all, but this entire episode was just so much about how Luke feels and UGH.
posted by desuetude at 9:47 PM on May 24, 2017


Luke and his struggle

I would have liked the episode more if there was a struggle. An interior monologue like we get from June would have helped. As it is, I agree with the NYT review that Luke has no depth and displays no character growth during this episode. He starts and ends in the same place: troubled by how the world has changed and unsure of how to help his family. Yes, terrible things happen to and around him, but at every turn he reacts instead of acting.

And the ending in Canada made me furious. Here is Luke, clean and fully recovered* and having a more or less happy ending, even if there isn't enough coffee to go around, while we know exactly how June and everyone else trapped in Gilead are suffering. The final shot didn't say to me 'my wife is still alive, thank God', it said 'the loss of my family was terrible but I grieved and moved on, now this is all opening up again, what do I do?'

* he shouldn't have survived being shot like that and then running around on a few stitches and a single dose of antibiotics, good thing the bullet magically passed through without spilling gut bacteria everywhere I guess
posted by Flannery Culp at 5:58 AM on May 25, 2017 [6 favorites]


That New York Times article really exemplifies what I dislike about this episode: The Handmaid's Tale is an explicitly feminist tale. That's where its heart is, that's where it shines and terrifies.

I neither know nor care nor want to care about the feels of men in Gilead, and I am critically offended at this episode taking one of our precious ten in order to focus on a man, especially a Man's Heroic Journey.

I am also beginning to be really angry at the choice of casting, too - I feel like they cast Luke in the show as a POC specifically so that he wouldn't bear the blame for Gilead - or only in small ways. And it is critically important that Luke bears the blame for Gilead, that all men bear the blame for Gilead.

I am totally uninterested in an episode that is basically #notallmen
posted by corb at 10:45 AM on May 25, 2017 [24 favorites]


Actually it's worth noting a few of the other things I disliked about this episode.

1) The person with the overplayed PTSD is a woman, which would be fine in a show where all the characters we were supposed to sympathize with were women, but is not cool when juxtaposed with Luke Who Is Being So Strong.

2) We don't see Luke making any compromises in this entire episode. Never does he give in to fear, or the kind of compromises June has to make. He is allowed to keep Himself intact. He doesn't even make the decision to go to Canada on his own, the women have to force him into it. He gets to tell himself and more importantly, the show gets to tell the viewers, that he is Still A Hero.

3) Even in the end, he is GODDAMN CARETAKING a woman oh god I don't even have the words because I am so angry about their choices here. He is caretaking a woman because she's broken and he's strong so he does all the shopping and is basically totally untraumatized because GOOD MEN whatever arglebargle FUCK YOU LUKE I HATE YOU.
posted by corb at 11:27 AM on May 25, 2017 [20 favorites]


I see why they did this episode, show us that luke got away, but it should have been the stories of the people around that journey, and luke in the background. The smugglers and luke in the background. Border guards and luke in the background.
Maybe we would have been more sympathetic if he had been as alienated, and without agency in his own story as June.
posted by thegirlwiththehat at 1:55 PM on May 25, 2017 [10 favorites]


This thread is rather eye opening to me because the very valid criticisms here really didn't even register much with my dudebro vantage point while I was watching it. In fact, I was going to remark about how real the gunfight at the boat escape felt, with the plinking sound of the bullets rather than cheesy trope effects, but that's kinda dense in the face of some of the odd discrepancies.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:58 PM on May 25, 2017 [5 favorites]


I am also beginning to be really angry at the choice of casting, too - I feel like they cast Luke in the show as a POC specifically so that he wouldn't bear the blame for Gilead - or only in small ways. And it is critically important that Luke bears the blame for Gilead, that all men bear the blame for Gilead.

I am totally uninterested in an episode that is basically #notallmen


THIS. This is what I was trying to articulate. I felt bad for getting angry at show Luke because he is a POC and I am a white woman, but he IS complicit and I should be allowed to be angry about that.

I understand better now why Elisabeth Moss said this isn't a feminist show. Because it's not. It has been sanitized. First, they eliminated the white supremacy of Gilead, which, yeah, I get that you can't have an all-white class, but it sanitizes the racism by having Handmaidens of color. They could have eliminated Moira from the Red Centre and her arc (if it goes the way it's supposed to) would still make sense for Samira Wiley. They could cast POC as the Resistance. Hell, make the entire Resistance POC.

And then they gave Luke this Hero's Journey so male viewers can have someone to identify with and feel good about themselves. So the male viewers can say "Oh, I'd totally be a Luke." So they sanitize the stunning sexism that is the core of Gilead.

