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The Testaments (sequel)

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I finally started reading the book and I have a lot of thoughts, and assumptions, because I am somewhat disappointed.

It is easy read. It flows and I don't feel like putting it down. But it is not the best of Atwood. The first paragraph got me hopeful, the sarcasm, the word play, exactly what Margaret Atwood does best. But then it becomes - at least to the point where I am now - a very good book but not the superior writing I expected from her.

It feels, to me, like she wrote the book to try to get a handle on the mess the show runners created. It seems rushed, and it also seems like she was forced to incorporate some of the show runners ideas - which she might or might not have liked - to keep some sort of reversed continuity. And that's my disappointment. 

It is like she made a deal with the devil and now is trying to regain some control over what the show runners will do with her words. So she gets their extrapolations and creates a story from them. If there is another show, she has some control over the direction it takes (not really, TV has many ways of decimating good stories). Or maybe she just likes what is happening to the show, or wants the rights' money. It is possible.

In any case, I am still in the first quarter of the book and I am assuming there will be something like the epilogue in THT, with people analyzing Gilead after the fall, but this book just doesn't look like the original idea. I read enough of Margaret Atwood's books and THT is the one that "scares" me the most. The story is an exaggerated version of what is already happening in our current times and how lives and names get lost in the onslaught of events in an almost dystopian reality, and THT does that. It leaves us with a sense of dread, while wowing us with great writing and use of words. 

It is a good book, but it is not at the same level I would expect a sequel to THT to be. 

Also, I am not sure if it was mentioned here, the audio book (which I also have) has Ann Dowd as Aunt Lydia and it is a great narration.

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"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and I took the one most traveled by. It was littered with corpses, as such roads are. But as you will have noticed, my own corpse is not among them." -- Aunt Lydia

Gave me chills.

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Spoiler

When you find out that Paula went pale and decided she was ok with Agnes becoming an Aunt because Lydia called her out for murdering her former commander to pursue an adulterous affair and pinning it on the handmaid....muahahahaha. Although, poor handmaid. And poor Crystal/OfKyle.

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On 10/15/2019 at 8:02 AM, nodorothyparker said:

Booker Prize 2019: Margaret Atwood and Bernardine Evaristo win joint award as jury breaks the rules

It sounds like they changed the rules years ago to try to avoid a split decision like this that would see two winners but then two factions dug in their heels and here we are.

Refused to give the award to a black woman and decided that she should split the award with white woman who wrote a book that is not even close to her best work.

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On 10/14/2019 at 12:47 AM, alexvillage said:

I finally started reading the book and I have a lot of thoughts, and assumptions, because I am somewhat disappointed.

It is easy read. It flows and I don't feel like putting it down. But it is not the best of Atwood. The first paragraph got me hopeful, the sarcasm, the word play, exactly what Margaret Atwood does best. But then it becomes - at least to the point where I am now - a very good book but not the superior writing I expected from her.

It feels, to me, like she wrote the book to try to get a handle on the mess the show runners created. It seems rushed, and it also seems like she was forced to incorporate some of the show runners ideas - which she might or might not have liked - to keep some sort of reversed continuity. And that's my disappointment. 

It is like she made a deal with the devil and now is trying to regain some control over what the show runners will do with her words. So she gets their extrapolations and creates a story from them. If there is another show, she has some control over the direction it takes (not really, TV has many ways of decimating good stories). Or maybe she just likes what is happening to the show, or wants the rights' money. It is possible.

In any case, I am still in the first quarter of the book and I am assuming there will be something like the epilogue in THT, with people analyzing Gilead after the fall, but this book just doesn't look like the original idea. I read enough of Margaret Atwood's books and THT is the one that "scares" me the most. The story is an exaggerated version of what is already happening in our current times and how lives and names get lost in the onslaught of events in an almost dystopian reality, and THT does that. It leaves us with a sense of dread, while wowing us with great writing and use of words. 

It is a good book, but it is not at the same level I would expect a sequel to THT to be. 

Also, I am not sure if it was mentioned here, the audio book (which I also have) has Ann Dowd as Aunt Lydia and it is a great narration.

"Also, I am not sure if it was mentioned here, the audio book (which I also have) has Ann Dowd as Aunt Lydia and it is a great narration".

Totally agree with your last statement above. However I am thoroughly enjoying the book. There is no doubting Ms Atwood never intended to write a sequel to THT and left it with Nick telling ofFred to trust him. The rest is left to our own imaginations (brilliant).

Unfortunately more often than not Hollywood take too many liberties with authors' works of art. Scriptwriters know what sells commercially and often bastardize books. This is the case with the TV series. It's great in its own way, I look forward to season 4 just to see how they end it. Most people these days require happy endings, retributions, payback. In real life that is not always the way things play out. However this is what sells. I think Ms Atwood has written a sequel to tak back some control taken away from her by the screenwriters (just my opinion), I feel she is not entirely happy about what's happened with the Tv Series. Whenever I place myself in the world of Gilead, I may as well be in Nazi Germany, someone alone, all identity removed, no family and at the mercy of strangers with the power to do whatever they want to you.

PS. I read the book while listening to the audio-book, takes longer, but really well worth it, it makes it so much easier (at least for me) to immerse myself in the story and actually put everything in picture form. My own TV series in my head so to speak LOL

Edited by uninvolved
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I loved the book, and in many interviews Atwood doesn't imply that she "caved" to anyone, and I take her words (many of them, several interviews posted in this thread) as more reality than speculation based on dislike of the Hulu show more than on anything Atwood has said.

She says several times that the show inspired interest in the book she'd written so long ago, and also many new and old fans asking her what happened next, and that made her start seriously thinking of a sequel.  It was time, lucky for us!  

She could have written another bleak and scary book, but at this time in her life, and probably in all of our political lives, she chose to add hope, as well as some remarkable wit and insight into what happened to the "girls" so long repressed by their society.  Mirroring that with two sisters, one raised under Gilead, and one in a relatively free society was a great choice, IMO.

