At this point can we all just agree that The Handmaid’s Tale (Sundays at 9 p.m. on Bravo) has a pretty eerie way of not only showcasing some of the awful things that go on in this world, but also of predicting the future? Or at least it certainly seems that way coming off the heels of Sunday’s latest episode, “Smart Power.”
The episode featured The Commander, Serena Joy and Nick embarking on a trade negotiation mission to Canada, where they met with various diplomats and tried to spread word of Gilead’s cause by painting its citizens as willing members. Of course the refugees of Little America — including Luke and Moira — had other things to say about their presence there, and they planned protests. Luke even confronted The Commander and Serena outside of their hotel with a giant poster of his former family that really hit home for those of us watching the show, even if Serena and Fred played it all off as though Luke were delusional.
The run-in led to one really good thing though, and that was Nick seeking out Luke and passing along word of June and her pregnancy. That meet-and-greet also gave Nick the opportunity to pass along those letters, which a few scans and news reports later, finally brought the #MeToo movement to the show. Canadian diplomats chose #ImWithHer as it were, and unceremoniously kicked the Gilead gang out of the country, proving morals can trump trade. It was a huge win for the good guys, something we’re not always used to seeing on the show. It also seemed to shadow Canada’s current feelings towards the States, with pretty relevant timing given our own trade negotiations and the recent G7 summit.
Sure, it wasn’t quite the same situation as what went down in real life between Canada and the U.S. over this past week, however the broken relationship and potential fallout was certainly the same. People have called Margaret Atwood prophetic in the past, but showrunner Bruce Miller and his team of writers seem to have the same uncanny ability to read the headlines and make them relevant, giving the appearance of being able to predict the future.
As it were, those were just some of the episode’s smaller moments. The installment proved to be another deep dive into Serena’s psyche, which–let us tell you–is a messed up place to be. It’s like she knows how far she went in helping to create Gilead, so now she’s choosing to sleep there. That’s why she turned down the offer to escape while she was in Canada, ultimately burning the bridge to a potential saviour (and a baby of her own) by actually tossing that matchbook into the fireplace at episode’s end.
Serena is deluded into thinking this will all be worth it when she’s holding Offred’s baby in her arms as her own child, ignoring so many warning signs, like her abusive husband and her own bipolar disposition. The fact that she wants to send Offred away before the baby is even weaned is just another warning sign; while in real life we’re all for “fed is best,” Gilead covets a more puritan way of life and we can’t imagine they’re fans of a manufactured product like formula unless it was absolutely necessary. But for Serena, Offred bonding with the baby and “taking” one more thing away from her is worse, especially after seeing how Angela healed following Janine’s return. So she wants her gone as soon as possible.
Speaking of Janine, we hope she’s okay following that attack by the guard. He was a reminder of how steadfast (and violent) true believers of Gilead can be, but also of how much things really suck for handmaids that aren’t pregnant. It’s been kind of nice seeing Janine and June bond over their similar sucky situations, and we don’t really want that pairing to end just yet.
That brings us to June, who reminded us all that she’s not done fighting, despite her outwardly complacent actions. She played the Godmother card in her own conniving way with Rita and Aunt Lydia, carving out some protection for her unborn child. Meanwhile, Nick’s report from Canada gave her new hope and determination, something that’s bound to play out in the remaining four episodes. Here’s hoping she comes out on top.