The Handmaid’s Tale: 9 Key Moments from the First Three Episodes

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The Handmaid’s Tale — “Offred” Episode 101 — Offred, one the few fertile women known as Handmaids in the oppressive Republic of Gilead, struggles to survive as a reproductive surrogate for a powerful Commander and his resentful wife. Hannah (Jordana Blake) and Offred (Elisabeth Moss), shown. (Photo by: George Kraychyk/Hulu)

The Opening Scene

We practically expect a good opening scene from a series that so many anticipated. But The Handmaid’s Tale doesn’t disappoint. It doesn’t open precisely as the novel does — Offred there starts by explaining where she slept during her Handmaid education. No, without much more than the expected mentions of Hulu and MGM as well as a brief title card, the series throws you directly into it all.

But it opens prior to seeing Offred in the red dress. Instead, we see June trying to flee with her daughter, hiding in the woods. The tension is thick. As she’s wheeled into a van, we cut to seeing Offred sitting in her bedroom.

It’s there that the series really heads back to the book, though not word-for-word from the text of the second chapter as she narrates in voiceover the surroundings of her room, including a note about shatterproof glass in the windows to prevent “escapes” — the kind that come with death.

It sets the tone nicely, but using the voiceover also reminds us of the original conceit of the novel: that they’re a series of tapes made by Offred to explain what happened to her. Indeed, Offred’s voice accompanies us throughout, providing us her thoughts in sharp contrast to what she says aloud.

By the time we’re in the flashback to Offred’s arrival at the Waterford house, we know what we’re in for.