What's always been interesting about 'The Handmaid's Tale' throughout its four seasons is that the war between Gilead and what's left of America has always been out in the distance, yet there have been glimmers of it everywhere.
After all, nearly all of the male characters are called Commanders. There are soldiers everywhere in Gilead. There's been frequent mention of insurgents and terrorists along the borders of Gilead, and we know that the United States government-in-exile up in Canada are trying to do what they can to make a difference. Last night's episode, however, put the war on Gilead front and centre and showed just what it's like in dystopian Chicago.
While you might have been yearning for June and Jeanine to pick up rifles and start blasting their way through the streets of Chicago like it's 'Rambo', the reality - such as it is - is far different. There's a key moment where June, Jeanine, and the camp leader Stephen hide out in a storefront while a patrol of soldiers from Gilead march by. Much to June's anger, Stephen points out that if they attacked them and they didn't check in, more soldiers would appear and their resistance wouldn't be able to move freely. When June asks what kind of resistance lets an opportunity to attack go by, Stephen replies they're the kind that survives. Immediately after this, a new rebel group - the Nighthawks - are introduced, but we don't see any of their number, just what they've left behind. Crispy Gilead soldiers.
As you'd expect, June is chomping at the bit to join them and decides to head off on her own. In a later scene when Nick meets two Marthas involved in the resistance, one of them angrily remarks that "a lot of good women died" for June, and here now, we see her leaving Jeanine alone with the camp. Even as much as June might want to go it alone, and have no connections, the bond of sisterhood that exists between her and Jeanine means they'll never be apart. Even after the finale of this week's episode. More on that in a little bit.
Meanwhile, back in Gilead, Lawrence is scheming with Lydia to try get back on the council and comes up with a scheme to try and blackmail one of the Commanders with information Lydia has on him, in exchange for her reinstatement. It all works out, although it comes at a heavy cost. A bombing campaign on the borders of Gilead before a twenty-four hour ceasefire is the only way the Commanders will agree to Lawrence's plan for NGO aid, meaning Nick's plan to save June and Jeanine has pretty much backfired.
Just as June is on her way to meet the Nighthawks somewhere deeper into Chicago, Jeanine catches up with her, but just as the two Marthas said earlier and has been touched on, again and again, this season, June is always leading people into danger whether she means to or not. The episode ends with a bombing run and, in the rubble, June struggles to free herself and find Jeanine, but finds instead Moira out of nowhere, working with one of the NGO groups. Yes, the whole thing is set to a pretty bland cover of Coldplay's 'Fix You', but still the moment is a long time coming and one that will no doubt push the remaining five episodes of the season onward.
- Who knew the Aunts had their own gym, or for that matter, played cards?
- Anyone else think Lawrence is going to knife everyone in the back AGAIN?
- TV producers, please stop using piano covers of already-downbeat songs for emotional finales, it's 2021 for feck sake