In 1986 she wrote a beautiful and important warning call for all of us.  In 2019 she chose hope, and, in following the first book which talked about the end of Gilead in the forum notes, and certainly implied Nick was Mayday, and Mayday definitely existed, and "June" was involved with them.  I don't think she "strayed" because of the show, or even because of money.  The book would have sold no matter what she wrote here, she could have decided to continue in the same incredibly bleak way.  She could have jumped forward and had "June" reflect as a crone about the rest of her journey, she could have had a "second Gilead" forming after the afterword of the first novel. 

The Hulu show would have continued, she wasn't "risking" any money from that, and of course she got paid for writing this book, that's her job, it's how she makes her living, she's an author.  What's more, Hulu would have probably purchased the rights to whatever she wrote, this is their biggest "created for" show they have, they weren't going to abandon it.  This story put Hulu on the map, they are all in.

I think, at this time in our world, she wanted to show hope.  She wanted to show the human spirit, undaunted, fighting corruption and oppression, and emerging triumphant in it's own way.  She wanted to say "these things WILL pass" or perhaps to say that oppressors, haters,  and dictators will lose in the end.  She could have told a war story featuring June, Mayday, the the unconquered parts of the USA finally defeating Gilead (as she tells us in the first book they do.) 

Instead she chose to tell this next part of the story with her second generation characters, keeping the story personal, and intimate, and about day to day life and those experiences in vastly different worlds.  The two sisters were perfect for that, and the tone of the book, this time told through their eyes, instead of June's, resonated.  They were the voices of the uninformed, or in some ways, the "innocents" simply taking their lives as "the way it is" and living them, until the moment they are called upon to do more.  When that happens, scared or not, they step up and finally engage with their worlds on a deeper and more significant level.  In addition, that comment in the book about their ages cast light on the ages of MOST young soldiers, barely adults, who are always on the front lines of war and revolution.

She also chose to have Aunt  Lydia be the political voice, the insider, secretly resisting all of these years, and the understandable, if horrifying lengths oppressed people will go to in order to survive.  Aunt Lydia's story echoed stories of the German concentration camps, or the Soviet Gulags, where average people needed to do some pretty sickening things, or die.  

Combined, those three POV's were powerful, and had some very important things to say.  Would Gilead have been brought down at all without someone (or more than one someone) like Lydia?  Were the horrifying things she did justified by the eventual demise of the system she was forced into, and chose to support while secretly subverting?  Were her choices to save her own life at any cost justified?  Was she a hero or a coward?  Was she an oppressor or a very crucial part of the resistance?  Was she simply selfish or was she a hero?  Can people be BOTH?  How wrong was she to do whatever it took to save her life?

I find all of these things, and more in the book to be not only worthy, but also deserving of respect, and the Booker Prize.  I don't think she "sold out" because I not only loved this book, but I love that she told such an outwardly simple, but on closer look, a deeply involved and important story about issues and choices, while staying in her lovely "first person"  style.  This time we had 3 first person voices, and each of them was not only compelling, but carried important messages about everything from indoctrination, to survival, to moral choices on a soul level, to simply being AWARE and AWAKE about our own lives in troubled times.

Edited by Umbelina · Reason: added stuff
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On 9/22/2019 at 7:30 PM, nodorothyparker said:

So I finally finished the book and it basically confirmed for me my earlier supposition that the show is another Game of Thrones: That much of what has been bemoaned as ruining the author's original work beyond where the source material left off is from the author herself and the problem has mostly been with the execution.   That's basically the only burning question I had going into this and was pretty much willing to roll with it beyond that.

As always, I like Atwood's prose and I can appreciate that she was able to write another well put together chapter of a universe she created more than 30 years ago.  Beyond that though, much of it felt very expected.  Lydia predicted in the original book that it would be much easier for the generation that followed because they wouldn't be troubled by the memories of the freer world before, but this world is about what I would have expected from a violently misogynistic totalitarian regime where men could give into their worst impulses unchecked and a generation of girls have been raised in this circumscribed hothouse environment to be fearful of their own shadows or the specter of the random penis and so unschooled that Agnes doesn't have any idea how big Gilead is or which direction is which even if she could read a map to point the way to Canada.  The only real surprise at all came in seeing that Gilead would even offer girls an out if they'd rather be dead than Wives rather than tell them to suck it up and lie back and think of Gilead.

I'm still not sure myself how I even feel about Lydia.  There's a powerful parable there about how easily the victimized can be conditioned to become the victimizer under the right circumstances, and I suppose I'm not really shocked that when confronted with the overwhelming evidence of how perverted the ideals of Gilead have become that she would side with the burn it all down and start over crowd, if that's even what she truly believes she's doing.  But even there, the whole setup of getting Daisy/Nicole into Gilead only to have to smuggle her back out feels ridiculously overwrought to achieve that end beyond the OMG Sisters! reveal.  What's the point beyond just wanting to lay eyes on Nicole for herself?  It's unnecessarily risky when she's already got the Pearl Girls unknowingly carrying messages for her.  She likely could have achieved much the same ends with Agnes with the same information that hey you've got blood relatives right over there if you just do this one thing.  It doesn't help that there was really no suspense heading into the pat happy ending since we already know they got away with it or there wouldn't be two separate testimonies about it.

I didn't hate it but it doesn't have nearly the power of the original.

This is how I feel, too. I enjoyed some of it, but the whole Daisy/Nicole being smuggled in and out, was just too much for me. A hopeful note is good, as is the fact that they both got out, and were reunited with their mother - but I can't picture someone like Lydia, suggesting that this "prize" girl be endangered in that way. They could have shot or hung her, and claimed that Nicole was still out there, that Mayday were lying if they claimed that she was the baby they'd been looking for. Also, her name is Holly, isn't it? 

