Hulu’s Handmaid’s Tale Episode 6 – Review
The only thing that keeps her going in this state of despondency, is Offred’s ‘happy memories’. Never in her wildest dreams would have she thought that Gilead would add one to her good memories. Offred is recollecting moments from her night of fulfillment with Nick, not of just physical desires but also gaining back a sense of power over her decisions. Something inside gave her the courage to pursue her feelings for Nick and experience once again the touch of a man she liked. Yet, she says to herself, ‘It can never happen again, sorry Nick”. There are certain things handmaids are forbidden to do and certain things they are forced to do, Offred and other handmaids are made to clean the walls of Gilead where men are hung after killing. The walls which have turned red in color now, match the shade worn by handmaids both symbolizing loss of humanity.
Serena informs Offred that some very important government officials are visiting Gilead and this meeting has been arranged by the commander with a lot of difficulties so she must behave nicely in front of them. Offred senses an upper hand in the situation and she appears a bit changed which confuses Serena. Unlike what is portrayed on the outer, inside Serena is a victim too. For all we have seen, men have always had an advantage over women in Gilead.
Serena and the commander shared a romantic equation in the past, like lovers who are crazy about each other. They couldn’t take their hands off each other. Their relationship was dominated by Serena, a dauntless and indomitable woman then. The woman who had great ideas spoke her mind, in fact, is responsible for the creation of Gilead in some way. The commander was nothing but a face of her ideas in front of the core committee of Gilead then as they didn’t allow women to participate in the meetings. It generates curiosity as to what drifted the happy couple apart. It brought them from being so close once to the present where they share an awkward silence.
Offred is invited to meet the officials who seem very interested in knowing about handmaids of Gilead. She is afraid of sharing any unwanted information that might upset Serena or the commander. The ambassador asks Offred if she is happy to which she turns numb. Everybody’s eyes are on her. She is unable to find words to answer this, in her heart she wants to speak the truth but the circumstances demand her to lie and she says ‘I have found my happiness’.
Contemplating if she did the right thing or not, Offred doesn’t know if she could have answered it differently. She is just a puppet in the house of Commander. Using her brains is forbidden. Following her desires is forbidden and so is saying no to their orders. The commander asks her to kiss him and she couldn’t refuse. Offred hates herself for doing it, a woman, when forced upon to be involved in the physical capacity of any kind without her consent, is no different act than raping her. This is more tragic than killing someone, but a man especially one who is in power would never understand what a woman goes through in such situations.
In honor of the foreign delegates, a party is being held and for the first time handmaids are invited to an event like this. A gesture which is unbelievable yet got many of them excited. They were not treated as human beings let alone be a part of a big event like this.
The ambassador and the delegates from other country are told whatever they wanted to hear and shown whatever could convince them to make a deal with Gilead, a deal which was no less than human trafficking. Offred is completely unaware of the fact that she is being interviewed by the ambassador out of a strong reason. The commander had devil intentions behind this move. Unlike what Offred believed, it is a trade of handmaids for whatever they could get in return for Gilead.
After the huge success and clinching the deal, the commander tells Serena he had forgotten how smart she was. Maybe this realization is what they needed to gain the spark in their relationship back, they reunite, the same passion for each other in their eyes.
Meanwhile, Offred is really upset and freaking out after the revelation of the trade. She realizes how big a mistake she made by not telling them about the terrible condition of handmaids in Gilead. It was maybe her one chance to bring a change or at least stop the trade. In a way, she made the deal happen. The delegates had a direct interaction with only her so they believed her word for it. The next morning she is lucky enough to get another chance to be in the same room with the officials. This time, alone. She has no reason to hide her feelings now, she tells them each and every bit of what Gilead really did with handmaids, and she said ‘We are prisoners’. But her request to free them fell on deaf ears. They refuse to help her but one of the delegates recognizes her and confirms her identity as ‘June’. He tells her that Luke is alive. Offred is speechless.
Find quotes from this episode on the Handmaids Tale Quotes page.
Handmaids Tale Series 1, Episode 5: “Faithfull”