The Handmaid’s Tale – Episode 6

Join in our ongoing conversation as Chris and Rebecca discuss episode six 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.

Let’s start with the obvious – most of episode 6 was not in the novel.  But it could’ve been!  I think this is where having Margret Atwood involved as a consulting producer is showing its worth. 

Overall, this was some crazy good TV right here. I agree with everything you’ve said. Although this plot wasn’t in the novel,  it all felt like it could have been. The book hints at a LOT of backstory, but doesn’t really delve into details about it. That wasn’t Margaret Atwood’s purpose.

The show has been renewed for a second season and Elisabeth Moss apparently signed a five year deal.  They have to move beyond the book, and this episode is the start of that.  Mexican ambassadors.  Gilead governmental dinners.  Luke.

Exactly.

I like seeing Serena Joy in her previous life.  And this f*@%ed up idea that she’s not allowed to work anymore.

Yeah, what struck me the most with this episode was the past with Serena and Fred.  Serena is a brilliant character.  I sympathize with her and hate her at once.  She created her own prison unintentionally.  We got to see her past in two ways.  In our face when she stood outside the office desperately wanting to voice her opinion on this new country the men inside were forming only to have Fred inform her she wasn’t welcome.  They have it handled.  And again when the Mexican ambassador asked her point blank how it feels to live in a country where Serena can’t even read the book she wrote years ago.  Oh, snap!

EP 6 serena joy big

But what resonates still today is that horrific movie theater scene.  This is not outlined in the book.  In the book, the destruction of Congress and other branches of government was not clear.  Offred didn’t know if it was an inside job or terrorist from outside that then set off the chain reaction of martial law in the U.S.  But the TV show made a deliberate choice to make Fred and Serena co-terrorists in bring down the U.S. government.  Think about it.  These two characters are now MASS MURDERERS.  And they sit in the theater, surround by unknowing victims, pleased that their plan to kill Congress is in the process of being executed.  Suddenly, they are no longer the Of-Freds with the corner house on the nice street in Gilead.  They are so much more, but Serena has lost so much power from the moment the text arrives on Fred’s phone during the movie.

I thought that was such a brilliant choice, showing how they’re complicit in that horrible “Reichstag Fire.” The dinner party scene with the introduction of the children was a nice touch, as well as the revelation about trade with Mexico, which, as you said, opens up a whole new story line to be explored in later episodes.

The realization that the trade was to provide handmaids to Mexico was the other moment that struck me.  This is not an aspect of the novel, so I shared in June’s horror.

I have to say, the scene with Joseph Fiennes in his study: Elisabeth Moss emoted more here without saying a word than 10 other actresses could do with a novel.

Also, saving “kiss me like you mean it” for this point in the story was a very smart choice. But I have a note for the DP: this in-and out-of-focus thing they keep doing is making me insane. Or myopic.

Ha.  I blurted out that I hated it too, and then I had to listen as my tech-geek husband in post explained all the possible ways to do that: in post, in camera with dual lens, etc.  I get that they are making a statement about her state of mind or position if life or whatever with it, but just stop.

And can we talk about that fantastic ending – the whole scene with the Mexican ambassador.

First off, let’s just give Elisabeth Moss all the Emmys right now. A fantastic scene with a great twist ending.

ep 6

Yes, she’s freakin’ brilliant.

But I’m curious the choice to bring Luke into the show now vs. her daughter.  I’m not opposed to it, but in my opinion fighting for your child is stronger than fighting for your lover.  No offense to my hubby, but I think he understands the difference.  I may die for him, but I’d kill for my children.  Also, in the book we know her daughter lives and Serena uses that as a power play against Offred.  There is no mention in the book of Luke living.  Offred is sure he’s dead.  

This all leads me to the question and answer I’m dying to know.  When producers sat down with Margaret Atwood and asked her as an author what is the final outcome of Offred in the book after she steps into the van, what was her answer!?!  As the writer, she must know in her heart what happens to Offred.  What does SHE THINK.  We may never know.  Producers can choose a different direction than Atwood’s belief.  But man, I want that answer.  

I love how this show keeps finding ways to work in the theme: sacrifice. Yes, this sucks for a lot of people, but if civilization is going to continue, sacrifice is necessary. And as Fred said, “Better never means better for everybody.”

Sounds a lot like “freedom isn’t free,” doesn’t it? In the end, people find ways to justify anything, if they choose to believe that there is no other way.

Ep 6 dinner

 

Photos courtesy of Hulu and MGM Television.

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

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