Four episodes in to 'The Handmaid's Tale', and the long-awaited revolution isn't coming any closer now than it was in the first season.
'God Bless The Child', if there's a point to the episode beyond to further highlight the hypocrisy at the core of Gilead, slowly builds up the layers for what's to come. The episode opens with the Handmaids being marched to a church for a baptismal ceremony for the newly-born children of Gilead, all of it interspersed with June (Elisabeth Moss) remembering her own daughter's baptism.
It's an intriguing comparison, if a bit weakly done; it's the same ceremony and the same result - an innocent child is absolved of their original sins, but the connotations are totally different. In Gilead, the children are conceived in a ceremony that's dressing up rape and the oppression is everywhere. In the world before Gilead, it's in an intimate church and the parents joyfully partake - even if June's mother (Cherry Jones) loudly proclaims that it's all ridiculous.
After the ceremony, June reunites with Commander Waterford and Serena (Joseph Fiennes and Yvonne Strahovski), who are still estranged. Again, what's so frustrating about the dynamic between June and Serena is that they are polar opposites, and whenever they try to work together, it never ends up working. After June seemingly brokers a truce between Serena and her husband, the end of the episode sees it barely together. More on that later.
Between cutting between the current baptism and the one in June's memory, it also intersperses Emily (Alexis Bledel) reuniting with her son and her wife, though the process of healing is only about to begin. There's a sweet moment, towards the end of the episode, where they read together about dinosaurs, and it just further highlights how truly awful Gilead is and was. Emily herself is reading, which is forbidden under their law, and it's about dinosaurs, which is also considered heretical and denied. That simple, small moment is the real revolution for Emily, who's now finally free from the terror she experienced.
A key scene in 'God Bless The Child', however, comes with the brutal Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd) pummeling Janine in full view of the Commanders and their wives. The scene, which begins with a rare moment of tenderness in Gilead when Commander Putnam's wife offers the child to Janine, who'd previously attempted to jump off a bridge with. As Janine offers herself as Handmaid to the Putnams - just so she can be near her child - Aunt Lydia strikes, only before June steps in to stop her.
Again, what's so galling about it all is that the hypocrisy of Gilead is once again in full view. They know right well that the Handmaids are being beaten and brutalised, but when it's done in public and in front of them, none of them can bear to witness it, let alone intervene to stop it. The indifference is chilling, but it also speaks to the layers of supposed decency that Gilead tries to place over their twisted way of living.
The episode ends with June being shown a video of her child by the Waterfords, protesting in Canada, with her husband Lucas (OT Fagbenle). Is Lucas now being targeted by them? Would Gilead attempt to cross over into Canada to get the child back?