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Thwomp
Apr 9, 2003

BA-DUHHH

Grimey Drawer

I'd say the Children of Men case is actually a bit worse. Both settings use infertility as the cause for the end times but Children of Men specifies that no new children are being born. I don't think something like Gilead would even arise if everyone is infertile.

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Owlbear Camus
Jan 3, 2013

It's a little bitty place.

...Okay, I'll just wipe it off, that's all. Just a little town.

Lum_ posted:

See: Children of Men.

Maybe they take place in the same ~cinematic universe!~

Lum_
Jun 5, 2006

Ask me about nerfing your paladin!

Tiggum posted:

The big problem with Nick's background is that it didn't really illuminate anything. I still don't know if he's a true believer or just going along with it. I don't really know what his situation was like before. He seems to have had the same job since right at the beginning, except that now he's also a spy. He's just a really shallow, uninteresting character.

It was very subtle, and I think very well done. Much better than Luke's actually, if only because Luke is Your Average Nice Guy and Nick is more complex. It's really obvious that the showrunners looked at how terrorist groups and cults recruit foot soldiers, and Gilead is basically a hysterically successful ISIS. He's definitely a true believer, he was correcting Pryce on scriptural references when they had coffee and was present for a significant amount of hypocrisy (the discussion on setting up the handmaid system, unmasking the other commander's crimes) yet is pretty tainted himself. My take is that he fell for June pretty hard and the whole brothel sequence was a gutpunch.

Book spoiler: Given that Nick claims to be in Mayday at the end of the book, I think that's what is being set up here. He wanted to believe in what the Sons of Jacob were selling and the rampant corruption/hypocrisy flipped his loyalty.

Lum_
Jun 5, 2006

Ask me about nerfing your paladin!

Also that whole sequence at the end was complete perfection.

"(dramatic flourish) I'm Nick Blaine, and I'm from Michigan."

"Under his eye, Guardian Blaine."

Yes, Nick, your difficulty in opening up to people is so much more important than June's CONSTANT EMOTIONAL AND PHYSICAL surprise sex.

veni veni veni
Jun 5, 2005

Clunk! Clunk! Clunk!



Thwomp posted:

I'd say the Children of Men case is actually a bit worse. Both settings use infertility as the cause for the end times but Children of Men specifies that no new children are being born. I don't think something like Gilead would even arise if everyone is infertile.

Children of Men is much more dire but I'd still rather live in that world than Gilead.

Owlbear Camus
Jan 3, 2013

It's a little bitty place.

...Okay, I'll just wipe it off, that's all. Just a little town.

veni veni veni posted:

Children of Men is much more dire but I'd still rather live in that world than Gilead.

I mean, Quietus is available off the shelf.

Raccooon
Dec 5, 2009


Pac-Manioc Root posted:

A thought that's been occupying me as I think of the show:

Obviously Gilead is going at it very wrong, but how would you deal with a global infertility pandemic as a government the "right" way, starting with the basic assumptions:

(1) Continuity of the species at at least as close to replacement birth rate as you can manage is desirable; and indeed a paramount goal to avoid extinction or regression as a species
and
(2) Individual liberty, agency, and respect for affirmative consent have an incredibly high moral/ethical value and should be maintained

Spitballing an answer:
- Cash incentive for government-sponsored fertility testing. No obligation for individuals to act on this information, but it would allow citizens to seek out other fertile partners
- Significant stipend and benefits for having children. In addition to taking care of the basic needs there would be a regular cash award over and above maintenance of the kid
- Heavily subsidized and incentivized adoption for both the birth and adoptive families Like to the level of "well I don't like kids but if I have one and give it up that's enough to pay off my car note" or w/e

Basically making use of the carrot versus the stick.

I haven't thought these through all the way and maybe there are perverse incentives that would lead to a nightmare state in my dumb three-point plan, but it's an interesting thought experiment.

Pay them 10 million dollars for every kid they have. If it is that dire, just dump tons of money on anyone that is capable and willing to have children.

Countries would probably also dump poo poo loads of money into R&D to figure out how to make people fertile again.

