Next stop: Canada?
WORDS BY LLEWELLYN HORGAN
We start off positive enough, with June jogging through the former Boston Globe office she has been living at for two months. She is doing this for exercise, apparently having gotten used to her living situation. The Santigold song "GO!" accompanies her jogging – a song which I'm planning to add to my own gym playlist. It is a banger.
June also spends her time commemorating the victims who were killed at the office and cutting up pieces of old newspapers to record the gradual collapse of the former, comparatively idyllic America. Things do not remain this wholesome for long however, because pretty soon a van turns up to take her away. Having become quite attached to her dwelling, she reluctantly gets into the van and goes onto supposed safety. She asks the driver about Nick, and the driver claims he has no idea who Nick is. Was he joking? Was he being coy? Did he even care? Who knows. I feel like this is not the sort of question the show is likely to answer, yet it will haunt me.
After a tense van ride, she finds herself at another safe house, which is a warehouse full of old street signs. After admiring a Boston street sign for a bit (it is quite a nice sign), June abruptly runs into a man named Omar. Omar at first enthusiastically insists he takes her somewhere in his van, but then gets a disheartening text message, and changes his mind, but is forced to take her anyway when she stands in front of his van refusing to move. After I assume briefly considering running her over, he acquiesces. She thanks him. He tells her to hide. She does so.
In the early morning, she arrives at Omar's apartment. He is apparently one of the Econopeople, another class in Gilead who I guess by virtue of being very religious and strait-laced are allowed to continue to live like more or less unrepressed people, albeit ones that go to church a lot and still have to endure a strong presence of armed guards. They also have to farm, I think. June is allowed to stay. Hooray! The next morning Omar and his family go off to church and June stays in the house.
She spends some time moving around random ornaments, hides under the bed for a bit, finds a Koran hidden under there, cries, probably feels very hungry because it seemed like no one gave her any breakfast, sits around bored and then realises the family has not come back. This does not bode well. June, apparently not a believer in the phrase "no news is good news", decides to bail. She does this by stealing some suitably drab clothing, takes the map that Omar left her, and then walks out onto the street full of freaky Christians and armed Guardians. She gets on a train, rides it to the last stop, leaves the path the first chance she gets and then wanders through a forest for a while, following her little map, and finds her way to an airfield. Although there is a lot of foreboding indistinct radio chatter coming from all the Guardians she passes, she does this all without too much of a hitch. A pilot comes to fly her and another guy to Canada. Things seem like they are going well, but then things go very bad indeed. Still, it is only the third episode, so this is to be expected, right?
Through all this action, there is also a number of flashbacks of June looking back at her fraught relationship with her mother, who was a strong woman and a staunch feminist. She was eventually sent to a colony and presumably died horribly. June only knows this because her mother appeared on a slideshow that she was being showed while being trained as a Handmaid. Seems like a pretty big coincidence, but whatever. Despite all this, June mostly focuses on the good times in her flashbacks, while still remembering the times her mother bossed her around and shamed her for her editing job. She's an optimist, I guess.
In the meantime, Moira and Luke are still living up in Little America. Moira does not seem to be thrilled about much, though it is good to see there are still raves going on. Later on, while hanging out with her housemates, she cheers up a bit. Which is nice. All the action seems to be happening in Gilead at this point. Hopefully, the B-plot picks up a bit and isn't all just depressing raves.
All in all, this is another gripping episode of The Handmaid’s Tale, with a few ups, a lot of downs, and a single joke about fruit loops. Pretty much what you'd expect to occur in a dystopia, I suppose. The writing remains great, building on the original novel and arguably taking it in a more interesting direction than the first season, by virtue of escaping the confines of Margaret Atwood's text, exploring elements of Gilead that were glossed over in the original novel. The music is great, being at different times harrowing, tense and yet at other times epic and optimistic. Elisabeth Moss remains a much better actor than me. This really is gold standard television. Thank you. For everything.