The Handmaid’s Tale – Episode Five

Join in our ongoing conversation as Chris and Rebecca discuss episode five of  The Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu.

If you haven’t done so yet, check out our Readers’ Guide for Margaret Atwood’s book (AKA: Don’t Panic), and our take on previous episodes.

I found this episode uncomfortable to watch in a different way than past episodes.  Past episodes have socked my gut, made me feel sick, powerless, and stressing over the state of our Union.  This episode was disturbing on a personal, emotional level.  

Yeah, this was a really tough episode to watch.

First off, “biological destiny” (Fred’s line) sounds a lot like “you are a host.” 

The hardest scene for me to watch was June and Luke’s lunch.  They discussed, jokingly yet not, how they would go about cheating on Luke’s wife.  The awkwardness between the two characters leaped off the screen.  Perhaps it’s because I’ve never seen this moment portrayed before on film.  I can’t recall a single film where two characters discussed if they were to have an affair how would they go about it.  Normally, it is just smash cut to hot and heavy in a hotel room somewhere.  This divisive planning veiled as a silly hypothetical made me squirm. cap_the.handmaids.tale.s01e05.720p.webrip.x264-morose_00_20_16_15-COLLAGE

Totally. I was squirming the whole time.  In the book, she is an adulteress, and yet seeing them meet, have casual lunches, and DECIDE to have an affair was, well, sleazy. And while I’m glad they didn’t sugarcoat the fact that it was an affair, it’s hard to really root for these people knowing they did that.

I can still root for Offred.  Even adultery doesn’t make what The Republic of Gilead is doing ok.  I was more put off by Luke, the way he eyed her across the lunch table and how quickly he was ready to leave his wife. 

The adulterous lunch wasn’t the only squirm-worthy, intimate moment either.  The whole episode centered on sex, betrayal, and power.  Sex as a betrayal.  Sex as power.  And how powerful betrayals can be.  

Am I the only one who was just f@*$ing annoyed that Ofglen (or what is it now? Emily?) steals the car, slams on the gas, and then… um, drives in slow circles until they stop her… then slams on the gas again to… um, totally murder some random dude and then get killed herself. Like, either drive away or just commit suicide without killing some random dude. Or at the very least, kill a wife or a commander or something. Like, aim high, Emily.


No, you aren’t!  I hated this too.  At first I was like – OK, she’s gonna get joy out of doing donuts like in the old days and it’ll be sweet and innocent and the only piece of joy in her life right now.  Even Offred mentions “She’s driving!” with a smile like she’s just doing something innocuous, let her be.

But then she runs over a security detail and then does nothing….?????  I was so lost by this random segue.

They’ve changed several of the characters, most notably Serena Joy and Nick. And I get why they did it. Having Serena Joy be this kind of cowering bully who has no power and takes out her dominance issues on Offred is a more interesting and cinematic choice, and it gives the actress more to play. But I kind of miss the cold, calculating Serena in the book.

The biggest change is really the relationship with Nick. Having her first time with Nick really feel like a rape, which of course it is, drives home that there are no “silver linings” to her position. In the book, it almost seems like the first sex with Nick isn’t that bad because, let’s face it, she’s attracted to him. But forced sex is forced sex, period. And watching our girl get raped not once, but twice, in one episode is making me want to go take a shower… in the blood of all men.

10handmaid-slide-2184-master675Also, in the book her first time with Nick was private.  Serena Joy waited outside the door, not in the room.  In a way, I like the change for the show as it feels like a contract, no romance, stripped of anything human having her stand there trying to ignore the reality of her own deceit.

I will say this: having the first sexual encounter be so awful, and having it followed up by yet another rape, really makes the ending pay off. Seeing her finally DECIDING to have sex and really enjoying it was, like, the most liberating thing I could have imagined. Also, it was hot. I take back what I said about that actor. I wasn’t minding him at all in the last scene.

Haha, I was wondering what you still thought of Nick.  I’m also dying to know if/when they bring up the photo of Offred’s daughter.  Can’t wait to see Elisabeth Moss act that scene!

No comment on the closing song this time.  However, if you know the Kylie Minogue song “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” a little too well, like I do (don’t judge, it’s a good song to workout too), then you know the next lyric that should’ve played before they cut back to Offred was “Set me free.”  Damn they’re good.

And as far as I’m concerned, you can end a TV episode with a Nina Simone song anytime. I love that shit.

Photos courtesy of Hulu and MGM Television.

Follow us on Twitter: Chris @ACCooksonWriter and Rebecca @DownWorldNovel.

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