I like that both girls were kind of rebellious in their own ways, and that we got a look into their version of the underground railroad, but there was no mystery over whether or not they would make it safely. 

I wonder if the show will let June leave Gilead, now that it's been written in this book. I suppose I should move anything else to the speculation thread.

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I finally managed the time to read it on the christmas holidays. I read it in two days.I was a bit disappointed, to be honest. I was expecting excellent writing with the booker price and all, and the first few chapters felt better, but then the writing got sloppier, repetitious and I haven't seen anyone else say this, but the character building felt poor as far as Nicole was concerned. She felt like she was a poorly built shallow character out of a b-grade action movie. What teenager reacts like that to her parents dying, having to abandon her friends, home, life and all with practically no questions and very little emotions. Fuck, she talked more about her "puppy"crush than her parents dying and leaving her life behind. she didn't even demand to get her stuff, any memories from home, say goodbyes or anything. Made absolutely no sense at all. Sure it would have been unsafe but that is just not how people work, when their life is interrupted. Then she is happily practicing self defence and barely objects being sent into Gilead?! When she has shown no sign of being interested in saving people up to then. It made no sense. It also made no sense that once in Gilead instead of being terrified by what she saw and keeping quiet she behaved like a bratty teen. Stupid choice, and made me hate her chracter. I felt like Atwood was trying too hard to make a teenager, when she herself is too old to relate. It was poor, absolutely poor. 

I also had a hard time buying the aunt Lydia story. in THT she is much more sinister, but her it sounds as if she had made the choice tomake Gilead pay back from the beginning. Also, she says "we all believed this was good in the beginning" which doesn't make sense as she was practically forced into it. And how did all those women go from independent normal working women who loved the law to turturers who enjoyed torturing women? It wasn't explained enough. If anything, they would have been trying to save as many as possible since the beginning. A few days in solitary confinement just doesn't do it. And why where the 4 of them picked, when there were others before Lydia who had chosen to become aunts? 

So much was left untold, and instead we were given a shot of a poor happy ending action film in book form. Wasn't what I was expecting I'm sorry. The depth, suspense, the relatability was all gone. Makes me think it really is all Atwood behind the ridiculous shit in the TV series. In that sense Nicole fitted well as June's daughter, she had the same ridiculous survival sphere around her and that empty FY attitude.  

I'm mostly disappointed as I wanted to love it, but just couldn't.

Edited by Ariam
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One thing that occurred to me.  Sure, the kids of commanders and other top professionals (like the dentist) got to go to "elite schools" that didn't teach them reading and so forth, and the girls were growing up not able to read. But we never heard about what exactly is the life of an econofamily.

Presumably not everyone was on board with Gilead's philosophy, but played along due to a desire to keep living.  and even if the guardians/eyes went through everyone's house and removed all the books (but aren't the men still allowed to read?), that doesn't stop the parents from knowing how to read and at least teaching their kids the basics.  Sure the commanders and their ilk kept their wives and family subjugated as much as they could, but that doesn't mean all the economen did so.

 

 

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I just listened to the audiobook and I'm not sure what to think. I enjoyed it (and I particularly enjoyed listening to Ann Dowd read for Lydia), but I feel like it's almost a fanfic about how the breakout character from the TV show was secretly a really good person who we can root for, and also wouldn't it be funny if a normal teen sassed back everyone in Gilead.

One of my complaints from the TV show is that I don't get what Lydia's deal is, and, in this book -- partly because I'm not sure how much I'm supposed to consider the TV show canon -- I still don't get what Lydia's deal is. I can draw a line that connects pre-Gilead Lydia to Lydia at the end of this book, but the line doesn't naturally pass through the stuff she's done on TV.

I also thought it was interesting that the epilogue mirrored the first book, and had some dude give a lecture about the story we just read that totally missed the point.

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On 3/17/2020 at 3:10 PM, SourK said:

I just listened to the audiobook and I'm not sure what to think. I enjoyed it (and I particularly enjoyed listening to Ann Dowd read for Lydia), but I feel like it's almost a fanfic about how the breakout character from the TV show was secretly a really good person who we can root for, and also wouldn't it be funny if a normal teen sassed back everyone in Gilead.

One of my complaints from the TV show is that I don't get what Lydia's deal is, and, in this book -- partly because I'm not sure how much I'm supposed to consider the TV show canon -- I still don't get what Lydia's deal is. I can draw a line that connects pre-Gilead Lydia to Lydia at the end of this book, but the line doesn't naturally pass through the stuff she's done on TV.

I also thought it was interesting that the epilogue mirrored the first book, and had some dude give a lecture about the story we just read that totally missed the point.

To me, Lydia "line" passes smoothly through.

I read it, and had to go back and reread parts, I don't know if an audio book would have worked for me on this particular book.

I can't WAIT to see this all play out on screen though, obviously probably not the entire sequel, but certainly parts of it have already been shown, June's revolutionary trajectory for example, perhaps even the odd moments when Lydia was not cruel.

 

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I have had time and time to think of this and re-read the book. I really am put off of the Aunt Lydia twist.

I wish Atwood just wrote a better continuous of the story. I would have like to know how they got from point A (Gilead) to point B (conference taking place in the year 2195).  

I understand that the tv show has strayed from the original novel but Atwood could have just ignored that.  The same thing happened with True Blood but the author just kept writing her books with no references to what was going on in the tv show.  Atwood could have done the same.  Alot of tv shows that are based on books are reworked to fit television.  

 

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2 hours ago, greekmom said:

I have had time and time to think of this and re-read the book. I really am put off of the Aunt Lydia twist.

I wish Atwood just wrote a better continuous of the story. I would have like to know how they got from point A (Gilead) to point B (conference taking place in the year 2195).  

I understand that the tv show has strayed from the original novel but Atwood could have just ignored that.  The same thing happened with True Blood but the author just kept writing her books with no references to what was going on in the tv show.  Atwood could have done the same.  Alot of tv shows that are based on books are reworked to fit television.  

