The Handmaid’s Story Season 4 is sort of right here. Yeah, we won’t imagine it both.
For one factor, the dystopian drama was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, creating an almost two-year hole between seasons and an entire lot of forgetfulness amongst audiences. However there’s extra to the strangeness of this collection’ return than simply fuzzy plot particulars.
It is 2021, and The Handmaid’s Story will hit completely different.
Cast within the embers of post-2016 election rage, the Margaret Atwood adaptation-turned-survival thriller is poised to tackle its greatest problem but in Season 4 — airing new episodes to a world basically modified by present crises. Sure, The Handmaid’s Story has been a lightning rod for controversy previously. It has been criticized for the symbolic function it has performed within the nationwide battle for reproductive rights, in addition to for fridging Black characters, utilizing gratuitous sexual violence, and in any other case misjudging when going “there” turns into going too far.
However in these subsequent ten episodes The Handmaid’s Story is positioned to lastly make clear — or on the very least closely trace at — what final message Gilead’s impending downfall is supposed to hold for weary followers who’ve watched this present since Donald Trump entered the White Home.
TL;DR: It is 2021, and The Handmaid’s Story will hit completely different.
Critics’ opinions have not dropped but, however the Season 4 trailer teases much more gritty intercourse slavery disappointment (if that is what you even name it?), placing plenty of simulated torture and in any other case graphic violence within the collection’ close to future. Assessing whether or not that continued cranking of depth will profit the present poses quite a lot of different intriguing questions.
Will audiences hold investing on this collection if issues by no means get higher? Conversely, may they disengage when June’s scenario lastly does enhance? Are we watching this present as a result of the eager perception it supplies by way of this horrific imaginative and prescient of the long run, or as a result of it’s regularly leaned into it worst instincts? Will the colossal approach our actuality has modified since we final entered Gilead make us hungry for extra struggling? Much less? What’s going to The Handmaid’s Story say about us?
With that mixture of concepts in thoughts, we combed again by way of Seasons 1 by way of 3 wanting not just for the plot reminders we’d like however for the controversial storylines nonetheless hanging within the steadiness. If it helps, consider this refresher as extra of a “what to fret about” for those who, like us, are holding out hope that this seemingly endless tragedy might nonetheless be constructing to a invaluable perception.
The place did June depart off?
Flailing feminist June Osborne started final season with so much to deal with.
After giving beginning alone in a freezing home simply hours after seeing her boyfriend get kidnapped after which warding off a pack of wolves (keep in mind the wolves?), the de facto insurgent chief had her new child daughter smuggled out of Gilead by Rita and a community of Marthas. In fact, June was purported to be smuggled out as nicely, however she selected to remain behind to be the hero Hulu paid for. That was the entire Season 2 finale controversy.
Quick ahead a bit to the top of Season 3, as June realizes she should sacrifice herself to assist a aircraft’s price of kids escape to Canada. (FWIW, there was an entire bunch of different nonsense earlier than that, with June being tortured on the Pink Middle, then reassigned to Commander Lawrence, and dragged to DC for that press tour, however the aircraft heist was the primary focus of her arc and is possible all we have to keep in mind heading into Season 4.) It is at this level June lastly will get the chance at martyrdom she’s been angling for, able to be a distraction so others can flee.
You may’t suppose The Handmaid’s Story with out additionally considering, “June, simply sit the fuck down.”
However June’s fellow handmaids determine they’re gonna sacrifice themselves for her, and all hell breaks unfastened. June will get shot; then she shoots an unnamed Eye; then the handmaids stone a dude driving a van and disappear into the woods carrying June’s limp physique whereas she recites Bible verses in voiceover. Yeah, that remaining scene actually is so much to soak up — and is, to place it terribly mildly, problematic.
June is an unforgivably imperfect hero, who simply final season let Mrs. Lawrence, an explicitly mentally ailing character, die by suicide. Yeah, do not forget that shit present? She additionally held a gun on a 10-year-old woman and stabbed visitor star Christopher Meloni to dying with a pen earlier than asking a bunch of strangers to eliminate the physique for her so she might as soon as once more embark on a horrible (however new!) plan that once more put an entire lot of individuals at risk.
