We take a trip down to DC to learn if things are better or worse in the capital and oh, not only are they worse but June gets a wake-up call.

Director(s) Dearbhla Walsh
Writer(s) Dorothy Fortenberrry
Air Date 6/26/2019
Introduced This Episode
Commander Winslow Christopher Meloni
Olivia Elizabeth Reaser
OfGeorge Kirrilee Berger

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Welcome To DC: Fred, Serena Joy, Aunt Lydia, June, Commander Winslow, Olivia

To further Fred and Serena Joy’s cause, things are taken to DC for better visuals, more spectacle, and an increase in pressure. All of which helps Fred recover from the damage June did for now High Commander Winslow is allowed to see his media savviness play out. Also, as that happens, Serena gets to spend time with Commander Winslow’s wife Olivia who has, at minimum, 6 kids.

And while the elite play and have public prayers, Aunt Lydia and June see how different DC is from the Boston area. One of the first things that they notice is an increase in security, which is expected, but the more shocking bit is how far the system goes to keep Handmaids silent. For example, Commander Winslow’s handmaid has her lips either stapled or sewn so she can’t speak. On top of that, she wears a lower face mask which is too tight to speak clearly. Something which may or may not become a new thing in the northern region.

Negotiations With The Swiss: Nick, June, Serena Joy

With Canada being uneasy about the negotiations, strictly considering them due to Gilead’s military strength, it leads to the Swiss getting involved and trying to see what they can get out of this. The answer? Well, June, despite what she is told not to do, tries to cut a deal with the Swiss so Nicohle will stay in Canada. Now, as for what the Swiss want? Espionage information. Gilead isn’t online, in a public sense, and so everyone only knows what they put out there. So, any information about their power structure and more would be helpful.

Unfortunately for June, the only one she knows with such information is Nick. Someone who the Swiss don’t trust for they know he was a crusader that led to the fall of the US government. Thus making June’s rebellion for naught.

Small, Cruel, And Empty: June, Serena Joy

Well, at least in terms of her making any headway. For Serena Joy, it perhaps gave hope for who else but June could possibly derail everything? And her failure is probably why the two decide to have one out. One in which Serena makes it seem she wouldn’t be trying to get Nicohle back if June escaped to Canada with her and June ending her attempts at making Serena an ally, or useful to her, by hitting a low blow.

As in what kind of low blow? Well, she points out Serena is empty. Which, on one hand, could be her talking about how Serena Joy is emotionally empty but let’s not forget that Serena Joy, thanks to an assassination attempt, also can’t have kids so she is also without a womb. So the emptiness inside could take on that meaning as well, and that is likely the cruelest thing June can say.

So, more than likely, if June ever has her revolution, Serena Joy will be on the opposing side.

Question(s) Left Unanswered

  1. Taking note the increase in security, how was June able to move about so freely, yell at the former Lincoln Memorial, and act more rebellious than ever? Especially the Nick situation?
  2. While it could have just been being friendly, did anyone else get some slightly uncomfortable vibes from how long Commander Winslow had his hand on Fred’s back and how Fred was reacting to that?


Serena Joy Back To Being A Villain

Some characters just don’t work well trying to live in some sort of gray area. Nick does to a point, but he barely says much and at this point is a reoccurring role. So him being in the gray area works. As for Serena Joy? With this world crafted by her and her mad she lacks the power she thought she would have, any attempt at trying to become a hero, outside of her own point of view, would be massively difficult. Outside of sacrificing herself, as she did and lost a finger for, wouldn’t make her seem look a good guy or complex.

Essentially, Serena Joy will always be a selfish character, and even if they continued to attempt to make her someone selfish, but with a goal which aligned with June, there is no means to recover. So it seems best to return her to simply being a villain than trying to have her be someone who deserves sympathy. For really, lest we forget, she held June down, more than once, as Fred raped her and is there any real coming back from that?

