Just in time for a merry dystopian Christmas (as if Bambi isn’t enough), the latest season of The handmaid’s tale (for the previous series, click here) has just finished airing on Channel 4—ever more relevant not just amidst the struggle of women in Iran and the further curtailment of women’s right in Afghanistan, but closer to home, since the overturning of Roe v Wade.
Series 5 still steers clear of The testaments, Margaret Atwood’s update to her original novel. It hinges on the mutual dependence of June and Serena after they find themselves crossing paths again in Toronto—no longer such a safe haven amidst the changing dynamics of anti-refugee sentiment and murky diplomacy. As June reminds the saintlike Luke,
“America wasn’t Gilead until it was, and then it was too fucking late.”
Developments in Gilead itself now play a subsidiary role, driven mainly by the manipulations of Commander Lawrence and Aunt Lydia, suggesting a more media-savvy image for the Christo-fascist regime. While the constant degradations have long become over-familiar (and I remain dubious about the way both sides sanctify motherhood as the ultimate moral yardstick), the plot remains compelling. The ending is contrived, but I’m still looking forward to the next season…