The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)

NOTE: This review contains SPOILERS for the streaming drama series, book, and 1990 movie version of The Handmaid’s Tale.

Introduction

Handmaids kneeing at a gathering with Guardians surrounding the area

Atwood’s book has echoes of New England Puritanism, along with atrocities drawn from sources including Saudi Wahhabism, the Third Reich, American slavery, and the East German surveillance state. It’s constructed not as a realistic story, however, but as an eyewitness account… -Emily Nussbaum (The New Yorker)

Mankind is failing, most women are sterile because of industrial pollution (or Mother Nature just having enough of us). Birth rates are plummeting. An ultra religious cult see it as their God-given mission to “save mankind.” They seize power by staging a fake terrorist attack against the US government, impose marshal law, and set about rebuilding American society. (“War On Terror” anyone?) They use The Old Testament as their blueprint, but with some totally wack interpretations and distortions. Fertile women become the property of the state. Brainwashed and farmed out to the new ruling elite as baby makers, slavery and subjugation is all they can hope for. -Summary by IMDB reviewer

Serena Joy (Faye Dunaway) and Offred (Natasha Richardson) in the 1990 movie version of “The Handmaid’s Tale”

Canadian writer Margaret Atwood wrote her dystopian novel in 1985 (while she was living in Berlin, Germany); it was first published in 1986. She didn’t put anything in that hadn’t happened before at some place and time period in history. Her book is considered a blend of historical fiction and sci-fi; I read it in HS (I think). Many years later, I saw the 1990 movie starring Natasha Richardson, Robert Duvall, Faye Dunaway, and Aiden Quinn. Critics (mostly) hated that film, BUT I thought it was pretty decent. Veteran actors Duvall and Dunaway played the Waterfords; their ages were appropriate to the book. However, in this new Hulu series, the couple are much younger, energetic, and passionate. 

Setting

A group of Handmaids clean blood from the wall by the river.

The Handmaid’s Tale looks extraordinary – stylised, choreographed almost, menacing. It sounds fabulous, too. -Sam Wollaston (The Guardian)

Even the light coming in through the windows has a soft luxury to it, a Vermeer-ish quality. -Sonia Saraiya (Variety)

Much has been written lately re: the importance of world-building in good drama series; after all, the look is what first draws the attention of viewers to a show. Offred wears a distinctive white bonnet (the 1990 film had a red veil) and scarlet-colored dress and hooded cape, as do ALL the other Handmaids. The commanders wear black suits w/ dark-colored ties; their wives wear blue dresses (covering the knees and and conservatively cut) and matching capes. There are also lower-ranked married women in this world; they are called Econowives and wear grayish striped dresses. The Guardians dress like modern-day SWAT teams- in black and gray colors. 

There are also little/subtle touches which enrich the show. The Gilead-era flag (which is shown in Canada) only has two stars, b/c the U.S. ONLY has control over two states- Alaska and Hawaii. In the real world, the red tags attached to the Handmaids’ ears are used on livestock (such as cows); this is a reminder that the Handmaids are viewed as farm animals, NOT humans. There are mentions of Uber, Tinder, the SATs, and even a cute scene involving a food truck- things that we are familiar w/ in 2017. 

Characters

In the book, Gilead is a white-supremacist culture. In the show, black actors play Moira and Luke. The result is an odd trade-off: we get brown faces, but the society is unconvincingly color-blind, as if race had never existed. -Emily Nussbaum (The New Yorker)

June/Offred (Elisabeth Moss)

The book uses a 1st person narrator, so the reader ONLY knows what Offred knows. This series also gives us POVs of other characters, BUT she is the lead. Moss has tackled meaty roles before (The West Wing; Mad Men; Top of the Lake). She is VERY good at expressing a lot of (conflicting) emotions w/ subtle/brief looks and body movements. In her previous life, Offred was a book editor and married mother to an adorable young daughter (Hannah). At the start of the series, her goal is to stay mentally strong and survive in order to someday find her little girl. 

Moira (Samira Wiley)

Moira (Samira Wiley) at the training center

The petite, out and proud lesbian is June’s best friend. Moira, who is BOTH funny and strong-willed, manages to escape from the Rachel and Bilhah Center in the disguise of an Aunt. Offred gets left behind on the subway platform, BUT she understands the difficulty of the situation. Though there are rumors that Moira died, we see her (later in season) working at Jezebels, a club where commanders come to fulfill their fantasies w/ a diverse array of women (many of whom were intellectuals in the past). Just like the Handmaids, these women can’t say “no.” When they are reunited (by chance), Moira explains to June that Jezebels get good food, booze, and drugs. In the book, she says that she can read and have relationships w/ women. Fans of OITNB rejoice! 

