Let’s chat The Handmaid’s Tale episode 2.06 – “First Blood”. Some People can’t be friends, some people shouldn’t be friends, and some people just get blown up.
Wow. That just happened.
I really hope they have the guts to kill off Fred Waterford. Seriously. I hope he is gone because the show obviously has no idea what to do with him. There’s nothing wrong with killing a main character, especially when their story has run out, and it seems like this might be the time for our favorite commander to go gently into that misogynistic good night.
So I am certainly at a cross roads in The Handmaid’s Tale and everything it wants to accomplish with it’s story. Is Waterford’s death the spark that ignites the full out rebellion of The Handmaids a la The Hunger Games? There are definitely shades of Katniss here. Is it better to go that route and make the story much bigger than what we originally anticipated?
Or, is it better to keep Fred alive and see how this effects the Waterford house? There is potentially a good story for Fred here still remaining and that is the inevitable collapse with Serena.
Perhaps we could see Serena take the power she should have had long ago while Fred recovers from this attack, only for Fred to come back and rip the power away from her again? Not only would the power be gone, but, unlike last time where it was a committee of guys taking it away from her, this time it would be Fred actually choosing to do it. Now that feels like a natural story line to me.
Then again, that was a pretty decisive freaking explosion. I’d be hard pressed to find any logical way to keep Fred alive while he was in the middle of new Ofglen’s running ball of fireworks.
It is not coincidence that this comes in the middle of season 2 – this event will shape the rest of the season, and perhaps even into season 3 – depending on who lives or dies. But as explosive (pardon the pun) as the final seconds are of this episode, they actually overshadow a rather intriguing look into the mind of the show’s best character: Serena Joy.
Yep, I’ve said it. You read that right. The Handmaid’s Tale’s best character is ABSOLUTELY Serena Joy, and it’s not even close. First Blood seals it for me.
Seeing where Serena Joy comes from and how she was one of the main architects of this truly obscene world is fascinating. While I may not be a huge fan of how The Handmaid’s Tale loves to bludgeon it’s viewers over the head it with it’s symbolism or theme, (I’m looking at you, Serena being shot in the abdomen at a political rally) the journey to will Gilead into existence is certainly interesting.
Of course the great irony here is that as Serena is trying to speak to all the collegiate elites about her notions on “A Woman’s Place”, she gets booed and spat on by her listeners, and Fred actively shouts something to the effect of “She has the right to speak! This is America!” Yeah – once again, wow.
This goes to show you how a small splinter group of certified wackos not only obtains social prominence, but actual influence within the American political sphere. Serena was shot, and she handed her Gileadites(?) the proverbial keys to the American psyche.
But this is not the main reason why Serena is simply the best character in The Handmaid’s Tale. Nope. Watching her navigate what exactly to do with her life, and her rebellious Handmaid is delicious television. Being witness to the small struggles within her own world she created is what keeps The Handmaid’s Tale alive for me. Serena has essentially doomed her existence to a life of perpetual limbo. She can’t have a baby. But the baby is what her world values the most, so she must succumb to the whims of a pregnant handmaid who hates her.
Serena tries to exercise her power in ways that she could not while Gilead was being formed, by trying to make June pick up the knitting needles – but, all to no avail. Like before, Serena is dependent on someone else’s whimsy – and she has no control over their actions. Just like the men before her, June shuts Serena down by saying that she feels a cramp and doesn’t want to hurt the baby. Eden, Serena, and June know it’s full of crap, we all know it’s full of crap, but there’s nothing Serena can do. No matter what she does, she is getting shut out.
Try to be friends with June? Talk about how they could have eaten at the same brunch spot in downtown Boston eating Eggs Benedict before the fall? Let her see the baby’s room and treat her like a human? Nope – June is rightfully suspicious and demands to see Hannah. But these are all natural movements, and character moments for a woman in Serena’s place. She can’t do anything to make her own world. Yet, she made the world she is in and you can see that it torments her. Something has to give here, and that’s why I wonder if Fred is actually dead.
Should Fred stay alive, there has to be a reckoning between he and Serena – especially after the baby is born. Will this empower Serena? Will it make her slave to Fred? Will she kick Offred out of her house immediately once her usefulness is up? Or, will there be some sort of detente between June and Serena? No matter what, taking Fred out of the story, permanently or temporarily, is the right choice. Let’s focus on the world that exists between June and Serena, and see how they try to out-maneuver each other. Let’s see where this goes.
Mary & Blake certified: A-
Apropos of nothing:
- Watching Nick and Eden consummate there marriage was awkward and just plain horrifying. The sheet, the hole, oh god I’m grossed out even typing it.
- Punk rock at the end of the episode? Sometimes The Handmaid’s Tale gets their music right, and sometimes they miss the boat entirely. Consider this the latter.
- “Oh, you have to fuck somebody you don’t want to? Poor thing.” June coming from the top rope with a Flying Elbow Drop like Randy Savage on Nick.
- Want to know why Fred has nothing to do in this show? “Are you mad at me?” is literally a question he asks June. WHAT?! Seriously? Dude’s gotta go.
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