TIFF22: ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Season 5 Episodes 1 and 2 Preview

The Handmaid’s Tale is returning for a fifth season, and the question remains…why? While already living in a hellscape it borders on masochism to watch a fictionalized version. Yet, the show retains its following. Picking up immediately after the end of Season 4, the first two episodes of the latest season are directed by series star Elizabeth Moss. The first two episodes represent hope for where this series could go, as well as a chance to reflect on the series’ problems that have been present from the beginning. The Handmaid’s Tale is one of the featured TV shows that premiered at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival. 

So much has already been written about how The Handmaid’s Tale, as well as its source material, is so flawed because it has white woman cosplaying the oppression that BIPOC women have had inflicted upon them by a white supremacist society for generations. Unfortunately, Season 5 of The Handmaid’s Tale doesn’t show any sign of deviating from these issues if the first two episodes are an indication of what the rest of the season will play out. 

Viewers knew Season 5 of The Handmaid’s Tale features no Alexis Bledel and no Joseph Fiennes. One was the underrated leader and should have indisputably always had more focus through the series. The other was Joseph Fiennes. This may be an incredibly hot take when the series is streaming, but the way Emily, Bledel’s character, is written out of the series…yeah. It’s not good. There are so many other directions that the show could have handled this situation. And yet the powers that be went with…that. Emily deserves so much better.

The first two episodes of Season 5 unlock several new characters. There’s one in particular that stands out. There’s a lot of potential for this character to change relationship dynamics. They’re so incredibly sweet. This makes me nervous, since sweetness never lasts long in the brutal world of Gilead. There’s plenty of room for this character within this series. Unfortunately, there’s a history with characters in this particular position that is less than confidence inspiring. 

Serena (Yvonne Strahovski) is back to her white woman bs, and its as insufferable and indicting as it always was. The first two episodes of the new season see her almost reach a new level of white-womaning and that’s saying something. If this entire season is set to be a battle of wills between her and June, the opportunity could be lost to interrogate the integral role white women play in upholding a patriarchal society. 

One thing I am still not convinced is working is the Mark Tuello (Sam Jaeger) storyline. To be fair, I’m not sure it ever did. This playing both sides, which continues at the beginning of Season 5, has been a hallmark of this character since he was introduced. While it seems like it’s business as usual so far, it seems like a decision needs to be made, and soon. The first episodes of the upcoming season opens up the possibility for this resolution, possibly.  

Finally, it’s not possible to talk about the first two episodes of in the upcoming season of The Handmaid’s Tale without talking about that ending of Episode 2. If this is going where I think it’s going, it will be truly devastating. If not, it could be a return to old habits for the series in the worst possible way. This is a crossroads moment for Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd) in particular, never mind June and Serena’s relationship. There’s a lot going on here.

The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5 will soon be upon us. It feels like this is a moment for the show, where it can either address and rectify the flaws of the source material, or continue to get messier as it goes along. Season 5 represents a new chance for the show. Fans can only hope that everyone involved are up to the task.

The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5 Premieres September 14, 2022 on HBOMax and Crave.

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