Luke Bankole (O-T Fagbenle)

Luke, June’s husband and father to Hannah, gets a backstory in this series; that is NOT in the book. When they first met, Luke was married to another woman; this adds to the shades of gray in the story. This actor is British-Nigerian and I had never seen him before; he does a great job in this role (incl. the more action-oriented scenes). 

Emily/Ofglen (Alexis Bledel)

Ofglen (Alexis Bledel) and Offred (Elisabeth Moss) at the grocery store

In her previous life, Emily was a college prof, married (w/ a wife), and young son. Offred doesn’t really know much re: Ofglen until after 2 mos. of walking w/ her to do the grocery shopping; no Handmaid can travel alone. Later in the series, Ofglen goes through FGM (scary, yet still happening ALL over the world). This is a VERY meaty (and unusual) role for Bledel; she is best known for The Gilmore Girls

Janine/Ofwarren (Madeline Brewer)

Janine, a fiery redhead, was mouthy at the training center; she was severely punished by one of the Aunts (losing an eye). Poor Janine has a tragic past; she was a survivor of a gang assault (resulting perhaps in PTSD). Moira is tough on her, BUT June has success in calming her down; the behavior of one Handmaid will affect ALL of them.  Even after Ofwarren gives birth to the Putnam’s baby girl, her emotional turmoil continues.

Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd)

Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd) at a gathering of the Handmaids

Ordinary is just what you’re used to. This might not seem ordinary right now, but after a time it will. This will become ordinary. -Aunt Lydia to the Handmaids

Aunt Lydia is the head of the Rachel and Bilhah Center; she is a harsh taskmaster who seems to truly believe in the ways of Gilead. In time, we notice that she feels bad for Janine, BUT she can’t let things slide for ANY of her “girls.” Ann Dowd, a veteran character actress, brings a BIT of ambiguity to the role- she is NOT a total villain.

Cmdr. Fred Waterford (Joseph Fiennes)

Offred (Elisabeth Moss) plays Scrabble with The Commander (Joseph Fiennes) in his study

Better never means better for everyone. It always means worse for some. -Cmdr. Waterford explains to Offred

He is usually called “The Commander” by everyone; his wife (Serena Joy) only calls him Fred. Some of the other Handmaids tell Offred that he is “really high up” and “very important” in the government of Gilead. At first, The Cmdr. is merely going by the book during ceremony nights; later, he wants to connect w/ Offred. He requests that Offred come down to his study (a no-no); they chat (even flirt a BIT), play Scrabble (which they are BOTH good at), and he gives her fashion magazines to read (another no-no).

To show her just how much power he holds over her, The Cmdr. takes Offred (wearing one of Serena Joy’s blue capes) out to the club- Jezebels. Notice that he chose a sparkly mini-dress and matching heels for Offred to wear; this shows us what type of woman he desires (someone to show off). Fiennes does a great job w/ his American accent; I don’t think I’ve seen him using one before. The actor creates a man who is complicated, yearning for connection (esp. to Offred), and enjoys flaunting the rules (which he helped establish). 

Serena Joy Waterford (Yvonne Strahovski)

Serena Joy (Yvonne Strahovski) listens to the prayer in her parlor

Never mistake a woman’s meekness for weakness. -Serena says to the Mexican ambassador, Mrs. Castillo

Serena Joy is portrayed by an Australian actress (former model) who somewhat resembles Grace Kelly, BUT w/ a more taller/athletic body. She gets a backstory in this series that is NOT in the book (like Luke). In flashbacks, we see how Serena Joy was a part of the establishment of Gilead; she wrote a book about the role of women. (Atwood modeled Serena Joy on the historical anti-feminist figure, Phyllis Schlafly, an outspoken opponent of the ERA in the ’70s.) The world she helped create has left her feeling alone, bitter, and (eventually) cruel. Serena Joy eventually turns on Fred, saying that he is NOT “worthy” of fathering a child, so God has denied him one. 