We might go on about June’s failings at size — and have. Suffice to say, you’ll be able to’t suppose The Handmaid’s Story with out additionally considering, “June, simply sit the fuck down and soothe your quivering higher lip, you monstrous megalomaniac. You are getting everybody killed for the improper causes.”
Her reckoning wants to come back, and shortly. Even delaying it to the latter half of Season 4 might burn audiences when you think about the overtly optimistic symbolism of the place we left off.
Is Gilead going to get any extra plausible?
Between Janine ping-ponging to and from the colonies and handmaids getting their lips sewn shut within the nation’s capital, The Handmaid’s Story‘s believability downside has been well-established. However as we head into this subsequent season, its penalties might be extra narratively pricey than ever.
It’s important that The Handmaid’s Story establish what allowed this violent theocracy to flourish.
With Luke, Moira, Emily, and, as revealed within the Season 3 finale, Rita now in Canada, and each Waterfords standing trial earlier than the globe — keep in mind, Fred reported Serena to the Canadian feds for making June have intercourse with Nick and Serena obtained cuffed within the final episode — there are ample gamers for the worldwide stage to develop into a viable street for The Handmaid’s Story to go down.
That is the logical subsequent step for this narrative. However we stay in a post-pandemic period, and successfully depicting a time of disaster whereas we’re nonetheless in a single appears difficult primarily based on this story’s historical past.
See, all the way in which again in Season 1, a go to from the Mexican ambassador to Gilead let June make oblique contact with the worldwide stage. Upon June secretly confiding within the dignitary, nonetheless, the ambassador callously advised June Mexico wouldn’t assist. They wanted the uteruses.
By Season 3, alternatively, an attractive white Canadian man was arresting Serena on expenses of rape, alleged by a lady abroad, heroically exterior of his jurisdiction…but in addition utilizing a human child as a bargaining chip in negotiations with Serena’s warfare felony husband?
Up to now, The Handmaid’s Story‘s presentation of their universe’s worldwide neighborhood has been complicated, inconsistent, and, frankly, racist. That may make these subsequent episodes a lot trickier to land. As a result of, as we talked about in our debrief for Season 3 (had been we ever so younger?), it’s important that The Handmaid’s Story establish what allowed this violent theocracy to flourish:
“Is it nuclear weapons? Management of the world financial system? An embarrassing snapshot of SpongeBob on the Christmas get together? We want solutions. With out them, Handmaid’s will battle to take care of any believability or self-awareness — and might overlook about attaining higher that means exterior the western hemisphere.”
What’s extra, if we can’t rightly place June as a hero — once more, she’s not a very good particular person! — another person might want to step into that function for the present to succeed in a victorious conclusion. (That is, after all, to not say The Handmaid’s Story cannot finish with everybody being irrevocably screwed; that kind of pessimism simply is not what we have come to count on of this present.)
And proper now, there’s not an avenue by which that new hero might even arrive.
All these (reward) B plots to recollect
As if needing to dramatically redefine your hero and the universe they exist in wasn’t sufficient to take care of, The Handmaid’s Story Season 4 has loads of different dangling issues to deal with.
The Martha community obtained as much as all types of muffin-centric espionage that might land them in large bother with a restricted security internet. The Lawrences additionally obtained strong-armed into “the ceremony” with June, after which Mrs. Lawrence died, so Commander Lawrence is able to increase hell.
Nolite te bastardes carborundorum?
Nick saved doing his ambivalent agent of a violent totalitarian patriarchal theocracy factor — however we’re apparently forgiving him as a result of he’s so excited to be a daddy? Aunt Lydia had that fully nonsensical origin story episode. Janine’s son died however June did not inform her. Moira is attempting to maintain Luke from fully dropping it, just about 24/7.
After which there’s Serena, Fred, Canadian diplomacy, and the battle for child Nichole.
Contemplating Season 4 has all that to untangle and all the things else to retcon, The Handmaid’s Story‘s new episodes promise to be a make-or-break outing for the Golden Globe-winning collection. With top-notch manufacturing values and expertise to spare, the favored present might flip issues round earlier than it involves an in depth — however wow, does that look powerful. Nolite te bastardes carborundorum?