The Handmaid’s Tales season two has reached its midway point with the very explosive episode, First Blood—but more on that later. This focus of this season is consequence. In the first season, we are introduced to the dystopian world where the totalitarian and highly religious government known as Gileadtakes control after a bloody civil war. Women are horribly subjugated, and under the new laws are not allowed to work, own property, and handle money. To add more darkness to this already grim world, a lowering fertility rate due to environmental pollution leaves the last fertile women forced into the role of Handmaidsand are passed from ruling leaders homes in a breeding ceremony that is pure rape. Viewers have seen the women who have resisted, beaten and even have body parts removed.
The series’ protagonist is June Osborne/Offred. We are given her backstory as you might imagine during the first season. June/Offred was caught trying to escape to Canada with her husband Luke and daughter Hannah, and since June/Offred was fertile she was brutally made to be a Handmaid and placed in Home of Commander Fred Waterford (hence the new name Offred...yuck) and his wife Serena Joy. Throughout the first season we are introduced to how dark this world is and the ultimate hypocrisy it truly represents. Fred has trouble getting it up and raping Offred during the hard to watch ritual. Serena, so desperate to have a child, forces their driver Nick onto Offred to father the child. While Fred tries to have a secret relationship with Offred like everything is normal between them.
So basically, this world that prides itself on being godly is as sinful as the one that proceeded it.
Season one ended with a show of rebellion when the Handmaid’s refused to stone Janine/Ofdaniel. She was one of the women who rebelled during their horrid training to become a Handmaid and had her eye removed, as well as suffered an emotional break when her baby with her commander (yuck, those hypocritical a-holes make me sick) is taken. She decides to take baby Charlotte back for a heartbreaking suicide which is stopped by Offred.
Now in season two, we see the consequences of those personal acts of rebellion. The Handmaid’s that did not stone Janine to death are taken to the remains of Fenway Park and made to believe that they will be hanged—terror is a pale word to describe what these women were put through. Many pissed themselves in the fear of their lives being taken in such a violent way.
However, it was a trick by the very villainous true-believer Aunt Lydia, she finds out that Offred is pregnant and spares her the punishment of being burned on the hand like the other Handmaid’s. Here comes the second consequence, the pregnancy of Offred by Nick (secretly a spy to report on Fred to his bosses) developed into a relationship. Is it a real one or just one born out of a need to find some escape from a hell on earth? We have yet to find out, but Nick sets into motion Offred’s escape from her hospital checkup to a safe house.
The actions that each character took in the first season are responded with heavy force in physical and emotional ways. June, having freedom so close to her is captured after soldiers shoot up the plane that will take her to Canada, killing everyone except her. Defiant, to everyone, June is taken to the wall where enemies against Gilead are hanged. There she is shown the hanging dead body of delivery driver that gave her shelter, Omar. Aunt Lydia in all her gruesome glory tells June that the Omar’s wife, Heather will become a Handmaid and their son, Adam will be given to a new family. This breaks June and right before our eyes, Offred is brought back into servitude.
Nick, the true father of Offred’s child is not spared from the consequences. Fred knows that Nick is the father and seeks to create distance between him and Offred because of his sick obsession with her. Nick is given a wife in a wedding service for Guardians as a reward for their work. What makes this even more horrible is that the women in these arranged marriages are teenagers. Nick’s new wife Eden is fifteen years old. When you thought this world couldn’t get more disgusting, these young women are brainwashed to be nothing but babymakers, and Eden immediately wants to have sex with a reasonable upset Nick. However, he must as Eden begins to suspect that Nick might be gay (gender-traitor in Gilead speak) because of his unwillingness to sleep with a fifteen-year-old.
Yeah, this world has done a number on people.
It seems that the bastards of this world are the only ones who are spared the brutality of consequence, but that is the not the case in what seems to be the mid-season finale (but not really, no hiatus on streaming) when Ofglen, who had her tongue removed for speaking up to spare Janine from stoning, breaks into newly open red center (house of horrors for new Handmaids) during a presentation by Fred and acts as a suicide bomber.
This first half of season two continues the emotional dark ride of this almost too real world. Actions, no matter how noble and kind, have all too real consequences, and these flawed and tortured characters are introduced to them.
Make sure to watch The Handmaid’s Tale on HULU, new episodes every Wednesday.