 

I think they "strayed" after talks with Atwood about a possible sequel.  She, and her ideas of revolution came first, their story LATER.  She simply hadn't fleshed them all out yet.  However the show had Lydia be kind a few times, foreshadowing I think because Atwood told them to.

I actually love the Lydia twist.  It was pretty brilliant, and to me, had echoes of some survivors of others militaristic society with racist or sexist or religious prejudices.  Lydia SURVIVES, just as SOME concentration camp or gulag victims survived.  By colluding, by hiding her real feelings, by becoming important and indispensable.  

Her alternative was probably torture followed by a painful death.  She holds things inside though, helps little things fail along the way, keeps records for the day it will all end (still a survivor) and when given the chance, finally fights back.

My biggest problem with the adaptation of her books is that they eliminated the racist "white babies only" wanted.  It was the WHITE race that was dying out, people of color in many countries were surviving and having babies just fine.  (Mostly those away from nuclear power, and high development, use of pesticides, water and other pollution, etc.) 

I do think they could have still had a diversified cast, the camps, Canada escapees, Jezebel's, etc.

Edited by Umbelina · Reason: clarified
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4 hours ago, greekmom said:

I understand that the tv show has strayed from the original novel but Atwood could have just ignored that.  The same thing happened with True Blood but the author just kept writing her books with no references to what was going on in the tv show.  Atwood could have done the same.  Alot of tv shows that are based on books are reworked to fit television.  

 

2 hours ago, Umbelina said:

I think they "strayed" after talks with Atwood about a possible sequel.  She, and her ideas of revolution came first, their story LATER.  She simply hadn't fleshed them all out yet.  However the show had Lydia be kind a few times, foreshadowing I think because Atwood told them to.

I'd really love to know what the sequel would have looked like if there hadn't been a show (or if there'd even be a sequel at all). As I commented here after first reading it, I thought it was very "Hollywood" and didn't continue the spirit of the original at all. In several other books of hers that I've read (most recently Cat's Eye, which I recommend), she doesn't seem to care about tying everything up in a neat bow and and giving every female character a motivation that "justifies" her actions, so her involvement in the entertainment industry has clearly influenced her writing.

Anyhoo, for every season after the first I've tried not to view the show in the frame of reference of the original, because that became frustrating very quickly. The original novel will always be the story's canon to me, no matter what happens in the sequel or on the show.

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17 hours ago, chocolatine said:

 

I'd really love to know what the sequel would have looked like if there hadn't been a show (or if there'd even be a sequel at all). As I commented here after first reading it, I thought it was very "Hollywood" and didn't continue the spirit of the original at all. In several other books of hers that I've read (most recently Cat's Eye, which I recommend), she doesn't seem to care about tying everything up in a neat bow and and giving every female character a motivation that "justifies" her actions, so her involvement in the entertainment industry has clearly influenced her writing.

Anyhoo, for every season after the first I've tried not to view the show in the frame of reference of the original, because that became frustrating very quickly. The original novel will always be the story's canon to me, no matter what happens in the sequel or on the show.

I think it would have looked the same (as far as the revolution.)  

I adored the first book, and yes, it will always be "canon" to me as well.  

From interviews with Atwood though, it is pretty obvious that she always intended June to fight with the revolution, and I think she had, at least the "bare bones" of Lydia in mind as well (though it may not have been Lydia, could have been any of the highly placed Aunts.)

It certainly explains why Lydia, working secretly behind the scenes in whatever little ways she could, placed first Emily and then June with Commander Lawrence, decisions that only makes sense knowing Lydia is working behind the scenes.

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I think the show may be going a slightly different direction with Lydia.  Maybe not.

In the first three episodes of season 4, the thing that stands out most to me was June doing the "YOUR FAULT!" and Lydia's reaction to that.  (Well acted by both.)

In the book Lydia is biding her time, keeping the secret that she hates "Gilead" in order to survive, but still, to me anyway, harboring secret revolution dreams.  That would explain why June is repeatedly allowed to live.  She can spot potential "leaders" in the revolution to come, and work behind the scenes to save them while not appearing to do that, especially to someone as dangerous (to Lydia) as June could be, under torture or simply spilling.

That scene though, made me almost feel like Lydia is now so deep in her "role play" that she's given up on remembering it's a "biding her time role" and gotten comfortable there, too comfortable.  June just gave her a wake up call.

Only not really, because Lydia has always been able to use and torture others to save herself, and her secrets, it's part of the deal she's made with herself, the only way to survive to "fight another day."  Which?  Very true, and I completely get that, understand her story (in the book.)  

I'm just confused about the show, and when Lydia's real intentions might be revealed.  I expect the show to include Testament's because honestly, it will make a better show.  When though?  Junes daughters must age up to that.  

June (and others) have moved into the Mayday movement now, and since one episode is called "Chicago" this season, I'm kind of expecting to see more war scenes, this time with weapons from military deserters, not just poison, and the skirmishes we've seen so far.  

I don't think it will happen this season (at all) but I could see montages of more traditional warfare, more homemade bombs and captured real weapons, play out while the girls age to Testaments levels.  Maybe next season?  Maybe later.

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I guess the fact that my first introduction of a visual Aunt Lydia was Victoria Tennant in the 1990 movie.  Coupled with this Aunt Lydia it doesn't seem to me that she is working to bring Gilead down. 

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19 minutes ago, greekmom said:

I guess the fact that my first introduction of a visual Aunt Lydia was Victoria Tennant in the 1990 movie.  Coupled with this Aunt Lydia it doesn't seem to me that she is working to bring Gilead down. 

Except leaving June alive.  If she'd said June needed to die, no one would have argued with her.

That's pretty huge.  She also put June with Lawrence.

It's like she's doing a tiny bit at a time, and trying to balance her own safety with the deep cover work she's already been doing as an aunt, spying on people, etc.

