Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale
Season 2, Episode 5: “Seeds”
Directed by Mike Barker
Written by Kira Snyder
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Other Women” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “First Blood” – click here
June (Elisabeth Moss) has been slowly regressing, becoming more Offred than herself. She burns the Mayday letters in the bathroom. Like literally watching hope go up in smoke. Nick (Max Minghella) finds her out of her room in the kitchen, questioning what she’s doing. He can see she isn’t right.
We see Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd) and Serena Joy (Yvonne Strahovski) measuring, weighing, monitoring the carrier of Fred’s (Joseph Fiennes) supposed child. June has no privacy whatsoever, even amongst other women. She’s breeding stock. Serena Joy’s stressed by the waiting, which Lydia notices, advising a happy home is best for a healthy baby. Yet there’s something else behind Serena and her unusual attitude, something deeper. The whole house is affected. Fred seems strange, too. Stranger than usual.
Up in the Colonies, the women continue suffering, as well. Janine (Madeline Brewer) and Emily (Alexis Bledel) have each other, at the very least. Nevertheless, it’s fucking grim. Janine somehow keeps her faith in God: “He‘s got all of us.” She’s still brainwashed by Gilead, after all she’s been put through.
In the bathroom, June notices some spotting on her underwear. When she wipes, there’s a little more blood, too. Hmm. She likely won’t mention anything about this to either Serena or Aunt Lydia. It’d be almost a death warrant if she miscarried at this point. Especially unsettling because, she’s been forced into pregnancy, but right now being pregnant is basically the one thing keeping her from execution by Gilead. A double-edged sword if there ever were one.
On a walk, Serena begins to get pissed off with June’s new attitude. There’s no more fight left in the Handmaid, at least not outwardly. It disturbs the mistress to some extent. She’s paranoid. Nick’s continuing his worry, he actually asks Serena about it. They discuss Offred’s “mental state.” It seems to me Nick is feeling guilty, for not being able to get June away from Gilead. As he watches her confined once more, he’s probably eating himself alive inside. But I’m worried Mrs. Waterford could be piquing her husband’s jealousy with a simple mention of Nick looking out for the Handmaid. This prompts Fred to look into transferring his driver elsewhere.
June goes about her days. She does the routine. Only now she adds a makeshift pad in her underwear, to keep anybody from figuring out she’s been bleeding. More secrets. So, is her rebellion staying as a hidden, inner fire? Does she have a plan, or is she playing this moment to moment? Either way, it’s goddamn dangerous.
Gilead is having a big ceremony, to honour their “most valuable Guardians.” Every ceremony and ritual they do is like sitting in on a big mass, complete with organ music. Commander Pryce (Robert Curtis Brown) gives a speech, as the Guardians are given medals and praised. Then, each Guardian is gifted a bride, and wed in front of the crowd. What a blow, to have June sitting there watching, her last hope inside those walls slipping further away. Not to mention the brides all look questionably young. Yikes. What a horrific place, in so, so many ways.
Nick and his new wife, Eden (Sydney Sweeney), go back to the Waterford house, where they read more creepy Bible shit, and June’s forced to stand there watching the whole ugly spectacle. For a moment I almost believed Serena was turning away from Gilead, that she might come to her senses and see what was being done to June, all the other Handmaids. But I was foolish, and quick to hope the best. She’s not as bad as Fred or the men. She’s still a ghoul, a real gender traitor as opposed to the lesbian women and gay men hated by the ruling class of Gilead.
Meanwhile, June is bleeding A LOT. She’s suffering it out in silence, up in her room. Such a scary thing to watch, as she’s not only sort of rebelling, she’s putting her own health at risk. That’s how bad it is there, how devastating it is to live under an eerie religious authoritarian regime. She’d rather suffer, maybe die in her own way than to do so on their terms.
At the Colonies, Emily’s finding her own health deteriorating quickly. There are other things happening, though. Such as Fiona (Soo Garay) and Kit (Novie Edwards) – the latter sick and dying – tying to knot as partners before the end soon comes. It’s a heartbreaking, brutal tragedy to witness, really. No matter if it’s tied up in love. Nothing but “dressing up the slaughterhouse.”
The next element in Serena’s repertoire of hideousness is greasing Eden up for her first night in bed with Nick. I don’t know how young this girl is, but, lord – it’s young. To see Mrs. Waterford leading these girls and women into rape and subjugation to men never fails to be stunningly vicious. Particularly due to the fact Serena is so subtle, so quiet, most the time.
Later that same night, Nick finds more ruin in the wake of Serena and Gilead as a whole: June’s in the garden, after taking a fall out the window in the rain.
June wakes in the hospital. She’s still pregnant, nothing’s changed. And things are probably going to get locked down even tighter security-wise, considering she’s having a few mental troubles. Although it looks as if June is determined to get herself and that baby out of Gilead. She refuses to let the child grow up there. This could just be what saves June, too. “They do not own you, and they do not own what you‘ll become,” she tells her unborn child.
As usual, a heavy dose of The Handmaid’s Tale. Just love where the writers are taking Season 2, after lifting off and away from Atwood’s novel at the close of Season 1. Really heading into some interesting, if not dark and disturbing places. Excited, in the most terrifying sense, for more.
“First Blood” is next time.