The Handmaid’s Tale 405 – Chicago
Warning: Review contains spoilers!
“Unlike women, numbers don’t lie.”
Chicago continues June’s trek west towards the frontlines of the war, has several characters playing politics in a bid for more power and has an explosive ending that promises to raise and sink hearts at the same time.
June is anxious. Now that she’s in war-torn Chicago, any idle time seems like wasted time. While Janine settles in with Steven, June’s thoughts float back to her life with Luke, and she realizes that lying around while gunfire erupts in the distance won’t get her back to him. Watching Janine taking shooting lessons with Steven seems to bother June and when she asks to accompany him on their next mission, he turns her down. Janine’s usefulness comes in handy once again when she vouches for June and Steven reluctantly agrees to let her come along. June has been calling the shots for a while now and running into resistance with Steven and his crew is frustrating. However, the smile she cracks at the end of the scene is delicious and a good indication that she’s adapting to her current circumstances.
June’s not the only one struggling with a change in roles. Fully recovered and ready to get back to work, Aunt Lydia hits a roadblock when she announces that she’s looking forward to taking charge of the new handmaid recruits. Her enthusiasm is blunted by Aunt Ruth who is aware of Aunt Lydia’s recent string of failures. The new handmaids are going to be someone else’s responsibility and the news is a dagger to the heart. Lydia’s identity is completely wrapped up in overseeing handmaids and she seems lost at the mere mention that she won’t be continuing in her usual role. Her connection to the handmaids, although warped, at least appears to be more genuine than Aunt Ruth’s who only sees them as assets.
Commander Lawrence tries to reassert himself as well in a futile attempt to get Gilead’s council to heed his advice. Despite their military might, Gilead is weakened due to the sanctions they are under. Bombs and bullets can’t feed the masses or keep the economy humming along and Lawrence looks to Nick for some support. Nick flexes his muscles a bit helping to shoot down Lawrence’s proposal for a cease fire against the rebels, which indirectly would also keep June from harm.
This is where the backroom dealing begins and its always great to see the talented Ann Dowd and Bradley Whitford share the screen together. As Lawrence and Lydia, they barely raise their voices above a whisper but nonetheless command the scene. Lydia and Lawrence, both on the outside looking in, lean on each other to re-establish themselves.
Chicago provides some touching moments between Janine and June. Their friendship has been a curious one, born more out of necessity than mutual admiration. Their bond takes another step in Chicago’s final moments only to be thrown in doubt when the streets explode during the air raid. With Janine nowhere to be found among the smoke and ashes a familiar figure appears before June. It’s Moira and the moment is bittersweet.
A lot of the status quo has been reset in Chicago with Lawrence and Lydia regaining their status in Gilead. For others the status quo has been shattered with June’s liberation, Janine’s uncertain fate and Nick almost certainly losing his true love to the safety of the Canadian border. How things progress from here will be interesting to watch especially a potential reunion between June and Luke.