TV Review: The Handmaid's Tale (Season 1, Episode 3)
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The Handmaid's Tale is a series that is crafted specifically to appal and provoke with its shocking vision of America. However, even as we reach the third episode of the series, it becomes clear that Bruce Miller's adaptation - which has already seen scenes of ritualised rape, enslavement, murder, torture and brutal prejudice - still has the potential to deeply disturb. The abhorrent development of this dystopia is echoed in the episode's opening - in a startling scene, we see the former Ofglen (Alexis Bledel) bound by a harsh, brown gag as she is lead through the sterile white walls of a mysterious (and ominious) facility. The performance that Alexis Bledel gives with her eyes alone in this scene (and throughout the episode) is deeply affecting; expressing fear as well as quiet defiance. However, the focus of this episode is split between Ofglen's dire situation and the continuing plight of our main protagonist Offred (Elisabeth Moss), who once again shares memories of a time before Gilead. While it is insightful to see more of the context behind Gilead's terrible rise to power and the inherent parallel between this dystopia and a society we recognise, one can't help but feel a little exasperated by how these interspersed flashbacks slow down the more immediate dramas. Although the flashbacks provide us with some welcome comic relief from Samira Wiley's defiant character, Moira (who in the last episode was missing and presumed dead), the way they intercut with other scenes is frustrating. The flashbacks, which at this point feel like an obligatory element in each chapter, do provide some interesting asides however, with this episode revealing how society came to revile women and strip them of their jobs, money and property.
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