The Handmaid’s Tale (S02E07) “After”

Well, I’ll give Ofglen 2.0 a posthumous grade of ‘A’ for effort, but ‘C’ for execution (so to speak).  We learn in this week’s episode that 26 Commanders were killed.  That sounds great and all, until you learn that 31 Handmaids were killed.

The episode opens with a haunting scene of the funeral.  The coffins (red, of course) are arranged in concentric circles.  It’s snowing, and the Handmaids are dressed in black over their red, and they have red veils covering their faces.  When they remove the veils, you can see they’re all crying, but I’m not sure whether they’re crying for the dead, or for those left behind.  On the ride back in that van thing that they travel around in, you can see body after body hanging from trees in almost every front yard.  Let me tell you, that will do nothing for property values.  Well, nothing good at any rate.

The episode is aptly named, it is all about the aftermath of the bombing, the effects of which are felt as far afield as the Colonies and Little America.  I found the episode a little boring, to be honest.  It’s one of those episodes of a show that is more about setting up stuff for the future than about stuff actually happening now.

Good news!  Pryce is dead!  Bad news!  Fred isn’t!  Really bad news!  Pryce’ s replacement is a guy named Cushing, who by all accounts, is a ginormous tool!  He’s clearly on a power trip, and makes pious statements like “God saves his most difficult tasks for the truly faithful” while planning a lot of executions.  One of the first things he does as he investigates the bombing is interview June, where he makes it clear that he doesn’t believe the kidnapped story.  June talks to S. J. later.  Encouraged by S. J. apparently personal distaste for Cushing, (more about that later,) June says she doubts that a household who was under suspicion of terrorism would never be allowed to keep a baby.  Hmm.

Things aren’t just heating up in Gilead.  In the Colonies, large SUVs pull up and some of the women are pulled out of line and thrown into them, Janine and Emily included.  That…doesn’t look good.

In Little America, news of the bombing has people even more concerned than usual for loved ones in Gilead.  Luke seems pretty sanguine about June, but Moira is a little freaked out.  It seems she’s wondering what happened to her…fiancée?  Odette?  It seems that Moira was a surrogate for a childless couple, and after it was all over got into a relationship with her doctor.  None of which I’m reasonably sure we’ve ever even heard mentioned before.  Not that I mind, but it all feels kind of rushed.  Inorganic, if you see what I mean.

The idea that S. J. could lose her child galvanizes her into action.  With Nick’s help, she forges Fred’s signature on some documents and has Cushing arrested for apostasy and treason.  For those of you who (like me) have no idea what apostasy is, it’s the renunciation of a belief, usually political or religious.  Since this is Gilead, it would be both political AND religious.  The expression on S. J.’s face when she watches him being loaded into the Eyes’ van says a lot.

As does the expression on Eden’s face at the market, where she’s shopping with June.  While she’s busy looking for the ingredients to make lemon chicken, she doesn’t notice June talking to Janine and Emily, who were among the group brought back from the Colonies to help fill the severely depleted Handmaid ranks.  June tells Emily her own name, saying she’d never had a chance to before.  She then tells another Handmaid her name.  The other girl looks terrified but  says her own name, Brianna.  She gains courage at the sound, and tells her name to another.  And the name speaking spreads around the market.  The only one not speaking is Eden, who seems deeply interested in what’s happening.  I cried at this scene.

Moira has found out that Odette is, indeed, dead.  She puts a photo of the two of them at the growing memorial for those lost to Gilead insanity, including the now identified Handmaids killed in the bombing.  Luke takes her hand.  I cried here too.

That evening, S. J. calls June into Fred’s study.  She’s been a busy little bee, drafting orders for new security protocols that are a little less nutso than Cushing’s had been.  She wonders if June, a former editor, would proofread and edit the drafts.

June clicking the pen clicker thingy with her thumb looks not unlike Ofglen 2.0 and her bomb detonator.

 

Other things:

– When Nick and June kiss in the hospital, didn’t it seem kind of risky?  They were not exactly hidden.  I was yelling at the screen “Stop! You’ll get caught!”

– When Eden tells June she’s making lemon chicken for dinner and June responds with a snarky “Praise be,” am I the only one who wondered if those wings she has to wear were hiding a massive eye roll?

– Okay, this is the biggie.  What was the deal with the Waterfords and the Cushings?  S. J. says they knew each other before and even went on vacations together, but she didn’t much like Ray Cushing even then.  At first I thought maybe the couples had done a little swinging, but I had another thought later, when I say S. J. watching Cushing be arrested.  I think some of this was personal for her, and I think he may have sexually assaulted her at one point.  Thoughts?

Quotes:

“Right now the baby needs Twinkies, but we’re compromising.”

“That pathetic land of bad hats and hipster scruff?  F*** that!”

“I’ll need a pen.”