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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Snowpiercer Season 2 Episode 8: The Eternal Engineer Recap

Wilford lends Josie a hand.

Snowpiercer S2Ep8 Layton & Wilford

In episode 8, The Eternal Engineer, Wilford makes good on his promise to burn down the world if that’s what it takes to regain control of Snowpiercer. Snowpiercer experiences catastrophic failures which her leaders soon realize were caused by Wilford. Unfortunately, only Wilford can repair the damage. They have no choice but to invite the devil himself onto the train and into the engine room.

By the end of the episode, it was clear to me that there’s only one engineer who knows Snowpiercer backwards and forwards and her name doesn’t start with a “W”. However, that doesn’t stop the (relatively) bloodless coup the train has been heading toward for 9 episodes, ever since Javi first picked up unusual signals on the radio at the end of season 1.

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Snowpiercer Season 2 Episode 7: Our Answer for Everything Recap

Snowpiercer S2Ep7 Alex, Wilford, Audrey- Big Alice's 1st Family

Episode 7 returns to Snowpiercer, the train, after a field trip to Breslauer Research Station in the Rocky Mountains to visit Melanie in episode 6. Snowpiercer is in the Himalaya Mountains in Asia this week, in the process of turning around so that it can retrieve Melanie from her mission. The trip through Earth’s highest mountain peaks is surprisingly smooth, considering the tough time the train has had in the Rockies in both seasons. No bracing required.

Instead, the turbulence is all inside the train, where most of the hour is filled with aftershocks from the murder of every Breachman except Boki in episode 5. Till continues her investigation and finally finds a couple of suspects. 3rd class boils over and takes their dissatisfaction with Layton’s government out on any Tailies they can find. Pike is still in the midst of his breakdown over Terence’s death. Ruth, Roche and Miss Audrey realize they’ll soon need to choose a side in the Wilford-Layton war that’s brewing.

The population of Snowpiercer is spiraling and Layton still doesn’t seem to understand what’s happening. Unlike Melanie and Wilford, he’s not attempting to become the leader of the entire train or finding ways to restore law and order. The new version of freedom is sink or swim anarchy, which allows the people to oppress each other rather than the government doing it for them. The weight of accumulated grief, trauma and now the unfairness of his new government is bringing the population to a breaking point. Wilford is taking advantage of the chaos, but they might have reached this low without him. Layton seems just as traumatized as the others by his losses and the unrelenting pace of events.

This episode deals with suicide once again.

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Snowpiercer Season 2 Episode 6: Many Miles from Snowpiercer Recap

Snowpiercer S2Ep6 Wilford Pours Champagne for Melanie

In episode 6, we finally catch up with Melanie, who’s been on her own since she left for the Breslauer Research Station in episode 3. We follow the end of her harrowing journey to the station and watch her bring the research center back to life. Then she struggles to survive on her own in the harsh environment at 11,000 feet in the Rocky Mountains for a month. Her inner monologues are supplemented by flashbacks and present day conversations with the Wilford, Layton and Alex in her head.

There are more references to suicide in this episode. Please be cautious with your mental health.

Recap

Since Melanie is the only real person here, she gets the voice over:

“This cold isn’t something we can tame. We did this to our climate. Now only the Earth herself can restart her warm heart. I believe we can find her pulse again. And my biggest fear isn’t dying out here. It’s that the cold-hearted among us will crush that hope before I can prove it.”

Melanie’s volt sled breaks down within sight of the research station, so she takes as much of her cargo as she can drag with her and walks the rest of the way. By the time she reaches the station, a snowstorm is raging around her. She finds the dead, frozen body of one of the researchers outside the station’s front door. There’s a bullet hole in his head.

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Snowpiercer Season 2 Episode 5: Keep Hope Alive Recap

Snowpiercer S2Ep5 Wilford & Audrey

In episode 5, we visit Big Alice with Miss Audrey for a date with Wilford and to check on Josie’s progress. The turf wars continue on Snowpiercer, creating a situation where Layton feels he has to act decisively. By the end of the episode, loyalties are in question once again and Snowpiercer’s power structure is in jeopardy.