Raccooon fucked around with this message at Jun 2, 2017 around 21:18

precision
May 7, 2006

Gonna have me some good friends around
Gonna have me some good times in town


I wouldn't mind smoking dat WMD with Michael Caine while the world ends. That's the politest apocalypse ever.

Lum_ posted:

Luke is Your Average Nice Guy

Nice people don't cheat on their partner.

Cactus
Jun 24, 2006



Best series I've watched in a long time. It brought to mind a tangentially thematically relevant essay I read recently by Charles Stross. In it he speculates on how a real-world worst-case-scenario similar to Gilead might unfold, only focusing more on white nationalism than misogyny. It's an interesting read.

Der Luftwaffle
Dec 29, 2008


I'm kind of confused by Nick's mentor and why a dude in Gilead's future inner circle would be working in a comparatively lowly position at a job bank beforehand. I get that it'd be a good place for recruiting, but if you're that high up, I'd imagine that you'd have more important things to plan and be leaving the recruiting to subordinates.

Also, way to blend in at an employment agency in your snazzy suit vest, bro.

Der Luftwaffle fucked around with this message at Jun 3, 2017 around 16:54

Cojawfee
May 31, 2006
I think the US is dumb for not using Celsius

Maybe they are recruiting guys who aren't all the successful. If someone is living a mediocre life, it's easy to get them if you say "This world is doomed but I'm going to make it better. You'll be near the top in my new society, and you can recruit other people." If that person is already rich and powerful, they aren't going to want to risk changing things.

Der Luftwaffle
Dec 29, 2008


I guess that makes sense. It'd definitely explain the clothes as the guy basically being anticipatory nouveau riche.

Cactus
Jun 24, 2006



Extreme ideologies only seem attractive to people that perceive themselves (rightly or wrongly) as having nothing much to lose. So yeah, good recruiting places would be job centres, food kitchens, homeless shelters, those kind of places. You want people that are going to be willing, as already mentioned, to do the horrible things you want them to do, so people with already lovely lives.

You also want people that are invisible, low profile. People that no-one important is going to notice is suddenly into this weird new cult, suddenly saying these strange ritualistic things. You don't want to try it on with anyone well-connected, educated, well-off. The last thing you need is articles popping up in the media like "Sons of Jacob: cooky cult or dangerous uprising?" so you keep your recruitment efforts focused on the poor, the downtrodden, the disenfranchised. The ones that don't have caring family members, friends, or hundreds of facebook friends and twitter followers; "OMG some dude just tried to groom me to that cult! LOL" - the ones that, once successfully recruited, can disappear from the soon-to-be-upended society without notice.

Unsuccessful gullible loners like Nick.

Hollismason
Jun 30, 2007
Probation
Can't post for 26 days!


Yeah , Nick is just the type of person who is easily recruited. Out of work, upset / angry with the world, etc.. This was a really great episode.

precision
May 7, 2006

Gonna have me some good friends around
Gonna have me some good times in town


For all the praise Moss has gotten (deservedly) for Mad Men and Top of the Lake, she's on a completely other level here. If not for Patriot and Twin Peaks Reloaded, it would be my favorite show of the year easily.

MeinPanzer
Dec 19, 2004
anyone who reads Cinema Discusso for anything more than slackjawed trolling will see the shittiness in my posts

Ubiquitous_ posted:

I haven't felt as connected to the show in the past couple episodes with their male-centric origin stories, moreso a problem this week than last. I just don't find Nick to be a strong character or the actor to be very talented.

The AVClub reviewer of the show made the same criticism of this and the last episode, and I don't really understand why this such an issue. This show is explicitly about June and the handmaids, but it would be shallow without explaining why and how gender relations in Gilead came to be what they are. Nick and Luke are both pretty bland characters, but I think that's kind of the point. While Luke is given a bit more characterization throughout the show than Nick (cheating on his first wife with June, for instance), the episode that focused on him was basically about how he's one of the "good ones" -- the archetypal mildly feminist man. This last episode shows that Nick, on the other hand, is basically the archetypal Trump supporter: an economically disenfranchised white male (he's even from Michigan!) who is willing to gently caress everyone else (metaphorically or literally) to maintain his position of privilege, all the while muttering hollow words about how he really is concerned about women's lot...

