- Now five seasons in with plans to end after the sixth and final season, The Handmaid’s Tale continues to shock and terrify fans as they watch the totalitarian society of Gilead continue its grip, and even plan to expand. With June now having escaped its clutches, the after-effects stick with her, as does her desperation to be reunited with her daughter. As the seasons continue, many elements of the show still leave fans scratching their heads.
In The Handmaid’s Tale, the dystopian society of Gilead sees women stripped of all their rights. Handmaids, women who are fertile, are forced to bear children for the high-ranking men and women of Gilead, but everyone suffers beneath this extremist theocracy. It paints a terrifying picture as viewers see women being tortured and raped, people getting hanged in the streets, and oppression and violence aimed at nearly everyone in the country.
But while many things in the fictional society in the series at least subscribe to an obvious and consistent internal logic, some things don’t make much sense.
Updated on October 12, 2022 by Christine Persaud:
Now five seasons in with plans to end after the sixth and final season, The Handmaid’s Tale continues to shock and terrify fans as they watch the totalitarian society of Gilead continue its grip, and even plan to expand. With June now having escaped its clutches, the after-effects stick with her, as does her desperation to be reunited with her daughter. As the seasons continue, many elements of the show still leave fans scratching their heads.
June Was Never Hanged
June has done pretty much everything under the sun and then some, to go against Gilead. Less serious infractions have resulted in other people losing eyes and limbs, being sent to the Colonies, being sent to Jezebels, and have even ended with brutal executions. Yet while June was there, she got off every time with nothing more than a slap on the wrist, a stern look and words from Aunt Lydia, and maybe a lashing or two.
Clearly, she’s the main character of the series and has the plot armor that comes with it, and she is very cunning, clever, and connected. But June seems to have escaped death one too many times whereas others have merely done a fraction of what she has and have suffered dire consequences.
The Colonies Exist And No One Has Saved These Girls
Other nations might not be fully aware of what goes on in Gilead, including the torture and maiming. Some might even turn a blind eye because they get something out of it. They also might not be able to do anything about it anyway since the society is governed on its own. But the Colonies seem like something that would capture the attention of other nations and spark intervention.
Essentially barren places that are totally contaminated with radioactive waste, women are sent there as Gilead’s form of jail, where they serve out a life sentence of hard labor. Eventually, the terrible conditions likely kill them. Supposedly located nearby the Mexican border, in states like Texas, why hasn’t anyone in power spoken up about the injustice of the situation or done anything to rescue the prisoners? It’s for this reason that Ambassador Castillo is ranked among the most villainous characters on The Handmaid’s Tale.
Men Aren’t Blamed For The Fertility Issues
In Gilead, it seems to be widely assumed that the fertility issues are coming from the women. Although blaming women for all of the failings of society is certainly on-brand for the country, it’s bizarre that they don’t even look into the issue more deeply in secret given that one of Gilead’s only selling points is its babies.
As Tuello told Serena at one point, their investigations into the issue seem to indicate problems originating with the men, so given that Gilead is willing to acquire babies by any means necessary, it’s confusing that they don’t up their chances by figuring out which men are truly fertile as well.
Men Freely Visit Jezebels Without The Eyes Reporting Them
If acts like infidelity are so frowned upon, and this is exactly why men, including Commanders, visit Jezebels in secret, how do they get away with it while still claiming to staunchly follow Gilead’s rules and beliefs? It goes against the very fiber of what Gilead is about. Yet everyone is fine with men of power visiting prostitutes in a clandestine location.
Wouldn’t the Eyes, charged with finding those who commit sins, see these things going on and report the Commanders? Or does infidelity not count when it comes to Jezebels? Considering the incredibly harsh punishment that Commander Putnam just suffered for raping Esther outside of a ceremony, it’s surprising that the chasm between punishments for infidelity is so vast.
Moira’s Effortless Escape
While fans were happy that Moira – one of the many characters from The Handmaid’s Tale who almost died but didn’t – safely escaped and made it to Canada, it’s unclear how she managed to do it and get all the way there without being intercepted given how tight security is.