Low Point

June Clearly Betraying Gilead And Living To See Another Day

All I want to know is how June can speak to a foreign government, clearly try to coax some sort of deal in her favor, and not be put on notice? I mean, considering this mask thing they now use, would it be so hard to find a woman with similar features to June? Would the Swiss even care if June died? Nick is being sent out to Chicago so he wouldn’t know. So, as with many of the episodes this season, you’re left to wonder how in the world is June getting away with this?

On The Fence

What’s Up With Aunt Lydia?

Every time we see Aunt Lydia it is like she switches from being a hand to the authoritarian government to a victim of circumstance happy she can enjoy some comforts. This episode leaned her towards being a far kinder character than we’ve seen since June was pregnant and there is a serious need to ask why? Is she trying to atone or make up for how brutal she was to Janine? Which, so it seems, didn’t cause her to be punished in the slightest.

Yet, maybe something happened off camera? How else could you explain, as June asked if Aunt Lydia wanted them silenced, Aunt Lydia not being hardline? Perhaps even glad, and intrigued, by the local custom?

Off and on, like Serena Joy, there have been attempts at softening Aunt Lydia, and according to a BUILD interview featuring the actresses who play Rita and Janine, her backstory will be featured this season. But, also like Serena Joy, there is a need to question do we need a villainous character softened up or do we just need to know the reason behind their resolve?

The Swiss, DC Culture And Some Form Of End Game

Ofgeorge (Kirrilee Berger) being shown with her lips unable to move.
Ofgeorge (Kirrilee Berger)

While it is always interesting to see not just outside of the Boston area, but also get a vibe of how other countries see and deal with Gilead, I don’t think this trip was made to be as interesting as it could. Don’t get me wrong, seeing the Washington Monument made into a cross, or the destruction of the Lincoln Memorial were stunning images. Yet, there is just something about seeing this imagery and feeling like June isn’t making any progress in her revolution which makes this show seem so long.

What I mean by that is, June touts herself about as this almost untouchable bad ass who lucks into multiple situations to be amongst powerful people. Both those who benefit from Gilead and those who are oppressed by the regime. But, episode after episode, especially this season, we’re back to that vibe of the show being more about world building than any sort of plot made to make us feel an ending is planned. Yes, you may have an ideal ending planned, but it seems Hulu and the writers rather milk this show for all it is worth, be it accolades, ratings, and of course paychecks, than present any sense the end game for June or Gilead is anytime soon.