Putting Luke and Nick's episodes back to back is clearly intentional, because it's highlighting the two sides of the masculine response to the creation of Gilead: on the one hand, inaction driven by faith that things can't be that bad (illustrated nicely by Luke and June's conversation about how they should have left earlier) followed by a violent thrust into opposition with the government; on the other, inaction driven by a lack of concern and distraction (Nick presumably is focused only on his own economic problems) followed by seductive initiation into collusion with the government.

quote:

I'm kind of confused by Nick's mentor and why a dude in Gilead's future inner circle would be working in a comparatively lowly position at a job bank beforehand. I get that it'd be a good place for recruiting, but if you're that high up, I'd imagine that you'd have more important things to plan and be leaving the recruiting to subordinates.

I thought this same thing, and it bothered me a bit. It would have been much more believable if Nick was the son of a family friend down on his luck or something.

Bamabalacha
Sep 18, 2006

Outta my way, ya dumb rah-rah!

Just watched the new episode and holy loving poo poo

And Moira is the baddest of bad asses, I'm so glad that they kept her in the show as opposed to the book, where her and June meet for the last and only time at Jezebel's.

Dienes
Nov 4, 2009

dee
doot doot dee
doot doot doot
doot doot dee
dee doot doot
doot doot dee
dee doot doot


College Slice

MeinPanzer posted:

The AVClub reviewer of the show made the same criticism of this and the last episode, and I don't really understand why this such an issue. This show is explicitly about June and the handmaids, but it would be shallow without explaining why and how gender relations in Gilead came to be what they are. Nick and Luke are both pretty bland characters, but I think that's kind of the point. While Luke is given a bit more characterization throughout the show than Nick (cheating on his first wife with June, for instance), the episode that focused on him was basically about how he's one of the "good ones" -- the archetypal mildly feminist man. This last episode shows that Nick, on the other hand, is basically the archetypal Trump supporter: an economically disenfranchised white male (he's even from Michigan!) who is willing to gently caress everyone else (metaphorically or literally) to maintain his position of privilege, all the while muttering hollow words about how he really is concerned about women's lot...

Putting Luke and Nick's episodes back to back is clearly intentional, because it's highlighting the two sides of the masculine response to the creation of Gilead: on the one hand, inaction driven by faith that things can't be that bad (illustrated nicely by Luke and June's conversation about how they should have left earlier) followed by a violent thrust into opposition with the government; on the other, inaction driven by a lack of concern and distraction (Nick presumably is focused only on his own economic problems) followed by seductive initiation into collusion with the government.


I thought this same thing, and it bothered me a bit. It would have been much more believable if Nick was the son of a family friend down on his luck or something.

I think that's also illustrated well when Luke's reaction to June being fired for being a woman and then having all her finances moved to his unilateral control was "Its okay I'll take care of you! " rather than, you know, outrage.

Does Luke even go to any of the protests?

Lum_
Jun 5, 2006

Ask me about nerfing your paladin!

Dienes posted:

Does Luke even go to any of the protests?

Nope! It's June and Moira at the last one. There were guys at the protest (one died very messily) but Luke was off feeling very concerned, I imagine.

Thinking since next episode is the final one of the season (and they didn't know if it would be picked up again) that it's going to end where the book did. It sort of makes sense given Nick's general arc and how the Commander seems to be getting more and more careless.

(book ending spoiler) IIRC, at the end of the book, Serena Joy finds June's lipstick on the cloak of Serena's June wears to Jezebel's and blows up at her; later that night the black van pulls up. June assumes Serena Joy reported her and she's dead, but Nick says he made arrangements to get her out thanks to his being a double agent for Mayday. The book ends with the van pulling off and the reader unsure of June's fate, if Nick is a member of Mayday or even if he's really an Eye (it's never made explicit in the book). A postscript set in a post-Gilead future analyzing June's story notes that the Commander was purged shortly thereafter for harboring an enemy of the state but no one knows if that referred to June or Nick.

