The Handmaid’s Tale: “Nolite Te Bastardes Carborundorum”

Whereas the previous episode departed from and expanded upon the content of the source material, this week is based almost entirely on events from the novel, reconceptualised, adapted, and rearranged into another gripping hour of television.

Titles: “Nolite Te Bastardes Carborundorum”

Cast and Crew
Director: Mike Barker
Writers: Leila Gerstein, from the novel by Margaret Atwood

Elisabeth Moss as Offred / June
Joseph Fiennes as Commander Fred Waterford
Yvonne Strahovski as Serena Joy Waterford
Samira Wiley as Moira
Ann Dowd as Aunt Lydia
Max Minghella as Nick
Jordana Blake as Hannah
Madeline Brewer as Ofwarren / Janine
O. T. Fagbenle as Luke
Amanda Brugel as Rita
Kristian Bruun as Doctor
Edie Inksetter as Aunt Elizabeth
Nina Kiri as Alma

Premise

After discovering a cryptic message, June/Offred recalls her life with Luke, her time at the Red Centre, and Moira’\’s escape.

The Commander has problems which may provide an opportunity for our beleaguered protagonist.

High Point

Elizabeth Moss, the focus of nearly every scene this week, gives a stunning performance.

Low (?) Point

Apparently The Handmaid’s Tale will receive a second season. Given that the first season covers the events of the novel, I’m not certain how I feel about that. Is there a point to “Further Adventures in Gilead?”

The Scores:

Originality: 3/6 Virtually everything this week’s episode occurs in the novel, though not in exactly the same way or to the same characters. June’s involvement with Moira’s escape from the Red Centre presents an interesting twist.

Effects: 3/6

Acting: 5/6

Story: 6/6

Emotional Response: 6/6

In a passing but curiously prescient moment, the Commander complains about the media (the Canadian media, since Gilead’s government controls theirs) being fake news for reporting what actually happens.

Production: 6/6 The series maintains its high standards.

Note: The Handmaid’s Tale was filmed in Toronto and Hamilton. I’m fairly certain I saw a bit of McMaster University’s campus last week; this week some scenes take place around Nathan Philips Square. Several Toronto landmarks, including City Hall, are clearly visible.

Overall: 5/6

I haven’t been a huge fan of the series’ use of pop music, but the Penguin Café Orchestra is a perfect choice for this week’s mildly uplifting conclusion. This week isn’t as strong as last week, but The Handmaid’s Tale remains a solid adaptation of the speculative/satiric classic.

In total, “Nolite Te Bastardes Carborundorum” receives 34/42

3 replies on “The Handmaid’s Tale: “Nolite Te Bastardes Carborundorum””

  1. zocalo says:

    On the Low (?) Point, I’m guessing they’re planning on spending the second and any subsequent seasons exploring the events that the epilogue of the book hints at, but are not actually covered in the book. More specifically, what happens to June once she (presumably) joins the Mayday Resistance.

    While that’s a fairly well trod premise, whether that’s a good thing or not will obviously depend on how well they can resist such obvious plot elements as June being pregnant by Nick (or is it really Fred’s?), happily reuniting with her daughter, finding out Luke is still alive only to have him die heroically, and (of course) being almost single handedly responsible for bringing down the Gileadean regime.

    Given that will most probably take any future series into an “overthrow the evil regime” plotline, I’m not so sure about it either.

    • JD DeLuzio says:

      They really risk cheapening the story. The ambiguity of the ending is haunting, and the gap between the end of the story and the epilogue would be sweeping history, not ten episodes.

      • zocalo says:

        Agree entirely; it’s a major risk, and it would be all to easy to slip into a core story that has been done to death, with all the tropes I listed and more. None of that stops them using exactly the same format and timeline of the book’s epilogue however, so I guess it’s all down to how they intend to continue the story beyond the book, and whether they’ll map out a specific story with a clear ending up front or make it up season-to-season. On the plus side, Atwood is acting as producer, so she may have had some ideas in that area as part of her initial plotting for the novel, and there a number of highly relevant contemporary IRL events that they could draw upon that Atwood’s novel doesn’t cover, so it might work out quite well.

        Cautious optimism, but wait for some reviews before starting to watch the next season, I think.

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