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My interpretation of Lydia's frustration with June is that we know Lydia is playing a very looooooong game and interprets June's actions as half measures that conflict with her calculated Intel gathering.  She was tortured for 19 days and is clearly worried that she won't survive to finish her work.  So it is in her own best interest to get June out of Gilead at one point. 

In retrospect June's repeated stays of execution make sense with the new source material when Lydia could keep her on a somewhat loose leash.  I do hope that season 4 wraps up June's story and we move forward with Testaments material.  The biggest challenge the writers will have is convincing the non bookies about Lydia's real motives.  It will be horrible but I really hope they do a flashback episode about the stadium.

My only gripe is that I think the show needs to introduce Aunt Vidala soon to set her up as Lydia's current foil.

Edited by kittykat
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2 minutes ago, kittykat said:

My interpretation of Lydia's frustration with June is that we know Lydia is playing a very looooooong game and interprets June's actions as half measures that conflict with her calculated Intel gathering.  She was tortured for 19 days and is clearly worried that she won't survive to finish her work.  So it is in her own best interest to get June out of Gilead at one point. 

In retrospect June's repeated stays of execution make sense with the new source material when Lydia could keep her on a somewhat loose leash.  I do hope that season 4 wraps up June's story and we move forward with Testaments material.  The biggest challenge the writers will have is convincing the non bookies about Lydia's real motives.  It will be horrible but I really hope they do a flashback episode about the stadium.

I can't see it happening this season.

However, IF June and Nick and Janine are with the rebels in Chicago (which also jives with Testaments) by next season they could age everyone up quite a bit, especially with montage/action/losses stuff.  

Remember, little Nicole isn't even walking yet, and she's got to be a young teen going off to war, and Holly needs to be a grown, but young, woman.

I don't want to lose June as a character though, and doubt we will.  She's supposed to become a major rebel/loyalist fighter, but also to have contact with people in Canada frequently (the ones that give little Nicole her mission for example.)  June remains a wanted person and is fighting through most of the book, and still alive at the end of the Testaments.  The fam gets together remember?

I'd like to see how it all works out with Nick and Luke as well, but I expect Junes a little busy winning back her country and freeing all the victims of Gilead to get to fussed about "which one shall I choose?"

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The show could start on Hannah's element of The Testaments relatively soon, given that Mrs McKenzie is not long for the world going by the book timeline, but it would mean moving away from the current focus.

One option would be a spin-off flashforward set when Nichole is a teenager and Hannah is an adult and an Aunt in training, using the actress who plays Hannah for flashback scenes of her childhood as Agnes, Tabitha's death, and her becoming a Supplicant to avoid marriage.

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10 hours ago, ReganX said:

The show could start on Hannah's element of The Testaments relatively soon, given that Mrs McKenzie is not long for the world going by the book timeline, but it would mean moving away from the current focus.

One option would be a spin-off flashforward set when Nichole is a teenager and Hannah is an adult and an Aunt in training, using the actress who plays Hannah for flashback scenes of her childhood as Agnes, Tabitha's death, and her becoming a Supplicant to avoid marriage.

I think they are already laying the groundwork for Hannah.  "she can twist her father around her little finger" and "she has very loving parents" and of course she's getting bigger by the episode and is now afraid of June, justifying even more leaving her in Gilead for now.  

So, she won't be forced to marry, like other girls.

---

Can anyone refresh my memory on a point in the show?  

Has anyone besides Aunt Lydia ever let June escape death as punishment?

I know Lawrence helped, but we know his views, he's certainly not all pro Gilead.  At the end though, hasn't it always been Lydia arguing or making the call to keep her alive, as well as generally intact?

ETA asking here because I think, considering the novels, there is obviously a good reason Lydia has decided to protect June, a long game that hasn't been revealed in the show.  To ask in a show thread might tip their hand.

Edited by Umbelina
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17 hours ago, Umbelina said:

I think they are already laying the groundwork for Hannah.  "she can twist her father around her little finger" and "she has very loving parents" and of course she's getting bigger by the episode and is now afraid of June, justifying even more leaving her in Gilead for now.  

It's interesting that that's a divergence from The Testaments, where Kyle more or less seems to put up with Hannah for his wife's sake.

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That site is pretty cool.  

The reason I asked if Lydia was always the one to decide to not kill June, to keep her alive and relatively intact, and with enough power to do so?  Is that it will explain quite a bit if they go all the way through Testaments on the show.  

https://www.litcharts.com/lit/the-testaments/chapter-6-the-ardua-hall-holograph

Analysis

 

Contrasting with Agnes’s weak will and general passivity, Lydia is characterized as the most subversively powerful character in the story, the effective puppet-master in Gilead’s downfall. The scope of Lydia’s power hinted at here, and later described in detail, suggests that even in a patriarchal theocracy that seeks to subdue women, some women may learn to hold and exert tremendous power, not because it was given to them, but because they earned it.

Another thing I wonder if is "Neil and Melanie" will be replaced by Luke and Moira in the show?

Edited by Umbelina
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The one inconsistency I have is that in the book everyone is still focused on missing baby Nicole.  But in the show, there are 86 more missing children.  Wouldn’t Gilead be just as focused on them?

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39 minutes ago, Hanahope said:

The one inconsistency I have is that in the book everyone is still focused on missing baby Nicole.  But in the show, there are 86 more missing children.  Wouldn’t Gilead be just as focused on them?

Nicole was the one that almost caused a war, and got all the publicity.  Because of Serena turning in Fred, just to get her baby back, it became a huge, international story.

The whole 'baby Nicole" crisis caused other countries to stop taking refugees, and for Canada to cut way back as well.  She just became a news story, and thus, a rallying point on both sides.

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35 minutes ago, Hanahope said:

The one inconsistency I have is that in the book everyone is still focused on missing baby Nicole.  But in the show, there are 86 more missing children.  Wouldn’t Gilead be just as focused on them?

