The Handmaid’s Tale S2, Eps 5 and 6 “Seeds/ First Blood”

Blessed the Froot Loops!

I’ve been increasingly frustrating with the show the last few episodes, and can’t quite put my finger on why. I love it, its gorgeously filmed and acted, obviously topical ….but when I watch an episode I have a hard time writing about it afterward – which is why I tried the “reacting in real time” format.  I think I’m too busy searching for the end game or maybe trying to understand the characters in a logical way – when they are in a word and situations that defy logic.  Help me with this.

But I got busy, and here we are, so let’s recap:

<b> “Seeds” </b>

June got broken and is in full Offred mode.  Aunt Lydia suggested that June has some sht over her head, but Offred can be a good girl and forgiven.  June has gone there because the most recent trauma is unmanageable. She starts to burn the letters, but Nick saves some of them. She’s a Stepford Handmaid. So much so that Serena, attempting to provide a harmonious household for the baby – and needing some  interaction herself- finds her boring.  It;s bad enough that the entire household is worried about “The Handmaid.” They know Offred is not OK – but doing something about it would mean the entire society isn’t working and we can’t have that.

It took a lot of work to get Offred to heel, says Aunt Lydia to Serena over an uncivil cup of tea. Aunt Lydia means that Serena should be grateful. But of course, she WOULD say that. Aunt Lydia gets the special reading and writing dispensation for Aunts, “More of a burden…” she says.  The irony is thick here, Serena’s writings were integral to the revolution and formation of Gilead, until her usefulness wore out.

Now Serena is relegated to helping midwife Offred’s pregnancy – but can’t even do that because that’s beneath A Wife of her stature. She remembers Offred’s bowel movements just to be  a part of something.  She;s too smart to give into the petty Wife gossip about who had a better shower and why, and Offred won’t even laugh at her joke about OfSomebody’s nose. Fred is to busy reading and writing at the breakfast table. Serena is BORED.

Although she arranged for Nick to knock up Offred, she’s jealous of their connection.  Eager to punish June for leaving and becoming a Stepford Handmaid, she decides to find a way to get Nick out of the house. Of course, Fred has noticed the connection and has his own reasons for “promoting” Nick.  Nick is a double agent for the BIG HEAD Commander, who has qualms about Fred. So Nick is “issued a woman.” An  adloecent  named Eden – who it seems was raised as a true believer, and got lucky marrying a Guardian and not being an Econowife. Now Serena can have someone under her tutelege.

Serena looks at Offreds face to see f there’s any reaction, and Offred doesn’t have one. No surprise for the audience, Offred is in such a state that she’s been bleeding, lkely miscarrying but can’t seem to do or say anything about it.  That image of her in the tub with the red water.

After the first household prayer ceremony welcoming Eden into the household, Offred finds something in her that says “NO.” I’m not sure if it has anything particular to do with Nick and his marriage – but she’s likely miscarrying anyway and jumps out of a window. Nick finds her curled up cinematically in the rain. She gets to the hospital and June wakes up. JUNE wakes up. She’s back.

 

Meanwhile in the Colonies…..

Janine arrives, nutty and sort of hopeful. Emily is about as cynical  as can be – “we work, we die.” But she’s still telling Janine to volunteer to take care of the corpses in the morning for an extra egg, and giving out meds for those in need. A wedding is arranged, Emily scoffs at it. “We’re cows!”

“Cows don’t get married!” Janine replies. ( read the AVC reveiw for how this is kind of a thesis statement for the season)

There is a lovely wedding, the women in this colony chose to do something that meant something to them . Pan out on the graves they have to dig. each life meant something.

 

<b> First Blood </b>

“The dynamics between a Wife  pregnant Handmaid are always challenging, but if you’ll forgive me, you have been blessed with a particularly willful pair.” <i> awkward chuckles </i>

Aunt Lydia’s character, to me is the most clear, but it’s  not uncomplicated. She wants her legacy to be the Head of the Handmaids, the person who is responsible for lots of healthy babies being born through some good old fashioned plain and simple common sense eating , regular bowel movements, and harmonious subjugation. She’s got no clue about being subjugated yet, she;s in a unique position of  power in Gilead. She gets upset when people fuck with her girls, but that’s only because she needs to be consulted.

I’d love to get a back story on her.

Serena, feeling the admonishment about providing a “harmonious” household, and being bored, and showing some  calculated humanity, decides to et Offred see the ultrasound now that we now the fetus and pregnancy is in the clear. She arranges for Offred to sleep in the well appointed sitting room with the fireplace – though that sofa doesn;t seem comfortable. Offred lets her feel the baby kicking. There’s a  semi- hilarious awkward handmaid brunch, where Serena expects then to chat. ( The banana nut pancakes at the old place n Boston were TO DIE) and forgets that OfGlen can’t talk or eat because her tongue was cut out.

June and Serena seem to be coming to a rapprochment  for now, they have a sort of normal conversation about the nursery, Serena seems intent on letting June know the baby s wanted and loved. But June tips her hand and asks for too much too soon, she wants to see her daughter again.

 

That’s impossible. Serena says – and it may be true. But Serena is butt-hurt that she would be USED  after she TRIED SO HARD. SO she makes June pick up something she dropped on purpose and then tried to get Nicks’ new wife Eden to do so. June won’t go that far. A pregnant Handmaid has a place in the household, and it’s not picking up after Nick’s child bride.  Serena gardens angrily and Fred uses this to try and start his affair with June again.

 

Meanwhile, Nick is not eager to consummate his marriage with such a young girl. Eden believes it’s God’s will and is skeptical when Serena suggests that pleasure and lust are Biblically OK between man and wife. Eden suggests there may be something wrong with Nick, so for the safety of the household he has to have sex with eden through a hole in the blanket, Old testament Style.

 

Fred managed to get the chairs for the opening of the new Rachel and Leah center ( they were worried)  and Ofglen suicide bombs it.

 

Stray observations –

I didn’t go into the flashbacks of Serena getting shot at a speaking gig at a university – discuss that below

Gileadans really seem to belive in the power of soup.