In Handmaid's Tale, there's abuse that will scare you stiff: Schneller
There’s a lot of scary stuff in this series, but one scene in particular gives real-world chills.
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The Show: The Handmaid’s Tale, Season 1, Episode 8 (Bravo)
The Moment: Playing dress-up
The Commander (Joseph Fiennes) is waiting for Offred (Elisabeth Moss) in her room. “How’s my favourite little one this evening?” he asks, so silkily it’s sickening.
She freezes. He controls every aspect of her life. She has to be careful. “Fine, thank you,” she replies evenly.
“Up for some excitement?” he asks. She starts to question what. He cuts her off with a condescending smile. “No guessing,” he says.
He shaves her legs (she’s not allowed razors). “Doesn’t that feel nice?” he asks. “Yes,” she replies.
He hands her a makeup bag and watches her do her face. He hands her a beaded dress and silver stilettos. “I had to guess the size,” he says.
She puts on the dress. He looks her over. “Just one thing,” he says. He takes down her hair. He smells it. He arranges it on her shoulder. The way he likes it.
She tries one more question: “Where are we going?”
He chides her: “You don’t want me to spoil the surprise, do you?”
There’s a lot of scary stuff in this series, about a dystopia where murderous men force women to be their birthing slaves, but this scene gave me real-world chills.
He has all the power. She’s stiff with fear, pretending to like it as he purrs at and pets her. He acts like he’s being affectionate, when really he’s denying her any agency, playing with her like she’s a doll.
Forget the sci-fi premise. This scene is about abuse. And versions of it play out every day.
In Focus: Richard Crouse