I finally realized why they cast Kate Moss as Offred - because she’s so short and “ordinary” looking. She’s basically every average white woman in her mid 30s. And she’s doudy looking compared to Serena Joy - the model looking woman who’s the “mistress” of the house. Other than what I already talked about in my last review - how the show is basically a fantasy role play of white people as slaves and how they put POC in show when there aren’t any POC in the book because they were killed off/sent to the colonies/or were Martha's (but definitely not handmaid's or wives), I don’t really have anything new to add. It mostly followed the path that I thought it would.
Except for the fact that Moira is alive and well and actually makes it to Canada! That part was pretty awesome and such a huge relief. I’m so happy for her and wish she was the main character of the show sometimes. We also have Janine’s arc completed. She must leave her old home now that her baby is weaned, and when she does leave she becomes hysterical. She’s been tortured time and time again, and is now mentally unstable. She steals the baby and tries to kill herself, but it fails unfortunately. The aunts take Janine to be a victim in another salvaging - like how there was in the first episode - but instead of stoning her to death like Aunt Lydia wants, they don’t in an act of defiance. Of course, none of them suffer repercussions because of it, they’re valuable to the nation.
This is illustrated in the second half of the season - Episode 6 A Woman’s Place - when we see someone from the outside come in, this I think is the strongest point in the season. Offred realizes that the Mexico trade ambassador - Mrs. Castillo (yes, a woman in a real position of power), isn’t here to trade for fruit, but to trade for some of the handmaids. She wants to buy them and this would grow Gilead’s economy. Offred confronts Castillo about it, explaining her situation about how she is raped and treated as inhuman, and Castillo doesn’t say anything to that except they need Mexico’s population to grow (“there hasn’t been a baby born there in the past 6 years...my country is dying”). To which Offred say, “my country’s already dead.” However, this plot point never moves forward. We never see Castillo come back or hear of handmaids being sent overseas. I really hope there’s some sort of pay off for that down the road.
Next, Offred becomes pregnant, and knows that her husband is still alive (we see how he got to Canada). The baby isn’t Fred’s but Nick’s - the driver who is also an Eye. We learn more about him too, but his story is also cliche. It shows how people on the fringes of society are vulnerable towards religious cults. Fred’s backstory isn’t very interesting, he just wants power - he wants his cake and he wants to eat it too. Can he do that? He questions this once he sees another commander - whose handmaid Janine, before attempting suicide accused him of sexual wrong doing - get sentenced to one of the harshest punishments Gilead has to offer. Fred then goes back to Serena like a lamb, and I don’t think she buys it. Serena Joy we find out was one of the makers of this new nation, but soon realized that it wasn’t what she thought it be. But she will do anything to have a baby. And once Offred becomes pregnant she threatens to hurt her daughter if Offred tries any funny business. Offred sees her daughter for the first time in three years and isn’t allowed to speak to her. It’s a heart wrenching scene that’s extremely effective.
The end of the season ends with the same ambiguity as the novel. Nick comes in and tells Offred to get in the van. He says he’s part of the resistance and is helping her escape. However, we know Nick was recruited by the eyes (Gilead’s secret police force), so how can we trust him? We, like Offred, go into the van, our fate unknown.
I definitely am pumped for the second season. I think it’ll be nice to see the show evolve from the constraints of the book. Now they can do whatever they want. I just hope they take the show farther and raise the stakes. In addition, show us more of Gilead and more of the outside world.
23 year old English major and ESL Teacher. Currently living in Fortaleza, Brazil. Feminist and kill joy with a cause.