There have been a lot of things to love about TV’s version of The Handmaid’s Tale (Sundays, 9 p.m. ET on Bravo). Elisabeth Moss’s take on Offred. The flashbacks into characters we previously knew little about. The entire construct of Gilead and how eerily familiar it can feel at times. But one of our absolute favourite parts of the series has got to be the way the writers have taken certain characters from the book, given them backstories, and made us have all the feelings for them.
In the case of this Sunday’s episode, we’re obviously talking about Janine.
Ever since we met Janine at the Red Centre, we couldn’t help but feel for her. Her immediate insolence at the ridiculousness of her situation cost her an eye. Later on, as she was recounting a horrific gang rape situation, the Aunts informed her that it was actually all her fault.
Then, when we encountered Janine again in Gilead, as a handmaid, she was the only pregnant character around. That meant we had to follow her heartbreaking birth, the way she was forced to bond with her baby over breastfeeding, and then in Sunday’s episode, watch as she said goodbye to that child. Yet still, Janine held onto the hope that things would be okay. Why? Because her commander, Warren Putnam, had told her that it would be.
Obviously it wasn’t, and we’re still not sure what to feel here. Horror? Anger? Heavy sadness? Probably a mixture of all of those things.
Regardless, this latest storyline twist may actually make Janine the most important character in the show, because she’s given us the entire life cycle of a handmaid. From birth, to death. Or near death anyway.
First of all, it’s clear that actually “fulfilling your duty” and having a baby means nothing, because at the end of the day this society will just place you in another home where you’re expected to do it all over again. Second of all, it shows that the men in this world have even more control than we previously thought. Warren’s promises were all that Janine had to hold onto in the worst of situations, so when they turned out to be false, of course she was going to snap. Third of all, Janine’s situation is a potential mirror for Offred, and what’s to come for her if she can’t escape her current situation.
In the end, we all should have seen Janine’s situation coming. The fact that she kidnapped her baby and wanted to end both their lives was the result of so many things. Isolation and fear. Postpartum depression. The very real depression that can only stem come from a situation like this. She obviously thought that she had no other choice, even if she somehow escaped this society. And so she chose to jump off the bridge, attempting to end her own life. It was a pretty big departure from the book, sure. But it was one that, contextually, made a lot of sense.
Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you see it) for Janine, her attempt didn’t actually work, and she miraculously survived the fall. What that means for her in the near future is unclear, but we all know it can’t be good. Especially since next week is the finale, and we’re expecting a ton of shit to go down.
Some stray observations:
- How creepy was The Commander back at Jezebels? “I’m not stupid,” he told Offred with the scariest look to-date. We were seriously concerned for Offred and Moira’s safety in that moment.
- Moira is back, bitches. We love how she basically escaped Jezebel’s the exact same way she fled the Red Centre, which proves that these people just don’t learn. Except this time Moira means business – there was blood on her hands, if you noticed.
- What was in that package, and will Offred open it? How will she get it to Alma? And where will she store it in the meantime?
- What will Serena find in The Commander’s office now that she’s suspicious of his straying ways? Whatever it is, it can’t be good for Offred. Or, anybody.
So many questions, and just one episode in the season left. Sigh.