Spoiler free review of season 1 is HERE.
In episode 1 of Netflix’s Kiss Me First, we meet Leila, a quiet, introverted young woman who has spent the last few years at home caring for her dying mother. With her mother gone, Leila moves out into the world. Sometimes it’s the virtual world and sometimes it’s the physical world. Sometimes it’s hard to tell where one world ends and the other begins.
Once her mother has passed on, Leila begins forming new relationships and trying to figure out where she fits in the world. She’s intelligent, strong and willing to continue looking out for other people, but she’s also sheltered, a bit innocent and can be impulsive.
We meet Leila for the first time at her mother’s funeral. She and the priest are the only ones there, besides Myra in her casket. Afterwards, Leila brings Myra’s ashes to the river, but doesn’t throw them in. Instead she brings them home and puts them in a prominent place on the mantle.
When Leila gets home from the funeral, the medical service is at her apartment collecting all of Myra’s adaptive care devices. The nice nurse mentions how much she liked Myra, and how her death seemed sudden. She asks if Leila has someone coming to stay with her, and Leila says yes, friends.
Kiss Me First is a new Netflix/British Channel 4 series that is loosely based on Lottie Moggach’s 2014 debut novel of the same name. The six episode first season focusses on Leila (Tallulah Haddon), a young woman whose mother has just died, and Tess (Simona Brown), a mentally ill woman with a troubled history.
Both women escape from the difficulties of their lives using a ubiquitous gaming program called Azana Planet, but Tess, known as Mania within the game, has found her way into a hacked section of the program that’s set up as a private meeting space. It’s reserved for friends of a gamer who calls himself Adrian (Matthew Beard), who collects troubled young people and theoretically gives them what they need.
Eventually Leila, who goes by the name Shadowfax in the game, also finds her way into the private space. The club and its virtual clubhouse are known as Red Pill, for the pill Neo took to get out of the Matrix, rather than the Men’s Rights Activists’ delusion of choice. Before long, Leila suspects that Adrian isn’t as benign as the others thinks he is. Her real world investigation of Adrian involves the rest of the Red Pill members and becomes high stakes, as members start meeting sinister fates, one by one.
In the season 2 finale of The Handmaid’s Tale, June chooses to stay in Gilead rather than escape with her baby daughter, despite several Marthas and others having risked their lives to help her and Nichole. This has become a controversial choice with the audience. I’ve seen many commenters who feel that June was selfish to stay behind, because the Marthas had taken serious risks to get her and the baby out. Some people think that the Marthas will feel angry and betrayed when they find out that June didn’t leave. Since even major outlets were shocked and disgusted by June’s choice and agree with the judgement that it makes her selfish, I’ve decided to address it in a separate post from my already extra long recap/analysis.
This is a complex issue. First, calling June selfish for sending one child to safety but giving up her own chance at freedom so that she can try to save her other child and work with the Resistance to save more people, is blatantly ridiculous and misogynistic. What would be selfish is saving herself without a thought for the other people it would affect, which is what the Marthas expected her to do.
Second, June didn’t ask the Marthas to get her out. She owes them now that her baby is hopefully free, but she wasn’t required to take them up on their offer, since she didn’t request it in the first place. Even if she requested it, she would have been allowed to change her mind. Her life and her children’s lives are the lives most at stake in an escape attempt. If she wasn’t comfortable with what was happening, she had the right to change her mind. After all of the uproar about the rapes in this show, are people now saying that June doesn’t have the right of consent to the escape plan that others devised for her and her children? That’s insane. Hannah and Nichole are the most innocent victims, and as their parent, June’s first responsibility is always to them. She has the right to consent to the plan or not, and to withdraw her consent if needed when conditions change. Which they did, when she saw that she could send Nichole to Canada with Emily.
Also: Serena’s Doors and Windows; June and Serena’s Journeys in Season 2 and the Future; Silencing the Women of Gilead; The Changes in Gilead: From Motherhood to Obedience to Polygamy?; Baby Nichole’s Big Adventure; John 1:1 and Teaching Daughters to Read the Word of God; The Martha Relay Race; and Maps of Gilead and Interpretation
In season 2 episode 13, The Word, Serena reads a Bible verse out loud to the Council that ends by saying the word was God. In this episode, the word is also Out. Everyone wants out of their current situation. Serena and the wives speak out for their daughters and all of the daughters of Gilead. The Marthas out themselves as the true Resistance. Rita is outed as the Black Widow of Gilead, just as I always knew she was. Emily and Nichole get out of Boston, maybe Gilead. Fred wants disobedient women out of his life. June opts out of escaping, choosing instead to work toward getting Hannah and all of the daughters of Gilead out of danger from the growing reign of terror. And Lydia is taken out of the game by Emily, at least temporarily.
By the end of the episode, everyone is outside of their normal status, and it’s unclear whether they’ll ever go back to what had become normal. In the beginning of season 1, Aunt Lydia promised the handmaids that the rules and restrictions of Gilead would come to feel normal and ordinary to them with time. She was wrong. In the last few episodes we’ve seen women and men at every level of Gilead society rebel, from a high-ranking commander to an Unwoman who barely got a reprieve from the Colonies and death.
