The Handmaid’s Tale Season 3 Episode 2: Mary and Martha Recap

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In Season 3, episode 2, Mary and Martha, June begins to find her place in the complicated Lawrence household, Luke and Moira get used to having a new baby to take care of, and Emily tries to find the parts of herself that her wife would recognize. Everyone except Head Gamemaker Commander Lawrence digs deep inside themselves to meet their new challenges. As usual, Lawrence surveys the system he’s put in place and makes minor tweaks to keep it interesting and functioning at a certain level.

Recap

June’s voiceover: “I used to be bad at waiting. ‘They also serve who stand and wait,’ Aunt Lydia said. She also said, ‘Not all of you will make it through. Some of you will fall on dry ground or thorns. Some of you are shallow-rooted. Think of yourselves as seeds. What kind of seed will you be, girls?’ I pretend I’m a tree. And I wait.”

This is a lovely little metaphor, until you realize that the seed is consumed in the creation of the new plant. The baby is all, the mother is nothing. It’s also a story you’d tell to children, as is typical of the infantilization that’s programmed into the women at the Red Center.

But June turns it into a metaphor of empowerment. She doesn’t grow a baby who consumes her, she grows into a strong, immovable tree, who waits for the right time to act. Childbearing is a small part of her. She has a family of trees to help with the baby.

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The Handmaid’s Tale Season 3 Episode 1: Night Recap

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We’re back for season 3 of The Handmaid’s Tale in Gilead with June and the gang, since June selfishly nobly didn’t escape in the season 2 finale. She stayed to rescue her first born daughter, Hannah, who had ordered June to try harder to be her mother just a few weeks before the escape attempt. June sent baby Holly/Nichole safely to Canada with fierce mama bear and dragon slayer Emily, knowing that she could trust Emily with the life of her child.

June also stayed in Gilead to help the Resistance, so that all women and girls could be safe from rape, torture and murder. Even if she can’t get Hannah out, she can try to make a better place for her to grow up in. Most of the people in June’s life take a while to understand the sacrifice she’s made. Serena is inspired to make a big change in her own life, as well.

Recap

The season opens with the standard reminder of what’s come before. Season 2 ended with June handing Baby Holly Nichole to her fellow handmaid Emily, and telling her to call the baby Nichole. Then she sent her younger child to safety in Canada, where she knew her loved ones would take care of her. Having fulfilled the promise she made to Holly before she was even born, that she wouldn’t grow up in Gilead, now June turns away from saving herself and toward her older daughter, Hannah. She made Hannah a promise, too, a promise to try harder.

In season 3, June will try harder.

June prays for safe passage for Nichole and Emily as she runs away. She worries that Nichole won’t know her or forgive her if they ever meet again. But, she’s at peace with her decision. “I’m sorry, baby girl. Mom’s got work.”

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The Rain Season 2 Episode 4: Save Yourself Recap

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Episode 4 of The Rain sends the characters off on another road trip, this time to Bakken, a Danish amusement park. But, this is the minipocalypse, so it’s not all fun and games. Klaus escapes from episode 2 and wants his $2 revenge for what happened to Johanne. Rasmus manages to frost the forest with black viral goo, like the angel of death that he is. And Sarah has plans for a perfect day out, with a very specific ending.

Let it rain.

Recap

The episode picks up where it left off, with Sarah and Rasmus following a dry creek bed away from the base. Sarah tells Rasmus that they’re headed to Bakken, the theme park,  because Jakob always promised he’d take her there when she got better.

Rasmus thinks her dreams aren’t cool enough, because they’re too grounded in reality. Sarah thinks it’s silly to dream about things that can’t come true.

They’ve both been shut ins for most of their lives, so any dream that involved leaving the house/bunker/base was unlikely to come true. They developed different strategies for dealing with that. Rasmus went with dreaming big dreams that probably wouldn’t come true even if he was out in the world, which gave him something to fantasize about and allowed him to avoid extra disappointment. Sarah went with practical, low key dreams that had a chance of coming true, which gave her something to look forward to and work toward.

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The Man in the High Castle Season 3 Episode 10: Jahr Null Recap

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The Man in the High Castle has saved its big event, the Jahr Null kick off celebration with an ostentatious toppling of Lady Liberty, for the final episode of the season. As befits such a grand attention-getter, this episode is full of other surprises as well. It’s one of the most exciting episodes in the series’ history, with exits and rearrangements of characters worthy of Shakespeare. All that’s missing is a bear.

