The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4 Episode 4: Milk Recap

Handmaid's Tale S4Ep4 June & Janine in Milk Car

June and Janine are on the run together in episode 4. They catch a ride west in a refrigerated train car filled with milk, which might be the most Handmaid’s Tale thing ever to happen on this show, other than the next thing that happens- they find a group of fighters in Chicago who call them sex slaves and treat them as such. There’s no rest for the wicked, as Aunt Lydia would undoubtedly say.

In Toronto, the Waterfords jockey for custody of Rita and her favorable testimony in their various court cases. To the Waterfords, freedom doesn’t mean they have to give up the wonderful master-slave friendships they forged in Gilead. In this episode, Rita figures out what freedom means to her and how she actually feels about the Waterfords. Spoiler- they’re not besties after all.

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The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4 Episode 3: The Crossing Recap

Handmaid's Tale S4Ep3 June & Nick & Mask

June is off to prison in episode 3, as Nick attempts to keep her alive by forcing her to give up the location of the rest of the handmaids, doing whatever it takes to make her talk. In Gilead, true love means torturing your paramour and killing your friends so that you’ll both live to see each other again someday. It’s a unique twist on Romeo and Juliet’s accidentally on purpose suicides and murders.

Gilead is such a harsh dystopia that sometimes I expect the bodies to turn into zombies, get up and keep going. Most of the living in Gilead are basically zombies anyway.

June acts as a reverse zombie maker. She wakes people up from their psychological numbness, but frequently they die not long afterwards. Sometimes they just symbolically die to Gilead and in reality they become Canadians. That can be fraught with difficulty as well, because June still haunts them.

Luke struggles with June’s choices this week and what they mean for him and Nichole. Joseph and Lydia struggle to regain their former positions in Gilead after June disrupted their lives. As always, June struggles to do the right thing in a world that only offers wrong choices.

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The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4 Episode 2: Nightshade Recap

Handmaid's Tale S4Ep2 June & Janine

Episode 2, Nightshade, uses the title as a pun, referring to both the poisonous plant that grows on Mrs Keyes’ farm and the country club version of Jezebels that June visits to make contact with Mayday. It could probably also be used to refer to Nick and his love for hanging back in the shadows, then stepping out into the light at the perfect dramatic moment.

This is an episode of transitions, where fateful choices are made with far reaching, unpredictable consequences. It’s becoming clear that the themes of this season are sacrifice, choice and consequences. Freedom is never really free and even within oppression, there are choices to be made that will eventually affect others. Finding the line where you can live with yourself and with the cost of those choices, whether living in freedom or oppression, is the hard part facing June and the rest.

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The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4 Episode 1: Pigs Recap

The Handmaid's Tale S4Ep1 June in Woods

The Handmaid’s Tale season 4 begins where it left off at the end of season 3, with June gravely wounded after the successful takeoff of the flight holding dozens of Gilead’s children and several Marthas, including Rita. After spending several episodes organizing the flight, June and her squad of devoted handmaids further risked their lives, staying behind to distract the Guardians at the airport while the Marthas led the children onto the plane. The plane makes it to Canada as June’s fellow handmaids carry her toward safety.

In season 3, June learned that her own daughter, Hannah, may be out of her reach, but she can still be useful and save other Hannahs. She learned to honor her lost mother and the others she’s lost along the way not just by saving those she can, but also by avenging them when she gets a chance. Her leadership and her goals became more defined in season 3 and as a consequence, Gilead has lost many more children than just her own.

It’s also lost more Commanders. Ofglen took out several with her bomb in season 2. June killed Winslow and influenced Serena into taking Fred with her to Canada as the sweetener in her immunity deal. Lawrence planned to leave with the children, but went to jail instead. The losses caused by MayDay, Gilead’s war on the Western Front (Chicago), and the purges created by sparring between the two Sons of Jacob factions (True Believers, formerly led by Pryce and now maybe by Calhoun, and Career Opportunists, formerly led by Winslow and Waterford, now led by Putnam) have led to a power vacuum at the top in Gilead.

