‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Episode Four Review: ‘Nolite Te Bastardes Carborundorum’

As if The Handmaids Tale couldn’t get more terrifying, episode four forces you deep inside Offred’s head in a truly chilling hour. After being reprimanded by Serena Joy, Offred is forced into isolation. Alone in her head with no way out, The Handmaids Tale proves that while the bigger episodes are spectacular, the quiet hours also shine.

It’s hard to imagine that Elisabeth Moss could get any better, but in this episode she proves just that. The inner monologue is the key ingredient for The Handmaids Tale. While voiceovers are often played out on TV, this show utilizes it to the best of its ability. Margaret Atwood’s original novel is full of prose that speak to the heart. So, when adapting the novel it’s important to make sure the prose is translated. Hulu’s adaptation does it the best by having Moss deliver powerful voiceover monologues week after week. In this episode, Moss continues to deliver some of her best work through voiceover. It’s incredible to listen to her words and it makes each episode more and more chilling.

This episode also focuses on Offred’s life before joining The Commander’s house. As the show progresses we learn more about Gilead and Offred’s training to become a handmaid. It’s an important addition to the series and it helps make the present day plot lines all the more engaging. This week focuses on when Offred and Moira part ways. Moira escapes, while Offred is dragged back to the handmaids and reprimanded. A powerful scene, made only better by Samira Wiley and Moss. Moss and Wiley are a powerful duo in The Handmaids Tale. It’s rare that just a look can explain so much, but that’s exactly what happens between Wiley and Moss. When Moira approaches the train, her ticket to freedom, while Offred is picked up by The Eyes, a simple look between each other says everything. Wiley and Moss give striking performances in the latest installment.

While the performances make The Handmaids Tale unlike any other show streaming or on TV right now, it’s the cinematography that gives it another edge. In this episode, Offred is often confined to her room, then a car, then The Commanders office. The walls are closing in around her as the world seems to be too much to bare. The beautiful way The Handmaids Tale is shot adds to the gripping nature of the show. The overhead shots of Offred lying on the floor perfectly encapsulate the claustrophobic environment Offred lives in. Then, there’s the clinical, white and saturated scene when Offred visits the doctor. From the costumes to the cinematography to the set dressing, The Handmaids Tale makes sure you are thrown into the world in every way possible.

One of the best scenes in episode four of The Handmaids Tale is, in fact, another silent exchange. Upon returning from the doctor, Offred sits in the back of Nick’s car. As the rain thrashes on the outside, Offred screams in the back seat. Letting out an ear piercing scream, everything Offred feels is encompassed in it. It’s a small moment, but a powerful one. She’s not done fighting.

The Commander also has a shockingly real and honest moment this week. Men in Gilead are seen as the worst possible versions of themselves. In a world where women are considered objects, the men don’t rise up against the society, instead they go along with it. In this episode, The Commander can’t perform during The Ceremony. It’s a truly honest moment for both The Commander and Serena Joy. Serena Joy tries to help her husband, while The Commander just wants to give up and slink away. The first honest moment for the two characters as we finally crack through their exteriors. It’s a short moment, but it makes an impression in terms of the characters development.

The Handmaids Tale continues to create some of the best visuals on television today. With Moss at the helm, this show is unstoppable. Between passionate performances from Moss, Wiley and the rest of the cast and the outstanding cinematography, The Handmaids Tale is the show to beat this TV season. And we aren’t sure anyone can beat it.

The Handmaids Tale is currently streaming on Hulu

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