Under the Eye: “Witness”

Weird that we’ve come this far:

As is par for the course, Atwood is being cancelled. At least from current thinking. On with the show!

It is a dark sea of the unwashed standing before the altar of conformity. The camera stalks rows of shaved heads as they march to pews to watch the ominous face preach obedience and uniformity as Anya Major, holding a sledgehammer, rushes toward the enormous screen while she is pursued by helmeted authority figures. Major hoists the sledgehammer aloft. The sledgehammer impacts with the screen and the room is filled with a blinding light that awes the assembled group. I know Ridley Scott’s iconic television commercial was crafted to sell computers, but it sells so much more. This is what rebellion looked like in 1984, corporatized though it had been. What does rebellion look like in 2021? It doesn’t look like that, I can tell you that for free!

Our current “Nanny State” has destroyed the concept of rebellion through a bizarre combination of fear, shame, and humiliation. Sound familiar? Fresh from her stay at the hospital and a vow to free all the children, June gets right to work limping on and off between the supermarket, a chilly inspection from Creepy Fred, and the Lawrence’s cleaned-up living space. There’s something funky with Moss’ interpretation of a limp in that she appears to be walking as though one leg were longer than the other. This is not how people limp. In reality, something as minor as a limp from resting one’s weight on his or knees for an extended period of time would only cause muscular strain, but we have June going up and down as though she were hobbled by a clown hammer. Can legs overact? Hmm.

Eleanor (Julie Dretzin) catches June going through her husband’s files, but instead of ratting her out, she offers assistance. Lawrence keeps the children’s files* in the basement in storage boxes. He has locked file cabinets in his office, but he keeps sensitive information out in the open for everybody to see like my old VHS tapes and DVDs? At least we finally get a time frame. Gilead has been in power for five years. Serena stops by, along with Commander Refrigerator Humper (Christopher Meloni), Creepy Fred, and Lydia. They talk about “bearing witness.” Damn! I thought there was going to be an actual bear in this episode. They sit June in the center of a room. Oh my. We’re privy to yet another in a long line of rituals never previously discussed. I’m guessing they’re forcing a ceremony on June even with her gimpy, overacting legs, but hey, you don’t need legs to conceive, right?

Lawrence’s heart still isn’t in it. I have to give him props for not being a pig. This is why personal liberty matters. This is why personal liberty matters for everyone. June seems perfectly willing to go along with the Ceremony, if only to lecture Lawrence on his grand plan for Gilead. Eleanor freaks out. She doesn’t want this. I feel terrible for her. What has happened to the women in this society? She’s a basket case, and she isn’t getting her medication. “Just treat it like a job,” June advises Lawrence, “this is a transaction, and then it’s over.” Is June protecting the Lawrence family? Nearly three seasons in and I still can’t figure out her motivations. Afterward, we have a “doctor” checking June’s privates. Remember “Faithful” from the first season? June told Serena, “You don’t just feel pregnant thirty seconds after a man comes.”

How bizarre is this? We have a Handmaid telling a Commander he has to do his duty. Lawrence tells June he wants her to get Eleanor out of Gilead. June would agree provided he orchestrates escape for the “stolen children of Gilead.” June gets the stink-eye from the other handmaids in the supermarket. She has a plan to get the children out of Gilead. Strange that Gilead can’t see the problem rests with one handmaid. Strange that they don’t take her out back and put two behind her ear. Serena reveals to Fred the phone she was given by the American operative, Tuello. She speaks of leaving. The Chekhov’s gun of this episode is scones, which are used (in code) to impart information. Yeah, I know. Scones.* It’s not exactly Hogan’s Heroes, is it? The Underground, while monumentally uninterested in actual resistance or escape, is crazy about June’s idea to free the children. Praise be.

*I should probably mention that June takes notes on the children of the handmaids before they became handmaids. She uses this information to recruit them into her scheme, “Operation– RESCUE!!” She lies to Janine, however, telling her that Caleb, her son, is alive and well and living in California when, in reality, he died in a car accident.

**Scones means “no.” Muffins means “yes.” Muffins! Muffins everywhere! When June sees muffins everywhere, she proclaims, “We’re gonna need a bigger boat.” Previous to this, in the Loaves & Fishes, June and Janine are looking at baby sharks swimming in an aquarium. Cute. June jumps the shark. A shark in a dark sea of the unwashed. Sorry.

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