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The Handmaid's Tale

Season/ EpisodeSynopsisEpisode InformationTopics & Focused Characters
Season 3, Episode 12 “Sacrifice”June makes a monumental decision which seems to weigh on her more than any other. Though, when it comes to Serena, her decision has her in a nearly joyous mood.
Director(s) Deniz Gamze Erguven
Writer(s) Eric Tuchman
Air Date 8/7/2019
  • Meanwhile In Toronto: Fred, Moira, Luke, Mike, Serena Joy
  • Sacrifices Had To Be Made: Commander Lawrence, June, Eleanor
Season 3, Episode 10 “Witness”June takes on a major sacrifice to make a breakthrough in her goal to liberate Gilead’s children. A plan which will test how competent Gilead’s security and leadership are.
Director(s) Daina Reid
Writer(s) Jacey Heldrich
Air Date 7/24/2019
  • A Jealous Man & His Petty Ways: Fred, Commander Winslow, June, Aunt Lydia, Serena Joy, Commander Lawrence
  • Playing The Long Game: Eleanor, Commander Lawrence, June, Fred, Serena Joy
  • Lost The Battle, Prepping For The War: June, Janine, Alma, Beth
Season 3, Episode 11 “Liars”With a recent announcement of season 4, it seems marketing coordinated that with an episode that may finally be the beginning of the end.
Director(s) Deniz Gamze Erguven
Writer(s) Yahlin Chang
Air Date 7/31/2019
Introduced This Episode
Billy Daniel Jun
  • Making Feeble Plans: Serena Joy, Fred, June, Beth, Commander Lawrence, Eleanor
  • The Best Laid Plains Of Mice And (Wo)Men:Serena Joy, Fred, Mr. Tuello, June, Commander Lawrence, Beth
  • The Rise, Fall, And Rise Again Of June Osborne:Commander Lawrence, June, Commander Winslow, Billy
Season 3, Episode 8 “Unfit”We finally get to learn about Aunt Lydia’s life before Gilead took over, but that may become an afterthought considering how the episode ends.
Director(s) Mike Barker
Writer(s) Kira Snyder
Air Date 7/10/2019
Introduced This Episode
Noelle Emily Althaus
Jim John Ortiz
Ryan Ian Ho
  • Petty Like Highschool: Aunt Lydia, June, Janine, OfMatthew
  • The Way Things Were: Aunt Lydia, Jim, Noelle, Ryan
  • Driven To Madness: Aunt Lydia, June, Janine, OfMatthew, Lawrence
Season 3, Episode 9 "Heroic"As June is pushed to the brink of utter madness, murder even, she snaps. But, in snapping, she may have found a new purpose for her life.
Director(s) Daina Reid
Writer(s) Lynn Renee Maxcy
Air Date 7/17/2019
  • Watching, Waiting: Natalie, June
  • Stir Crazy: June, Janine, Serena Joy, Natalie
  • A Renewed Purpose: Natalie, June
Season 3, Episode 7 “Under His Eye”As June loses yet another ally, so begins her possibly losing it. Though she might not be alone as Emily does as well. But, as that happens, Serena finds a crew.
Director(s) Mike Barker
Writer(s) Nina Fiore, John Herrera
Air Date 7/3/2019
  • Like-Minded: Serena, Olivia, Fred, Commander Winslow
  • Bird-Dog: Moira, Emily
  • You Stupid B***h: OfMatthew, June, Eleanor, Commander Lawrence
Season 3, Episode 6 “Household”We take a trip down to DC to learn if things are better or worse in the capital and oh, not only are they worse but June gets a wake-up call.
Director(s) Dearbhla Walsh
Writer(s) Dorothy Fortenberrry
Air Date 6/26/2019
Introduced This Episode
Commander Winslow Christopher Meloni
Olivia Elizabeth Reaser
OfGeorge Kirrilee Berger
  • Welcome To DC: Fred, Serena Joy, Aunt Lydia, June, Commander Winslow, Olivia
  • Negotiations With The Swiss: Nick, June, Serena Joy
  • Small, Cruel, And Empty: June, Serena Joy
Season 3, Episode 5 “Unknown Caller”We’ve come to the point where things might be beyond June’s control, and she may be forced to realize she’s no different than Commander Lawrence’s Marthas.
Director(s) Colin Watkinson