It’s possible that, since she was working as a Jezebel at the time, she may have already been outside the checkpoints and thus had a clear path to escape. It has also been speculated that perhaps since Moira was a Jezebel, women who were supposed to be kept secret, no one could really put out an alert to locate her since she wasn’t supposed to exist in the first place. Nonetheless, her escape after so many years seemed to occur far too easily and it would have helped if the show offered an explanation.
Initially No Fertility Issues in Canada
While the latest seasons suggests that Canadians are experiencing similar fertility issues given that so many women have come out in support of Serena, the Canadian government was seemingly dealing with it in stride.
One of Serena’s plans to promote Gilead is to promote the idea under the guise of a fertility clinic, presumably with the option of using handmaids as one they hope Canadians will find viable over others like in vitro or adoption. But their reaction to the crisis seems minor in comparison to a country like Mexico, which was willing to actively trade with Gilead in exchange for fertile women.
No One Has A Boston Accent
Perhaps enough time has passed and citizens of Gilead have been forced to re-train their voices. But given that the main location of the series is the city formerly known as Boston, why doesn’t anyone sport that very distinct Bostonian accent?
Of course, the obvious answer is that the actors are not from Boston and the show did not ask them to alter their speech patterns for the series. Still, it’s an oddity that the show never explained in-universe.
No Women Wear Glasses
It was clear after Emily escaped that she requires glasses. But why wasn’t she wearing them in Gilead? In fact, not a single woman is seen wearing eyeglasses, yet many men do. Why is this?
Are women forced to sport contact lenses? To remove anything that distracts from their face (minus the headwear that covers it, of course?) Are they simply left not being able to see properly? And if so, how do they get around without bumping into things, particularly for those who might have had very strong prescriptions? Reading glasses wouldn’t be necessary since they are forbidden to read anyway. But for a woman who requires glasses for distance, dealing with day-to-day without them, including having to perform various tasks, like grocery shopping, could have been a challenge.
Handmaids With Rings In Their Mouths
One of the most terrifying laws in The Handmaid’s Tale was one that led to handmaids whose mouths were wired shut by rings. But while the image is impactful, the questions it leaves behind are a bit of a plot hole.
For instance, how do they eat? A liquid diet is a possibility. But isn’t it a handmaid’s duty to bear children for barren women? This would require a healthy diet and eating more than just liquidized food. It doesn’t make sense that such a dramatic move would be taken to women who Gilead wants to keep in tip-top shape while in their child-bearing years.
Aunt Lydia’s Torture
Aunt Lydia truly believes that women have behaved badly and need to get back to their purpose of bearing children for powerful men to restore world order.
Yet she believes torture, maiming, and poking women with a cattle prod as though they are cattle is any better, or the right way to treat a human being. If she recognizes that children are precious, how can she treat these women who she believes have been chosen by god for fertility? How can she rationalize them as deserving such treatment when they are the ones who can bear these children? While Aunt Lydia shows signs of finally recognizing that she might have been going too far, her early actions remain questionable.
Emily Going Back To Gilead
The storyline of Emily returning to Gilead was only added because the actor who plays her, Alexis Bledel, decided to leave the show. While this was a logical way to explain her absence, it doesn’t make sense. After everything Emily went through, while she might not have been able to integrate easily back into her old life, going back seems like the last thing someone of her personality would do.
Fans would have more easily accepted that she checked herself into a facility to get help for her emotional trauma and PTSD, or even that she and her wife and son decided to move away somewhere else to get away from the memories. Going back to Gilead makes little sense, especially since she was so full of vengeance while there, with one of the highest kill counts from The Handmaid’s Tale.
June Getting Away With Killing Fred
June didn’t just get away with killing Fred, she also confessed to it and was told there was nothing that could be done about it anyone since the crime took place in “no man’s land.” Legally speaking, it’s a possibility. However, it seems as though she should have suffered some type of retribution for brutally murdering a man, cutting off his finger and mailing it, and hanging him to put on display, as both Gilead and Gilead’s international supporters seem like the type to go after her for such actions.
What’s more, authorities might have to wonder how he got there in the first place and potentially question people like Mark Tuello who was obviously involved. The murder seemed to be summed up far too easily.