The Handmaid's Tale Web Review - Riveting and disturbing in equal measure

Oct 30, 2018, 07:35 IST | Sonia Lulla

Unlike in season one, The Handmaid's Tale's makers had no scripture of Margaret Atwood to fall back on, which mean s a lot was riding on the audience's reception to the show makers' vision of the dystopian world

The Handmaid's Tale Web Review - Riveting and disturbing in equal measure
The Handmaid's Tale

The Handmaid's Tale
Cast: Elisabeth Moss, Yvonne Strahovski

There's a lot that could have gone wrong when exploring the second season of The Handmaid's Tale. Unlike in season one, the makers had no scripture of Margaret Atwood to fall back on, which mean s a lot was riding on the audience's reception to the show makers' vision of the dystopian world. Sufficient brouhaha accompanied the release of the first season of multiple Emmy Award-winning series. That the 13-episode series moved at a steady pace also implied that there was little time to mull over the shocking goings-on, as viewers were forced to come to terms with the developments to then be thrown into the next.

The opening episode of season two, which released on AXN yesterday, seemed to carry little respite, with the handmaids being thrown into the face of death in the first sequence itself. It's evident that the makers attempted to reiterate that there would be little scope of sluggishness in this offering too. However, the forthcoming episodes to pull back in terms of pace. Yet, it is this break in its speed that could prove to be the strongest aspect of the season. It would be apt to point out here that a retarded pace doesn't imply respite from the horrors of America's newly formed government -- this edition is in every way brutal and unforgiving. Yet, instead of throwing a new plot twist at viewers at every nook-and-corner, it allows you to settle in and explore the characters that comprise the world if Gilead.

An evident winner among this lot emerges to be Yvonne Strahovski, who makes you empathise with Serena Joy's despicable character. Strahovski ability to decipher her character beautifully is evident when her disparate treatment towards a now-pregnant June/Offread (Elisabeth Moss) -- alternating between empathy for the woman carrying her child, and anger for the rebel unwilling to be subjected into submission -- doesn't seem out of place. The forthcoming episodes take us through her backstory, as we're given a better view of the events that led to the creation of Gilead. Her frustration at fully understanding the government she helped in creating also makes itself increasingly evident here.

With the winning performance that she gave in season one, it's hard to believe that Moss could still get better at portraying June. Unfortunately, she also gets better at portraying Offread, an evident heart-breaker for viewers when she is seen submitting to Gilead's laws on being aware of the lives that have been lost owing to her. In season two, one experiences Gilead along with June. If she is on the run for five minutes, viewers are with her for the entire duration, equally startled by knocks at the door and appropriately disturbed by her findings.

Watch The Handmaid's Tale Trailer

There are many a moments in the second season of The Handmaid's Tale that will leave you feeling frustrated -- particularly the finale. This, however, has been a trend we've seen across several acclaimed digital offerings, including the highly-acclaimed 13 Reasons Why, where a rape convict whose misdeeds mark the crux of the show, is served nothing other than three months, given his wealthy background. While the makers of 13 Reasons Why had celebrated viewers' anger at the sentence, arguing that that, in fact, is the unfortunate reflection of life, it's probable that the minds behind The Handmaids Tale have other reasons. Only a while ago, streaming platform Hulu's chief Randy Freer suggested we might be witness to as many as 10 season of the show, which means, the story is far from over, just yet. We guess, the question eventually is how big an appetite might viewers have for this relentless dystopian drama. But until you can hang up your boots and watch no more of it, season two of The Handmaid's Tale sufficiently appears to be a winner.

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