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Made for Love Season 1 Episode 3: I Want This Thing Out of My Head Recap

Made for Love S1Ep3 Hazel with Club

In episode 3, we learn more about Hazel and Byron’s lives inside the Hub through an exclusive interview with Keegan James (Nyasha Hatendi) of Weeknight America, the only journalist ever allowed inside the Gogol complex. The story then returns to Twin Sands, picking up where episode 2 left off, with Byron (Billy Magnussen) and Hazel’s (Cristin Milioti) argument about their marriage. Eventually, Byron gives Hazel a few minutes “to herself” to think while he and Herb (Ray Romano) catch up. Herb treats Byron more like a potential investor than his son-in-law. Byron watches Hazel’s every move on Herb’s TV rather than allowing her privacy.

That sums up the relationships on this show- they appear to be about either materialism or obsession or both, with a dose of neglect thrown in to counterbalance the obsessions. The characters are unable to see below each others’ facades and remember that they are dealing with fellow human beings (or living creatures) who have feelings, needs and rights of their own. In their own way, each one sees the others as a means to an end, rather than a being worth connecting with simply for the sake of love, friendship or community.

Episode 3 confronts the facades and begins to deconstruct them.

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Made for Love Season 1 Episode 2: I Want a Divorce Recap

Made for Love S1Ep1 Family in Truck

In episode 2, Made for Love begins to explore Hazel’s relationship with her father while continuing to expose the frightening lack of boundaries in her marriage to Byron. Herb and Diane try to help Hazel get further away from Byron. Hazel has another run in with Lyle, whose motives remain unclear.

Recap

In the episode 2 cold open, Hazel (Cristin Milioti) is seated in her lounge chair by the pool for her morning reading session, a repeat of what we saw in episode 1. Except this time, Byron (Billy Magnussen) isn’t in the pool with Zelda and Hazel passes out after she takes a drink from her glass. As she loses consciousness, she knocks the glass over, the memory that flickered through her mind in episode 1 when she saw a shard of broken glass by her chair. The Mickey and Sylvia version of Lover Boy plays in the background.

Love is strange and a lot of people take it for a game.

Several people who are dressed in scrubs (including, I believe, Fiffany (Noma Dumezweni) in the black scrubs) swarm Hazel, strapping her to her lounge chair, blindfolding her, and prepping her for poolside surgery. Her biological information is displayed on a billboard sized monitor on the side of the house, while a machine implants the Made for Love chip into the side of her head. Byron sits on the chair next to hers with his back to her, watching the display on the monitor instead of his wife as her body and her privacy are violated. Zelda the dolphin keeps swimming.

I’m not sure if roofying your wife then performing experimental surgery on her BRAIN without her consent are grounds for divorce in California, but I can’t imagine they’re not. They inserted an experimental device into her BRAIN made from who knows what materials- the allergy and cancer causing potential alone are off the charts, before the app is even activated. The term “mind rape” applies in so many ways here.

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Made for Love Season 1 Episode 1: User One Recap

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Made for Love is a half hour dark comedy from HBO Max starring Cristin Milioti (Palm Springs), Billy Magnussen (Maniac) and Ray Romano (Everybody Loves Raymond). Made for Love was created by Patrick Somerville (Maniac, The Leftovers), Alissa Nutting, Dean Bakopoulos and Christina Lee, based on Nutting’s novel of the same name. The series explores the life and crumbling marriage of a directionless millennial, Hazel Green (Milioti), and her controlling, tech billionaire husband, Byron Gogol (Magnussen).

Made for Love uses the same edgy, absurdist tone that Somerville utilized in Maniac to examine modern relationships- human to human, human to tech, human to dolphin, human to inanimate object, and so on. It’s a story about obsession, love, fear of loss and death, desperation, need, forgiveness and humanity. Sometimes there’s more humanity found in animals, tech and inanimate objects than there is in humans, but, as Kurt Vonnegut said in Slaughterhouse Five, so it goes. As is so often true, hope and optimism play a large role in success, for both good guys and villains. Even nihilists need to believe in something to succeed long-term. Whether someone is a good guy or a villain is wholly dependent on point of view. And finding the correct app.

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The Handmaid’s Tale Season 3 Episode 4: God Bless the Child Recap

Handmaid's Tale S3Ep4 June & Natalie Square Off

Episode 4 brings the handmaids to a community baptism ceremony for all of the babies born recently, including Janine’s daughter, Angela. Nichole is notedly missing from the ceremony. Later, the handmaids are invited back to the Putnams for a reception, under the supervision of a still recovering Aunt Lydia. The baptism reminds June of her two children and her former life, while the party brings her back into contact with the Waterfords. In Toronto, Emily finally meets with her wife and son in person.

