The Handmaid's Tale Season 2 Premiere Review: June and the Unwomen

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June is on the run.

If there is one thing everyone around her should have learned by the time the events of The Handmaid's Tale Season 2 Episode 1 occurred, it was that June would never allow a child she's carrying to set her apart from the other handmaids.

She has too much respect for herself, her fellow handmaids and the sanctity of motherhood to be used as a pawn in Gilead's game.

Women or Animals? - The Handmaid's Tale

If others go through with it to protect themselves to live another day, whether to see their other children again or in the hope they might one day be reunited with those that are so brutally ripped from them by their new "parents," isn't for anyone to judge, either.

The terror handmaids suffer at the hands of Gilead isn't even suitable for the worst people in society, let alone those set aside to bear the future of the nation.

What was shown during The Handmaid's Tale Season 1 was child's play in contrast to what Aunt Lydia put the handmaids through for their refusal to stone Janine to death.

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The opening was very unsettling. Thanks to Temple Brandin, even cattle can be treated better than the handmaids when shuffled off this mortal coil.

The fear of being handcuffed, muzzled and shuffled through a darkened hallway into, of all places, Fenway Park to what they believed was their fate led to some of the most moving moments we've experienced with the women.

Psych!! - The Handmaid's Tale Season 2 Episode 1

June was trying to be as valiant as possible as she faced the barbarians in front of her acting in the name of god. The cries, the girls wetting themselves and the soft wail of Kate Bush singing "Woman's Work" drew it all together for the viewer, so we felt as much as possible what the handmaids were enduring.

And when the call for their deaths was made, they were in hell. There was no swift ending and a greeting by god, only Aunt Lydia using the deity to justify her heinous actions on his behalf.

As if that wouldn't be enough to break a soul, she continued the torture by forcing the women to kneel in the rain with their arms held straight out holding a rock.

Have you ever noticed the state of your body after an adrenaline rush, especially if you were unfortunate enough to suffer a near-death experience as the women did with the group hanging?

Representative of Hell - The Handmaid's Tale Season 2 Episode 1

A car accident, a robbery and similar experiences leave you utterly drained. Your body is on such a heightened state of alert it collapses when the danger is gone. Imagine someone then marching you into a field and placing a rock in your hand and forcing that garbage on you right afterward. 

In the name of the god, you would ordinarily want to thank for being alive, of all things.

The inner words of June's mind spoke for all of us, I think.

Our father, who art in heaven, seriously? What the actual fuck?

If Aunt Lydia showed some humanity last season, it's gone. 

We've not been given any indication that the Aunts receive punishment the same as handmaids to right their ways, but we hadn't known wives were sent to the colonies, either. At least I didn't know or had conveniently forgotten.

After the mass uprising of her handmaids refusing to stone one of their own, it wouldn't surprise me if Aunt Lydia had a little extra training. When she discovered June's pregnancy and went to the room with the rope, the framing of the scene allowed for a moment of wishful thinking.

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Rubbing her face along the rope could have meant Aunt Lydia kept a noose hanging around to remind herself she's not so different from all of the other women and despite her need to treat them so cruelly, she doesn't enjoy it. Or, she could be ringing a pregnancy bell.

When you heard a group of men were in the capitol and had just killed the government, was your first thought of gun control? Criminals will always get guns. If America was gun free at that point, it might be why the rest of the country couldn't fight back against the government takeover. 

A way criminals could use the very laws enacted to keep them from their criminal behavior. That's merely food for thought.

OfJune by June and for June - The Handmaid's Tale Season 2 Episode 1

My name is June Osborne. I am from Brooklyn, Massachussetts. I am 34 years old. I stand 5'3" in bare feet. I weight 120 pounds. I have viable ovaries. I am five weeks pregnant. I am ... free.

June finding her freedom and taking what little control that she could over her life felt very good. From cutting the device out of her ear to reclaiming her name, it felt significant in a way she hasn't been able to be in recent years.

