‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ shifts its focus to the rage and limitations of its heroine

June (Elizabeth Moss) learns that her anger doesn’t react the way she expects in the fifth season story of maid,


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June (Elizabeth Moss) learns that her anger doesn’t react the way she expects in the fifth season story of maid,


story of maid Premiered on Hulu in the spring of 2017, at the start of an administration that nominated three of the five Supreme Court justices that eventually overturned. Roe vs. Wade. At the time, this is the story of a woman who was kidnapped and separated from her daughter and her husband and held captive by a couple who repeatedly raped her in the hope that she would produce a child – One they’ll take from him too – got a frightening and foreboding vision of what a worst-case scenario could look like for the loss of freedom.

But in subsequent years, for its limitations, it received more and more attention. Most obviously, its central character, June (Elizabeth Moss), is a white woman, and most of the other women kept as slaves at Gilead also appeared to be white. “It Could Happen Here” was a warning that was silly to those who knew that in the United States and elsewhere, enslaved women and indigenous women, among others, about long-term imprisonment, were taken away from their children. Know about forced segregation, about loss of autonomy, and about rape violence in the context of perceived “mastery” of state-sanctioned dominance over other human beings. The show’s failure to reckon with race when talking about the subjugation of women, and in particular the forceful control of their fertility, was deeply false, and the show, when referring to it, lamented the loss of bodily autonomy. , then at times, stood for limited view of what it was meant to be.

At the same time, from the point of view of the story, the show was struggling with the problem of stagnation. For the three-plus season, it focused on June’s three primary objectives: to survive; to take revenge on his captors, Waterford; And took Gilead’s daughter to herself and to her husband, to be reunited with Hannah, and to her parents who were in captivity. And for a long time, it seemed that June would endlessly approach progress on those fronts and then either be thwarted or changed, in a state of exhaustion.

During its fourth season, when June left Gilead, the series underwent perhaps the most significant change in perspective. She fled Chicago and was accepted as a refugee in Canada. She is reunited with her husband Luke, and with her friend Moira (Samara Wiley), and with her daughter Nicole (the child she successfully smuggled in earlier in the story when she was a prisoner). In one of the best and simplest scenes of the series, June testifies at the trial of Waterfords, who was arrested and charged in Canada. With her independence secured, one of June’s objectives was achieved.

Then, at the end of season four, she managed to make a more shocking turnaround. Through a combination of determination and knowing the right people, she pulls Fred Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) out into the woods unprotected at night, where he and a group of other former slaves beat him to death. Revenge was at least achieved against Fred, while Serena (Yvonne Strahovsky) remains in a Canadian prison.

We return for season five just after June and her group kill Fred. He has sent his finger to Serena as a taunt and as an offer of proof. And the obvious question presents itself: What would be June’s punishment for doing so? The answer to that question, which the new season offers early on, isn’t entirely satisfactory, but it allows June’s objectives to be narrowed down to a single goal: to get Hannah out of Gilead. She is otherwise ready to walk away from the larger conflict she is engaged in.

The problem with this is that for some of the women of Gilead (past and present), June is the leader of their important resistance movement. And while she’s free Self and got His Seeking revenge, other women start looking at him and wonder if he has anything to do with the fight. Because other women, of course, want revenge just as much as he did, and they helped him get it. Now, they expect her to do the same, and they’re disappointed that she has little taste for it. “it was Yours monster,” says another woman—a black woman named Danielle (Natasha Mumba)—who participated in Fred’s murder. “And we tore her apart. you, Now it’s my turn.” Are you a leader if you stop at achieving your personal freedom? Do you inspire? A woman who is lucky enough to achieve her own goals has what it takes to Were her compatriots? Are you here for any of us?” In this scene, June goes from a character who is perceived solely in her capacity to a traumatized person, also seen through the lens that What she owes to others, and whether she has ever been genuinely interested in the Resistance.

At the same time, the series begins to study not only Serena’s complicity but her active involvement in the abusive Gilead system. Strahovsky does some good work this season as a woman who is constantly trying to position herself favorably for her own comfort and safety. The show has always acknowledged, but is now facing more fully, that one of the major threats to vulnerable women in any society is, in fact, the less vulnerable women who calculate that participation in injustice is their will work better than resistance. Patriarchy, under this logic, would be nowhere to be found without women who embrace it for their own benefit.

In the past few episodes, Serena has acted as a different kind of victim, one certainly better than June’s, but one also suffering from violence (such as holding her finger for the sin of the interrogating authority). To chop off). But he is now almost entirely a figure of danger. Fred is replaced by Serena as the primary representation of Gilead’s brutality. Also, Serena wants June executed – she wants it specifically that she wants Canada to change its entire legal approach to capital punishment for this purpose. So Serena shares June’s desire to kill her enemies; She simply hopes that as a decent pregnant woman who does yoga and sees herself as a person of special importance, instead of chasing someone through the woods to kill her with her own hands, she will bring the kingdom to her. may refuse to do so.

The fifth season also continues the exploration of June’s wrath, its full- Complete – Lack of interest in forgiveness, forgiveness or healing. Even when her husband wants her to move on, when her best friend wants her to move on, June is consumed not only by her desire to get Hannah back, but by her earned anger. Is. During the seasons when she was a prisoner, story of maid Jun’s anger as his fuel, the thing that kept him able to function, and indeed the thing that kept him from despair. (“Nolite te bastards carborandorum,” he carved into the wood of his room at the beginning of his time at Waterfords. It’s not really Latin, but it makes the point.) This anger was an engine, a means to an end. .

But now that June is out of Gilead, her anger hasn’t subsided. Whatever it is, it has increased. he killed fred with pleasureHe enjoyed In it, where he was once ordered by Aunt Lydia to participate in the ritualistic murder of a man with the blessings of the state as punishment for breaking the law. It’s less she can’t heal and more she feels Past Absolutely thought. She feels impatient with those who believe healing is possible and insults those who consider it their obligation. She sometimes trembles with literal bloodshed.

Stories about trauma survivors often center on depictions of them crying, lost, and only looking for peace. At this point, the most daring thing story of maid As the driver of anger may be his desire to explore trauma that demands vengeance and can lead to tunnel vision and loss of all other purposes in life, not wounds that credibly for love. responds to or inevitably leads to development.

None of this negates the complaints about the show that have been shared for many years now. The show is still about June, and about Serena, more than anything else. It cannot be engineered into something it is not. But its investigation of these two women embraces more complex dynamics than it once did. It becomes a more thoughtful study of the complexity, at the level of Serena’s active violence and involvement, and June’s involvement in the resistance, which is individual rather than collective. And it has become, for television, an unusual story of a trauma survivor whose eyes are still black with the exact same coiled fury, even though the immediate danger is averted.

There’s more. In Canada, as the authorities secure a grip on her, Serena looks aloof; She seems to have split off from her base of support. But then she breaks out of prison on a supervised visit, and though she remains in custody, she discovers something. The sidewalk is full of well-wishers, people in Canada who are drawn to the Gilead lifestyle, who want to support it and spread it where it hasn’t yet taken hold. No oppressive system is as simple as its most obvious villains, after all. Its trap and tendency to grow is what makes it frightening.

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