‘The Handmaid’s Story’ Must Depart Janine Alone

Madeline Brewer’s character hasn’t caught a break in 5 seasons, and she or he deserves one.

“The Handmaid’s Story” is in some way on its fifth season, and for not one second because it premiered in 2017 has this present given Janine (Madeline Brewer) a second of peace.

Season 5, Episode 4, “Expensive Offred” places Janine in an not possible place with painfully sinister implications. After being poisoned by Esther (McKenna Grace) within the earlier episode, she recovers and seems to be extra treasured than ever to Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd). Lydia, ever the pious manipulator, entreats the delicate Janine to be her eyes and ears among the many handmaids transferring ahead.

“Will you watch over them and inform me when any of them are struggling?,” Lydia asks. She claims to wish to do issues in a different way, to behave with compassion, however Janine is skeptical.

“If I do, you’ll simply do one thing horrible,” she replies.

However she doesn’t say far more, and when she returns to the corporate of her fellow handmaids, the unstated understanding is that Janine is in a singular — and uniquely tough — place. “Janine, in a approach, [is] sort of enjoying Aunt Lydia — not enjoying her. I feel that there’s a real — there may be an earnestness to what’s occurring with them,” Brewer instructed ScreenRant. “However I feel that she’s not simply being an excellent, pious little Handmaid anymore.”

For these actively repressing the assorted atrocities Janine has suffered on “The Handmaid’s Story,” a fast refresher: In Season 1 flashbacks in the course of the rise of Gilead, Janine is a textbook insurgent. She rolls her eyes and scoffs at Lydia’s teachings, inflicting disruption and inconvenience for the opposite girls current. As punishment, the Aunts take Janine’s eye, a reference to the Bible passage ““if thy proper eye offends thee, pluck it out” that just about immediately subdues her spitfire persona. She experiences a psychological breakdown on the pink middle, however June and the others develop to be protecting of the delicate and disconnected Janine who emerges. She’s by no means the identical after that, smiling brightly via her time as an obedient handmaid and all the time a bit too near snapping again to actuality, and dropping all management.

However lose it she does, repeatedly: When she has an affair with Commander Putnam (Stephen Kunken), who doesn’t love her again; when she is reassigned and separated from her daughter; when she jumps into the river; when her child is within the hospital. Janine is overwhelmed by Lydia, by one other handmaid, and abused by Esther in Season 4. By the point Season 5 begins, she has escaped and returned to life as a handmaid a number of instances, by no means by her personal selecting — and Janine is holding on by a thread. Sufficient already.

Two women on the floor of a room, wearing red tunics and black bonnets. Both bleed from the mouth and one lays unconscious on the floor; still from 'The Handmaid's Tale.

Madeline Brewer and McKenna Grace in “The Handmaid’s Story”

Sophie Giraud/Hulu

To cite IndieWire’s Season 5 evaluation, “You possibly can solely see the identical dangerous shit occur to the identical good folks for therefore lengthy.” “The Handmaid’s Story” is treading water whereas it idles towards the end line; contrived bodily violence towards girls is a straightforward strategy to rack up shock worth whereas masquerading as commentary. Attempt as it’d, the present can’t seize the momentum and prescience of its first season (after which it departed from Margaret Atwood’s novel). If Janine does die within the coming episodes, it should nonetheless be devastating, however undoubtedly used to encourage June in direction of her subsequent self-important campaign.

However Janine is alive in the meanwhile, and again to being a handmaid — even when she hasn’t been assigned but — however she’s received a few of the outdated battle again in her. The most recent installment, “Expensive Offred” is the closest “The Handmaid’s Story” has come to Janine earlier than Gilead. She grows pissed off with Lydia’s Bible verses, and even references that it was Lydia who took Janine’s eye. She curses — which she was as soon as reprimanded for — and stands as much as Lydia.

“I do know what you do to these ladies, your treasured ladies,” she says. “I see who you actually are. I’ve nonetheless received one good eye, keep in mind?”

Perversely, Janine’s near-constant struggling serves no yet one more than Lydia — primarily as a showcase for Dowd’s magnificent efficiency. However letting an Emmy winner do Emmy-winning issues isn’t adequate grounds for Janine’s cyclical arc of distress; she’s going to by no means die so long as the present wants a proverbial punching bag, however she’s going to endure each sort of savagery whereas June survives unscathed by comparability. Whilst she weeps over Janine’s barely stirring type in Episode 3, it’s clear that Lydia will get off on the tribulations of these treasured ladies, even when she’s the one hurting them. Providing them ideas and prayers offers her goal, and her piety — whereas rooted in actual perception — has twisted and warped into one thing menacing. Even when she needs to maneuver ahead with compassion, her monitor document as a violent disciplinarian is one many treasured ladies received’t quickly neglect.

It’s unclear how Janine can be used within the ongoing battle between Gilead and the remainder of the world — and between Gilead and June herself. Commander Lawrence (Bradley Whitford) needs to current a elegant Gilead to the world, and Janine has been entangled in loads of what doesn’t fairly match that definition (in Season 2 she was banned from an occasion in order that the scar on her eye wouldn’t be seen). Each participant on this abhorrent society — together with June — views Janine as weak, helpless, and fewer than. She is both a wounded creature that wants defending or a disposable pawn that may be deployed for larger conflicts. That’s dangerous information as June and Serena (Yvonne Strahovski) put together for all-out struggle, each laser centered on drawing the opposite out and destroying her for good. With six extra episodes and one other complete season imminent, we ask just one factor: Depart Janine out of it.

“The Handmaid’s Story” airs Wednesdays on Hulu.

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