Writer(s) Marissa Jo Cerar
Air Date 6/19/19
  • Reminiscing About The Past: Eleanor, June
  • Attempts At Moving On: Luke, June, Serena, Mr. Tuello, Fred
  • Know Your Place: Aunt Lydia, June, Serena, Fred
Season 3, Episode 4 “God Bless The Child”June really tests the limits of her influence, but this time with the Waterfords and Aunt Lydia. Especially when Janine puts herself in a dangerous situation.
Director(s) Amma Asante
Writer(s) Eric Tuchman
Air Date 6/12/2019
Introduced This Episode
Oliver Charlie Zeltzer
OfMatthew Ashleigh LaThrop
  • Planning For The Future: June, OfMatthew, Oliver, Sylvia, Emily
  • Orchestrating Peace: June, Serena, Fred, Naomi
  • Separate & Unequal: Aunt Lydia, Janine, Naomi, Serena, June
Season 3, Episode 3 “Useful”Commander Lawrence begins to reveal his intentions to us and to say, even after an hour, they can seem ambiguous, that’s an understatement.
Director(s) Amma Asante
Writer(s) Yahlin Chang
Air Date 6/5/2019
Introduced This Episode
Pamela Laila Robins
Sienna Sugenja Sri
  • Serena Runs Home To Mother: Pamela, Serena
  • June Tries To Manipulate Joseph Like She Did Fred, Serena, and Nick: June, Commander Lawrence, Fred, Nick, Serena
  • Commander Lawrence Doesn’t Like To Be Bored, And It Shows: Commander Lawrence, June, Beth, Sienna
Season 3, Episode 2 “Mary and Martha”A few old faces return this episode, and we learn how willing Commander Lawrence is when it comes to participating in the new underground railroad.
Director(s) Mike Barker
Writer(s) Kira Snyder
Air Date 6/5/2019
Introduced This Episode
Beth Kristen Gutoskie
Cora Victoria Fodor
  • The Healing Process: Moira, Luke, Emily
  • Trouble Brewing: Aunt Lydia, Commander Lawrence, Beth, Cora, June
  • I Can Deal With A Lot, But Don’t Lie: Commander Lawrence, Beth, Cora, June
Season 3, Episode 1 “Night” [Season Premiere]The Handmaid’s Tale returns, and like many a season premiere, we are presented the calm before the storm.
Director(s) Mike Barker
Writer(s) Bruce Miller
Air Date 6/5/2019
Introduced This Episode
Mrs. Mackenzie Amy Landecker
  • Family Means Nobody Gets Left Behind Or Forgotten:June, Commander Lawrence, Mrs. Mackenzie
  • Meanwhile, In Canada: Luke, Moira, Emily, June
  • Things Will Never Be The Same: June, Serena, Nick, Fred, Emily, Commander Lawrence
Season 2/ Episode 13 “The Word” [Season Finale]For those, like me, who thought The Handmaid’s Tale was in a perpetual cycle, many things happen which break the wheel and lead us to believe Season 3 will be the fall of Gilead.
Director(s) Mike Barker
Writer(s) Bruce Miller
Air Date 7/11/2018
  • Ain’t No Girl Safe Raised in Gilead: June, Serena Joy, Fred
  • All Villains Eventually Fall: Emily, Aunt Lydia, Joseph
  • No One Gets Left Behind or Forgotten: Emily, June, Joseph, Serena Joy, Rita, Nick, Fred
Season 2/ Episode 12 “Postpartum”June may find herself responsible for yet another death as Emily finds herself in a rather peculiar commander’s home.
Director(s) Daina Reid
Writer(s) Eric Tuchman
Air Date 7/4/2018
Actors Introduced
Commander Joseph Lawrence Bradley Whitford
Cora Victoria Fodor
Eleanor Julie Dretzin
  • We Value Privacy Here: Joseph, Cora, Eleanor, Emily, Aunt Lydia
  • Find Love Where You Can Get It: Nick, Eden, June, Isaac
  • Dr. Jekyll, Mrs. Hyde: Serena Joy, June, Fred
Season 2/ Episode 11 “Holly”Desperate times call for desperate measures and June finds herself having to put her baby first as things become impossible for her.
Director(s) Daina Reid
Writer(s) Bruce Miller, Kira Snyder
Air Date 6/27/2018
  • The Great Escape: June
  • The Discovery: June, Fred, Serena Joy
  • The Joys and Pain of Childbirth: June
Season 2/ Episode 10 “The Last Ceremony”

