The Hand-maid’s Tale ends its first season with rays of hope. Moira arrives in Canada, and the Handmaids engage in an act of defiance.

We see the novel’s actual conclusion, but not its famous epilogue.

Titles: “Night”

Cast and Crew

Director: Kari Skogland
Writer: Bruce Miller, from the novel by Margaret Atwood

Elisabeth Moss as Offred / June
Joseph Fiennes as Commander Fred Waterford
Yvonne Strahovski as Serena Joy Waterford
Madeline Brewer as Janine
Max Minghella as Nick
Samira Wiley as Moira
Ann Dowd as Aunt Lydia
Amanda Brugel as Rita
O-T Fagbenle as Luke
Tattiawna Jones as Ofglen #2
Stephen Kunken as Commander Putnam
Nina Kiri as Alma
Jenessa Grant as Ofsamuel
Bruce Tubbe as Matthew
Jordana Blake as Hannah
David Kirby as Commander Bennett
Ryan Perlus as Surgeon
Lisa Michelle Cornelius as Volunteer
Andrew Moodie as Mike Ahn

Premise

As Moira heads for the Canadian border, June discovers the contents of the package, and learns she is pregnant.

Commander Putnam receives sentencing.

After an act of defiance by the Handmaids, the Eyes comes for June/Offred.

High Point

The show is brilliantly crafted, well-acted, and frequently harrowing.

It also reminds us, without being excessive, that these things happen. Public stonings in the modern era? Medical people participating in inhumane legal punishments? Oppressed people helping shape the system that oppresses them? Family Values as a justification to tear families apart? Religious and political and ideology being used as a cudgel to restrict information, or deny its factually accuracy?

Look around you. These things have happened. These things are happening.

And—particularly when we abandon reason—they happen here.

Low Point

I didn’t so much mind “American Girl playing at the closing, but the other, earlier song felt out of place.

The Scores:

Originality: 4/6 Although the episode features a literal adaptation of Atwood’s novel—the best choice, in my opinion—several new scenes precede it that indicate Gilead has started to unravel. The novel’s epilogue show us it won’t last forever; the series will feature another season, apparently, that will move the story in that direction. The new scenes work very well.
We also have an original scene in which Serena Joy makes a sinister power-play.

Effects: 3/6

Acting: 6/6 The cast all do brilliantly here, from disturbed Janine to distraught and, later, defiant June. Yvonne Strahovski shows us Serena Joy at her worst. Ann Dowd also puts in another performance that shows us the psychological pressures faced by Aunt Lydia. She has become comprehensible in the show, without being any less of a villain. She has sown the wind; like the rest of Gilead, she shall reap the whirlwind.

Story: 6/6

Emotional Response: 6/6

Production: 6/6 Atrocities occurs against backgrounds that appear so very familiar to us.

Overall: 6/6 I don’t know that I will watch a future season. The story has been told.

In total, “Night” receives 37/42