‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Attempts to Bridge Distances in “Unknown Caller”

/Film | 6/19/2019 | Caroline Cao
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‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Attempts to Bridge Distances in “Unknown Caller”

With pouts flickering behind her self-assured facade, The Handmaid’s Tale‘s Yvonne Strahovski is good at raking pity for an egotistical privileged power-starved Serena Joy. For all her monstrous deeds to her Handmaid June, Serena Joy’s point of sympathy is her maternal love for baby Nichole because it plays to a universal understanding that maternal bonds are sacred and allows her to care for someone outside of her ego.

Attachment - Serena - Joy - Architect - Gilead

However, maternal attachment does not exempt Serena Joy from being an architect of the totalitarian Gilead. There are moments the series borders on over-sympathizing with Serena Joy, investing in her emotional turmoil, while not condoning how myopic her maternal reach is. While June (Elisabeth Moss) anticipated that coaxing Serena Joy back into power might help matters, perhaps re-stationing her in rule only made the Wife comfortable once again in Gilead.

It barely occurs to Serena Joy that June is mourning for baby Nichole too. There, “Unknown Caller” stretches the circumstances for two characters who never met to have a meeting. The Waterfords pressure June to contact Luke in Canada to arrange Serena Joy to see Nichole, who is now in arms of June’s husband Luke (O. T. Fagbenle) in Canada.

June - Luke - Serena - Joy - Entitlement

Before June is pressured into contacting Luke, she bites down on Serena Joy’s entitlement to see a child that she has essentially stolen from – and shared with – June. It matters **** to June that Serena Joy has grown softer toward June’s concerns. June gives one condition: “I want you to owe me.” June, with Moss holding a rigid stone-faced countenance, can feel no elation when speaking to her long-lost husband through the phone line because of the muddled affairs that lead to the contact.

Of course, looking into the eyes of the woman who held...
(Excerpt) Read more at: /Film
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