The Handmaid’s Tale — “Nolite Te Bastardes Carborundorum” Episode 104 — Punished by Serena Joy, Offred begins to unravel and reflects on her time with Moira at the Red Center. A complication during the Ceremony threatens Offred’s survival with the Commander and Serena Joy. Offred (Elisabeth Moss), shown. (Photo by: George Kraychyk/Hulu)
Fortunately for our emotions, if not our anticipation, The Handmaid’s Tale is on a regular schedule of one episode per week. Here’s what you missed in Episode 4.
The Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu just dropped its fourth episode, but since its start, I’ve been comfortably able to say I haven’t felt this way about anything since I watched Requiem for a Dream. There is very little uplifting about this show. I do not feel happy walking away from an episode. Yet its gripping tale of a dystopia only a few steps beyond our current world draws me, captivated, back for yet another episode this week to bear witness to the warnings within.
But if you can’t catch up, found yourself looking away at the grimmer moments, or just want to empathize with me at how much holy crudcakes is packed into every minute of Episode 4, which debuted on Hulu at midnight last night, then settle on in for the five biggest beats of “Nolite Te Bastardes Carborundorum.”
1 – The doctor visit
While trying to read the episode’s titular Latin etched on the bottom of her closet, Offred’s prone position startles Rita. A hasty excuse of fainting gets Offred sent to the doctor, the first escape she’s had from her room in thirteen days. The very rain is portrayed as something glorious in a captive’s eyes before she is shut in the car and driven off to a sterile-looking, white clinic where, from behind a veil, a man (because of course) examines her bottom half, which is clearly going to be the cause of any fainting issues.
But he doesn’t stop there. After dropping a likely true hint that most of the men are sterile too, he offers to “help” Offred get pregnant. If she can’t get pregnant from Waterford, she will be blamed, he says. There is no such thing as an infertile man anymore. The bleached white room serves to highlight how utterly ordinary the man’s face is when he peaks around the separating curtain. It’s a believable horror movie scene: white, silent, and utterly deceptive.
On the way home, we see Offred have her first true breakdown since her tenure as a handmaiden began, paired against flashbacks of her husband and daughter at a fair. There’s something momentarily cathartic for the viewer at hearing Offred scream the expletives we’ve been throwing at the screen ourselves for the last four episodes. But catharsis never lasts long in Gilead.