“The Bridge” · The Handmaid’s Story · TV Evaluation The Handmaid’s Story confronts the inevitable in a gripping hour · TV Membership · The A.V. Membership

The phrase “shock” will get trotted out lots when discussing The Handmaid’s Story. It may be a shock to the system: you don’t need to look laborious to see Gilead in our world, right now ; the present additionally goes out of its approach to make it plain that the appearance of Gilead was swift and much too straightforward. It’s additionally surprising in the best way that darkish, upsetting leisure can generally make your jaw drop or take the air proper out of your lungs. In its first season, there’s been no scarcity of both form of shock, and lots of of its finest moments have executed each (as was the case with “Late.”) One thing occurs, the breath stops, and with a phrase, a picture, a sound, each the horrors of the story and its broader implications come crashing down in regards to the ears.

What units “The Bridge” aside is that it’s not out to shock. As a substitute, it appears to be like at inevitable horrors, nightmares you may see coming from a mile away. The collection has gone to nice lengths to dig into the day-to-day realities of those ladies, and these little moments lead, inexorably, to a bridge, a closed research, a silent automobile trip. It’s not surprising that Janine can’t give her child away. That’s been a very long time coming. It’s that inevitability that makes it so highly effective. This was at all times going to occur, and little or no might have stopped it. In truth, there’s just one side of this story that feels remotely surprising. She survives, and that’s essentially the most horrifying little bit of all.

One other inevitability that pops up on this episode: a pair of nice performances from Madeline Brewer (Janine) and Ann Dowd (Aunt Lydia). Dowd’s largely on the periphery right here—virtually actually, as her meatiest moments come within the first 5 and final 5 minutes of the episode—however each she and Brewer do strong, deeply upsetting work. In “A Girl’s Place,” we noticed that Aunt Lydia appears to really imagine she’s defending and caring for the ladies in her cost. Right here, in her a number of transient appearances, we see that fiction crumble, only a bit, earlier than Dowd yanks it again up once more. That is an actor who is aware of tips on how to do lots with little or no, and he or she makes use of that ability to nice impact right here, establishing her main scene companion for some really nice work.

All through the season, Brewer has painted Janine as a lady who can’t assist however inch nearer to the breaking level, clinging desperately to concepts that she appears to imagine fervently whereas additionally figuring out on some deep, primal stage that they’re all a fiction. Director Kate Dennis, like the administrators which have preceded her, lets the digicam linger on Brewer’s fidgety stance, her agitated mouth, and her one extensive, consistently sweeping eye. With every look within the current, Janine has appeared nearer and nearer to an edge, and what makes Brewer’s efficiency on that bridge so affecting is that every one the fantasy has lastly dropped away. She swears. She’s nonetheless. She needs to do karaoke. Unburdened of the lies that Commander Putnam fed her with, freed from fiction that the Aunts are searching for her, she’s merely herself. It’s horrible, heartbreaking, and but such a reduction.

In doing so, Brewer exhibits us the Janine we noticed, nevertheless briefly, in flashback, earlier than she misplaced an eye fixed and most of her thoughts. She’s not the one character to shut a loop on this manner. The Handmaid’s Story lastly earns one among its darkly triumphant endings with Moira’s resurgence, an surprising flip following Samira Wiley’s joyful but defeated efficiency final week. Right here, the completeness of that defeat turns into obvious—yet one more inevitability—and that admittance shakes each her and June to their cores. Wiley and Elisabeth Moss have each been nice all through the collection, however that is Wiley’s finest and most unsettling second. It’s a stark distinction to the girl who carved graffiti in a rest room stall and battered and bluffed her manner out of the Crimson Middle. With a lesser performer, with out these earlier scenes of riot, Moira’s return from the dead-inside won’t work, however when that maker of bathroom-related weapons appears to be like up with hearth in her eyes once more, it’s a second that‘s each shocking and, sure, inevitable.

There’s extra ‘inevitable’ stuff one might suss out—Serena Pleasure’s realization that Waterford should “concerned” with June/Offred (she’d probably name it “having an affair,” since she warned June/Offred to not strive something within the first episode), the Commander’s recognition that June/Offred is enjoying him, June’s determination to hunt out Mayday—however essentially the most spectacular trick that “The Bridge” pulls off is that it’s precisely what it says on the tin. It’s uncommon table-setting episode manages to cover the mechanics in addition to this one does, however in an hour that appears largely designed to arrange the finale, there’s little that seems like pure set-up. As a substitute, it places in place each the shifting items of the plot (Serena storming into the research, the Commander’s “I’m not silly,” and naturally the bundle) with smaller moments seemingly designed to remind us of the realities of the world.

Outdoors of the sight of Janine within the hospital, nothing in “The Bridge” is extra chilling than Serena asking Rita if June/Offred has “requested for her napkins” but. We get scenes of Nick speaking in regards to the wall, each within the episode and within the previously-on. Waterford is warned to watch out, after which Putnam will get carted off in a darkish van. And Moira’s exhilarated face behind the wheel seems like a mirror of Emily’s (Alexis Bledel) earlier this season, which might imply triumph, doom, or probably each.

All of it factors towards subsequent week and subsequent season. That “The Bridge” is ready to tick these containers whereas placing collectively a taut, dense, and affecting hour of storytelling is a hell of a feat. After two stumbles, it appears that evidently The Handmaid’s Story is again on type.

Stray observations

  • As at all times, visible highlights from the episode might be up on Twitter later at this time. This episode was a magnificence. All of the drone photographs have been significantly putting.
  • Extra Ann Dowd or we riot.
  • Based mostly on what we all know of their friendship and the unimaginable trauma to which they’ve each been subjected, the argument between Moira and June feels completely justified, and Moss and Wiley are nice. That mentioned, the sight of a white lady lecturing a black one about something is at all times going to really feel gross.
  • Additionally nice this episode: Ever Carradine as Mrs. Putnam—simply the worst—and Amanda Brugel as Rita. Her “OK” after Serena instructed her to pour a drink for herself was the episode’s solely chortle for me.
  • Sure, however did the world’s finest carbonara include a aspect of James Beard award-worthy pesto?
  • Praised be, bitches.

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