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‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Season 3 Premiere Review: The Series Returns to Excellent Form

Photo by: Elly Dassas/Hulu

Written by Jennifer Marie

Warning This Review Does Contain Spoilers

In a time when fans have obsessive expectations of television shows – sometimes to extremes – Season 3 of The Handmaid’s Tale is starting off on a very, very good foot. Hulu dropped the first three episodes on Wednesday, picking up exactly where Season 2 left off, and where many viewers were left angry with the show’s gutsy protagonist, June (Elisabeth Moss). It’s clear now that her story in Gilead is not yet finished.

Season 3 takes nearly every character into a new chapter in their arc. As if the stress and strain of this world – even for those who support it – is finally too much to bear. Serena Joy Waterford (Yvonne Strahovski) will remain a conflicted source of plot (sans a few fingers), as she and her husband continue to offer a window into the life of the powerful in Gilead. Nick (Max Minghella), the Marthas and even (spoiler) Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd) return, making us feel back at home in the oppression we knew we would miss.

As indicated by her shocking move to end Season 2, June’s character is more complex than ever. Her motivations continue to focus on her daughter Hannah (Jordana Blake), but even moreso on the greater cause of the insurgency. The writers have made a point of showing pre-Gilead June as a normal, imperfect, not entirely successful, and not very politically active woman. This season is setting her up to become evermore cunning, sharp and zealous.

Commander Lawrence (Bradley Whitford) also makes a return, and it’s apparent that his role will be prominent. While he is Gilead’s chief economic architect — who has also helped handmaids escape — we learn that he is no secretly embedded rebel. He is enigmatic and ruthless. He can be helpful or cruel, depending purely on his warped logic. His ethos will be pitted against June’s ability to win his trust and affection. While she is clearly off to a rocky start, this will be a key relationship to watch. Will he be her route to earthly salvation, or her biggest betrayer?

The cinematography and pacing of the season is phenomenal. Emily’s new life in Canada, with all the complexities of newly found freedom and post-traumatic stress, is contrasted with the dark (like, Battle of Winterfell dark) scenes in June’s. Many scenes are driven by visuals and unspoken interactions, underscoring the oppression and silence that has become the norm. The actors are delivering consistent, believable and heart-wrenching moments.

And many of the beautifully composed scenes are clearly intended to indicate hope may be on the horizon. Serena bathes clothed in the sunrise of the ocean. Emily (Alexis Bledel), upon her arrival to a hospital in Canada, is applauded by a building full of onlookers. Offred/June sits casually in front of the Waterford’s now-burnt down home, softly smirking.

In some ways, the actions of women are becoming more desperate. But it also feels as though they are with fewer consequences. There is some room to breathe. A corner of the lid is peeling off. Light is peeking through.

A new episode of The Handmaid’s Tale Season 3 will be available on Hulu every Wednesday.


Pop-Break Staff
Pop-Break Staffhttps://thepopbreak.com
Founded in September 2009, The Pop Break is a digital pop culture magazine that covers film, music, television, video games, books and comics books and professional wrestling.

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