Perhaps the happiest day of June’s life in a long time also meets yet another where she ends up getting someone killed.

Director(s) Jeremy Podeswa
Writer(s) Yahlin Chang
Air Date 6/20/2018
  • False Labor: June, Serena Joy, Fred
  • In The Lonely Hour: Eden, Nick, Isaac
  • Mommy Loves You: Hannah, Nick, June, Fred
Season 2/ Episode 9 “Smart Power”A trip to Canada temps Serena Joy, Nick meets Luke, and June searches for a godmother. Including Aunt Lydia who opens up to her.
Director(s) Jeremy Podeswa
Writer(s) Dorothy Fortenberry
Air Date 6/13/2018
Actors Introduced
Isaac Rohan Mead
Mark Sam Jaeger
Stuart James Gilbert
  • The Search For A God Mother: Serena Joy, June, Janine, Rita, Aunt Lydia
  • Meanwhile in Canada: Serena Joy, Fred, Moira, Luke
  • The Whisper Revolution Continues: Nick, Luke, Moira, Fred, Serena Joy, June
Season 2, Episode 8 “Women’s Work”Many women get a taste of the old world and there is the slightest bit of hope things could get better for them. However, said blessing is finite.
Director(s) Kari Skogland
Writer(s) Nina Fiore, John Herrera
Air Date 6/6/2018
Actors Introduced
Dr. Hodgson Karen Glave
  • Back To Work: Serena Joy, June, Commander Fred, Janine
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Serena Joy, June, Commander Fred
  • A Mother’s Love: Janine, Warren, Naomi, Aunt Lydia, June
Season 2, Episode 7 “After”A quiet revolution has begun with a bang and it seems Lillie’s bomb was just an exclamation point before a new chapter.
Director(s) Kari Skogland
Writer(s) Lynn Renee Maxcy
Air Date 5/30/2018
Actors Introduced
Commander Cushing Greg Bryk
Odette Rebecca Rittenhouse
  • Meanwhile, In Canada: Moira, Luke
  • Aftermath: June, Serena Joy, Fred, Nick
  • The Whispered Revolution: June, Janine, Emily, Serena Joy
Season 2/ Episode 6 “First Blood”As Serena Joy and June continue their complicated relationship, something possibly game-changing happens at the end of the episode.
Director(s) Mike Barker
Writer(s) Eric Tuchman
Air Date 5/23/2018
  • Be Mindful of Eden: Eden, Nick, June, Serena Joy
  • Just When I Thought We Could Be Friends: Serena Joy, Fred, June
  • Tick, Tick, BOOM: June, Fred, Nick
Season 2/ Episode 5 “Seeds”Just as it seemed the world broke and killed June and she has assumed the role of Offred, she gets two serious wake-up calls.
Director(s) Mike Barker
Writer(s) Kira Snyder
Air Date 5/16/2018
Actors Introduced
Eden Sydney Sweeney
  • Meanwhile, Out West: Janine, Emily
  • A Slow Death: Nick, June, Serena Joy, Rita, Aunt Lydia
  • The Dead Shall Rise: June, Nick, Serena Joy, Fred
Season 2/ Episode 4 “Other Woman”How long can you fight and be defeated, be the cause of others misery and death, before you decide to give up? It seems June has found out the answer.
Director(s) Kari Skogland
Writer(s) Yahlin Chang
Air Date 5/9/2018
Actors Introduced
Annie Kelly Jenrette
  • Annie Are You Okay?: June, Luke
  • For June To Live, Offred Must Take Over: Aunt Lydia, June, Serena Joy, Alma, Rita
Season 2/ Episode 3 “Baggage”Guilt over not being the perfect mom, nor feminist, haunts June as she reminisces about her mother and how she has been as a mom.
Director(s) Kari Skogland
Writer(s) Dorothy Fortenberry
Air Date 5/2/2018
Actors Introduced
Holly Cherry Jones
Omar Yahya Abdul-Mateen II
  • Getting Used To Canada: Moira, Erin, Luke
  • Mother/Daughter Relationship: June
  • The Econopeople/ Being My Own Savior: June
Season 2/ Episode 2 “Unwomen”The colonies are finally seen as well as an update on two favorites – Emily and Janine.
Director(s) Mike Barker
Writer(s) Bruce Miller
Air Date 4/25/2018
Actors Introduced
Dan John Carroll Lynch
Ms. O’Conner Marisa Tomei
Jenna Keeya King
Sylvia Clea DuVall
  • The University Purge: Emily
  • The Boston Massacre: June, Nick
  • The Four Horsemen: Emily, Janine
Season 2/ Episode 1 “June” [Season Premiere]After her grand act of defiance inspiring a non-violent protest, it is time to see how Aunt Lydia plans to punish the girls and whether June’s pregnancy means anything in regards to that.
Director(s) Mike Barker
Writer(s) Bruce Miller
Air Date 4/25/2018
Actors Introduced
Ofwyatt Alana Pancyr
Ofrobert ?
  • The Final Days: June, Hannah, Luke
  • A Revolutionary With A Safety Net: Aunt Lydia, June
  • The Escape Route: Nick, June, Fred, Serena Joy
Season 1/ Episode 9 “The Bridge”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
  • The Soul, It Cries for Freedom: Janine, June, Moira
Season 1/ Episode 4 “Nolite Te Bastardes Carborundorum”With it being 13 days since June has been outside, seen someone besides the meek Rita and malicious Serena Joy, she is losing it. Yet, she finds a message hidden away for her that provides strength.
  • Breakout!: Moira, June
  • I Want To Know You/ Have Your Life Be Bearable: June, Serena Joy, Commander Fred Whitford
Season 1/ Episode 7 “The Other Side”Rather than drag out what may have happened to Luke, as I want to believe they are doing with Moira, we get an episode dedicated to him.
  • Before The Car Accident: Luke, June, Hannah
  • After The Car Accident: Luke, Zoe [Rosa Gilmore], Peter [Ben Lewis], Christine [Kim Roberts], TBD (Erin Way)
  • 3 Years Later: Luke, TBD
Season 1/ Episode 6 “A Woman’s Place”As the Mexico ambassador visits, we get a peek inside the past of Serena Joy and her part in what eventually created Gilead.
  • The Woman Behind The Man: Serena Joy, Fred
  • A Valuable Commodity: June
  • Luke? He’s Alive.: June
Season 1/ Episode 5 “Faithful”Many characters have their true colors revealed and, alongside this, June herself we learn isn’t as innocent as she seems.
  • I Can See Your True Colors: Fred, June
  • One Way Or Another: June, Nick, Serena Joy, Emily
  • I Was the Other Woman: Luke, June
Season 1/ Episode 3 “Late”As it’s revealed what happens to those like the original Ofglen, June continues to try to navigate through a world in which she finds herself to be the lobster in the boiling pot.
  • It All Started Little By Little: June, Moira
  • The Benefits of People Thinking You’re Pregnant: June
  • What Happens to Gender Traitors: Emily (Formerly Known as Ofglen)
Season 1/ Episode 8 “Jezebels”Would it be wrong, if not odd, to say I was a bit bored by “Jezebel?” Granted, we got another character’s background story and saw someone from June’s past, but I found it difficult to be excited or engaged. To help understand why, look below.
  • The Life and Times of Nick Blaine: Nick, June
  • Never Trust Janine: June, Moira, Fred
Season 1/ Episode 1 “Offred” [Series Premiere]Being that Young Adult novels have come to dominate visual media dealing with a post-war period, it is a bit refreshing that those under 25 play little to no role in the series. Women who have experienced life instead are the focus and how they are dealing with a world which sent back women’s right at least a century.
Season 1/ Episode 10 “Night” [Season Finale]Solidarity is what causes and maintains revolutions. But for solidarity to sprout there needs to be one voice. One refusal to the oppressor. Which is what we get in The Handmaid’s Talefinale: “Night.”
  • Family: Luke, Moira
  • Insurance Policy: June, Serena Joy, Fred
  • Solidarity: June, Aunt Lydia, Janine
Season 1/ Episode 2 “Birth Day”
  • Birthday: June, Janine
  • I Would Like To Play A Game: Commander Waterford [Joseph Fiennes], June, Ofglen [Alexis Bledel]
  • I Am Ofglen: June
Serena Joy Back To Being A Villain - 80%
June Clearly Betraying Gilead And Living To See Another Day - 65%
What’s Up With Aunt Lydia? - 75%
The Swiss, DC Culture And Some Form Of End Game - 70%


