Perhaps the strongest early sequences, however, come through the glimpses of the past, which actually reveal moments of normalcy, happiness and even tenderness, in stark contrast with the hell through which they’re living.
That’s painful enough for Offred, a.k.a. June, but perhaps even more so with Ofglen (Alexis Bledel), whose experience as part of a lesbian couple during the turn toward this woefully oppressive environment is especially sobering.
Clearly cashing in on its status as a “hot” show (if not necessarily a widely seen one), the program has upped its guest-star game, featuring Marisa Tomei, Cherry Jones and John Carroll Lynch in the episodes previewed. Not all the parts are that substantial, but it’s further evidence this is a franchise with which people want to be associated.
“There probably is no out,” Offred muses at one point, an admission that merely makes her struggle and quiet defiance — scenes Moss plays with searing intensity — appear more heroic.
Showrunner Bruce Miller, who leads the team responsible for adapting Margaret Atwood’s novel, said in a January interview that he has roughed out as many as 10 seasons. While the prospect of spending that much time in this disturbing reality is daunting — perhaps even hard to fathom — six episodes into “The Handmaid’s Tale’s” second season, so far, so very good. Praise be.
“The Handmaid’s Tale” returns April 25 in Hulu.