Liam’s friend Richie, a raunchy filmmaker who appears from nowhere mid episode in order to help change the course of history, will have to substitute for the bear. Deus Ex Richie and Jeremy is still a pretty satisfying plot device.

Jahr Null begins with Hawthorne returning to the ranch, where Caroline is waiting on the porch. It’s a trap, of course. As soon as he’s out of the car, a swarm of Nazis appear from the bushes and buildings. Hawthorne pulls out his gun and threatens to shoot himself in the head unless they let Caroline go.

John Smith steps forward. “Your brain, Mr Abendsen, is of great value to us. Your wife is not. Put the gun down. I’ll see to it she gets the medical attention she very badly needs. You shoot yourself, you’re gonna force my hand.”

Caroline signals for Hawthorne not to surrender, but he won’t risk her life. He throws the gun to the ground. Hawthorne says, “Oh John, I always wondered if I’d see you again.” The SD agents cuff him and Caroline.

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The Man in the High Castle Season 3 Episode 9: Baku Recap

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As the penultimate episode of season 3, Baku marks the end of this season for several characters, while it serves as the set up to the finale for the rest. We say goodbye to Frank, Mark and Tagomi in this episode. We’ve already seen the last of Sabra and Lila for this season.

The focus of these last two episodes shifts away from the details of the characters’ personal lives, and toward the implications their lives have for the larger universe. This emphasis shows how much the characters have grown, as tensions rise within each political state and the characters are called to respond to it. Most rise to the occasion. But not all. Not surprisingly, the Nazis typically fail the test, except for Helen.

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The episode title, Baku, refers to the alias Kido uses in the Neutral Zone. Baku is a mythical Japanese creature who eats nightmares when called. If called too often, it will also devour the sleeper’s hopes and dreams, leaving their lives empty. The Baku’s body is made up of spare parts that were leftover when all of the other animals had been made, leaving the Baku looking strange but fierce.

Kido’s choice of this name suggests that he sees himself as a protector, but has realized that he can go too far. It also suggests that he is reevaluating who he is. He’s been in America a long time, and is now made up of spare parts taken from experiences gained during the War, pre and post War on two continents. He is no longer simply a Japanese soldier. Does he see himself as living an empty life, having chased so many nightmares away that he lost track and chased away the hopes and dreams of his own life as well?

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The Man in the High Castle Season 3 Episode 8: Kasumi (Through the Mists) Recap

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As the Reich draws closer to the full implementation of Jahr Null, episode 8 explores reinventing oneself and changing directions. Some, like Himmler, stay on the course we’ve seen them follow all season. Others, like Ed, Frank, Nicole and Helen, attempt to explore new paths.

After they’ve seen Juliana’s film, the Jewish characters of Sabra refuse to see that there could be another way, and stick to their traditional fight. Ed and Frank are inspired to use art to inspire others. Juliana has the science behind the knowledge in her acquired memories confirmed, and moves forward with her fight.

In the American Reich, Helen experiments with a little independent thinking about Reich orthodoxy, which causes Dr Ryan to call John again. John puts an end to Helen’s analysis and tries to end her independent thinking, but I suspect that’s impossible.

John tries to make Himmler see reason when Himmler courts another war with Japan, this time on American soil. But Himmler sees the Western Hemisphere as his plaything, to be toyed with or broken as he sees fit. He has no sympathy for the people who’d be affected by an American war.

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The Man in the High Castle Season 3 Episode 7: Excess Animus Recap

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In episode 7, Excess Animus, characters’ arcs continue to come full circle, just as Juliana and Joe’s did in episode 5. Kido delivers his brand of justice to the traitor Nakamura with extra zealousness, since he’d given the “hapa dog” a chance, despite his better judgement. But Kido also discovers that Tagomi hasn’t found him worthy of sharing important secrets, because of his ruthlessness and inability to see nuance.

Sabra faces more challenges to its seclusion, from bounty hunters looking for their friend who Layla killed and from Juliana, who hopes to recruit a few members to join her cause. Mark goes to Denver to take care of the bounty hunters, since he feels responsible for bringing that trouble to Sabra’s door.

Juliana has an unexpected reunion with her two oldest and dearest friends, Frank and Ed. It feels like they’ve each had a lifetime’s worth of experiences since the last time they saw each other. But everything has brought them back around to being on the same page again when they meet at Sabra, which is as tragic as it is wonderful. This reunion can’t last, and Juliana and Frank are both wanted fugitives. The odds of the three of them surviving until the end of whatever rebellion is coming are small.