The episode continues this season’s exploration of identity, moving beyond the third episode’s focus on retaining one’s self, despite overwhelming pressure to submit to Gilead’s ideology. This week, the focus turns to Stockholm Syndrome, the psychological phenomenon that occurs when a hostage gives in to their captors’ world view out of exhaustion, despair and fear.

We saw the beginning of a sort of Stockholm Syndrome in June in episode 3, as she accepted that she couldn’t fight Gilead on its own terms and stay the same person she’d always been. Lawrence convinced her that she needed to get her hands dirty in order to be effective, and in this episode she mourns the person she used to be while beginning to explore new possibilities. She’s pulled in a few different directions.

How far is the new version of June willing to go to achieve her goals? Lawrence avidly watches her transformation. He may be helping her, but he’s also still a cat playing with mice.

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Snowpiercer Season 2 Episode 10: Into the White Recap and Analysis

Snowpiercer S2Ep10 Layton, Miss Audrey & Conversation Axe

“Okey dokey, let’s go make coup.”– Boki

In episode 10, it becomes clear that for Wilford, the one currency of value in the Freeze is pain. That’s what allows him to hold onto his train and his order. Without the threat of pain, people might do whatever they want. Such as pirate one of the train’s engines.

In episode 9, Wilford held out restored order, fresh food, the carnival and the glamorous dinner party as examples of rewards that cooperative passengers could expect under his rule. But positive rewards aren’t his natural style and he couldn’t maintain the good times he’d implicitly promised with those rewards. They all sank into negative experiences: Wilford’s order comes with heavily armed Jackboots distributed throughout the train; his abundant fresh food comes with a census and a questionnaire that will determine who lives and dies; the carnival is a just a delivery system for his propaganda, specifically that he won’t be returning for Melanie and no one will be leaving the train, ever; and he used the dinner party as a trial and sentencing for Melanie and Layton’s co-conspirators.

The message should be clear to anyone who’s paying attention- Willy’s World is a dangerous place, with monsters lurking around every corner. No one is safe and no one can be trusted. But the 3rd class masses aren’t ready to pay attention to the realities of life under Wilford yet. Many of Wilford’s loyal 1st class supporters are now ironically dead by his own hand. With one pull of the lever, Wilford dispensed with the witnesses who could confirm that he ordered the Breachmen murdered. The Jackboots won’t talk and no one will believe Till- she didn’t even see the murderers’ faces.

Which brings us to episode 10, which mirrors the point we were at last season at the beginning of the finale. Just when Layton and the rebels had won the war and started to figure out how to run the train, the engine picked up mysterious signals that turned out to be Big Alice, which captured Snowpiercer. By the end of the episode, Alex had boarded her and Melanie was on the outside, discovering that it was snowing.

In this episode, Wilford has won complete control of the train. But just as Layton continued to work with Melanie after he took over, Wilford finds that his own victory is hollow without the approval that Layton enjoyed. So he keeps a few of Layton’s key people close- Bess, as an advisor; Zarah, as a Madonna-like symbol of hope; LJ, for her youthful admiration; and Javi as the engineer.

Wilford is a psychopath- don’t try to make sense of his skewed perception of reality. In his mind, he’s plugged the same or similar people into what he sees as stereotypical roles that they’ve previously filled, helping to prop Layton up.

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Snowpiercer Season 2 Episode 9: The Show Must Go On Recap

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In episode 9, it’s all fun and games until Wilford gets everything he’s ever wanted. Or as close to it as he can get on Snowpiercer, anyway. After outsmarting Layton and taking over the train in episode 8, it’s time for Wilford to remake Snowpiercer’s social order in his own image. He dealt with the top names on his hit list last episode, without unnecessary fuss. Now he takes his time, toying with targets culled from the list of Layton and Melanie’s closest friends and family.

Except Ben. Melanie’s closest confidante spends most of the episode in Snowpiercer’s engine. Out of sight, but not out of mind.

Wilford can’t bring himself to dispense with Layton, who he’s sentenced to work in Big Alice’s compost, the worst job on the trains. Wilford is troubled by the loyalty and even love many continue to show Layton. He needs to know the secret of his rival’s success. He’ll never truly be the winner if someone else on Snowpiercer has something he doesn’t.

Episode 9 is full of surprises, most planned by Wilford. Let the games begin and may the odds be ever in your favor.

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