Really the only thing from the book left to show is Serena Joy taunting June with Hannah's picture. They may not want to go there since the show seems to want to paint Serena Joy as evil in a complicit/complicated way and at this point taking ownership of June's having her child stolen would be really hard to justify.


So you can see pretty easily where everything is heading towards, along with the season-ending cliffhanger. My only question is how Moira and Emily/Ofglen are brought back/if they are, or if those plot threads remain for next season.

Der Luftwaffle posted:

I'm kind of confused by Nick's mentor and why a dude in Gilead's future inner circle would be working in a comparatively lowly position at a job bank beforehand. I get that it'd be a good place for recruiting, but if you're that high up, I'd imagine that you'd have more important things to plan and be leaving the recruiting to subordinates.

I got the impression he rose fairly high very quickly in the hierarchy, and early in the founding of the Sons of Jacob, finding reliable people to do dirty work is in fact what secret policemen on the make would do.

(plus, you know, dramatic license, way to introduce a persona for the unforgiving true-believer political police side of Gilead, etc.)

Lum_ fucked around with this message at Jun 7, 2017 around 18:42

Slowpoke Rodriguez
Jun 20, 2009


I feel like Nick is a much more well done character than he is getting credit for. They are trying to walk a line, his performance is subdued, because the character has to be subdued. He would not be able to survive in the hellscape he was complicit in creating otherwise.

Throughout his flashback he is never positioned as a true believer, just someone who is desperate and depressed. It felt very authentic, because that's how most terrorists start. He's obviously flawed, he is incredibly self-involved, and his situation is privileged, but he is trapped too.

I'm expecting and hoping Offred's condemnation of him to be a major catalyst for growth, one that leads him to join the resistance. His arc is gonna be like an attempt in alt-right deprogramming.

Bamabalacha
Sep 18, 2006

Outta my way, ya dumb rah-rah!

Slowpoke Rodriguez posted:

I feel like Nick is a much more well done character than he is getting credit for. They are trying to walk a line, his performance is subdued, because the character has to be subdued. He would not be able to survive in the hellscape he was complicit in creating otherwise.

Throughout his flashback he is never positioned as a true believer, just someone who is desperate and depressed. It felt very authentic, because that's how most terrorists start. He's obviously flawed, he is incredibly self-involved, and his situation is privileged, but he is trapped too.

I'm expecting and hoping Offred's condemnation of him to be a major catalyst for growth, one that leads him to join the resistance. His arc is gonna be like an attempt in alt-right deprogramming.

He's also much more well rounded than he was in the book, I really really enjoyed his flashback scenes.

Pellisworth
Jun 20, 2005

I'm a horse of a different color


I've only watched through episode 3 and I know it's silly to over-analyze the premise and setting... but why couldn't you just do embryo transplants from the fertile women?

We did that like 15 years ago with cattle at the family ranch. The in-show problem seems to be conception or genetic, not with actual pregnancy/gestation. So what you can do is hyper-ovulate a woman to harvest a bunch of eggs at once, fertilize those in-vitro, screen the embryos for genetic or other defects, then implant them in surrogate mothers. Assuming you can get a couple hundred eggs from a fertile woman and one in five are normal, for every "handmaid" you should be able to produce at least a few dozen healthy embryos.

Basically they should have the technology in the setting to deal with the fertility problem, setting aside the religious factors.

WeAreTheRomans
Feb 23, 2010

by R. Guyovich


Pellisworth posted:

I've only watched through episode 3 and I know it's silly to over-analyze the premise and setting... but why couldn't you just do embryo transplants from the fertile women?

We did that like 15 years ago with cattle at the family ranch. The in-show problem seems to be conception or genetic, not with actual pregnancy/gestation. So what you can do is hyper-ovulate a woman to harvest a bunch of eggs at once, fertilize those in-vitro, screen the embryos for genetic or other defects, then implant them in surrogate mothers. Assuming you can get a couple hundred eggs from a fertile woman and one in five are normal, for every "handmaid" you should be able to produce at least a few dozen healthy embryos.

Basically they should have the technology in the setting to deal with the fertility problem, setting aside the religious factors.