By downplaying the racism and the sexism, it just makes the show itself more racist and sexist.
posted by Ruki at 3:34 PM on May 25, 2017 [9 favorites]


I am totally uninterested in an episode that is basically #notallmen

I felt like this episode exemplified why #notallmen assholes suck, although perhaps not deliberately. He constantly fails to grasp the seriousness of the situation and acts like things will just work out until reality runs him over. He then pouts about it rather than just deal. He is pretty much useless with the gun and all his damn emoting gets competent women killed and/or captured. After all of that, he still hasn't learned to listen to the women he cares about (it looks cold, just let the woman go home!).

I prefer the idea where we get an episode focusing on the other people, with him stumbling into the background just in time to fuck things up. Both because I want to know more about the world, and just to emphasize his success wasn't due to him actually doing anything right. He just keeps getting lucky.
posted by ghost phoneme at 4:06 PM on May 25, 2017 [7 favorites]


so male viewers can have someone to identify with

I've been pondering this a lot. Because I wonder if it's really so simple. "Hey, we need to give the men something to identify with, so let's have a strong silent caring man who is competent and cares for his wimmins". I mean it may be that clumsy, right? But the show has been a lot smarter and sharper than that so far. The depictions of patriarchy and subjugation have been really incisive, the people writing this show aren't so dumb. So part of me is hoping they've set up something more interesting and a week or two from now we'll all be saying "holy shit that was clever how they laid the groundwork for X", whatever X turns out to be. I sure hope so.

I agree with the NYT article and the folks here that Luke is not a compelling character. I don't know if it's the actor or the writing or what, but he is really uninteresting to me.
posted by Nelson at 4:23 PM on May 25, 2017


So if Luke is not an active member of The Resistance, and he's just sort of bumming around Toronto with no idea that June is alive, then how does the guy from the Mexican delegation know June's name and that she is attached to Luke? He just happened to see Luke's missing person poster on a wall with a million others and memorized it? I mean really. Bit of a stretch.
posted by amro at 5:40 PM on May 25, 2017 [7 favorites]


I'm assuming his registry service, having everything up and running that long. I mean he did manage to abscond with the few pictures I believe?

And agreeing with some of the comments up thread that by stripping out the racism and sexism from Gilead they've pretty much emphasized it out here in the real world.
posted by tilde at 6:18 PM on May 25, 2017


I feel like I have to preface my comment here with me being a woman of colour because wow, I took this episode completely differently than the rest of you.

I got temporarily hung up on them needing Canadian visas on US passports - since when?! But then some discussion with friends revealed that this is a plot point, and given the way US immigration is acting right now it probably isn't surprising that at some point Canada decides US is going to be a visa-necessary country.

"I can't make the visa process any faster just because I want it to" - as someone whose entire life is pretty much defined by visa hell, this hit me hard.

And that's what the episode was for me. Not #NotAllMen, but about trying to cross borders when your exit/origin country is extremely hostile to you and you're not sure whether the country you're fleeing to will take you because they're not making the process any easier. About how you'd think Canada would just make entry visa-free but instead they make it harder. About how human trafficking isn't just evil smugglers on boats but often are people trying to escape and resorting to last-ditch attempts with dodgy people (capitalism couldn't even escape the boatsperson) because you have no other way to get out.

Luke's gender didn't even process with me because I was too engrossed in thinking about how this could have been me. Or about the time I was researching Australian visa and healthcare options for Americans immediately after the election just in case I needed to rescue my best friends & my then-girlfriend out of the US. About how for some time CANADIANS were having issues getting into the US, about the EU declaring the end of visa-free travel for Americans and how the Americans freaked out because they have no idea how the visa process works. About the Travel Ban and how it screwed over refugees so, so close to finding safe haven. About how US immigration policy immediately influences the rest of the world - which is why Canada started demanding visas for Malaysians in 2003 at the same time that they closed the Canadian embassy in KL and forced people to get their visas in Singapore. About how my experience as an international student and multiple-times migrant is suddenly useful.