Nick (Max Minghella)

Nick (Max Minghella) and Offred (Moss) in the yard

Max Minghella’s performance gets more interesting every week. You never know what he’s going to say until he says it—that face is unreadable in the best and most unsettling way. -Allison Shoemaker (A.V. Club)

Nick is The Commander’s driver; he lives in a humble room above the Waterford’s garage. In the pilot, Offred explains that he is “low rank” and “has not even been assigned a woman.” At first, Nick just watches Offred (w/o speaking); this makes her a BIT nervous, BUT also curious. They begin to secretly flirt; BOTH are feeling lonely and need someone to talk to. Mrs. Waterford gets them together b/c, MOST likely, The Commander is shooting blanks. It takes time, BUT Nick is revealed to be a protector, NOT merely a coward or survivor. He was recruited rather young as one of the Sons of Jacob, a secret group of men who are the Eyes in the households of the commanders. 

Rita (Amanda Brugel)

Rita is one of the Marthas; she has worked for the Waterfords for a few yrs (like Nick). She is brusque, at first, BUT then treats Offred w/ kindness (making her healthy meals). After all, the birth of a baby would be great for ALL of the household. We learn that she lost her grown son in the war; most likely, he was fighting against the establishment of Gilead. I hope that she gets a backstory in Season 2; she is one of the few Latina women on the show.

Themes

Identity/Individualism

The Handmaids’ uniform denies the women individuality until the camera moves close enough so that we see their faces. In Gilead, the group is MORE important than the individual, as the Aunts and Commanders often say. Those women who don’t fall in line, like Ofwarren (who went through emotional turmoil after pregnancy) and Ofglen (who fell in love w/ one of the Marthas), are dealt w/ VERY harshly. 

Children

And she said, Behold my maid Bilhah, go in unto her; and she shall bear upon my knees, that I may also have children by her. -Genesis 30:3 (King James Bible)

In this world, a healthy birth happens 1 out of 5 times. June/Offred is in her early 30s and already has a daughter, so there is a good chance that she can have another child. Janine/Ofwarren gives birth to a fine baby girl, gets to breastfeed her, BUT then is ceremoniously put out of the Putnam’s household. Like MANY other viewers, I am NOT convinced that Serena Joy wants a child; she has bought into this society, BUT that doesn’t mean that she’s happy w/ it.

Love & Marriage

Unlike in any number of other gender dystopias, most men don’t oppress women because they hate or fear them, but because they can’t empathize enough to love them when it becomes inconvenient.  

And women gave up everything by empathizing too much and turning on each other to support the men they loved. -Adi Robertson (The Verge) re: the book

Serena Joy is rejected (coldly) by her husband after one halted ceremony scene; after all, intimate relations in Gilead are solely for the purpose of procreation. Maybe some viewers felt sympathy for her then? I was a BIT shocked when The Cmdr. admitted to Offred that he didn’t believe in love; in flashbacks, it seems like he and his wife were once deeply in love. (In the book, Atwood explains that some couples were already married before the establishment of Gilead; others were placed in arranged marriages to spouses of equal status.)

Offred goes to Nick’s room b/c she wants to spend the night w/ him; this happens after Mrs. Waterford has them perform the ceremony. As for love, Offred likes Nick, BUT is still in love w/ Luke.  As for Nick, I think that he does fall in love w/ Offred; he can’t express himself, as it could get them BOTH killed.

Women & Femininity

“Women have too much freedom here,” a foreign undergrad student commented when I asked him how he liked America. A few months ago, I mentioned to a friend how it’s too bad that apt. buildings in some countries (EX: Japan and India) didn’t rent to unmarried couples. “They should have a choice, at least,” I said. She replied quickly: “Oh, all those rules are for protection of women. What if the boyfriend leaves her? And if she gets pregnant?” The founders of Gilead take this type of thinking to another (extreme) level; they think they are protecting the Handmaids and the (possible) future children. How is legally sanctioned rape protection!? In one scene, The Cmdr. tells Offred that it’s the “destiny” of women to bear children. So, where does that leave his wife? 

Freedom & Confinement

Offred (Moss) sees Moira in the club

“You’re free here,” The Cmdr. tells Offred in their room at the club. We know that no woman is free in this world! In the flashbacks, we see June (and other women in Boston) being let go from their jobs, then their bank accounts frozen, before being sent to the training center. Moira lashes out at Luke when he tells June “I’ll take care of you.” Ugh, that’s NOT the point- it’s about choiceOne can argue that Offred finds a sort of freedom in her relationship w/ Nick, which is a (dangerous) rebellion.  