They are deliberately and clearly shown to be rejecting advanced reproductive medicine. They use a birthing stool ffs

Pellisworth
Jun 20, 2005

I'm a horse of a different color


WeAreTheRomans posted:

They are deliberately and clearly shown to be rejecting advanced reproductive medicine. They use a birthing stool ffs

that's why I said "setting aside religious factors"

e: also some googling suggests that birthing chairs/stools might actually be a good thing? idk

Pocket Billiards
Aug 29, 2007
.

Here's my hot take:

If the setting was different, they would be doing something different.

Signed two people with guitars.

Slowpoke Rodriguez
Jun 20, 2009


Yeah, a rejection of science and a return to older ways is absolutely the way a regressive cult like this would go, as seen in all of human history.

Cactus
Jun 24, 2006



"Setting aside" the religious factor isn't something you can really do with this story.

precision
May 7, 2006

Gonna have me some good friends around
Gonna have me some good times in town


Holy gently caress that episode

I legit cried at the end of the bridge scene. Jesus this show is loving amazing

Cojawfee
May 31, 2006
I think the US is dumb for not using Celsius

The bible doesn't say "here is Dr. Epstein, my fertility doctor, he will create some embryos for us and then we'll implant them in a surrogate." it specifically says that Jacob bones Rachel's handmaid, so that's what they do in Gilead.

Pocket Billiards
Aug 29, 2007
.

IVF gives you an over supply of fertilised embryos too. That was the whole debate with stem cells, because the IVF people just flush them down the sink regardless.

Dienes
Nov 4, 2009

dee
doot doot dee
doot doot doot
doot doot dee
dee doot doot
doot doot dee
dee doot doot


College Slice

Pellisworth posted:

that's why I said "setting aside religious factors"

Yes, its typically difficult to understand why someone does or does not do something when you preemptively ignore/set aside the reason they do or do not do that thing.

Pocket Billiards posted:

IVF gives you an over supply of fertilised embryos too. That was the whole debate with stem cells, because the IVF people just flush them down the sink regardless.

Eh, pro-lifers pretty much ignore IVF, oddly enough[. I doubt Gilead would find an abundance of fertilized embryos to be a problem in a case of population decline.

I just assumed the same condition that prevents most women from conceiving naturally would make them also unable to be candidates for IVF.

Pellisworth
Jun 20, 2005

I'm a horse of a different color


I don't get the comments on Nick being not handsome earlier in the thread. He's average to above average for real life. Not a supermodel but fairly attractive.

edit: unrelated, do the Commanders and their Wives not have sex, ever? Is their society operating on a strict "sex is for procreation" rule and so the infertile Wives can't have sex?

Pellisworth fucked around with this message at Jun 8, 2017 around 05:08

Hyrax Attack!
Jan 13, 2009

We demand to be taken seriously


Pellisworth posted:

edit: unrelated, do the Commanders and their Wives not have sex, ever? Is their society operating on a strict "sex is for procreation" rule and so the infertile Wives can't have sex?

I don't think their policy has been stated on screen, but it seems that part of the Handmaid ritual is that while a Handmaid is in the house they are the surrogate for the wife. So when the husband has sex with the Handmaid while the wife sits there, he is "having sex" with his wife, and everyone is supposed to pretend this is normal.

So if the husband has sex with his wife without a Handmaid present (as Waterford did a few episodes ago), it breaks the narrative that they've figured out God's will and solution to the infertility issue as it shows the situation is set up for the husband's pleasure and benefit instead of being "good for everyone."

Related to this, I liked the scene in Nick's flashback where the entire Handmaid set-up was brainstormed in the back of an SUV to show it never had any female input or consideration.

Really enjoying the series so far, some thoughts:
-I'm glad they keep "the war" vague instead of going into too much detail, to avoid reviews being distracted by "no way 3,000 guys could conquer New England!" or whatever.

-I like Commander Waterford is competent at his job, but has a ridiculously immature attitude towards sex, like picking out a tacky dress and thinking June and Moria were lesbians.

-Interesting Commander Warren faced consequences for his actions after they were revealed publically. Helps maintain a consistent narrative that Commanders need to keep their behavior quiet (probably to avoid angering true fundamentalists in Gilead), instead of making the audience wonder why they bother hiding anything.

