Summary: Moira recalls times with he fiancé Odette. She discovers that she was killed in the explosion. Fred has been badly injured by the explosion and is in the hospital. Cushing suspects that Offred ran away and wasn't taken, so Serena teams up with her to remove Cushing. Emily and Janine are brought back from the colonies as handmaids since many were killed in the explosion.
The Good: There were some pretty good parts here. I liked the funeral scene which the episode started with. I thought the black mourning clothes for the handmaids was a really nice detail too. Once more Aunt Lydia impressed me with her genuine love for the handmaids and her sadness after many were killed.
I enjoyed Offred's storyline too. I loved the tension in her scene with Cushing which was a good continuation from season one where we had a scene with an Eye who came to question Offred about Emily. I like that Cushing was smart enough to figure that Offred isn't so innocent, but in his attempt to get information, he made some enemies in Offred and Serena who both want the best for their children. Their team-up was good and made sense. I appreciated Offred subtly threatening Serena to let her know to help her or maybe Serena won't have a child. It's an interesting development which will surely add something fresh to this fascinating relationship.
Samira Wiley was superb in this episode. While I have big issues with Moira's storyline (see: The Bad), I thought that Wiley's performance was so superb that she managed to make me care about something that I really shouldn't have cared at all about.
The reuniting handmaids at the end was a great scene. Janine and Emily have been separated from Offred for so long, so that makes their reunion feel genuinely sweet and powerful, though this story has its flaws too (see: The Bad).
The Bad: This episode was disappointing overall and the weakest of the season. The biggest flaw with this was how cluttered it felt, which in turn made a lot of storylines feel rushed. This episode addressed the Waterfords, Offred and Serena’s conflict, the colonies, Little America and even a little bit for Eden and Nick. That’s too much for a single episode and it affected the quality here.
The colonies in particular felt really disappointing. Several episodes had storylines dedicated to the colonies, and yet it all ended up meaning nothing since the colonies were completely abandoned now with Emily and Janine all returning back to Offred. And the worst part? None of them had any changes in character. Nothing has changed about them since they left to the colonies making their entire journey pointless. I’m fine with splitting characters off to have individual stories, but they must go through some kind of change for it to have a purpose overall. If there is no purpose, then it’s no different from a bottle episode like “The Lost Sister” from Stranger Things which didn’t have much meat to its story at all.
Moira’s story is similarly detached from the main narrative, albeit in a different way. Her story feels totally forced into this episode and completely out of left field, and that is because of Odette. The big problem with the existence of Odette is that she was never hinted at or foreshadowed beforehand. Because of that, it feels awkward that we just assume now that Moira had this fiancé who she cared so much about. Furthermore, we don’t care about her as much as we should either. After all, if Moira didn’t think about Odette for a season and a half, why should we care about her? This entire storyline feels like it’s in the episode to give it a manipulative emotional edge and also to make up for Moira’s weak characterization thus far. Also, there was a really awkward scene where Moira just randomly decided to find pictures of Odette and started crying in response. It was so random and I found it difficult to connect with the emotions Moira was feeling because of that.
I think that this season as a whole has a big problem which I just noticed in this episode. The season has independent storylines which are addressed in a single episode, but are never brought up before or after. It was Odette in this episode, Emily’s past in “Unwomen” and June’s mother in “Baggage”. I understand that these disconnected stories are similar in format to the novel, but that doesn’t translate well in a TV season. It worked in the novel because the novel was written as a story that Offred was reflecting on. But on the show, the story isn’t being told in present tense, so I feel that there needs to be better story structure and flow to make up for this. Choosing to not do that is lazy and ineffective at engaging me.
The soundtrack choices continue to be really poor. Out of place music completely took me out of two scenes in this episode, once during the handmaids saying their names, and once during the funeral. This show needs to El are about subtlety with its music choice.
The scene with the Eyes hanging bodies everywhere felt pretty pointless. We get it, Gilead is an evil place, let’s see something new now.
The Unknown: Why were the Eyes killing people? What were they trying to prove?
How long will this Serena/Offred alliance last? Do they actually have a chance at becoming friends of sorts despite their history?
Will Fred be okay? How long until he is out of the hospital?
Best Moment: I will pick the moment where Serena and Offred chose to work together for mutual gain. It wasn’t the most impactful moment, but all of the other moments had major flaws attached to them, so I think this was the best scene.
Character of the Episode: Moira.
Conclusion: This episode was really weak and showed the biggest holes in The Handmaid’s Tale’s storytelling. Let’s see some more cohesion and change in Gilead in future episodes to prevent awkward instalments like this one.
Just a university student who loves to watch TV. And criticize it like hell.