Previously on The Handmaid’s Tale, “A Woman’s Place”
After Luke (O-T Fagbenle) was shot, he was involved in a one-ambulance accident that probably saved his life. Nearing death, he has a chance meeting with a crew of American refugees who are also making a run for Canada. Zoe, the designated leader, stitches him up and gives the scoop on what was really happening with the fertile women who were being captured and those men and women who resisted. She shows him a chapel filled with the decaying bodies of men hanged from the rafters; the women who accompanied them were shipped off for conditioning.
Luke’s new crew has plans to ferry a boat to Canada; this plan goes awry as Guardians attack them. Only Luke and one other escapee make the trip. Canada opened its doors to fleeing Americans and we meet up with Luke and the unnamed escapee 3-years later in Little America. Luke and Nameless are enjoying some creature comforts like hanging out in a plaza and drinking hot tea on a fall day, pasttimes we take for granted. New America has a lost persons shelter very similar to those set up after natural disasters, and this is where Luke receives a note from June, confirming she is indeed alive, at least as of 3-weeks prior.
As a bottle episode it served its purpose in telling us the kind of man Luke is: he is a man who wanted to hold onto their past life for as long as possible, a man who loved his family, a man who’d give up his wedding ring to guarantee a stranger’s passage to Canada, and a man who’s never stopped looking for his wife.
While this episode was well-acted, (O-T Fagbenle did an exceptional job with a range of emotions throughout the episode) and gave us a glimpse into another part of the world impacted, but not under the thumb of Gilead, it did not require a full hour. Luke “impossible white manned”(think Tom Cruise or Bruce Willis) his way to Canada, which was a nice change from the usual abuse of handmaids, but felt narratively out of place. The emotional impact of Luke discovering June is alive was muted by the fact that it was established that he was alive the episode prior. I didn’t have enough emotional investment in Luke to feel as relieved or even rejoice when he received the note. If that was the moment we discovered the daughter was alive, I probably would have been a blubbering mess.
Now that the timeline has been established it does raise a few additional questions:
- It has been 3 years, has Offred had at least one successful pregnancy prior to this assignment? Does she have two children? One born out of love and the other out of confinement. How many assignments do you get before you are sent off to the colonies? Is it based on how long you appear to be fertile? Do you transition into a Martha?
- Where is Moira? She boarded a train to Boston, and then what? And how long ago did this escape happen?
- How long before Luke attempts a return to Gilead to jailbreak his wife?
- Where are the older children? Their daughter Hannah should be 11 or so by now. If the new batch of children are raised in a society and not permitted to learn through reading what happens next? Are the girls distributed to houses as handmaids?
The Handmaid's Tale S1E7
"The Other Side"
Starring: Elizabeth Moss, Alexis Bledel, Samira Riley, Yvonne Stahoviski, Joseph Fiennes, Ann Dowd, O-T Fagbenle, Max Minghella, Madeline Brewer