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Week by Week TV: The Handmaid’s Tale Episode 10

Offred is one of the few fertile women in what was once America. As a handmaid, her only function is to bear children. Based on the novel of the same name by Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale played on Sundays on Channel 4. It is now available on demand.

The final episode of The Handmaid’s Tale was one of the best episodes yet. There were interesting parallels between Offred and Serena Joy (as well as the conflict between them, of course) as both characters took a stand. The Salvaging returned this week too, which we haven’t seen since early episodes, only this time with a terrible twist. Moira found her season’s end resting place, and the way is very much open to a second series. Praised be!


Now we all knew after the last episode that Serena Joy would come to find out about what Offred and the Commander have been up to in the last few weeks. Because we all know that if you’re going to play with fire, you’re going to get burned. And this is where I admire Offred for her courage, because she still chooses to stand up to the Commander’s wife, even after all she’s put her through. Offred looks Serena Joy in the eye, and tells her that she would not want to bring a child into the world they live in. A great man once wrote “One part brave, three parts fool,” and this is exactly where Offred stands. We’ve all seen what oppression and infertility have done to Serena Joy, not to mention her own part in creating this society, and still Offred chose insolence. And she paid for it. She paid for it in a heart-wrenching scene, where Serena Joy exercised her authority; glorious in her cruelty. Offred’s daughter Hannah is alive and safe, but now the price of that safety, is keeping the Waterford baby safe.

We also saw the consequences of Janine’s actions last week and, predictably, she came off far worse than her Commander. He managed to get away with little more than a slap on the proverbial wrist (proverbial because this is still Gilead, and the wrist in this case was cut off). Unsurprisingly, this was a far less severe punishment than what Alexis Bledel’s Ofglen received for similar crimes back in episode 3.

Janine however, being a lowly woman, was sentenced to death. And not just death, but death by stoning. And not just stoning, but stoning by the other Handmaids. Even Aunt Lydia could see the cruelty in that. And the Handmaids took a stand. They said no, and they marched away in their uniforms, a force to be reckoned with, and most definitely ‘Feeling Good’.

But the best feel good moment, by a country mile, was Moira’s moment. She arrived in Canada, finally free of Gilead. The refugee centre supplied her with a phone and the essential items to begin anew, but where was she going to go? She had no one. She had nothing. And then her fortune changed, because Luke was there. Fantastic, hard-as-nails, lovable Luke. He had listed her as his family. It was a gorgeous moment, and there’s so much potential there now for the two of them to hunt down June and Hannah in earnest.

That’s the thing to take away from this finale: that this story is very much continuing. Before watching this episode I was unsure as to whether I thought a second season would really be a good idea or not – people in the business don’t tend to live by the phrase ‘quit while you’re ahead,’ and I’ve seen plenty of shows tumble downhill when they’ve been stretched too far. Now though, I think the showrunners have paved the way nicely for future episodes; the story doesn’t feel like it’s over yet. And it’s excellent news that Margaret Atwood is on board to join the writing process for next season, so whatever happens will be with her blessing. The Handmaid’s Tale has been one of the best shows of the year, which couldn’t have come at a more relevant time, and I look forward to seeing what more emotional turmoil season two will give us.

The Handmaid’s Tale is available on 4OD. Image source: PoGDesign.com