Channel 4 – 9pm – Sunday 11th June 2017
Teleplay by: Bruce Miller – Based on the novel by: Margaret Atwood
Directed by: Reed Morano
“Shall I just go in the kitchen and cut my dick off?”
Offred’s (Elisabeth Moss) flashbacks offer us a terrifying glimpse into the incremental fall of (wo)man in this third episode of MGM/Hulu’s ten-part series, with overnight laws in the name of “national security” diminishing the rights – and status – of woman to the point where they cannot own property, money or a job – and it’s now commonplace for them to be verbally assaulted by store clerks without fear of admonishment.
“A rose is a rose, except for here, where it has to mean more.”
In Offred’s present, the mood is stifled, thick with repression. Conversations between women of wealth and Handmaids are awkward, stilted and falsely polite – provided the fertile sex slaves know their place in the pecking order and become pregnant on demand. If not, the façade of civility crumbles completely and violence and imprisonment are exacted.
An incarcerated and muzzled Ofglen (Alexis Bledel, looking like Hannibal Lecter) knows all too well the penalty for ‘perverting’ the norms of this totalitarian hell-on-Earth. Convicted in a sham court for being gay (though that word is now outlawed) in a “biblical” trial that lasts about as long as an eye blink, she is unwillingly subjected to genital mutilation, owing to her usefulness insofar as she is fertile. Her barren lover, Martha (Laura Wilson), however, is publicly hanged for the same crime. There isn’t even equality for the condemned.
“Blessed are the meek.”
Even at its most foul and despicable, there is still a perverse beauty to Bruce Miller’s unadulterated adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian future-verse. The police’s gun-splattered solution to a public protest is chillingly depicted in slow-motion, while a choral pop cover plays. Meanwhile, Martha and Ofglen’s final teary journey is shown in its agonising entirety. The languorousness of The Handmaid’s Tale’s pace effectively accentuates the futility of Gilead’s new regime, even if the hard-hitting “Late” doesn’t feel quite as fresh as its exceptional two predecessors.
CR@B’s Claw Score: