The Handmaid’s Tale Season 2 Episode 9: Smart Power Recap

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Travel isn’t what it used to be, now that most of the US has become Gilead. If there’s one thing we learn in Smart Power, it’s that the people on both sides of the US-Canadian border miss the easy tourism relationship they used to share. Fred tries to blithely assume that the relationship will return to normal very soon, but the gay diplomat he’s speaking to disabuses him of that notion very quickly. The situation only devolves from there, as the Waterfords and Gilead manage to piss off the nicest country in the world so much that they’re thrown out of Canada, with angry protesters at the airport following them right up to their plane.

I really wish the Canadians had thrown them in the Canadian gulag. They might have had to build one just for Fred and Serena Joy, but it would have been worth it. Why hasn’t the UN been able to bring them up on charges as war criminals yet? Why aren’t the refugees in Little America speaking out? Surely Gilead deserves to be sanctioned by the international community for human rights violations, if nothing else. They don’t seem to have much trade with the rest of the world, or good relations with powerful countries to protect them from punishment.

I guess there’s no international “Believe the women” movement happening in this universe, at least until the end of the episode. We can only hope that Moira and Erin have found their true calling, and find a way to keep the attention on Gilead’s abusive practices.

If episode 8 was about longing, episode 9 is about disappointment and facing reality. No one gets what they want, expectations aren’t met, circumstances are reduced, consequences must be accepted. It’s an episode full of lost princesses, as if the movie Enchanted met Alice in Wonderland then got high with Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Our feisty princesses spend the hour making plans and considering options, but they don’t even know which universe they’re living in half the time. Is it the universe where unwomen are brought back from the dead and bring their babies back from the dead? Or the universe where wives who have saved their husbands from unfounded charges of treason are whipped for not obeying their husbands? The universe where a plucky Jezebel can jump in a car, make a run for the border, and somehow make it to freedom? Or the one where refusing to murder a friend will get your tongue cut out? Or another appendage maimed or amputated? Every decision is high risk, now that Gilead and the Waterford home have become unstable and unpredictable, and more often than not, the result will be disappointing, if not disastrous.

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The Handmaid’s Tale Season 2 Episode 8: Women’s Work Recap

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“We do our work in the evenings. She writes, I read. In another life, maybe we could have been colleagues. In this one, we’re heretics.

“I was already on the naughty list. An adulteress. A fallen woman, as Aunt Lydia used to say. But this is new territory for Serena, I think. How does she feel about falling? She seems pretty f**king happy.”

In the background, the Commodores’ Easy plays, with the lyrics, “easy like Sunday morning.” There are cups of tea and baked goods scattered around Fred’s cosy study. If not for their outfits, this could be a working brunch between two professional women before the war.

Episode 8 of season 2, Women’s Work, begins with Serena and June doing the work they were paid to do before Gilead stripped them of their rights and identities. We’ve never seen either woman look so focussed, relaxed and happy.

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The Crossing Season 1 Episode 11: These Are the Names/ Series Finale Recap

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Well, that all went much better than I thought it would. For once, we were given a reasonable amount of closure on a “cancelled without warning” scifi show. There was a clear set up for season 2, if it had happened, but everyone either got to a good stopping point on camera, or it’s not hard to imagine one for them. That’s really all you can ask for from showrunners working for a network like ABC.

These Are the Names is Part 2 of the series finale. It’s framed by Jude’s testimony in front of a task force investigating events at Camp Tamanowas, which are explained by extended flashbacks to two weeks prior to Jude’s testimony. Lindauer was pretending to prepare to transfer the refugees to detention facilities, but actually preparing for a mass murder. Before Jude testifies, he oversleeps and has a nightmare that Apex have taken over. In the dream, they come to his house to enslave and brand Oliver the way Rachel and Naomi were enslaved and branded in the future.

By the time Jude testifies, the camp has been burned to the ground, the detainees have disappeared, and the only evidence that the task force has been able to find to explain what happened consists of contradictory depositions from a few guards and Paul’s video that claims the refugees were part of a suicide cult. The investigator starts by asking Jude if he knows where the detainees are, to which he answers, “No.”

