How to Save The Handmaid’s Tale from Impending Predictability
Although the show wandered from many of the books messages early on, if the show must go on as its own entity, it will need to expand.
From mombie morality, to gratuitous madness, the focus of the The Handmaid’s Tale on June and (sometimes) the other original characters is not enough to carry the story much further. From an emotional perspective the last several episodes have felt like a Lifetime movie written and directed by Eli Roth, relying on excessive discomfort to carry it along. To save it from becoming softcore torture porn, or another cliche about heroism, new elements need to be introduced.
Surely Gilead has other enemies, inside and out. Exploring that possibility leaves a lot of room to get back to examining more complex issues. Following are a few ideas that could be interesting, but which should serve as hypothetical examples of possibilities, and not necessarily direct suggestions.
What if some person or persons were to invent a cure for infertility? What if this cure were dispersed in some way without any official sanction? What would happen to Gilead, largely constructed and justified by the infertility crisis, if that crisis were suddenly solved? Would women regain their self-ownership, or would this cause the patriarchs to subjugate them in some new ways?
Then there is the opposite scenario. What if some mad scientist created a final blow to human reproduction, and threatened to unleash it if Gilead and it’s ilk did not disband or bow to some demands? It might be interesting to see a threat to humanity even greater than Gilead, who are driven by the right reasons to unthinkable solutions.
How about some new discovery that allows humans to reproduce asexually, with women’s bodies no longer required to generate offspring? On one hand, this might seem to free women of their burden, and thus subjugation. Or would the patriarchs of Gilead and elsewhere just decide women were expendable, and treat them even worse, or attempt to eradicate them altogether?
Maybe the Yellowstone caldera finally blows, thrusting North America into sudden darkness, death and international irrelevance? Would that be the end of Gilead, or another worldly trial causing new similar dystopias to arise elsewhere?
Not all Christianity is alike. Perhaps some new Gnostic sect rises up, challenging Gilead from within, and restoring Christianity to its pre-Roman, non-patriarchal roots? How might that make things better, and how might it make things worse?
The rise of a powerful artificial intelligence.
First contact with an alien species.
The emergence of new superhuman beings.
At this point, no matter how corny it may sound, just about any new plot development would be better than watching the show nosedive straight into a dead end of predictability. It needs something to expand on the moral and ethical questioning we all tuned in for in the first place, while being fun and exciting to watch, without becoming the Saw franchise for women’s studies groups.