It’s easy to get desensitized. Both in terms of what the show offers and in general. Thus making the job of an actor harder for they have to give more of themselves over to you – the audience. Now, up to this point, I shed no tears, felt no significant shock, and only admired Moss and Dowd’s performance. But in this episode, one of those things changed.
The Things Asked of Us: Janine, June, Moira
June is no longer satisfied with just surviving. After her talk with Nick, after seeing Moira give up, she wants change. She wants to help Mayday and someday soon, be reunited with Hannah. To do so though, she needs to get a package. One which can only be gotten from the Jezebel club. So, June does what she needs to. She uses whatever feelings poor and simple Fred has to convince him to take her. Problem is, what she needs is at the bar. Fred doesn’t want to go to the bar. He wants to stay in his room. [note]While this all happens, Nick asks questions in suspicion of June’s plan. How does the woman he knows go from anxious and scared to devious in her smile? He knows something is up but just can’t prove it.[/note]
Luckily, he does arrange for Moira to come up though. However, she is not in on this plan nor wishes to take part. She has settled into her Jezebel life it seems. So no matter what promise was made in a former life, she has no intention to keep it. Thus breaking poor June’s heart.
Heartbreak isn’t hers alone to own though[note]We learn that Rita had a 19-year-old son who died in the war. Now, while age is a likely factor, it does lead you to wonder why she didn’t end up a Handmaid.[/note]. Janine is separated from her baby and sent to a new home. She is expected to give another family a child and ripping her away from Charlotte comes with consequences. At first, seemingly just to Janine’s mental state, but it goes beyond that eventually.
This is the episode before the finale and I can’t even fathom what that episode may hold. But with this mystery package in play, who knows what we should prep for? Should we prep for an explosion, a death, or false hope? Either way, with there being a season 2 already planned, we know that package doesn’t contain June’s salvation. It is but something to prove her worth.
But focusing on Janine, let me say off the bat that my opinion of her has not changed. If anything, what that character does is amplify Aunt Lydia and makes it so much harder to damn the woman. She is an enforcer but her faith is weirdly inspiring. Aunt Lydia is on the side of the oppressor, an enforcer of their will, but how she talks about and interacts with Janine makes it difficult to see her as a true villain.
Maybe because villains aren’t given the ability to be truly complex anymore. Which isn’t to say this show has the most ambiguous or developed villains. Nick and Fred are very basic in intention and motivation. However, when it comes to the women, you can’t say the same. Even when it comes to Janine’s former mistress, there is this desire to prod and question. Did she even want a child or just wants to do what is expected? Does she even love her husband or just wants to make him happy because there are worse lives out there? These things you rarely feel like asking about the men. A strange but welcomed change from what I’m used to.
The Soul, It Cries for Freedom: Janine, June, Moira
She can’t take it anymore. For each of the women this topic is about, that statement holds true. However, it is especially true for Janine. On top of being stripped of her agency, her child was taken away. Her trust in her former commander is gone, even after all she did for him. So what is left? Nothing. Nothing but Charlotte.
So, Janine kidnaps her child then stands on the edge of a bridge. She peers at the icy waters below and sees freedom. Freedom from a world she cannot mentally survive. Thus leading June, from out of her bed, being called down to talk Janine out of this. Yet, a decision has been made already. So no matter what hope June tries to place in Janine’s mind, it is for naught. She has been maimed, twice given birth and even if things went back to how they were, who’d want her? That’s the trigger right there.
Janine has been rejected so many times, no matter what she has done. She was promiscuous before and all that got her was a child. Janine was obedient in this life, after her maiming, and what did that get her? The one time she would have been shown off and treated like something to be proud of, she got rejected? When it comes to the man who is the father of her child, he whispered sweet nothings then rejected her – publicly.
Yet, Charlotte. Poor little Charlotte. To spare her from this life or just take out the factor which could make it complicated? June is able to save the baby but not the mother. Janine decides to jump to the horror of everyone, but especially Aunt Lydia. [note]It seems Janine’s confession about what she and her commander did get him arrested by the eye.[/note]
But while Janine has succumbed to the pressure, June has not. For while she wasn’t able to get the package at the Jezebel club, she does at the butcher. Moira, through who knows who, has the package delivered and the butcher hands it over. What’s in it? Who knows. But what is clear is that Moira is back to fighting again. She even stabs, perhaps kills, a driver and takes their vehicle. Here is hoping second time’s the charm.
It is hard to say if the moment I got teary eyed came from Janine jumping or Aunt Lydia’s reaction? For while you can understand Janine’s reasoning, the actress was leaning heavily on Moss. However, for Dowd and that moment post-jump, that was all her. That was a culmination of her personally investing in this girl. Being firm, but tender. Yet, from what it seems, that not being enough. That not being the type of love or reassurance that child needed. A personal failure in a world where, arguably, Aunt Lydia has one of the most important positions.
See that? How complicated that is. Aunt Lydia’s feelings for Janine can be both selfish and loving. Her reputation vs. dealing with a baby bird who developed in a cracked egg.
But for June, all this is for the best. For it seems everyone is very reactionary when it comes to Handmaids. Only when they do something rash or drastic they are treated nicely. I mean, that is what softens up Serena Joy and Fred. The fact their last Handmaid killed themselves. And while Serena Joy has been cruel to June at times, when there was that reminder that she could contribute to a woman killing herself, she tried to be more tender. There was an attempt to be more understanding and have June get pregnant by Nick so that she could fulfill her duty.
Leading to the question: What happens when Handmaids don’t get pregnant? Serena Joy, a few episodes ago, noted June’s time with them is almost up. Hence the Nick pregnancy idea. But the consequences of not getting pregnant have yet to be noted.
That thought aside, all eyes are on that package and any signs Moira made it to Canada. But with the way this show is tonally, I’m not going to be optimistic. For with a second season planned, I know there is the potential of something major. However, I’m not naïve enough to think both Moira and June will find freedom during it. At most, we may finally get a glimpse of Hannah in the present day.