God I wish I could know more about the international response to Gilead. How is that US embassy functioning? Does Gilead have their own embassy?
posted by divabat at 8:20 PM on May 25, 2017 [36 favorites]


ghost phoneme: He is pretty much useless with the gun

The point of all the gun stuff was about showing June ask how to load and fire the gun. Now we know she knows. Also, she was the one with the gun up, ready to shoot when that hunter came back. Chekhov's Gun - she'll be shooting some fuckers before this is all over.
posted by bluecore at 8:21 PM on May 25, 2017 [14 favorites]


I don’t see Luke as being particularly heroic here. I suspect he’s going to try and find June, because why not, but the process will be a lot harder than anybody can anticipate. I don’t think Luke is going to be our savior. He wasn’t particularly heroic in this episode - he just wanted to find his wife and kid, and yet he got caught up in the realities of escaping oppressive borders. We follow him because we got a link to him via June, but he’s merely a channel for the larger story of asylum and escape.
posted by divabat at 8:43 PM on May 25, 2017 [10 favorites]


how does the guy from the Mexican delegation know June's name and that she is attached to Luke?

My guess is they did a little research before they arrived.
posted by LizBoBiz at 5:21 AM on May 26, 2017 [3 favorites]


Not #NotAllMen, but about trying to cross borders when your exit/origin country is extremely hostile to you and you're not sure whether the country you're fleeing to will take you because they're not making the process any easier.

I think the problem for me is actually kind of subtle and difficult to describe, but I'll try. Because I agree, that those portions of a story are really fucking interesting and I would love to have them teased out by literally anyone other than Luke.

The Handmaid's Tale, as it has been previously, is a tale about women. It largely follows women - shows us scenes from the viewpoint of women. And it does this in a hundred subtle ways that might not be obvious. It lingers on faces showing the small reactions that are the only reactions women are often allowed socially to make. It follows the people and events that women find interesting. It tells the stories slowly and looks for their emotional heart. The camera, in a sense, is a woman, it lets your eyes be that of a woman.

I didn't realize how wonderful and amazing that was until suddenly, they were following a man. And the shots themselves are shot in the way that men shoot. We didn't have our slow, langorous shots - we suddenly had Man's! Action! Shots! Centered! On! The! Man! And for me, I found it so jarring and offensive that I wasn't really able to focus on the parts about "well should we go with or without a visa, what's even going to happen to us."

And ultimately, I just fundamentally didn't care if Luke made it out. I cared about the nun, and the soldier, and what their ends were like and how they felt about that, how they felt about the woman they were worried about getting out. I wanted to see more of them. The Handmaid's Tale is a slow horror story by and for women, and I wanted to see what the women were doing and how they were handling things and what it meant for them. I didn't want things to be exciting. I wanted them to be meaningful.

And I wanted to know more about the visa process and the embassies and how that stuff worked. I truly did and I truly do. But I don't want to see it through Luke's eyes. It keeps bothering me - the things he doesn't turn to look at, how straightforward his story is. It might be intentional, but it bothers me all the same.
posted by corb at 2:33 PM on May 26, 2017 [22 favorites]


The more I think about this episode, the more I think about how hopeless it was for June.

The what if they had left earlier with Moria- she ends up as a handmadien. We know that the two mile run border crossing just wasn't so, even if June had made it, Luke and June we're in the wrong place. They didn't escape .

Luke ended up on this days long bus adventure thing . This... This isn't even Luke's point of view, this episode felt pont of view less. Like BTW he made it out.

It is interesting, the narrative. Luke, whose trying really hard to #notallmen right? But still takes care and participates because he's part of the system, and says I'll take care of you and buys the won(en) he likes tea. He's human and awkward and caring,
not much of a hero and not much of Anything asides from his relationship. He's defined by his marriage. He & the narrativeisn't owning that perspective at all even though all of us are intently and painfully aware.

It's maddening. Part of it us Junes dynamics her fierce , funny sarcastic Witt is paired with a guy who fumbles along. I don't want him to save her, but I want him to be part of the dynamic of feminist thinking like when he's talking with Moria in flashback is with June.

Though I almost cried when he lost the bag over the side of the boat. That was a such atragic detail.
posted by AlexiaSky at 4:48 PM on May 26, 2017 [4 favorites]


about trying to cross borders when your exit/origin country is extremely hostile to you and you're not sure whether the country you're fleeing to will take you because they're not making the process any easier.

And if they showed Moira trying to do that, it would have been one hell of an episode. Because I do want to see that narrative of escaping from a hostile country to a maybe slightly less hostile one. Just not from Luke. I think it's important that if they're going to give us backstory that it should be from the female POV. I also really wish the book was included in this watching, because I'd reference a scene that is really relevant to how the rest of the world sees Gilead.

I'm having a really hard time separating the book from the show. But I absolutely agree with corb's analysis of the camera work. I think that shows in Burhanistan's really self-aware comment. He was most struck by the gunfight and didn't see the nuances that were pointed out by some of the female commenters in this thread.

