In honor of the arrival of season 4, we decided to give ourselves a nice and immersive recap of season 3. We’ve learnt that, when it comes to The Handmaid’s Tale, that’s just best. I vividly recall barely being able to sit through season one and two, simply because everything was so intense. Without a recap, one cannot accurately appreciate season 4.
The significance of the episode ‘Heroic’ cannot be overstated, I think. The glimpse into June’s psyche as she slowly loses it made me entirely uncomfortable. I don’t know what it says about me that I liked June better when she was more secretly cunning, and less of an overt feminist.
What bothers me about this particular episode, though, is the implicit timeline. The traditional time lapse techniques are present, but in no way did I understand, watching it for the first time two years ago or now, that she was in that hospital room for months until a character said it.
If you ask me, it’s all the result of how I as an audience member have cultivated my relationship to handmaid trauma in the four years that we’ve known each other. To an extent, The Handmaid’s Tale is such elaborate trauma porn that I find myself numb to a portion of it.
I would have loved for the episode to invite me to do the math. This, I presume, would have entailed more disorienting time lapses beyond just light and dark, and no voice over commenting on how the beeping machines produced a melody that reminds us of the song “Heaven is a Place on Earth”.
I fantasize that this was the original draft, and that the executives made Daina Reid change it halfway through filming.