Under the Eye: “Vows”

To start, we have roughly two minutes of recaps in a 40-minute episode. That’s always bad news, because that gives you the clue that what you are about to watch is filler, and “Vows” is definitely filler, particularly because a third of it is retconning flashbacks, angry Moira back when she was less appealing, and mimosas! Suddenly we have either a yogurt commercial or a General Foods International coffee commercial, or possibly a chick flick? It’s the quiet moments that are the most special. What was that waiter’s name? When we last left off, Moira (Samira Wiley) stared in open-mouthed shock at June (Elisabeth Moss) in the middle of war-torn Chicago. According to this episode, Chicago makes up about five city blocks. Third largest city in the U.S. BUT IT’S DENSELY PACKED.

Moira repeats June’s name over and over again. June, understandably, thinks she’s hallucinating. She’s still looking for Janine. Moira gets June to go with her to a “medical tent.” This is chaos. This is apocalypse, and nobody’s particularly sensible in an apocalypse. Moira puts her in the back of a truck with other casualties. A Medic tells Moira that June most likely has a concussion. In the truck, June finally sees Moira. It’s almost like a miracle, except that it’s improbable. We move to a containment facility where survivors are being treated. Moira goes to her little girlfriend, Oona (Zawe Ashton), who refuses to allow June safe passage. I’m sorry, what? Is this serious? Apparently, this isn’t a rescue operation. It’s a horrible tease designed to torture not only the victims of Gilead, but those injured by the most recent bombardment.

Moira breaks all kinds of rules to get her on the boat, but June, being unappreciative, wants to continue looking for Janine (whom I, frankly, hoped did not survive the bombardment), and she doesn’t want to leave without Hannah. At this point, I would simply cold-cock June and drag her carcass to the boat, but Moira keeps trying to reason with her. She’s got the hard job. She has to fight June and her girlfriend at the same time, and she’s trying to save just one life because IQs apparently dropped precipitously over the last five years. She sneaks her aboard the boat, which sets sail, leaving hundreds of people behind. What was the point of this operation? To come ashore and treat people and then leave them to the wolves? They keep calling it “humanitarian.” I looked up the word. It means: “Concerned with or seeking to promote human welfare.”

How does abandoning people in the middle of a war zone have anything to do with that concept? It doesn’t make sense. I guess there wasn’t enough material to fill out a full episode, so we’re treated to flashbacks, and we keep going back to the mimosas. June is moving out of an apartment she shares with Moira so she can move in with Luke. Moira knows this is going to lead to marriage, but she doesn’t like Luke. If I remember correctly, back in the first season (during another flashback-laden episode), Moira dared June to talk to Luke. She instigated the whole thing, and now she hates this guy (and I know she hates this guy) because he’s going to take her away from Moira. That’s just how it is. She covers it up, though, by warning her that Luke cheated on his wife, hence he’s a cheater, and he’ll never be any good.

Luke is a cheater. There’s no arguing that, but Moira has to be the character (like the previous episode’s Janine) to be held under as microscope and examined for her choices. She comes off better than Janine but only because she has to fight June. She doesn’t want to be alone. June claims she and Luke never fight. Hey, June? Got some news for ya, Sweetie! Some time later, June tells Luke she’s pregnant. They’re both very happy about this. Was this before the apocalypse? This was an apocalypse that was preceded by the decline in live birth rates. I don’t know if I’d be happy or cautiously optimistic. Considering that nine months later, there were no live births in the hospital save for Hannah, and she nearly got abducted by a lunatic right after being born. No such caution here. No such fear for the future.

I was happy and mostly scared when I found out I was going to be a father, and my wife wasn’t exactly a bag of sunshine either. Ever since Janine and her missed shift at Denny’s, I’m having a hard time unraveling the logic of the writers of this show. Maybe they think we should only have children if we’re rich and educated*. Otherwise we’re just meat for the Elite. June and Luke have Hannah, and before they know it, they’re running around on a beach, checking out jellyfish at an aquarium, and chilling. There’s no jellyfish and no chilling in the apocalypse. We need a word count. I want to know how many times I’ve written the word, “apocalypse,” in my reviews this season. I promise that for my next review, I will not use the word at all. Moira conceals June in the boat and lies to Oona about it.