Maybe the point is that we're supposed to be angry at Luke. But I already was, so I'm not sure what this episode was supposed to accomplish.
posted by Ruki at 6:48 PM on May 26, 2017 [7 favorites]


AlexiaSky: He's human and awkward and caring, not much of a hero and not much of Anything asides from his relationship. He's defined by his marriage.

You know, this has got me thinking. Every detail of the show so far has been so well thought out, so deliberate. Maybe they made Luke into a stand-in, a blank character, on purpose?

In most stories presented from the male point of view (and we can call this most stories), the female characters are presented primarily by how they relate to the men. There's not much to them -- there's often a survival instinct strong enough to keep the story moving forward, but otherwise their motivation is to get back to their relationship.

It's easy to picture a different, masculine POV show with a standard female character taking pretty much every action Luke is taking here, and we've seen it all before: A woman character fumbling with the gun at the moment of danger, using her moxie and some good luck to survive and escape, basking in golden memories of domestic safety, acting like a human sponge while more knowledgeable characters spoonfeed her information and carry the story for her like a backpack too heavy for her to lift, being sentimental enough to carry some connection to home (in this case photo albums), and at the very last moment, sacrificing the one thing that matters most to her: her wedding ring. And all the while, her sole motivation is her relationship.

But in this show, they assigned this role to the male love interest. Maybe that's the real Other Side: Presenting a male character as flatly as most female characters are typically presented.
posted by mochapickle at 8:46 PM on May 26, 2017 [26 favorites]


Something I've been mulling over that this episode and this thread sheds more light on, maybe: In the previous episode, I was alarmed when they gave Luke's last name - Bankole - which is the name of a very important character in Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower. Someone on Reddit had the same thought. I am still not really able to articulate what I make of this, but it disturbs me, especially in the context of the discussion in this thread - it feels like weirdly appropriating Butler without explicit acknowledgement, on a show that has thus far completely refused to acknowledge racism while Butler was directly confronting the way racism intersects with patriarchy and capitalism and environmental destruction. If it's meant to encourage people to read Parable, I would think it would be mentioned somewhere - does anyone know if anyone involved with the show has ever mentioned Butler's work in interviews? Or maybe it's just a really weird coincidence?

Separately, I really appreciate that the show can do what the novel did not in terms of making more visceral for me the connection between contemporary life and the rise of Gilead, and giving a more expansive view of what is happening in their world. But I agree with others that something is lost too, there's a power in the narrow lens of the novel, in that we, like the narrator, are left with so much being uncertain and out of reach. I appreciated seeing life outside of Gilead, but it does relieve us and take us out of the narrator's perspective - we are no longer constrained to only know what she does, we get to have the bigger picture, and maybe that alienates us some from her.
posted by milkweed at 11:15 PM on May 26, 2017 [6 favorites]


But in this show, they assigned this role to the male love interest. Maybe that's the real Other Side: Presenting a male character as flatly as most female characters are typically presented.

This sounds likely, especially considering that this and the previous episode were directed by the same amazingly talented woman - Floria Sigismondi. Because of her usual intense attention to detail, I'd imagine that all the story and structural differences you guys are seeing between this episode and the others are very much intentional.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 12:09 AM on May 27, 2017 [3 favorites]


I don't understand the idea in this thread that Luke's story isn't valuable or interesting. I mean especially after that extremely wrenching final scene. #NotAllMen is a useful phrase and kind of a joke, but literally not all men would be happy about this turn of events and I for one am extremely interested in knowing how they would react. Luke doesn't come across as a great guy (and especially not heroic) for much of this series but to me he comes across as incredibly normal.

I think it's interesting to see how someone like that would react being thrust into the type of Walking Dead shit that would have to go down in order for the systems of Gilead to be born as presented in the book. It's like all those zombie action movies and so on except more interesting because all of this could actually happen - none of it is outside the realm of possibility.
posted by bleep at 5:48 PM on May 27, 2017 [7 favorites]


I don't understand the idea in this thread that Luke's story isn't valuable or interesting.

Aside from getting shot, what did he DO? He's always been dismissive of June's rights being taken away. He's never really grasped the severity of the situation. And then he just kinda got swept up and taken to Canada. Maybe I would have reacted better if Luke was proactive in ANY way, but he's the embodiment of #yesallmen. He got shot, but he still got the GOOD end of the stick, and I don't see the value of his story, not as a whole episode.

