two stretched and butchered Margaret Atwood’s original concept, running out of
novel after season one. Very little happened, June went on an endless loop of escape-and-capture, and the patriarchal horrors that once shocked with relevance became purposeless. Season three is the only opportunity for
redemption. No pressure, then.
Elisabeth Moss continues her soul-crushing performance
Miller has bucked up some of his ideas – heading into a new direction and
abandoning long expired and empty storylines. In a controversial move from our
Handmaid heroine June (Elisabeth Moss), she gives her baby to Emily (Alexis
Bledel) to take over to Canada. June remains in Gilead to save her other
The rebellion promised in the trailers doesn’t rise in the
first episode but, after June is helped by the enigmatic Commander Joseph
(Bradley Whitford), the glint of defiance is clear.
Season three heads in a different, more accessible direction – unlike the obvious and desperate scrabble to pave a new story for season two. Elisabeth Moss’s
performance continues to rip souls apart, with more absorbing material to work
with. Her dialogue scenes are necessary, not tedious, wielding genuine heart and horror.
There’s also a clear retraction from violence, which has been heavily
criticised in previous seasons. In one scene, the camera deliberately moves
back during a punishment – showing the results instead of the torture.
Gilead’s lenience is still endlessly confusing. It’s
hard to tell what’s reprehensible and what’s brushed aside as a minor
infraction. This affects the stakes and the fear factor. What can the citizens say or do? What's worth an execution or an amputation? Why is Nick
still trusted after holding his Commander at gunpoint?
Bruce Miller cleverly pushes the nightmare couple Fred (Joseph Fiennes) and Serena (Yvonne Strahovski) into a
crooked corner: both could be
implicated in June's actions. They need to help each other, which, hopefully, will continue to unravel
through the series. However, their horrific actions in season two can't absolve them. It’ll
be interesting to see if Miller tries to make them likeable.
one is a deliberate attempt to remove itself from season two, like it’s embarrassed
by the past. It succeeds (only just) and the story attracts some appeal to
continue – though there’s still a lot to make up for. Miller's saved a drowning
series, but could potentially return it to dull waters.
The Handmaid's Tale season 3 airs Sundays at 9pm on Channel 4
|What||The Handmaid's Tale season 3 review, Channel 4|
09 Jun 19 – 09 Jun 20, 9:00 PM – 10:00 PM