THE HANDMAID’S TALE, 1.4 – “Nolite Te Bastardes Carborundorum” (TV Review)

Channel 4 – 9pm – Sunday 18th June 2017

Written by: Leila Gerstein

Series created by: Bruce Miller – Based on the novel by: Margaret Atwood

Directed by: Mike Barker



“How did you survive her?”

Isolated to her room for 13 days after bursting Selena Joy’s (Yvonne Strahovski) pregnancy bubble by getting her “monthly woe” in “Late” (reviewed HERE) last week, a cabin fevered Offred (Elisabeth Moss) takes to laying in her cupboard, wherein she discovers the Latin phrase which this fourth episode is named after, scratched into the wall. Believing it to be written by her predecessor in the Waterford house, Offred is determined to find a translation to the antiquated message and decipher the meaning.

Explaining away her floor-laying by telling the cook that she fainted, Selena Joy reluctantly sends Offred to the doctor, wishing her to be healthy for the upcoming ‘Ceremony,’ which requires Scrabble-partial Commander Fred (Joseph Fiennes) to consummate with Offred, in the hope of impregnating her. If he cannot perform while his barren wife stares him down from the head of the bed, Offred will be blamed, such is the twisted justice of this dystopian new republic.

“One flesh, one flower, waiting to be seeded.”

In previous weeks Offred has expanded upon her Tale with memories from the “before times” (that’s society today), showing us the fall of America. But somewhat confusingly, in “Nolite…” Offred flashes back to more recent events where Gilead is already founded and she already has her Handmaid’s bonnet. We are privy to Moira (Samira Wiley) and Offred’s escape attempt, involving the kidnap and de-clothing of an ‘Aunt,’ with Moira using the formal black uniform to bypass the militia and board a train to Boston, along with her ‘charge.’ Alas, the ruse is rumbled and while Moira leaves, Offred is detained at the station, before being returned to the convent for an excruciating sole whipping.

This is the first episode in the series neither written by series creator Bruce Miller or directed by Reed Morano. Yet all the exquisite production flourishes we have come to appreciate from The Handmaid’s Tale are still present, with rain – a sign of hope and freedom established earlier in the episode – playing over the end credits a simple but inspired touch. My only bone of contention was having two parallel stories set ‘After’ the regime has been established; the most compelling of which had its high stakes diminished by the fact it was the earlier of the two plots so we already knew the outcome!

CR@B’s Claw Score: 4-stars

3 thoughts on “THE HANDMAID’S TALE, 1.4 – “Nolite Te Bastardes Carborundorum” (TV Review)

  1. Pingback: THE HANDMAID’S TALE, 1.5 – “Faithful” (TV Review) | The CR@Bpendium

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