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Avatar of Amari

I started Wherever I Look back in 2011 and have aimed to be that friend who loves watching various forms of media and talking about it. So, from bias, strong opinions, and a perspective you may not have thought about, you'll find that in our reviews.


  1. Avatar of Amari Sali

    In many ways, taking note of your comparisons, it seems violence, or the threat of it, seems to be how the show compensates for how flat the characters were in the book. Yet, like many shows we’ve seen on HBO, while violence, and sex, can tantalize and shock at first, so comes the problem of when you build up a tolerance and are left with what is left.

    Which, at this point of the show, it feels more like those involved are enjoying a cultural relevance and thus are continuing the program to be a symbol of resilience than really trying to craft a plausible story. One that has its ending anywhere in sight and isn’t just trying to use shock value as a means to keep people talking and so it can hold onto its relevance.

  2. Avatar of Benjamin

    Here in Australia, “The Handmaid’s Tale” is being broadcast on public television on the same nights as reruns of “The X Files”… watching the two back to back, I honestly found it hard to decide which of the two had the loopiest depiction of political intrigue… but I can say for sure, “The X Files”, of all things, came across as having more believable characters.

    Why is Lydia even here? Why not let one of the local Washington Aunts handle things? Surely that would be better than flying over someone who has proven in the past to be ineffectual in handling this particular Handmaid? For that matter, why is Lydia the only member of the Aunts that we see doing anything of importance in this show, even after she’s made enough screw ups in handling June that logically she’d be assigned a different case? (Of course, the “real world” reason is obvious – Ann Dowd is on contract and it avoids the extra time/money of casting a new character)

    The scenes where Fred is greeted with approval by the political establishment seem downright surreal to those familiar with the novel – in which the other Commanders have Fred killed because they think he is an embarrassment to their image as a tough regime, and because he has failed to live up to their fundamentalist ideology in his own sex life.

    All this stuff about women having their lips stapled shut is not in the book… a weird thing about this series is that it frequently invents elaborate forms of torture, death and abuse that aren’t in the source material (as if the original didn’t have enough violence already) – but then it shows the worst of these things being inflicted upon minor characters, seemingly for lighter offences than what our heroine has done (and got comparatively lesser punishments for)…. so to me, it’s like every time this show trots out some newfangle torture/abuse/execution it doesn’t shock me that much anymore, and since it’s unlikely to factor into the main plot or the protagonists life, it often feels kinda pointless.

    As for the question of how the show flip-flops on humanising it’s villains…

    I wonder if Serena’s redemption would’ve seemed any more plausible to people who haven’t read the book, if Hulu’s writers had kept the following aspects of the literary-Serena intact:

    – In the book, Serena does not know about the plot to overthrow the US government and has had no hand in designing the structure of Gilead… book-Serena was not a major player in politics, she was just a small-time televangelist who made vague statements about “returning to traditional family values”, but was no more militant than your average republican. She never wrote a manifesto that came to be a touchstone of the Gilead movement.
    – In the book, its implied that the “ceremony” method is not something Serena is comfortable with, and that she may just be doing it because she’s afraid she’ll be killed if she too blatantly breaks the rules. There are many hints that Serena isn’t on board with the Biblical rationalisations for it either. Viewed in that light, you could argue that “the ceremony” is also degrading to Serena in the book, even if it’s not as extreme an ordeal as what June has to go through.
    – Serena NEVER attacks June physically in the book. The scenes in which Serena assaults June and the scene where Serena urges Fred to rape June were all made up for the TV series.

    In the book, Serena doesn’t actually do all that much besides be rude and emotionally manipulative in a passive-aggressive way. Yet the novel treats her with contempt… It is weird that this show constantly invites the audience to feel pity for Serena, after showing her doing EVEN WORSE things.

    The same with Lydia – the show has her lashing out physically more often than her literary counterpart and presiding over elaborate tortures and executions that weren’t in the novel…

    …surely, if you’re gonna humanise a villain and put them on a redemptive arc, you don’t start by making them EVEN MORE violent than they already were?

    It’s a pity, because I think a redemptive arc for Serena could’ve been genuinely interesting, if it had been handled better. I know I’ve got an image as the guy who complains it’s not like the book, but Serena and Lydia are both rather flat characters in the novel. I can see why Hulu thought a different approach might be an improvement… but it takes more than a few pretty speeches and tears to get an audience on the side of a character, their actions matter more.

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