June and Serena change places: NPR

Jon (Elizabeth Moss) discovers that her anger isn’t responding the way she expects in Season 5 The Handmaid’s Tale.


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Jon (Elizabeth Moss) discovers that her anger isn’t responding the way she expects in Season 5 The Handmaid’s Tale.


The Handmaid’s Tale It premiered on Hulu in the spring of 2017, early in the management that eventually nominated three of the five Supreme Court justices who eventually overturned. Roe vs. Wade. Back then, the story of a woman who was kidnapped, separated from her daughter, her husband, and held captive by a couple who repeatedly raped her in the hope that she would have a child – one who would also take it from her – got attention for being a frightening and alarming vision of what the worst-case scenarios for the loss of freedom might look like.

But it also received attention, more and more over the following years, because of its limitations. Most obviously, the central character, John (Elizabeth Moss) is a white woman, and it appears that most of the other women held in Gilead as maids were also white. “This could happen here” was a foolish warning to those who knew that in the United States and elsewhere, enslaved and indigenous women, among others, had long known about captivity, forced separation from their children, loss of autonomy, and about the violence of rape in The context of alleged “ownership” or domination by the state over other human beings. The series’ failure to deal with race when talking about the subjection of women and especially the strong control of their fertility was deeply wrong, and the reference to the show when lamenting the loss of bodily autonomy stood, at times, for a limited view. what does that mean.

At the same time, from a story perspective, the show faced stagnation issues. For three seasons and more, I’ve focused on the three main goals of June: escape. To avenge her captors, the Waterfords; In order to reunite with Hannah, the daughter Gilad was taken from her and her husband and placed with “parents” who were in fact kidnappers. For a long time, it seemed that June would approach infinity of progress on those fronts and then either be thwarted or changed its mind, to the point of boredom.

During its fourth season, the series brought about perhaps the most significant shift in perspective when June left Gilead. She escaped through Chicago and was accepted into Canada as a refugee. She is reunited with her husband Luke, with her friend Moira (Samara Wiley), and with her daughter Nicole (the child she gave birth to while she was imprisoned, and whom she had successfully escaped earlier in the story). In one of the series’ best and simpler scenes, John testified at the Waterfords trial, who was arrested and charged in Canada. With her freedom guaranteed, one of June’s goals was achieved.

Then, at the end of Season 4, I was able to make the most shocking reversal. Through a combination of fierce determination and knowledge of the right people, she takes Fred Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) into the woods at night unprotected, as she and a group of former maids beat him to death. Revenge is achieved, at least against Fred, while Serena (Yvonne Strahovsky) remains in a Canadian prison.

We return for Season 5 right after June and her group kills Fred. I sent his finger to Serena, to taunt and show proof. The obvious question arises: What would June’s punishment be for doing this? The answer to that question, which the new season offers early on, isn’t entirely satisfactory, but it does allow for June’s goals to be narrowed down to one remaining goal: getting Hannah out of Gilead. She’s otherwise willing to walk away from the bigger conflict she’s in.

The problem with this is that for some of the women of Gilead (both past and present), June is the leader of their critical resistance movement. And while editing itself and got to her With revenge, the other women start looking at her and wondering if her fight has anything to do with anyone else. Because other women, of course, want revenge as much as she does, and they helped her get it. Now, they expect her to do the same, and are horrified that she doesn’t taste that much. “It was for you Monster,” says another woman—a black woman named Danielle (Natasha Mumba)—who participated in Fred’s murder. And we tore it apart because You are. It’s my turn now. “Are you a leader if you pause when you achieve your individual freedom? Do you inspire? What does a woman fortunate enough to achieve her own ends owe to those who were her citizens?” She was here for you,” says Vicki (Amanda Choo), pulling out a gun and pointing it in June. Are you here for her? Are you here for any of us? In this scene, John goes from a character seen only as a traumatized person to a character who is also seen through the lenses of what she owes to others, and whether she was before. Really interested in the resistance at all.

At the same time, the series began examining not only Serena’s complicity but her active participation in Gilead’s abusive regime. Strahovski is doing some great work this season as a woman who is constantly trying to maneuver herself into a proper position for her own comfort and safety. The program has always acknowledged, but is now fully confronted, that one of the main threats to vulnerable women in any society that oppresses them is, in fact, the less vulnerable women who think that participating in injustice will work better for them than resisting. . Under this argument, patriarchy would get nowhere without women embracing it for its merits.

In some past episodes, Serena has acted as a victim of a different kind, one definitely better than June but also suffering from violence (like having her finger cut off for the sin of questioning authority). But she has now become an almost entirely menacing figure. Fred was replaced by Serena as the primary representation of Gilead’s brutality. Moreover, Serena wants June’s execution – she wants it so precisely that she wants Canada to change its entire legal approach to the death penalty just for this purpose. So Serena shares June’s desire to kill her enemies; She only hopes that as a cute pregnant woman who practices yoga and sees herself as someone of special importance, she can convince the state to do so instead of chasing someone through the woods to strike her hand.

Season 5 also continues its exploration of June’s Wrath, for the entirety – complete Lack of interest in forgiveness, apology, or healing. Even when her husband wants her to move on, even when her best friend wants her to move on, Jun is consumed not only by her desire to get Hana back, but by her own acquired anger. In the seasons when she was imprisoned, The Handmaid’s Tale She used Jun’s anger as her fuel, the thing that made her able to function, and in fact the thing that kept her from despairing. (“Nolite te bastardes carborundorum”, carved into the wood of her room early in her time at Waterfords. It’s not actually Latinbut it makes the point.) That anger was a motor, and a means to an end.

But now that June was out of Gilead, her anger had not dissipated. If anything, it has grown. I killed Fred happilyshe rejoice in it, where she had to be ordered by Aunt Lydia to take part in the ritual killing of a man with the blessing of the state as punishment for breaking the law. It’s less than she can heal and more than she can feel past Same idea. She is impatient with people who think healing is possible and insulted by those who consider it her duty. She occasionally stumbled with bloodshed.

Stories about trauma survivors often focus on portraying them as crying, lost, and just looking for peace. At this point, the most daring thing The Handmaid’s Tale It may be his desire to explore trauma as a trigger for anger that demands revenge and can lead to tunnel vision and the loss of all other purposes in life, not a wound that responds reliably to love or inevitably leads to growth.

None of this negates the complaints about the show that have been shared for several years now. The show is still about June, and more about Serena than anything else. It can’t be engineered into something that isn’t. But his examination of these two women involves a more complex dynamic than he once did. It has become a more in-depth examination of complicity, both at the Serena level of active violence and participation and at the June level in engaging in individual rather than collective resistance. And it became an extraordinary story, for television, of a trauma survivor whose eyes still darkened with the same coiled anger, even after the immediate danger had passed.

And there’s another thing, too. In Canada, while the authorities secure their grip on her, Serena appears isolated; It looks like she has broken away from her support base. But she then gets out of prison on a supervised flight, and even though she’s still in custody, she discovers something. The sidewalk is full of well-wishers, people out there in Canada who are drawn to the Gilead lifestyle, who look to support and spread it where it hasn’t yet taken root. There is no system as simple as oppressive as the most obvious villains, after all. Its claws and tendency to grow make it fearsome.

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