Offred is one of the few fertile women in what was once America. As a handmaid, her only function is to bear children. Based on the novel of the same name by Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale has now come to our screens in the UK – Sundays at 9pm on Channel 4.
Things are picking up now in The Handmaid’s Tale. In the present day, the Mexican Ambassador arrives on a visit, where the Commander hopes to finalise his trade deal with the country. Offred and Nick take tentative, flirting steps closer to each other, and the Commander’s demeanour shifts to something resembling a threat. Meanwhile, in flashbacks, we focus in on Serena Joy and her developing relationship with the Commander.
Back in Episode 4, questions were raised about the relationship that Serena Joy and the Commander have. She demonstrated clear intelligence and he seemed happy enough to disregard this fact, and the glimpse of affection we saw was halting… plus, it didn’t really go anywhere. This time, we saw them as a couple before Gilead; loving and respecting one another, and working as a team. She took him out to the cinema after a tough day, and there we discovered that the idea of Handmaids was originally an idea of Serena Joy’s, for a book. And look where we are now. Not only that, but Serena Joy is left powerless by the system that her brainchild created, which is sad in itself.
This was something the Mexican Ambassador picked up on when she (yes, you heard me correctly, a woman in a position of power) visited their home, addressing the wives as “the quite half of the room.” She either missed or ignored the looks between Serena Joy and her husband as Serena Joy chose how to answer her questions. Scary to see how easy it is to be fooled by the brainwashing effect.
And in fact, that happened to me while watching this week too. It wasn’t until the celebration dinner and the murmured conversation among the Handmaids that I realised what the trade deal with Mexico was really about. That was either brilliantly executed positioning of the audience, or I was just far too slow on the uptake… potentially a bit of both.
It was the final minutes of the episode that were my favourite though. After a terrible few seconds where I really thought Offred might walk away in silence, she poured out the truth to the Mexican Ambassador. Praise be!! Offred finally got to say some of the things she’s been telling us in her head for weeks, and it was the perfect moment for the release. And to top it all off, the Ambassador’s assistant made a proposition to Offred. He might be able to help her. More than that, he might be able to help her contact her husband, who is actually alive! I’m taking this opportunity to put a pin in any feelings of uncertainty about what this means for Offred and for Nick, and instead I intend to bask in the knowledge that this is, for once, a piece of good news.
Image source: Vulture.com