I don’t understand how this is a big deal. There’s plenty of space. Oona informs Moira there will be an “inspection.” Guardians will come aboard and … do what exactly? This is enough to scare Moira, so she confesses. Apparently she’s hiding the Jew! Why are we playing nice with Gilead? Remember when they grabbed a coyote ferrying handmaids out of Gilead and shot him in the head on a runway? Oona turns this into an open forum with the rest of the boat’s crew. The staff recommends turning June in. “Humanitarian missions are about people, not one person.” I’m sorry, what? Even June wants to be taken back. Everyone’s logic but Moira’s escapes me. It’s interesting that the majority of participants in this “humanitarian” mission are female. Only one other member of the crew wants to shelter June.

I can’t believe Guardians are coming aboard this ship with guns, inspecting different areas, pointing flashlights and guns at everything and everybody. They go through a roster of crewmembers to confirm everybody is who they say they are, yet they take everybody at their word? So if Moira comes up and announces herself and says she’s “born and bred” in Toronto, they just believe her? June calls herself, “Rachel Smith.” She blanks when asked questions. So, okay … um, Canadians are fine, even though identification can be easily forged, and Gilead honors laws with regard to Canada? What’s to stop these guys with guns from mowing down these “humanitarian” workers? What’s to stop the Guardians from capturing all of these women and turning them into handmaids? We’re in the middle of Lake Michigan in the middle of the night.**

Just who has the upper hand here? If there is a cease fire, why is this boat being searched? What are they looking for? This whole thing puts a strain on Moira’s relationship with her obtuse little girlfriend (who was in only one other episode like we’re supposed to care) so Oona breaks it off. Boo-hoo. Moira can do so much better. June tries to escape the ship. Moira calls her “fucking insane,” which she is. I think the problem is that June can’t deal with not being in charge. She goes on and on about Hannah, like five minutes of running time about things we’ve already seen. June doesn’t have the best coping skills I realize, but this is padding.

The great irony is that Moira tells June that Luke has never given up on her, and this was a relationship she didn’t approve of in the before-time. Luke (O.T. Fagbenle) finally reunites with June on the boat. This is something viewers have been waiting for since their separation in the first episode of the series, but since the show plays around with time and Lost-style flashbacks, we can’t be sure how long they’ve been apart. I’m sticking with five years. June sets foot on Canadian soil, and that’s pretty much the end of the show. Well, kids this has been grand and it’s wonderful when television series know they’ve gone on too long and end before the format becomes stale. Wait, what? Oh fuck me.

*The problem with this rationale is that it knows no political or social divide. This kind of thinking reaches across the aisle. The rich and educated (many of whom write and produce this show) believe this world was made for them, and that everyone who is not them is here to serve. This is why Abortion Clinics service the poor and uneducated. This is why the wealthy control the politicians. This is why the wealthy control the flow of information and adjust narratives to justify their actions. Rules for thee, and not for me. If they can’t make you their servant, then they will kill you. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

**So I did a little check with Google maps and discovered that you can make it to Canada from Chicago (or surrounding areas) by way of Lake Michigan. You would have to sail due north in a straight line, past Milwaukee, past Green Bay, and past Beaver Island to a no-man’s-land area between Wisconsin proper and Sudbury in Canada. If you make a right turn, you can traverse the Straits of Mackinac and get to St. Martin Bay, but it’s still a long, long way to Toronto.

Note: It’s become extremely difficult to find screencaps of episodes of late. Last year, there were several sources for screencaps and promotional photographs. This year, it appears the series’ internet presence is being removed or diminished. Consequently, I’ve had to go to the Imdb for all pictures pertaining to season four episodes. My apologies for the quality.

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