June is alive but facing new challenges in the latest season of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’
I marvelled over the visually stunning opening of the fourth season of the dystopian tragedy, “The Handmaid’s Tale”.
This series is shot so beautifully that I felt guilty watching it on my small screen.
Now a cultural phenomenon, fans were elated to learn that June’s (Elisabeth Moss) battle to escape Gilead wasn’t in vain.
But new challenges await her this season. And her yearning for justice and revenge becomes somewhat destructive to a relationship she holds dear.
Based on Margaret Atwood’s critically-acclaimed 1985 novel, “The Handmaid’s Tale” has been on an award-winning streak with an impressive 75 awards in the bag, to date.
Several characters return this season.
And Ann Dowd, who plays Aunt Lydia, softened a lot in the third season.
When she was first introduced, she displayed draconian traits as the charge of the handmaids.
On the change in her character’s disposition, Dowd admitted: “That is the fight inside of her.
“I have my views, though I am sure Margaret Atwood, the author of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’, and Bruce Miller, our showrunner, would disagree. But I have come to know her this fourth year.
“Gilead is certainly not in an optimal position, with the walls that keep it alive falling. The outlook for Gilead is not good.
“Lydia is no fool and does what she must to survive, which is to maintain a position of seniority. Commanders, for example, can afford to break the rules all the time, which is a testament to their power.
“Lydia deals with the struggle of her love of Janine (Madeline Brewer) and June, knowing that siding with them could put her in a dangerous position. Lydia knows she has the upper hand in her survival and understands that if she wants her life to continue, she will need to tell the lie.”
She continued: “The truth of the matter is that Lydia admires June for her fearlessness but understands that such recklessness could cost her life.
“As a result, Lydia develops a finely tuned independent filter, which she utilizes to keep herself and those she cares about alive.”
This season, Lydia finds herself locked in with Commander Joseph Lawrence (Bradley Whitford) and June.
She shared: “I love Bradley; he’s so good. His disrespect of June was infuriating, and though Lydia could level him with two sentences, she cannot do this in the hierarchy.
“In this season, Lydia walks the plank and she realizes that she has leverage with Lawrence.
“Lydia goes out of her comfort zone and behaves in a way with the commander that we have never seen before.”
Lydia’s fondness for June lies strongly in her seeing much of herself in June.
The sexagenarian actress explained: “June is her twin. I say this because June is the person Lydia would want to be.
“June’s courage, willingness to see what is, and choice of principle over safety, is Lydia in my opinion.
“Though Lydia may not be consciously aware of this similarity, she is deeply thrilled and astonished at the risks that June takes.
“Lydia wishes that she could do the same, and in this season she does, and it is brilliant.”
And she couldn’t stop singing the praises of Moss, who also wears the hat of a director.
“She is fantastic. Because we are close as colleagues and as friends, her understanding of Lydia allows her to suggest other ways to look at the character.
“She always had new thoughts, and if I was struggling to understand something, she would always dig it out.
“Elisabeth is a terrific leader, and she sets a great example.
“Seeing her step out of her leadership role and into some of these brutal scenes was truly extraordinary.”
Despite the series being shot during Covid-19, Dowd says the level of care on the set was out of this world.
Fans will also witness a deeper bond between Lydia and Janine.
Oh, before I forget, child star McKenna Grace joins the cast as the teenager wife of a much older commander.
The first three episodes of “The Handmaid’s Tale” is currently streaming on Showmax. A new episode will drop every Monday.