Season 1, Episode 7: The Other Side
We spend the majority of this episode in flashback, not only with the period after June and Lucas are separated, but the process of getting them to that scene in the woods that opened the series. Lucas, in fact, is the main protagonist in this episode and we see the post-Gilead world through his eyes. A fascinating male respite in the midst of an entirely female POV, there’s a lot to discuss so let’s crack on. (Playing catch-up? Here's episode 6.)
EH: Well, I thought up until this point there hadn’t been as much backstory as I would have liked (I am a historian by trade, and thrive on context). It all felt as if we were thrown into this world and were supposed to remain as confused and as lost as Offred/June, which I appreciate as a storytelling mechanism, but boy was I glad to have a flashback episode. I think for me, the most interesting part were the flashbacks to discussions with June and Moira as the new regime starts to take hold in Gilead/America. We’ve spent so much time focusing on the current plight of women, more specifically handmaid’s in contemporary Gilead, but as we’ve discussed, from the very emotionally charged perspective of Offred.
As we delve further into levels of complictness, it was intriguing to see how Lucas was portrayed, and how he reacted to the increasing restrictions placed on women in this new society. Eventually he realizes that he cannot raise his daughter, nor expect his wife, to live in this world, and they begin their convoluted escape. I think for me, though there wasn’t as much content in this episode, in terms of our focus, I found the visuals really powerful.
What struck you most about these opening scenes? Did you notice anything different in the presentation because it was from a male perspective?
KD: What I noticed the most was that it was centered around his responsibility to his wife and daughter. We had long moments of him just looking at them, as well as his whole vibe of protectiveness of them. We’re shown pretty quickly that Lucas is willing to die for those two, but that he makes the ultimately harder decision of living in hope of finding them again.
I didn’t love this episode. While I was thankful for context and some explanations - it was almost a tease for me. As it didn’t answer all of my questions, I was frustrated that it covered story we already knew. I didn’t need any of that time in the cabin, for example, or maybe just a few seconds. What I wanted to know was more about the bodies in the churches! The Gilead version of Christianity is warped and I am one million percent positive that pastors and laypeople would have fought in the war. I want to know about them, about how long this ‘revolution’ took, about the physical boundaries of Gilead.
But when we got to the end, and the hallway of missing persons in Little America, and that moment in the embassy where he reads June’s note… I was grateful we were getting Lucas’ perspective. I was grateful that this piece of the gender stereotype, the male protecting and providing for females, was clearly baked into Lucas and was getting activated. Providing and protecting, for him, clearly means having June and Hannah’s backs at all times, even in the loss of hope, even in Gilead and Canada, he will always believe in them, always love them, always cherish them. We needed that reminder that all men are not the Commander, nor are all men Nick. Lucases are still present in this world and this world is in sore need of them.
In terms of storytelling, I can tell this is a set piece episode. There’s only three episodes left, so we have to be moving to checkmate. The outside world is invading June’s Gilead and I could not be more ready to see where this goes next.
EH: I agree, 100%. We all needed the reminder that life goes on outside of Gilead, and that there are men whose primary aim is to protect women and not control them (or their bodies). Not the best filler episode, but certainly setting us up for a cracker final three.