The Handmaid’s Tale: 5 key moments from episode 4

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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)

2 – In which the Commander struggles

Look, we all have off nights sometimes. Ideally, we don’t have them on the one night a month we have to pass on our genes in a world with soaring infertility such that doctors hint that men have problems too. Is it that the Commander is feeling pressured by his audience? Is he feeling guilty about Offred’s treatment, or uncomfortable around his wife, Serena?

Or could it be because Offred never answered him when he invited her to play Scrabble again? Whatever the case, Waterford does not complete the Ceremony, and rejects Serena’s offers of help.

It is not without irony that Offred, as she meanders back to her room, frames the problem in terms of her own failings, though you get the sense she is aware of the disconnect she’s having between what really happened and what she’s been indoctrinated to think about the situation. Instead, she thinks she should have spoken to him. He needs comfort.

Never mind that every last piece of this terrible society has set all its members up for continuous, brutal, painful failure.