The Handmaid's Tale 16+

Showing On: RTE Two

Season: 4

Episode: 2

Actors: Elisabeth Moss, Max Minghella, Joseph Fiennes, Samira Wiley

Release Date: Thursday 13th May 2021

Genre(s): Drama

Running time: 48 minutes

One of the starkest things about watching 'The Handmaid's Tale' as a male is how there are literally only a handful of actually OK male characters.

You've got the US representative who Serena has been dealing with, June's husband Luke, and then there's Nick, the former driver-now-Commander who June was sleeping with while she was captured by the Waterfords. What last night's episode, 'Nightshade', asks is if there any good men in Gilead? We open with Luke leading a fundraiser to help relocate the children from what's now been dubbed 'Angel's Flight', the flight that brought the 96 children and a number of Marthas to Canada.

The US representative, meanwhile, is trying to help Serena convince Fred Waterford to turn into a witness and help expose the inner workings of Gilead. All of that, of course, goes out the window when the big reveal comes - namely, that Serena is pregnant. So does that mean the child is due to Fred, or is it someone else? Does the child belong to Gilead, or is it Canadian?

The place itself, Gilead, clearly warps people who come into contact with it. Some are utterly broken and traumatised by it, like Rita the ex-Martha who's now free in Canada but still dresses in a conservative manner and addresses people like she's in Gilead. Then there's one of the children rescued from Gilead, James / Asher, who wants to go back. Is it because he would have grown up in a world where could have had it all? Or was it just because it was the only world he'd ever known?

Meanwhile, back in Gilead, June meets with another Mayday cell inside a brothel and is already planning to leave the farm where they've been staying thus far. If there is any leadership in Mayday, and it seems unlikely, they're long since trying to corral June. Rather than simply take the help and move her own cell to another house, she helps to wipe out a number of Commanders - using nightshade no less! - in a scene set to a very heavy-handed musical choice in David Bowie's 'Suffragette City'. Yet, like we know already, June makes a big swing and everyone else ends up paying the consequences.

Which leads us to the final moments of the episode and back to our original question - are there any good men in Gilead? Nick Blaine, who's now a Commander, shoots dead one of the friendly Guardians and presumably some others in the farm and captures June with the intent of finding the other Handmaids. Did someone talk? Was Nick tracking them all along? Why did he say he'd "try" to keep her alive? Has he gone over to Gilead's side, or is he just trying to scare her into talking?

Final Thoughts

  • Cannot begin to overstate what an uninspired choice of a song in 'Suffragette City' is
  • Fun fact - Zawe Ashton, who plays Moira's girlfriend Oona, is the granddaughter of the former Prime Minister of Uganda!
  • Anyone clock the 'Star Wars' reference when June left the farm?