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. (Photo by: Take Five/Hulu)

The Salvaging Ceremony

Like so much else in the Republic of Gilead, the Salvaging takes on religious imagery, particularly evoking the idea of a church. The handmaids are all arranged in rows. Although there aren’t any pews — the ceremony takes place outside — there are cushions for them to kneel on. Meanwhile, the aunts, including Aunt Lydia, stand on a platform in front to conduct the Salvaging.

In fact, Offred gets to have a whispered conversation with one of the women she had previously spent time with in the Red Center. Of course, she gets shushed, as you might expect. Salvaging is very important.

At Aunt Lydia’s command and as the music swells, the handmaids form a circle around a man convicted on a charge of rape after they take their “wings” off. Lydia reminds them of the rules — which effectively are that there are no rules — and the handmaids then proceed to hurt him badly.

The handmaids, who have so much violence done to them, get to perform their own acts of violence out on a man. In this case, it’s one who raped a fellow Handmaid, making this a twisted form of revenge. Only Janine, heavily pregnant, stands apart, cradling her belly and letting her red clothes flow in the wind. Offred participates as well, and though her expression is just as full of rage during, she seems completely out of it afterwards.