I’m going to assume that if you’re reading this, then you’ve already watched season one of THE HANDMAID’S TALE. If not, then here’s your warning that spoilers are within in order to discuss season two.
The show made an unexpected pop culture impact when Hulu dropped the first three episodes on their streaming service. It was a smart move as those unfamiliar with the Margaret Atwood novel might be put off from what looked like a period piece. The irony is “Handmaid’s Tale” is actually a story of the future where society finds itself moving backwards for women’s rights.
The United States has now become a totalitarian government after a disease spreads causing the birth rate to drop. To no one’s surprise, this is seen as something to fault women and their rights are stripped away completely and they are ordered to submit to men for various purposes. The women who can still give birth are hard to find, but when they are, they become property to barren couples who participate is a ritual rape that apparently comes straight out of the bible. Now, I was raised going to Spanish mass and I don’t speak Spanish so I’m not too familiar with how accurate this is. All I know is with our real current state in American society, the show has become all too familiar.
Season one covered the entire novel (much like HBO’s The Leftovers did), so season two leads to all fresh material that even fans of the book didn’t know what to expect. We last left off with June aka Offred (Elizabeth Moss) being taken away in a black van in the most ambiguous way: is she being sent away for her insubordination or is she getting saved?
As it turns out, she and several other handmaids are taken to a scare tactic scene, witnessing the deadly consequences if they continue to not obey the sexist laws. Offred manages to escape and begins the storyline of season two. Once again, we witness what life was like leading up to this. Honestly, these flashbacks are my favorite scenes. It’s interesting watching some of the characters acting like a completely different person in what we perceive to be a normal world. The issues with the present is that Season Two falls into the filler trap where at times I felt like I was rewatching Season One. We’ve become familiar with this world and some characters continue to make poor choices to keep the episodes rolling in and Hulu holding onto their subscribers.
Offred becomes one of the least interesting characters and the creators know that as we get to have more focus on Serena Waterford (Yvonne Strahovski, known in the horror community from Showtime’s Dexter). Although one of the scariest people to ever live with, Serena is fascinating as she fights with her own morals and still wanting to become the wife her Commander husband needs or rather wants.
There are some strong moments in Season Two, but I hope there’s an end game as the show is extremely stressful to take in. When the end credits roll, it’s like you didn’t realize you were holding your breathe for the last hour. The performances are what makes the show successful as we believe all the horror and torment these women face, even some of the men have to come to terms with their own demons. No spoilers, but Season Two ends in an infuriating manner whose narrative technique is transparent as to utilize a critical moment to create a storyline for the already announced Season Three. If you were a fan of Season Two, then definitely purchase the Blu-ray for the collector in you as the the lack of special features isn’t anything to go crazy for. Featurettes on the new narrative and fashion are all we get when I feel some commentaries would give great insight into the series.