If you’ve read Margaret Atwood‘s award-winning novel on which the TV series The Handmaid’s Tale (Sundays, 9 p.m. ET on Bravo) is based, then you were probably pretty curious to see how the series was going to bring certain scenes to life this season.
Obviously those scenes included things like the infamous “Ceremony,” which we saw as early as the first episode, the first time that Offred hooked up with Nick of her own volition, and of course Offred’s trip with The Commander to Jezebels — the seedy gentleman’s club where younger women avoided The Colonies by making some powerful men happy.
The last scene unrolled in Sunday night’s latest instalment, “Jezebels,” and it played out exactly as we imagined it would based on our earlier reading. Joseph Fiennes, who plays The Commander, was perfectly eerie as he first dressed Offred up like a doll and then played coy about where he was taking her. Bringing his handmaid to the club was in part to show her off, but it was also to show off to her, to let her see how much power he wields in this messed up world. (So much power that he apparently had something to do with his former handmaid killing herself, as we learned.)
That made the eventual rape scene even worse than the ceremonies we’ve seen so far, because with a hotel room as the backdrop and the forced intimacy between Offred and The Commander, everything felt far more personal and real. There was nothing ritualistic about this particular deed, as it became more about pleasure than about the business of procreating. We still feel kind of sick to our stomachs thinking about it.
So did Nick, apparently, because he wasn’t up for his usual hook-up session with the award-winning chef-turned-Martha down in the kitchens, as he bartered black market items and did his usually spy gig (which we also learned more about thanks to the flashbacks). He’s been developing some real feelings for Offred lately it seems, and we watched him realize that he needed to put a stop to their affair in order to protect both of them. Poor Offred. She never gets anything nice.
There was one major upside to the visit to Jezebels though, and that was seeing Moira again. We knew she wasn’t dead (any character that dies off-screen rarely is), but judging by her new disposition and take on life she felt like she might as well be. Whether Moira was always a true fighter in reality or that’s just how Offred had built her up in her head, all signs of resistance were gone as Moira settled into her role as lady of the night — bunny ears and all. It was a sad mark of just what kind of a toll this world takes on a person’s spirit, even though it was reassuring to see the character alive.
Where there’s darkness there’s light — or at least the promise of it — though, and Offred is all about finding hope these days. In the last, somewhat laughable scene of the episode, she held the music box Serena Joy had uselessly gifted her, vowing not to be the dancer in the box.
Finally, Offred is ready to get her groove back. And with only two episodes left in the season, we’d say it’s about time.