Serena quoted Isaiah last episode, verse 49:25, in which God promises to deliver the captives and save the children. This episode, a captive was delivered, and a child was saved, but they were brought out of their captivity in Gilead, the enemy of the good. She left out the next verse, where God promises to “make your oppressors eat their own flesh” (Isaiah 49:26*). This is literally and figuratively what’s happening in Gilead. Gilead is cutting up its people, a piece at a time. In this episode, we saw Commander Putnam, who has one hand; Cora and Janine, who each have one eye; Emily, who had a clitorectomy and lost a tooth; Serena, who gave up a finger to the cause; and we heard Aunt Lydia refer to Lillie, who had her tongue cut out. Mr Spencer metaphorically ate his own flesh by turning his daughter in to the Guardians, leading to her execution. Commander Lawrence drove his wife insane by becoming a mass murderer in service of Gilead.
Close to two years after season two was released, Amazon appears to be making moves toward releasing season 3 of its alternate universe show The Man in the High Castle. The show, and Amazon Prime Video, have had various issues that slowed down the production of season 3. Amazon cancelled many of their shows during the same period, including their prestige, flagship shows, like Mozart in the Jungle.
Amazon released a short teaser video today, announcing that season three will be available this fall. Watch the video after the cut.
This week’s episode starts with a boom, then a crash and a fireball. During the cold opening, we watch people come and go for a minute before a terrorist explodes a bomb in an office building lobby. Mara will be asked to trick information out of a dying woman who was injured in this explosion.
Mara is getting coffee in the Onira Tech break room when Charlie finds her and tells her to come with him. He gives her no explanation for why he wants her, and just happens to have an armed military guard with him. Mara is understandably freaked out.
Dennis Haysbert has one of the great actor voices of all time, as we all know, and he can use it for good or evil. Can you imagine having your boss tell you to come with him and an armed guard, with that voice, and what you’d think if he didn’t add something like, “It’s not about you”? I’d be having a heart attack. Terrible boss move, Charlie.
Monica, Alexis, and Paul are also in Charlie’s office, so either the entire senior staff is in trouble, or it’s about something else. Alexis is playing on her phone, because she doesn’t believe in showing emotions, no matter what. Paul is playing Grumpy Cat and moral compass. It’s Monica’s meeting, and she’s all business, despite the temperature of the room.
Also: Eden’s Choice, Handmaid or Surrogate? & Emily and
Herr Friar Commander Lawrence
This week on The Handmaid’s Tale, the characters try again to make their lives make sense. They tell themselves whatever lies or fantasies are necessary to keep going in Gilead. But, as always, the truth wins out in the end. What makes this a fascinating show is the combination of what each character is striving for, with how they cope when they inevitably lose their dream. Reality can never live up to the fantasy of a long hoped for dream, so even success is a form of loss, when you have to accept the imperfect real world in the place of your perfect imaginings.
This episode looks at the consequences of getting what you wish for. June is out of the Waterford’s house. Serena has her baby. Eden has found true love, after her marriage didn’t live up to her expectations and nothing she did could turn it into a happily ever after. Commander Waterford has the prestige and promotion that come with being a father.
But June is lonely, bored, and misses Holly. Serena is essentially a single parent and her baby is continuously fussy. Eden’s love is forbidden. And Fred knows the child didn’t spring from his own loins, so he doesn’t even try to bond with her. To him, the baby is a status symbol, tool to help him control Nick and bait for getting June back.
This is actually slightly old news, but I figured I’d post it for anyone else who hasn’t checked before now.
New photos and the announcement after the jump.
This week’s episode picks up right where last week’s last off, with Mara in her sister’s burning apartment. As it burns, the apartment, and Derealization Ghost Brynn, shatter and dissolve away from Mara, leaving her standing in the middle of the street with a car about to run her down. A man jumps in and pushes her to the side of the road, just in time.
Mara is left stunned, trying to figure out what’s real and what isn’t, as she clutches the grass she’s lying on. The man who saved her introduces himself as Oliver Hill and says they need to talk. He also needs to eat, so they go to a diner.
At the diner, Oliver explains that he started Onira Tech with Alexis. He’s the brain part of the brain computer interface, or BCI, and Alexis is the computer. Oliver fidgets nervously with his Zippo lighter as he eats. Mara can tell that he should be on psych meds, but he says that he isn’t. Oliver says that despite what Paul told her, they don’t help with Reverie 2.0 derealizations, so he stopped taking them.
Oliver tells Mara that he’s been keeping an eye on her situation for a while, because before her, he was the person who had spent the most time in 2.0. Because of that, he knows that she’s in danger of losing her mind. He’s been stuck going in and out of derealizations for years, without being sure which is real. Sometimes he burns himself to figure out if he’s in reality or not.
This week, our story begins with a bank heist, the fantasy of young father-to-be Nate Hallo. He’s lounging at home for his Reverie, but his wife is frantic to get him out of his typical male ego trip of a fantasy.
As she gets ready for work in the morning, Mara, who must be the calmest, nicest person on the planet, talks with the derealization ghost of her dead niece, Brynn. She let Brynn back into her brain at the end of last week’s episode, despite Paul’s instructions to avoid encouraging the visions. Brynn is accommodating, but stone-faced, until the conversation is interrupted by Mara’s ringing phone. Mara didn’t find out much about why and how Brynn is there before the phone rang and she disappeared.
Of course it’s Charlie on the phone, asking Mara to consult on Nate’s case. Nate’s wife, Annie, is suing Reverie because Nate has been using the product addictively for the last 4 months, to the point where it’s ruining their lives. Annie’s lawyer, Daniel Baez, explains that Nate’s lost his job and the couple are in so much debt that they’re about to lose their home due to the overwhelming amount of time Nate spends in Reverie.