The Hand-Maid’s Tale begins a very different third season, as June finds her place in Lawrence’s household and with the growing rebellion.

The scenes in Toronto’s “Little America” and the news from Chicago remind us that Gilead occupies only one part of a politically-fragmented, disaster-ravaged North America.

Titles: “Night” and “Mary and Martha”

Cast and Crew

Directors: Kari Skogland, Mike Barker
Writers: Bruce Miller, Kira Snyder
Inspired by the novel by Margaret Atwood

Elisabeth Moss as June Osborn / Offred / Ofjoseph
Samira Wiley as Moira
O-T Fagbenle as Luke
Alexis Bledel as Emily
Bradley Whitford as Commander Joseph Lawrence
Julie Dretzin as Eleanor Lawrence
Yvonne Strahovski as Serena Joy Waterford
Joseph Fiennes as Commander Fred Waterford
Mick Minghella as Nick
Ashleigh LaThrop as Ofmatthew
Ann Dowd as Aunt Lydia, who, in the wake of last season’s events, should be dead but, hey, the audience wants more of the Woman They Love to Hate
Madeline Brewer as Janine
Robert Curtis Brown as Andrew Pryce
Amanda Brugelas Rita
Tattiawna Jones as Lillie Fuller
Stephen Kunken as Warren Putnam
Nina Kiri as Alma
Jenessa Grant as Dolores
Bruce Tubbe as Matthew
Jordana Blake as Hannah
Kristen Gutoskie as Beth
Erin Way as Erin
David Kirby as Commander Bennett
Ryan Perlus as Surgeon
Josh Hehner as Assisting Surgeon
Andrew Moodie as Mike Ahn
Bahia Watson as Brianna
Katerina Taxia as Aunt Rebecca
Jean Paul Najm as Guardian #1

Premise

While As Luke and Moira and associates raise baby Nichole in Toronto, June returns to a changed situation in Gilead.

Off-camera, the war between Gilead and other parts of the former United States continues.

High Points

Serena Joy and Fred continue to maintain the appearance of normalcy while the world, quite literally, burns. We have an image at once familiar and disturbing.

Low Point

The show (like a certain fantasy series) continues to move away from the novel’s roots and closer to regular television. The dialogue feels a weaker, the plot, less dreadful, and June’s plot armor, more solid.

The Scores:

Originality: 2/6 The show takes some new directions

Effects: 5/6

Acting: 6/6 Acting remains strong; Alexis Bledel and Yvonne Strahovski get special mention for remaining plausible under harrowing circumstances.

Story: 5/6

Emotional Response: 5/6

Production: 6/6

Overall: 4/6

In total, the first two episodes of the third season receive 33/42