This is one of several reasons why I don't think the show is following the second book all that closely. The cult of Baby Nicole makes sense if Nicole is the only child ever to be taken out of Gilead. If there's 86 more, some of them also babies. it should be less about Baby Nicole and more about the Lost Children of the Flight North. 

But then, I am not expecting the show to follow The Testaments closely. I think it will dip in for flavor - the Aunt role is much less "psycho women hating women" and much more nuanced, and has an interesting power structure for example. It was predominantly about June's adult and almost adult daughters and the Aunts... and the handmaids were really hardly on scene at all. 

 

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22 minutes ago, EllaWycliffe said:

This is one of several reasons why I don't think the show is following the second book all that closely. The cult of Baby Nicole makes sense if Nicole is the only child ever to be taken out of Gilead. If there's 86 more, some of them also babies. it should be less about Baby Nicole and more about the Lost Children of the Flight North. 

But then, I am not expecting the show to follow The Testaments closely. I think it will dip in for flavor - the Aunt role is much less "psycho women hating women" and much more nuanced, and has an interesting power structure for example. It was predominantly about June's adult and almost adult daughters and the Aunts... and the handmaids were really hardly on scene at all. 

 

I explained above.  Baby Nicole became a major news story, has to go into hiding soon.  She was the rallying cry on both sides of the issue (and the rest is above.)

If Baby Nicole goes into hiding soon, we will know they are following the book pretty closely.  I honestly don't see them ignoring Atwood's vision.  At all.  I think tiny details may change, but not the overall plot.

Interesting though on my read here (synopsis) I remembered that Ada is Emily!!  That will be super cool, and I hope they follow that.

https://www.litcharts.com/lit/the-testaments/chapter-1-ardua-hall-holograph

It's also a great place for people to read all of the important points of the story (and analysis if they want to) and not get the book.

There is also a full character section with description but also links to places in the book where they are involved.

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On 5/2/2021 at 5:30 PM, Umbelina said:

I explained above.  Baby Nicole became a major news story, has to go into hiding soon.  She was the rallying cry on both sides of the issue (and the rest is above.)

We'll see. I'm not convinced that they can dig out of the hole that the Angel Flight causes. Its also just one of several points of difference. Book Lydia's background totally makes the idea that Book Lydia is secretly harboring rebellion, TV Lydia in contrast seems to like her work a bit too much. Hannah/Agnes is maybe eleven on the tv show - they're a lil wishy washy on times but the kid was in kindergarten maybe first grade when the balloon went up, its five years later and we're a couple years before she's due to menstruate and be eligible for marriage.

I also think diverging from the books isn't necessarily a bad thing. Luke wasn't a real character in the book, he was June's husband and probably dead and that was that. Like likewise Emily/OfGlen in the book was just one of many victims but on the show is a rather fascinating character with a cool background and history. Book Jeanine was a bland cipher, crazy and bitchy but not exactly significant. The Waterfords are different on the show - and at times more nuanced. 

But the big reason I don't see the show following the books that closely is that the second book never gets into June until the end, and June is the main character of the show and we're going to see June as a bad ass for at least this season and next, and I don't see a time jump happening any time soon. 

But we'll see - I can certainly be wrong.

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1 hour ago, EllaWycliffe said:

We'll see. I'm not convinced that they can dig out of the hole that the Angel Flight causes. Its also just one of several points of difference.

That's one thing that I think fits in perfectly.

The entire fallout from that flight, as well as Baby Nicole's celebrity custody fight between the USA and Canada SHOULD, if they are following Testaments, fit in perfectly with all the rest.

  1. June's Fame (or infamy as the greatest traitor or biggest hero) making her the most wanted in Gilead.
  2. The threat of war from the USA on Canada causing Baby Nicole to go on the run and into hiding.
  3. Canada will, and other countries will follow, stop accepting refugees at all, and may indeed start shipping them back to Gilead.  
  4. Emily, unwilling to be shipped back to Gilead, becomes "Ada" and a freedom fighter, communicating with Mayday in the USA held areas of Gilead, and with Nicole and her caregivers (Moira and Luke?) in Canada.
  5. As fallout from #3, more and more people will start fighting Gilead, rather than simply trying to escape it.
  6. Gilead eventually crumbles from inside, not out.  Nicole/Jade carries the evidence out in her tattoo, after becoming a Pearl Girl.  Aunt Lydia finally beat them all, then kills herself.  
  7. Gilead collapses.
  8. The fam reunites.
Edited by Umbelina · Reason: added the Ada/Emily stuff
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Thats one scenario and I don't disagree that it could happen* but shows that have source material often go far afield. The Walking Dead followed the comics except where it doesn't :). Handmaid's Tale seems to have a similar method. After all, the book never showed June spending a few months hiding in an old office building, Serena didn't lose a finger for protesting about girls reading, and there was never a Commander Lawrence. There was never an escape for Moira in the books. These are things already different. 

There's other stories that could be told. Call me crazy but wouldn't Agnes be a lovely propaganda tool as a young Wife with a happy marriage etc speaking out against her rebel mother? Perhaps even really believing she's better off in Gilead? Wouldn't that be a slap to June? That's just an example of a direction they could go in that is not from the book but in keeping with the worldverse.

*I disagree on Luke and Moira taking the role of Nicole's parents as the book depiction was of a married couple in the resistance who raised Nicole as their own. First, Nicole as a pretty blonde blue eyed child isn't likely to buy that she's the product of two black parents. Second, I don't see Moira or Luke willing to live a lie where they pretend to be married even though Moira is gay and Luke is still married to June.

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3 hours ago, EllaWycliffe said:

*I disagree on Luke and Moira taking the role of Nicole's parents as the book depiction was of a married couple in the resistance who raised Nicole as their own. First, Nicole as a pretty blonde blue eyed child isn't likely to buy that she's the product of two black parents. Second, I don't see Moira or Luke willing to live a lie where they pretend to be married even though Moira is gay and Luke is still married to June.

