At the beginning of the episode, we’re introduced to Offred (Elisabeth Moss). Her husband, Luke (O-T Fagbenle) crashes their vehicle. Luke remains behind as she runs off with her daughter, Hannah (Jordana Blake), in her arms. Once Offred makes it into the woods, she hears a gunshot in the distance. It doesn’t take long for Offred and her daughter to be taken into custody. We watch as she is put on a stretcher and thrown into the back of a van. Seconds later, we jump over to her new residence. We hear Offred discuss her new life. She has lost everything, including her daughter, husband and her name. Seconds later, Serena Joy (Yvonne Strahovski) enters and introduces herself as Offred’s new master. Serena is happy to learn that this will be Offred’s second posting, since the last maid was terrible.
Also, Commander Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) introduces himself. He confirms he is Serena’s husband and Offred will be working for both of them. Serena makes it clear she wants to see Offred as little as possible. After the conversation ends, Offred heads downstairs. There, we see Rita (Amanda Brugel) making bread from scratch. Offred watches as the Commander brushes off his wife for work duties. Rita instructs Offred to head down to the shop and pick up oranges. As Offred steps outside, she runs into the Commander’s driver, Nick (Max Minghella). It is revealed that he is low of status and hasn’t been issued a woman yet. Offred steps outside of the gate and meets with Ofglen (Alexis Bledel). We learn that the women are required to walk in pairs for protection and spying purposes.
On their way to the store, Offred spots children being led around by armed guards. It is clear they remind her of her daughter. At the shop, Offred meets up with Oferic (Bahia Watson) and a few other girls. Offred learns that the Commander is really high up and often in the news. The girls grab their oranges. On the way back home, Offred and Ofglen find three hanged men. Among the men, there is a priest, doctor and a homosexual. Then, this reverts to a flashback. We see Offred’s first day at the facility. She spots an old friend Moira (Samira Wiley). The instructor, Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd) tells the women that guard has punished them with infertility. She also insists God has blessed the remaining women with fertility. Lydia reveals that the women will serve the commanders and their wives. It will be their responsibility to bear their children.
Janine (Madeline Brewer) makes a few snide comments. She is given a shock and carried away. That night, Offred tells Moira about her capture. She admits she tried to run with her daughter, but it did no good. Moira gives her friend hope that she will get her daughter back and this craziness will end soon enough. A crying Janine is brought back and placed onto a bed. Her face is bandaged. It appears they’ve taken one of her eyes. Moira confirms eyes aren’t needed, as long as the women can still breed. We return to the present and Offred regains hope, since Moira isn’t among the hanged. When she returns home, she is forced to bath for the Ceremony. Then, we join a group session. Janine, who now has a patch over her eye, speaks about her past. She opens up about possibly being raped by a bunch of boys. Aunt Lydia blames Janine. We see Moira sitting beside of Offred.
Lydia encourages all of the girls to place the blame on Janine. They point and goad her. Then, we jump back to the present. Serena Joy and the others wait for the arrival of the Commander. Eventually, he arrives and reads from the bible. He has intercourse with Offred, while Serena assists. That night, Offred tries to come to grips with her situation. We see another flashback, in which Janine goes nuts. Offred and Moira do their best to calm her. The girl pleads for her mother. Back in the present, Offred recollects herself. In the morning, Offred confirms Nick saw her outside last night. She is surprised that the Eyes haven’t come for her yet. She wonders why Nick hasn’t told anyone. She hears three bells and reveals there is a salvaging today. Offred heads downstairs and Nick enters. Nick reveals that the Commander wants more oranges. This time, Offred manages to convince Rita to go.
Next, all of the girls meet. Offred speaks with Alma (Nina Kiri) about her posting. Offred speaks about Gabby, who had a miscarriage a few months ago. She admits she hasn’t heard from Moira. Janine rudely interrupts and declares that Moira is dead. She insists the girl tried to run away and was killed in response. The girls take their places, as Aunt Lydia takes the stage. Guards lead a man out and Lydia reveals he has been charged with rape. The women encircle him and beat him to death following Lydia’s orders. As Offred returns home, we see a flashback from the moment Moira learned that Offred was pregnant. Back in the present, Ofglen offers condolences to Offred for Moira. They approach a store. Ofglen admits it used to be an ice cream shop.
The girls become concerned when a black van passes by. Nevertheless, it ignores them. As they continue onward, Offred and Ofglen speak about their past lives and children. Once they return to Offred’s place, Ofglen tells her that her house has an Eye. Ofglen warns her to be careful. A very suspicious Offred steps inside and eyeballs everyone. Eventually, she is ordered to return to her room. Offred tells us that someone is always watching, so everything has to look the same. She is also adamant that she will survive for her daughter, Hannah. She states that her name is June.
The Handmaid’s Tale Recap
The Handmaid’s Tale received a lot of hype before its debut. The commercials definitely helped, since they looked great. Sadly, the first episode was very disappointing. I have not read the books, so I cannot compare the two. However, it feels like the television show doesn’t take itself serious. The inner dialogue from Offred was awkward at times and cheesy at others. Then, we have Ofglen speaking about how great sex is, despite being raped daily by her owner. And finally, the flashbacks made the episode very difficult to follow.
The Handmaid’s Tale is built on a solid premise. The show wants to be frightening, but it fell flat. The opener was unbalanced and unsure of itself. Where is the confidence one would expect from a show based on a novel? At least it is unique. A 6 out of 10 is deserved.