Equeen
Oct 29, 2011

Attack dogs, giant rats, mine spills, monkeyballs; you name it. I can't tell you how to prepare for that world, brother, you're on your own.

Is it weird that I wanted Janine to die? I don't dislike her character at all, but I wanted her suffering to end

Thwomp
Apr 9, 2003

BA-DUHHH

Grimey Drawer

Equeen posted:

Is it weird that I wanted Janine to die? I don't dislike her character at all, but I wanted her suffering to end

Must've been a real downer to see they saved her.


Hyrax Attack! posted:

I don't think their policy has been stated on screen, but it seems that part of the Handmaid ritual is that while a Handmaid is in the house they are the surrogate for the wife. So when the husband has sex with the Handmaid while the wife sits there, he is "having sex" with his wife, and everyone is supposed to pretend this is normal.

So if the husband has sex with his wife without a Handmaid present (as Waterford did a few episodes ago), it breaks the narrative that they've figured out God's will and solution to the infertility issue as it shows the situation is set up for the husband's pleasure and benefit instead of being "good for everyone."

Related to this, I liked the scene in Nick's flashback where the entire Handmaid set-up was brainstormed in the back of an SUV to show it never had any female input or consideration.

Well I think the SUV scene you mention is to point out that the ritual is a joke and cover for the Commanders to have all the sex with the fertile women. There are some true believers for sure but the men at the top of the Sons of Jacob believe controlling the fertile women is the key to power and aren't about to let anyone other than a senior member have sex with a fertile woman.

emanresu tnuocca
Sep 2, 2011

Clarke has more acting talent in her brows than most other actors, including herself, have in their entire body.



I think commanders and wives can have sex whenever they want but they're kind of expected to go about it like sexually repressed ultra-religious stereotypes, we've seen that Serena offered Fred a blowjob and Janine says that she did "everything warren's wife wouldn't", implying that Warren and his wife did have sex, or were allowed to in the very least.

The implication I believe at least with Warren and Fred is that the hosed-up power dynamic between the handmaid and the married couple is too abusable and the husbands who are mostly faking their religious devotion anyway tend to inevitably construct a sort of fake romantic affair fantasy that helps them convince themselves that they are not violently raping the handmaid. Obviously this is also reflected with the attitude's of Serena and Warren's wives who are also resentful of the handmaids.

precision
May 7, 2006

Gonna have me some good friends around
Gonna have me some good times in town


It's a testament to the writing and acting on offer that they've managed to humanize Aunt Lydia so much. And Janine is best handmaid, god drat her whole side plot has been amazing.

DasNeonLicht
Dec 25, 2005

"...and the light is on and burning brightly for the masses."

Fallen Rib

emanresu tnuocca posted:

The implication I believe at least with Warren and Fred is that the hosed-up power dynamic between the handmaid and the married couple is too abusable and the husbands who are mostly faking their religious devotion anyway tend to inevitably construct a sort of fake romantic affair fantasy that helps them convince themselves that they are not violently raping the handmaid. Obviously this is also reflected with the attitude's of Serena and Warren's wives who are also resentful of the handmaids.

This is good analysis

Thwomp
Apr 9, 2003

BA-DUHHH

Grimey Drawer

precision posted:

It's a testament to the writing and acting on offer that they've managed to humanize Aunt Lydia so much. And Janine is best handmaid, god drat her whole side plot has been amazing.

Agreed. Dowd is amazing in the role as a true believer who also recognizes the hardships/sacrifices the Handmaids go through.

It'd be easy to just hate her as a torturer/representation of the evil of the Gilead system. But to make her this true believer who sees it all as necessary and also as a voice for fairness within the Gilead system on the side of the Handmaids is just great. Really nuanced performance.

(Still hate her character and hope she hangs for her part)

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Alhazred
Feb 16, 2011





Pellisworth posted:


edit: unrelated, do the Commanders and their Wives not have sex, ever? Is their society operating on a strict "sex is for procreation" rule and so the infertile Wives can't have sex?

Best to not waste all that precious sperm

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