Alright, handmaids, buckle up. To keep this blog topical and timely, I just binge watched three episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale in preparation for tonight’s new episode, and I’m gonna attempt to recap them all right here, in one post, nice and condensed. Granted, that means that my day was spent in a weird pit of nihilistic despair, but these are the sacrifices I make for my art. … Art, in this case, meaning TV show recaps that no one asked for.
Once again, this show brings the pain, though in increasingly more inventive ways.
Episode Two, “Birth Day,” is a veritable cornucopia of ‘are you fucking kidding me’.
Rory and Offred have the saddest picnic ever just a stone’s throw away from some swayin’ hanged corpses, and Rory clues Offred in to the fact that there may be a greater resistance in existence. Offred commits her own silent resistance by secretly spitting out a bite of the World’s Most Condescendingly Offered Macaron and leaving the smushed remains of it out in plain sight. There’s some childbirth happening courtesy of One-Eyed Janine, but oh, wait! These crazy near-Aryan bitches are participating, too! The corresponding Commander’s wife/slave owner is actually pretending to labor, presumably to share in the beautiful miracle of childbirth, and straddles One-Eyed Janine’s body to also wail in pain as the baby actually crowns. All viewers who have actually given birth collectively narrow their eyes at this character because are you fucking kidding me.
We learn through flashbacks that Offred’s baby Hannah was nearly stolen by an insane-o in the hospital post-birth, and the scene provides depth into how serious the ‘lack of babies’ crisis was/is. In realtime, Commander Beardface invites Offred to his study to play scrabble which, okay, sure, you weird rapey beardface. He apparently needs to forge an emotional connection in order to make his raping more fruitful? I’m not sure. Either way, the episode ends with a complete mind-eff, since Offred jaunts out of the house to meet up with her new all-time BFF Rory only to be faced with a handmaid who is definitely not Rory and yet introduces herself as Rory. Not cool, Fake Rory. There are only three true Gilmore Girls and you are not one of them.
Episode Three, “Late,” is some background info and more hair-raising eeriness about what could legitimately happen in a world where women are thought of only as breeding stock.
We find out that Rory was hauled off for lesbianin’ together with another handmaid and Auntie Thunderc*nt reintroduces us to the term ‘gender-traitor’ to describe her ‘affliction.’ Rory gets to wear a cool Hannibal Lecter mask but it really isn’t cool at all. She’s only acquitted of her ‘crimes’ because she’s got two jazzy ovaries whereas Martha, her girlfriend, is hanged right in front of her. It’s brutal and terrifying.
In the meantime, Offred is being interrogated about Rory by the least intimidating interrogator of all time, though Auntie Thunderc*nt brings the pain with what looks like a cattle prod. We also get more background about how this stilted new world order came about, seeing through more flashbacks how Samira Wiley and Offred attended a march protesting the new archaic treatment of women that turned suddenly violent and erupted in gunfire.
The episode ends with Offred being literally thrown into her bedroom for the crime of not being pregnant by an angry Mrs Beardface. Also, Rory wakes to find she’s undergone forcible genital mutilation so she’ll stop being gay. Because that’s how things work.
Episode Four, “Nolite Te Bastardes Carborundorum,” gives us some answers but mostly more questions, like where the hell is Rory?
Offred’s been in solitary confinement for nearly two weeks and she’s having a tough time. She’s faints and is taken to the doctor, who’s a weird chatty dude. He offers to impregnate Offred, since that way she won’t be penalized for Cmdr. Beardface’s likely impotence. What a superstar. It’s lucky that Offred declines since the Ceremony doesn’t actually happen that night due to Cmdr. Beardface’s inability to get it up. Bad news is, he turns down a blowjob from Lady Beardface, but good news is, he plays more illicit late-night scrabble with Offred. She learns the meaning of the Latin phrase she found etched into the floorboard of her closet, and also that the previous Offred (the handmaid before her) killed herself. Cmdr. Beardface does not want her to meet the same fate.
As for flashbacks, we learn of Offred’s first attempt at escaping alongside Samira Wiley. They make it as far as the train station together, where Offred tells Samira Wiley to go on without her. Offred’s dragged back to the weird nunnery or whatever it is and her punishment is having the soles of her feet whipped until they bleed.
The only positive thing to come out of this episode (besides the important and powerful political commentary, obvs) is that we see the first representation of many women banding together to help one of their own when all of the handmaids bring Offred little bits of food after her foot-bloodying punishment. It’s the first episode to end on a note resembling hopeful, and holy crap do I hope it carries over to episode five.
Nolite Te Bastardes Carborundorum, bitches.