Reading, Writing, & Storytelling

Since reading is forbidden for Handmaids, ALL the items in the grocery store are marked by pictures instead of words. Before Moira’s escape scene, we see workmen chipping away at the signs in the subway. You know what reading promotes- thinking! Before each ceremony, the household gathers in the parlor while The Cmdr. reads the story of Rachel, Jacob, and Bilhah from the family Bible. Offred discovers a Latin phrase written inside the closet in her room; she finds out (from The Cmdr.) that it translates to “don’t let the bastards grind you down.” The Mexican ambassador’s assistant proves that he can be an ally to Offred when he hands a pad of paper and pencil, asking her to write a message for her husband (who is alive). The mysterious package Moira mails from the club to the butcher (another male ally) turns out to be letters and photos from a diverse group of women (some mothers); they are desperate to tell the wider world their story.  

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Greenleaf (Season 1): Episodes 11-13

NOTE: This post contains SPOILERS for the TV drama series, including the Season 1 finale.  Season 2 begins March 15, 2017 on OWN.

Episode 11: Men Like Trees Walking

Sophia is a very interesting character, she is the only pure & innocent one I hope she doesn’t get lost in all the adult turmoil.

Grace loves Noah because based on what she told him, he is “home” to her. Isabelle to me is controlling and insecure, Noah seems more himself with Gigi… with Isabelle, he seems uncertain… and if this were reality, Isabelle should probably move on (that’s what a real friend would tell her) as Noah is indecisive and you don’t marry indecisive.

-Comments from viewers

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The Bishop (Keith David) has many worries on his mind.

Calvary is losing money and members, b/c of recent scandals (murder of Officer Nelson; shooting of Mac); the deacon board is NOT happy. Gigi learns that Ray is taking her to court for custody of Sophia. Bishop won’t speak to Gigi. Jacob, realizing that his father won’t give him back his role (assistant pastor), meets w/ the minister of Triumph Church, Bassie Skanks, Bishop’s rival. Charity decides to record a CD of songs to sell online to raise money for the church. Kevin (still sleeping on the couch) gets closer to Adrian. Mac, who is in jail, has questions about Hell.

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Jacob (Lamman Rucker) playing basketball at Trinity Church.

This ep pits the women against the men, in various different ways. Alexa is back, w/ a lawyer, b/c she MAY sue Calvary for firing her. Jacob is shocked to see her again; I (briefly) wondered if he still cared for Alexa. Bishop comments: “Pray for her. She’s chosen the hard road.” Hmmm… what exactly could that mean? What did you think of the (sly) way that Jacob approached Skanks at the basketball court? Skanks reveals to Jacob that Alexa attends Triumph. Jacob says that won’t be a problem if he comes to work there. 

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Lady Mae (Lynn Whitfield) talks to Kevin (Tye White) re: his troubled marriage.

Did you think that Charity was being TOO hard on Kevin? After all, we know that Kevin has NOT cheated yet; he’s just looking at pics of men. However, he did enjoy chatting (and also flirting a BIT) w/ Adrian in the past. Kevin and Adrian go out to dinner at a nice restaurant (w/ candles). Hmmm… I was NOT expecting that to happen! Commentators said that Kevin was testing himself. Adrian walks out when Kevin declares: “I’m not gay.”

Episode 12: Veni, Vidi, Veci

Deacon Sykes (Connie) discusses women’s day with Lady Mae and wants Gigi to preach; Mavis has problems with her club- it’s going to have to close. Gigi, Ray, and Sophia attend the custody hearing. Charity and Kevin talk about his feelings.

Kevin finally tells his wife that he has feelings for men. Charity (understandably) gets VERY upset, slaps and hits him, and then doubles over in pain- YIKES! She is taken away to the hospital in an ambulance; Kevin goes w/ her. The rest of the family looks on w/ worry.

Episode 13: What Are You Doing Here? 

Bishop visits Mac, and Mac asks him to be a character witness at his hearing. Bishop refuses, even though Mac threatens him re: some secret they share. Skanks drives Jacob to a plot of land across from Calvary where he intends to build a $40 million community center for Triumph. Henry (Mac and Lady Mae’s father) comes again to Calvary, but is stopped by Noah.Grace learns that Henry is terminally ill; she asks Kevin to help find Henry a hospice, and Kevin agrees.

OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network
Gigi (Merle Dandridge) learns of her father’s illness.

