We have learned SO much in Birth Day. Not just about the characters backstories, we also learned about the world. We learned that Anchorage is now the capital, and that the flag has only two stars. But what do these stars represent? Some questions were answered, some history was given, but ‘Birth Day’ still left us with many questions.
In ‘Birth Day’, we are told more about Ofglen and Ofwarren’s past than ever before. We see the story of the birth of Ofwarren’s daughter, which teaches us how children were already heralded as comming messiahs. We also find out that Ofglen was a lecturer in cellular biology. Ofwarren’s response teaches us that college professors were sent to the colonies, aka to be worked to death in a chemical wasteland. Still, we are left wondering what caused this chemical wasteland? And where are these colonies?
A sense of rebellion is found in this episode. “You can join us”, said Ofwarren. The moment in which an overarching theme is revealed. The tension rises, the fear is at an all time high. Ofwarren sums it up the best. “Now there has to be an us, because now, there is a them”
If you say you didn’t burst out laughing at the wives chanting “breath”, you’re probably a liar. It was the most insane visual, a woman who was neither in labor nor pregnant, pretending to give birth. This moment was only made stranger by her positioning above Janine while she was in labor. We can understand that the ritual is meant to simulate childbirth so the wife feels more involved as the mother, but it is none less ridiculous all the same.
The moment the child is born, Janine becomes nothing more than a handmaiden once more. She is no longer someone to celebrate, she is no longer a prize. The child is. And Janine is left to deal with her postpartum emotions alone, while the wife is celebrated and heralded as the new mother. Afterword, we discover she is treated more like cattle than a mother. The child is brought to her for nursing purposes, but we can only assume this is the only contact she is allowed.
Make no mistake, the game of Scrabble that the Commander and Ofwarren play in this is more taboo than any sexual exploit. Women are not allowed to read, let alone spell. Handmaidens especially are not given any whims of fancy, so to be allowed to play a game that involves wit and intelligence… it is equally dangerous as it is exciting.
“Don’t You (Forget About Me)” to end Birth Day had me on my feet. If Shonda Rhimes has taught me anything, it’s that musical background is EVERYTHING. This song was the perfect choice. It portrayed Ofwarrens’ win in the game, her self realization in her own power… and to cut it off suddenly with Ofglen’s (Well… the first Ofglen) disappearance, also showed her shock. This episode of The Handmaiden’s Tale gave us hope, but not too much. I am more than intrigued to see where this next episode goes.
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Shannon has a degree in Sociology and Women's Studies from the University of Northern Colorado, where she composed her award winning and nationally presented senior thesis titled "Behind the Shield and Under the Sheets: Sex and Sexuality in a Live Action Role Playing Game"
If this is not a statement of her nerdy feminism, what more could there be?
Follow her bookiness on GoodReads www.goodreads.com/novel_shenanigans
Latest posts by Shannon Bee (see all)
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