As this is a review of Season 1, episode 8 of The Handmaid’s Tale, there are no doubt spoilers ahead!
In this week’s episode of The Handmaid’s Tale, we find June (Elisabeth Moss) reeling from the news that her believed dead husband Luke (O-T Fagbenle) was alive and she could get a message to him. After that revelation, two weeks ago, we watched just how Luke survived and then he himself found out that June was still alive! Now we’re back with June this week to see how she’s processing all of this.
This episode revealed a lot – not so much about how she was going to get herself out of this hell hole – but about this new world, background on Nick and reintroduced a long since believed dead character (again!).
June’s still sleeping with Nick (Max Minghella), though she knows it’s because she likes it and less of a finger to the cult that’s entrapped her. No shock there – if anything, Nick’s growing fondness for her is more shocking as he genuinely seems to care for her to the extent that he cannot bare to watch her be around the Commander and even refutes the sexual advanced of other women.
We also find out that Nick, in the lead up to the coup, was a down on his luck young man who couldn’t hold a job (family trouble) and was recruited by the ‘Sons of Jacob’ early on and rose through the ranks as an Eye. He comes off as a nice guy who’s taken in and possibly brainwashed by this religious cult – whom themselves make up the religious angle for using handmaids as concubines to sway their wives to go along with it. Great.
June was dealt another shock this week with the Commander (Joseph Fiennes) appearing in her bedroom to shave her (yes, shave) and dress her like a hooker and sneak her across state lines to Boston to what can only be described as a brothel for the elite (men not women – duh!).
Indeed, this underground club is clad with naked women forced to whore themselves for the pleasure of the men – which shows the hypocrisy of this male controlled new world who have put women in their place and continued to enjoy the pleasures of the flesh in secret.
Regardless of the horrors, it’s here that June spots an old friend and soon after reconnecting (and pleasuring the Commander – well, he’s drunk and pushes himself on her) – she learns of fates worse than her own. More telling was that the Commander trusts June and reveals some of the issues he’s facing in his career whilst drunk. She gets him, is how he puts it, though drunkenly.
All in all, it was a good episode for The Handmaid’s Tale. We found out who Nick was and how he became an eye. We found out more about this new world they inhabit and the hypocrisy of men that still lies beneath the surface and we found out that June, finally, was not going to be the girl in the box any longer and may finally do something to break free. Also, more telling was that Nick is directly spying on The Commander for the Eye and that tells us more about where his loyalties lie.