The Handmaid’s Tale: The Bridge

This post includes spoilers for “The Bridge” (Season 1, Episode 9) of The Handmaid’s Tale as well as for the book this show is based on. As usual, the link on the left has full summaries of all of the episodes that have aired so far. 

Wow, this week was intense! I think it’s my favorite episode yet in this series because of how beautifully everything is coming together.

I’m going to discuss “The Bridge”  by breaking it up into the experiences of certain characters. This is something I did a few weeks ago for “A Woman’s Choice,” and I think it’s a good way to gather my thoughts about everything since there were a lot of exciting and scary things happening.

Aunt Lydia, Ofwarren, and Angela

Aunt Lydia, the woman in the picture on the left who ran the Red Center where Offred and the other Handmaid’s were trained before they were sent out into the world, showed up again this week.

I’ve spent the last eight weeks not having any sympathy for Lydia at all. She has always come across to me as a true believer, and that makes her much scarier than she’d be if she were simply sadistic.

One of the things I’m hoping we get in season two is an exploration of her background. I want to know what could make an ordinary person cling so tightly to a belief system that they know is destroying people’s lives. This happens all of the time in real life, too. It wasn’t something that Margaret Atwood or the other writers had to make up to help the story flow. People behave that way sometimes for their entire lives without ever choosing – or being able to, if you don’t think it’s a choice – to ask hard questions about the things they see going on around them.

Will Aunt Lydia suffer this same fate? She’s a character that I like even less than I do Serena Joy or the Commander, but I still want to see if she ever wakes up and realizes how many lives she’s helped to destroy. Aunt Lydia was present when Ofwarren ceremoniously handed baby Angela over to Warren and his wife before being transferred to a new home. She also showed up later on in the episode after Ofwarren ran away from her new home, kidnapped baby Angela, and stood on the edge of a bridge threatening to jump into frigid water to both of their deaths.

Angela died in her early infancy in the book, so I was genuinely expecting her to meet the same fate once I saw her mother holding her and deciding whether or not to commit suicide. It would have been a darkly appropriate plot twist given how easily people die in this show, but I was glad to see that Angela survived that scene. Whether Ofwarren will be okay depends on how you interpret the final scene she was in. I’m guessing that she’ll live, but it’s honestly hard to say what will happen to her next or whether Aunt Lydia will soften her views at all as a result of this near-tragedy.

How can she deny just how traumatized Ofwarren has been by all of this? We’ve all seen this character’s mental health decline severely over the course of the show.

Moira

Moira’s fate seems much more certain to me at this point.

I was shocked and thrilled to see her again this week.This was something I wasn’t expecting to see until season two, if it even happened at all. I loved the fact that Offred convinced her to stop giving up and start fighting for her freedom again. Those two are platonic soulmates. They are so good for each other in every single way.

I silently cheered at the final scene of this episode, too. It was wonderful to see how quickly Moira came up with a plan to escape Jezebels. Here’s hoping that the final episode of this season will show her arriving in Toronto or some other safe place. Moira’s suffering hasn’t been shown on camera as much as Offred or Ofwarren’s has, but there’s no doubt in my mind that she’s had some horrifying experiences.

Offred

Offred’s development this week wasn’t quite so interesting to me. Of course I’m glad that she’s decided to join Mayday and fight back, but that’s something that’s been building since the first episode. I’d argue that we all knew it was coming. I’m only surprised that it didn’t kick off a lot sooner.

What I was expecting to learn about Offred this week was that she was pregnant. There was a short conversation between the Martha of the house and Serena Joy about her monthly cycle, but it’s still too soon to say if Offred is expecting. When I wasn’t grossed out at the thought of people paying that much attention to something so personal and private, I was wondering if this wasn’t foreshadowing for episode 10.

Offred does wonder if she’s pregnant at the end of the book, so there would be canonical reasons to follow the same path. Then again, baby Angela is still alive and will presumably remain that way. It is possible that the writers decided to wait until a later season to dig up this part of the original plot. We’ll have to wait and see.

Next Monday can’t come quickly enough!

Previous posts in this series:

5 Things I Want from The Handmaid’s Tale

Introducing Offred’s World

Gender Treachery

Nolite Te Bastardes Carborundorum

Faithful

A Woman’s Place

The Other Side

Jezebels

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