[This story contains spoilers to the eighth episode of The Handmaid’s Tale‘s fifth season, “Motherland.”]
Yvonne Strahovski had described the eighth episode of The Handmaid’s Story as Serena’s “final all-time low,” a precarious warning given how the prior episode ended.
When “Motherland” opens, Serena certainly finds herself in her lowest second but of season 5 and, arguably, of your entire Hulu collection. Now an immigration prisoner who’s locked up in a Canadian detention middle, Serena, who had new child son Noah pulled from her arms to finish episode seven, is compelled to pump and hand over her breast milk to the lady who’s now the authorized guardian of her son, Mrs. Wheeler (Genevieve Angelson). When Commander Lawrence (Bradley Whitford) visits Serena and presents to assist her by returning her to the Wheeler house, the place she may also help nurse her child whereas the Wheelers proceed to successfully increase him, Serena bristles on the thought.
“It’s the one method,” he insists.
“I’m not going to dwell in the identical home as my youngster’s kidnappers,” says Serena, who appears to want reminding that she helped orchestrate Gilead’s handmaid lifestyle.
“Do you will have an irony deficiency?” Lawrence asks.
“I don’t give a rattling. I’m not a handmaid,” she replies.
Serena in the end seeks out June for recommendation the place, mom to mom, they run every of their predicaments by the opposite. Serena tells June it’s price contemplating Lawrence’s supply of New Bethlehem as a method for June to be reunited along with her oldest daughter, Hannah. However when Serena asks June to be her advocate, she’s shocked by her refusal. “I might by no means forgive you,” says June, who advises her to return to the Wheelers. After which it occurs once more.
“How?” Serena asks. “How do you go and dwell in a home with a girl who’s attempting to steal your child?”
June cocks her head: “Are you critically asking me that?” Her recommendation: “You’re gonna return in there, and you might be gonna act like a handmaid. However your entire time, you may be plotting towards them and planning your revenge.”
And so, she does. Serena returns to the Wheeler home, apologizes and acknowledges her place. She is allowed to nurse her child, however is compelled to confess she is unfit and provides up all different mothering duties. Whether or not she can have June’s quiet willpower stays to be seen within the closing two episodes.
Serena’s dedication to not confronting the laborious fact of her state of affairs was attractive for the writers to discover. And although they didn’t have the Serena-June handmaid flip-flop twist of their bigger collection plan from the beginning, it was “beautiful when the plan got here to be,” mentioned creator and showrunner Bruce Miller.
“The perfect factor in regards to the story is that Serena is just not blind to what’s occurring, and he or she nonetheless doesn’t need it,” Miller advised The Hollywood Reporter of the gradual realization all through season 5 that Serena has, basically, change into a handmaid. “Ironic to the viewers however to not her, she tells herself, ‘I can’t be a handmaid.’ And that’s a mixture of the way in which she sees herself and realizing what it’s wish to be a handmaid, as a result of she was the handmaid overseer. She doesn’t need to must be on the mercy of somebody like her, which is a very attention-grabbing character factor to discover. She’s the jail guard who doesn’t need to go to jail.”
As soon as the writers plotted Serena’s being pregnant in season 4, the handmaid position reversal plot began to disclose itself. The purpose is for the developments to “really feel inevitable, however by no means predictable,” he defined.
“The storyline developed as we developed the story of Serena being pregnant and as she pivots — as a result of she’s such a narcissist — from caring solely about herself to caring about this child. And also you begin to say, ‘OK, what does that imply when it comes to Serena?’ On the finish of final season, what we took away was her sense of safety. Fred, for all of his worthlessness, took a number of the warmth for her and tried to guard her, and made her state of affairs extra steady. Now I feel the child, plus the instability, is permitting her to hunt stability — and that’s the place you get that story. She’s in search of one thing that she actually, actually doesn’t need to discover. I like that she’s like, ‘I don’t care. I’m not going to be a handmaid — regardless of how ironic it’s.’”
For Miller, witnessing what his main girls did with the scripts was a spotlight. “To see them do this voodoo that they do that’s so wonderful and magic,” he mentioned, noting the labor and post-labor scenes with Serena and June within the barn in episode seven (written by Rachel Shupert, “a fucking masterpiece,” he added). However the flashbacks displaying June and Serena firstly of their relationship have been additionally revealing. “They overlap a ton,” he says of the 2 characters. “They’re girls who grew up in the identical society who made sure selections; they have been each working within the area of communications. The issues that annoy the shit out of one another are the issues they worth in themselves: the stubbornness, their ethical rectitude, their capacity to climate any form of argument and never change your opinions — Serena most likely thinks that’s her greatest persona trait. So it’s a pleasure to put in writing them due to the way in which the 2 actors work collectively and due to the way in which the 2 characters work collectively.”
Miller added that June’s choice to assist Serena throughout her labor in episode seven, and to return to listen to her out within the detention middle in episode eight, is one born out of trauma.
“Largely it’s core June. It’s who June is; that she’s not going to stroll away. She will’t,” he mentioned. “She needs she was the kind of one who might stroll away and by no means look again. There’s hopefully a base goodness beneath any of her trauma that’s urging her to do these items, however I feel her response is born of trauma in a method that she is recognizing.”
The broader theme tying the 2 girls collectively additionally rings eerily well timed, a sense that the creator and his writers know, sadly, too properly having labored on their prescient collection for 5 seasons. “The story about what it’s wish to be a refugee within the trendy world, I don’t assume goes away, particularly within the time of local weather change,” he says of the real-life relevancy of each Serena and June discovering themselves in no man’s land: Serena is undocumented after violating the phrases of her keep, and June, alongside along with her household, is unwelcome by Canadians as Gilead refugees. “Everyone who leaves America, all the folks in The Handmaids Story, are both refugees or pre-refugees. As soon as they get out, they’re folks with no nation. America is there, off someplace, however not essentially a spot you need to go. Serena can’t go to America. She’d must put herself underneath their management, and I don’t know they’d be so completely happy to have Serena Pleasure. The thought of being each bodily displaced out of your nation, or feeling like your nation isn’t what it was — the way in which they really feel about America turning into Gilead — is, sadly, a typical, relatable emotion nowadays.”
‘The Handmaid’s Story’ Boss on How Lengthy That “Inevitable” Twist Was within the Works