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After what felt like an eternity stuck in Gilead on a nonsensical ride in one of those black vans, season two of The Handmaid’s Tale finally premiered on Hulu in late April. Below, a running list of the craziest, most shocking moments on the show so far. We are with you, June.
Season 2, episode 1 (“June”):
The opening minutes leading up to Fenway. In seamless fashion, viewers follow June from the van (from the season one finale) to a parking lot, where other Handmaids are let out, gagged, and herded like animals into what used to be Fenway Park. They’re lined up in front of several nooses. One of them — Ofrobert, formerly Alma — is so terrified she pees. When the lever is pulled, nothing happens. Aunt Lydia shows up and reminds the Handmaids of God’s love. Her voice is heard all around the ballpark as she says this is merely “a lesson” to them. The Handmaids are released from the nooses, June the narrator says, “Seriously? What the actual fuck?” The title card finally appears.
Aunt Lydia shows June what her next nine months could look like if she doesn’t follow the rules. The lights turn on to reveal a Handmaid named Ofwyatt, who is pregnant and chained to her bedposts. She’s there because she tried to kill her baby (and possibly herself) with drain cleaner.
Ofrobert’s hand meets a burner. As punishment for not stoning Janine, one by one, the Handmaids are taken to a stovetop, where their hands are cuffed to a burner. “You girls, so willful and full of apologies when it comes time to pay the Piper,” Aunt Lydia says. “It’s shameful for me as well, but only in suffering will we find grace.” Offred, who is sitting down while all of this is going on and is not stovetop bound because she’s pregnant, continues to eat her soup as Ofrobert’s bloodcurdling scream fills the room.
A hospital worker grills June in a flashback. June visits her daughter Hannah, who was sent by her school to the hospital for a fever. June is immediately questioned by a nurse/social worker type, who repeatedly calls her Mrs. Bankole even though June never took Luke’s last name. “She’s your biological child?” she asks June. This is followed by her making June admit that she has to “miss work” to take care of Hannah if she’s ever home sick and not at school. There’s more: June is forced to admit that yes, she gave Hannah Tylenol because she felt warm, but it wasn’t so that she could bypass the school’s fever policy. It’s too late. The nurse has already made her own conclusions. “I understand, Mrs. Bankole. We have busy lives. But children are so precious we have to make certain that they are in a safe home environment with fit parents. I just have a few more questions, Mrs. Bangole.” The most horrifying part of all this? Things have only gotten worse.
June slices into her ear to get rid of the tag. After finding her way to Nick in an abandoned building, June is instructed to shed her Handmaid clothes so she can continue with the next part of her escape. As her clothes are burning, she cuts the top of her ear open to remove the tag, just in case Gilead really was using them as GPS-like devices. The scene is not for everyone, especially if you’re scared of blood, but what June says next is chilling: “My name is June Osbourne. I am from Brookline, Massachusetts. I’m 34 years old. I stand 5’3” and bare feet. I weight 120 pounds. I have viable ovaries. I’m five weeks pregnant. I am free.”
Season 2, episode 2 (“Unwomen”):
“What will happen when I get out? I probably don’t have to worry about it, because there probably is no out.” June the narrator delivers these morbid words as she’s transported at night to her next destination. She quotes Aunt Lydia and tries to make light of the thought. “‘Gilead knows no bounds,’ Aunt Lydia said. ‘Gilead is within you. Like the spirit of the Lord.’ Or, the Commander’s cock. Or cancer.”
In a flashback, Emily is advised to change her phone home screen, which is a photo of her wife and their son. As her colleague, who is also gay, tells her, “It’s caution. An overabundance of caution. The new board of regents is concerned that you’re not maintaining a healthy learning environment.”
“Don’t waste it. She can’t even hold down water.” After Emily shares that someone found duck eggs and traded them for Tylenol, a fellow Unwoman suggests that she save them for another time instead of using it on the nearly lifeless body before them. This is how bad things are in the Colonies. “Maybe some mint tea could settle her stomach,” Emily offers.
June realizes a massacre happened at the Boston Globe offices. Not long after June sees a lone shoe in the abandoned office building, which turns out to be the Boston Globe offices, she makes her way to the basement, where printers used to run and where dozens of nooses are still hanging. She turns around to see a wall with hundreds of bullet holes.
In a flashback, Emily’s colleague at the school is hanged. This is the same colleague who warned her about her phone screen and who admitted that he himself took down all the photos of his partner as a precaution. This being The Handmaids Tale, it was too late.
In a flashback, Emily is separated from her wife and their son at the border in the name of “the law.” One of the most heartbreaking scenes of season two so far belongs to Emily and her Canadian wife Sylvia. When they present their marriage certificate to the first border patrol officer in hopes of catching a flight to Canada, he tells them, “[You were] smart to bring this. That will help for sure.” Again, it was too late. Gilead law had seemingly changed everything overnight, making their marriage illegal, or in the second border patrol officer’s words, “forbidden by the law.” When Emily asks, “What law?” He says, “The law.” In the same scene, Emily is also interrogated about how she conceived her son – was it her own egg or an implanted embryo? You don’t need guess very hard as to why this was asked.
Emily kills a Wife (Marisa Tomei). The Wife, who was recently punished and sent to the Colonies for committing “a sin of the flesh,” has a bad reaction to the radioactive shit in the Colonies (join the club). Emily gives her “expired” antibiotics, which turn out to be poison. “Every month you held a woman down while your husband raped her,” Emily says. “Some things can’t be forgiven. It’ll take a few more hours.” In the next scene, the Wife’s body is tied to a cross. The bell rings to signify that it’s time for another day of digging. Emily is the first to walk away.
June watches the Friends episode, “The One with Phoebe’s Uterus.” June finds an old Friends DVD and watches Monica describe the seven erogenous zones of a woman to Chandler. The scene is a classic for any longtime Friends fan. For June, it’s an eerie reminder of a time when women were free. Free to talk about sex. Free to tell a man how to please them. Free to star on one of NBC’s most coveted Must See TV shows.
This post will be updated as more episodes of season two air.
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