The Handmaid's Tale is not meant to be viewed through the male lens. And while Atwood did focus on the white woman, it was still pretty intersectional (again, not going into detail about this because it's in the book, and not in the show).
posted by Ruki at 7:39 PM on May 27, 2017 [4 favorites]


But like that is actually what would happen if this were to go down. Normal everyday navel-gazing dudes like Luke would not be putting 2 & 2 together until it was much too late, putting their loved ones at terrible risk, getting shot in the street and maybe staggering to Canada if some more competent folks rescued them. That's a very realistic portrayal of what would happen, and I think that's valuable to put in front of people & interesting to watch. Characters don't have to do everything right to be good or interesting characters.
posted by bleep at 8:53 PM on May 27, 2017 [15 favorites]


Wow, no joke, when I was watching this episode I was starting to get weirded out about the way it suddenly felt like any other dystopic action blockbuster and about the intense focus on Luke. It just seemed like it was full of dude-bro-fulfillment action movie cliches all of a sudden. I mean, Luke gets to survive despite being in a gurney when the ambulance crashes, but all of his captors die, not only freeing him but meaning he doesn't have to kill any of them? And then he survives with no real loss except a "cool scar", which is actually how they refer to it in the show? I understand why all the deus ex machina is deployed but it starts to just feel like male wish fulfillment. The funny thing is that I had started to convince myself that I was being too negative about the episode until I opened this thread and saw that so many people here had similar problems with it.

I thought divabat's reaction was interesting and I agree that the international politics were the best part of the episode. But even then I feel like they didn't really go all the way with it. If we had followed Luke to a Canadian refugee camp, trying desperately to get asylum before getting deported to his certain death, or something, that would have felt more real to me, and more in keeping with the tone and themes of the show so far. It all felt like a missed opportunity.
posted by en forme de poire at 3:19 AM on May 28, 2017 [6 favorites]


I don't see the value of his story, not as a whole episode
Respite. For the 6 previous hours, we've watched women rounded, captured, brainwashed, enslaved, humiliated, abused, punished, brutalised, maimed, mutilated, tortured (physically and psychologically), raped, and killed, over and over and over again. This episode: one hour with characters who still retain a modicum of agency and freedom, who get to keep their own names, and if necessary, who die fighting on their terms.
posted by elgilito at 6:35 AM on May 28, 2017 [9 favorites]


This episode felt like when a long-running show tries to set up a spin-off. Suddenly everything is focused on a previously minor character and there is a complete tonal shift. And I would probably watch that show! Objectively, this was not a bad hour of television, and I like a good Children of Men-style dystopia as much as the next viewer. It was, however, a terrible episode of The Handmaid's Tale.
posted by Flannery Culp at 7:35 AM on May 28, 2017 [6 favorites]


I think #notallLuke is perfectly written.
Luke is someone for the male viewer to empathise and identify with because Luke is fucking useless.
posted by fullerine at 8:08 AM on May 29, 2017 [9 favorites]


It's called 'The Other Side' for a reason. This guy is not meant to be a hero nor is he portrayed as one. He was revealed to still be alive in the previous episode. This is the story of his side. It's not meant to show him as anything but too bloody late to open his eyes and the consequences of that.

I can't wait to see what happens next.
posted by h00py at 8:41 AM on May 29, 2017 [8 favorites]


Well fuck, y'all, I really liked this episode and thought it was one of the harder ones to watch cause of the more detailed view we get of the outside world being exactly fucking like our own. The "god hates fags" and other graffiti... Showing off how clearly this is perpetrated on the ground.

I do see the points about the view focusing on Luke but he really just felt like scenery to me, I was really drawn to the world around him.
posted by odinsdream at 8:40 PM on June 1, 2017 [13 favorites]


I am way late on this (still catching up on this show), but I just want to say (as a man) that I also found this episode really jarring and I don't think I liked it. Luke's complicity in Offred's fate is really super important in the book. He didn't literally deliver her into her life as a handmaid, but his casual dude-ness and his "well obviously this is crazy but I'm sure it will all blow over" attitude and not taking it seriously because it wasn't his rights being stripped away is tremendously central to the plot. I, too, really do not care about Luke once shit has gone down. I was happy to assume him dead.

I'm not gonna quit watching over just this one thing, but it does not bode well for how much the producers of the show understand the source material.
posted by tocts at 7:07 PM on July 18, 2018


"Oh, I'd totally be a Luke."

I had this reaction, and I was appalled at myself. Luke is not a hero, nor do I think he is being presented as one.
posted by DrAstroZoom at 8:39 AM on August 3, 2018


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