At the annual ladies’ lunch, Lady Mae gives a sermon (“The Virtuous Woman”) and the the audience misinterpret it as her endorsement of Gigi. The ladies give a standing ovation to Gigi. Lady May looks on in dismay; she had been wanting to preach herself

Gigi tells her dad that she wants to go back to Phoenix with Sophia, but Bishop reveals that he has Parkinson’s and needs her to stay and preach. (Charity guessed something was wrong in Ep. 12.) Bishop knows that Gigi is a leader, like him; Jacob can’t fill that role. 

Bishop tells Jacob the Lord’s will is for him to be his eyes and ears at Basie’s new community center. Jacob is surprised; he hadn’t thought of his work in THAT way before. We know that Bishop can be sly! What do you think of Pastor Skanks? He seems like he could be up to something shady. 

Kevin is looking at a pic of a handsome, preppy black man on his phone. It’s NOT a guy from a hookup app; it’s a man who run a program (gay conversion therapy). He asks Charity to read about it. She does so, then decides that she needs space, so  Kevin should move out for the time being. Look at the disappointment on Kevin’s face! 

Grace takes Henry to a hospice. He reveals that Mac has been giving him hush money (as he knows re: a church that was intentionally burned down many years ago). Whoa- we need to wait to get details!

Greenleaf-Season-1-Episode-13

Mavis (Oprah Winfrey) and Lady Mae (Lynn Whitfield) have a face-off.

I was impressed by the BIG fight between Lady Mae and her sister, Mavis, at Mavis’ bar. Oprah STILL has her acting chops (in case anyone doubted it), though she rarely takes roles! So far, she has appeared in 3 eps of Greenleaf.

Ray arrives (in a red convertible, as he promised) to take Sophia away for the summer. Two police cars arrive after they drive off. We see that Mac is out on probation. Cops and officials walk up the stairs; we know that they will arrest Bishop. 

Greenleaf (Season 1): Episodes 7-10

NOTE: This post contains SPOILERS for the TV drama series executive produced by Oprah. Greenleaf premiered on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) on June 21, 2016. Season 2 begins March 15, 2017.

You can almost feel the history behind all their flaws and all that they’re going through. -Merle Dandridge, actress

It is about time a TV series dealt with the world of organized, profit-motivated religious organizations. I like the idea for this show, as well as the story and the characters and the angle they take in relating the narrative. It is an imagined glimpse into a secret world of powerful people who profess piety and modesty, but can’t live it and we get to see them at their best and worst. I want to see it get multiple seasons. But the scripts have to get better. They need to be outlined better and the dialogue needs to be more subtle in relaying information as well as doing so in a natural manner in which real people speak. So far, they have tried to cram too much information in each sentence. -Excerpt from IMDB review

2016 Tribeca Film Festival - Portrait Studio - Day 7
Oprah (center) with actors Merle Dandridge, Keith David, and Lynn Whitfield

Episode 7: One Train May Hide Another

Jacob (Lamman Rucker) and Kerissa (Kim Hawthorne) are working as a team now (which is VERY good to see). Kerissa is ALSO a strong woman, but she has to live in the same household as Lady Mae (who obviously favors Jacob out of all her kids). Alexa (the flirty, leggy blonde) who Jacob had an affair w/ earlier in the season was fired from her role Bishop’s secretary. Corinne, the new (plus-size/nonchalant) secretary, is someone that “my son would keep his hands off,” Bishop (Keith David) jokes w/ Mac (Gregalan Williams).

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Mac gives money to his father (played by veteran actor Bill Cobbs)

 …during the Lady Mae, Mac and dad scene, the dad in his drunken rant called Lady Mae a high yellow whore, and how she wasn’t even his! Which makes the possible abuse of Lady Mae from the dad even more plausible. The relationship between both Lady Mae and Mac is very interesting. You could see how torn Mac was, yes he is disgusting, but you truly saw the layers between him and Lady Mae slowly start to peel back.Viewer comment

We learn more about Mac in this ep; he’s NOT a cartoonish villain. But wasn’t that fantasy involving the troubled teen girl (forgot her name) disturbing? And I’m sure SOME viewers noticed (as Shaka Smith noted on Black Hollywood Live) the resemblance between the beautiful girl in the classic portraits book and Sophia (Desiree Ross)- creepy! 

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Noah is surprised to find G.G. at his door late at night.

Isabelle (Anna Diop) decides to pack up her drawer of stuff from Noah’s house and go stay w/ her parents until the wedding. He is surprised by this sudden decision of hers, and it turns out to have been a BIG mistake (or error in judgement, if you prefer). Gigi (Merle Dandridge) comes over to Noah’s to talk re: what to do re: Mac, but then they kiss, and things escalate quickly! They spend the night together, after telling each other “I love you.”

