7 Reasons Why The Handmaid's Tale Season Three is Infuriating
NOTE: Lots of spoilers ahead. If you aren’t caught up on season three, or heaven forbid, seasons one and two, don’t read any farther!
Y’all I love The Handmaid’s Tale. I know that sounds creepy because it’s a strange subject-matter to “love” but I do. I’m fascinated by it. I’m invested in the characters and the idea of survival, perseverance and resistance; the parallels to real life (however scary they are) and the cautionary tale of it all. I’ve been waiting for them to dive into May Day and the downfall of Gilead since season one.
But I guess it was naive to think this great show wouldn’t eventually hit a wall. In season three, the momentum has slowed, the focus has shifted and the story lines have become repetitive. Is it because the show runner wants to go ten seasons (EEK!)? Or are they just milking it for all it’s worth? Did they get new writers? Not sure but the result is mottled, inconsistent and unrealistic story lines and indulgent episodes that I want to shake like a 5 year old and say “What did you DO?”
Here are some of my issues:
Self-Indulgence! I finally know what it means when critics say writers or a show have become “self-indulgent.” That sums up this season in a nutshell. I think the writers might be getting big heads. They are taking the tropes from seasons one and two that brought the most shock and attention and using them incessantly in season three, like a crutch, instead of developing real forward-progress story telling. I think the sole focus on June is a mistake and repeating the same “June saves the day” or “June has the big ideas” game is tired. Yawn.
Speaking of which: June is Insufferable There are so many problems with what they’re doing with June I don’t know where to start. I think I need bullets for this.
Where are the Consequences?! We’ve passed the point where June can do anything she wants with no consequence. She’s gotten a pass not one, not two, but closing in on at least ten legitimate times where other Handmaids would go on the wall. She ran away and claimed she was kidnapped, sassed just about everyone in power, attempted suicide, got her baby out of the country, stabbed Serena, took a Wife out for a jaunt to her daughter’s school. It’s ridiculous. Another example: there’s a one to one ratio of guards to Handmaids in Leaves and Loaves yet June can get away with having full on resistance conversations with first a Martha then with Alma while pretending to shop in the coolers looking at juice? C’mon.
Our #1 Hero Sure, Elizabeth Moss is the star of the show and they should definitely focus on her. But in this story line, we need other heroes and players. June can’t do it all and everyone knows it. We need to learn more about the Resistance, about May Day, about the Marthas who already formed a network, about the players in Canada. June isn’t the be all, end all to taking down Gilead and I wish they’d stop trying to make her be. I’m starting to resent her for being so egotistical.
Overuse of June’s Girl Power Face When they had June look into the camera with a combination of defiance and purpose in season one it was inspiring and encouraging. When they do it now — at what seems like the end of EVERY episode — it’s overused and repetitive (In much the same way using light pop songs in every ep is getting overdone). We get it: June has HAD IT and she’s not going to take it anymore, yadda yadda yadda.
No flashbacks! Seriously? We have had one flashback about Aunt Lydia (which was shit, by the way) and that’s it? The idea that this show can go beyond this season without diving into the other characters and how they got to this point is crazy. Why have the brought those to a halt? Do the writers think the viewers are so mesmerized by Super June and she’s all we want to see? Do they not remember how many seasons this storytelling technique sustained shows like Lost and Orange is the New Black? We could be learning more about a host of characters who will probably have a lot to do with taking down Gilead, including:
Beth - Commander Lawrence’s Martha, who has some great, snarky one-liners and seems to be the conduit to the Resistance;
Joseph and Eleanor Lawrence - Bradley Whitford is such a great actor it would be great to see more of him, not to mention interesting to learn more about the Lawrence’s lives before Gilead and how they came to be involved. When and how did Eleanor start losing it?;
Nick - the flashback of his service to Gilead was like an outtake of “Airplane” - which is to say it was silly. They missed an opportunity to dive into where Nick came from and how he got involved as a “soldier” then as a driver. Why would someone with this kind of background ever get involved with a Handmaid and how could they live to tell about it?;
Jeanine - as far as Handmaid’s go, Jeanine is the one we see the most yet we know the least about, you know, besides the fact that she’s batty and only has one eye;
Alma - the Handmaid who got her arm burned by Aunt Lydia for aligning herself with June; we know she has a son and she has a line to the Resistance; tell us more!
What’s Going on in Canada? To be completely honest, the episodes dedicated to the folks in Canada - Luke, Moira and especially Emily - have been the most interesting to watch. Following a “refugee” of Gilead rejoining civilized life is both devastating and fascinating and of course Alexis Bleidel is amazing as always in showcasing Emily’s pain. Would like to see more of Moira’s journey as well. And it wouldn’t hurt to learn more about what efforts are being done by the Resistance in Canada and what Luke’s role is in it.
What Happened to Nick? They spent two seasons building the relationship with Nick - despite the illogicality of it all. He got the Resistance letters to Luke in Canada. He loves June. Now he’s just back to being a loyal solider who is in line to be a Commander? He and June are done? Could they have dedicated at least one episode to Nick and June saying goodbye or having one last roll in the hay? Maybe it is more realistic for June’s world to lose people in her life like this based on how Gilead works, but it sucks for the viewer and it negates all the time we’ve spent on Nick to date.
A Waste of Aunt Lydia Another missed opportunity. The story line with Aunt Lydia is all over the place - she’s tough, she’s a soldier - then she’s crying about “her girls.” I just don’t get. And her flashback story was underwelming. She got rebuffed by a man so she became a hardened bitch? Lame. How about you tell me how Gilead convinced her to sell her soul to subjugating women and torturing and beating them as part of daily life?
Serena Fake-Out They’ve spent countless episodes in season two and three working at Serena and her realization that this world she helped build was a mistake. She gave up her baby! She burned her house down! She’s smoking butts with June! Now, she gets one look at the kid on TV and all that is shot to shit? All that relationship-building with June was for nothing? I am getting tired of story lines building then getting trashed for a new one. It’s frustrating. Sure, they could have something big planned for Serena in the season finale but by then I just may not care. Gilead isn’t going down without Serena on the side of the angels.
All this to say I’m disappointed with where THT is going this season. Missed opportunities and underwhelming character development. This could have been the season where we really dove into the people that were going to help bring Gilead down. Instead they are throwing all their weight behind June - the most unrealistic of all the players to really make that happen. If the rules of Gilead really applied, June would have gone on the wall in season two after that baby was born.
Whew, that was cathartic. Thank you for “indulging” me.