When it debuted in April 2017, The Handmaid’s Story was met with a refrain. This isn’t fiction! It’s taking place now! It’s a documentary! It debuted a number of months after the Ladies’s March, within the wake of Trump’s first few months as president, after we had been searching for parallels to resistance and outrage. This resonance helped the present achieve a strong fanbase and decide up Emmys, however within the final 12 months it has additionally been parodied on SNL and Humorous or Die, joked about by Katy Perry, and impressed some actually tone-deaf branding.
Season 2, which debuts April 25 on Hulu, returns with a number of the earlier season’s tone, however the present now has to keep away from falling into parody itself.
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The primary episode reacquaints viewers with the handmaids who defied Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd) and refused to homicide a fellow handmaid within the finale. In an extended lower, Offred (Elisabeth Moss) and others are muzzled and led to the gallows however then the gotcha second comes, soundtracked by Kate Bush’s “A Lady’s Value.” They’re not truly going to die, as a result of they’re wanted as incubators for the patriarchy. Aunt Lydia is right here to supply them redemption. Although not likely as a result of she’s nonetheless going to electrocute them within the rain for defying her, and we have now to see an prolonged scene of that as nicely, though it doesn’t actually add something to the story. Because the title card is about to look, Moss’ character says in voiceover, “Our father, who artwork in heaven. Severely? What the precise fuck?” and I cringed so onerous I assumed I might need popped a blood vessel.
Season 2 is the brand new fiction, written with out Margaret Atwood’s e-book as its basis. The e-book is an outline of life from one girl’s viewpoint, from contained in the oppressive world of Gilead, and season 1 largely adhered to that, although there have been actually criticisms that it centered on “white feminism.” However the first two episodes of the second season, “June” and “Unwomen,” are a bit of too enthusiastic of their depiction of girls being tortured or punished. If you happen to weren’t a fan of the violence within the first season, you’ll probably have a tough time with the primary episode, particularly when the mass hanging of girls is performed off as an elaborate prank.
The brand new season additionally takes us out of Gilead. We see within the first episode (six episodes had been accessible for evaluate) that season 2 will revolve round Offred taking again her actual title, June, and making an attempt to flee with the assistance of Nick (Max Minghella). We get extra flashbacks to life earlier than Gilead, which is a welcome reprieve from the violence and despair. The gratuity eases up after the primary two episodes, and the season comes into focus extra when it begins exploring the journeys of different feminine characters.
The addition of backstory for Emily/Ofglen (Alexis Bledel), who was banished to the Colonies and compelled into handbook labor, provides the sequence extra room to breathe. We see the faculty the place Emily as soon as labored and the way she was suggested to cover her sexuality because the regime grew in energy. We’re given extra context for the political opinions Serena Pleasure (Yvonne Strahovski) held earlier than Gilead, and the way she struggled to sq. these views with being a lady.
In one in every of June’s flashbacks, a nurse at a hospital questions her about being a working mom after her youngster falls unwell at college, an indication of the ideology to return. We additionally get a glimpse of her mom (Cherry Jones), an activist who knowledgeable her feminist beliefs, although the 2 conflict over their dedication to activism. There’s one winking (and meta) nod in episode three: “You increase your daughter as a feminist and she or he spends all her time ready to be rescued by males,” June says.
June’s journey to freedom permits her to extra aggressively discover her previous and future, as she is with youngster now, but additionally battle with precisely what freedom entails. Gilead could be safer than the skin world, and that may be a miserable thought, however the boundary between the 2 is extra obscured now. The present struggles with the way to deal with that divide; within the course of it provides a template for a way dissent can develop, giving it yet another piece of relevance.
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