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.
Nick had some time to develop this week, and we also had a surprise reappearance. But mostly, things took a darker turn where the Commander is concerned.
We began with a ‘morning after’ scene featuring Offred and Nick. Offred told us in her narration that she wants to know Nick, to memorise him, so that she can live off the image later. Because Luke’s image is fading. To me, it seems like an ill-placed comment. At this point, after she’s just found out that Luke is in fact, alive, surely his image would be strong again? And after finding this out, it seems like now would be a better time for the comment that was made in episode 5, where Offred tells us that she feels like she’s cheating on Luke. That makes more sense to me.
Either way, we also saw a couple of scenes of Nick pre-Gilead, and how he got recruited with the Eyes. Him at the job centre, him not having much luck at the job centre, him getting thrown out of the job centre… y’know, the usual struggler’s plight.
Most of the episode, though, ran through a surreal and sinister string of events, which all kicked off when Offred found the Commander waiting in her room. That image alone is scary enough: What is he angry about? What did he find out? What will he do to Offred? And Elisabeth Moss hits it out of the park with her quick-witted and smart-arse delivery of the line “Monopoly?”
The threat of the Commander holding a razor so close to Offred’s skin is obvious, but everything about this mysterious journey he takes her on raises the hairs on the back of your neck. The way he watches her put on make up she shouldn’t have. The way he calls her “Mrs Waterford”. The way Serena Joy says to him in the flashback, “What did you think was going to happen?” The way his continuous smirks become predatory, hungry. Almost everything about the middle section of this episode screams dangerous.
And then there’s that surprise reappearance I mentioned earlier. MOIRA CAME BACK!! It was so refreshing to see her again, I’ve absolutely fallen in love with her character, so a very warm welcome from me. I desperately hope that there’s more of Moira to come before the end.
The stand-out thing this episode, the running theme throughout, was the emotional connection to Offred. All the events of Episode 8 were experienced and felt through Offred. Every step of the way I was feeling what she was feeling, and cliché as it sounds, I went on that journey with her. I think you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who didn’t feel that this week, it was pulled off sublimely.
Episode 8 has got to be one of the top episodes so far. Fraught with tension, and numerous on-edge and highly strung characters, with so much that could go pear-shaped. There’s danger in the air. And with Offred’s renewed determination not to be the girl trapped in a box, there’s plenty more to come with the potential to go horribly, disastrously, wrong.
Catch up with The Handmaid’s Tale on All4. Image source: Vox.com