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The Crossing Season 1 Episode 10: The Androcles Option Recap

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In the first half of the two part series finale of The Crossing, the stakes are building toward a breaking point for the refugees and the people who want to be rid of them. Jude, Nestor, Marshall and Diana race to rescue the time travelers before Eve and her minions can carry out her plan to murder the refugees, while the Homeland Security agents unknowingly prepare to slaughter the refugees in the camp. Eve goes so far off the deep end that even Lindauer can no longer deny how out of control she is, while Sophie makes some desperate choices that will have a huge impact on the future.

Another person of color/camp director has met their end. We’re told at the beginning of this episode that Agent Bryce Foster, who was shot at the end of the last episode, has died off camera. No tears or moment of silence for him either, just like Emma, just an excuse to further crack down on the refugees. The whole structure of his death was nearly identical to Emma’s, other than the shot being fired at the camp instead of in a house.

We also lose Paul during this episode. Instead of it happening off camera, and being nothing but an excuse for more oppression and violence, as with Emma and Bryce’s deaths, the death of the white guy is shown in its entirety, on camera, framed as a Hitchcockian horror show, and it triggers Lindauer to eventually find his conscience.

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How Star Wars Invites Trolls Who Are Toxic to Diversity

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Last week, Kelly Marie Tran, the Asian-American actor who played Rose Tico in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, shut down her Instagram account after being bombarded with racist and misogynist insults for months. Daisy Ridley (Rey) was harassed into leaving Instagram in 2016. John Boyega (Finn) has received similar negative attention for his Star Wars appearances.

There were many things wrong with The Last Jedi, but Kelly Marie Tran, Daisy Ridley and John Boyega were among the bright spots in a badly conceived story. Rian Johnson wrote and directed a film with a diverse cast that put the women and some of the people of color in prominent positions. Then he tore them down.

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The Handmaid’s Tale Season 2 Episode 7: After Recap

This episode deals with the aftermath. The aftermath of Ofglen2 Lillie Fuller’s suicide bomb, the aftermath of Commander Pryce’s death and the power vacuum it leaves, the aftermath of Gilead’s tyrannical policies and the resulting reduction in fertile women, the aftermath of Gilead’s purges, the aftermath of Luke and June’s marriage. Sometimes there is a resolution or at least a sense of closure, sometimes there is not. The deaths from the suicide bombing will likely haunt Gilead for a long time to come.

“After” begins with the funeral of the handmaids who died as a result of the bombing. It’s a beautiful spectacle, as the handmaid ceremonies tend to be. The handmaids wear red and black, with red veils completely covering their faces and tucked into their collars, keeping them anonymous and vaguely horrifying. They walk in formation to the cemetery, and surround the caskets, which are laid out in a circular formation. Seriously, if I didn’t know better I would have thought I’d accidentally clicked on a horror movie that includes a cult of creepy young women.

Aunt Lydia says the prayers over the fallen, while the handmaids repeat the phrase “We remember them” after each line. Eventually, the women remove their veils.

Aunt Lydia: I wish I could give you a world without violence. Without pain. That’s all I ever wanted. And in their names, dear lord, we remember them. Of ryan, Ofleo, Ofhal, Ofzev…

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The Handmaid’s Tale Season 2 Episode 6: First Blood Recap

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It’s the click heard round the world. Or, round Gilead, for now. Gilead continues to dig its own grave, creating handmaids with nothing to live for, who literally can’t be forced to answer questions, even under torture. Who better for Mayday to keep working with, when the other handmaids thought they’d been abandoned completely, than the handmaid who’d had her tongue cut out? The symmetry of it is utterly perfect. Ofglen2 was the one handmaid who started out wanting to be there, and Gilead couldn’t even keep her loyalty. Their system radicalized her into a voiceless suicide bomber instead.