Episode 8: The Whole Book

Gigi does “the walk of shame” from Noah’s (which is on the estate) to the mansion. Lady Mae (Lynn Whitfield), who had trouble sleeping, knows EXACTLY what her daughter has been up to- awkward! 

Isabelle throws shade when she asks Gigi about who her plus one will be for the wedding. When Gigi quickly replies that it’ll be her daughter, Sophia, Isabelle replies: “Well, I pray that you meet someone on the dance floor.” Though Isabelle is younger, smart (a teacher), and beautiful, she is clearly threatened by the fact that Gigi and Noah (Benjamin Patterson) were childhood sweethearts. 

I liked how it wasn’t neccessarily a black-white thing, but… it’s about how the police department treated black people. Shaka Smith

Officer David Nelson, who Gigi  had been counseling, leaves his hotel room to come for to Calvary for SUN services. Gigi greets him in the driveway, glad that he’s not leaving the community (after his recent acquittal). Suddenly, David is shot by the brother of the teenage boy he killed earlier in the season.

Episode 9: The Broken Road

It looks like the (openly gay) choir director, Carter, will be hired at Calvary. However, he’ll be hired as a 1099 (independent contractor), Uncle Mac tells Charity (Deborah Joy Winans), b/c he has sued two employers in the past. Earlier, Charity had explained to Bishop that Carter’s partner was laid off and needed health benefits. We see that Charity and Carter are becoming VERY close pals; her husband, Kevin (Tye White), is being shut-out. 

Jacob and Kerissa have a (VERY awkward) talk w/ their teen daughter, Zohra, re: Uncle Mac. She munches on pizza and wonders why her parents are acting so serious. Zohra is SO cute and funny in this scene! (I’m impressed by the youngsters who play Zohra and Sofia; they seem like real cousins trying to figure stuff out- religion, family, etc.) Later on, when Zohra confides in Sofia, Sofia admits “I always thought he [Uncle Mac] was nice.” Zohra wisely concludes: “I think that’s how it starts.”

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G.G. holds Noah’s hand and talks re: taking down Mac for his abuse of young women.

Isabelle, after briefly meeting w/ Gigi, can sense what’s up. She marches over to Noah’s office and demands the truth; however, Noah just silently stands there, looking guilty. Isabelle takes off her engagement ring, throws is across the room, and declares the wedding off. When he tries to explain himself, Isabelle shouts “Don’t say my name!” It’s her way off taking back her power (as you may recall from Roots). She storms out, saying that the dysfunctional family (the Greenleafs) are only his problem now! (Remember how they were paying for the wedding; Mac had even decided to gift then the $800 cake.) 

Episode 10: March to the Sea

Kevin is still looking at men on that app (similar to Grindr); Charity is pissed off, and asks to see his phone. When Kevin refuses, she decides that he should sleep on the couch. Charity is several months pregnant (w/ twin boys); she does NOT need stress in her life! I think Kevin loves his wife, BUT is not in love w/ her. 

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Lady Mae, Mac, and Gigi in the aftermath of the shooting.

As we’d assumed at end of the last ep, Bishop shot Mac in Mac’s office; it was merely a flesh wound (bullet went all the way through). Gigi runs in and takes the gun, then wants to call 911. BOTH her dad and Uncle Mac (who was trying to blackmail Bishop) insist that the police NOT be called. Lady Mae comes in and sees to her bother’s shoulder; she ends up getting some blood on her hands(reminding me of Lady Macbeth). Gigi finally decides to call the police! In the next scene, Mac is in the stretcher; Bishop is in handcuffs w/ cops leading him out of the church.

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Ray and Sophia have a talk re: her new life in Memphis.

Sophia called her dad, Ray (a chef/restaurant owner); he flew into Memphis from Phoenix. I really liked the scene where Sophia tells a (skeptical) Ray that she LIKES going to church; it’s better than spending SUN at the mall, shopping w/ her friends (as she did back in Phoenix). There is a spiritual side to Sophia, who is also quite intelligent; usually, we don’t see teen girls portrayed in this manner in the media. 

We don’t know what all happened between Gigi  and Ray (who is white, as I’d already assumed from Sophia’s looks), BUT they don’t have a warm/friendly relationship. They were never married, but shared custody of Sophia. Gigi broke the law taking their daughter across state lines w/o asking Ray.