Yvonne Strahovski in The Handmaid’s Tale.
The Handmaid’s Tale S5 episodes 1-5
WHERE TO WATCH:
Showmax, new episodes every Thursday
WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
Following Commander Waterhouse’s death, June has to find the balance between her vengeance and rage and living a peaceful life with her family in Canada.
WHAT WE THOUGHT:
The Handmaid’s Tale has always been an interesting television series. The dystopian series about a future where women no longer have rights has seemed, at times, wild but also completely relatable. In a time when women in the United States are fighting for their right to have an abortion and women in Iran are fighting for their right not to have to wear a hijab, it seems more poignant than ever. But the series itself is also in an awkward spot. In its penultimate season, The Handmaid’s Tale seems confused about where it’s going and what it is saying as it steps outside of the world it has been comfortably living in and explores the misogyny of it beyond the walls of Gilead.
Season five begins after the murder of Fred Waterhouse (Joseph Fiennes). June Osbourne (Elisabeth Moss) and her fellow former handmaidens are celebrating but also dealing with what they had just done and the possible consequences. June is also trying to adjust to her new life in Canada with her husband, Luke (O-T Fagbenle), her best friend, Moira (Samira Wiley) and her daughter Nichole. However, June is very aware that her other daughter Hannah (Jordana Blake), is still in Gilead. Also, after Fred’s death, Serena (Yvonne Strahovski) is trying to cement her place in the world, which rubs June up the wrong way.
When we first entered Gilead in season one, we experienced everything from June’s perspective, so it was mostly about the happenings in and around the Waterford home. Since then, we have gotten to know a range of supporting characters, so the world around June has had to expand. In season five, we watch Commander Lawrence (Bradley Whitford) and Nick (Max Minghella) try to influence the other commanders. There is also very little that we know about the political structure that makes up Gilead. There’s also Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd) and Janine (Madeline Brewer), who are trying to change things at the Handmaid training centre, the Red Room. And then there is the Canada group – June, Moira, Luke and Serena. It’s a lot. And not all stories are equally interesting and compelling. It also feels like there are too many threads that the show does not know how to reign in. And as the show enters the last stretch, it should feel like it is moving towards something more significant.
But this is very much a June and Serena season. The two work excellently off of each other, even when they are on opposite sides of the political spectrum. Yvonne Strahovski shines this season as the pregnant Serena is faced with the struggle of being a widow in a system that she believes in but also that she helped to create. The compelling dynamic that each of these characters has, even when they are falling into classical archetypes like hero and villain. We are often reminded that even though Serena no longer has a husband, she is still pregnant, which is praised within Gilead, and as we discover around the world.
Like previous seasons, the series tends to have slow pacing, which can sometimes be extremely frustrating. There never feels like enough relief and retribution for all the anxiety and constant disappointment we are put through. I often had to remind myself that at least it is almost the end of the series, and I might as well stick around because a big change is bound to happen soon. Last season all the action took place during the second half of the season, and those events such as June arriving in Canada, being reunited with Luke and the death of Fred moved the story along. I hope the second half of this season will do the same; I just wish there was more of a hook in the first half.
Once again, other than the acting the pure artistry of the series is in the cinematography. Stunning framing, beautiful shots and camera movements aid or lull your anxiety. The entire time I watched the series, it looked like a piece of art, and the artistry helped to distinguish The Handmaid’s Tale from its contemporaries to be one of the most talked about television series.
The Handmaid’s Tale is still a well-told story that constantly feels like it surprises the audience. However, the slow pacing and the frustration in some of the storylines feels is what hold it back. Sometimes the wait is worth it, and sometimes it is not, and the story needs to start finding a firm direction as it moves into its’ final season.
WATCH THE TRAILER HERE:
The Handmaid’s Tale is available to stream on Showmax with new episodes every Thursday
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