If there was any question left as to the true meaning behind the phrase “Nolite te bastardes carborundorum,” The Handmaid’s Tale (Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on Bravo) hammered it home it in two very separate yet two very relevant story lines in its newest episode, “Faithful.”
Following Offred’s incarceration in her room, she was finally back to where she started when we first met the character: shopping around the town, “participating” in the ceremonies and trying her best not to anger Serena Joy. Serena, meanwhile, had been busy concocting her own plans. In a businesslike manner, she asked Offred if she would be open to being impregnated by Nick, given all of the unsuccessful attempts with The Commander. It was a request Offred couldn’t deny — especially since Nick had already agreed. At that point, it was either please the person who held your life in her hands, or go against the greater laws of Gilead. Talk about a no-win situation.
Meanwhile we finally learned where Emily ended up, following that terrible thing that Aunt Lydia and the people in charge did to her. As “Ofsteven,” Emily wound up in a home that didn’t seem too bad considering the circumstances… at least she had a wife who was kind to her and a dog to play with.
Unfortunately that wasn’t enough for Ofsteven to get past the awfulness of what she endured. And with Mayday ignoring her as damaged goods, Ofsteven felt her usefulness had come to an end. That’s a dangerous place to land, in a world like this.
Which brings us back to our point: both Ofsteven and Offred were backed into corners this week, with no real choice in how they went about their lives. They were surviving but not living, and those are two very different things. So they did what the saying in the closet instructed, in two unique and personalized ways: they didn’t let the bastards grind them down.
For Ofsteven, that meant taking out her anger for real. So at the market she jumped into an unattended wife’s car, and went for a little joyride. Obviously she didn’t get far, considering all of the cars and guards surrounding her, but she did manage to brutally take out a guard before being captured. In that moment she wasn’t suicidal, she was homicidal. Obviously she wasn’t thinking about the consequences, but that wasn’t the point. Not for her anyhow. Because at the end of the day, if you can’t find something to live for then what’s the point?
It was a lesson that seemed to hit home with Offred, who called Ofsteven invincible in that moment. So she did what any half-sane person would do and applied the practice to her own life… in a kind of sexy way. That night when the coast was clear she visited Nick on her own time, and the two gave into their long flirtation at last. It wasn’t lost on us that Offred was on top during the entire exchange, or that watching an actual sex scene felt so weird, following all of these ceremonies we’ve been subjected to.
That small act of power was a monumental shift in the Offred we’ve seen to date, and it hit home even more, thanks to the fact that we got to see her relationship with Luke come to light in the flashback sequences. While we have no idea how this affair is going to pan out (and no clue as to whether Ofsteven is now dead somewhere), at least both of these ladies found something to live for. And sometimes that can mean a heck of a lot more than surviving. Sometimes it can mean feeling invincible… at least for a while.