“What is Mayday?” Review of season 4 episode 4 of The Handmaids’ Tale (spoilers):

June trying to make Janine realize that their friends are dead

Season 4 episode 4, of The Handmaids tale entitled “milk” was pretty calm. Nothing too suspenseful, everything However we got to go into a character’s past which I was excited to know about. And Just like the week before, after the gym I Sofritas burrito bowl with chips from Chipotle. Came back home and made me a limoncello mojitio. Sat back and watched episode 4, “Milk”.

The reason why this episode is entitled milk is because it is about June and Janine traveling to Chicago after jumping a train car filled with milk. Most of the scenes that show Janine and June feature them in this freezing train car drenched in milk. So Janine and June pretty much go at each other in the milk car. Janine is furious at June for telling the Eyes the location of the Handmaids. June responds back to her saying that she should’ve left her in Boston. Both are sad over the fact they lost their friends. Then we cut to Rita’s Life in Canada.

Not much is known about Rita’s Life Pre-Gilead. We only know that she had a son who was a soldier that died but we don’t know which side he was fighting on. We now know that she had a sister and a nephew that still might be in Gilead since Moira Confirmed that there isn’t any record of them being in a refugee camp in Canada. Rita is one of those unassuming characters. Like Everyone in Gilead, we are not sure who to trust. Rita comes off as somewhat snarky in the first season, we are not sure if she is pro-Gilead or against it, but we do know she is just trying to survive. In the second season we learned that Rita, is willing to take risks as she helped bring baby Nicole-holly to Canada. Because of this, June knows she can trust Rita with the plan to take 86 children to Canada.

In this Episode, we see Rita making bread. What I noticed about this scene was the lighting. Typically, when they show scenes in Canada or the past, it’s not too dark, its brighter, it shows the sign of freedom and almost refreshing. However, in this scene in Canada it was almost reminiscent of Rita’s life in Gilead, dark with only natural lighting coming from the sunlight. I believe the directors did this to show that although Rita is free in Canada, Gilead is still apart of her. Moira also tells her that Serena wants to see her. She almost didn’t go to see Serena, but I believe Moira convinced her, by telling her she’ll get closure.

Rita in the kitchen in Canada. Making bread in dark lighting.

When visiting Serena, she actually doesn’t tell her off. She’s kind to her, still referring to her as “Ma’am” out of respect. Serena reveals to Rita that she is pregnant with a baby boy and unfortunately that boy belongs to Fred. Serena doesn’t want Fred to know that she is pregnant. One thing I noticed about this scene, was Serena referring to her as “my sweet Rita”, which I felt was condescending. She doesn’t apologize for her treatment towards Rita, almost as if she wants something out of Rita. Which if you watched episode 11 of season three of handmaids tale, Rita does mention that Serena-Joy always acts nice when she has something up her sleeve. Then near the end of the episode, we find out that Serena wants Rita to testify for her at trial. With class, Rita gets her revenge. She goes against Serena, and tells her husband, Fred, that Serena is pregnant by showing the picture of Serena’s Sonogram. Thus letting the audience know that she is not a friend to the Waterfords.

Then her part in the episode ends with her eating sushi and snapped peas that she probably bought from a restaurant near by. A luxury that Gilead doesn’t have. This meal pretty much symbolized what we take for granted. Because Rita had to cook all the time. There was no off day for her and in Gilead, you aren’t really given a choice of what you want to eat. So seeing her eat sushi, the writers are telling us that she is no longer a Martha and she doesn’t have to cook.

Noticed how the lighting is different here then in the firs scene with Rita in this episode. It’s brighter meaning although Gilead will always be with her she is now a free woman that doesn’t take orders.

I think we underestimated Janine, but we must understand that Janine is a victim of Trauma. Sometimes with Trauma, people can go back to a Child-like state. And that is pretty much what happened to Janine. She went through the trauma of loosing her son, the trauma of being gang-raped, the trauma of losing an eye, then being blamed for her sexual abuse. During the indoctrination of the handmaids we noticed that Janine tried to be tough but then was broken down by aunt Lydia. However, Janine was tired of people treating her like a little kid

Janine at Planned Parenthood before Gilead.

Although she is still a little kooky, you can see that Janine is getting back to who she was before Gilead. In this episode we were blessed with a small background to what Janine’s life was like pre-Gilead. She was a waitress at Denny’s living in a Attic apartment with her son Caleb. She was a single mother who found out she was pregnant with another child. She goes to a Clinic disguised as an abortion clinic but this is actually a center that discourages and shames women from having an abortion. This center wasn’t something that the writers thought up to show that Gilead was already in the making, these centers do exist in the United States and they are called pregnancy crisis centers. They are all over the United States and the main goal is to have woman carry their pregnancy to full term. In fact, in some states doctors are legally obligated to guilt a pregnant person into not getting an abortion.

Also in the last scene of Janine’s flashback I noticed that Janine was wearing a pair of black Nike Air Force one’s. Which, if you follow internet memes or street or sneakerhead culture, you’ll know when someone is wearing a pair of Black AF1’s, it means that the person wearing them is a tough person, a fighter. Which if you know how hard Janine had it before and during Gilead, you’ll know she’s been through it. Not sure if the show producers, writers or costume designer, knew what they were doing but I thought that those choice in shoes was interesting and I’m not even a sneakerhead.

June and Janine in Chicago.

We then follow June and Janine into the ruins of Chicago and meet the leader of the rebel Resistance, a man who goes by Steve. Steve is shocked at the state of the country. He says he can’t fathom that the United States has sex slaves. June then corrects him, saying that it isn’t the United States anymore, it’s Gilead. They learn about the dire state the rebels are in. Although they are winning, resources are scarce. In fact, Steve tells them that they haven’t had anything coming to them in weeks.

Steve, then ask for “payment”, meaning that he wants some sexual favor from either June or Janine. June sacrifices herself to repay Steve. Nothing comes of it, Steve reassures June that she doesn’t have to go through it if she doesn’t want to and tells her to go. This doesn’t mean that Steve is a hero and he’s far from a feminist, he’s just in denial of the current state of the country. Before leaving June ask, “this isn’t Mayday is it?”, and Steve responds with something different than “no”. In response to June’s question he asked “what is Mayday?” This tells us that, even though Gilead is within the United States, they still don’t know what’s going on. Although June and Janine found refuge in a group of resistance fighters, Mayday is something that is in Gilead and they are truly there alone.

June has come far in the series, in the first episode her goal was to follow orders and stay alive. She didn’t know if she could trust Emily just yet because you don’t know who is for or against Gilead, however when she learns of the resistance she wants in. In season 2, her goal was to get out of Gilead with her new born baby but at the end, she gives the baby to Emily and stays to find Hannah so they can both get out of Gilead. In the last episode of season 3, she accomplishes her plan to bring the stolen children of handmaids to Canada. After this, we notice that June is trying not to get caught. However, she is still trying fight against Gilead. She doesn’t really have a plan anymore. Janine, who was hard on her in the beginning of the episode, realizes in the end that June is trying. Even though June pretty much volunteered  to be a leader, it was something she was thrown into. June is only in this fight for Hannah, like a mothers’ love she’ll sacrifice herself in order for Hannah to get out of Gilead.

Right now we can only wait to see what happens in the next episode.

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