It would keep them on screen.  They wouldn't pretend to be parents, but I don't think the show will just kill them off, and I think both actors would prefer to keep working.

3 hours ago, EllaWycliffe said:

Thats one scenario and I don't disagree that it could happen* but shows that have source material often go far afield. The Walking Dead followed the comics except where it doesn't :). Handmaid's Tale seems to have a similar method. After all, the book never showed June spending a few months hiding in an old office building, Serena didn't lose a finger for protesting about girls reading, and there was never a Commander Lawrence. There was never an escape for Moira in the books. These are things already different. 

Yes, but back then, they were working with a very vague novel about one woman's experience and some afternotes.

They also wanted a diverse cast, so bumped up Moira's part, made her black, and made June's husband black as well.

So, yes, now the show needs to do several things.  Keep actors working.  Build in all that's come before to something which will make sense and yet still incorporate both the additional stories they've added AND a great writers vision for the continuation of June's story.

They have that now in Testaments.

They also made June part of Mayday long ago, so I'm pretty sure they were given a head's up by Atwood about that a very long time ago.  Possibly even about Lydia (less sure of that, but she was given some tender moments, and she DOES seem to be the one that is constantly saving June from death.

I don't believe they will throw out Atwood's plot and resolution.  At all.

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One of my biggest “Why” questions was answered by this book:  why didn’t more women escape?

Illiteracy and the lack of maps must have played a big part in women feeling there was nowhere to go.  You can’t go somewhere if you don’t know where you are, or where anything is.

I also liked Lydia being a judge in the before times.  It just felt right for some reason, and I’m glad Atwood ignored the show.

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6 hours ago, Umbelina said:

Keep actors working. 

This really shouldn't be a consideration if they are planning to follow the books. It literally doesn't make any sense in this case. Luke and to a lesser extent are VERY well known in the public as refugees who speak out against Gilead. They're the last people that Nicole should be "hiding with". They're well known and they're obviously not going to pass as her biological parents. 

I understand the urge to keep actors and I suspect we'll see some plots designed to do just that, but thats also why I think we'll see this veer from the Testaments a bit. As I said, we'll see. It's not a particularly loyal adaption already and I have no expectation that will change. I just point out that  keeping certain actors working is at odds with following the book. As I recall, Moira in the books never made it out of Gilead.

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6 hours ago, EllaWycliffe said:

It's not a particularly loyal adaption already and I have no expectation that will change. I just point out that  keeping certain actors working is at odds with following the book. As I recall, Moira in the books never made it out of Gilead.

I think it's pretty loyal, except for minor characters who really don't matter to the overall plot being given larger stories to illustrate other sides areas of Gilead.  Offred didn't give details about other handmaids or her husband because she was trying to protect them.  The show adding details and giving other characters things to do will have nothing to do with the overall plot points, they are just showing us June and others journey on the way.  

The main points are in that 1, 2, 3 above.  I don't think any of that will change, now what we may do to get there?  Certainly has leeway.  The first book was from only one point of view.  The second book is from three points of view.  Still, June is alive and fighting for the USA, and the 3 voices all talk or think of her.  So we'll probably see what June is doing, and how she reacts to her daughters deeds, instead of just hear about them.

Just as, in the first book we SEE the colonies, not just hear about them, and it's not "all Offred all the time" which would be boring fast, instead we see other characters away from her interacting.  Serena and wives, flashbacks of plotting between commanders, the visit to Boston, negotiations with Canada, Luke and Moira and Emily's lives now, etc.  So yes, it's different than what we read in the first book, but it's not different in tone, and there are talks of escape, and Mayday.  They didn't really change, they expanded.

Right now everyone who hasn't read the books is completely missing that Aunt Lydia is the one that keeps saving June from death (when June doesn't save herself.)  In Testaments Lydia wants June alive, for her own purposes, it's not "plot armor" it's actually plot, nearly a mystery story, but no one has guessed that Lydia is Mayday Bigtime.

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Before this season began.

They are seeing the connection with Testaments as well, so I don't think they are allowed in regular media threads.  They have a video for each episode.

 

Edited by Umbelina

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Lydia's position threatened!  Lydia blackmailing a Commander!  (I figured they would sub in Lawrence for Judd, the whole one very young wife after another as he killed them was just too icky.)  Another Aunt threatening Lydia's power!

"I have testaments to your many abuses of power."  

We are getting there guys!

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So, obviously Lawrence is taking the role of the pedophile wife murderer Judd.

Lydia fight for her life, using blackmail to do it, with help from her fellow survivor Lawrence.  AND finally!  New Aunts, powerful Aunts for Lydia to scam and beat down on her ever lasting quest for survival and power.

Chicago and June fighting there.  I think we are off and running on Testaments now!

Edited by Umbelina · Reason: her, not his, oopsie

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3 minutes ago, Umbelina said:

So, obviously Lawrence is taking the role of the pedophile wife murderer Judd.

I mean sure, the somewhat asshole, somewhat nice Commander who arranges for his Handmaid, and later 86 children to escape Gilead is a great line up with the pedofile wife murderer who never questioned Gilead's methods. 

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38 minutes ago, EllaWycliffe said:

I mean sure, the somewhat asshole, somewhat nice Commander who arranges for his Handmaid, and later 86 children to escape Gilead is a great line up with the pedofile wife murderer who never questioned Gilead's methods. 

Well, he could be the one, it could always be another Commander Lydia blackmails/works with.

I really didn't want the pedophile murderer story anyway, this show is dark enough.

Still, Lawrence made his economic deal, sacrificing June's life to do it.  So he's still an asshole.

Also he didn't care about the kids getting out, he was trying to get his wife out.

ETA, Nah, I think Judd will be replaced by Lawrence, the main architect of Gilead.  However, Lydia blackmails and tricks all kinds of people including other handmaids, commanders, and wives, so this should be getting a lot more fun.

