‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Season 2, Episode 5: Seeing Red

The bleeding solely intensifies because the episode progresses. Offred tries and fails to hide it, fashioning a makeshift maxi pad out of bathroom paper. She grows faint. She turns the water crimson throughout one in all her obligatory baths. A shot during which the water displays Elisabeth Moss’s face underscores her character’s break up identification: There’s the true June after which there’s Offred, a flat, blurry mirror picture drowning in a pool the identical colour as her uniform.

“The Handmaid’s Tale” usually makes use of blood excessively, manipulating viewers into feeling viscerally disgusted by the brutality of Gilead as an alternative of trusting us to understand its apparent cruelty and hypocrisy. In “Seeds,” nevertheless, that redness, which alerts fertility in addition to prostitution and violence, sums up what it means to be a handmaid. For Offred, who nonetheless hasn’t gotten over the guilt of stealing Luke from his first spouse, the scarlet costume can be a scarlet letter. That the episode’s author, Kira Snyder, and director, Mike Barker, selected to truly present the blood staining her undergarments — a standard feminine expertise that we virtually by no means see on tv — looks like an implicit rebuke to the concept girls’s our bodies are “musty” or unclean.

Another stunning rejoinder to this assumption comes from Serena, as she advises Nick’s new, barely pubescent econowife, Eden (Sydney Sweeney), that it isn’t a sin to have the benefit of intercourse inside marriage. “It can bring you closer together — or it should, anyway,” Serena says, presumably talking from expertise. The change is a uncommon, probably determined try at lady discuss from an remoted feminine character who resents her fellow wives, abuses her handmaids and Marthas, seems to envy Aunt Lydia’s relative autonomy and as soon as made a profession out of undermining the rights of different girls. It isn’t information that there’s little heat left in her marriage to Commander Waterford, however the scene during which she’s chattering about Nick’s attachment to Offred, in a clear ploy to make her husband jealous, marks a nadir for his or her relationship.

Eden, in the meantime, appears doomed to undergo on this chilly, secretive family. Not solely is she launched with a purpose to hold Nick away from Offred, however whether or not she believes she desires to marry him or not, she is successfully a toddler bride. The first time I noticed him carry her veil, I gasped at how younger she regarded. This week’s episode reveals a brand new aspect of Gilead’s structural misogyny, during which ladies change into victims of what Massachusetts legislation at present classifies as statutory rape, after which lose their childhoods to the calls for of replica. The marriage additionally places Nick able the place he should both select to commit sexual assault on a minor — making him deeply complicit in state-sponsored violence in opposition to girls — or danger being labeled a dissident or a “gender traitor.”

“Gilead is within you” means various things to totally different characters. For Aunt Lydia, it’s a mandate, blessing her each prayer and whip-crack. For Moira, it’s a panopticon, making it not possible to let down her guard even when she is aware of nobody is watching her. But for these in captivity, the phrase encapsulates Gilead’s relentless affronts to their dignity. When, after collapsing from blood loss and waking up within the hospital, Offred guarantees her unborn little one that she’ll get them out of this place, she’s reclaiming her dignity and kicking Gilead out of her head. When Janine throws a marriage for a dying girl and her girlfriend within the Colonies, she’s not simply being naïve. She’s insisting on one thing extra elementary inside us — on the dignity of two individuals in love, even in a hell the place, as Emily says, “We come here, we work, we die.”

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