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The Man in the High Castle Season 3 Episode 6: History Ends Recap

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Episode 6, History Ends, is a profound episode, full of movement and transitions, but also quiet mourning and contemplation. The episode takes place during the 2 days after Joe’s death, and before John Smith’s swearing-in as Reichsmarschall. We see Juliana silently, but intensely, mourning him and trying to process what she’s done, and what this act says about her. She always has a bottle of liquor and a cigarette in her hands, and looks at as few people as possible. Her time is spent tying up loose ends in San Francisco, including sending a message to her mentor Tagomi. Then she enlists Wyatt’s help to get back to her other family, Hawthorne and Caroline.

The Smith family, on the other hand, should be able to breathe a little more freely, with the Rockwell/Hoover/Adler threat taken care of and John’s newest promotion. Helen is back to her old self, even feeling a bit frisky. But John is feeling renewed pressure from Himmler, and hasn’t properly grieved Thomas. Helen’s therapy has helped her move on and find renewed purpose, while John has another Thomas’, from other realities, dangling before him. With all of his loved ones and confidantes dead or threatened, and nowhere on this world for him to go, traveling to a better reality has got to be appealing to Smith.

But for now, he has to help Himmler destroy American history, and possibly the rest of his family. In this episode Smith gets word that Joe, his surrogate son, is dead, which causes him to revisit the betrayal he still feels over the murder of his surrogate brother, Erich Raeder, who was also under his protection. He’s lost his actual son and brother and his replacement son and brother, and he might not have the strength to lose more. He’s begun closing himself off to Helen and the girls, so that when he loses them, it won’t hurt so much. He focussing all of his energy on his work and on the Thomas in the films.

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It Can’t Happen Here: Unless It’s Aliens or Has Orange Hair (Audio)/ Or Maybe It Can

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Update 10/28/18: This seems like a good day to repost this audio, based on Sinclair Lewis’ brilliant, prophetic novel that warns against how easily fascism and white supremacism can overcome a country when people fail to take action against it quickly enough. Violence is on the rise against anyone who doesn’t fit the current concept of the master race, and the policies of the president of the United States encourage the violence and separatism. This is exactly what happened in Nazi Germany in the 1930s. Please make sure you vote in this election cycle.


On October 24, 2016, 2 weeks before Election Day, we both attended a local staged reading of the play It Can’t Happen Here, based on the 1936 novel by Sinclair Lewis. The novel, and the play, describe the rise and rule of a charismatic, dogmatic, conservative politician who is eventually elected president. He promises a return to traditional values, but reneges on his promises soon after he takes office, turning the country into a totalitarian regime within a period of a few months. Anyone who doesn’t offer complete, unquestioning loyalty to the new regime is imprisoned or executed.

This may sound like a drastic scenario, something that “can’t happen here,” but Lewis wrote the novel originally because he was watching this very thing happen in Nazi Germany at the time. The original stage adaptation was created the following year. The original 1983 TV miniseries about an alien invasion,V, was also based on It Can’t Happen Here (and the later reboot series). V’s creator, Kenneth Johnson, was inspired by Lewis’ work, but the network executives at NBC thought the story would be more interesting if the American fascists from the book were turned into aliens for TV.

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The Man in the High Castle Season 3 Episode 5: The New Colossus Recap

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The New Colossus is such an eventful episode that it’s hard to know how to even summarize it. The title refers to the centerpiece of Nicole’s Jahr Null plan, replacing the Statue of Liberty with a new statue based in part on the image of Thomas, but also to John Smith and the power he accrues, which is supposed to keep him and his family safe, but instead hangs like an albatross around his neck.

The themes of identity, spirituality, community and responsibility continue to be explored this episode. Frank engages in soul searching before his bar mitzvah, trying to discern how to best atone for his sins while keeping his current community safe. Helen works through her grief and wonders how to reconcile her feelings about Thomas’ death with being a strong wife and mother. Juliana struggles with the meaning of the films and how they relate to her relationship with Joe in this world. John has to come up with yet another scheme to retain power and protect his family, this time breaking up my dream team of Rockwell and Hoover.

The episode begins with Himmler overseeing the graduation exercises executions of more Lebensborn assassins. His favorite is a tall, broad, blonde named Hans, who is the best the Reich has to offer. Hans is able to shoot fleeing Jews in the back faster than anyone ever, making Papa Himmler ever so proud.

Keep repeating to yourself that even in this reality, the Reich will fall eventually, and take some deep breaths.

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