If you haven’t got round to finishing season two of the handmaid’s tale, stop reading this review right now (not least because of the spoilers) and get yourself to the nearest television / ipad / laptop. It’s worth it.
As a die-hard Atwood fan, I was sceptical about season two. Would the Hollywood folks over at Hulu make a hash of Offred’s story now they didn’t have a novel to guide them? But even the literature snob in me couldn’t wait to finally find out what happened to June. Ever the optimist, I’d always imagined that she was being smuggled out of Gilead to freedom, but season two firmly quashed any glimmer of hope by opening with a hugely disturbing mock execution set to the haunting voice of Kate Bush. The first of many brutal scenes, the latest series showed no signs of bowing down to happing endings.
Picking up where the book left off, the story takes its fair share of twists and turns. From June’s painfully unsuccessful escape to Eden’s chilling murder, the writers made Atwood’s Gilead even crueler. Flashbacks to how the oppressive state was formed draw clever but uncomfortable parallels between Gilead’s rise to power and current affairs surrounding women’s rights. From repealing Ireland’s 8th amendment to protesting Trump’s regressive family planning policies, it’s no surprise that women around the world have donned the iconic red cape and white bonnet in a stand against the threat of a reproductive dystopia becoming reality.
One of the series biggest strengths was the development of previously one dimensional characters like Serena Joy. Having played the role of the cold commander’s wife in the first season, her uneasy understanding with June and her wavering loyalty to Fred make her one of the season’s biggest stand outs. She commits her fair share of atrocities including the horrific rape of a heavily pregnant June, but as the series progresses and she loses her faith in Gilead, Serena turns from model wife to state subversive.
The season finale brings together the female characters in the strongest display of power yet. The commander’s wives unite in a bid to persuade the senate to allow them to read. The Marthas unite in order to lead June to freedom. Serena Joy and June unite to ensure their baby has a better future. And June’s decision to stay behind? Another fierce display of motherly love, but also a refusal to accept Gilead will win. We’d love to know your thoughts on the series. Did you like the ending?
Join in the conversation on Instagram.