ETA

Mostly though, the reality is they aren't going to waste an actor like Bradley Whitford, and I don't think they should.  Small nod to the demands of TV, changing a story that doesn't change any outcomes on the show/book.

Edited by Umbelina · Reason: ETAs
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8 hours ago, Umbelina said:

Mostly though, the reality is they aren't going to waste an actor like Bradley Whitford, and I don't think they should.  Small nod to the demands of TV, changing a story that doesn't change any outcomes on the show/book.

Except that it quite literally makes no sense for Aunt Lydia to be worried that Agnes will be murdered after rape by Lawrence...The whole impetus behind Agnes joining the Aunts was that her parents were marrying her to the pedofile murderer.

If this is the case, Handmaid's Tale is making the mistake a lot of shows make - falling in love with the actor and keeping them around long past the point where the story makes sense. Sorry, can't buy Lawrence being the scary terror of child brides.

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9 hours ago, Umbelina said:

ETA, Nah, I think Judd will be replaced by Lawrence, the main architect of Gilead.  However, Lydia blackmails and tricks all kinds of people including other handmaids, commanders, and wives, so this should be getting a lot more fun.

On the series, Lawrence may be one of the architects of Gilead but, status-wise, he's a Commander rather than a High Commander. When we meet him, he seems to have basically been put out to pasture. He has the title of Commander, and is entitled to a Handmaid, in recognition of his past contributions, but he seems to be at least semi-retired. He's consulted with on occasion, but he doesn't have day job like Fred.

Judd is likely to be introduced as a High Commander, or at least a Commander in a leading role. He could be presented as another of the architects of Gilead, and a foil to Lawrence, in the sense that instead of taking a step back, he has capitalized on his role and entrenched himself in a position of power.

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9 hours ago, Umbelina said:

 

Mostly though, the reality is they aren't going to waste an actor like Bradley Whitford, and I don't think they should.  Small nod to the demands of TV, changing a story that doesn't change any outcomes on the show/book.

Tell that to Chris Meloni. 

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8 hours ago, EllaWycliffe said:

Except that it quite literally makes no sense for Aunt Lydia to be worried that Agnes will be murdered after rape by Lawrence...The whole impetus behind Agnes joining the Aunts was that her parents were marrying her to the pedofile murderer.

If this is the case, Handmaid's Tale is making the mistake a lot of shows make - falling in love with the actor and keeping them around long past the point where the story makes sense. Sorry, can't buy Lawrence being the scary terror of child brides.

They might introduce Judd as a minor character, but the Agnes/Hannah threat of being killed could easily be handled without making Judd a major character.  Or we may be lucky and get another powerhouse actor on screen for some scenes.  I just think the majority of the wheeling and dealing will happen with Lawrence.

I could easily be wrong.

They could also add a different threat to Agnes.

7 hours ago, ReganX said:

On the series, Lawrence may be one of the architects of Gilead but, status-wise, he's a Commander rather than a High Commander. When we meet him, he seems to have basically been put out to pasture. He has the title of Commander, and is entitled to a Handmaid, in recognition of his past contributions, but he seems to be at least semi-retired. He's consulted with on occasion, but he doesn't have day job like Fred.

Judd is likely to be introduced as a High Commander, or at least a Commander in a leading role. He could be presented as another of the architects of Gilead, and a foil to Lawrence, in the sense that instead of taking a step back, he has capitalized on his role and entrenched himself in a position of power.

Good thought.  Lydia blackmails a lot of people though, so Lawrence may just be one of them.  I'm looking forward to her taking down Aunts, Wives, and Commanders, instead of just picking on handmaids constantly.

Although, I wouldn't count Lawrence out at working his way up to the top again, especially with Lydia's help.

6 hours ago, mamadrama said:

Tell that to Chris Meloni. 

I think he probably took this as a short term gig.  🤑  I think he was outstanding in this role, but in general, I haven't cared for him much.

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On 5/4/2021 at 4:43 PM, Umbelina said:

Canada will, and other countries will follow, stop accepting refugees at all, and may indeed start shipping them back to Gilead.  

I wonder if that's what looked like wire cages topped with bob wire in the preview of episode 6, VOWS is about?

Holy heck, could Canada have already decided not to accept new refugees from Gilead?

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6 hours ago, Umbelina said:

I wonder if that's what looked like wire cages topped with bob wire in the preview of episode 6, VOWS is about?

Holy heck, could Canada have already decided not to accept new refugees from Gilead?

This happens a lot in countries at war and it's generally on the fighting side's border. Gilead would do their best to keep people in or less they'd have a mass exodus. If they can get out then they can claim asylum in Canada, but they're going to make it as hard as possible. Canada can't do anything to help them until they cross over the border, but Gilead is going to do their damndest to make sure that won't happen. The people who want to escape probably have stories to tell. They don't want those to get out.

There were similar walls of barb wire in various places in Bosnia. Snipers in Sarajevo would shoot at people trying to cross the airport. Even if you were able to get past the barb wire few people actually made it to safety. All the U.N., who were there with foreign aid, could do was watch. Some of the former communist countries, like the Czech Republic, had them too.

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11 hours ago, Umbelina said:

Good thought.  Lydia blackmails a lot of people though, so Lawrence may just be one of them.  I'm looking forward to her taking down Aunts, Wives, and Commanders, instead of just picking on handmaids constantly.

Aunt Lydia is interesting to me this season because she seems to have had a shift in attitude towards the established order of Gilead but continues to believe in the role of Handmaids, and I don't know how the two will mesh going forward.

I could see a growing distrust of the Commanders (and men in general) and a realization that Handmaids need to be protected leading to her making greater use of her blackmail information. If a Handmaid in June's position in Season One, invited to spend time alone with her Commander and fearful of saying "no", truly can confide in Aunt Lydia and be supported rather than blamed or punished, it gives her another source of information about the inner workings of the various households.

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I really don’t care if Testaments lines up with the TV show.  They’re allowed to be different, and I can enjoy both.

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