But Ofglen2’s moment comes at the end of an episode full of moments, and she won’t be the only hardened soldier in this army. Let’s give them all their due.

The episode opens on Dr Donnie giving June an ultrasound. The baby looks fine, despite the subchorianic hematoma that caused the hemorrhaging. June and Serena are both relieved. Serena wonders if June should take estrogen to prevent another hemorrhage, but Dr Donnie thinks they should wait to see how June does. He asks if there were any complications with June’s first pregnancy. She replies that Hannah came two weeks early, which Donnie judges close enough to term to be acceptable.

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Reverie Season 1 Episode 2: Bond. Jane Bond. Recap

In this week’s of episode Reverie, Mara visits a spy fantasy created by a woman with a previously unknown heart condition. Both her real and metaphorical hearts are hurting. While Rachel’s Reverie was only supposed to be for fun, the program picked up on her underlying issues and included them in the game aspect of her fantasy. Unlike last week’s Reverie, Rachel needs to solve her issues in the real world. Mara acts as support and guide, trying to get Rachel to accept reality as quickly as possible.

Along the way, we learn more about how Reverie works and about the team. The story is heartwarming with a dash of excitement, but the stakes are low. We know Mara’s not going to fail this early in the series.

Rachel Kauffman is looking for an adventure in her Reverie, since she’s been suffering from depression in real life. She wants some excitement to help kickstart her life. She enters Reverie through the gorgeous rounded library we saw last week and is thrilled to see her new look, complete with a change in hair style and color. She steps through the door to start her adventure, and enters a stylish hotel bar. Before long, she’s approached by Keystone, the contact from spy agency, who hands her a phone with her target displayed: Vater (not Darth Vader, which becomes a running joke), who’s a scientist that’s developing a bioweapon that he wants to sell to the highest bidder.

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The Handmaid’s Tale Season 2 Episode 5: Seeds Recap

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There will be blood.

You’d think an episode called Seeds would be full of metaphors for growth and fertility, especially since the main character is pregnant. Those metaphors are there, to be sure, but only in the most macabre, twisted versions possible, as befits the malignant culture of Gilead, which relentlessly suffocates anything that tries to grow.

Fittingly, the seeds of the title are seeds of destruction and rebellion. The tiny kernels of hate, hope and despair that push characters over the edge into that realm where they have nothing to lose or something worth fighting for. It’s a different motivation for each character, and a deadly rollercoaster ride through the episode to get to the point of resolve. Women’s blood is spilled, and Nick, the one male ally in Gilead, has his heart broken. But the seeds are unwittingly planted by the agents of Gilead itself.

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The Crossing Season 1 Episode 9: Hope Smiles from the Threshold Recap

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As The Crossing gears up for next week’s double episode series finale, this week the penultimate episode, Hope Smiles from the Threshold, crams in as much plot as possible to prepare us for the end. There are several big reveals, more new characters introduced, and background characters given new prominence.

And it’s made clear that this world is a dangerous place for black men. The show started with 3 named black men, and has killed one (Beaumont), kept one physically safe in the current time (Caleb), so far, and has now critically wounded Bryce Foster, Emma Ren’s replacement as head of the refugee camp. Emma died from a less serious gunshot wound to the shoulder than Bryce’s shot to the abdomen, which has left him quickly bleeding out in the woods.

But don’t worry, the white folks, other than Sophie, are all physically fine. As a matter of fact, one of them, Lindauer, appears to have stolen  hidden exploited the talents of rescued Caleb and Rebecca’s missing daughter, Rachel, who is revealed to be a cryptographer. That’s a handy skill for someone trying to amass government and financial power.

I’m sure Greta Eve and Lindauer Noah rescued her from Apex out of the goodness of their hearts, though. And they’ll return Rachel to her birth parents right after they fake the suicides of the refugees in the camp. Oops. This multiracial girl was kidnapped from one form of enslavement into a more subtle form of exploitation. A gilded cage is still a cage.

We also find out more details about the crossing itself, and how the refugees ended up in the water.

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