Recap

Josie gets the opening voice over, while the Headwoods work on her tissue damage. The goop in that first vat (above) looks a bit slushy to me. Are they increasing her cold tolerance without her even realizing it?

Josie: “It’s easy to fight when you’ve never been hurt before. Until it happens, you’re invincible. But, with every fight there’s a risk, and sometimes you’re sidelined. The road to recovery is long- endless, when it’s not clear if you can recover. Some days, I lose sight of who I am, but I can’t forget what my mission is. I have to keep the hope alive that I can still make a difference. If not, then what was coming back from the dead for? I count the days and pray to be whole again, back with my people on Snowpiercer, 1,034 cars long.”

As Josie speaks, the Headwoods work on her tissue. They appear to be culturing skin grafts for her. The atmosphere on Big Alice is such that even the most charitable acts seem sinister. I’m terrified to find out what kind of monster they’re turning Josie into.

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The Handmaid’s Tale Season 3 Episode 3: Useful Recap

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Previously on The Handmaid’s Tale- Hannah/Agnes: “Did you try to find me?” June: “I tried so hard.” Hannah/Agnes: “Why didn’t you try harder?”

This is what changed between June’s first escape attempt, when she was caught just as the plane was taking off, and her second, when she voluntarily sent Nichole to Canada with Emily. Her own child, who was also speaking for all of the little girls she’d leave behind, asked her to try harder. The H in Hannah is likely a nod to Holly, June’s mother, who is also invoked in this episode. June could hear Grandma Holly, the lifelong women’s rights activist, speaking through Hannah. She knew she had to listen to those words. They’ve become her inner mantra.

In this episode, June continues to search for ways to make a difference in Gilead. Lawrence continues to test June. Serena is bereft after the many self-inflicted changes in her life. All three reach tipping points which will affect their futures.

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Snowpiercer Season 2 Episode 4: A Single Trade Recap

Snowpiercer S2Ep4 Layton & Wilford

In season 2 episode 4, Snowpiercer throws a party and invites the gang from Big Alice over to wait with them while they send up another weather balloon to collect data. Once the balloon has done its work, Melanie is meant to collect the data from the research station, proving she’s still alive and has reached her destination. As the party approaches, emotions run high and tempers flare. Miss Audrey attempts to dance away her nerves, but the dancing seems to affect her more like the cursed child from The Red Shoes, as she spirals back into Wilford’s toxic orbit.

Josie was wrong last week, when she compared Layton to politicians and revolutionaries. He’s still treating the train like it’s the beat he worked as cop and the other passengers as if they’re either other cops, criminals or criminal informants. He’s thinking like an emotionally distant head detective or chief of police, putting his problem solving efforts into foreign relations and law order. In this episode, Audrey’s status moves from fellow cop to criminal informant, while Zarah figures out how to get herself off Layton’s informant list and back into the coworker category.

Layton needs to figure out that he’s the mayor of a troubled small town, soon, and begin to work on his domestic policy, regardless of Wilford’s shenanigans. With Melanie and Jinju MIA, Till, Zarah and Ruth might be the only people who fully understand the ways he’s dropping the ball, since the Train Detective and Hospitality serve the whole train and see the full extent of the friction between the factions each day.

This is another episode that deals graphically with suicide. Please take care of yourselves and consider carefully what you watch during these dark times.

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Snowpiercer Season 2 Episode 3: A Great Odyssey Recap

Snowpiercer S2Ep3 Mel & Alex

Season 2 episode 3 is another tense episode of Snowpiercer, as the characters prepare for Melanie’s solo trip to the research station. Wilford does everything he can to jeopardize her mission, short of outright sabotage, and seems like he might be holding that Icy Bob card in reserve for later. Till continues to investigate Lights’ case while also keeping an eye on the overall mood of the train. When Josie and Layton talk, she shows her usual pragmatism.

During the episode, Snowpiercer leaves the worldwide loop of track she’s followed for the last 7 years. She gives up comfort and familiarity in order to pursue an even larger goal than season 1’s war for democracy- the recolonization of the Earth. But Wilford hopes the chance for a new homeland will give him an opportunity to get rid of his perceived enemies so he can take back complete control of both trains. His dream is to spend the apocalypse toying with the trains like a cat with a mouse until everyone is dead.

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