The new season of Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” had been high up on my to-watch list ever since the end of season one. The dark series left me in deep contemplation after every episode, and the second season was no different. The dystopian society depicted has sparked controversy about our current government, and viewers have been waiting in anticipation to see the fate of the handmaids and the bleak civilization they belong to.
Season one ends on a hopeful note as our protagonist, June, is shown defiant and strong against her captors.Facing the consequences of uniting the handmaids together in refusal to obey corrupt orders, she is unwavered by the current threat. The ending left viewers full of hope that would later be crushed only minutes into the first episode of season two.
I would argue that, out of the entire season, the first episode was the most emotionally jarring and left viewers feeling the raw terror of the handmaids. The plot picks up right where it left off, with June in the back of a van, surrounded by Gilead guards. She is soon thrust into a throng of other handmaids, and shuffled into the abandoned baseball field, Fenway Park. With the fact that the park is very clearly the iconic field, the directors seem to be reminding the viewers that places that were once joyful are now grounds for execution. Restrained handmaids are forced onto suspended gallows, trembling in fear. The viewers are left to believe that all of the women will be executed, but this all ends being a ploy to instill fear and a reaffirmed respect for authority.The emotion from all actresses was impressive and chilling.
The real juxtaposition that stood out to me between the two seasons was the use of background music. While the first season was still very dark, common popular songs were played in the background to lighten the mood. Those songs were not present in season two, and the already haunting moments became even more intense.
I didn’t think that The Handmaid’s Tale could get any darker, but with the rest of the season filled with growing tensions between June and the Waterfords, scenes of the colonies and the political battle between two countries, season two reaches all new levels of candor and shows the resilience of the human spirit. My only issue with season two was that each episode was so dark that I needed to take a break between them. It took me over two months to finish the season for this reason.
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