The Handmaid’s Tale: Night

Escape from Gilead with Rebecca and Chris as we conclude our conversation about 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.  Also, read our exclusive conversation about The Handmaid’s Tale with the creator’s.

That was the bleakest most depressing thing I’ve ever seen, I don’t know why we watched the show.  Life is hard enough.  When the upbeat chapter break is when they cut off someone’s hand – dear god!

 

Whoa, wait a minute, Rebecca.  Yes, it was dark and gruesome, but we watch this show because it is brilliantly made.  I also watch it because it is one of my favorite books.  And this episode had a tremendous amount of hope compared to rest of the season.

 

The entire episode was about the women taking control over their situation.  Yvonne (we’re on a first name basis now) had a brilliant scene with Joseph Fiennes when she confronts him about his adulterous ways with Offred and the other Offred.  When Fred blames Serena for bringing temptation back into their house and tells her to “go to her room” like a child, she lashes out.

 

“God would not let you father a child because you’re weak … It’s not yours.”

hm defiance crop

 

When she finds out she’s pregnant, she sneers at Serena and says, “You think I prayed for this.  You think I prayed to bring a baby into this house?”  She never would have dared this on episode 2.

 

Then she lashes out, rightfully, at Serena in the car calling her all sorts of names that I really hope your kids in the next room didn’t hear.  Next disregard for those in power over her, she didn’t knock on Fred’s office door.  She barged in.

 

All this defiance culminates with the Red Army in the end.  June refusing to cast the stone at Jeanine.  Each handmaid dropping their rock and spitting Aunt Lydia’s words back at her.

hm rock crop.jpg

All the women resisted in their own way in this episode.

 

Yes, true, but they added a bunch of stuff to make for compelling TV – a tracker in her ear, her daughter on the stoop.  All of that is interesting, but now that she’s running away, all those things don’t make sense.

 

She could go van Gogh.  I also didn’t get the package.  Seemed like a package of letters from kidnapped women would be better in the hands of Moira in Canada than in Offred’s or Rita’s.

 

Before we wrap this up and realize that I’ve traumatized Rebecca by forcing her to watch this show, we need to clear something up.  Is Offred pregnant in the book?

 

Yes.

 

I don’t remember that at all.  I just reread it, and I don’t recall that.

She definitely is.  Page 270 of Kindle version:

“I put his [Nick’s] hand on my belly. It’s happened, I say. I feel it has. A couple of weeks and I’ll be certain.
This is wishful thinking.
He’ll love you to death, he says. So will she.
But it’s yours, I say. It will be yours, really. I want it to be.” 
 

Dang.  I cleanly latched on strong to the “This is wishful thinking,” because if she is that totally changes a lot of feelings I have.  She’s pregnant in the TV show.  That’s clear – little positive blue sign clear.  It changes the dynamics for me. First, I didn’t remember her being pregnant in the book, so that was an “Oh sh*t” moment for me.

 

Second, it lessens the stakes at the end.  When she steps into that black van of the Eyes, if she’s pregnant you know she will be fine.  At least for the next 9 months.  Gilead NEEDS that baby.  She won’t be harmed.

 

If she isn’t pregnant, then she can be going off to her death or escaping to freedom.

 

It also changes Nick’s motives since it is his baby.  In my mind, when she wasn’t pregnant (that’s how I read the book), he’s either taking her away to hang on the wall or he’s helping her escape because this is what he does.   He’s a double agent.  Now, he’s just doing it because he suddenly feels some fatherly love to her belly?

hm nick crop
Also, in the afterward, the “professor” is discussing the fact that they both thought she was pregnant by him, and so that might lead us to believe that the black van was going to safety, as Nick had probably arranged it.
 

Clearly, I don’t want her pregnant in the novel.  It changes my whole reading of the book, which may be why I interpreted it differently.  But we can’t deny she is on the show, so I don’t understand the fear Serena has for Offred when she asks “What did you do?” because she’s gonna get her baby.

 

Also, now it is laughingly obvious why neither Elisabeth Moss nor Bruce Miller would give me their opinion on the ending of the novel the other week.  If they had, I’d know where June is going when those black doors slam shut.

 

Oh, we have to mention the music!  Tom Petty’s “American Girl” over June in the end was brilliant.  Damn straight.  And I loved the song “Feeling Good” by Nina Simone over that gorgeous shot of the handmaid’s peeling off in the streets to their respective houses.

hm line 
Shooting for Season 2 doesn’t start until the fall, so we won’t see Season 2 until 2018.  Maybe that will be enough time for Rebecca to recover and join the discussion again … maybe not.

Photos courtesy of Hulu and MGM Television.

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

Like our Facebook page Novel2Screen for more updates on your favorite novel-to-screen adaptations, including soon to come weekly recaps of The Handmaid’s Tale and Chris’s recent interview with Jason Michael Primrose!  

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