What I'd like is for Serena Joy and Fred to write her off and start anew. Serena Joy knows the child isn't hers. Let go of June.

The backstories for June and Emily were well developed and informative. I had to wonder if June fell right into Gilead's hands by not picking up her prescription for birth control pills. Their goal was to make more Gileadeans, right?

The Law - The Handmaid's Tale Season 2 Episode 2

Whether a law was in effect during The Handmaid's Tale Season 2 Episode 2 when Emily and her wife tried to get to Canada is also of interest. At the airport, you can make up whatever you want to detain a passenger. And I think they did. 

Agent: The marriage is forbidden.
Emily: By what law?
Agent: THE law.

They were looking for viable handmaids then just as they were seeking them at the hospital when the nurse grilled June about her family rearing skills. I'd venture to guess Emily didn't have an implanted egg but carried her own son even if it might seem otherwise since he got to leave the country with her wife.

Emily was more precious getting pregnant with her own eggs. 

Being homosexual would have been regrettable not only due to their righteous Christian outlook but because of how it affected the viability of the fruit of Gilead. Then again, they used pretty much any reason to call formerly legal marriages illegal and create their own Nazi-type utopia. 

Even so, Emily's life and June's have diverged quite a bit since they last met, and the two seem to be on deviating paths.

Emily's experiences have hardened her so she will kill those responsible for holding handmaids captive and watching the rape. Marissa Tomei's guest performance was a surprise and her exit even more. Going to that extreme never came to mind when Emily was "caring" for the woman.

Nobody even cares out there in the torture equivalent of Little House on the Prairie. Nothing is any different there for women than it is for handmaids. Well, they may be raped less as the guards appear to be female. 

What they're digging on top of a hillside of noxious gasses is anybody's guess, let alone the why. It may only be a form of punishment and nothing more. Why waste the time? Kill them and be done with it.

The Wall - The Handmaid's Tale Season 2 Episode 2

As Gilead began, those they considered unworthy of continuing to be productive society members were killed essentially where they stood, a fact June discovered while residing in the former home of The Boston Globe. Free speech isn't a thing anymore, that's for sure.

June's freedom came with the price of isolation and a residence reminding her of her torture at the hands of the demon's hand, Aunt Lydia. 

Stepping into the room with a hanging line and a wall riddled with bullet holes and covered in blood shocked June even after everything she's suffered. The reality of what happened to her country was looming before her as she walked through a building that was left as a single moment in time.

Purses on the stair floors, cubicles filled with memories of love, families, and laughter, and probably the most poignant, the trail of shoes as a woman was knocked right out of hers on her way to her slaughter.

The Memorial - The Handmaid's Tale Season 2 Episode 2

It was the first time June had the opportunity to allow all that happened to fully sink in, to understand the horrors of what others encountered that day, the day what was left of America disappeared.

Taking items from some of the desks and creating a memorial had to be cathartic for June, but what was even more surprising to me was that despite god being used and abused in so many ways since life as she and others knew it disappeared, June hasn't lost faith.

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That's where I believe the divergence lies between Emily and June. Emily is lost after her experiences.

If in the same spot as Emily, I don't think June would have killed the wife in the colonies. While the wife may be praying to a god June wouldn't connect to in her prayers, June's own faith might not allow her to kill indiscriminately, either.

I could be completely wrong about that, but June's prayer to God to bless the location and those who departed from it took me by surprise. It is such a hopeful thought from someone who has been through more than anyone ever should tolerate.

It gives me hope June will reunite with Luke and Hannah, and somehow merge her new life with Nick and baby to be into the family. If anyone can do it, it's June.As soon as she saves America from Gilead, of course.

June Review

Editor Rating: 4.75 / 5.0
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Rating: 5.0 / 5.0 (29 Votes)

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.

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The Handmaid's Tale Season 2 Episode 1 Quotes

Our father, who art in heaven, seriously? What the actual fuck?


Offred has been keeping a secret. Ah ha ha ha ha. A most wonderful secret! She has been filled with his divine light!

Aunt Lydia